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Say No To Blackmail: Oppose Bombing Syria.

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Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.

“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”

The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.

John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)

The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.

We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.

Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.

The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.

Anti-War Movement.

But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.

The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them.

The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?

Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene if the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?


France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.

In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.

Oppose Bombing.

What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secreatry) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no immediate legitimate solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects.  We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.


Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Kabour MP’s that the above agrees with:

…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.

Labour List.

Galloway: Corbyn Wants me for a Sunbeam as George Promises, “Every terrorist will be shot down dead.”

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Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

Our old friend George Galloway is a busy fellow these days.

He’s full of lightness and sweet to boot.

Guardian article by   reports on the man living the dream.

As the only serious contender in the race for the Mayor of London, is good to hear of his,

expressions of pleasure in Corbyn’s triumph and accompanying disclosures about his closeness to Corbyn and members of his team. These claims of intimacy scaled a new peak over the weekend when the Sunday Times reported him describing Seumas Milne, my fellow Guardian writer who’s taken leave to become Corbyn’s executive director of strategy and communications, as his “closest friend” with whom he has “spoken almost daily for 30 years.”

Only one shadow, no bigger than a man’s endorsement by the Labour Party, stands in his way.

Sadiq Kahn.

Khan, who is, of course, Labour’s mayoral candidate. He’s called him a “very boring man”, a “flip-flop merchant”, a “product of the Blairite machine”, an accomplice in Blair/Brown “crimes and blunders” and an “unprincipled speak-your-weight machine” who “went into what can only be described as a swoon over kissing the queen’s hand.”

Galloway also appears to consider Khan, a Muslim, an inadequate practitioner of his faith, telling the Evening Standard that the Labour man erred by holding the Koran “in his left hand” when he met the monarch and that this “wasn’t missed by people who care about these things”.

The Guardian’s newshound interviewed the dapper gent hot on the campaign trail.

Such was the backdrop to my question, which I put to Galloway during a public meeting held on Tuesday evening at the Orford House Social Club in Walthamstow, E17. His answer began with a metaphor he often favours. “Sadiq Khan supports Jeremy Corbyn like the rope supports the hanging man,” he said, winning a ripple of laughter among the 100-plus people present.

One can see that Galloway has lost none of the touch that has made him a hit with audiences from Spring Road Allotment shed to the Dean Street telephone box.

Nor his surefire political acumen,

“I have no doubt whatsover that Sadiq Khan is part of the cabal which is seeking to bring Jeremy Corbyn down.”

“If you’re looking for a Corbyn in this election, it’s me. It’s not Sadiq Khan. I support all of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. I might put them a little differently. If you don’t mind me saying so, I might put them a little better. But I support them.”

Galloway is also the coppers’ best mate, reports a different Guardian (local paper for Waltham Forest amongst others),

Galloway also promised to support the police and security services in the fight against terrorism.

“The police will find a friend in me,” he added.

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

“I say to the police officer in the room, when it comes to your wages, your resources and your strengthening, you can count on me.”

The word – unconfirmed – is that Galloway also supports our gallant Russian ally’s bombing in Syria.

He’s got another Best Friend these days.

Galloway has just re-tweeted, John Ross, former leader of the International Marxist Group, and now best-known for his article, How China made the World’s Greatest Contribution to Human Rights.


Galloway is soon appearing in a US ‘theater’.


Book Now!


Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Dieudonné Sentenced to 2 Months in Gaol in Belgium for Anti-Semitism: Will his ‘Peace’ Concert go ahead?

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Brussels (AFP) – A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne Wednesday to two months in jail for incitement to hatred over alleged racist and anti-Semitic comments he made during a show in Belgium, a lawyer said.

Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced similar court cases in France, was also fined 9,000 euros ($9,500) by the court in the eastern city of Liege, said Eric Lemmens, a lawyer for Belgium’s Jewish organisations.

He was not in court for the verdict.

The judgement “says that all the accusations against Dieudonne were established — both incitement to hatred and hate speech but also Holocaust denial” relating to a show in Liege in 2012, Lemmens told AFP.

“For me this is more than satisfying, this is a major victory,” he said.

Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Dieudonne in a separate case, deciding that freedom of speech did not protect “racist and anti-Semitic performances”.

Dieudonne was protesting a fine he received from a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust-denier on stage. He was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000) for what that court referred to as “racist insults”.

In March, a French court also handed Dieudonne a two months suspended sentence and fined him heavily for anti-Semitic remarks after he caused uproar by suggesting he sympathised with the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

“I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” he wrote on Facebook, a play on the slogan “Je suis Charlie” that became a global rallying cry against extremism and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the attackers.

The performer, who made his name in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun, is infamous for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

French courts have hauled him up over a string of comments which opponents say are bluntly racist while supporters champion his right to free speech.

Dieudonne, who can appeal the decision, was not immediately reachable for comment.

Le Monde gives recent background, including other convictions for anti-semitism and his expulsion from his theatrical base at Saint-Denis.

Dieudonné condamné en Belgique pour antisémitisme

L’humoriste français Dieudonné a été condamné en Belgique, mercredi 25 novembre, à deux mois de prison ferme et 9 000 euros d’amende pour antisémitisme. Le jugement « considère que toutes les infractions reprochées à Dieudonné sont établies : à la fois l’incitation à la haine et diffusion de propos haineux, mais aussi l’infraction de négationnisme », a expliqué MEric Lemmens, qui représentait les organisations juives de Belgique.

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala était poursuivi pour différentes préventions liées à de l’incitation à la haine et à la diffusion de propos discriminatoires, antisémites, négationnistes et révisionnistes lors d’un spectacle qu’il avait donné à Herstal, dans la province de Liège, le 14 mars 2012, selon Le Soir.

Le polémiste peut faire appel de la sentence, qui le condamne également à publier la décision du tribunal à ses frais dans les deux grands quotidiens francophones belges Le Soir et La Libre Belgique.

Expulsé de la Main-d’Or et privé de théâtre à Saint-Denis

Au début d’octobre, l’humoriste avait déjà été privé de théâtre à Saint-Denis, le tribunal de Bobigny ayant donné raison au groupe Madar, spécialisé dans l’immobilier de bureaux et d’entreprises, qui avait refusé de lui louer un espace de 1 500 mètres carrés au sein des anciens ateliers Christofle, situés en Seine-Saint-Denis.

L’humoriste avait par ailleurs été expulsé de la Main-d’Or après que le tribunal de grande instance de Paris a validé, à la fin de septembre, la demande d’expulsion de l’humoriste du Théâtre de la Main-d’Or.

Dieudonné a également été condamné en mars 2015 à 22 500 euros d’amende pour des déclarations antisémites proférées lors de son spectacle Le Mur.


“In July 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen became godfather to Dieudonné’s third child. Philippe Laguérie, a traditionalist Catholic priest, officiated at the baptism, which was held in the Saint-Éloi congregation in Bordeaux.[59]

On 26 December 2008, at an event at the Parc de la Villette in Paris, Dieudonné awarded the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson an “insolent outcast” prize [prix de l’infréquentabilité et de l’insolence]. The award was presented by one of Dieudonné’s assistants, Jacky, dressed in a concentration camp uniform with a yellow badge. This caused a scandal[60] and earned him his sixth court conviction to date. On 29 January 2009, he celebrated the 80th birthday of Faurisson in his theater, in the midst of a representative gathering of Holocaust deniers, right-wing radicals, and radical Shiites.[61] Dieudonné and Faurisson further appeared together in a video making fun of the Holocaust and its commemoration.”

Dieudonné remains popular amongst a wide range of people.

Some, including the writer of this Blog, do not think that the law is the best way to deal with him or his admirers’ racism. 

Whether his participation in this Concert for Peace will go ahead is unclear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Free Ashraf Fayadh. Sentenced to Death for “Apostasy” from Islam.

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Leading international cultural figures have joined human rights campaigners in calling for the release of Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet and artist facing execution in Saudi Arabia.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, historian Simon Schama, playwright David Hare, and Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif are among the those calling for the death sentence imposed on Fayadh by a Saudi court last week to be overturned.

More than a dozen organisations for artists, writers, musicians and freedom of expression from the UK, North America and Africa – including Index on Censorship, literary association PEN International and the International Association of Art Critics – have also signed a joint statement condemning Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam, a charge which he denies.

The statement, which will be delivered to the Saudi embassy in London by English PEN on Friday, says: “We believe that all charges against him should have been dropped entirely, and are appalled that Fayadh has instead been sentenced to death for apostasy, simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”


Amnesty International. Poet faces death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia: Ashraf Fayadh.

Human Rights Watch.

The trial documents, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, indicate that members of Saudi Arabia’s Committee on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, arrested Fayadh at a café in Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia, in August 2013. The religious police went to the café after a man reported that Fayadh had made obscene comments about God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Saudi state. The man also alleged that Fayadh passed around a book he wrote that allegedly promoted atheism and unbelief.

After Fayadh was arrested, the court documents indicate, the religious police discovered on his phone photos of Fayadh with several women, whom Fayadh said he met at an art gallery.

The religious police held him for a day, then released him, but authorities re-arrested him on January 1, 2014. Prosecutors charged him with a host of blasphemy-related charges, including: blaspheming “the divine self” and the Prophet Muhammad; spreading atheism and promoting it among the youth in public places; mocking the verses of God and the prophets; refuting the Quran; denying the day of resurrection; objecting to fate and divine decree; and having an illicit relationship with women and storing their pictures in his phone.

During the trial, which consisted of six hearings between February and May 2014, Fayadh denied the charges, and called three witnesses contesting the testimony of the man who reported him to the religious police. The defense witnesses said that the man reported Fayadh following a personal dispute, and that they had never heard blasphemous statements from Fayadh. Fayadh also said that his book, Instructions Within, published a decade before, consists of love poems and was not written with the intention of insulting religion.

During the last session, Fayadh expressed repentance for anything in the book that religious authorities may have deemed insulting, stating, according to trial documents, “I am repentant to God most high and I am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”

On May 26, 2014, the General Court of Abha convicted Fayadh and sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes. The court rejected a prosecution request for a death sentence for apostasy due to trial testimony indicating “hostility” between Fayadh and the man who reported him, as well as Fayadh’s repentance.

The prosecutor appealed the ruling. Human Rights Watch was not able obtain a copy of the appeals ruling on the initial verdict, but the case was eventually sent back to the lower court. On November 17, 2015, a new judge with the General Court of Abha reversed the previous sentence and sentenced Fayadh to death for apostasy.

According to the judge’s ruling, he dismissed the testimony of the defense witnesses in the initial trial and ruled that Fayadh’s repentance was not enough to avoid the death sentence.

“Repentance is a work of the heart relevant to matter of the judiciary of the hereafter; it is not the focus of the earthly judiciary,” the ruling said.

The case moves next to the appeals court. The sentence must be approved by the appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Saudi Arabia has executed 152 people in 2015, which according to Amnesty International is the highest recordednumber since 1995. Most executions are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. The vast majority are for murder and drug crimes, but Saudi courts occasionally hand down death sentences for other “crimes” such as apostasy and sorcery.

In February 2015, a Saudi court sentenced a Saudi man to death for apostasy for allegedly posting a video to YouTube showing him tearing pages of the Quran. A local activist associated with the case told Human Rights Watch that the man suffered from a mental disorder.

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and under all circumstances. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and it is inevitably and universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.

Saudi authorities regularly pursue charges against individuals based solely on their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, in violation of international human rights obligations. The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has ratified, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression under article 32.

“This death sentence against Fayadh is yet another indictment of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record,” Whitson said. “The Saudi authorities should immediately vacate this sentence and order Fayadh’s release.”

Apostasy in Islam (Wikipedia)

More than 20 Muslim nations have laws that declare apostasy by Muslims to be a crime, many imposing the death penalty for apostates. In addition, some Islamic countries without laws specifically addressing apostasy have prosecuted individuals or minorities for apostasy using broadly-defined blasphemy laws. In many nations, the Hisbah doctrine of Islam has traditionally allowed any Muslim to accuse another Muslim or ex-Muslim for beliefs that may harm Islamic society. This principle has been used in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and others to bring blasphemy charges against apostates.

Saudi Arabia has no penal code, and defaults its law entirely to Sharia and its implementation to religious courts. The case law in Saudi Arabia, and consensus of its jurists is that Islamic law imposes the death penalty on apostates.[211]

Apostasy law is actively enforced in Saudi Arabia. For example, Saudi authorities charged Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi writer, in 2012 with apostasy based on comments he made on Twitter. He fled to Malaysia, where he was arrested and then extradited on request by Saudi Arabia to face charges.[212] Kashgari repented, upon which the courts ordered that he be placed in protective custody. Similarly, two Saudi Sunni Muslim citizens were arrested and charged with apostasy for adopting the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.[213] As of May 2014, the two accused of apostasy had served two years in prison awaiting trial.[214]

Saudi Arabia school textbooks include chapters with justification for the social exclusion and killing of apostates.[215]

According to the “Online Saudi-arabian Curriculum مناهج السعودية الألكترونية”,[216] taught at schools, we read under the title “Judgements on Apostates أحكام المرتدين” the following (in Arabic):[217]

“An Apostate will be suppressed three days in prison in order that he may repent ….. otherwise, he should be killed, because he has changed his true religion, therefore, there is no use from his living, regardless of being a man or a woman, as Mohammed said: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”, narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

ISIS (Daesh) Must be Eliminated: Kurdish Worker-Communists’ Declaration.

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ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

ISIS (Daesh) must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement

Address by Dashty Jamal, of the Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan to the AGM of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. November the 22nd.

Published by the, highly recommended,  libertarian Marxist site La Battaile Socialiste.

Dear Comrades,

I am glad to be here with you on behalf of Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan and Worker-communist Party of Iraq- Abroad Organisation I express our gratitude at being invited to your conference. We hope that this conference steps forward towards radical changes for workers. The AWL and our party have always had joint points in our struggle for gaining a better life for working people regardless of where they come from. The cooperation between us has ever helped us be keen to fight for our goals. At the same time we adopted necessary constructive criticism about any political stance we thought we needed to change for the benefit of our class struggle.

Today you are holding your conference at a chaotic time when working people are put under the military boots of the world bourgeoisie. Just look at what happens from the very heart of Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. There are many who think that we are experiencing a third world war. The warmongering policies of the American, European and Russian bourgeois governments directly led to military and political intervention in counties in the Middle East and North Africa. This policy has caused carnage; death of hundreds of thousands; havoc; displacement and devastating any trace of modern and urban society in those countries.

The world bourgeoisie supported the reactionary states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, it has helped many Islamic groups under the name of “moderate Islamists” rise in America and Europe. These groups get massive financial supports either from the reactionary Islamic countries or American and European countries. These governments build mosques and other religious foundations under the name of multiculturalism and “respecting tolerance”? The paradox is clearly visible when we see that some of these foundations recruit for IS and other terrorist groups or nurture many suicide bombers in Europe itself. As we see this also revives racism in European countries in a very extreme level.

All this is the outcome of the aims of the world bourgeoisie and the imperialistic blocs, the USA and its allies in Europe and Russia and its allies. Their race is all about having control over the world, and divides the world between themselves. They compete on having their hegemony over other countries and expand their capital markets. They don’t care about the death of hundreds of thousands and destroying many parts of the world. It is not important for them to plunge the whole world in blood. As Marx put it this system is a like a vampire which sucks the life out of the working class.. But we have to do something. They must be stopped. They don’t fight IS; this vicious Islamic force is a project and they use it as a justification to achieve their goal. IS must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement.

We need a socialist platform to end the chaotic humanity lives in. We have to have a clear stance against imperialistic policy of the bourgeoisie and their state allies in the world and in the area. It is our duty to defend freedom, safety and stability of these societies. The working class and deprived mass must restore the political will to decide about their future and the political system, which can guarantee a dignified life. The freedom-loving people and the civilised humanity have the intention to put an end to this savage stage we are in. But the communists and the socialists must be in fore front of this struggle.

As far as Britain is concerned, we are overtly witnessing two different poles in our society. The Conservatives, who merged themselves into the imperialist pole and are a part of what happens in the Middle East, want to drive the British society into more dismal conditions. See how they cut the budget; follow austerity policies; cut social and housing benefits; increase tuition fees and so on. They are definitely supporting political Islam in Britain. We should undoubtedly stand against the Conservatives’ policy.

This is a chance to turn to the other pole, the working class, the left, and the socialists in Britain. Let me honestly say something about Labour Party. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a turning point for the party and the whole society. His policy, for instance against cutting budget, refusing nuclear weapons, suggesting national education service, better health service, and so on, is good for the society. We have to support these and any other suggestions, which can lead to the betterment of people’s life. But we still need to ask ourselves: is the Labour Party socialist? Does it work for abolishing wage labour and thus gaining full equality between all humans? We are now talking about reformism and socialism. Is what is going on inthe Labour Party enough? To have a better life conditions is good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to essential changes if we don’t have a strategy to do that. Reform can pave the way to socialism, but itself is not socialism. This is the boundary between us, as socialists, and the reformists. We need a worker revolution to end all what we have seen and experienced, a revolution leading to socialism.

We need now, more than ever, to polarise British society into capitalism and socialism. We need more than what is suggested till now. A socialist platform needs to be put before society: higher wages; lower work hours; better housing, free education and health services; stopping imperialist agenda; stopping support to the reactionary governments in the Middle East…. can be among many other demands. If we don’t have such a party that carries out such a strategic agenda, we might try to make the Labour Party a tribune for an independent socialist platform and strengthening a political and theoretical struggle to prevent that Labour Party goes towards right wing moreover.

We hope that your conference would insist on such a socialist strategy and platform. Good luck!

Long live socialism.

Comrade Jamal has also written this in June 2015 (Workers’ Liberty)

Where did ISIS come from?

His conclusions are important.

Some points worth fighting for

1. Mass resistance against ISIS, follow the example of Kobani people.

2. Establishing a secular and progressive government to guarantee the influence of the mass of people.

3. Changing the laws, all over the world, in favour of freedom and prosperity for all the humanity (wherever they are)

4. The universal support for freedom, secularism and mass resistance in the Middle East.

5. Immediately help all who have been displaced disregard from their religion or race. Any country which supported ISIS and especially Turkey must not only be condemned; but also  be interrogated.

6. To ask the France and European countries to grant asylum to Yazidis, Christians and every one forced to flee from ISIS.

7. Any activities and demonstrations by ISIS supporters must be opposed by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing.

Tolerating these groups may give justification to other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.

8. As a part of maximum combat against ISIS, and its ideology, any financial support to the Islamic organisations and centers who work under the name of Islamic community must be cut. Their activities must be put under control. The religious schools must be shut down and mosques must not be allowed to be used as centres for nurturing terrorists.

After last night’s Channel Four, ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled  point 7 has particular resonance.

Tomorrow night, Channel 4 will broadcast an undercover investigation which has uncovered some of the key British women who are supporting Isis – right here in the UK. Led by young British Muslim reporters, the production team managed, over 12-months, to infiltrate an inner circle of British women glorifying jihadis and promoting extreme Isis ideology both online and directly to women and young impressionable girls – often in the presence of very young children.

Captured before the deadly attacks in Paris, the undercover footage shows female Islamic State sympathisers in Britain who, in weekly two-hour lectures in London, are: using racially abusive language to describe Jews and Israelis, telling young Muslim women Britain is waging a war against them and urging them to abandon democracy and travel to Syria to join ISIS.

One of the women the programme identifies is the former leader of the female wing of the banned terror group once known as al Muhajiroun whilst another is known to have resided with an extremist preacher, also a former member of Al Muhajiroun.

The three women, identify themselves as Umm Saalihah, Umm L and Umm Usmaan on Twitter. Two operate in positions of authority within their circles and lecture women in secretive study sessions.

They are first identified in the investigation after promoting pro-Isis ideology on social media platforms. After extensive direct messaging on Twitter and making key contacts at a demonstration outside Regents Park Mosque, the undercover reporter is able to meet them face-to-face at an Islamic roadshow on Lewisham High Street, London. Gaining their trust, she is able to join them at their closely-guarded women-only study sessions which are strictly by invitation only.

The investigation was brought to a close four weeks before the attacks on Paris when the women – who were all established close contacts – became suspicious of the undercover reporter. The leader of the study circles Umm L challenged the reporter, preventing her from leaving unless they can look through her possessions. Eventually the reporter was able to leave but was banned from future contact and attending future sessions.

You can Watch the Documentary Here.

This is also extremely important: Les attentats du 13 novembre à Paris : la terreur de l’Etat islamique, l’état d’urgence en France, nos responsabilités 22 novembre 2015, par ROUSSET Pierre, SABADO François – the authors of some of the best writing and thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher massacres.  The present analysis is simply brilliant., working with the premises of solidarity with the victims and “ Quel que soit le rôle de l’impérialisme, l’Etat islamique est responsable de ses actes”.

Islamic State Says Bangladesh the New Battleground.

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Islamic State Says it is Expanding to Bangladesh.

Islamism has been a major problem in Bangladesh since the Liberation War for National Independence in 1971.

The fight for freedom was met by genocide. This had the active support of Islamist groups, including the forerunners of the present Bangladeshi branch of the  Jamaat-e-Islami – an organisation which has a strong British organisation, notably in London’s East End.

The genocide in Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight,[3] as West Pakistan began a military crackdown on the Eastern wing of the nation to suppress Bengali calls for self-determination.[4] During the nine-month-long Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias killed an estimated 26,000[5] to 3,000,000[2] people. According to more recent statements by Bangladeshi and Indian sources, some have estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 Bangladeshi women were raped in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[6][7] Other sources put the level of rapes as only a few hundred.

The Bangladesh Genocide Archive posts this:

There is no doubt whatsoever about the targets of the genocide. They were: (1) The Bengali militarymen of the East Bengal Regiment, the East Pakistan Rifles, police and para-military Ansars and Mujahids. (2) The Hindus — “We are only killing the men; the women and children go free. We are soldiers not cowards to kill them …” I was to hear in Comilla [site of a major military base] [Comments R.J. Rummel: “One would think that murdering an unarmed man was a heroic act” (Death By Government, p. 323)] (3) The Awami Leaguers — all office bearers and volunteers down to the lowest link in the chain of command. (4) The students — college and university boys and some of the more militant girls. (5) Bengali intellectuals such as professors and teachers whenever damned by the army as “militant.” (Anthony Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangla Desh[Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1972(?)], pp. 116-1

Bangladesh is currently in turmoil as members of Islamist groups, notably senior members of parties like  have been sentenced to death for their participation in these atrocities.

This follows this: (Wikipedia)

The 2013 Shahbag protests, associated with the Shahbag central neighbourhood of Dhaka, Bangladesh, began on 5 February 2013 and later spread to other parts ofBangladesh, and became known as Gonojagaran Mancha (National Awakening Stage; gono means people, jagoron means awakening, and moncho means platform).[peacock term][dubious ] The people demanded capital punishment for Abdul Quader Mollah, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, and for others convicted of war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.[5][6] On that day, the International Crimes Tribunal had sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison after he was convicted on five of six counts of war crimes.[7][8] Later demands included banning the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party from politics including election and a boycott of institutions supporting (or affiliated with) the party.[9]

As a counter movement this was formed, (Wikipedia)

In 2013 Hefajat-e-Islam was formed after the allegation that some of the protestors in the Shahbag movement, were involved in publishing of content offensive to Muslims on blogs.[15] which is demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh liberation war criminals.[4] They arranged a rally towards capital city Dhaka, demanding enaction of capital punishment of the “atheist bloggers” involved in the Shahbag movement and a blasphemy law.[16][17][18]

The 13 points of the Islamist group includes:[19]

1. Restore the phrase “Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution

2. Pass a law in parliament keeping a provision of the capital punishment of death sentence to prevent defaming Islam.

3. Taking measures for stringent punishment of against self-declared atheists and bloggers, who led the Shahbaghmovement, and anti-Islamists who made derogatory remarks against the Muhammad. Also taking steps to stop the spread of “propaganda.”[20]

4. Stopping infiltration of all “alien-culture”, including shamelessness in the name of individual’s freedom of expression, anti-social activities, adultery, free mixing of male and female and candle lighting.[15] Stopping harassment of women, open fornication and adultery, sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women and an end to the tradition of dowry;[20]

5. Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels canceling the women policy and anti-religion education policy.

6. Officially declaration Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim.[15][20]

7. Stopping setting up sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities across the country.

8. Lifting restrictions on prayers for ulema in all mosques across the country, including Baitul Mokarram National Mosque;

9. Stopping Islamophobic content in media;[20]

10. Stopping anti-Islam activities by NGOs across the country, including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts;[20]

11. Stop attacks and extrajudicial killing of ulema;[15]

12. Stopping harassment of teachers and students of Qawmimadrassas and ulema;[15]

13. Freedom for all arrested ulema and madrassa students and withdrawal of all cases filed against them, compensation for the victims, and bringing the assailants to justice.

This is happening now:

Bangladesh government has summoned the Pakistan high commissioner in Dhaka after his government said it was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the execution of war criminals Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

A senior foreign ministry official on Sunday night told bdnews24.com that High Commissioner Shuja Alam had been asked to visit the ministry on Monday.

He would have to explain his government’s comments on the internal matter of Bangladesh, the official added.

Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Mujahid and senior BNP leader Chowdhury, both sentenced to death two years ago for 1971 war crimes, were hanged in the early hours of Sunday.

And this.

In the latest edition of the militant group’s online propaganda magazine, IS calls for strategic expansion to Bangladesh or as it refers to the country ” Bengal”

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has warned that it is preparing for fresh attacks in Bangladesh “to rise and expand in Bengal.”

The group dedicated a full article to their activities in Bangladesh or “Bengal” as it refers to the country in the latest edition of its online propaganda magazine Dabiqwhere its strategic expansion to countries like Bangladesh is discussed at length.

The article titled The Revival of Jihad in Bengal claimed that while IS was busy preparing for further attacks, the secular Awami League government continued to “twist the facts” on the ground and play a blame game. That perhaps refers to the claims by the Bangladesh government that there was no Islamic State presence in the country and that elements out to destabilise it were behind the murders of two foreigners.

The IS also referred to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-Jamaat alliance as a ‘coalition of murtaddin (apostates)’.

“The former government, which consisted mainly of a coalition of murtaddin from both the BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, foolishly thought that the call of tawhid, jihad, and khilafah would be crushed by the martyrdom of a few righteous scholars,” read a paragraph of the article.

However, the IS article calls the banned Islamic militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) a “proper jihad organisation in Bangladesh based on the Kuran and Sunnah.”

The Hindu. 21st November.

Our beloved comrades, the secularist Bangladeshi Bloggers, are caught at the centre of these conflicts. The report linked to below, on Al Jazeera, which was broadcast last night, cannot be too highly recommended.

Blogging is a dangerous business in Bangladesh.

Four secular bloggers have been brutally murdered this year and a publisher linked to one of them was recently slashed to death.

Police blame religious hardliners for the killings, and there are fears that more attacks could follow. But it is not just hardliners who are causing concern.

The government, too, appears to be cracking down on free speech. Some bloggers are now leaving Bangladesh, while others have gone into hiding.

In this edition of 101 East, we meet people whose lives are in peril because of the opinions they share online.

Al Jazeera

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Left Unity Conference: Leading Figures Leave, LU to Remain a Party, but not Stand Parliamentary Candidates.

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Influential Republican Socialists Predicted Split.

At its Conference Left Unity had decided to remain a party but for time being will not stand in any parliamentary elections, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn.

In the lead-up to the debates Steve Freeman, the leader of the important Republican Socialist tendency, argued, in his hebdomadal column in the Weekly Worker, that,

Left unionists and anti-unionists cannot be in the same party – that much is obvious. It is also clear that Labourites and republicans should not be in the same party. We have mixed and matched these politics in one organisation for a while. That time has now come to an end. Objectively it is time for a split. I do not see this happening at Left Unity conference. The most likely outcome is that the hard right will defeat the soft left and LU will agree to try to affiliate to the Labour Party. This will prove one more step on the road to dissolution. Better to have a clean break.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity, Rise and Old Southwark Against the Corn Laws.

On Friday the Morning Star reported.

A LEADING member of Left Unity has called for the party to be dissolved in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

Salman Shaheen, one of four principal speakers, has tabled a motion ahead of tomorrow’s party conference that would pull the plug just two years after it was founded with the support of director Ken Loach.

The motion calls for Left Unity to “dissolve itself as a political party which contests elections at any level” and form a network of activists that could include Labour members.

Mr Shaheen said: “We are committed to doing what we can to support the politics Jeremy Corbyn stands for, and that we have in common with him.

“The question is how best to do it and that is what we will be discussing.”

It is more likely though that Left Unity and CND general secretary Kate Hudson’s motion will be passed.

She suggests the national executive should “reassess” the party’s electoral strategy but continue as a party.

Morning Star.

On Slugger O’Toole, Barton Creeth comments on the Conference itself,

Despite an acknowledgement of common cause, Left Unity, the party that last year tabled a motion to recognise the “progressive potential” of ISIS, decides not to formally dissolve and join Labour.

Left Unity, a far-left political party set up with the help of filmmaker Ken Loach, debated today whether to dissolve and join Labour. The party, set up in 2013, stood candidates against Labour in May, but since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory, Left Unity has experienced mass resignations.

Noting similar aspirations and common cause, Motion 2A states that “We believe the movement that swept Jeremy Corbyn to victory has its manifestation both inside and outside the Labour Party and this will continue to be the case.” Some Labour Party activists on Twitter expressed support for Left Unity to join forces as part of Corbyn’s Labour. Despite this, only 10 Left Unity members voted today to dissolve the party, as reported by party secretary, Tom Armstrong on Twitter.

During the conference last year, members of Left Unity debated a motion recognising the “progressive potential” of Islamic State. The motion added that the Islamic State’s call for a pan-Islamic caliphate to replace other Muslim states was “an authentic expression of … anti-imperialist aspirations”. The motion, which noted that the Caliphate represented an alternative political vision to other “brutal regimes” in the region, argued “the European Left has to acknowledge and accept the widespread call for a Caliphate among Muslims as valid and an authentic expression of their emancipatory, anti-imperialist aspirations.” The motion was voted down.

The conference also saw a motion today calling for the dissolution of the army the the formation of popular militias. The motion reads, “Left Unity is against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.”

As of writing, I’m not sure which direction the party has chosen take on this issue.



Left Unity has attracted many respected and dedicated activists. It has had many important policies – including an internationalist approach to backing a transformed European Union and broader opposition to nationalism.

Their decision to work closely with Momentum raises a number of interesting questions.

If LU is not standing Parliamentary candidates against Labour, will it continue to stand council candidates against the Labour Party on a pick and choose basis? How will this help Momentum  win support inside the Party?

Perhaps the public threat of rival candidates will both increase its audience amongst the mainstream of the Party and win over wavering councillors to adopt LU’s opinions……

We await for the full report from Labour Party Marxists – in the Esperanto original – explaining the way out of this conundrum.




Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Silhan Özçelik: Convicted of Wanting to Fight Islamist Murders and Insulted By Judge.

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Brave Silhan Özçelik: Convicted and Denigrated by Judge

The Guardian reports.

A British teenager who made a graveside pledge to devote herself to the PKK cause has been convicted of intending to join the proscribed Kurdish terrorist organisation to fight Islamic State.

Silhan Özçelik, 18, from north London, ran away from home, took a train to Brussels, and left behind letters and a video for her distraught family telling them she wanted to be a guerrilla fighter and was joining the Kurdistan Workers’ party’s women’s militia.

She is the first British citizen to be convicted for trying to join the campaign against Isis jihadis in Syria.

Özçelik, who was 17 when she went to Belgium in October 2014, had been “smitten” by the PKK since she was 13 after watching a film, Comrade Beritan, about a PKK female guerrilla who threw herself off a cliff rather than face capture and died in 1992.

She had also visited the Turkish grave of Leyla Saylemez, whose nom de guerre was Comrade Ronahi and one of three female PKK activists shot dead at a community centre in Paris in January 2013.

In the 25-minute video Özçelik left behind explaining her decision to her family, she said she had taken soil from Ronahi’s grave and made a promise, which she was now going to fulfil.

The jury at the Old Bailey dismissed Özçelik’s claim that she had invented the PKK story because she was running away to meet a 28-year-old man in Belgium with whom she hoped to kindle a romantic relationship, and wanted to spare her family shame in the strict, traditional Kurdish community.

Dan Pawson-Pounds, prosecuting, said the video and letters, in which she passionately described her love for the PKK, her wish to become a militant and “bride to the mountains”, and her desire for her family to be proud of her, “couldn’t be clearer or more consistent” with her long-held ambition to be a fighter and guerrilla.


Özçelik was “passionately engaged” with the PKK cause. She spoke of her anger that Islamic State at that time was crushing her people in Kobani, the largely Kurdish city in Syria, and that no men were going out there to fight against Isis. She was attracted by the active role women were allowed to play in the PKK, the jury was told.

She wrote: “Maybe I will go to Kobani, or I will not go. That is a different matter. It is up to the PKK to decide. But I see myself as a fighter, I see myself as a militant, a guerrilla.”

Özçelik was the baby of her family. She was 10 years younger than the youngest of her three siblings and found life in the strictly traditional family home restrictive. Her father, a chef, and mother, a textile factory machinist, gained political asylum in 1993 and settled in Britain. Though born in London, Özçelik identified strongly with her Kurdish roots and told school friends she used the name Dersim, the Kurdish name for the city of Tunceli – where the family of Comrade Beritan, the nom de guerre of Gülnaz Karataş, was from.

Posters, collages and Photoshopped pictures of PKK slogans and armed female guerrilla fighters were found in her bedroom. She had “glorified” the fighting and use of guns, especially by women, the prosecution said.

At the time she ran away she was a student of media studies at Holloway College. She had gained nine GSCEs at secondary school but then dropped out of her previous sixth form, where staff described her as “insular”, with few friends and seemingly “a bit depressed”.

She had lied to friends about her reasons for going to Belgium, telling them variously that she was going to visit an uncle, to study in Germany, to go travelling, or to escape a jealous ex-boyfriend, the jury heard.

There was no evidence Özçelik had joined the PKK, made contact with PKK members or travelled to Turkey or Syria before she returned to Britain from Cologne in Germany in January 2015 and was arrested at Stansted airport.

The jurors were told they had to be sure of two things: that she had the intention to commit acts of terrorism by joining the PKK, and that she engaged in conduct in preparation for the act. That preparation, said the prosecution, involved buying a one-way ticket to Brussels, recording a 25-minute video to her family and writing two letters to them saying she was joining the PKK and giving her reasons why, and by getting on the train to Belgium.

Before leaving, Özçelik had wiped most of the data from her mobile phone, which she left behind. She told her family she would be in contact, but that when she did they could not mention her name on the phone. This, the prosecution said, was consistent with her intending to join a terrorist organisation and knowing the authorities might be monitoring her communications.

Özçelik told the court she thought making the video was “cool” and she made it so that if things did not work out with the man in Belgium – and they did not – she would still be accepted back by her family. If they thought she had been fighting for the PKK, that was more heroic than the shame of knowing she had gone to meet a man, she said.

The jury of nine women and three men took five hours to reach a unanimous verdict.

Sentencing her to 21 months in a young offender institution, the judge, John Bevan, described her as “a stupid, feckless and deeply dishonest young woman”. Although there was no evidence she did anything to “advance the aim expressed in the video”, he told her she was “immature” and the “author of your own misfortune”.

Dismissing her counsel’s appeal for a suspended sentence, the judge added “any conviction for an offence of terrorism is serious”. He was not satisfied that the PKK was her only motive for travelling, and her emotions for Mehmet, the man in Belgium she said she hoped to have a relationship with, may have been a part, but the jury had decided “for a time at least”, joining the PKK was her intention.

He said her sentence was much reduced “because of the highly unusual factors of this case”. She would have to live with the “long lasting consequences of a conviction for terrorism”, he added .

As he passed sentence, sobs could be heard from the public gallery where members of her family had sat throughout the trial.


Özçelik is very young, she was very brave, full of emotion, and she wanted to fight an enemy that is unimaginably evil.

She does not deserve this sentence, nor does she merit the despicable comments of Judge John Bevan.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

UN resolution: George Galloway to Back United Bombing Campaign Against Da’esh?

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Gun’em George?

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a France-sponsored resolution Friday sending a unified message from the world powers to the international community “to redouble and coordinate” programs to suppress terrorist acts by “all necessary measures.”

The resolution singles out the territory under the control of the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, but also points to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the Al-Nusrah Front, while it condemns the “horrifying terrorist attacks” in Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, France and over Sinai. The text condemns hostage taking and killing as well as terror attacks, calling them “a threat to peace and security.”

CBS news.

Our old friend George Galloway has been having a bit of a change of heart recently,

George Galloway on shoot-to-kill

20 November 2015 Last updated at 00:47 GMT

Former Respect MP George Galloway says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should be clear in his backing for shoot-to-kill powers for police officers in the event of a terror attack.

Speaking on the BBC’s This Week, he says it is important officers are backed to “gun them down if necessary”.

He adds: “I would gun them down myself if necessary.”


These are some of his most recent retweets which reflect Galloway’s interest in getting this kind of UN resolution.


We understand that a full Galloway public statement supporting the UN resolution, and “programmes to suppress terrorist acts by ‘all necessary measures.’, including bombing and other uses of military forces, by countries, including Russia and France, may well be in the pipeline.

Meanwhile his former comrades in the Stop the War Coalition are sticking to the limits of this position:

Defeating ISIS means firstly cutting its support from some of the most reactionary regimes in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Secondly it means not creating further grievances which help to fuel its support. That means rejecting the idea that bombing and intervention can make things better. We are told that we need to be ‘doing something’ in the face of these attacks. It is precisely because what we have been doing in the region that we face this threat.

Stop the War works for a world without terrorism and imperialism, and will continue to campaign for a peaceful solution to the crises in the Middle East.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm

French Communist Party: Democracy is a Weapon in the Fight Against Islamic State.

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Press release from Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party after the Paris killings.

Our country has just experienced one of the worst events in its history. Last night’s simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, for which Daesh [short for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham] claims responsibility, and which, at this moment, have resulted in 127 deaths and 200 casualties, were horrifying. France is in mourning.

The day after the carnage, our first thoughts go out to the victims, their families, to those close to them, to the witnesses and to all those whose lives were threatened. For all, the pain is immense. Each and every one of us in France feels deeply wounded.

We salute the work of law enforcement, the emergency services, the Accident and Emergency doctors, healthcare workers and public service personnel, whose response to the situation has been exemplary, as has the people’s solidarity, which was felt straight away.

Less than a year after the attacks in January [on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7], the Republic has been struck at its heart.
Even as a state of emergency has now been declared by the government, reinforcement of the police and of the justice system’s resources is an imperative. The state must find suitable ways to guarantee the people’s safety in the long term.

I ask our people not to give in to fear, and to stand together for freedom, equality, fraternity, and for peace. We must make careful distinctions between issues, and avoid stigmatization. Together, we must firmly reject hatred and racism.

France is affected by the war and the destabilization that is plaguing the Middle-East. The fight against terrorism calls for increased engagement and international solutions.
It can only be won by coming together to create a united society that places, at the heart of all its decisions, human emancipation, the values of the Republic and peace.

The French Communist Party, its representatives and its elected officials, will support all initiatives that, in the days to come, will allow our fellow citizens to take on together this challenge and to open up a path of hope for our people.

In this tragic time, the French Communist Party has put all election-campaign activities on hold.

Translated Sunday 15 November 2015, by Ciaran Edwards

Reposted from l’Humanité in English

Friday 20th November: for the French Communists the fight against the Islamic State, Daesh, must take place within democratic framework.

In a special issue of l’Humanité today they make this clear, above all calling for Parliamentary control of the state of emergency.

No democracy is not an obstacle in the fight against Daesh. The state of emergency has been extended to three months: the need for Parliamentary surveillance and control is more than ever indispensable.

Nos libertés contre la terreur Patrick Le Hyaric.

This follows the important  interview with  leading Communist Pierre Dharréville “National unity around the values ​​of the Republic” on the PCF’s site:

The day after the speech of François Hollande before Congress,  he warned,

A response in the spirit of revenge will only lead to further disasters. The President has declared  war. But I have not heard any analysis on the results of the international policy of France and the effects of repeated interventions over the last fifteen years in the Middle East, and Africa, often outside the framework of international law. Since 2007, France has broken with the best traditions of  its foreign policy. We must redefine our objectives and those of the international community whose eagerness to intervene militarily for neocolonial objectives has only been equaled by the weakness of its diplomatic efforts to build peace in the world.

Pierre Dharréville also stated,

We must  find ways taking democratic control over tje  emergency measures. I can hear in them the influence of forces that were already  going in reactionary directions using this opportunity to drive home reactionary approaches  that will sweep away elementary principles of laws. law.

He listed the proposal to remove French nationality from people convicted of terrorist offences, the stigmatising of groups, notably refugees, and Muslims as of great concern.

Notably Dharréville stated that Deash is a political not a religious enemy,

The Islamic State – Daesh –  has a totalitarian project, grounded on the logic of purification, which has taken the flag of Islam like a Bullfighter takes his muleta.


Secularism is the guiding principle of our Republic, but I would warn against any attempt to divert into a way of stigmatising and dividing our people.

On National Unity he concluded,

For us, national unity can only take on the values ​​of the Republic and around building a society of peace. It can not be done on the basis of obedience to the leader. We will approve what we think is good for the security and defence of our freedoms.

More: Win the War? No, Put an End To It

Translated Tuesday 17 November 2015, by Isabelle Métral

Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Remembers Victims of Terrorism.

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Rassemblement pour la paix à Molenbeek

Le Soir.

Molenbeek : Entre 2.000 et 2.500 personnes au rassemblement en mémoire des victimes de Paris

Up to 2,500 people assembled in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, yesterday, in memory of the victims of terrorism and political violence, in Paris, and throughout the world.” le Vif.

Videos and report on RTBF: Un rassemblement en hommage aux victimes des attentats de Paris à Molenbeek

Paris attacks: Is Molenbeek a haven for Belgian jihadis? BBC.

There has been great deal of discussion about French secularism in recent days.

Little has been favourable.

Some people have tried to implicate  French  Laïcité for the attacks in Paris – asserting that it is one means by which Islam and Muslims are excluded from France’s republic. .

This is the position in Belgium – where the members of the  jihadist Einsatzgruppen planned their killings, and where some of the murderers come from.

Belgian law: Currently, section 181 of the Belgian Constitution provides as follows:

  • “§ 1st. Salaries and pensions of ministers of religion are the responsibility of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget.
  • § 2. Salaries and pensions to representatives of organizations recognized by law as providing moral assistance according to a philosophical non-religious charge of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget. “

Under § 1st, recognized the Catholic religion, the Protestant, the Anglican, Orthodox worship, Jewish worship and the Muslim faith.

Under § 2, “Act of June 21, 2002 on the Central Council of Philosophical non-denominational Communities of Belgium, delegates and institutions responsible for the management of financial and material interests of recognized non-confessional philosophical communities” recognizes a “non-philosophical confessional community” by province and at national level a “Central Secular Council“, composed of the “Secular Action Center” on the French side and the “United Liberal Associations” on the Dutch side.”


Put simply the country is not at all laïc on the French model, let alone a republic.

Belgian has a minority population from Central Africa, or descent, notably the former Belgian Congo.

As a colonial power – de facto ruled by Leopold lll – the Belgian state was responsible for forced labour and acts of mass murder that are generally described as genocide. (see: Congo Free State)

A terrorist group from a Congolese background that slaughters people in Europe has yet to appear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Silhan Özçelik, on Trial in London, Accused of Wanting to Fight Islamic State.

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Silhan Özçelik, Accused of Wanting to Fight Daesh.

Teenage girl ‘had dreamed of joining PKK since age of 13.

Reports the Guardian today

A British teenager dreamed for almost five years of joining the PKK, a proscribed terrorist organisation, after being inspired aged 13 by a film about a leading Kurdish female guerrilla fighter, a court has heard.

Silhan Özçelik left her north London home, leaving behind a video and letters for her distraught family explaining: “As you read this letter at this moment I will have joined the PKK ranks,” a jury at the Old Bailey was told.

In two letters and a video, Özçelik, then 17, explained she had first been motivated by a film about “comrade Beritan”, and had made a promise on the grave of another female guerrilla, “comrade Ronahi”.

Özçelik, now 18, took a train to Brussels on 27 October last year, explaining in the 25-minute video that she could not stand by and do nothing while Islamic State fighters occupied the largely Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria.

“Right now Kobani is under occupation,” she said in Turkish on the video, a translation of which was read to the court. “Our honour is being crushed there. But no men are setting out to go.”

Isis was “behaving like barbarians”, and raping women, she said. “Our race is dying. I can’t be expected to stay quietly here.”

The court heard she said she was prepared to go wherever the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ party, sent her, including Kobani. “I thirst for the guerilla like a flower in the desert,” she wrote in one letter. She said touching the PKK flag “brings a torrent of love”, and she was “in love with this cause for eternity”.

She wrote: “When I hear the name PKK my heart feels it’s going to burst. Nothing can stop this love.”

Özçelik, who was born in London and is of Kurdish descent, denies one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006.

She was arrested after flying into Stansted airport from Cologne in Germany on 16 January, and told officers: “That will teach me to run away from home,” and “I feel like I’m in a movie,” the court heard. She told them she had needed space from her family and an ex-boyfriend and had met with another boyfriend in Belgium.

This is incredibly moving.

The jury heard in one letter she wrote she had “started to dream about being a guerilla” when she was 13, and had wanted to join the PKK aged 15. At 16, she had told a “friend high ranking in the organisation”, but was “not taken because of my age”. She wrote she was rejected again at 17, on the grounds it was an emotional decision, the court was told.

In the video, she said she “took soil” from the grave of “comrade Ronahi”. “I made my promise at comrade Ronahi’s graveside. All that is left to do is complete it”.

Asking her family to be proud of her, she said: “I cannot be a revolutionary by holding placards for two days.”

She spoke of the way women were exploited, and treated like slaves, said the prosecution. She wanted to be “married to the mountains,” she wrote. “You are giving your only Silhan as a bride to the mountains,” she wrote to her three older siblings, the court heard.

More in the Islington Gazette.

Islington teen was ‘so happy to have become a militant’

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

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 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).


The Aftermath of Friday: for a Left Politics against Islamism.

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The Aftermath of Friday: for a Left Politics against Islamism.

“Croire que la religion dans laquelle on a été élevé est fort bonne et pratiquer tous les vices qu’elle défend sont des choses extrêmement compatibles, aussi bien dans le grand monde que par le peuple.”

To believe that the religion in which one has been brought up in is kind and practice every evil that it forbids are two very compatible things, amongst the highest ranks as much as within the masses.

Pierre Bayle.  Pensées sur la comète, 1682

To watch, to listen, as the slaughters in Paris unfolded, to read and to think, as they sank in, was to be overcome by sadness and fellow-feeling. As witnesses told their stories, still shaking, the dignity of the survivors stood out. Fluctuat nec mergitur! Paris is shaken but has not sunk.

These are moments of high emotions. Love, solidarity, loathing and compassion. For yesterday reason was, rightly, the slave of the passions. Today and tomorrow we have to cast a colder light on what has happened and what should happen.

That ISIS, the Islamic State, Daesh, was prepared to murder is not news. Their killings in Iraq, in Syria, in Africa, and now in Beirut – scene of a tragedy shortly before Friday, and Paris, are present in the minds of millions. ISIS joins, as Hannah Arendt described totalitarian parties, these “secret societies established in broad daylight’.” (1) Modern media have made that daylight darker.

 The Middle East is now, it is observed, the site of  “phantom states” in large parts of Syria and Iraq. Not only ISIS but also al-Nusra are trying to build Islamic disciplinary regimes grounded on the Sharia. For the Islamic State religious governance is combined with, Weiss and Hassan claim, a “remarkably successful war economy”, with oil revenue supplemented by other contraband. They regulate and control prices. But it is the operation of their Sharia commissions that are at the heart of the machinery. The murder or enslavement of all who refuse to convert or bow to their form of Islam is only one side of their operation. Detailed rules for administrative and daily life are issued. The population is placed in a “Panoptican” of religious Gaolers. (2)

State capitalism to neo-liberalism? 

The left has tended to look at ISIS in terms of the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. Patrick Cockburn, with field knowledge, has described the “takeover of Iraq by a Shia government, an event which began a process at the heart of the present conflicts, between those supporting this branch of Islam and the Sunnites. A quasi-official article by Anne Alexander in the Socialist Workers Party’s journal, International Socialism, follows this.  She talks of the transition from Arab nationalist (‘Baathist’) “state capitalism to neoliberalism”. Daesh appeared in the post-occupation chaos made worse by economic plundering, and above all because of the Iraqi Maliki – Shiite dominated – government (‘sectarian state’) tolerated/or encouraged death squads against Sunnis and opponents. The crushing of Islamic ‘reformism’ by authoritarian government during the Arab Spring, above all in Syria itself, destroyed an alternative. In these conditions ISIS, an elitist guerrilla force, began its march towards the Caliphate, outflanking even Al-Qaeda. (3)

The SWP speaks of the “counter-revolution”. In fact one ‘Islamic reformist’ movement, once hailed as a counterpart to European Christian Democracy, predating and largely unaffected by the Arab movements, has consolidated its power: Erdogan’s AKP. With Turkey in mind it is to be wondered just how any self-declared “non-sectarian” form of Islamism, however apparently ‘democratic’, is when put to the test of political power. In Tunisia concern that Ennahda would follow the same path helped remove the Islamists from power – in a country where democratic freedoms remains relatively unrestricted The Syrian anti-Assad movement in 2011 indeed had non-sectarian and democratic parts. They not longer feature with any weight on the battlefield.

Alexander makes much of the view that Marxists do not consider that ideas have a “life of their own”. But the most important “social content” of all the groups she considers is their ‘sectarianism’, the growing violent division between Shiites and the Sunnites.  It would be hard-going to find any uniform class explanation that could cover the vast regions this affects, from Pakistan to Lebanon, from Iran to the Gulf to Yemen. To discover the effects of imperialist interventions in the murderous acts of Islamists in Bangladesh and Nigeria, or the tyranny portrayed in the film Timbuktu would be equally ambitious. How Boko Haram is a product of the failure of ‘state capitalism’, that is ‘socialist’ nationalism, or Third Worldism,  is also of interest.

A Utopian Disciplinary Machine.

If we consider that ideology is a “lived relationship” we might begin by considering at least some of the views of Tom Holland. He traces one of the sources of Daesh to do-it-yourself interpretations of the Qur’an. Abandoning the fruitless effort to assert that they are not “real Muslims” Holland suggests that the Jihadists offer, in their terms, citations always to hand, their readings of scripture. We could say that the administrative apparatus of the Islamic State, from its bureaucratic eyes of god, to those eager to inflict the Hudud punishments, is a utopian disciplinary machine. Whether its version of Islam ever had any element of kindness is beyond the point. That it competes with others, including Al-Nusra’s own blood-strained contraption, and the Assad regime’s bringers of death, indicates that it is far from established. (4)

One of the main problems is not to frame the Islamic state within class oppression and exploitation. ISIS is clearly a bourgeois state, based on an exploitative war economy, and social oppression. The difficulty is that its appearance represents more than a “phantom” at the margins of already dislocated countries, or in the heart of the Syrian civil war, poised not only against Assad but against one of the few rays of hope in the region, the battling Kurdish forces and their allies. The Islamic state has attracted support in Europe, and elsewhere, from the Maghreb to further afield, as Paris so sadly indicates. And it appears to cut right across the view that the world had seen the last of totalitarian attempts to create sweeping tyrannies that crushed the life out of millions.

The idea that religion had become a private matter between believers and their god had won wide acceptance over the years. This did not mean that faith had evaporated. It related to the principle that the Divine no longer ruled the public domain. In Britain multi-culturalism was based on the idea that one of the pillars of multiculturalism was that religious groups ‘communities’ would be protected as part of civil society, with political clout, but not a decisive say in politics. In frame the secular assimilationist state, laïcité, distanced politics from religion. Yet as Kenan Malik notes, neither country has been successful in removing all support for the Jihadists. (Observer. 15.11.15)

Marcel Gauchet has set out the influential view that in the latest turn of secularism, this  “pluraliste-identaire-minoritaire” model, behind the apaprent divergence between the two types outlined above,  is becoming universal. Serious efforts to impose religion had retreated to the margins, becoming an attempt to escape society, not dominate it. (5)

Yet now the religious flame that burned right through counties seems to have returned. In the face of Islamic both militant secularism and the fuzziest multiculturalism met something which is truly ‘Other’. Daesh is not a classical ‘totalitarian’ movement. There is no ‘Egocrat’ representing the People as One. But the concept of an embracing Ummah, functions as if it were the European far-right’s Volk, or Race. No difference from the Word and no division, religious, social or political,  within the ‘Community’ is permitted. The ideology is far from free-floating: it has a material shape in a state machine “capturing” territory and suffocating populations, pulverising and condensing class conflicts. There is no room for pluralism, different identities, or minorities. The impure have to be subdued, converted, enslaved, or exterminated. Postmodernist leftists were accustomed to claim that Orientalism, including the ‘rationalist’ Marxist and Enlightenment left  made Islam into the Other. Now we have something hard and really Other, in the….Orient. (6)

This is, as they say, a limit point. Daesh fights more against Islamic heresy than against anything else. But it is plain as a pikestaff that no form of state where the Shariah, which by its principles denies equal rights to all, starting with women, and non-believers, rules, is compatible with human rights and the ‘divisive’ labour movement.

Absolute Opposition to Islamism.

The mood remains sombre. For Malik we should be “celebrating diversity while treating everyone as citizens, rather than as belonging to particular communities.” This are good principles. Nobody should exaggerate. We should not lose our nerve. The Islamic far-right, no more than the much more influential European xenophobic and racist parties, is not in a position to put millions to the sword.  But Islamism, taken state form, is not just a problem for the Middle East. It is, as Daesh, is the object of armed intervention, from Russia, from the US, from France from – still in debate – the UK. How can these conflicts be settled by bombing? Will there be more atrocities in Europe? What will happen if those who have joined the Daesh Einsatzgruppen return? It is a political issue for us all. If only some of the previous sentences are true, the first principle the left should work with is: absolute opposition to the political-religion of Islamism and support for the left and liberal forces opposing them on the ground.

  1. Page 376 The Origins of Totalitarianism. Hannah Arendt. André Deutsch. 1986 (1951) She developed the point, “Secret societies also form hierarchies according to degrees of ‘initiation’ regulate the life of their members according to a secret and fictitious assumption which makes everything look as though it were something else, adopt a strategy of consistent lying to deceive the no initiated external masses, demand unquestioning obedience from their members who are held together by allegiance to a frequently unknown and always mysterious leader, who himself is surrounded by the half-initiated who form a ‘buffer area’ against the hostile profane world.”(Page 376) They are “based on absolute hostility to the surrounding world, is very different from the ordinary parties; tendency to divide people into those who belong and those who don’t.”(Page 377).
  2. ISIS Inside the Army of Terror. Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. Regan Arts. 2015. Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents. 
  3. The Rise of Islamic State. ISIS and the new Sunni Revolution. Patrick Cockbrun. 2015. ISIS and counter-revolution: towards a Marxist analysis Anne Alexander. International Socialism.. 2015. No 125.
  4. Tom Holland: We must not deny the religious roots of Islamic State. New Statesman 15.3.15.
  5. La Religion dans la démocratie. Marcel Gauchet. Folio. 1998.
  6. On totalitarianism: Un homme en trop. Réflexions sur l’Archipel du Goulag. Claude Lefort. Belin edition. 2015. (Original 1974). This picture of the state is a very brief synthesis of the ideas of Mille plateaux.Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari. 1980. Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la Prison. Michel Foucault. 1975 and L’État, le pouvoir, le socialisme.Nicos Polunatzas. 1978.
  7. The answer is a global human resistance to Islamism.

Parisians: We will Remain Drunk and Joyous Faced with the Lovers of Death.

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It is tossed by the waves but does not sink: Paris.

The City’s motto has become the statement of the City’s defiance.


These are more expressions of defiance.

Joann Sfar, après avoir appris avec effroi la nouvelle des attentats de Paris, a réalisé douze vignettes BD.
The people who died this evening were outside  to live, to drink, to sing. They didn’t know that war had been declared on them.


#PorteOuverte, le hashtag de solidarité pour se mettre à l’abri à Paris

For more see: What a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist drew after the second Paris terror attack in a year.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2015 at 11:52 am

Paris Slaughters: Crimes Against All Humanity.

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Paris has been struck by a series of deadly attacks that left at least 120 people dead in six locations around the capital in the deadliest violence France has seen since World War II.

Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments.

At least 120 people are reported to have died in a series of attacks that began Friday evening just after 10pm local time in six locations in and around Paris.

  • Police have reported that eight of the militants were killed, seven of them by using suicide vests
  • Around 200 people have been injured, 80 of them seriously
  • Paris prosecutor’s office warns that “accomplices” could still be on loose
  • President François Hollande has declared a state of emergency and ordered increased checks at the borders
  • Police have set up a special emergency number to call for help: 197.

map of attack sites

BBC news.

In simple words President Obama spoke for the world,

“It’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”

In France President François Hollande spoke of « acte de guerre » commis par « une armée terroriste »

Let us hope, for dear life, that we will not see a repeat of the comments made after the murders of our beloved comrades at Charlie Hebdo at the killings at the Hyper-Casher.

Like this:  The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Muslim world, says Seumas Milne. 15th January 2015.

This how the most murderous assault began: Attacker in Paris concert hall shouted ‘Allahu akbar’, fired into crowd: witness.

The Islamic State, Daesh, has now brought its genocidal operation to Europe.

Allahu Akbar.

Anna Erelle, who had infiltrated the world of the jihadists, has described how the members of Daesh exulted in murdering the Kufur, the non-believers. They would slaughter until the world was “pure”. (Dans la peau d’une djihadiste 2015)

The Islamic Caliphate, Daesh, has created an exterminating machine.

Ruled, in its eyes, not by a Person, but by the Shadow of god, it is a totalitarian monster.

It is not by ignoring its existence that Daesh will be defeated.

This is the way of justice and righteousness: the heroines and heroes battling the genociders at this very moment: ‘Tyranny has gone’: Kurds and Yazidis celebrate recapture of Sinjar from Isis. Another account: Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani said that only peshmerga forces joined the operation to liberate Shengal, clearly denying presence of other forces which include HPG, YJA-STAR, YBŞ, HPC and YPJ-Shengal.


Pierre Laurent leader of the Parti Communiste Français.

Notre pays vient de vivre l’un des pires événements de son histoire. Les attaques terroristes simultanées de la nuit dernière à Paris et à Saint-Denis, revendiquées par Daesh, faisant à cette heure 127 morts et 200 blessés, sont effroyables. La France est en deuil.

Au lendemain de ce carnage, nos premières pensées se tournent vers les victimes, leurs familles, leurs proches, les témoins et tous ceux dont la vie a été menacée. Pour tous, la douleur est immense. Chacun en France s’en sent profondément meurtri.
Nous saluons l’action des forces de l’ordre, des secours, des urgentistes et personnels de santé et des agents territoriaux dont la mobilisation a été exemplaire ainsi que la solidarité des habitants qui s’est immédiatement manifestée.
Moins d’un an après les attentats de janvier dernier, la République est frappée en son cœur.
Alors que l’État d’urgence vient d’être décrété par le gouvernement, le renforcement des moyens de police et de justice est un impératif. L’État doit trouver durablement les moyens adaptés pour garantir la sécurité de toutes et de tous.
J’appelle notre peuple à ne pas céder à la peur, à se rassembler pour la liberté, l’égalité et la fraternité, et pour la paix. Nous devons refuser les amalgames et les stigmatisations. Ensemble, nous devons rejeter fermement la haine et les racismes.
La France est touchée par la guerre et la déstabilisation qui minent le Proche et le Moyen-Orient. La lutte contre le terrorisme appelle une mobilisation redoublée et des solutions internationales.
Elle ne pourra triompher que dans la mobilisation pour un projet de société solidaire qui place au cœur de tous ses choix l’émancipation humaine, les valeurs de la République et la paix.
Le PCF, ses représentants et ses élus, seront de toutes les initiatives qui, dans les prochains jours, permettront à nos concitoyens de se rassembler pour faire face à cette épreuve et ouvrir un chemin d’espoir pour notre peuple.
Dans ce moment tragique, le PCF a interrompu toute activité de campagne électorale.


Responsibility claimed by Islamic State, just out:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2015 at 11:41 am

Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought: Aravindan Balakrishnan “Abused and Raped Followers” Court is Told.

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Cult leader Comrade Bala ‘abused followers in brutal campaign of degradation’

Thanks Sarah Jones. 

More reports,

BBC: Communist cult leader ‘imprisoned daughter’.

Guardian:  Brixton commune leader locked up daughter and raped acolytes, jury told. Court hears Aravindan Balakrishman, 75, mounted campaign of ‘debilitating mental and physical violence’ against the women in his collective

The Independent.

Aravindan Balakrishnan: Court hears Maoist cult leader ‘raped female followers and imprisoned daughter for 30 years’

The 75-year-old ruled over a band of women supporters in his south London communist collective  Paul Peachey.

A charismatic Maoist revolutionary raped female followers and imprisoned his own daughter for 30 years after brainwashing them into believing he was an all-powerful and all-seeing leader, a court heard today.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, ruled over a dwindling band of women supporters in his south London communist collective using threats and violence as he pursued his goal of overthrowing the “fascist state”, jurors were told.

His daughter – whose mother was another member of the collective – was beaten, bullied and rarely left the house with Mr Balakrishnan using her fear of the outside world to terrify her into submission, Southwark Crown Court heard.

She never went to school, played with a friend or saw a doctor during her childhood and the power that he held over her meant that she could not leave for the first three decades of her life, said Rosina Cottage QC, counsel for the prosecution. By the time that she left, she was ill with diabetes.

“She was hidden from the outside world, and it kept from her, except as a tool with which to terrify her into subjugation,” said Ms Cottage, opening the case for the prosecution.

“Her freedom of movement was restrained to the extent that even though she could have left physically, the power that the defendant exercised over her meant that she could never leave.”

Mr Balakrishnan, a charismatic and energetic speaker, was the organiser of a communist group in the 1970s based in Brixton, known as the Workers Institute, the court heard.

He is accused of raping and indecently assaulting two women members of the group, including one who was allegedly attacked seven times over a period of about 12 years from 1980.

“This case concerns the brutal and calculated manipulation by one man to subjugate women under his control,” said Ms Cottage. He bent them to his will using mental and physical dominance, violence and sexual degradation, she said.

The two victims of rape stayed in the collective too frightened to leave and hating to stay, said Ms Cottage. “They were forced into sexual acts over which they had no choice and were deliberately degrading and humiliating. He seemed to exult in his power over them.”

Background: Lambeth slavery case.

Workers’ Institute of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought.

London slavery: Maoist group moved from activism to paranoia-driven cult mentality, say British leftists.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: PETALING JAYA: As more is revealed about the activities of the cult-like group in Lambeth now being investigated for holding three women in slavery, other far-left groups in the UK remain bemused about what happened.

In the 1960s and 1970s, parties to the left of the Labour Party of UK Prime Minister Harold Wildon became increasingly disenchanted with his soft socialist approach.

They became heavily radicalised and also underwent many internal splits.

Larger groups of the time included the Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain and a number of Trotskyist movements like Gerry Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), Tony Cliff’s Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Ted Grant’s group that eventually became the Militant tendency within the Labour Party).

However the tiny group led by Aravindan Balakrishnan (better known as Comrade Bala) was itself a radical splinter party of the Communist Party of England Marxist Leninist [CPB-ML) that was an oddity even within far left circles. Indeed his Workers Institute offshoot was described as “the most lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe” by the London Times in the late 1970s.

Dr Paul Flewers first came across the Workers Institute group in the late 1970s. Now an independent Marxist he was then a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, later the Revolutionary Communist Party, which is now defunct. He recalls competing for customers as they distributed rival paper newspapers and leaflets in Brixton.

“The WI was very hostile to other left groups. It had been banned from attending other groups’ meetings because of its disruptive activities (disobeying the chairman, shouting out and interrupting speakers, etc).” said Flewers in an email interview.

“We didn’t talk about brainwashing or abuse, we just wondered how people could genuinely believe its policies, which, when compared to even the most bizarre statements from left-wingers over the decades, were about the weirdest anyone had ever seen!”

“People do follow charismatic leaders, a person who can express with ease and confidence the overall view of the group to which one is attracted to. Even intelligent people can end up accepting illogical things if they are part of a broad package that they generally accept.”

“There often comes a time when something makes a person think that this or that aspect of the group’s policies or behaviour isn’t quite right; then the leader’s charisma looks less convincing, he now seems less omniscient. Group loyalists start to look as if they have stopped thinking creatively and merely accept by rote what the party leader and leadership declare.”

Like most others, Flewers recalls some major flaws in WI’s ideology, calling it “totally unreal, with no relationship with reality. Britain was a ‘fascist’ state in its eyes. China was going to liberate the UK from this by means of the People’s Liberation Army, China had indeed secretly established the dictatorship of the proletariat in Britain — so the workers really ruled (if in secret) in a fascist state! Completely mad!

As more and more people deserted the group, particularly after a police raid on party premises in 1978, it eventually descended into more of a cult controlled by Comrade Bala and his wife.

“The WI’s offices were raided by the police. This sort of thing is a very rare occurrence in Britain, and I suspect that Comrade Bala, paranoid to start with, saw this as the start of a general clampdown so he and his depleted ranks went underground. The British police state actually existed in Comrade Bala’s mind.”

“They suddenly disappeared. After the early 1980s, there was not the slightest sign of them. I think that the two older women in this current case went voluntarily with Mr and Mrs Comrade Bala into clandestinity.”

“Eventually, despite being kept indoors with only limited contact with the outside world, these two women would begin to doubt Comrade Bala’s ideas about Britain as a fascist police state and along with a general feel that they’d like to get out, they finally decided to break with him. The younger woman, born, raised and educated in clandestinity, could see that there was a better life outside which she was being denied.

While familiar with the group by sight then Flewers did not know their names and can only affirm that most of Comrade Bala’s followers were women of Asian descent.

It has to be said that both the SWP and the WRP have also had their own scandals relating to allegations of abuse. Earlier this year, members of the SWP accused the party of covering up rapes and sexual assault by referring them to the party’s own committee which allegedly let offenders offer lightly.

Flewers adds “The Healy group — Socialist Labour League, becoming the Workers Revolutionary Party in 1974 — was also very paranoid about state interference and surveillance; it was very intolerable of internal dissent; Healy was exposed as an abuser of his membership, physically assaulting members at times, sexually abusing female members as well!”

Meanwhile Socialist historian Keith Flett in a blog post commented on the broader effect that the slavery case might have on the small British Maoist community. “British Maoism is getting bad press, which considering how few adherents it had even at its peak is quite an achievement. Of course part of that is the media trying to conflate Maoism with anyone much to the left of Blair.”

“British Maoists like Reg Birch, an engineering union official who founded the first UK Maoist organisation the Communist Party of Britain Marxist Leninist, were largely good activists in trade unions and the wider move.” said Flett, characterising British Maoists as mostly good comrades and mostly harmless.

A poster Grim and Dim recalls Comrade Bala’s group somewhat amusingly. “I well remember the Workers Institute from the 70s. Their main slogan was “Did tunnels deep, store grain and never seek hegemony”. It didn’t seem terrible relevant in 1970s London (though it was rumoured one of their members worked on the tube. I am mystified by claims that they had 20+ members – we always reckoned there were three of them!”

This is more horrific than we thought.

All our concern and love to those seeking justice.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Portugal: Socialists, Left Bloc, Communists and Greens to Govern.

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Protestas en Portugal

A Second Carnation Revolution in Portugal?

“This is like the second April 25,” shouted a joyous woman outside the Assembly of the Republic referring to the downfall of the Portuguese dictatorship on that date in 1974. Yesterday afternoon the Portuguese left brought down the conservative government of Passos Coelho. Hundreds of demonstrators called by the CGTP union, with bands and banners, celebrated the historic political shift.

From Greece, Syriza congratulated the new left majority; inside the Parliament,  the possible future finance minister, Mário Centeno, reassured the markets and creditors that they “will comply with the budgetary treaty”. Centeno, educated at Harvard, will have to square accounts with a 20% rise in the minimum wage.

“We have broken the taboo”, “the wall has fallen,” said the leader of the Socialists, António Costa, , in Parliament after the defeat of the conservative government. The agreement uniting the Portuguese Left has lifted a taboo that has existed since the 1975 Carnation Revolution that has  divided the Socialists, the Communists and the radical left.

Adapted from El País

The Spanish daily asserts, however, that the left still differs on economic policy and that the only really solid agreement between these forces is to vote against any motion of censure from the right-wing against the new left government.

The leader of the Left Bloc, Catarina Martins, has stated that the President of the Republic must respect this vote in which 123 left MPs,  outvoted 107 right-wing representatives.

More: Catarina Martins diz que Cavaco tem de respeitar vontade da maioria dos portugueses.

The French daily, Libération, underlines the importance of the President, the right-wing Anibal Cavaco Silva who is at the end of his term of office, in deciding what happens next.

Portugal: un gouvernement de gauche suspendu à l’aval du président

The Financial Review reports on the new left coalition’s programme.

Underpinning Portugal’s new leftist alliance – together the four parties will control 122 seats – is a 138-page document aimed at gradually winding back the austerity measures adopted by the Passos Coelho government in 2011. Back then, the country was on the brink of bankruptcy and required an urgent €78 billion bailout from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange for this funding, the country was forced to implement tough austerity measures, including big wage and pension cuts.

Under the agreement Costa reached with his left-wing allies, there will be an end to the freeze on pensions, a reversal of cuts to public sector salaries and a progressive increase in the monthly minimum wage to €600 ($914) by 2019.

The agreement also scraps plans for the privatisation of public transport in Lisbon and Oporto, and will renegotiate the sale of the struggling, state-owned airline TAP to keep most of the company in government hands.

For their part, the Left Bloc and the Communist Party dropped previous demands that Portugal’s debt be renegotiated.

But to reassure Brussels that the end of these austerity measures will not trigger a budgetary blow-out, Costa has also committed to shaving back Portugal’s budget deficit to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2019, down from an expected 3 per cent this year.

All the same, investors are worried that Portugal’s economy, which is barely emerging from recession, is not strong enough to support a higher minimum wage.

Portugal is still weighed down by a heavy debt burden (the country’s debt stands at almost 130 per cent of GDP) and the unemployment rate is still a painfully high 12 per cent (and 30 per cent for young people).Investors also fear the incoming centre-left Socialist-led government will be at the mercy of its more radical leftist allies if Portugal’s economy falters, or its borrowing costs rise.

The Finanical Times states,

Portugal’s markets kept their poise on Wednesday after the fall of the country’s centre-right government.

Although the yield on 10-year sovereign debt rose to its highest level since July in early trade as investors cut their exposure, the pattern changed as the trading day developed. In mid-session exchanges, the yield on the benchmark paper, which moves inversely to prices, fell 4 basis points over the day to 2.72 per cent, moving off the earlier high of 2.83 per cent.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

André Glucksmann, former Leftist, Nouveau Philosophe, Sarkozy Backer, Dies.

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Mort d’André Glucksmann, le philosophe en colère

Glucksmann’s death was the first item on France Inter this morning.

Agence France Presse states,

Paris, France:  French philosopher Andre Glucksmann, who rose to fame in the 1970s after supporting the Vietnamese boat people, has died at the age of 78, his son said today.

Coming to prominence in the glory days of French intellectual thought in the 1960s, Glucksmann, who died late Monday, famously broke with his Marxist peers and became increasingly right-wing in later years.

In 1979, he rallied the support of fellow philosophers including Jean-Paul Sartre to the cause of the Vietnamese who were fleeing the war in that country.

He later supported US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lobbied on behalf of Chechen Muslims during their civil war with the Russian government in the 1990s.

“My first and best friend is no more,” wrote Raphael Glucksmann on Facebook.

“I had the incredible chance to know, laugh, debate, travel, play, do everything and nothing with such a good and excellent man.”

This is an excellent, short but important, written, aural, and video, dossier on my favourite Radio Station, France Culture: Mort du philosophe André Glucksmann.

And here: Réécoutez André Glucksmann dans “A voix nue”.

In his student and academic youth André Glucksmann was associated with the left.His Discours de la guerre, théorie et stratégie (1967) and Stratégie et Révolution en France (1968) were translated into English and published in New Left Review.The first was an extended look at, amongst other aspects, classical military strategists, the second was a revolutionary Marxist call and skeleton programme for the French left to take power.

Not an orthodox ‘Marxist-Leninist’ Glucksmann was an active ‘general’ in the, Mao-Spontex’  Gauche Prolétarienne. After a dispute, in which he took the view that their campaign for “popular justice” in the  Affaire de Bruay-en-Artoi (1972-3) was degenerating towards calls for a public lynching. He and other critics were dismissed as “vipers”. Glucksman distanced himself from the group, which dissolved in 1973.

For most people he will be remembered for the two books he published shortly afterwards,  La Cuisinière et le Mangeur d’Hommes – Réflexions sur l’État, le marxisme et les camps de concentration (1975), and Les Maîtres penseurs (1977).

They expressed a fierce critique of Marxism, strongly influenced by the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It asserted that Marx has always despised the peasantry and the “plèbe” – the popular masses. The Gulag was a vast disciplinary machine to punish and reform, to break down the people.

The second, taking up a theme from the La Cuisinière, claimed that Lenin’s wish that every Cook could run the State was a disguise for a Marxist will to take control over all aspects of people’s lives. This drive for Mastery, Glucksmann alleged, was the real message of Marxism – not a desire for freedom, but a Will to control. Marx’s categories tried to encompass the world in their “general illumination” and ended up deforming it, Marx, he asserted, loathed the anarchy of the market not because it was wrapped in exploitation, but because it was “anarchy”. All Marxist regimes, he considered, had and would become nationalist, exclusive, intolerant, and murderous, in order to dominate the lives of the masses.

With these publications Glucksmann, as a critic of Marxism,  became, along with Bernard-Henri Lévy, an ubiquitous public figure as one of the late 1970s group of ‘anti-totalitarian’ publicists, promoted as the Nouveaux philosophes.  They extended their attacks from the Gulag to French politics. Nouveaux philosophes were active, as part of a wider “anti-totalitarian front”. They warned of the threat of the French Communist Party (Parti communiste français (PCF)),  coming to power as part of the left coalition,  the Union de la gauche – 1972 – 1977.  Glucksmann’s anti-left fervour did not quickly die down. In 1981 he still feared a possible Communist influence on the Parti Socialiste and backed the independent liberal rightist candidate  Marie-France Garaud against François Mitterrand in the 1981 Presidential election. She received 1,33 % of the vote. Mitterrand’s first government (1981 – 1984), headed by Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, drew on 4 Communist Ministers. Not many noticed the first signs of the Gulag.

Subsequent books failed to have the same resonance.  They include Descartes c’est la France (1987), an essay on the Cartesian influence on French thought and culture,  Cynisme et passion (1999), a free-ranging discussion of political feeling in democratic politics,  Le Discours de la haine (2004), which took up, war, terrorism, religion, and ethnic conflict. More books, collections of journalism, and polemics, and earnest appeals to those in the Élysée followed.

In 1986 Guy Hocquenghen placed Glucksmann amongst a list of “renegades” from the left, above all ex-Maoists..He noted, Ma génération n’a connu qu’un seul type d’intello : l’intello flatteur du Prince.” My generation has known only one type of intellectual: the Price’s toady.” (Lettre ouverte à ceux qui sont passés du col Mao au Rotary)

Glucksmann was indeed better known as a media-intellectual aspiring to political influence than a writer or a philosopher.

Perhaps one of Glucksman’s best known moments was in 1979, when with Jean-Paul Sartre et Raymond Aron he helped organised support for refugees,  the boat-people from Communist Vietnam. Known as  ‘Un bateau pour le Vietnam’ the centre-right president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing received their requests and acted upon them. 

By the 1980s Glucksmann became one of the best-known figures in the drive for “humanitarian interventions”.

Glucksmann supported military action by the West in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was highly critical of Russian foreign policy, supporting for example Chechen independence.

He, however, was against the Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence from Georgia, arguing that Georgia is essential to maintaining European Union “energy independence,” vis-a-vis Russia, through access to oil and gas reserves in the former Soviet republics: “If Tbilisi falls, there will be no way to get around Gazprom and guarantee autonomous access to the gas and petroleum wealth of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan” . As proof of Russia’s plans to use energy blackmail, Glucksmann referenced a biting anti-Gazprom satirical song performed at the annual satirical award show “Silver Rubber Boot”, which made jokes like: If the Eurovision Song Contest denies victory to Russia again, we are going to drive to their concert and block their gas with our bodies!. Glucksmann described this song as proof that the Russian people want to cut off gas to Ukraine and Europe. He wrote: Consider a popular song performed by a military choir in Moscow. Its chorus depicts the “radiant future” that Gazprom is preparing: “Europe has a problem with us? We will cut off its gas… The Russian public loves the song.”


Glucksmann’s son, Raphaël Glucksmann is married to Eka Zguladze, is a Georgian and Ukrainian government official, currently serving as First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the position she assumed on 17 December 2014. She had served as Georgia’s First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs from 2006 to 2012 and Acting Minister of Internal Affairs in 2012.

In 2007 Glucksman supported Nicolas Sarkozy’s Presidential candidature. In Pourquoi je choisis Nicolas Sarkozy (2007), he cited the candidate’s backing for the Chechens and declared that Sarkozy represented the France of the “heart” (cœur).

He fell out with Sarkozy over the President’s apparently insufficient opposition to Russia’s President Poutin.

We dedicate this video to the memory of André Glucksmann.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Socialist Unity Comes Down Squarely Behind Syria’s Assad.

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John Wight, of Socialist Unity and Russia Today.

Stop the War, Peter Tatchell, and the malign legacy of Western liberalism

You have to feel for the Stop the War Coalition. Back in June I attended one of their conferences in London, where during one of the plenary meetings a few people voiced criticism from the floor over the organisation’s refusal to come down squarely on the side of Assad in the Syrian conflict.

He adds, “I have long expressed sympathy with this position.”

I have had my share of differences with the Stop the War Coalition over the years, but I have no hesitation in crediting them with maintaining a principled opposition to wars and conflicts unleashed in the name of a status quo of injustice and might is right. Its organisers and activists have given over a decade’s service to exposing the hypocrisy and subterfuge employed to defend the indefensible, and consequently I feel duty bound to defend them now.

But on the other hand (there’s always another hand).

Peter Tatchell on the other hand is a classic example of the Western liberal whose conception of the world is akin to that of a child let loose with crayons on a blank sheet of paper, allowing said crayons to go wherever they please with no thought of the mess being made or lack of coherence being wrought.

He adds,

Worse, he and his co-thinkers continue their slavish attachment to the wondrous virtues of ‘humanitarian intervention’, despite the history of the catastrophic consequences of this very concept in practice.

Now slaves we – all – may be, and wonderfully wondrous as “humanitarian intervention” may be to some, hard-to-find, people, but comrade Tatchell is on record as having opposed the US-Led invasion of Iraq (No Invasion of Iraq! Arm the Kurds to Topple Saddam.

On Afghanistan he stated in 2011,  “The Afghan war strategy is not working. After 10 bloody years, there are too many civilian casualties and no prospect of defeating the Taliban. We are propping up a Kabul government mired in corruption, which gained power through fraudulent elections. Our intervention has focused on war-fighting to the relative neglect of economic reconstruction and the empowerment of civil society. The cost to the British people of this half-baked venture is a staggering £5bn a year, when public services are being slashed. For all these reasons, I’m supporting the mass anti-war assembly in Trafalgar Square this Saturday. But I do so critically.” (Guardian).

On Libya Tatchell like the leader of the French left-party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, supported a limited ‘No-Fly Zone’.

Tatchell is not a “humanitarian interventionist” in the sense of giving blanket support for Western invasions of countries like Iraq.

He makes  simple, and humanitarian, points about the need to support Syrian  democrats.

If that is “cultural imperialism” then, so be it.

Wight makes no mention of the role of Russia – something which Stop the War Chair Andrew Murray regards with equanimity – an affair between sovereign countries.

That is, obviously, not imperialism.

Wight is concerned with this,

..that Assad should be overthrown are not motivated by the belief that he is a benevolent leader, but rather that his government is all that currently stands between Syria’s survival as a secular state in which the rights of its minorities are protected, and it being turned into a mass grave by the modern incarnation of the Khmer Rouge…..

This is a legitimate fear.

Indeed if Socialist Unity were not so concerned to talk about violent Islamism as some kind of ‘blow back’ to Western imperialism, or continually talk of Muslim reactionaries as ‘victims’,  they might not be so surprised that Daesh has found its own dynamic in the Syrian conflict.

Along with other, equally unsavoury Islamists, from the alNusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, onwards.

Apart from the Baathists’ role as a dictatorship it remains a very uncertain question whether Assad can crush these genociders without agreement with democratic forces.

We are concerned about Wight.

Is this a cry for help?

Just as a crayon in the hands of an unsupervised child spells havoc in the home, moralism in the breast of a liberal spells havoc in the world.



From Shiraz: In response to Stop the War statement regarding Parliamentary meeting event on the 4th November 2015.

Lie No.1: Regarding “Andrew Murray’s support for the Syrian regime”

During the meeting Andrew Murray called for the support of the Syrian Army and the Iraqi Army in the fight against ISIS. This will be on record of the footage that Stop the War Coalition have yet to release of the meeting (unless they choose to edit it).

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Andrew Fisher: Solidarity!

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Andrew Fisher, Respected and Much-Liked Comrade.

Everybody has had a go at Andrew Fisher over the last few days.

I haven’t heard complaints from Ipswich yet, a non-1% elite town which Andrew visited earlier this year.

He came and talked to the Ipswich Trades Council and the Suffolk People’s Assembly on anti-austerity economics.

Fisher’s message is summed up in this review of his book, The failed experiment and how to build an economy that works. (2014)

With eloquence and passion Fisher argues debt and growth are not the real issues, the economic problems we face are in fact “the consequence of political decisions”. The conditions that neoliberalism demands in order to supposedly free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes, the dismantling of public services and welfare, deregulation, the breaking of union.

Those listening to him didn’t go to Cambridge. But they included trade unionists, teachers, clerical and manual workers, retired people, Labour Party members, and supporters of socialist groups, Greens and anti-cuts activists.

We were distinctly impressed – and he’d travelled all the way from the wilds of Sarf London to speak to us.

As Labour Briefing is one the best read left weeklies round here we are equally pleased to see his contributions in the paper.

The Guardian lays down the present charges:

Jeremy Corbyn is under mounting pressure to dismiss his policy adviser, Andrew Fisher, as a second, stinging letter of complaint about his past support for candidates from other parties was leaked to the Observer.

Fisher was suspended by Labour general secretary Iain McNicol on Friday, two weeks after Emily Benn, former parliamentary candidate for Croydon South, lodged a complaint to the party, saying Fisher backed the Class War candidate in her constituency ahead of the general election in May.

In a move that angered many at the top of the party, Corbyn said he still “had full confidence” in Fisher who would continue to work for him, though he respected the “integrity” of the general secretary’s office.

But in a new blow to Corbyn’s defence of his aide, the Observer has obtained another letter sent on Tuesday to McNicol from a former treasurer and executive member of the Labour party in Brighton, Peter van Vliet, about separate alleged instances of Fisher backing rival candidates. Van Vliet protested “in the strongest possible terms” that Fisher had encouraged people to back Green candidates before the 2010 general election. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas went on to take the Brighton Pavilion seat from Labour with a majority of just 1,252 votes.

Van Vliet told McNicol he found it “unacceptable that Mr Fisher is now allowed to remain a party member” because he urged people to consider supporting parties other than Labour.

After Benn’s complaint, Fisher apologised for putting out a tweet in August 2014 which said: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” @Campaignbeard was the Class War candidate’s Twitter account. Fisher maintained that the tweet was a joke and did not indicate his support for Class War at the time, a line since backed in public by Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The Sun helpfully adds to the list,

JEREMY Corbyn’s top aide was suspended last night over footage of him admitting he was tempted to beat up a former Labour bigwig.

The Sun played the party a video of Andrew Fisher saying he was tempted to “thump” ex-cabinet minister James Purnell for not being left-wing enough.

He was filmed saying “It took every sinew of my self-discipline not to thump him” over his views on welfare reform.

The wider context is well-covered by Phil here: Andrew Fisher’s suspension isn’t about rule-breaking – it’s about factional struggle.

These are some more points.

  • James Purnell – involved in a serious Expenses scandal – was Work and Pensions Secretary from 2009 – 2009 (when he resigned, claiming disagreements with Gordon Brown – but see previous link). As such he presided over the Flexible New Deal – the precursor of the present Work Programme. It was based on the principle that rpivate companies would ‘provide’ the programme for the out of work, and that they would be put into “work placements” – unpaid work. This is how the Guardian represented his policy in 2008, “James Purnell accused of introducing US ‘workfare’ with benefits reform. Work and pensions secretary says under white paper proposals virtually everyone claiming benefits will have to do something in return”. It may be imagined that it was not only Andrew Fisher who took a dislike to the man.
  • The ‘Class War Tweet was made in August 2014. That is pretty far outside of the General Election. Now, much as the Tendance likes Ian Bone, Class War is generally considered something of a joke on the left. Not, indeed, as funny as the Posadists. But pretty amusing.  Note to Labour Party, the Tendance  has tweeted backing for J. Posadas’ views on Communist Flying Saucers and intelligent dolphins.
  • That Andrew said some nice things about Carolyn Lucas and some Green Party policies,  is something he shares with about 99% of the British left – excepting steel-hardened comrades like Andrew Coates. He did not back the Green Party.

There is quite a list of other notorious “tweets” (here).

For once Ken Livingstone has followed the Tendance’s lead (on our own Tweets and Facebook).

He suggested on Channel Four yesterday that Andrew Fisher was ‘aving a larf.

As also suggested here: Andrew Fisher’s comedy career is all over. David Osland.

Odd, innit, that when right-wing gits make off-colour remarks this is proof of what great characters they are.

When a lefty shows a bit of rancour, and humour…all hell breaks lose.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Portuguese Socialists, Left Bloc and Communists Look Set to Govern.

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Rejeitar o Governo PSD/CDS para mudar de política: Reject the PSD/CDS Government to Change Politics. say Portuguese Communists.

The BBC reports.

Socialists ready to head left-wing coalition in Portugal

Three left-of-centre parties in Portugal say they have reached a deal to form a government after last month’s inconclusive general election.

It means the centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho now looks set to fail in its attempt to stay in office.

Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa fought the election promising to ease back on austerity.

He has the support of two smaller far-left parties, including the Communists.

Mr Passos Coelho’s centre-right party polled just under 37% in October’s election, with the Socialists on over 32%.

He was sworn in for a second term, but earlier this week he said his coalition appeared to have lost its absolute majority in parliament.

With 99 seats in the 230-seat parliament, the ruling coalition fell 17 seats short of the number it needed.

Mr Passos Coelho had indicated that he was ready to talk to other parties in parliament to pursue the “necessary reforms” he wants to implement.

But the Socialists, the Communists and the Left Bloc between them have 122 seats, enough for a parliamentary majority.

Left Bloc won 10% of the vote, securing 19 seats, while the Communists took 8% of the vote.

“The conditions are in place to bring down the right-wing coalition government and for the Socialist Party to form a government,” said the Portuguese Communist Party in a statement late on Friday.

Many in Portugal, including President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, are concerned about the impact on the country’s finances and international standing if the far-left gains influence in government, the BBC Alison Roberts in Lisbon reports.

But the president could soon have little choice but to ask the Socialist leader to take over.

A vote on the centre-right administration’s programme is due on Tuesday, and if it loses, the government will fall.

“If I am not prime minister as of Tuesday it will be because the Socialists did not let me continue,” said Mr Passos Coelho.

This follows the same story in El País yesterday.

Los partidos de izquierdas sellan un pacto de gobierno en Portugal

The Communist Party of Portugal announced late on Friday that it had reached a deal with the Socialists to form a government of the left. An agreement ending 40 years of differences.

The announcement of the PC plus by the Bloco de Esquerdas yesterday, is that the socialist party led by António Costa is willing to offer an alternative government overrides attempts by the country’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, to usher in, the current government, which took office seven days ago.

The left alliance totals 122 votes to 107 on the right coalition.

The change over will take place in a Parliamentary vote to reject the new right-wing government on Tuesday.

The Communists and their allies in the union federation, the CGTP, plan a mass demonstration on that day outside the National Assembly.

El País remarks that this recalls a large protest outside the same building 40 years ago, which forced the MPs to abandon the edifice where a new constitution was being drafted.

The present Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has not lost hope of clinging onto office. 

Background: Portugal: ‘Europe is very concerned’ as new gov’t likely short-lived By Dick Nichols

“The incoming government of Portugal will most probably prove to be the briefest in modern Portuguese history.”

Portuguese elections: surge in Left Bloc support puts Socialist Party on the spot.

By Dick Nichols  Will Portugal finally see the end of austerity as administered for four years by the right-wing coalition of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) and Democratic and Social Centre—People’s Party (CDS-PP)?


Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Galloway: “Next Year I Could be Mayor”, but Refuses to Reveal Secret Deal with Labour.

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Framed Picture in Galloway’s Salon. 

George Galloway: “I’ve always fancied being mayor – and next year I finally could be.” Evening Standard reveals.

After a brief lull the Great Man speaks to the world again.

Galloway has lost none of his deft touch for religious feelings.

Speaking of his so-called rival Sadiq Khan   he said,

He says Khan held the Koran “in his left hand” at their meeting (symbolically unclean, because it is traditionally reserved for bum-wiping) “which wasn’t missed by people who care about these things”.

Deeply pious Galloway will not reveal any plans for a Haj to Mecca,

Who does he pray to? Is it true he converted from Catholicism to Islam? “I’m told by my advisers that we don’t ‘do’ God, as Alastair Campbell used to say,” he says. “I’m a religious believer and I believe in the commandments, and if everyone obeyed them — including me — life would be better.”

It seems that the great man’s channels with the Labour Party remain on the hush-hush.

There’s talk that Galloway would like to re-enter the Labour fold — he was expelled in 2003 for “bringing the party into disrepute” over his opposition to the Iraq war. Has he spoken to Corbyn? “I wouldn’t go public with what my communication has been with him,” he says, “but we’re in touch through others. I’ve no doubt my point of view is heard.”

The dapper gent reveals some of his top tips for keeping ‘up to date’ as a “hipster” as young people say,

Galloway spends a fortune on vintage clothes, buying from shops such as Victory in Whiteleys and Rokit in Covent Garden. The other day “an Arab admirer, a Saudi woman living in Holland Park” offered him £3,000 for his “trademark” fedora. He’s even bought the lease on his own vintage shop near Portobello (“which will open sometime” but is “a sore point” with his missus “because she didn’t want to”).

As Britain’s answer to popular French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala  Galloway is appropriately a pillar of the Groucho Club.

He’s a regular at Soho House-owned Pizza East and a member of the Groucho Club. “I have been for 25 years — politicians were not technically allowed but Nigella Lawson and her late husband John Diamond were friends and as membership secretaries swung it for me I was the only politician there — probably still am”.

Read the rest of the interview with London’s next Mayor at the Evening Standard.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Student Union bans Speech by Heroic Volunteer who Fought with Kurds Against ISIS Genociders.

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Macer Gifford: “wanted to shine a light and to show the Kurds aren’t alone.”

The Tab,

The Union banned a YPG fighter from talking at the University – in case he influences others to go and fight.

Ex-student Macer Gifford fought in Syria for five months earlier this year with the Kurdish Group YPG against Islamic State, and was due to give a speech at the University yesterday.

President of the Kurdish Society, Kavar Kurda, organised for him to come in, but was told Macer would not be given a platform to speak because “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”.

Activities and Events Officer, Asad Khan, said the decision was “because there were concerns an event with a person speaking about their experiences fighting in Syria could lead to others going and fighting in the conflict”.

He said in an email: “In every conflict there are two sides, and at UCLU we want to avoid taking sides in conflicts.”

“Kavar claims Asad went on to say how he “doesn’t agree with western definitions of groups.”

Kavar told The Tab: “Asad went down the same route as CAGE and other questionable organisations by appealing to white middle class stereotypes and told me the only reason Macer wasn’t arrested was because he is ‘white and middle class’.

“I find it astounding such an institution like UCL are unwilling to take a side in this conflict

“If you don’t support Kurds and the YPG, only ISIS are left. Where’s the freedom of speech? What about human rights?”

Asad had expressed concerns to Kavar about the human rights record of YPG, citing UN reports which detailed how YPG had “carried out recruitment of child soldiers”, but Kavar says the sources were “random” and Asad had “gone out to find anything remotely negative against the group, dismissing the huge applause for them around the world”.


Asad said the Syrian crisis is a “contentious topic” and defended his decision to block the speaker.

He told The Tab: “It is important to note the rooms these activities take place in belong to UCL rather than UCLU and we liaised with UCL, who in turn wanted to seek advice from the police.

“When they didn’t get a reply, to stay on the side of caution, UCL also leant towards not providing a platform.

“The Syrian crisis is a very contentious topic with many different groups, and although I understand YPG are fighting against ISIS the situation is far too complex to understand in black and white as expected by the student.

“I don’t think UCLU can disregard an Amnesty International report as well as one from the UN Independent International Commission. Despite signing a commitment in 2014 to demobilise all under-18 fighters, the Human Rights Watch have reported that YPG have recruited child soldiers, some of them below the age of 15.

“In this context, despite the fact YPG aren’t a terrorist organisation, I think there is enough evidence to show they have committed human rights abuses, for which reason it is not appropriate for UCLU to be associated with someone who chose to go and fight for them.

For the Kurdish reply to these allegations:

YPG General Command: Amnesty International Report is Contradictory

The General Command of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) has released a detailed statement responding to the Amnesty International Report, published on 12 October 2015 and titled, “We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria”.

Underlining that the report is contradictory and puts the credibility of the organisation at stake, the YPG higlighted the following points in response to the report which drew worldwide reaction due to its attempt and effort to defame the People’s Protection Units by means of unfounded claims;

Not many people think that backing the YPG’s fight against the Islamist genociders of ISISis “contentious” and, not a “black and white issue” and  “far too complex” to take sides in.

It would be interesting to find out the stand of Kahn’s own organisations on this and related topics.

“…my main involvement in university has to be with Pakistan Society where I was the events organiser and in the Islamic Society where I led Charity Week in my final year. Profile.

And there is this:

Asad Khan had votes deducted but still won

• Allegations of mass electoral fraud sees last minute disciplinary meeting

• Asad Khan and Mohammad Ali named in complaints seen exclusively by The Tab

• Union panel docks Asad Khan one per cent of his votes

Fraud allegations have been levelled against victorious candidates of this week’s Union elections, Asad Khan and Mohammad Ali.

Asad, who will serve as the £25K-a-year Activities and Events Officer, had one per cent of his first preference votes docked after an official complaint was made to the Union.





Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Another small group, Independent Socialist Network, to join Labour: is this the way to win backing for Marxism?

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Another Group Joins Labour? 

Rethinking Labour: More of the same or change of course?

Nick Wrack is a respected socialist activist who has long argued for a new Marxist party in Britain.

He is part of the Independent Socialist Network.

The history of that current is extremely complex even by the high left’s standards (for those who so wish they can look at its site,  here.)

Like many he is deeply impressed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, which he describes as a “game changer for left-wing politics in Britain”.

If I may jump over the article this is something he is not impressed with,

We have considered it worthwhile participating in TUSC and standing candidates against Labour in the hope that this could be a springboard to the formation of a new party. However, that is clearly not going to happen. It puts a negative over the whole project, even more so now that Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party. TUSC will obtain even worse votes in the short term and standing to obtain risible votes cannot even be justified with the argument that it is to lay the basis of building a new party. In these circumstances it is time, in my opinion, to draw a line in our participation in TUSC.

A similar situation exists now with Left Unity. Left Unity has politics no different from Corbyn, so why would any of them join it? Why join a party of 1,500 when you can join a party of hundreds of thousands, with millions of affiliated trade unionists? Its perspective for any meaningful contribution to the socialist cause is minimal, if that.

It is unlikely, we note, that these failures are due to the following, causes which he mentions,

  • No group will give up its claim to be “the one true socialist party”. As result they cannot achieve, “unification of Marxists into a single organisation.”
  • The various socialist groups have sought to limit the nature of the project to essentially reformist policies, while presenting themselves as the ‘real’ socialists.
  • In Left Unity, Socialist Resistance and other non-aligned Marxists actively prevented clear socialist aims and principles being incorporated into the party constitution, preferring to blur the distinction between socialists and social democrats because they don’t want to put anyone off.

A simpler explanation is that these ideas have little connection to social reality and popular thinking.

One might say (with reference to, Lars T.Lih. Lenin Rediscovered. 2008) that Wrack’s view is based on the common ground of Erfurt Marxism (which could be said to be shared by the pre-Third International Lenin and social democratic Second International). That is,  that the “good news” of socialism has to be brought to people by democratic politics  ((Wrack’s group has always insisted on this point, in distinction from vanguardist Leninist groups),  debate on Marxist analysis (or socialism more widely) and activism.

In this respect it is clearly false for Wrack to claim that there are “two incompatible political ideologies – revolutionary socialism-communism versus reformist social democracy (which) – have existed in opposition since the second half of the 19th century.”

It would take many pages, of earnest theoretical and scholastic debate to determine what is ‘Marxism’, but the line between “revolutionary socialism-communism” and “reformist social democracy” is pretty minor compared to the distinction between Stalinism and democratic socialism.

In reality there is no one ‘Marxism’. There are Marxisms.

Where there is a fault line on the left and between Marxists, it lies in the difference between those who wish to emphasise the importance of political liberty, before and after the winning of political power by socialist parties, and those who believe that everything – including liberty – has to take second place to gaining and sustaining that power. We could go further and say that some of the latter still believe in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ – its continued presence ready to spring into life and led to victory the right manoeuvres of small left groups. Democratic socialism is the belief that we proceed by consent and by voting to a “revolution” in social structures and culture, not an imposed political leadership, or by violence – which as our founders said, was only justified against  “slave holders'”.violent opposition.

That kind of democratic Marxism is only one strand amongst an increasingly bewildering number of other left themes, third-wave feminism, the renewed  egalitarian social democracy of the people around Pierre Rosenvallon in France,  of the vast variety of Greens, radical democrats, other-globalisation theorists, supporters of décroissance and a host of other other left ideologies,  from the broad appeal of democratic secularist anti-racism, to other ideas, with a more limited audience, such post-Negri autonomism and the tradition stemming from Cornelius Castoriadis.

To varying degrees all these ideas exist within trade unions (the ultimate ‘reformist’ bodies), and parties like the Labour Party, the French left bloc, the Front de gauche, and a long list of European left and social democratic parties.

If Marxist ideas have any value it is not because they are ‘Marxist’ but because there are Marxist researchers and activists who can help develop a democratic socialist strategy and practical policies for achieving  – amongst a very very long list:

  • an egalitarian and socialist  response to neo-liberal economics based on the classical premises of class struggle politics: in the conditions of vastly changed class structures.
  • policies that offer a democratic transformation of the European Union.
  • policies that democratise the state: end the system of farming public functions (welfare, health onwards) off to private rentiers and take them under democratic control.
  • Workers’ rights, social rights, and the whole galaxy of human rights based on popular movements, not NGO’s lists of ideas.
  • the goal of the “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

A creative left current, with an input from all these sources cannot be reduced to ‘Marxism’.

  • There is no evidence that “true” socialism exists in which the left can unite on the basis of Marxist doctrine. There are varieties of socialist politics and parties, many of which are incompatible No democratic socialist would want to be part of a party based on the kind of democratic centralism practised in the SWP or Socialist Party. Their version of Leninism is not accepted as ‘true’ Marxism either.
  • Out of experience many on the left would not touch these parties and their various ‘fronts’ with a barge pole.

We can imagine that it’s the fact that Wrack is part of the movement, and an activist, which had the main pull in the following analysis.

Having said that, there is an enormous battle taking place now within the Labour Party and the Trade Unions. This battle is going to intensify over the next year. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are principled social democrats. They do not, in my opinion, put forward a programme for overthrowing capitalism or for establishing a socialist society. But they are sincere and honest supporters and defenders of the working class and its interests. They support workers on strike; they support workers in protest; they stand up for the poor, the migrant and those on welfare. Arrayed against them is the whole of the capitalist class, the media and their echoes in the Labour Party and trade unions.

Marxists cannot stand aside in this battle and say, “It’s nothing to do with us.” Marxists participate in all aspects of the class struggle. Marxists must do everything we can to defend Corbyn and McDonnell, while engaging in a thoroughgoing criticism of their programme. We must defend Corbyn and McDonnell but fight for socialist policies. I do not have the space here to develop details points of programmatic criticism but fundamentally the issue boils down to what Corbyn is attempting to do differently from Syriza. How can Corbyn succeed where Tsipras failed? In my opinion, the weaknesses of the Syriza approach are present in Corbyn’s programme. How can we alter this to strengthen the movement for change?

Or perhaps not.

Activism seems to get downplayed in favour of, the no-doubt to be welcomed, “through-going criticism”

I spelled out some aspects of disagreement in an earlier article. I think that both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have already made too many concessions or compromises, in a vain attempt to appease their opponents in the Parliamentary Labour Party, where they are in a small minority. But they cannot hope to win the battle they face in the Labour Party on the basis of the PLP. It seems that they have understood the need to base themselves on their support outside the PLP and have set up Momentum to organise that support. Momentum has to develop into a genuinely democratic organisation in which its members can influence policy and tactics.


For all these reasons I am now of the opinion that all Marxists should, at the very least, join Momentum. We can play a key role in helping to defend Corbyn and defeating the right. Where possible, therefore, Marxists should also join Labour. This is best done as an organised group, rather than as individuals. The purpose of joining is two-fold: to strengthen the forces in defence of Corbyn and against the rightwing in Labour and the trade unions and to argue for a Marxist ideas in the mass movement around Corbyn. There is no knowing how long this battle may last or what the outcome will be. Those coming into Momentum and into the Labour Party will include thousands of people who simply want change. But many will have no clear idea of what that change should be or how it can be accomplished. Marxists have to engage with the debate. What change? How can it be achieved? What programme is necessary?


The ISN will seek to organise all independent socialists in and out of the Labour Party who want to fight for Marxist ideas in the labour movement and we will work with all who see the need ultimately to build a mass united socialist party based on Marxist ideas.

It is hard to not see just how far this analysis from the ILN is from reality.

  • How is Momentum going to change the Labour Party? Is is going to act as an organised group that will take control over local Labour parties, and Council groups, on the basis of ‘debate’? How will this work within the slow process of Labour Party internal democracy? How on earth will this group actually oeprate within, say Policy Forums, CLPs? As an alternative party or as a simple current of ideas?
  • How will they cope with set-backs? The experience of ‘new’ politics, from Podemos onwards, indicates that ‘new’ democratic methods are hard to create, and frankly, the rhythm of Labour Party internal life is going to be an obstacle to anybody wanting instant political gratification.
  • How will they appeal to the large centre-ground inside the Labour Party which has to be convinced on solid grounds of the reasonableness of the new politics? The sudden arrival of new people, who campaigned against Labour in the General Election, eager to give advice, is, perhaps not likely to impress everybody. A simple thought: you have show respect for your opponents, even work for their election in councils, and so forth. Will the ILN manage that?

It is hard to not to think that some people on the left, with limited experience of how the Labour Party actually works, and the inevitable disappointments for those with simple and clear goals of “defending” Corbyn, are going to get frustrated and bitter very quickly.

Stop the War Coalition Confusion on ‘Bombing Syria’.

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Yes, but whose Hands?

The official position of the Stop the War Coalition on UK intervention in Syria could not be clearer,

Syria, Labour party policy, and Russian intervention: Stop the War Statement. Stop the War Coalition  (StWC) 30 September 2015.

Stop the War warmly welcomes the Labour conference vote in opposition to British military intervention in Syria.  It shares the view of conference delegates that this would only risk repeating the dreadful consequences of previous such interventions in Iraq and Libya.

We believe that every possible pressure must be put on Labour MPs to support the Party’s position if and when David Cameron decides to bring the issue to the Commons for a vote.  It is vital that the strong lead given by Jeremy Corbyn in favour of peace and in opposition to western interventionism, now endorsed by conference, be supported by all Labour MPs, whether or not there is a ‘free vote’ on the matter.

Just as Stop the War has criticised US bombing, and the possibility of British intervention, in Syria, so too we cannot support Russian military action.  It remains our view, supported by long history and experience, that external interference has no part to play in resolving the problems in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Only strong, sovereign and representative governments in Syria and Iraq can take the fight to Islamic State and provide a real alternative on the ground to its rule.  External powers should refrain from any direct or indirect military intervention and concentrate instead on assisting a negotiated end to the Syrian civil

They have more recently explained the reasons for this stand,

Syria: Safe Havens and No-Fly Zones

  1. The creation of safe havens or no-fly zones requires the ability to engage in military operations and to take out the enemy’s air defence systems.
  2. Military intervention would risk a military clash with Russia.
  3. Islamic State would not be threatened by a no-fly zone since it lacks an air force. The Assad government and those supporting it can be the only target of such military operations: the goal is regime change.
  4. Previous no-fly zones did not prevent attacks on minorities and endangered populations (e.g. the Iraq government’s attack on the southern March Arabs) but escalated the levels of violence.
  5. The 2011 no-fly zone in Libya helped to create a full-blown war, tens of thousands of casualties, regime change and a collapsed state.
  6. The war in Syria includes a complex combination of actors: the Assad government and Russia, IS, the US and its international and regional allies (including Saudi Arabia, the Free Syrian Army and the local al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front), as well as Kurdish groups (some of which are being attacked by Turkey).
  7. Instead of getting involved militarily in this dangerous quagmire, Britain can provide much greater help to the people of Syria by seriously focusing on humanitarian aid and on helping to facilitate peace talks.

We must expresses scepticism, bearing in mind all of the complexities in Syria involved – not to mention the re-election of the Islamist AKP party in Turkey that there is any such thing as “non-intervention” in present conditions. These forces are involved. The question is what to do with it.

One issue stands out.

If the US (and not, as Counterfire’s leader John Rees once imaginatively suggested, Venezuela) stopped  arming the Kurdish-led Democratic Forces of Syria (the YPG) – which has not had great success but remains the only barrier to the genocidal intentions of Daesh against the Kurds and their allies – where would that leave them?

But to return to the main point.

Andrew Murray is StWC chair, and a  Communist Party of Britain (CPB) member.

On the 19th of October he expressed this judgement,

The only solution to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria is a negotiated diplomatic end, says Andrew Murray.

The clear need is not for Britain to jump further into this toxic mix. It is for a negotiated diplomatic end to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria. Ultimately, only the Syrian people can determine their own future political arrangements.

But the foreign powers could assist by all ending their military interventions, open and clandestine, in Syria – ending the bombing and the arming of one side or another.

They should further promote peace by abandoning all the preconditions laid down for negotiations. Such preconditions only serve to prolong the conflict and to give either government or opposition hope that foreign military and diplomatic support could somehow lead to all-out victory.

On the CPB’s site he has added this, (no date),

Our bipartisan armchair strategists are obviously riled by Russia’s escalating military involvement in Syria.  But it is a fact.  What form of military intervention could now be undertaken which would not lead to a clash with Russia they do not say.  Even the head of MI6 has acknowledged that “no-fly zones” are no longer a possibility, unless the NATO powers are prepared to countenance conflict with Moscow.


This is the CPB’s view, expressed on the 14th of October.

In a statement today Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said:

The Communist Party maintains its opposition to US, NATO and British military intervention in Syria. Whatever the pretext – whether to defeat the barbaric ISIS or to rescue civilian populations – the real aim is clear: to strengthen the anti-Assad terrorist forces (Islamic fundamentalists who have largely displaced the Free Syrian Army ‘moderate opposition’), create areas in which these forces can operate freely (in the guise of ‘no-fly zones’ and ‘safe havens’) and ultimately to partition Syria and replace the Assad regime with a compliant puppet one.

Russian military forces are now attacking all the anti-Assad terrorists, including Isis, at the invitation of the Damascus government – which has every right to issue such an invitation as the internationally recognised political authority in Syria.

  • Is Andrew Murray saying that his comrades should change their opinion that Russia has “every right” to bomb in Syria?
  • Or is he indicating to the StWC that Vladimir Putin is effectively helping their call for the UK not to get involved?

There is also this, adding to the confused fog;

It is the fashion to show deference to Seamus Milne, such is the man’s elevation, beyond the dreams of say, a mere Malcolm Tucker.

But perhaps on the basis of his expertise on Russia, he can inform us of what’s really going on: A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity. 

Iron grip: Jeremy Corbyn's pro-Kremlin aide Seumas Milne pictured shaking hands with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a propaganda summit in Sochi last year



Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

A State Jew? Léon Blum – David A. Bell on Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum.

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Blum: a Generous Humanist Socialist, not a “State Jew”.

A State Jew. David A. Bell. Review of Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.

London Review of Books.

Thanks Jim D.

Bell begins  his review with this, which should give some pause for reflection,

The newspaper Action française habitually referred to Léon Blum, France’s Socialist leader, as the ‘warlike Hebrew’ and the ‘circumcised Narbonnais’ (he represented a constituency in Narbonne). On 13 February 1936, Blum was being driven away from the National Assembly when he encountered a group of ultra-right-wing militants who had gathered at the intersection of the rue de l’Université and the boulevard Saint-Germain for the funeral procession of Jacques Bainville, one of the founders of Action française, a reactionary political movement as well as a newspaper. Glimpsing Blum through the car windows, the militants began shouting: ‘Kill Blum!’, ‘Shoot Blum!’ They forced his car to stop and began rocking it back and forth. Blum’s friend Germaine Monnet, sitting with him in the back, tried to shield him with her body. Her husband, Georges, who had been driving, ran to look for police. But one of the militants managed to tear a fender off the car, used it to smash the rear window, and then beat Blum repeatedly over the head. Only the arrival of two policemen saved his life. They dragged him to a nearby building, where the concierge gave him first aid. The next day pictures of Blum, his head heavily bandaged, appeared in newspapers around the world.

We halt there.

To internationalist socialists Blum is above all known not for his Jewish identity – despite the book – but for his socialist humanist republicanism.

Blum defended French democratic republicanism, from the Dreyfus affair onwards. He was profoundly affected by the “synthesis” of socialism, including the Marxist view of class struggle, with democratic republicanism, that marked the life and work of one of our greatest martyrs, Jean Jaurès, assassinated in 1914 by a sympathiser of the far-right,  for his opposition to the outbreak of the Great War. Blum did not, however, play a part in the anti-War left.

That is the context in which we would take the shouts of “kill Blum”.  Political, not ethnic.

Blum was a leading figure amongst the minority of the French Socialists, the SFIO (Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière), who opposed what became in the 1920s the French Communist Party, the PCF. He was one of those who opposed affiliating the party to the Third International at the Congrès de Tours (SFIO).

Speech at the Socialist Party Congress at Tours, 27 December 1920 (best known under its French title, background Pour La Veille Maison, Text).

This is the crucial objection from the ‘reformist’ (but at this point, still Marxist) democratic socialists to the Third International – the Leninist one.

You are right to declare that the whole party press, central or local, should be in the hands of pure communists and pure communist doctrine. You are certainly right to submit the works published by the Party to a kind of censorship. All that is logical. You want an entirely homogeneous party, a party in which there is no longer free thought, no longer different tendencies: you are therefore right to act as you have done. This results – I am going to prove it to you – from your revolutionary conception itself. But you will understand that envisioning that situation, considering it, making the comparison of what will be tomorrow with what was yesterday, we all had the same reaction of fright, of recoil, and that we said: is that the Party that we have known? No! The party that we knew was the appeal to all workers, while the one they want to found is the creation of little disciplined vanguards, homogeneous, subjected to a strict structure of command – their numbers scarcely matter, you will find that in the theses – but all kept under control, and ready for prompt and decisive action. Well, in that respect as in the others, we remain of the Party as it was yesterday, and we do not accept the new party that they want to make.

To show how radical Blum was at this point, this is how he defended the dictatorship of the proletariat,

Dictatorship exercised by the Party, yes, but by a Party organized like ours, and not like yours. Dictatorship exercised by a Party based on the popular will and popular liberty, on the will of the masses, in sum, an impersonal dictatorship of the proletariat. But not a dictatorship exercised by a centralized party, where all authority rises from one level to the next and ends up by being concentrated in the hands of a secret Committee. … Just as the dictatorship should be impersonal, it should be, we hold, temporary, provisional. … But if, on the contrary, one sees the conquest of power as a goal, if one imagines (in opposition to the whole Marxist conception of history) that it is the only method for preparing that transformation, that neither capitalist evolution nor our own work of propaganda could have any effect, if as a result too wide a gap and an almost infinite period of time must be inserted between taking power as the precondition, and revolutionary transformation as the goal, then we cease to be in agreement.

Bear this in mind: these words are memorised almost by heart by many on the left.

The minority, for which Blum spoke, opposed to the Third International, retained the name, French Section of the Workers’ International. This was significant: it referred to a claim to continue the traditions of the Second International, of Marxist, if moderate and reformist,  inspiration.

Blum offered social reform on this foundation. He led, during the Front Populaire (1936 -38)  a government (as President du conseil) of socialists and radical-socialists, backed by communists from the ‘outside’ and a vast movement of factory occupations and protests,  to implement some of them, on paid holidays, bargaining rights limiting the working week. He had great limitations – one that cannot be ignored is that his government did not give women the right to vote – and his role in not effectively helping the Spanish Republic remains a matter of controversy to this day. Indeed the absence of feminism – as well as a rigorous anti-colonialism (the FP “dissolved” the North African, l’Étoile nord-africaine of Messali Hadj –  in the Front Populaire, is something which should cause a great deal of critical investigation.

The review in the LLB is about a book, and this is what he has to say specifically about it:

Birnbaum, a well-known historian and sociologist of French Jewry, has written a short biography that focuses on Blum’s identity as a Jew, as the series requires. It cannot substitute for the more substantial studies by Joel Colton, Ilan Greilsammer and Serge Berstein, but it’s lively, witty and draws effectively on Blum’s massive and eloquent correspondence. Arthur Goldhammer has, as usual, produced a lucid, engaging English text. Birnbaum seems to have written the book in some haste: he repeats facts and quotations, and makes a few historical slips – France was not a ‘largely peasant nation’ in 1936; Hitler did not annex the Sudetenland in the summer of 1938, before the Munich Agreement. The chapters proceed thematically, highlighting Blum the writer, Blum the socialist, Blum the lawyer, Blum the Zionist and so forth, which produces occasional confusion as Birnbaum leaps backwards and forwards in time. But overall, the book offers a knowledgeable and attractive portrait. If there is a serious criticism to be levelled at it, it doesn’t concern the portrait itself, so much as the way Birnbaum draws on it to make a broader argument about French Jewish identity.

But there are issues of much wider importance in that broader argument which do not depend on discussing that text and its content.

Bell makes two points about his legacy as described in Birnbaum’s book,

As Birnbaum himself repeatedly notes, despite his ‘quintessential’ Frenchness, Blum always expressed pride in his Jewish heritage, often in the highly racialised language of the day. ‘My Semite blood,’ he wrote as a young man, ‘has been preserved in its pure state. Honour me by acknowledging that it flows unmixed in my veins and that I am the untainted descendant of an unpolluted race.’ While he could speak disparagingly of Jewish ritual, he recognised and respected a Jewish ethical tradition. In 1899, in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair, he insisted that ‘the Jew’s religion is justice. His Messiah is nothing other than a symbol of Eternal Justice.’ He went on to identify ‘the spirit of socialism’ with ‘the ancient spirit of the race’ and to comment: ‘It was not a lapse on the part of Providence that Marx and Lassalle were Jews.’ Blum, in short, thought the Jews could change the French Republic for the better by drawing on their own traditions to push it towards socialism.

This attempt to bring up Blum’s references to his Jewish background, even in terms more democratic than Disraeli’s novels, voiced above all by the character Sidonia, owes more to pre-1930s racial romanticism to racialism.

Does this prove Bell’s point that, “The republican model allows strikingly little space for what immigrant communities can contribute to a nation. Visitors to France can see at a glance just how much immigrants have brought to its music, literature, sport and even cuisine. But the republican model treats difference primarily as a threat to be exorcised in the name of an unbending, anachronistic ideal of civic equality. Even in the heyday of the Third Republic, many committed republicans recognised that different ethnic and religious groups could strengthen the republic.”

Yes it does: secularism is freedom for difference, not the imposition of homogeneity.

Blum could be rightly proud of his cultural heritage,as indeed in a ‘globalised’ world of migration many other people from different backgrounds should be, and are, within the democratic framework of secular equality.

There is little doubt that the spirit of nit-picking secularism can be as unable to deal with these backgrounds, as say, state multiculturalism, which treats ‘diversity’ as if this were a value in itself. If the first tends to be hyper-sensitive to, say, reactionary  Islamic dress codes, the second abandons the issue entirely.

But there are far deeper problems than superficial insistence on  Laïcité

The first is ‘Sovereigntist’ efforts to claim secularist universalism for French particularism. This is the rule amongst the supporters of the far-right Front National, historians and writers like Éric Zemmour bemoaning France’s ‘decline’ , though we should underline, not the novelist Houellebecq, who expresses disdain for things, not hate). There are those who call for all Muslims to be expelled from Europe, those  to those milder nationalists of right and left who commemorate “le pays et les morts” (and not anybody else – a return to the culturalist (not to say, racial)  themes of Action française to Maurice Barrès and to Charles Maurras. This is indeed “communalism”.

It is the major threat to French republicanism.

There is also the issue of anti-Semitism in France, woven into another kind of ‘communitarianism’. Alain Soral, his close friend the comedian Dieudonné, popular amongst young people from the banlieue and the more refined inheritors of the Marrausian tradition, the partisans of the  Indigènes de la République, (including those associated in the English speaking world) rant at thephilosémitisme d’Etat” in France.

It takes all the effort of refined ‘discursive analysis’ from academics to ignore that at its heart this is a current  which indulges in Jew baiting. The mind-set of these people was classically described by Sartre, “« Si le juif n’existait pas, l’antisémite l’inventerait.» (Réflexions sur la question juive 1946). They indeed spent an enormous amount of time ‘inventing’ the presence of Jews in politics, and giving them influence ‘behind the scenes’.

In words which might have been designed to pander to the world-view of the  Indigènes, Bell cites Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist,

Blum ‘the first of a new type of state Jew interested in giving greater weight to democratic sentiment within the framework of a socialist project.’ One wonders, though, what Birnbaum might say about a French Muslim politician today justifying an ideological position by reference to Muslim tradition and ethics (or sharia law). Would he have quite so favourable an  opinion? Or might he see the move as a ‘communitarian’ threat to ‘the unifying logic of the nation’ and to ‘French exceptionalism’? It is well past time to recognise that a nation can have many different unifying logics, and that a political model forged under the Third Republic fits the France of the Fifth Republic very badly.

Blum celebrated his Jewish heritage. It is hardly a secret. Nor is his post-war Zionism, or support for Israel, a stand shared in the immediate aftermath of the conflict by the USSR.

But did he become a  man of the  ‘state’ because he was a ‘Jew’, and does this aspect of his person matter politically – that is in terms of the state?

For us Léon Blum is only one of the sources of a generous humanist secularism, but a significant one. That he did not tackle issues like feminism, anti-colonialism, and a host of other issues, goes without saying. But it would be a great shame if his legacy was reduced to being a “State Jew”.

And it could equally be said that republican secularism has many strands, that it is being transformed by the views of secularists from North Africa, the threat of the Islamist genociders of Deash, the mounting oppression in Erdogan’s Turkey, backed by his Islamist AKP, and – no doubt – Israel’s evident failings. Every one of these cases shows that religious law is not any part of a “tradition” that socialists – believers in equality – would recognise.

The logic at work here binds us to our French sisters and brothers, binds internationalists across the globe, in the way that the Je Suis Charlie moment briefly melded our hearts and minds together.

That is perhaps the real ‘end’ of all exceptionalisms.

As Workers Power Goes Michel Pablo, is this the Maddest Sectarian Blog Post Ever Written?

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New Workers Power’s Guru: Michel Pablo.

Extensive investigations by the Tendance Coatesy Central Committee have revealed the startling truth about Workers Power’s “Corbyn Turn”: dissolving and joining the Labour Party en masse (insofar as they are anything like a mass).

The erstwhile steel-hardened Trotksyist anti-liquidationists have taken a leaf out of Comrade Michel Pablo’s book and adopted “entrism sui generi., otherwise known as “deep entrism”.

“In entryism sui generis (“of a special type”), Trotskyists, for example, do not openly argue for the building of a Trotskyist party. “Deep entryism” refers to the long duration.”

Pablo, Michel Raptis, is best known for advocating this line, “To gain influence, win members and avoid becoming small sectarian cliques just talking to each other, the Trotskyists should — where possible — join, or in Trotskyist terminology enter, the mass Communist or Social Democratic (Labour) parties. This was known as entrism sui generis or long-term entry. It was understood by all that the FI would retain its political identity, and its own press.

This study, Christophe Nick, Les Trotskistes, (2002) contains all you need to know on the subject of entrism – the French Trotksyists make the British ones look like hopeless amateurs.

It is to be expected that internationalists like Workers Power have read and absorbed its message.

 Review: Les Trotskistes. Revolutionary History

… its main theme is entrism (particularly Chapter 6, pp218-64), and the book’s very first words are that ‘the Trotskyists are everywhere’. Trotskyists, apparently, ‘identify themselves with the mole, and venerate this animal’ (p12), and ‘entrism is a technique peculiar to the Trotskyists, a case unique in the annals of politics, an ethnological curiosity’ (p217)

Chapter 6 of the estimable study, Cde  Al Richardson suggests of some of the book, contains “much of real value“.

It recounts for example the case when one Trotkyist group (the ‘Lambertists’) set up an entrist current (the Ligue communiste internationaliste  LCI, led by Daniel Gluckstein), inside another Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. It exited and fused with its parent as the Parti communiste internationaliste in 1981 .

Please ask for more information on ‘Lambertism‘ (and its present split)- it’s a hoot! (1)

Ian Birchall has written elsewhere that the next study by the Christophe Nick might be on  the Rosicrucians.

Which makes him an even more appropriate strategic guide for Workers Power preparing for perhaps centuries of underground work inside the Labour Party.

Particularly in view of the fact that they have attracted this kind of debate (Thanks NN).

Exclusive: from Workers Power factional history (which is we emphasise for the unwary, is meant to be ‘satire’ – just).

Who Are Proletarian Democracy? A Historico-Theoretical Special
Posted on October 9, 2012

In spite of the strong liquidationist tendencies within a substratum of semi-Stalinist circles in and around Workers’ Power’s CC in the 1980s, Mark Hoskisson was productively correct to assert that Trotsky, had he lived to 1945 to see a nuclear bomb in action, would have revised his statements denouncing nuclear physics and nuclear weapons:

“Now with the reality of the boom, only an idiot or perhaps a charlatan like Gerry Healy, would describe Trotsky’s categorical declaration as correct. However we reject the idea that Trotsky’s error stems from an objectivist and fatalist methodology on his part. This charge, levelled at him by theoretical cheapskates like John Molyneaux – does not stand up for one minute.” – (Workers’ Power Theoretical Journal of Workers’ Power- no9).


Hoskisson is only partially correct to suggest “Had Trotsky’s epigones re-elaborated his programme in the 1950s many of the difficulties we face today would not exist.” The contradictory containment of post-war Trotskyism within the methodological confines of identary post-manufactured retopianism would have marked a bourgeois milieu to its very core even in the 1950s, hence Hoskisson would be wrong.

Although Paul Mason is now an erstwhile counter-Proletarian Democrat on Newsnight, his contribution to Workers’ Power as it was then, was insightful:

“Soviet power in reality had been enough to drive the Mensheviks into the camp of the bourgeoisie, to make centrists like Kautsky opt decisively for bourgeois-democratic counter-revolution. Conversely it had raised the political sights of the best syndicalist and anarchist militants who had hitherto rejected both the party and state power, by embodying in deeds the revolutionary essence of these words.” – (Workers’ Power Theoretical Journal of Workers’ Power- no9).

We Agree.

It remains our aim to drive Mensheviks such as the IRSP, Eirigi, the ICC, the SSP and the various sordid sub-party groupings around the journals ‘The Commune’, ‘Battaglia Comunista’, ‘Good Housekeeping’ and Lauren Laverne’s columns in Grazia into the camp of the bourgeoisie. We are as committed as ever to make centrists like Owen Jones and Caitlin Moran opt decisively for counter-revolution. And, we will, in time, make the best syndicalist and anarchist militants embody in deeds both party and state. The worst syndicalist and anarchist militants naturally will face a workers’ girder.


The crucial point: we were the ‘mace’ in Paul Mason’s words. We did what he preached, and began taking action to make the bourgeoisie crack from within. We knew better than to openly discuss our factionalisation in front of the WP CC, and to openly digress from their characterisation of the Labour Party as a bourgeois workers’ party would have been foolish. We knew they would never condone or support militant action and might even have acted as informers – so we acted in secret, in private.

Anybody who’d been comrades with that lot will be probably end up in Progress – out of sheer relief.

 (1) See latest summary: Longue scission au CCI/POI : et maintenant ? (5th September 2015).

Workers Power: Missing, Please Return to Owner.

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Workers Power

Missing: Please Return to Owner.

Workers Power has gone absent.

Or so it seems.

They left this enigmatic, yet poignant, note on the dressing table.

Workers Power supports key elements of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme. We believe all socialists should join the Labour Party, defend and promote Jeremy’s progressive demands, and work to extend and deepen these policies in a revolutionary socialist direction.

We will be working collectively in the Labour Party, hand in hand with others, to advance that cause.

Workers Power.

Since this statement on the 15th of September sellers of Workers Power have not been seen in public.

There’s been this Tweet, on October the 22nd.

Unconfirmed sightings include Red Flag, and Fifth International, and rumblings, rumblings….

Workers Power was the author of this much-loved document – it’s believed the last living person who got beyond page 2 is still around.

Not to mention this (genuinely)  fine analysis: Strategy and tactics of the Counterfire group; a critique.

Elderly, it suffers from incontinence, but is still sprightly enough to take a leading role in defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

If found please return to the League for the 5th International as soon as possible.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2015 at 11:49 am

Islamists Hack Bangladeshi Secularist Publisher to Death.

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Beloved Martyr Faisal Arefin Dipon.

The Daily Star (Bangladesh) reports,

The owner of Jagriti Prokashony Faisal Arefin Dipan was stabbed dead at Shahbagh in the capital hours after assailants knifed another publisher of books written by slain blogger Avijit Roy along with two bloggers at Lalmatia.

In the both the attacks – which are similar in nature, the perpetrators locked the victims inside their offices before leaving the scene.

Both the publishers published books of blogger and US citizen Avijit Roy who was killed in attack on February 26 near Teachers and Students Centre of Dhaka University.

“Dipan died of stab wounds found in the shoulder,” Muntasirul Islam, spokesperson of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told The Daily Star.

Abul Kashem Fazlul Haque, father of Dipan, told journalists after the murder that those who have targeted those promoting free speech might be behind the attack.

Read the rest of the story: Publisher killed in second attack in Dhaka.

Attack on publishers: Gonojagoron demo tomorrow

Following the brutal attacks on country’s publishers that killed one and injured three others, leaders of Gonojagoron Mancha (National Awakening Stage, gono means people, jagoron means awakening, and moncho means platform) have called for a countrywide demonstration tomorrow.

Around the world people will be standing with Bangladeshi progressives against the enemies of humanity who attacked our beloved friends and comrades.

The BBC,

Bangladeshi secular publisher hacked to death

A Bangladeshi publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the capital Dhaka in the second attack of its kind on Saturday, police say.

Faisal Arefin Dipon, 43, was killed at his office in the city centre, hours after another publisher and two secular writers were injured in an attack.

They are the latest victims in a series of deadly attacks on secularists since blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death by suspected Islamists in February.

Both publishers published Mr Roy.

Mr Dipon was found dead at the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, in his third-floor office.

“I saw him lying upside down and in a massive pool of blood. They slaughtered his neck. He is dead,” his father, the writer Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, said, quoted by AFP.

Earlier on Saturday, armed men burst into the offices of publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul.

They stabbed Mr Tutul and two writers who were with him, locked them in an office and fled the scene, police said.

The three men were rushed to hospital, and at least one of them is in a critical condition.

The two writers were named by police as Ranadeep Basu and Tareque Rahim.

Mr Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin and critic of radical Islamism, was murdered in February. His wife and fellow blogger Bonya Ahmed was badly injured in the attack.

Three other bloggers have since been killed.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Socialist Workers Party Denounces Feminism in London Debate on Fundamentalism for “Islamophobic Stereotypes.”

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Not for Feminists says SWP.

Last weekend this was a panel held during the Feminism in London Conference.

Unlikely Allies: Religious Fundamentalism and the British State.

This session will overturn many long held perceptions about the British state. In its fight against extremism too many institutions have got into bed with fundamentalists and actively promote their narratives. A growing coalition of  secular, left and minority women’s organisations has successfully challenged them Two cases to be discussed are successful campaigns against Universities UK policies permitting gender segregation and the Law Society’s attempt to promote ‘sharia -compliant wills’. These campaigns are part of a global solidarity movement to defend free speech against fundamentalists of all stripes and are seldom reported in the left and liberal press. This session is your chance to hear the left, feminist case for a solidarity movement against fundamentalism and for secularism.  Organised by One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters and the Centre for Secular Space.

With Maryam Namazie, Pragna Patel, Gita Sahgal and Houzan Mahmoud, chaired by Yasmin Rehman.

This is what Socialist Worker had to say on the event – Judith Orr.

Unfortunately the panel and discussion in a session on “fundamentalism” was dominated by Islamophobic stereotypes of Muslims with only a minority of dissenting voices.

There is no mystery why the SWP would dislike a panel featuring comrade Maryam Namazie, whose right to speak at Warwick University as an Iranian humanist and Marxist on a left-wing and secularist critique of Islam and Islamism, was not conspicuously defended by the group.

Nor that comrades Pragna Patel, Gita Saghal, some of the most widely admired grass-roots feminists in the land, who have spent several decades (since 1979) defending women’s rights in Southall Black Sisters, and, (founded 1989), have been part of the inspiring Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF), would raise their hackles.

Here is WAF’s statement,

Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) was formed in 1989 to challenge the rise of fundamentalism in all religions. Our members include women from many backgrounds and from across the world.

In Britain in recent years fundamentalism has increased its influence in all religions. This has been encouraged by government moves to define complex and diverse communities solely according to ‘faith’, with public funds increasingly being handed out to religious bodies to provide services to ‘their’ communities on behalf of local and central government. WAF believes that this increases the power of religious leaders to discriminate against women and other groups and to exclude or silence dissidents within their own communities.

We believe that public funds should be administered by accountable, democratically elected representatives and not by religious leaders. Only secular institutions with no religious agenda can begin to bring about equality for people of all religions or none.

Houzan Mahmoud would have not found favour either. She is a Kurdish women rights and anti-war activist born in Iraq. She was  the Co-founder of Iraqi Women’s Rights Coalition. She has led an international campaign against Sharia Law and oppression of women in Iraq

 Yasmin Rehman is a secularist Muslim, associated with the Muslim Institute.

For me the Muslim Institute is a beacon of light in what can only be described as a rather depressing landscape for many of us. It is that increasingly rare space for its members to debate, be critical, explore and learn in an open, respectful and most importantly safe space to discuss issues relating to Islam, Muslims and the world at large. It is also a testament to the Institute that it shares its work openly with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I am deeply grateful to all at the Institute for allowing me to be a part of this work and to share in their work.

It must have been deeply galling for the SWP to have to listen to Iranian women, Kurdish women, women with a heritage from the Sub-continent, and critical – free-thinking –  Muslim women.

True secularism is an alliance of these disparate voices – including believers –  for a free public domain.

The contributions of these admirable women to introducing to British public life  – often parochial and inclined to deference to religious figures of all kinds, particularly the part of the left the SWP, and groups originating in their tradition, such as Counterfire,  represents –  are to be welcomed.

Do we need to be reminded that all societies in which the Sharia ‘law’ and Islamism have an influence, let alone are principles of the state, and  political power, are riddled with oppression? That women are amongst the chief victims?

Women’s rights in Iran: Exiled activist reveals how her fight for equality is attracting male support

Heretic, whore, CIA operative – Masih Alinejad has been called all these things, and worse, by the Iranian authorities. What is her crime? Campaigning for equal rights for women in her home country.

Now Ms Alinejad, 39, who was born in the small village of Ghomikola in the north of Iran but was forced into exile and lives in New York, has launched a campaign to get Iranian men to take up the fight in solidarity with their wives.

Growing up, Ms Alinejad would quietly question why she didn’t enjoy the same rights as her brother; but when she began to speak out and criticise her country’s MPs, she was thrown into prison, aged 19 and pregnant.

Upon her release she continued to aggravate the authorities through her work as an investigative journalist before moving to the UK in 2009, and then to the US where she lives with her son, 18, and husband. There, she presents a weekly programme, Tablet, on Voice of America’s Persian language channel which examines issues affecting young Iranians.

Affectionately referred to by her supporters as “Ghomikola Eagle” – a nickname supplied by her husband – the activist has inspired thousands of women to remove their hijabs, thanks to her “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign which she launched last year. The project encourages women to take “stealthy” photographs of themselves without their head covering and send them to Ms Alinejad to post on her Facebook page, which has almost a million followers.

No doubt Masih Alinejad is also full of “Islamophobic stereotypes.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

Socialist Unity (John Wight), “Andrew Coates is a card carrying member of the neo-McCarthyite gang….”

with 5 comments


John Wight: Recent Picture.

These, perhaps unhelpful, comments have been brought to our attention by a class conscious struggler.

 Andrew Coates is a card carrying member of the neo-McCarthyite gang that resides in the rotten, seeting swamp I describe in my recent piece in defence of Seumas Milne.

He is not in any way shape or form on the ‘right side’.

Here is the link to my Milne article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/23/seumas-milne-and-his-swivel-eyed-detractors/

Socialist Unity.

From said description of ‘seeting’ swamp,

What we have seen take place is nothing less than a feral and unhinged scream from the swamp of reaction that resides in our culture, where every crank with a computer resides, consumed with bitterness and untreated angst, much of it in the form of self loathing over their own inadequacies and lack of talent – not to mention in some cases a jump from the extreme left to extreme right of the political spectrum, with all the psychological dysfunction such a metamorphosis describes’.

Did Wight say this as well?

Shoot these rabid dogs. Death to this gang who hide their ferocious teeth, their eagle claws, from the people! Down with that vulture Trotksy, from whose mouth a bloody venom drips, putrefying the great ideals of Marxism!… Down with these abject animals! Let’s put an end once and for all to these miserable hybrids of foxes and pigs, these stinking corpses! Let’s exterminate the mad dogs of capitalism, who want to tear to pieces the flower of our new Soviet nation! Let’s push the bestial hatred they bear our leaders back down their own throats!

Apparently not.

As a long-standing Labour Party card-holder (from this morning indeed, to add to the above) and thus a comrade I am  dismayed that my old mucker John Wight, an ectoplasm of egregious excrement, a ponce of putrescent pompousness, a snivelling sycophant of a scrote, should resort to such language.

Though it’s true that the allotment was rather damp this morning.

For popular instruction:

Recent Wight Tweets,

John Wight – perhaps not surprisingly –  on Russia Today: Op-Edge.

John Wight on George Galloway for London Mayor.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Germain Greer, Free Speech, Female Genital Mutilation, Islam and the Benefits of the Veil.

with 4 comments


But not the Full Shilling.

More reasons to loathe and despise Germain Greer as the past comes back, “She said that women should have the right to undergo genital mutilation as a form of “self-decoration” and posed the question: “If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?” (Thanks: R.Mc)

MPs attack Greer on female circumcision BBC 1999.

This argument is part of a wider claim, which is related to a dense passage in her book The Whole Woman (1999) which deals with,amongst other subjects, episiotomy.

The statement on female genital mutilation has to be put further into this context,

Greer opposed the practice and said that feminists fighting to eliminate FGM in their own countries “must be supported,”[37] but she explored the complexities of the issue, and the double standards of the West, and warned against using the issue to “reinforce our notions of cultural superiority.”[34] She wrote that the term female genital mutilation was itself simplistic, arguing that it was used to describe practices that, she said, varied from “nicking the prepuce of the clitoris to provoke ritual bleeding,” to the extreme mutilation of infibulation. She questioned the view that FGM is imposed by men on women, rather than by women on women, or even freely chosen, adducing some anecdotal evidence to the contrary,[38] and discussed the issue in relation to genital and other bodily mutilations carried out in the West on men and women. She wrote that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends surgery on baby girls with clitorises regarded as too long, and that five such procedures were carried out every day in the United States, without being included in FGM statistics.In particular, she compared FGM to male circumcision.

Any suggestion that male genital mutilation should be outlawed would be understood to be a frontal attack on the cultural identity of Jews and Muslims. The same issues are raised by female genital mutilation. As a practical note for activists: As UN workers in East Uganda found, women would not abandon female circumcision until some similarly significant procedure could take its place.



Margaret Talbot summarsied Greer’s cluster of opinionated assertions in which these claims further embedded,

She professed to see more hope in the rigid gender segregation of certain Middle Eastern cultures than in anything in Western society. She took the feminist critique of the medical establishment to absurd extremes, denouncing pap smears, fertility doctors, pre-natal screenings, and C-sections with equal vehemence, while perversely defending female genital mutilation as a cultural practice that Westerners had no right to speak of.

Greer was also (and who knows, is, though her views spin with the speed of a weather vane) a fellow-traveller of all those apologists for Islamism and the ‘Caliphate’ who assert that the ‘West’ has no right to lecture Moslems for  Sharia law punishments as “cultural practices”.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the old fool has expressed this judgement,

…when you bring up freedom for women under Sharia law, she’s quite honest about the fact that she doesn’t have the answers. “You have to ask women who take the veil. There are English women converting to Islam. It’s interesting that they say they feel free behind the veil because they are not being looked at, “she said. “Nowadays in England, little girls can’t grow up to be women because they can’t put on enough flesh to become a woman. They’re terrified because they must have no body and a huge pair of breasts. If that commoditisation of women revolts you, you might think the strict rigour of Islam has to be better. It allows women some dignity providing they keep their modesty. You know, women are modest and diffident by nature unless societal pressures force them to be otherwise. “

Germaine Greer on why English Women are Converting to Islam. Shalini Umachandran. 2011.

Greer is clearly a reactionary cultural relativist.

Her unpleasant views on on transsexuals stand apart, and barely need further discussion after the last days’ controversy.

None of this means that Greer should be ‘no-platformed’.

Though it would be preferable that she is left alone, to moulder in the last circle of Hell: Great Chesterford, Essex.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

Turkish General Election Approaches: Erdoğan Inspires More And More Fears.

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Another Try for the Caliphate? 

Uncertainty abound as Turkey election approaches

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The streets of Ankara are quiet as Turkey’s general election on Sunday approaches, says Rudaw’s Hejar Berenji, reporting from the capital.

Berenji, the agency’s chief technical officer, is working with a team of reporters to deliver comprehensive coverage of the upcoming elections from Ankara and Diyarbakir.

Coverage will focus on the participation of Bakur (a Kurdish term used to describe Turkish Kurdistan) in the elections.

The Turkish general parliamentary election on June 7 did not give any party, including the ruling AKP, a majority, which would have enabled it to form a government alone. In June’s elections, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, made it into parliament for the first time with more than 13 percent of the vote.

The special coverage started on October 23 and will continue until November 3.

“Inside Turkey, Rudaw media network has a massive audience and for that audience it is important to be aware of every step of the election, and the debate of the political parties,” Berenji said.

Rudaw is here.

Demirtaş denounces ’mafia-like’ actions against media

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş paid a visit to the İpek Media Group’s offices in İstanbul to show solidarity with the group, which was stormed by police early on Wednesday, denouncing the police forces acting like a mafia in their actions against members of the media.

Turkish riot police stormed the headquarters of İpek’s media outlets in İstanbul on Wednesday morning, after authorities appointed several trustees to replace the management of the İpek Koza Holding business, which houses media outlets that include Bugün TV, the flagship station that has emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians over recent months.

In his remarks from the group’s broadcasting room, Demirtaş said he is not surprised by the seizure of the companies and media outlets under Koza İpek Holding as these incidents took place many times under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

“It is unbelievable that a state; a government’s acting rudely, like a mafia, like an illegal organization… right in the public eye, during a live broadcast…The appointment of a board of trustees turning into seizure, police forces’ cutting the cables of [broadcasting cameras] is not stated in any law. You may appoint the board of trustees for a temporary period… Spraying pepper gas, using batons, cutting the cables are mafia-like, gang-like practices,” Demirtaş stated.

Demirtaş called Wednesday’s raid “a serious attack against people’s right to information.”

“This is a show of force being made, made via police force; it is a reflection of a government’s mindset based on forced power. It also raises suspicions [as it comes] just a couple of days before the election. It raises questions about their having a plan or some hesitation about the broadcast that would have been made during election day,” Demirtaş stated.

President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seemingly justified the appointment of a trustee board to manage the Koza-İpek group, 23 companies of which have been seized by a local court as part of a crackdown on followers of the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen.

“There are different things behind the support lent [to the group],” Erdoğan said late on Oct. 28. “The reason for appointment of a trustee should be thoroughly deliberated because its number one is on the run,” he said in a live interview with Kanal 24 news channel.

As Akın İpek, CEO of the Koza-İpek group, suggested there was no irregular transfer of money abroad, Erdoğan asked why he was on the run.


Now there is this:

Turkey will “do what is necessary” to prevent US-allied Syrian Kurds from declaring autonomy in the town of Tel Abyad near the Turkish border, which includes conducting further military operations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.

NATO member Turkey is part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria, but it sees advances by autonomy-seeking Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as a threat to its own national security, fearing they could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.

Turkish jets recently hit the Syrian Kurds’ armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets twice after they defied Ankara and crossed west of the Euphrates River.

“This was a warning. ‘Pull yourself together. If you try to do this elsewhere — Turkey doesn’t need permission from anyone — we will do what is necessary,'” Erdoğan said, signaling that he could defy Washington’s demand that Ankara avoid hitting Syrian Kurds and focus his military might on ISIL targets.


More background: The battle for Turkey: can Selahattin Demirtas pull the country back from the brink of civil war?

An excellent article on the Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), by . (Guardian today).

And this French report: Turquie : l’irrésistible ascension du Kurde Selahattin Demirtas, cauchemar d’Erdogan.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Catalan Nationalists, “la Casta”, Face New Fraud and Corruption Investigation.

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Pujol y la casta catalana

Anybody following Podemos  knows that  la casta, the political ‘caste’ is one of their key words.

It is not a novel concept. It was used in the twentieth century, but has now regained prominence. Both in Italy , where Beppe Grillo’s  Movement Five Stars (Movimento Cinque Stelle) uses it often, as in Spain where Podemos has practically patented it since it’s erupted on the political scene,  caste is defined simplistically and in Carl Schmitt’s terms, designates the enemy , which can be bankers, the old parties, the market or all at once.  (Adapted from here).

The critical tone of this definition may well be true.

But nobody can deny that it refers to a reality, which will have a bearing on the debate in the lead up to the December General Elections in Spain.

The Catalan nationalists are portrayed sympathetically in Britain, above all by their friends in the ‘centre-left’ Scottish Nationalist Party, but even by some on the left, as hard-done-by freedom fighters against the Spanish ‘state’.

In fact the below indicates that they are one of the worst examples of the Spanish “political caste”- which amply justifies Podemos’ hostility to them.

We doubt if this trait is confined to Pujol’s Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC)

Police search properties of Catalan ex-premier Pujol and three of his sons. 27th October. El Paìs.

Raid is related to money-laundering and fraud investigation into eldest son of the family.

The Spanish National Police on Tuesday raided the homes of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and three of his seven children in connection with a criminal investigation into tax fraud and money laundering.

Officers searched the personal residences of Pujol and of his sons Jordi Pujol Ferrusola (Junior), Josep and Pere after securing a warrant from High Court judge José de la Mata, sources familiar with the investigation told EL PAÍS. Several business premises are also being searched.

The raids are part of an investigation into the former premier’s eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, also known as Junior, who is believed to have benefited from his father’s position of power through lucrative contracts from the regional government.

The reason officers raided Pujol senior’s home on Tuesday was that his eldest son is temporarily living there to recover from a recent surgery, explained the same sources, adding that only the son’s bedroom is being searched.

But this Madrid-led investigation is tied to another ongoing probe into the origin of the Pujol family fortune.

In January, the Pujol patriarch testified in a Barcelona court and told the judge that the millions of euros his family kept in Andorra and Switzerland were an inheritance received from his own father, Florenci.


Political corruption is the origin of the fortune amassed over the years by the eldest son of long-serving former Catalan regional premier Jordi Pujol, according to the police.

Jordi Pujol Ferrusola has been targeted by investigators for over a yearafter a former girlfriend told the police that he often travelled to Andorra and returned with bags full of €500 notes.

The new report links Pujol Ferrusola’s highly successful business ventures to “political initiatives by people within his most intimate circle,” an apparent reference to his father, Jordi Pujol.

Pujol senior, 84, was in power for 23 years, and was head of the nationalist party Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC), one half of the CiU bloc that rules the region. He was Catalonia’s most renowned leader and is considered a father of Catalan nationalism.

Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government of Catalonia

But on Saturday, the legend sustained a severe blow when Pujol admitted in a letter that he has kept a fortune in tax havens for 34 years, and has only recently settled his dues with the Tax Agency.

Critics say that Pujol has now confessed in an attempt to take the heat away from his seven children, two of whom have been investigated for questionable business practices. In the letter, Pujol claimed that it was his own father, Florenci Pujol, who made a fortune and passed it on to his grandchildren in 1980. This, then, would explain the large amounts of money handled by Pujol Ferrusola.

But the police are working with a different hypothesis, and their conclusion is that the eldest son’s fortune “cannot be explained by income from the legal economy.” The report says that Ferrulosa “benefited indirectly” from an environment that “generated a network of influences” that reached all the way to “regional agencies.”

Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government. In 1991, Natural Stone, a firm specializing in quarry rock, won a €600,000 contract to supply marble for the floors at Barcelona’s El Prat airport. Pujol Ferrusola and his then wife Mercè Gironés were, respectively, vice-president and administrator at an affiliate, Natural Stone Marketing Centre.

And then there is Active Translation, a translation company-turned-real estate administrator. In 2004, Pujol’s brother-in-law Ramon Gironès became the sole manager of the firm. A short time later, Active Translation sold its shares in another company, Gestió i Recuperació de Serveis, for nearly €5.3 million. The sale is suspect because Gestió’s assets were worth only €350,000 in 2002. Investigators believe the case may be linked to a public bid for a contract that was won by Gestió in 2002, when Pujol Ferrusola was still a shareholder.

In another case, Pujo Ferrusola and his wife bought two countryside properties in 2002 for €217,000, and sold them four years later for €4.8 million. A month later, the land was rezoned by the city of Palamós to allow residential building.

Meanwhile, his brother Oriol Pujol has also been investigated for bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.

More in Wikipedia. Catalan,  English. French. Spanish.

The Catalan version has a whole section,  Diners a paradisos fiscals – money in tax havens. 

The Tendance is fond of the expression “paradis fiscal” (the French version) – fiscal paradise.

One suspects that Catalan nationalism likes to think it’s in political paradise these days.

Let’s hope this latest episode in a long saga halts their ambition to cut off subsidies to the ‘lazy’ Southern Spanish people, and let the most prosperous section of Spain keep all its ‘own’ money.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Neil Clark, Sputnik, Threatens Tendance Coatesy.

with 18 comments


Neil Clark: Top Sputnik Intellectual.

Dear Andrew Coates,

Re your attack on me on your blog:

1. Kindly remove the photograph of me which you don’t have permission to use.

2. If you’re going to attack me by selectively quoting from pieces I have written in the past- well that’s one thing.

But what I won’t allow to stand is your attempt to smear me on the basis that my work, without my knowledge and without my permission has appeared on some French far right sites (if that’s indeed what they are- I have never heard of them).

If you can’t see how dishonest it is to attack someone for their work being stolen and put on sites without their permission- then I think you’ve got big problems.

At the moment I’m consulting with lawyers over representing me on a conditional fee arrangement in a legal action against Oiver Kamm (Sic) , who has waged a 10 year smear campaign aganst me which has involved regular posting of defamatory comments-(most seriously that I am a ‘Srebrenica denier’ ) an action which would also bring in the assistance Kamm has received in his campaign from ‘Andrew Philip Cross’, who, like Kamm cyberstalks me and who I saw (surprise surprise) soon joined in the attacks on me on your blog post, wth his links all at the ready (classic stalking behaviour).

He continues….

I really wouldn’t want to broaden any action I might take to include you– but at the same time I am not prepared to let your insinuation that I wrote directly for French far-right websites stand.

I therefore request that you amend your blog post to add the following :

Neil Clark has contacted me to say that his work appeared on the French sites (you can add their names) without his knowledge and permission  – and I apologise for giving readers the impression that he had written directly for these sites.

Please can you acknowledge safe receipt of this email.

Thank you in advance,
Neil Clark


We are working on the assumption that this semi-literate communication is not a joke (“aganst” “Oiver Kamm” “wth”)


His demand is that I write this:

“Neil Clark has contacted me to say that his work appeared on the French sites (you can add their names) without his knowledge and permission  – and I apologise for giving readers the impression that he had written directly for these sites.”

I apologise?

He has yet to even acknowledge that they are far-right.

Any apology has to come from a different source.

Let us see what I actually said,

His writings also appear on the 9/11 ‘Truther’ site ‘Voltaire Net.” (Réseau Voltaire) – here. Voltaire Net was set up by Thierry Meyssan who is best known for 9/11: The Big Lie (L’Effroyable imposture).

If Neil Clarke is unaware of the French sites (the 9/11 ‘Truther’ site,  Réseau Voltaire), using his articles, a big ‘if’ since it took me a few minutes to find them, then it is his responsibility to make sure that this is widely known.

And if not, there’s always Google.

To repeat.

They published his material: ’If you’re in NATO you can get away with murder’: Neil Clark to RT’ Réseau Voltaire. 12th June 2013.

If he does not known what Réseau Voltaire is, and who  Thierry Meyssan is, then perhaps he should start writing about something less intellectually challenging than politics, like posting comments on Facebook pictures of his pets.

Égalité et réconciliation may be a little more difficult – knowing about the most celebrated French far-right conspiracy theorist Alain Soral is nevertheless made easy even for dunderheads by his Wikipedia entry in English (though it’s not very comprehensive and needs an update).

This is what I wrote, in a comment.

He’s even on the openly fascist site of Alain Soral (Egalité et Réconciliation)

Neil Clark – Il est temps de mettre un terme aux brimades contre les Serbes


As for this shower – which I referred to not on the Blog post but, to repeat,  in the comments,  here is how they present his oeuvre.

He has yet to make clear his condemnation of either, or seem to grasp why these people find it useful to reproduce his opinions.

In these conditions pointing out that his work appears on these sites, is simply stating the truth.

I did not, therefore, say he “wrote” for the sites.

Rather than attacking Tendance Coatesy – of greater concern apparently than anything else –  what is going to do about their appearance on the French language and English language version of Réseau Voltaire/Voltaire Net, and Soral’s vehicle?

By contrast we are happy to remove his precious photo – though we have no idea that images available through Google are in some fashion copyright (presumably there are special pictures on the net that require a stamp from the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye to use).

On this demand alone I have shamelessly caved in and replaced it with one of our own.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Notorious Galloway – and former SWP – Hack Ger Francis worked for…..Corbyn??????

with 21 comments

Ger Francis (recent picture). 

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

For reasons that escape me Socialist Unity has chosen to publish this by Andy Newman:  St Crispin’s Day.

Meanwhile the only remaining other member of Socialist Unity’s band of brothers John Wight, has published this stirring call to arms,

Seumas Milne and His Swivel-Eyed Detractors

What we have seen take place is nothing less than a feral and unhinged scream from the swamp of reaction that resides in our culture, where every crank with a computer resides, consumed with bitterness and untreated angst, much of it in the form of self loathing over their own inadequacies and lack of talent – not to mention in some cases a jump from the extreme left to extreme right of the political spectrum, with all the psychological dysfunction such a metamorphosis describes.

So feral, so extreme has been this motley crew of first rate second rate men (and women) in their biblical denunciations of Seumas Milne, they make the McCarthy witchhunts seem like child’s play by comparison.

Wight ends this call to muster behind Milne with this remark,

“Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.”

We learn that Corbyn has taken upon himself to appoint another genius to his team, who is, surely no-coincidence, a former Socialist Unity contributor (Telegraph – Thanks Jim…).

It can also be revealed that Mr Corbyn has employed a key aide to the disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. Ger Francis, Rahman’s former political adviser, worked for Mr Corbyn at the Commons, a member of Mr Corbyn’s Westminster office confirmed last week. “He worked here on the leadership campaign,” she said.

Mr Francis moved to work for Mr Corbyn after Rahman was disbarred from office in April. An election court found the mayor guilty of “corrupt and illegal practices” including vote-rigging, bribery and lying that his Labour opponent was a racist. The judge, Richard Mawrey QC, said Rahman had run a “ruthless and dishonest” campaign which “drove a coach and horses” through electoral law.

Mr Francis, one of Rahman’s highly-controversial twelve political appointees, was at the heart of the mayor’s personal machine which saw millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash channelled to personal allies and Muslim groups in return for political support.

He is a former member of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers’ Party who was expelled from the SWP in 2007 for being too extreme. He then became an organiser for George Galloway’s far-Left Respect party and was agent for the party’s then leader, Salma Yaqoob, at the 2010 elections in Birmingham. He joined Rahman after the collapse of Respect and Ms Yaqoob’s resignation as leader.

This is what Ger said on what he intended to do in Respect (from, surprise, surprise, Socialist Unity  March 2008).

Our contribution to the international class struggle starts with the work we do to undermine British imperialism. In this context, the significance of the developments that have taken place around Respect, under the leadership of George Galloway and Salma Yaqoob, should not be underestimated. The demands made by Respect would probably have been accommodated by left social democracy in previous generations, but they have been given backbone by a resolute anti-imperialism, anti-racism and a critique of capitalism. This is the correct political orientation for mass politics.

Francis is particularly hated by Iranian and other exiles from Islamist countries for the role he played in Birmingham back in 2001-2 – preventing these democratic secular socialists from expressing their views in the Stop the War Campaign.

You can read about Francis’s activities in this text by respected comrades  Sue Blackwell and Rehan Hafeez – the pseudonym  of  a greatly valued Iranian activist I have had close contact with  (WHY WE WERE RIGHT TO LEAVE THE SWP).

On 4th April 2002, Rehan Hafeez (SWP member of 16 years’ standing) and Sue Blackwell (SWP member of 19 years’ standing) sent a joint letter of resignation to the Central Committee of the SWP. Our letter was sent by Recorded Delivery and we had expected some sort of response from the CC. Of course we didn’t expect them to take all our allegations at face value, but we did hope that they would at least investigate them. However, we never received a reply in any form whatsoever – not even an acknowledgement of our resignations. The only contact from the Centre was a couple of months later when we each received a phone call from the Membership Office enquiring why our subs had stopped! (Sue took great pleasure in answering that at some length to the poor sod at the end of the phone).

We therefore decided to post our letters on the web along with related documents, so that people can judge for themselves whether we made the right decision. Since we posted them in 2003, we have received dozens of supportive e-mails from others who have left the SWP under similar circumstances, and remarkably also from people who are still in the SWP suffering the same kind of abuses but haven’t yet plucked up the courage to leave. (I call it “battered comrade syndrome”).

In our letter we complained about the packing of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition (BSTWC) meeting on 5th February 2002, where the SWP rode roughshod over the existing democratic procedures in order to kick Steve Godward out of his post as Vice-Chair of BSTWC and to end the practice of open committee meetings and regular elections. This event was exactly mirrored at the Birmingham Socialist Alliance AGM held on 1st July 2003, where – guess what – the SWP packed the meeting in order to kick Steve Godward out of his position as Chair, along with every other committee member who was not in the SWP, including Rehan who was voted out of his post as Press Officer.

One point we would mention: the texts of these letters make repeated reference to Ger Francis, the Birmingham SWP full-timer. Ger was finally sacked by the SWP around the time of the Party Conference in early November 2002, and we are confident that our complaints about him contributed in some measure to that welcome decision. However, it would be wrong to think that the problems began and ended with comrade Francis: he was the symptom, not the cause. After his replacement the SWP in Brum continued to behave in exactly the same sectarian, dishonest and undemocratic manner within the anti-war movement and the Socialist Alliance. The rot, as far as we can see, comes from the head: Ger was repeatedly backed by CC members such as Chris Bambery, Lindsey German and John Rees and those individuals have not changed their positions. We have seen no real improvement in the internal democracy of the SWP.

We also note that no explanation was given to the rank-and-file as to WHY Ger was sacked, and why at THAT PARTICULAR TIME given that complaints against him had been made since the beginning of 2002. Ger carried on behaving in the exactly the same way, still taking a leading role in the BSTW Coalition for instance, but nothing was done to stop this. We considered this to be further evidence of the contempt the leadership had for ordinary members. Eventually Ger was expelled from the party itself as part of the fall-out from the split in Respect in 2007, when he sided with the Salma Yaqoob / George Galloway faction after the SWP had apparently seen the light.

This is one text: Concerning Events in Birmingham Since the Autumn of 2001. There are many more on the site.

This account of some of the events backs up their account of Ger’s factionist pro-Islamist stand in Birmingham:  STWC gravediggers. Steve Davis. (Weekly Worker. 9.1.03).

Here is Ger lauding Galloway (November 2009).

Hundreds attend George Galloway meeting in Birmingham University by Ger Francis

For those involved in Palestinian solidarity in Birmingham, its university has long felt like some weird Zionist outpost. For years Israeli apologists, through bureaucratic bullying and intimidation via the Student Union Guild, have been able to hinder and stifle debate.

Ger comments.

George Galloway is simply the most eloquent advocate of the Palestinian cause in the English speaking world.

To follow Henry the V is a hard task.

But this is what Sue said about Ger when he was finally booted out of the SWP (here),

Sue sent this as an e-mail to various comrades on hearing in early November 2002 that Ger Francis, the cause of so much of her misery, had been sacked from his post as full-time organiser for the SWP in Birmingham. Steve Godward replied “well said brother Wordsworth”.

In hindsight, however, this proved to be overly optimistic. Ger Francis remained very much in the driving seat of the Bham Stop The War Coalition, the “clumsy desperation” continues with a vengeance and there are still plenty of “madding factions” needing to be tranquilised ….

By the way – I shouldn’t need to say this but I’ll say it anyway – I do not in any way condone or encourage acts of individual violence and I do not wish anyone dead, even my worst enemies. In any case my worst enemies are the governments of the USA, the UK and Israel, not anyone on the British left. The “rivers of blood” here are strictly metaphorical (and nothing to do with Enoch Powell either!)

… but the foremost of the band
As he approached, no salutation given
In the familiar language of the day,
Cried, “Robespierre is dead!” – nor was a doubt,
After strict question, left within my mind
That he and his supporters all were fallen.

Great was my transport, deep my gratitude
To everlasting Justice, by this fiat
Made manifest. “Come now, ye golden times,”
Said I forth-pouring on those open sands
A hymn of triumph: “as the morning comes
From out the bosom of the night, come ye:
Thus far our trust is verified; behold!
They who with clumsy desperation brought
A river of Blood, and preached that nothing else
Could cleanse the Augean stable, by the might
Of their own helper have been swept away;
Their madness stands declared and visible;
Elsewhere will safety now be sought, and earth
March firmly towards righteousness and peace.”

Then schemes I framed more calmly, when and how
The madding factions might be tranquilised,
And how through hardships manifold and long
The glorious renovation would proceed.
Thus interrupted by uneasy bursts
Of exultation, I pursued my way …

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book

It is, frankly, outrageous that Ger Francis should be working for any Labour MP.





Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Portugal: Despite Presidential Manoeuvres, Socialists says it’s “Inevitable” the Left will Govern.

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Portuguese Socialists Vow to “Topple” Centre-right Minority Government.

Despite Europhobic headlines in the anglophone media (Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal’s anti-euro Left banned from power Daily Telegraph) for the Portuguese Socialist Party it remains “inevitable” that their leader, Costa,  will become Prime Minister supported by the agreement by left parties, PCP (Portuguese Communist Party), PEV (Green Party) and BE (left Bloc). (Socialistas consideram “inevitável” que Costa venha a ser primeiro-ministro: Publico).

The Portuguese Communist Party agrees, stating, “There is a real possibility of a government with the PS with the PCP”, “Existe a possibilidade real de o PS formar Governo e o PCP” said Jerónimo de Sousa (25th October Expresso). This comes despite their firm criticism of the decision by President Cavaco Silva to exclude this possibility (1).

Silva only has three months of office as President left before new elections (January 2016).

He is not standing (having served two consecutive terms he is not eligible for this contest).

Those credulous enough (or willing enough) to follow the Daily Telegraph’s view that the attempt to exclude the Portuguese left from power is the fault of ‘Europe’ will no doubt follow the following news with interest.

Portugal’s opposition Socialists pledged to topple the centre-right minority government with a no-confidence motion, saying the president had created “an unnecessary political crisis” by nominating Pedro Passos Coelho as prime minister.

RTE News. 24th October.

The move could wreck Mr Passos Coelho’s efforts to get his centre-right government’s programme passed in parliament in ten days’ time, extending the political uncertainty hanging over the country since an inconclusive 4 October election.

Mr Coelho was named prime minister on Thursday after his coalition won the most votes in the national election but lost its majority in parliament, which swung to leftist parties.

This set up a confrontation with the main opposition Socialists, who have been trying to form their own coalition government with the hard left Communists and Left Bloc, who all want to end the centre-right’s austerity policies.

“The president has created an unnecessary political crisis by naming Passos Coelho as prime minister,” Socialist leader Antonio Costa said.

The Socialists and two leftist parties quickly showed that they control the most votes when parliament reopened yesterday, electing a Socialist speaker of the house and rejecting the centre-right candidate.

“This is the first institutional expression of the election results,” Costa said. “In this election of speaker, parliament showed unequivocally the majority will of the Portuguese for a change in our democracy.”

Early yesterday, Mr Costa’s party gave its lawmakers a mandate to “present a motion rejecting any government programme” that includes similar policies to the last government.

After the national election, Mr Passos Coelho tried to gain support from the Socialists, who instead started negotiating with the Communists and Left Bloc.

Antonio Barroso, senior vice president of the Teneo Intelligence consultancy in London, said Costa was likely to threaten any Socialist lawmaker with expulsion if they vote for the centre-right government’s programme.

“Therefore, the government is likely to fall, which will put the ball back on the president’s court,” Mr Barroso said in a note.

The political stand-off has prompted concerns that the economy’s recovery after a bailout could stumble.

But, so far, bond market investors have focussed instead on the likelihood of more quantitative easing from the European Central Bank. Benchmark 10-year bond yields were slightly higher at 2.38 percent on Friday.

Portugal’s PSI20 stock index was up 1%.

Passos Coelho’s government pursued austerity measures and tax hikes during the past four years under a bailout which plunged Portugal into a three-year recession. The economy returned to growth last year and accelerated this year.

Portugal News on-Line reports:

In the wake of the elections, signs were that Cavaco Silva was set to follow tradition and nominate the party with the highest number of MPs to form a government, in this case, the centre-right PSD-CDS coalition.

But in the weeks which have followed since the split ballot, the Socialists and the coalition have failed to agree on much, as had been openly hoped for by the President. This has now resulted in the Socialists negotiating an unprecedented alliance with the Left Bloc and the Communist Party.

These three parties together have 123 seats in Parliament, 16 more than the coalition, and would be able to pass legislation without any opposition.

The Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins told Antenna 1 radio on Thursday that the party decided to join forces with the Socialists in order to stop them from forming an alliance with the PSD-CDS, which would have allowed Pedro Passos Coelho to add to his four years in charge as the country’s prime minister.

While the president has favoured a minority government, he will be fully aware that the leftist majority will bring down the coalition at the first opportunity.

Such an occasion will be presented to the opposition by no later than 4 November, the date on which the coalition will have to present their programme for the next four years of government, should they form a government.

Rejection of the government’s programme will see the ball tossed back in the court of the president.

He is currently fewer than three months away from completing the maximum two terms in office, meaning President Cavaco Silva will constitutionally be impeded to call early elections, as has happened in the past when a government has failed to enjoy the support of the majority of MPs.

With the fall of a hypothetical centre-right government, he will instead then be faced with the choice of either calling on Socialist leader António Costa to form a government, or hand the political hot potato to his successor, who will be elected in January.

The next president will however have little choice, but to call early elections. Once again, the constitution, in a bid to avoid a succession of elections, requires that a minimum of six months elapses between the start of a new parliamentary session and elections being called.

This will mean that the next President will only be able to announce a date for elections at the end of next April, with the earliest opening at his or her disposal being in June.

In the meantime, a minority cabinet will be reduced to performing ceremonial duties, and operate as a transitional government with very limited decision-making powers.

In the event of Passos Coelho’s cabinet being brought down and the president opts to hand over the country’s reigns to the leftists alliance, there will be some major policy shifts.

Agreement, appears to have been reached in three major areas.

The freezing of pensions will be lifted at a cost of one billion euros over the coming four years, civil servants will see their salary cuts revoked at a rate of 25 percent a quarter at a cost of 600 million euros, while also cancelling proposed cuts in the social security contributions and company tax rates, which in turn will pay for the increased expenditure on pensions and wages.

The Left Bloc and Communists have also called for stricter rules on sacking workers and are proposing the minimum wage be increased to 600 euros during the course of the current legislature, demands which the Socialists have shown an inclination towards accepting.

Less certainty surrounds how the generally moderate Socialists will deal with euro-scepticism of the far left, with both parties proposing a return to the escudo.

Despite assurances from the Socialists in recent days as to the continuation of the country in the euro, Portuguese Communist MEPs have this week been lobbying in Brussels for the EU to create a mechanism that will allow member states to obtain financing in order to facilitate their exit from the Union.

Given this stance and having defended the need for sacrifice since the Troika entered Portugal four years ago for the sake of stability on a European level, Cavaco Silva would not have raised too many eyebrows by nominating a minority government, even if he does so with the certainty it will not see out a full term in office.


On the decision and announcement by the President of the Republic regarding the nomination of the Prime Minister

The announcement by Cavaco Silva to the country on the nomination of Passos Coelho to form government, being yet another episode of an assumed confrontation with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic that has governed the mandates of the President of the Republic and his course, deserves the strongest condemnation.

Cavaco Silva did not just behave as a mentor of the PSD/CDS coalition, and used the office he has been vested, to try to redeem these parties from the significant defeat they were inflicted by the Portuguese people.

Cavaco Silva overstepped his functions, abused the prerogatives that are constitutionally assigned to him, subverted the foundations of the democratic regime, assumed himself not as President of the Republic but as a representative of the PSD and CDS in Belém [Palace] and placed the country into a position of humiliating foreign subservience .

It is demanded from Cavaco Silva, while President of the Republic, respect for the Constitution, impartiality and statesmanship, not being admissible from him appreciations about the legitimacy of the parties and their political action, let alone giving voice to anti-democratic conceptions and making judgments on the intents of others.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva dare limit, using the functions entrusted to him, about who may or may not exercise governing functions or responsibilities.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva intends to impose political options and government solutions subject to the interests at whose service he places himself and in confrontation with the constitutional framework that he is bound to obey.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva assumes himself, not as the guarantor of national sovereignty and independence, but rather as a defender of the financial markets, the speculators, the interests of transnational capital.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva imply, as he strongly hinted, an attitude of pressure and blackmail on the MPs and the choices they should make.

In this context and given the now announced decision, the President of the Republic becomes responsible for the position of confrontation with the Constitution, for the instability it creates and the political and institutional consequences therein resulting.

On the part of the PCP, Cavaco Silva’s decision to nominate Passos Coelho to form government will founder in the Assembly of the Republic with the approval of a motion to reject the government programme that may be presented by PSD and CDS.

Thus lies open the possibility of giving expression to the will expressed by the Portuguese people in the October 4 elections, putting an end to policies of destruction, impoverishment and national decline.
As we have stated, PSD and CDS have no conditions to govern, there being a majority of MPs in the Assembly which is enough condition for the formation of a government of the PS initiative, which enables the presentation of the Programme, its taking office and the adoption of a policy to ensure a lasting solution.

The PCP reaffirms its commitment to fight for a policy that responds to the rights of the workers and the people, the rise of their living conditions, the fight against social injustice and inequalities, the necessary economic growth and an effective employment policy .

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Should Germaine Greer Be Banned at Cardiff? No: Sign the Counter-Petition.

with 12 comments


Germaine Greer’s Libertarian Zest at its Best.

The furore about banning Germain Greer from speaking at Cardiff University shows no signs of dying down.

Germaine Greer: Transgender women are ‘not women’

This is the gist of what Greer said yesterday on Newsnight.

Australian-born academic and writer Germaine Greer has said that in her opinion, transgender women are “not women”.

She also claims that “a great many women” who are not transgender think transgender women – who she refers to as “male to female transgender people” – do not “look like, sound like or behave like women”.

Greer did say that she would be prepared to use female pronouns when referring to someone, if that was their preference, “as a courtesy”.

Germaine Greer may be barred from giving a lecture on women’s rights at a leading British university after hundreds of its students signed a petition accusing her of holding “misogynistic views” about transgender people.

The petition calls on Cardiff University to cancel the event featuring the 76-year-old feminist author and academic, who has been invited to give a lecture entitled “Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century” next month.

By late on 23 October almost 300 people had signed the petition, which was started by Cardiff Student’s Union Women’s Officer Rachael Melhuish. It claims hosting Greer would be “dangerous” due to her previously stated views on transgender people.

In a column written in 2009, the author of The Female Eunuch said the idea of being trans was a “delusion” and described trans women as “ghastly parodies”. Asked about the idea of transphobia at an event at Cambridge University earlier this year, she said she “didn’t know there was such a thing”, adding: “Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no.”

The petition reads: “Greer has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.

“Trans-exclusionary views should have no place in feminism or society. Such attitudes contribute to the high levels of stigma, hatred and violence towards trans people – particularly trans women – both in the UK and across the world.”

The Independent.

Many young women during the 1970s  were strongly influenced by Germain Greer’s book, the Female Eunuch (1970).

This summarises its message:

The main thesis of the book is that the “traditional” suburban, consumerist, nuclear family, represses women sexually, and that this devitalises them, rendering them eunuchs.

The Female Eunuch was a cry for freedom, and, whatever else you may think about it, helped instil a libertarian, joyful,  strain into feminism.

Some of my close comrades,  socialist feminist students at Westminster Further Education College in the mid-1970s spoke of how the book had given them the confidence to find their own voices.

Greer also wrote about the way men monopolise attention, their (our) desire for reassurance, right down to perceptive comments about how men who did the pleasanter domestic tasks, like preparing meals, always expected praise for their efforts.

I had a relationship with a woman who had been a member of Greer’s young women’s group in Leamington Spa.

I can vouch that I was reminded of the truth of these observations.

On Newsnight Greer stated that she felt that some transgender women seemed to also want to be centre of attention, even to “speak for” woman. She is known to have said that without a uterus you are not a “woman”.

But whatever anybody thinks about her views – and there’s a lot to dislike on her political ones she has, like her old mucker Tariq Ali, been a Liberal Democrat supporter to start with – the idea of banning her for being a contrarian feminist is absurd.

If not downright evil.

When the chips are down Greer is on the right side – as the evidence I have given indicates.

Counterpetitioning Cardiff University’s Hosting of Germaine Greer

 There is a petition to Cardiff to cancel Germaine Greer’s talk. I find it abhorrent that I must make a counterpetition so a second wave feminist isn’t silenced by those who could just as easily not go to the lecture yet instead have decided to try and no platform her, to silence her. They’ve given no evidence in the petition either, just slurs.

This reactionary tactic of calling a woman a ‘transphobe’ is no different than calling someone a ‘commie’ in 1960’s America during the cold war. It’s a slur that contains no analysis, just an emotional response that is primarily used against women who talk about women’s biological realities, not gender identities.

Greer centers females/women in her work. I fail to see how anyone who centers women is encouraging violence against anyone.

Her position on gender doesn’t make anyone unsafe. The very marginalized group that Greer talks to and about is women. We are a protected class. Silencing her is silencing us.

Enough is enough.  Stop  no platforming women who only want to talk about women’s rights and women’s lives.

Sign here.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2015 at 10:40 am

Seumas Milne’s New Best Friend, Neil, “Belarus”, Clark.

with 28 comments

Censored Photo.

Neil Clark: Seumas Milne’s New Bestie.


New Photo.


Neil Clark.

Yesterday one Neil Clark, apparently a journalist who writes for the New Statesman and the Guardian, amongst others, published this on the Russian backed site, Sputnik.

The news that Seumas Milne, anti-war journalist and Guardian columnist, has been appointed the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications has caused uproar among Britain’s McCarthyite pro-imperialist faux-left.

Milne, we’re told is a “terrorism apologist”, a “Stalinist” an “extremist”, ”apologist for dictators”, “apologist for murderous dictators”, “Kremlin/Putin apologist” and “facism (sic) apologist”.

Clark continues,

You’d think from reading these attacks that Milne was some kind of wild-eyed, foaming at the mouth madman who needs to be tethered on a leash for public safety. Just about the only very bad thing he hasn’t been accused of is being an “apologist” for Jack the Ripper — though no doubt, Cyril Waugh-Monger is working on that article right now.

Anyone who knows Seumas in person — as I do, can only laugh out loud at these ludicrous portrayals of a thoroughly decent and very thoughtful man

This may well be true.

We have concentrated on a few issues which concern us.

  • Milne supported the Islamist – and relatively moderate – right wing pro-business Tunisian party, Ennahda, against the Tunisian left, notably the by far largest workers’ organisation, the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT, in the period proceeding and immediately following Tunisia’s first free elections (2011)
  • That he failed to a give proper support for Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression. Making the claim, a  few days after the slaughter at the Weekly’s offices, and the Hyper-Cacher,  that suggested that their “repeated pornographic humiliation” of Muslims – underlined amongst other factors such as poor conditions in the French banlieues, helped to explain this blow back.

In today’s New Statesman Oliver Bullough sums up the underlying reasons for our gripes extremely well,

For Milne, geopolitics is more important than people.

Whatever crisis strikes the world, the West’s to blame.

Why did a group of psychopaths attack a magazine and a supermarket in Paris?

“Without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly couldn’t have taken place”.

These – serious – disagreements pale into insignificance compared to the revulsion people on the left will feel about the full spread of Clark’s politics.

Here is an example.

Belarus and Venezuela are natural allies: both are progressive, independent, socialist democracies who are following entirely different economic and social agendas to the neo-liberal one laid down by the Empire, one which benefits only multinationals and the very rich. Because of their independence, the leaders of Belarus and Venezuela have been demonised: both President Lukashenko and President Chavez have been called ‘dictators’ despite their regular election successes and the overwhelming popularity both men command in their respective countries.

Clark’s Blog 2007.

And this, Bright light on the Dniepe 2011.

80th Anniversary of the POUM.

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From La Bataille Socialiste.

Commemoration in Barcelona 31st October.

Resources Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista ( FUNDACIÓN ANDREU NIN).

This article brilliantly explains the POUM, (LLW)

On my first day in Barcelona during a trip a few years ago, I was walking down the fabled Ramblas street. Barcelona is a very dynamic city, with a much more “European” feel than Madrid, and there’s quite a lot to draw your attention. But it was a municipal library which caught my eye more than anything else, and stands out to this day: the Biblioteca Andreu Nin. When I asked the librarian inside, she explained that this was where the POUM’s headquarters had been during the Spanish Civil War, “hasta que lo desmantelaron”, until they dismantled it.

The POUM, or the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (the name is only slightly less clunky in Spanish) is best known in the English-speaking world as the party whose militias George Orwell fought with during the Civil War. Fans of Ken Loach will also remember that this party was central in Land and Freedom. Yet, although the Spanish Civil War is second only to the Russian Revolution as a historical reference for sect-ists of all types, the reference is always to the dramatic moments and the assorted leaders, with very little attention paid to what the mass of participants, including those in organizations, were thinking or doing.

Until they dismantled it” – “they” here does not refer to the fascists headed by General Franco, but to the Spanish Republican State, under the influence or domination of the Soviet Union. There’s a common refrain in Anarchist milieux that “Leninism” is in itself inherently counter-revolutionary, that all “Leninists” will always repress “Anarchists”, and that the proof lies in the repression of the Red Army against revolutionary Ukraine in 1918-1920, or of Republican Spain against the CNT during the Civil War. And yet the POUM were repressed alongside the CNT in Spain, despite being “Leninists” just like the advisors from Stalin’s NKVD. In fact, they were repressed first, as a test of strength for the government before going after the CNT, not to mention that the CNT leadership had bought itself some time after the showdown of May 1937 by calling for the working class to lay down its arms – a compromise which the POUM did not make. Without denying that there are definitely counter-revolutionary ideologies and positions, perhaps materialists would also do well to look at the relationship to the means of production when we ask how a party or individual transitions from revolution to counter-revolution.

The POUM is generally not discussed in those narratives, and certainly not in detail. When they are mentioned, one almost gets the impression that the POUM were anarchists without knowing it, that their Marxism was nothing more than an embarassing accident, and that they were simply unaware of the counter-revolutionary path that it would inevitably lead them on. Very conveniently for this narrative, there is almost nothing about the POUM’s activity or set of ideas available in English. (A notable exception is the hard to find Spanish Marxism versus Soviet Communism, also by Victor Alba.) Today, on May 4th, it seems appropriate to mention what happened on May 4th, 1937. From Wikipedia:

At eleven o’clock the delegates of the CNT met and agreed to do everything possible to restore calm. Meanwhile, the anarchist leaders Joan García Oliver and Federica Montseny heard an appeal on the radio asking to their followers to lay down their weapons and return to their jobs. Jacinto Toryho, director of the CNT newspaper Solidaridad Obrera, expressed the same sentiment. […] By five in the afternoon, several anarchists were killed by the police near the Via Durruti (current Via Laietana). The POUM began to support resistance publicly.

It was on that same trip, at a CNT-affiliated bookstore called La Rosa de Foc, that I ran across an old paperback whose title caught my eye: La Revolución Española en la Práctica. Documentos del POUM. I bought it without hesitation. When I had time to crack it open, I was engrossed. As an anthology, it is in a genre which must have very few other members: a collection of documents dealing with the problems of a revolution, made by participants in that revolution, during the process of the revolution itself. The documents deal with concrete problems of agriculture and industry, public health and the military situation, the dynamics of the various workers’ organizations and of the growing reactionary influence of the Soviet Union in Republican Spain. They were not written ahead of time, full of references to Lenin, nor were they handed down from the Party leadership. They read very well even today, and I would say they are worth reading for more than just historical interest. I would like at some point to translate some of these documents – as Victor Alba states in the introduction, which I have translated below, they have a refreshing mix of realism and idealism.

But I’ll try to let Victor speak for himself, as I think he’s more than capable. As he says, when something is thought through clearly, it is expressed clearly. I’ll make only a few other points here. First, there is a common thought that revolutionaries should form organizations based primarily on their specific ideas, and that the organization’s actual relationship to the class struggle is only a secondary matter. The problem, when the only discernible difference between one organization and another is a slightly different set of ideas, is that any new ideas in either organization will logically lead to a split. As Hal Draper put it in The Anatomy of the Micro-Sect,

As long as the life of the organization (whether or not labeled “party”) is actually based on its politically distinctive ideas, rather than on the real social struggles in which it is engaged, it will not be possible to suppress the clash of programs requiring different actions in support of different forces. The key question becomes the achievement of a mass base, which is not just a numerical matter but a matter of class representation. Given a mass base in the social struggle, the party does not necessarily have to suppress the internal play of political conflict, since the centrifugal force of political disagreements is counterbalanced by the centripetal pressure of the class struggle. Without a mass base, a sect that calls itself a party cannot suppress the divisive effect of fundamental differences on (for example) supporting or opposing capitalist parties at home in the shape of liberal Democrats and such, or supporting or opposing the maneuvers of the “Communist” world.

The POUM provides an example of the opposite process, of a movement where the life of the organization is based on the real social struggles in which it is engaged, and which does allow for the free play of ideas about the best program to move forward. As Alba mentions, the POUM published classics by Marx, Riazanov, Bebel … and Kautsky.

The second point to make here is that the crucial thing for American revolutionaries should not be to have the right “line” on Spain, or on Russia – we should try to figure out America, and the contradictions that are present here. One of the POUM’s strengths, which Alba will show better than I can, is that the POUM attempted to use Marxism to work out a revolutionary strategy for Spain, rather than to take ready made answers from others (whether Stalin, Trotsky, or anyone else) and apply them rigidly. My purpose in translating this text is not to raise the understanding of what did or didn’t happen, what could or couldn’t have happened during the Spanish Revolution (though I’m not opposed to those dicussions), but to contribute to the questions that can be asked about what an American socialist workers movement would look like. To paraphrase Alba one final time, there are many differences between America in 2015 and Spain in 1937 – but perhaps not as many as we’d expect.

This is particularly important:

 An old militant, a founder of the Spanish Communist Party and later the POUM, has given a summary, forty one years later, of what the POUM was:

“The Workers Party of Marxist Unification has more than forty years of history behind it. It was born in the last months of 1935 out of the fusion of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, and the Communist Left. But its origins reach to the year 1920, in which the Spanish Communist Party was founded. Almost simultaneously, a group of militants from the CNT placed themselves resolutely on the side of the Russian Revolution and adopted the principles and tactics of the communists. From 1920 on, these militants of the CNT were grouped around the weekly Acción Sindicalista, from Valencia; after 1921, around the weekly Lucha Social, in Lérida; and in 1922 they adopted La Batalla, from Barcelona, as their mouthpiece while they were organizing the Revolutionary Union Committees. In 1924 this group of militants joined the Spanish Communist Party, and they exercised a decisive influence in the Party’s Catalan-Balearic Federation. In the first months of 1931 this federation fused with the Catalan Communist Party, which had unsuccessfully tried to be admitted as a national section to the Communist International. After fusing, both organizations created, to give the new party a greater power of attraction, the Workers and Peasant’s Bloc, and the new party was known under this name, even though the nucleus that it revolved around retained the name of Catalan-Balearic Communist Federation and, after 1932, when its forces began to grow outside of Catalonia, it took the name of Iberian Communist Federation.

The Communist Left was the primitive Communist Opposition constituted around the figure of Leon Trotsky, with whom it had broken when he advised his troops to enter the ranks of Social Democracy. The POUM, then, is a legitimate heir of the communist movement’s heroic years, of the first years of the Russian revolution, and it contained a mixture of people from the communist old guard as well as those who brought the traditions of struggle from Spanish anarchosyndicalism, militants who had participated in the great battles of 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1920. […] The Catalan-Balearic Communist Federation began to differentiate itself during the years of the military dictatorship [by Primo de Rivera, from 1923-1931], a little bit more every day, from the leadership of the Spanish Communist Party, which in those days was in the hands of the Trilla-Ballejos group. Above all, the Federation opposed the Communist Party’s attempts to carry out splits in the heart of the CNT, an attempt which was disguised under the name of a Committee of Reconstruction.

To the degree that Stalin was imposing his methods on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and on the Communist International, and through this on its various sections, the Federation was distancing itself from the international communist organization, which, after a period, it openly confronted. And the POUM was the only party of communist origin which, having broken with the 3rd international, succeeded not only in continuing to exist, but actually consolidated and considerably incremented its forces and its influence.

But this was something that, in a time in which the Communist Party claimed everywhere to be the party of the workers, in which the official section of the Communist International in every land claimed to have a monopoly of revolutionary action, in which the communist movement was rigidly monolithic, the International inspired by Stalin and guided in every moment by one or another of his cronies could neither allow nor forgive. The circumstances created in Spain by the Civil War gave Stalin the opportunity to present the bill to the POUM, with heavy interest, for resisting submission to his orders.

After July 19, 1936, in the parts of Spain where it had any forces worth considering, particularly in all of Catalonia, in Valencia, in Castellón, and in Madrid, the POUM’s militants went arms-in-hand to confront the military rising, and then organized militias which fought valiantly, frequently heroically, in the field. Many of our comrades died fighting fascism. But if the workers confronted the mutineers, rifle-in-hand, it wasn’t to simply begin the game again, to return to the situation that had made the Civil War possible.

That’s why the struggle took on a revolutionary character in the parts of the country where the mutiny had been smashed in the first moments, that’s why the war and the revolution appeared intimately linked in the eyes of the working class. The petty bourgeoisie, whose political expression took the form of the republican parties, found itself overwhelmed in the early moments by the revolutionary tide, but bit by bit, as the war dragged on and the difficulties inherent to any armed conflict piled up, they recovered the positions they had lost. In this they could count on the support of the Communist Party as well as a large part of the Socialist Party.

The scant aid which the Spanish republic received from the democratic governments, scared as they were of a revolution in the south of Europe, and nervous about irritating the fascist states, in contrast with the considerable, although not disinterested, aid which the Soviet Union brought from the early stages of the Civil War, gave the Communist Party enormous possibilities to augment its forces and its influence in Spain.

Over time the Soviet Union, in return for its aid in war materials, was able to steer the policy of Republican Spain and introduce its agents and methods into the government, the army, the police, even into the economy, into some parties, and into a large part of the union organizations. The idea that Spain should become a socialist country never entered into Stalin’s mind, as this would have created difficulties for the Soviet Union’s foreign policy, which at that time was playing the card of military alliance with the democratic states without losing hope for a possible understanding with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. From this stems its determination to strip the Spanish Civil War of its revolutionary character, to separate the war and the revolution. While it’s true that perhaps the war could have been won even if the revolutionary conquests of the early days had been lost, and that without securing the military victory, the revolution would certainly have succumbed, it’s no less true that those who wanted to sacrifice the revolutionary conquests to win the war lost everything.

The POUM considered the war and the revolution inseparable and opposed the policy of the Communist Party and the petty bourgeoisie. This gave cause to the agents of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party to unleash a campaign of lies and slander which was unprecedented in this country, the first step to the repression which began in May of 1937, in which many of our best militants were assassinated, including Andrés Nin, political secretary of the POUM. The very tribunal which judged the leaders of our organization, although it condemned them for high treason for their attitude around the events of May 1937 in Barcelona, solemnly recognized their spotless revolutionary past, and rejected the calumnious accusations that they had been subjected to. History has judged all of us, slanderers and slandered, persecutors and persecuted. It’s clear now that those who once upon a time defamed and persecuted us don’t feel proud today about their past behavior.

At the end of the civil war, the POUM was caught by two overlapping repressions: the first, undertaken by the Communists, was joined by the other, the repression which hit all of Republican Spain. Even in 1939, our militants who refused to leave or could not leave Spain began to regroup themselves and to carry out clandestine action, under great risk. In September 1939, in Barcelona alone, 26 of our militants were executed. It was our Party who denounced the execution of Catalan President Luis Companys in a manifesto. In 1945-1947 the POUM collected, above all in Catalonia, a growing number of enthusiastic militants. Just like the other parties, after this year our party suffered due to the continuing repression as well as the demoralization caused by the survival of the Franco regime after the victory of the allied armies over the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis. Additionally, there was the difficulty that every party and union experienced to one degree or another caused by the existence of two leaderships, one in exile and one in the interior, or else just the exile leadership.”

Read the rest: The POUM in their own words.

This is the serious article (from no less than the SWP….) which deals with, amongst other things, “Historical debate about the outcome of the Spanish Revolution (1936-37) has often centred on the dissident communist Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM). For the Trotskyist movement the POUM was responsible for the revolution’s defeat.”

Trotsky and the POUM. Andy Durgan. International Socialism. July 2015.

Durgan observes,

Trotsky’s criticism of Nin and the POUM can only be understood from an appreciation of his absolute belief in the capacity to influence events…the conviction that, however minuscule the initial nucleus of revolutionaries may be, with the correct theory, leadership and programme, this tiny grouping could be transformed into a revolutionary party with mass support at a time of revolutionary crisis.42

But for Trotsky, writing in December 1937, “contrary to its own intentions the POUM proved to be in the final analysis the chief obstacle on the road to the creation of a revolutionary party”.43 In the new edition of his text Sennett steps back from what was possibly the “harshest and least justified” of Trotsky’s condemnations of the POUM. According to Sennett, Trotsky:

Failed to appreciate, on the one hand, the hegemony of the Socialists and anarcho-syndicalists over the Spanish labour movement, and, on the other, the rapid expansion in membership and power of the [communists] after July 1936. There was little room for a new political force. It is remarkable that the POUM, which was largely confined to Catalonia, achieved as many adherents and wielded as much influence as it did.44

Having thus pointed to an underlying problem with Trotsky’s writings on the POUM, Sennett then later criticises the POUM for not—in May—being “a vanguard party” that was able to shape events. But he offers no alternative strategy. We are left with the conclusion that neither a revolutionary nor a Popular Front victory was possible.45 However, such fatalism does not lead to a better understanding of what was at stake and what options were available for the revolutionary left in Spain in 1936. Instead we are left with a confusing and incomplete narrative of events and their consequences.

For many us, democratic socialists, libertarian Marxists, anarchists,  the POUM were our sisters and brothers, and their dead, our martyrs.

We remember them, sempre, siempre.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2015 at 10:03 am

Seumas Milne: Enemy of the North African Left and Secularists.

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Opponent of North African Left and Secularists. 

Seumas Milne  has a new job.

Guardian columnist Seumas Milne has been appointed as Labour Executive Director of Strategy and Communications. The appointment is considered controversial in Labour circles.

The appointment of Milne is the surest sign yet that Jeremy Corbyn will fill senior positions with hard left allies in an attempt to assert his dominance. Milne is considered one of the most left wing commentators in the media. He has worked as comment editor and labour editor for The Guardian, as well as writing for The Economist, and has spent 10 years as an executive member of the National Union of Journalists. He has also written several books, including one about the miners’ strike of the 1980s.

Milne will join the Labour leader’s office on the 26th October, next Monday, on leave from his position at The Guardian.

Labour List.

Much will be made of Milne’s various political stands, including, no doubt the time when he stood as a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ candidate in mock elections at his exclusive public school, Winchester College (information from an Old Wykehamist).

These are just two which make him unfit to represent Labour to an important section of the world left, his opposition to the North African left and support for their Islamist allies, and, as he showed with his reactionary anti-Charlie Hebdo rants, his hostility to secularists and lovers of freedom of expression everywhere.

The first issue is Tunisia:

, Guardian Comments Editor, has described the Ennahda party (right-wing Islamists)  as “progressive” and gave space to pro-Islamist views during his time as Comment Editor (for six years, 2001-7).

In October 2011 he said this (Guardian)

The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (Ennahdha)  won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.

In January 2011 the Guardian published this – reflecting Milne’s enthusiasm.

We are building a Tunisia for all  

Oddly this had happened in February that year, (BBC)

Police have cleared crowds of Tunisians who marched through the capital Tunis on Friday demanding the resignation of interim PM Mohammed Ghannouchi, a long-time ally of the ousted leader.

It was the biggest rally since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last month after 23 years in power, after being toppled by weeks of unrest.

Mr Ghannouchi’s interim government has promised elections by mid-July.

But crowds marched down Tunis’ main avenue chanting: “Ghannouchi leave.”

Later police fired tear gas and warning shots as they cleared the demonstrators from in front of the interior ministry .

Witnesses said one protester was injured when police fired warning shots at the crowd which some estimates said was 100,000-strong.

By the beginning of 2013 this was happening:

Tunisia: Islamists Kill Secularist Left Leader, General Strike Today.

Milnes did not support the left-wing Tunisian Front Populaire. Or (presently ruling, left-of-centre secular party) at the head of a coalition with the Islamists and nationalist parties,  Nidaa Tounès, of PM Habib Essid. 

Instead he backed full-square the Muslim Brotherhood franchise, the pro-business, pro-liberal economics, Islamists of Ennahda.

The second issue is Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie: Pornographic Humiliation of Muslims.

Paris is a warning: there is no insulation from our wars writes, in the Guardian.

The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. What happens there happens here too
Nothing remotely justifies the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, still less on the Jewish victims singled out only for their religious and ethnic identity.


What has become brutally obvious in the past week, however, is the gulf that separates the official view of French state policy at home and abroad and how it is seen by many of the country’s Muslim citizens. That’s true in Britain too, of course. But what is hailed by white France as a colour-blind secularism that ensures equality for all is experienced by many Muslims as discrimination and denial of basic liberties.

What of Charlie?

Charlie Hebdo claims to be an “equal opportunities offender”, abusing all religions alike. The reality, as one of its former journalists put it, has been an “Islamophobic neurosis” that focused its racialised baiting on the most marginalised section of the population.

This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.

I will not dignify this with longer extracts but note this conclusion, and note it well,

Europeans are fortunate that terrorist outrages have been relatively rare. But a price has been paid in loss of freedoms, growing anti-semitism and rampant Islamophobia. So long as we allow this war to continue indefinitely, the threats will grow. In a globalised world, there’s no insulation. What happens there ends up happening here too.

In brief, the slaughter was terrible, but Charlie Hebdo was so awful that there was bound to be a “blowback”.

For in plain English: they (and one assumes the victimes at the Hyper-Cacher) had “it coming to them”.

The failure to back the left, and instead support the right, during the important events in Tunisia, and his misinterpretation of Charlie Hebdo’s satire,  are enough to make Milne unsuitable to represent the Labour Party for important constituencies.

That is, on Tunisia he stands against the majority of the North African and European left, and to the overwhelming majority of the Francophone left which mourned the Paris slaughter in January this year. 

He has already mightily annoyed Kate Godfrey (“Mr Corbyn, I have spent my life in conflict zones. Prior to becoming a Labour PPC I worked in Somalia, in Sudan, in Libya, in Algeria, in Lebanon when the Israelis were shelling the passes, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Georgia, in Azerbaijan and in the DRC”), who criticises a much wider field of misjudgment on international issues.  ”

“So Mr Corbyn, what made you appoint fascism-apologist Seumas Milne?”

Bob’s view:  Three reasons why Milne’s appointment was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Former International Marxist Group Leader, John Ross, “China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights.”

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Former Leader of International Marxist Group Praises China’s Human Rights Record. 

Note for Jeremy Corbyn – How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights

By John Ross. October the 20th. 

From this site, “20 years of accurate predictions on China and the world economy  实事求是 – seek truth from facts, Chinese saying originally from the Han dynasty.”

I supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party. As I have known him for thirty years I know Jeremy Corbyn is the most principled leader of the Labour Party in my lifetime – the most committed to human well-being. On Tuesday he is scheduled to have a personal meeting with Xi Jinping during the latter’s British visit.

The significance of China’s contribution to human well-being can be understood by both Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the US and Europe.

On key issues for the development of China, Britain, and other countries Jeremy Corbyn has the same positions as China. He is an opponent of any US military build-up against China and of proposed measures in trade agreements such as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which are against the interests of the population of the participating countries, China and developing countries in general.

Sections of the British media present a supposed choice that Britain has to choose between either pursuing purely economic interests or criticising China over ‘human rights’. This posing of the issue is totally false – China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.

Pause for large intake of breath.

Taking the latest World Bank international definition of poverty ($1.90 daily expenditure at 2011 internationally comparable prices) from 1981 to 2010, the latest data, China has raised 728 million people from poverty. The rest of the world reduced poverty by only 152 million people. China therefore lifted almost five times as many people out of poverty as the rest of the world put together.

To demonstrate what this means for humanity’s well-being 728 million people is more than the population of the EU, more than the population of the Latin American continent, more than twice the population of the US, and 11 times the population of Britain.

For someone with Jeremy Corbyn’s concern for humanity, particularly the least privileged within it, this is the best imaginable news.

Nor is this a gigantic step forward just for China but for human well-being. China’s entire population, not just the poorest, has seen increases in living standards which are without comparison in human history. China’s average annual increase in ‘total consumption’, including not only direct household living standards but education and health spending, has been over eight percent a year for three decades – not only the world’s fastest but by far the most rapid increase in living standards for the greatest number of people in human history. China has brought social security protection to 820 million people, more than the population of the EU, and health care to over a billion – three times the population of the US, almost the population of Africa, and nearly twice the population of Latin America.

The simple but gigantic example of women in China and India graphically illustrates the real issues involved in human rights globally – and women in China and India together constitute one in every five people on the planet. A Chinese woman’s life expectancy is 77 years, and literacy among Chinese women over the age of 15 is 93%: an Indian woman has a life expectancy of 68 and literacy rate over the age of 15 is 66%. India may be a ‘parliamentary republic’, in which Facebook may be used, but (regrettably for India) the human rights of a Chinese woman are far superior to the human rights of an Indian woman.

This presents the issue of human rights in the clearest fashion. The most pressing questions facing the overwhelmingly majority of the world’s population, who live in developing countries, are not those of Western ‘human rights’ campaigns such as those of ‘Amnesty International’. Over 500 million people in India do not have a toilet – for those who live in the real world to have a toilet is a far more important human right than internet restrictions. And if Indian women had the right to move to China, and would live nine years longer and achieve literacy by doing so, innumerable people would move north of the Himalayas – and that is said by someone who wants nothing but for India to make the same progress China has achieved.

Another deep intake of foul breath.

Do these gigantic achievements in human rights in the real sense mean China has no problems? Not a single serious person in China believes this. To take merely some striking issues, major environmental damage exists in China. But despite this real issue overall China’s social and environmental conditions demonstrate that great progress has still been made. Life expectancy, as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has demonstrated, is the most sensitive of all indicators as it sums up all different pluses and minuses in social, environmental and other indicators. A person in China lives three years longer, and someone in the US two years less, than would be expected from their respective per capita GDPs – showing overall social and environmental conditions in China are significantly better than would be expected from its stage of economic development and in the US significantly worse. But that does not alter the fact that China still has to take huge steps to overcome environmental problems.

Furthermore despite China’s unprecedented achievement in the reduction of poverty, it still has to finish the job by raising another 100 million people out of poverty. It would therefore be highly interesting for Jeremy Corbyn to discuss with Xi Jinping the President’s recent pledge to complete the task of eliminating internationally defined poverty in China by 2020.

As China is still building up its social security system towards the level made possible in Britain and other advanced countries, and as international studies show Britain’s health service to be the world’s most cost efficient, a mutually valuable discussion could take place between Jeremy Corbyn and President Xi on how, taking into account their countries different conditions, both can strengthen their health services.

But what China has no need of at all, indeed what is grotesque given China has produced the greatest improvement in human conditions in human history, is to be delivered sanctimonious lectures by other countries – particularly those whose recent activities include invading other countries, such as Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths spreading chaos throughout the Middle East, or whose historical relation to China was to force it to import opium, to burn its greatest architectural achievements, and for a century and a half to hold islands off its coast as a colonies.

I cannot put words in someone else’s mouth, but my summary of the basis for an honest discussion with China would be roughly the following: ‘President Xi, the world rightly greatly admires China’s progress in the improvement in the conditions of human beings, of human rights in the real sense – which are the greatest of any country in the history of the world. We should discuss how other countries can draw lessons from these achievements.

Oh dear, oh dear.

‘As you yourself have pointed out China, as it is still a developing country, still has long path of development ahead. You have set out the “goals of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC in 2021 and building China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the PRC in 2049 so as to realize the Chinese Dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Could you outline this in more detail? And in the same way we study your achievements in improving the conditions of not only China but humanity there may some aspects of our experience China may draw lessons from?

‘I particularly noted your statement of what China sees as its relation to the overall condition of humanity: “Throughout 5,000 years of development, the Chinese nation has made significant contributions to the progress of human civilization… Our responsibility is… to pursue the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, so that China can stand firmer and stronger among the world’s nations, and make new and greater contributions to mankind.”

Dumbfounded doesn’t begin to cover it.

‘Britain is also one of the world’s great historical nations. I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science, and in which struggles such as the Suffragettes or to create our health service are a source of great pride. There are regrettably some things in my country’s history, as with every great state, which I am not proud of. Some of these I mentioned and were crimes done by Britain to China. It is therefore particularly gratifying that this negative past can be put behind and China and Britain can now work in conditions of equality and mutual respect. On that basis, in the very different conditions of the two countries, we can both make further contributions to what must be the goal of any country’s policy – the improvement of the condition of human beings, of human rights in the deepest sense, including the right of each country to pursue its own national way of life. On that basis, as with China, my hope is that Britain will not only improve its own conditions of life but make new and greater contributions to humanity.’

Jeremy Corbyn is totally devoted to the interests of humanity, and in particular to the least privileged within it. He can therefore make up his own words. But any balanced reflection on human values will make clear that not only he but the world should rejoice to see that China has been able to take the greatest step forward for real human rights of any country.

Well that’s got it off his chest.

John Ross is a former leader of the International Marxist Group.

At present is part of the group Socialist Action, as can be seen from the above and these, recent articles:

Saturday, 05 September 2015 No China’s economy is not going to crash – why China has the world’s strongest macro-economic structure by John Ross.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 A victory parade for China and humanity John Ross, on China’s 70th anniversary Victory Parade.

This is how the Labour Leader will receive the Chinese President.

Corbyn to challenge China’s strongman president Xi Jinping over human rights abuse during private one-on-one talks today

  • Labour leader given an unprecedented private meeting with President Xi
  • It came after he threatening to raise concerns at an exclusive state banquet
  • Expected to demand release of hundreds of jailed human rights lawyers
  • He’ll also raise concerns over Chinese steel dumping threatening UK jobs

French Ruling Socialists Hit New Low with “Referendum” on Regional Election Left Unity.

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Des militants socialistes ont installé une urne pour solliciter le vote des passants sur le marché Maubert dans le cadre du référendum sur l'unité de la gauche à Paris le 17 octobre 2015.

French Socialists Resort to Stunts.

The French left is not in good condition.

An opinion poll (12th of October gives the following for the November regional elections,

Nicolas Sarkozy’s party (Les Républicain, LR), 31%  the Front National (28%), Parti Socialiste (23%).  Front de gauche (5%), les listes EEVL (3%), les listes d’alliance FG/EELV (joint Front de Gauche and Greens, 3%), various far-left confetti (3%), Debout la France, right-wing ‘Sovereigntists’ (3%). 21%  of those polled have yet to give their voting intention.

According to the poll the abstention rate could be as high as 55%.

Le Parti socialiste revendique 250 000 votants à son référendum

This ‘referendum’ – open to all those who sign up a declaration that they back the values of the left, of the ecologists and of the republic  – was held, from Friday to Sunday  in 2 500  polling stations organised by the Parti Socialiste and one could also vote on-line.

Why was it held?

The organisers state,

Face aux divisions, il faut défendre l’union car ce sont les régions qui agissent pour votre quotidien. Oui, pendant ces 3 jours, chaque voix compte pour pousser à l’unité de la gauche et des écologistes !

Faced with divisions, we have to defend unity, because in the regions this is a matter of your day-to-day life. Yes, during these 3 days, every vote counts to push forward the unity of the left and the ecologists.

The reason:

In certain regions the French Greens (Europe Écologie – Les Verts, EELV) have preferred to stand candidates on joint lists with the Front de gauche, with both running independently of the Parti socialiste. This is, for example, the case in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie,  Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, amongst others.

The Question was this,

« Face à la droite et l’extrême droite, souhaitez-vous l’unité de la gauche et des écologistes aux élections régionales ? »

Faced with the Right and the Extreme-Right, do you want the unity of the left and the ecologists in the regional elections?

51 327 people voted, 135 027  by ballot box and 116 300  on the Net.

The Socialist Party chief, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (a former ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyist back in the dawn of time), whose mad-cap idea this was, announced, “C’est un succès, c’est le top, pas le flop !

Well, there are allegations of vote-rigging, and other irregularities, but given the whole masquerade is a joke we will let that pass.

Though for those who want to see how the clowning trick has been received on the left, this is a response  Référendum Cambadélis : mi-escroquerie, mi-pitrerie. Guillaume Liégard. Technical faults of this farce: Référendum PS : « Soit ils ont merdé, soit ils affaiblissent la démocratie »

The French Socialist Party is losing members hand over fist.

In May this year it had 131 000 card-holders against 173 486 in 2012 at the Congrès de Toulouse. That is a loss of  25%. RMC

Viewed over a longer period this decline is even more serious:

This went from 256 000 in  2007 to 131 000 today, that is 50 %. le Monde.

Areas of the country, such as the North, have been particularly affected by the drop in activism and membership, leading to the observation that the historic base of French socialism in this once industrial and mining region, is evaporating – to the advantage of the Front National.

Another Parti Socialiste manoeuvre, the creation of a satellite ‘green’ party, this weekend (Geddit?) Le Front démocrates et Ecologistes!  l’UDE, is unlikely to transform the situation.

That would require a balance-sheet of President Hollande’s policies and, more specifically, his present Prime Minister, Manuel Valls – one of Tony Blair’s last admirers in Europe – and his failure to connect with the left and labour movement.

Showing why important sections of the French Green party choose to align with the Front de Gauche rather than the socialists is fairly simple: they neither support Valls’ social and economic policies, nor those of his (even more right-wing) Emmanuel Macron.

La loi Macron – a set of 308 measures, designed to increase “competitivity” attack “corporatism” – that liberalising measures for the economy centred around getting rid of ‘red tape’ (albour protection to start with) is a good place to start if the PS wants seriously to look into its electoral difficulties. (Ce que contient (désormais) la loi Macron)

As in this:  Philippe Martinez (head of the left union federation, the CGT) « Il est temps d’arrêter de faire plaisir au patronat » It’s time to stop pleasing the bosses.

Then, we would move onto the growth of nationalist anti-European, “sovereigntist” ideas which have even had an echo on the left, old fashioned la terre et les morts racism against migrants, refugees and straightforward racism; against North Africans, Africans, Jews, and the “anti-France”.

In conclusion…

I have been asked to write on French left politics a number of times in the last few months.

My reply: it’s too bloody depressing…

Oh and I almost forget the ‘referendum’ results.

First estimates:  89% voted “oui” and backed the PS.


After SWP Involvement Makes News, Momentum Publishes Ethical Code – is this enough?

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Enfin, les difficultés commencent !

By a route leading back to, amongst others,  Tendance Coatesy the New Statesman has published this:

When new group Momentum was launched by Jeremy Corbyn supporters, Labour MPs were immediately alarmed by its decision to allow non-party members to sign up. This, they warned, risked far-left entryism and the creation of a Militant-style “party within a party”.

Their fears were given greater credence yesterday by the announcement by the Socialist Workers Party, the most loathed Trotskyist groupuscule, that it intends to participate in Momentum. The SWP’s “Party Notes” stated: “There are also various initiatives to re-launch the Labour left. Momentum which has the backing of a group of newly elected Corbyn-supporting MPs such as Clive Lewis and Richard Burgon, looks like it might be the most significant to date (Corbyn and McDonnell have also made supporting statements backing it). It does not seem restricted to Labour members, though it says it will aim to encourage people to join Labour. We should go along to any local Momentum meetings with the aim of taking part as open SWP members, suggesting joint activity, and sign up to be on the email lists. A launch meeting in Manchester last week attracted 70 people, many of them new and comrades had a friendly response when they raised common activity.”

For Momentum’s Labour supporters, the involvement of the SWP (see Edward Platt’s 2014 NS piece for an account of the party’s multiple woes) would be a political catastrophe. Indeed, it is precisely because the SWP recognises that its participation would discredit the group that it has adopted this strategy. It intends to support Momentum as the noose supports a hanged man.

It is notable, then, that the group’s founders have moved swiftly to repudiate the SWP. An article on Left Futures, the site edited by Momentum director Jon Lansman, declares: “There are extremely good reasons why the SWP and my erstwhile comrades in the Socialist Party should be told to sling their hook when they try and get involved. A passing acquaintance with them is all it takes to understand that they’re fundamentally uninterested in building the wider labour movement, let alone the Labour Party – which is one of Momentum‘s explicit objectives. During the summer the SWP looked upon stormin’ Corbyn with indifference and barely any comment. For the Socialist Party, because Labour was a “capitalist party” Jeremy couldn’t possibly win and it was dead as far as socialist politics were concerned.

But the suspicion that Momentum will be infiltrated by hostile left-wingers is likely to endure. If SWP members are to be formally excluded from meetings, the new fear is that its activists go undercover (though it is worth recalling how few there now are). Shadow minister Clive Lewis, a Momentum director, told me this week: “If people are concerned about Momentum, all I would say is judge it on what it does.” But for Labour MPs, the jury will remain out for some time.

Momentum published this yesterday

Interim Ethical Code for Individuals and Local Groups Associated with Momentum

Individuals and groups using the Momentum name and branding must operate according to the following principles at all times:

• As the successor to Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership Campaign, Momentum promotes the values that Jeremy popularised during the campaign, of fair, honest debate focused on policies, not personal attacks or harassment.
• Momentum is outward-facing. It seeks to reach out across the community and encourages the participation of people who may not have been involved in political activities before. Ensuring the safety and self-expression of everyone is a priority, especially of those who are often marginalised on the basis of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, religion, class, disability and educational or economic status.
• Groups of individuals may form local Momentum Groups to share ideas, organise and participate in activities at their local level which demonstrate how ‘Labour values’ and collective effort can make a positive social and/or environmental impact. These groups must be democratic in their nature and be organised around a spirit of collaboration, inclusion and respect.
• As the successor to Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership Campaign, Momentum promotes the communication of progressive ideas for political change, such as: opposition to austerity, the promotion of equality and participatory democracy. These are the values for which Jeremy Corbyn was elected.
• Momentum is wholly committed to working for progressive political change through methods which are inclusive, participatory and non-violent.
• Momentum seeks to build a social movement in support of the aims of the Labour movement and a fairer and more decent society. Momentum is committed to supporting the Labour Party winning elections and entering government in 2020 and seeks positive and productive engagement with local Labour Party branches.

Individuals and/or groups who do not adhere to the above principles will not be considered to be part of, or associated with, Momentum. Please note that Momentum is its embryonic stage as a network organisation. Our Code of Conduct is likely to develop further along with the governance structures of our organisation.

Whether these interim  commitments will make a difference, or become fully codified,  remains to be seen.

The principal concern is not setting up measures to avoid being hectored by the SWP/SP. Or even to put a stop to attempts to support break away candidates standing in elections against the Labour Party (which we flagged up).

It is about what the left needs to be done to make itself not ‘populist’ but popular enough to be able to implement our democratic socialist policies.

However democratic and inclusive an internal structure is this Blog’s own view that a lot more needs to be done to reach out not just to ourselves, to ‘new’ people, and movements in civil society. Particular attention should be given to the views of Trade Unions on issues concerning not just budget austerity but privatisation, hiving off local services, and to groups fighting, what is effectively the dismantling of the Welfare state.

For this to have a real impact:

  • The left has to appeal, and listen to, those already in the Labour Party who did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
  • We have to respect the hard work they have put in, over many years, as activists, as Councillors and MPs.
  • We have to offer rational well-thought out policies – on austerity, on broader economic issues, on social policy, and on international subjects.
  • It is important, therefore, that supporters of Team Corbyn and the new Shadow Cabinet more broadly, work with that section of the Party which  wants to see a Labour government elected, our representation on local councils increased and effective policies carried out in local government.
This means listening and trying to convince the ‘centre ground’ of the Party.

This will not help:

“Momentum England an Unofficial page supporting “Momentum” the movement inspired by Jeremy Corbyn the Leader of the Labour Party #ANewKindOfPolitics.”

2,093 people like this.

The Facebook page (Here)  is managed by one Mark Anthony France,  Republican Socialist and Labour Party Member.

Politics in Britain and Ireland is being transformed.
We have seen a powerful rebellion in Scotland in support of a radical movement for Independence and the spectacular rise of the Scottish National Party.

We see the growth of Sinn Fein both North and South as we approach the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising.

In Wales Plaid Cymru is a potent force led by Socialist Republican Leanne Wood
In the Summer of 2015 came an unprecedented mass movement mainly based in England that led to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader of the Labour PartyThere is tremendous momentum for change.

One of the biggest issues that confront all the peoples of these islands is how to manage dynamic towards the break up of the so called ‘United Kingdom’ in a peaceful, democratic way.
We encourage debate and discussion about the movement for change and how to maintain and accelerate the Momentum for change towards a genuinely democratic future based upon peoples power.

This chap has a bit of a ‘history’.

With John Tummon Mark Anthony France was the seconder of the (roundly defeated) notorious Caliphate motion at the Left Unity Conference in November 2014 (Extracts: original here)

To show solidarity with the people of the Middle  East by supporting the end of the  structure of the  divided nation states imposed by the Versailles  settlement and their replacement by a Caliphate type polity in which diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority’.

Left Unity distances itself specifically from the use of intemperate, inaccurate and moralist language such as ‘terrorism’, ‘evil’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘viciously reactionary’, ‘murderous’, genocidal’, etc in discussion about the Middle East; these terms are deployed by people and forces seeking not to understand or analyse, but to demonise in order to dominate, and they have no place within socialist discourse.

We also distance ourselves  from the Eurocentric brand of secularism that  believes that the peoples of the Middle East must accept western terms of reference by consigning  their religious faith to a separate part of their  lives from their political aspirations, if they are to  develop progressive societies.

The story got national attention,

Islamic State’s ‘Progessive Potential’ As ‘Stabilising Force’ Debated By New Left Unity Party. Huffington Post.

The “progressive potential” of Islamic State (IS) had been discussed by a British political party, which also claimed a caliphate created by the brutal Islamist terror group would be a “stabilising force” in the region.

The bizarre proposition was put to members of a new left-wing party in an amendment that said IS’s territorial ambitions were a break from “framework of western-imposed nation states” in the Middle East.

The Left Unity motion added that Islamic State’s call for a pan-Islamic Caliphate to replace the various states of the Muslim world was “an authentic expression of … anti-imperialist aspirations.”

No more than ‘debating’ with the SWP would we wish to ‘discuss’ the idea that we should be sympathetic to an Islamic caliphate.


Socialist Workers Party to “build Momentum” group for Jeremy Corbyn.

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SWP to use ‘United Front Method’ in Momentum to bring “Ideological Clarity”.

Socialist Worker announces.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have launched a new initiative to galvanise the enthusiasm generated during his leadership campaign.

Called Momentum, it says it wants to build a “mass movement for real progressive change”.

It commits to organise “supporters amongst the Labour Party membership as well as the wider social movement which is springing up.”

Corbyn has been under constant attack from the Labour establishment and the right.

This is a welcome sign that he wants to build a broader base to take up the fight. And one that is prepared to move outside of the machinery of Labour.

Some of his most trenchant opposition comes from the Labour benches in parliament—including his cabinet.

But his largest support comes from grass roots campaigners and newly politicised young people who want an alternative to austerity and racism.

The new group’s stated aim is to pull people into Labour—at the moment it is not a membership organisation and is calling for supporters.

This is a chance for activists in and out of Labour to cooperate in activity. It increases the space for debate about how to fight back.

Corbyn’s campaign promised a different sort of politics.

Momentum’s call to mobilise those people to be active in their localities with others on the left can help that political mood. And it can feed into strengthening working class organisation.

Socialists in and outside Labour should support it.

The last sentence is SWP-speak for “SWP members to join Momentum”.

These are the new group’s core objectives.

What will Momentum do?

What does Momentum want to do?

  • Organise in every town, city and village to create a mass movement for real progressive change.
  • Make Labour a more democratic party, with the policies and collective will to implement them in government.
  • Bring together individuals and groups in our communities and workplaces to campaign and organise on the issues that matter to us.

How will Momentum do this?

  • Organise events, rallies, meet ups and policy consultations to encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society.
  • Encourage those inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to get involved with the Labour Party. Assist members in making their voice heard in Labour Party debates.
  •  Facilitate and coordinate people to build new and support existing organisations that can make concrete improvements to people’s lives. Through these actions, we aim to demonstrate on a micro level how collective action and Labour values can transform our society for the better.

This is what the SWP intends to do about this (internal Party Notes 12th October):

3) We need to constantly seek opportunities to engage with Corbyn supporters in common activity and political discussion. This involves united front activity, for example over Stand Up to Racism and refugee solidarity, building opposition to the Trade Union Bill or starting to build the CND demo against Trident called for 20 February.

4) We should also go to Labour Party meetings to sell Socialist Worker and invite people to join us in activity etc.

5) There are also various initiatives to re-launch the Labour left. Momentum which has the backing of a group of newly elected Corbyn-supporting MPs such as Clive Lewis and Richard Burgon, looks like it might be the most significant to date (Corbyn and McDonnell have also made supporting statements backing it). It does not seem restricted to Labour members, though it says it will aim to encourage people to join Labour. We should go along to any local Momentum meetings with the aim of taking part as open SWP members, suggesting joint activity, and sign up to be on the email lists. A launch meeting in Manchester last week attracted 70 people, many of them new and comrades had a friendly response when they raised common activity.

6) Common activity, a repeated united front method and relating to Labour party meetings etc. and raising the argument that we can’t wait for 2020 are the key to finding an audience among Corbyn supporters. But we then also have to engage in fraternal debate about the way forward. Here the lessons of Syriza are extremely important, where the combined pressure of European capital has turned Syriza from a beacon of hope against austerity into its enforcer within nine months.

7) If we combine a united front method with ideological clarity, the SWP can make the most of an exciting, but testing, new political situation.

Translated from SWP-speak this means that they will turn up at all Momentum meetings they can, demand a ‘united front’ (agreement with whatever the SWP ‘s favourite causes of the day are) and seek “ideological clarity” by making sure that as “revolutionaries” they will expose the weakness of ‘reformists” and “build the SWP”.

Or,  as classically formulated, the “united front” means this, (Duncan Hallas, writing for the forerunner of the SWP, the International Socialists in 1976),

It is not a substitute for a revolutionary party. The united front tactic can never, under any circumstances, mean the subordination of revolutionary politics and organisation to reformist politics and organisation. It presupposes the existence and independence of a revolutionary force. The bigger that force, the greater the united front possibilities.

It is not a “let’s forget our differences and unite” approach. On the contrary; the united front tactic always and inevitably involves a political struggle to compel reformists and centrists to to live up to their own pretensions, to break some of their ties with the capitalist establishment (both direct and through the trade union bureaucracy) and to engage in a fight, alongside revolutionaries, for objectives they themselves profess to support.

On the United Front Tactic  Some Preliminary Notes

 No doubt the SWP will also cite the example of the left  that they backed as an alternative to Syriza whose electoral results in the September elections were outstanding. Or as they said “the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya made modest gains despite a split from one of its components to join Popular Unity.” (Socialist Worker.)

Greek Anticapitalist LeftWorkers Revolutionary Party (ANTARSYA-EEK) 46,096 0.85 Increase0.17  


There are many other points to make but one stands out: no doubt those who left the SWP in recent years, a result of, amongst other things, the Comrade Delta case, will equally  be delighted to be lectured by the old comrades.

Martin Thomas of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty comments in a vein which goes into greater detail than our Blog comments a few days ago.

Momentum: welcome and worries

Momentum is proposed as a composite structure, with an inside-the-Labour-Party element, and a “social movement” element. At present there is no way to join Momentum, rather than just to sign up to keep in touch with it, but the plan is that non-Labour people will be able to join equally with Labour people.

Naturally enough, the Socialist Party has indicated that it will join Momentum en masse, and so probably will the SWP, the Communist Party of Britain, etc. Local Labour left caucuses organising under the Momentum umbrella will have to call themselves “Labour Momentum”, not just “Momentum”.

Unity with SP and SWP people, and even with CPB people, is desirable in campaigns where we share clear-cut aims, and regular organised debate with them is desirable where we do not.

But this pantomime-horse structure makes Momentum effectively a new party intertwined with the Labour Party. (Except with no clearly stated political programme. And except that it will not stand candidates. But won’t it? What if a local Momentum group, angry at right-wing Labour councillors, wants to challenge them next May?)

The structure of the Labour Party has, historically, given enough of a frame to Labour left organisations (local left caucuses, and wider groups too: the Campaign Group Supporters’ Network, Labour Party Socialists, the Rank and File Mobilising Committee, the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory… back to Victory for Socialism or the Socialist League) that they can operate usefully and have at least some democratic mechanisms (conferences, named committees, elections) without demanding “discipline” and without being continually convulsed by battles for control.

Those have always been much weaker and more blurred than the informed democracy which an activist Marxist organisation needs and can generate, but they have served their limited purpose.

For a notionally more ambitious operation, effectively a near-full-fledged party, to have structures which are, as some in the Labour Representation Committee group (LRC) have said, “an amorphous mess” — that makes for rancour and squabbles, not democratic cooperation.

Both the lack of democratic mechanisms, and the Rube Goldberg structure, are defended as necessary to give equal weight to sympathisers who participate only online with those who come to meetings.

The following will no doubt not have escaped the attention of Labour Party activists:

The Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party stood in the 2015 General Election – their candidates were presented as an alternative to the Labour Party.

TUSC stood 135 prospective parliamentary candidates across England, Wales and Scotland, as well as 619 council candidates in local elections.

The organisation announced in October 2014 that it had received a guarantee of funding from Socialist Alliance.[38] The funds would provide for one hundred deposits in parliamentary contests, as well as a Party Political Broadcast.[39

The party performed badly at the election, winning 36,327 votes, or 0.1% of the popular vote. No parliamentary seats were gained and no deposits were saved.


This is what the Socialist Party said of Labour this year (The Socialist 15th of April)

Labour remains a capitalist party committed to austerity and sticking to Tory spending limits. Shadow welfare minister Rachel Reeves has promised to be tougher on welfare than the Con-Dems.

This (The Socialist. October the 14th) is their balance-sheet of their TUSC campaign,

TUSC has stood widely in elections over the last five years, with many candidates coming from the unions, including the RMT and FBU.

Actually, this was a major factor in pushing Labour lefts to ensure that the Blairites were challenged in the leadership election by Jeremy Corbyn‘s candidature.

They add,

We support Jeremy and John calling a conference of all the anti-austerity forces inside and outside Labour, including non-affiliated unions and parties like ourselves, to build a movement to defeat the Blairites. The question is, does re-affiliating help that process?

The party machine is still in the hands of the Blairites. The launching of Momentum is a recognition from Corbyn’s supporters that there is a struggle taking place and that the left needs to operate inside and outside the party.

But should non-affiliated unions rejoin the Labour Party?

It is to the current Labour’s undemocratic structure that unions would be re-affiliating, where the constitution has been fashioned by the Blairites to maintain their pro-market policies.

They would be spending hundreds of thousands of pounds for a tiny proportion of votes and influence. On the existing basis, the RMT could have to pay £250,000 to affiliate for around 1.8% of the vote at Labour’s annual conference which doesn’t even decide party policy!

They would also be giving up their independence at this stage where the die hasn’t been cast, rather than use the possibility of supporting anti-austerity candidates against the Labour right as an important lever to supplement the struggle against the Blairites from outside.

There remains the question: is the Labour Party still a “capitalist party” or not?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm

YPG on the Syrian Democratic Force, US Weapons & Amnesty Report

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Amnesty reportSyria: US ally’s razing of villages amounts to war crimes.

A fact-finding mission to northern Syria has uncovered a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the Autonomous Administration led by the Syrian Kurdish political party Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD) controlling the area, said Amnesty International in a report published today. The Autonomous Administration is a key ally, on the ground, of the US-led coalition fighting against the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

WASHINGTON DC – The United States has expressed concern about allegations of human rights violations by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) against non-Kurdish minorities in northern Syria.


Amnesty International published a report Monday claiming that YPG forces displaced non-Kurdish residents in some villages and demolished their houses. It said the acts were “amounting to war crimes.”

“We take these allegations quite seriously and we’ve made clear to all the actors that these – such behavior, frankly, is unacceptable,” Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the State Department, said in a briefing on Tuesday.

“We’ll look closely at all these accusations to determine whether there’s any veracity to the claims,” he added.

“We call on those who actually are or will participate in administering these areas to do so inclusively and with respect for all groups regardless of ethnicity, and we’ve been very clear about that for the past five, six months in speaking about the YPG and its actions in northern Syria as well as the case of Syrian Arabs and other groups and Turkmen who are fighting to – against ISIL there,” Toner said.

This has been taken extremely seriously as the reply issued today from the YPG shows: 

YPG General Commander Hemo on Syrian Democratic Force, US Weapons & Amnesty Report.

From here.

In an exclusive interview, Sipan Hemo, General Commander of the YPG comments on variety of issues. Below are the large summary of his remarks. (Extracts) 

After the Russian intervention the balance of power has changed, actors have changed. This happened a bit quickly. The change is also reflected on the ground. Large assaults and fierce battles are now taking place around Hama and Idlib. Regime forces are being air covered by Russian warplanes. And around Aleppo, ISIS is taking the advantage and making territorial progress against so called moderate Islamist factions or FSA brigades. So these Islamist forces are now face to face with a breakdown in terms of morale, as they are losing territory. It is not clear whether they can recover or completely be defeated. It is clear though that opposition forces have now unfortunately received a huge blow by this Russian intervention and ISIS’s taking advantage of it around Aleppo. ISIS is capturing more villages as I speak to you in those areas.

Our units, as you know, have actually been, for the last two months, in conflict with some Islamist factions including Ahrar-ash Sham and Jabhat al Nusra. But the new situation has led to a declination of these forces that have been attacking us. However, we are not willing to take advantage of this situation because we do not wish to see the opposition forces get weaker or lose more ground.


In fact, there have been claims made in our name. Many times, journalists ask what side we are on. I want to make this clear that from the very start of the Syrian revolution we didn’t want to take sides with anyone. We have a stance of our own. We name this as the third road. We formulated this idea as being on our own side. We have our own solutions and projects to propose. Secondly, our war against ISIS bought about a new situation. It has enabled relations and cooperation with the US-led coalition. And for the last past we are effectively cooperating with the Coalition.

When it comes to interventions, I can tell that people of Syria is not to be blamed. Unfortunately the war going on in Syria is about the international and regional powers’ interests. They are responsible. Both global powers and regional states like Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Iran are responsible. They shed Syrian blood. So in response to this question I say, to stop the bloodshed and for the advancement of democracy in Syria, all powers should share responsibility. When asked whom we work with, I say it clearly, we have been fighting ISIS officially in cooperation with the coalition for a year. And our work together has made even more progress.


The number of weapons airdropped to SDF was a limited. It was not an amount that can make a big strategic differences on the ground. But we see this as very important. It is important to us as YPG. Because with this new support, the cooperation we have had for a year has reached a new level. And we hope to increase our work together even more, we hope to work strategically. So what we received was not big. But it is big for a new start.

As far as the structure of the SFD concerned, we hope that YPG spearhead that assault. YPG has a significant role to play. It is a long time that we have been fighting ISIS. In Syria, as you know, many factions have been formed. And they have been defeated in the face of ISIS. FSA, some other Islamist groups, etc. have been defeated. So at the end, the train & equip program too didn’t work. But on the other hand YPG has proven to be successful. Yes there were other groups fighting ISIS but with little success. So at a time when Syria was passing through most turbulent times, we got closer to some groups to form a new force, a bigger one, one that can serve all Syrians that can play a role for democracy in Syria. So this new force, Syrian Democratic Forces include all communities of Syria. It includes Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Turkomens and… in the coming days there will be a declaration in front of the press. We hope this becomes a new start, a new step. At the same time we call upon everyone who believes in democracy for Syria, who believes in Syrian nation, to join SDF for the sake of democracy and to stand against and fight extremist forces like ISIS and give a calm country back to Syrians.


We saw the report of the Amnesty International. I can tell you that the timing and wording of this report is a bit suspicious. At a time when we are forming a new alliance with Syrian pro-democracy forces, and getting ready to wage a big war against ISIS this report is released. Report comes right after the coalition forces are giving us a significant aid. Hard to think it is all a matter of coincidence.

We call on the international community and the United States as well not to take this report serious. Because this is not what is happening on the ground. But again we are officially calling on independent bodies to come and see what is going on the ground.

Now, let me be clear; we have liberated some 1500 Arab villages. Some of this villages became war zones between us and ISIS. Battles took days in some villages. I am not saying there has been no harm to those villages. But they are not more than 4 or 5 villages. We have 1500 Arab villages liberated and people in them live in peace now. If it was true, why are these 1500 villages still standing? Apart from that, there are Arabs who were brought to Rojava by the Baathist regime and settled throughout the Kurds’ lands. These Arabs too in Jazira are leading respected lives. If we had an intention of driving Arabs away, we would have driven those Arabs first. I think whoever is discontent with ISIS defeats has some share in this report because we have success against ISIS. And all the world sees our effectiveness and success over this terrorist group. We have proved in practice, in liberating Rojava regions too.

One more point, 30% of YPG made up of Arabs. If allegation in the report were true did these Arabs with us committed those atrocities too? If such things were true, would they fight alongside us in Jazira and Kobane? We believe such reports want to harm our image. In our opinion, Syrian National Coalition and forces behind it has a lot to do with this. Because, at the start, for example, they couldn’t digest our liberation of Tal Abyad. So they have been spreading such rumors on purpose. But we will continue our struggle for democracy in Syria in the face of all accusations, off all such things they want to square us with. And we are open to accountability. We are respectful to human rights. Any independent body can come and investigate. We are liberating 1500 Arab villages, this report should have thanked us. We have liberated so many people. We liberated Shengal [Sinjar] and many Yezidi women. There are other interests in this report. Our units are here, anyone can come and investigate and talk to Arabs and Turkomens as well.

Note the significant openness, “we are officially calling on independent bodies to come and see what is going on the ground.

This is also important, from here.

The @amnesty report does not prove that the #YPG committed forced displacements”
@amnesty have issued a VIDEO report about #YPG ‘forced displacements’ in the Kurd self governing territories recovered from #ISIS.

Here is the report:

It’s clear from the report that some local Arab and Turkman families were forced out of their homes and that many homes were demolished, and one whole village, was razed.

Apart from threats of property destruction – no actual personal violence was said by the villagers to have been engaged in by the Kurd fighters – or even threatened!

Clearly displacements occurred, but the report does not prove that they were done by the #YPG as part of official policy, which leaves several options open.

One – the displacements could have been by a local renegade Commander who had some personal agenda – perhaps a bribe from a local landowner, family, or clan, of whatever ethnicity, who wanted to steal the villager’s land.

In war these things, and much worse, can happen.

There is verbal, but no video or photographic evidence, of official YPG soldiers forcing the displacements.

In North #Syria, many serious criminal acts and rackets were perpetrated on local civilians by armed groups posing as #FSA, or groups, who were #FSA in name and uniform only, but rarely ever fought and often looted and stole.

Two – given that forced civilian displacement is not official #YPG policy or practice – any more than it is or was for the #FSA – another more likely possibility is that this displacement occurred from orders of an over zealous YPG Commander, who feared ongoing #ISIS Commando raids, and knowing this town had some #ISIS supporters as confirmed in the video report by the villagers, adopted an altogether over zealous ‘clearance’ policy of his own.

I think this is the most likely explanation.

Forced displacements can occur in this war if the village is used as base for #ISIS covert Ops which was not unusual as #ISIS mounted many murderous raids deep into #YPG held #Rojava territory and even reached#Kobane city itself and perpetrated monstrous war crimes on town civilians.

We need to keep some perspective here.

In the very dirty primitive jungle that is the #Syria civil war, no other ethnic group in #Syria has been as fair and as humane as the Kurd’s.

They are the boldest and bravest of warriors but are honorable soldiers and do not execute prisoners.

Always their first concern in battle has been for civilians and for preserving life.

In this situation, war crimes can only be imputed against the #YPG if the forced civilian displacements were carried out as a matter of official YPG policy or practice.There is zero evidence of this in the amnesty report.

The fault of the amnesty report [by the woman who appears to have reached the conclusions in the report] it that it does not make this clear – sure she uncovered some renegade or overzealous acts but she does not, nor could she, prove these acts to be part of official YPG policy and practice.

Kurd’s do not have a monopoly on virtue however, and some rare Kurd Commanders may have personally contravened official YPG policy and practice and individually acted immorally or inhumanely or over zealously, and the later I think, is the most likely explanation in this case.

One thing is crystal clear.

The @amnesty report does not prove that the #YPG committed or condoned forced displacement war crimes.

Nor does any evidential or legal issue arise of the Kurd’s engaging in ‘ethnic cleansing’, as was made emphatically clear, in the Report of the #Syria Observatory of Human Rights in June:http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/interview-with-rami-abdulrahman-of-sohr/1002-interview-with-rami-abdulrahman-of-sohr.html

If all the combatant groups, in the living hell on earth that is the #Syria civil war, had acted as honorably and as humanely as soldiers, as the Kurds have – the Syria civilian death toll would be less – by several hundred thousand men, women, and children.


And this:

An open letter to Salil Shetty – Secretary General of Amnesty International

Dear Salil,

I am writing in protest at the publication of a report from your organisation called ‘We had nowhere else to go – Forced displacement and demolitions in Northern Syria’.

As a British humanitarian who has spent 5 and half months with the YPG in Rojava, I’m utterly bemused by your 32 page report published Oct 2015.

I feel compelled to write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of foreign volunteers that have joined the YPG and the YPJ. Who are not only fighting on the frontline but are working hard alongside the Kurds in the hospitals and in the refugee camps.

In the time that I was in the country I had full access to the entire region, including the frontline. In fact, I would have been present at many of the events and locations mentioned in your report. I have never seen any evidence of deliberate property damage or forced evictions.

I just wanted to quickly deal with the two main points of your report:

• There were occasions when civilian were asked to leave an area where there was fighting. This was done with their safety in mind and once an area is secure civilians are allowed back. I saw many villages of all ethnicities deserted because of fighting and then populated again once the fighting had moved on. When I was in Til Tamir (an area mentioned in your report) my commander would often share our supplies with locals from the nearby Arab villages.
• When we entered a village sometimes we had to use people’s properties. This involved fortifying them with sandbags and earth (using diggers). This was as a necessity of war and because of the risk of an ISIS attack. There was never a deliberate policy to damage property.
The report relies on unreliable witness testimony. If I’m being generous then perhaps civilians – confused and scared- being asked to leave an area and seeing diggers fortifying their homes could be mistaken about what’s happening around them. At worse these reports are a deliberate attempt to discredit the YPG/YPJ.

It’s upsetting for me to read this report because I know that the YPG has an excellent relationship with the Arab communities in Rojava. In many of the places mentioned in the report Arab YPG members would have been in the units liberating the areas. Before every major operation we are briefed about the rules of engagement – we were under no illusion that wrongdoing (including the accusations in the report) could lead to imprisonment. When you consider what the YPG is up against, then the high standards that it expects from its fighters are even more remarkable. We must be the only group operating in Syria that abides by the Geneva Convention!

Apart from the complete untruths, this report has another reason to be unwelcome for those that are fighting for democracy and equality in Rojava. The report has been jumped on by Turkish nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists to provoke sectarian violence and destroy the trust that YPG has fought so hard to build.

Instead of relying on third party testimonies. Why don’t you come to Rojava to meet some of the people fighting on the frontline? The PYD has publically called for support from the international community to help it develop its growing democracy. The Kurds have been open and transparent with all international organisations and have been praised for their efforts in this regard.

I want you to look again at the report and retract it from circulation. As part of your investigation do go to Rojava and see for yourself the excellent work that people are doing for the region. Like me you will come away inspired.

Kind Regards

Macer Gifford.

A petition of protest: here.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Dieudonné: Belgian Prosecutor Demands 6 Months Prison Sentence for Anti-Semitism.

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France’s Answer to Bernard Manning.

#Dieudonné Six mois de prison requis pour antisémitisme contre Dieudonné, jugé en Belgique pour des propos tenus dans un spectacle.

Nouvel Observateur.

Le procureur du tribunal correctionnel de Liège (Belgique), a requis mercredi une peine de six mois de prison ferme à l’encontre du polémiste controversé Dieudonné, accusé d’avoir tenu des propos discriminatoires et antisémites lors d’un spectacle donné en mars 2012 en région liégeoise.

“Le spectacle qu’il donne est rempli de propos diffamants et insultants qui donnent envie de vomir”, a déclaré dans son réquisitoire le procureur Damien Leboutte, cité par l’agence de presse belge. Selon le quotidien “Le Soir, le Français avait entre autres qualifié Adolf Hitler de “joyeux fanfaron”.

Dieudonné devait également comparaître mercredi à Paris en correctionnelle pour “provocation à la haine raciale” et “injure raciale” pour des passages de son avant-dernier spectacle “La Bête immonde”, mais le procès a été renvoyé au 24 février 2016 à la demande de son avocat.

The prosecutor of the Liège Tribunal (Belgium) demanded on Wednesday six months in gaol against the controversial polemicist Dieudonné, accused of having made discriminatory and anti-semitic remarks during a show in the region in March 2012. 

“The show was so  full of defamatory and insulting remarks that it made one want to vomit.” said the prosecutor Damien Leboutte summing up his case – as cited by the Belgian press agency. The daily, le Soir, noted that amongst other comments he had described Adolf Hitler as a good-hearted braggart.

Dieudonné was also due to appear in Paris today to face charges of inciting race hatred, and racial insults. for parts of his last but one show, “La Bête immonde”, but. at the request of his lawyer,  the trial has been postponed until the 24th of February 2016. 

The ‘humourist’ did not attend the Liège hearing.

More: Belgique: Dieudonné risque six mois de prison ferme. Le Figaro.

Dieudonné is distinguished by his friendship with Jean-Marie Le Pen, and more durably, by his close link to Alain Soral, a far-right conspiracy theorist who claims – don’t they all? –  to be “beyond left and right”. Needless to say, his warnings of a ‘global empire’ involves free-masons, and, you-know-who. He has, unsurprisingly  for a self-proclaimed, ” judéophobe” a particular interest in the Shoah.

After the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Casher massacres, Dieudonné and Soral, were keen to announce that “Je ne suis pas Charlie”.

Alain Soral et Dieudonné à la journée “Je ne suis pas Charlie”

Note this well anglophones who also said, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

Here (on his own site) is a list of legal cases against Soral.

Liste des procès en cours impliquant Alain Soral et Égalité & Réconciliation

These are Dieudonné’s past tussles with the law.

  • On 14 June 2006, Dieudonné was sentenced to a penalty of €4,500 for defamation after having called a prominent Jewish television presenter a “secret donor of the child-murdering Israeli army”.[101]
  • On 15 November 2007, an appellate court sentenced him to a €5,000 fine because he had characterized “the Jews” as “slave traders” after being attacked in le Théâtre de la Main d’Or.[102]
  • On 26 June 2008, he was sentenced in the highest judicial instance to a €7,000 fine for his characterization of Holocaust commemorations as “memorial pornography”.[44]
  • On 27 February 2009, he was ordered to pay 75,000 Canadian dollars in Montreal to singer and actor Patrick Bruel for defamatory statements. He had called Bruel a “liar” and an “Israeli soldier”.[103]
  • On 26 March 2009, Dieudonné was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €2,000 in damages for having defamed Elisabeth Schemla, a Jewish journalist who ran the now-defunct Proche-Orient.info website. He declared on 31 May 2005 that the website wanted to “eradicate Dieudonné from the audiovisual landscape” and had said of him that “he’s an anti-Semite, he’s the son of Hitler, he will exterminate everyone”.[104]
  • On 27 October 2009, he was sentenced to a fine of €10,000 for “public insult of people of Jewish faith or origin” related to his show with Robert Faurisson.[105]
  • On 8 June 2010, he was sentenced to a fine of €10,000 for defamation towards the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, which he had called “a mafia-like association that organizes censorship”.[106]
  • On 10 October 2012, he was fined €887,135 for tax evasion. According to the French revenue service, Dieudonné failed to pay part of his taxes from 1997 to 2009.[citation needed].
  • On 12 February 2014, he was ordered by a court to withdraw two clips from a video posted on YouTube on 31 December 2013 on the grounds of incitement to ethnic or racial hatred, and crimes against humanity denial.

This Blog is not in favour of prosecuting the racist anti-Semitic Dieudonné, for his “shows”, which you can watch on YouTube as often as you want.

He is about as funny as Bernard Manning.

That is not itself a criminal offence.

But we cannot say that we are greatly motivated to do much about protesting for his freedom from a Belgian gaol.

We will leave that to Dieudonné’s apologists, like Richard Seymour:

Dieudonné through the prism of the white Left, or conceptualizing a domestic internationalism posted byRichard Seymour

I have been given permission to publish this excellent paper from the Penser l’émancipation, closing plenary, Nanterre, on February 22, 2014.  It was written and delivered by the excellent Houria Bouteldja, a member of Le Parti des indigènes de la République.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Is Labour Changing its position to back Military Action in Syria?

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Fighters Against the Genociders of Daesh.

Corbyn signals Labour could back military action in Syria without UN support.

(Hat-tip: PW)

Patrick Wintour. Guardian.

Jeremy Corbyn has signalled for the first time that Labour could support forms of military action in Syria without UN support if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Taking a more flexible approach to UK military involvement in the Syrian civil war, the new statement urges David Cameron to try again to win support for a new UN resolution allowing military action, and affirms that the party supports the creation of safe zones within Syria to protect Syrians who have had to flee their homes.

In an article in the Guardian on Monday, Diane Abbott, the shadow international development secretary, rejected the idea of safe havens when proposed by Jo Cox, one of the backbenchers trying to assemble a broader Labour policy on Syria that does not just wait to react to government proposals.

The new positions, an attempt to assert a collective shadow cabinet policy, are laid out in a new article on Comment is Free by the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, and follow a meeting on Tuesday morning between Benn, Corbyn, the shadow lord chancellor, Lord Falconer, the shadow attorney general, Catherine McKinnell, the shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle, and the shadow chief whip, Rosie Winterton.

In a bid to underline this as the agreed Labour leadership position, Corbyn issued a brief statement, saying: “I met with shadow cabinet colleagues today and Hilary Benn is setting out the position today.”

The new stance, taking into account the unexpected Russian air campaign in Syria in defence of Assad, is also significant since it is the Labour policy with which the prime minister will have to work if he is to build a clear consensus in the Commons for further UK military action as part of a wider diplomatic plan.

At present, Cameron is looking for at least 35 Labour MPs to give cast iron guarantees to vote with him on military action, but Downing Street may feel engaging with Benn’s broader strategy offers a superior route to winning broad Commons agreement for a new approach in Syria.

More has just been published.

Labour could support military action in Syria without UN authorisation.


Hilary Benn has suggested Labour could now support using British military personnel in Syria if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Labour is shifting its stance and could support military action in Syria without the approval of the United Nations, the shadow foreign secretary has said.

During Labour’s conference in Brighton earlier this month, delegates voted to only support strikes in Syria if there was “clear and unambiguous” UN authorisation.

But in an article for the Guardian, which has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn, Hilary Benn has suggested Labour could now support using British military personnel in Syria if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Mr Benn writes: “On the question of airstrikes against Isil/Daesh in Syria, it should now be possible to get agreement on a UN security council chapter VII resolution given that four of the five permanent members – the USA, France, Britain and Russia – are already taking military action against Isil/Daesh in Iraq or Syria or in both countries.”

Russia would most likely veto a UN resolution, as the Russian president continues to defend its own bombing campaign in Syria and his support for Bashar al-Assad.

He adds: “Of course, we know that any resolution may be vetoed, and in those circumstances we would need to look at the position again.”

Mr Corbyn has backed the change in position, saying: “I met with shadow cabinet colleagues today and Hilary Benn is setting out the position today.”

This marks a huge shift for Mr Corbyn, who has repeatedly outlined his opposition to military action in Syria.

During the leadership contest Mr Corbyn said could not think of “any circumstances” in which he would back the deployment of British troops in Syria.

Speaking in September, he said: “The issue would be we bomb, we kill people, we wouldn’t destroy or defeat ISIS, we probably make the situation considerably worse.

“If that doesn’t work the question is would you put boots on the ground? I don’t think so.”

Number 10 have said there are no plans for an “imminent” vote on Syria, but David Cameron has said he would push for a vote on air strikes in Syria without the Labour leader’s backing.

Mr Benn said: “We have a responsibility to protect people, but in Syria, no one has taken responsibility and no one has been protected. It is the great humanitarian crisis of our age and one of our greatest tests too.

“The way we take any decision will matter a great deal. MPs and others may disagree about what the right thing to do is, but we must never forget that we have a responsibility both to help the Syrian people and protect British citizens.

“Deciding to intervene militarily in another country is one of the most serious decisions parliament can make, but equally, nobody should be in any doubt that inaction is also a decision that will have consequences in Syria.”

It is unclear how British intervention will help the people of Syria.

But with the US and Russia actively involved in the battles, not to mention France, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, nobody can claim that the country is a normal sovereign state which will be the fresh target of new interference.

Whether or how Labour is changing its stand, given that Guardian Political Editor Patrick Wintour is as much a political ‘player’ (and not for Jeremy Corbyn) as a journalist, is not certain.

Our own position remains, for all its apparent idealism, to stand behind the UNITE Labour Party policy in support of a UN sanctioned attack on Daesh.

If that fails, as these reports indicate, given the immense seriousness of what is at stake, we hope the Labour Shadow Cabinet reaches a reasonable settlement based on the need to destroy the genociders of Daesh and not the Conservative government’s plans, which include concessions to almost as bad Islamists funded by the Saudis and other reactionaries. Another concern is support for Turkish manoeuvres in the region – Erdoğan has shown himself an enemy of democracy.

We would like to see recognition and support for the Kurdish-led Democratic Forces of Syria, which says that it is is a “force for all Syrians, joining Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs and others groups. The Democratic Forces of Syria includes the YPG, various Arab groups including Jaysh al-Thuwwar (Army of Rebels), and an Assyrian Christian group.

A Kurdish militia in northern Syria has joined forces with Arab rebels, and their new alliance has been promised fresh weapon supplies by the United States for an assault on Islamic State forces in Raqqa, a spokesman said on Monday.

The alliance calling itself the Democratic Forces of Syria includes the Kurdish YPG militia and Syrian Arab groups, some of which fought alongside it in a campaign that drove Islamic State from wide areas of northern Syria earlier this year.


We are well aware of all the problems and the complexities of the terrible conditions in Syria.

But support for those democratic groups fighting Daesh is a priority.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2015 at 11:56 am

Portugal: Socialists and Left Bloc Reach Possible Governing Agreement.

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Negotiated Possible Governing Deal with Socialist Party.

Today began with Bernard Guetta on France-Inter. In Un message de Lisbonne he talked of the possibility of a left government in Portugal after agreement had been reached between the Left Bloc and the Portuguese Socialist Party.

Whether the pro-European Guetta is right about this signaling the growth of a “new left” in Europe, both hostile to leaving the EU and the right-wing economic policies pursued across the continent remains to be seen.

But the news of a possible governing agreement has been sending out waves across Europe.

Portugal opposition leader says any leftist government would honour international commitments

The leader of Portugal’s Socialist opposition sought to calm worried investors on Monday, saying any new government formed with the backing of far-left parties would still respect Portugal’s budget pledges.

Portuguese shares fell sharply on Monday as a second far-left party said it could back a Socialist-led government, raising concerns that the fall-out from last week’s election could lead to reversal of Lisbon’s strict budget policies.

Socialist leader Antonio Costa said his contacts with the Left Bloc and the Communists were aimed at working out a government programme that would ease austerity, but also had “the condition to respect Portugal’s international commitments”.

EU budget rules envisage countries keeping their deficits below 3 percent of economic output and working to reduce them further.

Costa spoke after meeting President Anibal Cavaco Silva who has to name the new prime minister in the coming weeks.

However, the far-left Left Bloc said Passos Coelho would fail to win enough backing to govern again.

“The (centre-right) government is over as of today, because it will not have support in parliament, but also because there is another government solution that corresponds to people’s expectations,” Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins said after meeting Costa earlier in the day.

“Conditions have been created for a basic consensus on the Left Bloc’s terms for allowing the creation of a government.”

Costa was more cautious, saying there were “possible points of convergence” with the Left Bloc, especially on how to give more disposable income back to the Portuguese.

“But it is premature to say whether an agreement is possible,” he said.


The inconclusive election result had left markets largely unmoved last week, with a leftist government seen as unlikely. But the prospect of prolonged political uncertainty unsettled investors on Monday.

Shares in banks were hit particularly hard. The largest listed lender, Millennium bcp, slumped more than 9 percent, dragging Lisbon’s stock index 3 percent lower. Bond yields, cushioned by the European Central Bank’s asset purchases, were little changed.

“The next few weeks will be a test for the political environment and risk is already up,” said Banco Best trader Alfredo Mendes. “Banks are the engines of the economy. If there are signs that the economy will be rudderless because there is no government, banks could be weakened.”

Economists fear that a change in economic policy or a long delay in forming a government could undermine the Portuguese economy’s revival after three years of recession made worse by harsh austerity imposed under a now-completed bailout.

Political scientist Adelino Matlez said the Communists’ stance was a big game-changer as the party had signalled it is ready to “enter the system and become institutional” rather than remain a constant opposition force.

“The possibility of a leftist government is beginning to loom,” he said. “Everything now is about the negotiations, about bargains … (centre-right leader Passos Coelho) by now knows that Costa is not just bluffing, so his next proposal should be bolder.


Then there is this:

Portugal’s three main leftist parties, including the Communists and an ally of Greece’s Syriza, have signaled a willingness to form a government following inconclusive elections that left the ruling centre-right coalition unable to secure a parliamentary majority.


And this: Socialistas y Bloco de Esquerda acercan posturas en Portugal. El Paìs.

António Costa, Secretary General of the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS), has  ended the first round of negotiations with the other leftist parties. And the possibility of a leftist government is growing. Both the PC and the Left Bloc (BE) will guarantee a stable government for the whole legislature, while the center-right seems to be on the lookout. The question remains the same as it has been for a week after the elections: a dalliance between the parties or the real possibility of a “largely sanctioning”  majority  as Costa himself has described it?

On the morning of Monday, Costa (32% of the vote and 85 seats) met Catarina Martins, the Left Bloc (BE, 10.2% of the vote, 19 seats). Both left the encounter content. The BE requires that the  PS halts the freeze on pension levels, stops the reduction of social security payments,  and the reconciliation process in dismissals.

“As far as we are concerned,  the government of Passos and Portas  ends today” were the first words of Martins, after the meeting. The Bloc leader said that they had put on the table their respect wage conditions, labour and pensions, and a lower of the rates of payments of rates under the European Budget Treaty. A journalists’ questions, she acknowledged that the Left Bloc’s election demand for a renegotiation of the country’s debt had been put back during the negotiations.

The report indicates that the Socialist leader, António Costa, was more prudent about the results of the talks. He spoke of them as “very interesting” “very constructive”, estimating that there were areas of common ground. He added that everybody knew that they came from different backgrounds, and had their own policies, but the two parties were searching for a solution that would create a stable government that corresponded to the majority of voters’ expressed wishes in the election.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2015 at 11:37 am