Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

‘I ❤ MCR’.

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‘I ❤ MCR’: thousands gather at Manchester attack vigil

 

Thousands of people waving “I heart Manchester” placards gathered in the city’s centre on Tuesday evening to show the victims of the arena atrocity that wherever they are from, “they are Manchester too”.

Albert Square, usually packed by Mancunians celebrating Premier League victories or national holidays, was filled with supporters of the city who came to show their defiance against the terror sown at a Ariana Grande concert less than 24 hours earlier.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2017 at 11:27 am

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Psychedelic Bolsheviks.

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Psychedelic Bolshevik.

This important letter, in the latest Weekly Worker, amongst many others from esteemed figures in the workers’ movement, such as Steve Freeman (League Against the Corn Laws) , and less esteemed figures, such as the  anti-‘Zionist’  and anti-International ‘Jewish’ bourgeoisie, Gerry Downing,  caught our attention,

 

….we’re living through an election campaign where increasingly the act of thinking has been banned. Even when Corbyn expresses a desire to deal with poverty he is treated as if he has started a George Galloway on Big brother tribute act. The look in the journalists’ eyes seems to suggest the substance of his campaign has been to lap milk out of John McDonnell’s pocket. Words are never neutral and we have become trapped in a whirl of concepts that only serve to mask reality. Middle England is a cage on British politics – nothing but the wet dream of centrists.

Defending Corbyn is a defence of the simplest of all ideas – the idea things could actually be different. This seems banal, but in a world where it is recommended that anyone mentioning taxing the rich should be sent to have their brain bleached with liquid aspiration, and any mention of Marxism is cause for a lobotomy, it seems the only way forward.

But at the same time sowing any illusions in left reformism is a road to despondency, so the idea of a ‘critical vote’ for Labour needs serious consideration. That is why the Psychedelic Bolsheviks will be spraying the walls of Sheffield with posters declaring: “It’s better to rub dog shit in your carpet than rub dog shit in your eye”. Corbyn should don his catsuit and endlessly move his bins, because this is a clear sign of his humanity.

We will be making a poetry-heavy defence of thinking on June 17 with our second annual day school from 12 noon onwards in Norfolk Park, Sheffield – six meetings over one long picnic in the park. We will consider CLR James, the migrant crisis, situationism v surrealism, the election, organisation and spontaneity in the wake of 1917 – all rounded off with some sweet, improvised music.

Psychedelic Bolsheviks
Sheffield

Apparently they have a web site,

Comrade Ronksley of Sheffield Trades Council,

You think that meeting Picaso at Sheffield Fucking Train Station for the 2nd world peace conference gives you the right to have a 4min youtube video… well maybe it does, but who the fuck is Tim Newton and why are they obsessed with you, Art Party and The Human Factor? And while we are on Picaso was it an honour or was he just a self-righteous, wannabe radical? Have you seen this speech, it says nothing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya7jkFrvc7k. Of course you’ve seen it you were there.

Picture of a Dove how cliché!

I have been unreliably informed that you believe Sheffield’s trade council is “on it’s arse” and so it is not necessary for us to inform you that this is indeed the case. Your inability to adapt to the victory of the ruling classes neo-liberal ideology, has gutted Sheffield Trades council of any real clout leaving it in the same dead end cul-de-sac the rest of the left is in.

The new left movement can not be born out of the broken fractures of the current left, it must be born out of new resistance while aiming to learn from the mistakes of the old. To put it another way, we refuse to fuck-up in the same way you did, we will find our own way to fuck up.

Having said this we wish to affiliate to Sheffield Trades Council. So allow me to introduce ourselves. We are the Psychedelic Bolsheviks (PB), we believe in classless society, and that abolishment of class must be an act of the working class, we believe that the left has failed to take the link between culture, art and politics seriously, we dream of a society where drugs will be used not as a form of escapism but for pleasure and/or spirituality alone and we believe in WHALES, one of which is called Trollidarity (to troll in solidarity).

We believe that those who do not appreciate (but not necessarily enjoy) Jazz are some of the most backward and reactionary elements of the class, so fuck them.

To conclude, we the Psychedelic Bolshevik (PB) are a historical materialist, pro choice , anti-zionist , ultra – left sympathizing  class conscious organisation of wreck heads.

We believe that our affiliation to the trades council will be beneficial for both parties, we can bring a fresh, if often irrelevant, perspective to a dying organisation. You can provide us with lessons you have learnt from all your fucking mistakes. And together we can end our collective sobriety, and temporarily escape (if you wish of course, this part is not compulsory we understand there a multitude of reasons why people may chose to remain sober, and we respect those).

I hope you have a lovely birthday on the 7th of May.

Solidarity,

Mushroom Watcher of the Psychedelic Bolsheviks (MW-PB)

Written by Andrew Coates

May 21, 2017 at 11:44 am

You are “Death and Nothingness”, Says Mélenchon of Left-wing ally, Pierre Laurent

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Mélenchon :Hero of the Sovereigntist Left who likes to call people ‘cunts’.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has long been known as somebody who likes to call people he does not like ‘connards’ (cunts, I am being precise,  this it not the word ‘cons’ which means prats) and indulge in, not in private  but publicly, in the language that would have him tossed out of a trade union meeting, in France or in the UK and made him a pariah.

Or indeed in  any normal democratic party.

His latest is a mad diatribe which includes  this:  Vous êtes la mort et le néant”, a notamment écrit le chef de la France insoumise à Pierre Laurent. Publié le 18 mai 2017 à 20h24

That is against the well respected leader of the French Communist Party, Pierre Laurent he had  has launched an wild barrage of insults.

Notably, “You are Death and  Nothingness.”

More colloquially, you are Dead and Buried.

 I cannot retain myself from remarking that this Man of Destiny does our French comrades our great disservice.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Labour’s Policies on Social Security and Workers’ Rights: Pillars of a Sound Manifesto.

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Many people have commented, and will comment, and, who on earth  knows? will comment defavourably  on Labour’s policies .

Two areas stick out to me on this very sound Manifesto (full text here).

Both because they affect our people and because they are just.

Poverty in Britain is rising due to the Conservatives’ attempts to balance the books on the backs of the poorest. They have slashed social security over the last seven years, leaving more people in poverty, subject to a punitive sanctions regime, and reliant on food banks.

Labour will act immediately to end the worst excesses of the Conservative government’s changes. We will:

  • Scrap the punitive sanctions regime
  • Scrap the Bedroom Tax
  • Reinstate Housing Benefit for under-21s
  • Scrap cuts to Bereavement Support Payment.
  • The cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit (UC), and the decision to limit tax credit and UC payments to the first two children in a family, are an attack on low-income families and will increase child poverty. Labour will reform and redesign UC, ending six-week delays in payment and the ‘rape clause’.

With nearly four million children currently living in poverty, the majority in working families, we will commit to tackle child poverty with a new Child Poverty Strategy.

The Tories have completely failed on their promise of making work pay and on tackling the barriers to work faced by people with disabilities.

Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but they are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities.

A FAIR DEAL AT WORK

Work should provide people with security and fulfilment. But for too many people work is insecure and does not make ends meet.

The Conservatives boast about the recovery of employment, but our labour market is failing. Real-terms pay is still lower than before the crash, and jobs are increasingly low skilled and insecure.

A Labour government will invest in enforcement through a new Ministry of Labour, and empower workers and their trade unions – because we are stronger when we stand together.

So we will review the rules on union recognition so that more workers have the security of a union.

RIGHTS AT WORK

The next Labour government will bring in a 20-point plan for security and equality at work:

Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that working conditions are not driven down.
Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week.
Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another.
Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.
Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces – so that unions can speak to members and potential members.
Propose four new public holidays – bringing our country together to mark our four national patron saints’ days. These will be additional to statutory holiday entitlement so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
End the Public Sector Pay Cap – because public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Socialists Stand Against Jeremy Corbyn.

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Mayoral Candidate Silberman. One time leading figure in the IMG.

Refuting Tory claims that Jeremy Corbyn is left wing:  Knigel Knapp (Monster Raving Loony), Bill Martin (Socialist), Andres Mendoza (Communist League). (General Election 2017: Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North seat attracts record number of candidates)

The position of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party is not at present known.

“The Communist League is presenting a working-class perspective in contrast to all the other parties — from Labour to the Tories. All these parties seek to prop up capitalist rule over a declining Britain and the little left of its empire.”

““Those clamoring about Trump’s visit celebrate ‘our’ — i.e. British — values. But there is no ‘we,’” Clifford said. “There are two classes — the working class and the propertied rulers — with opposite class interests.”

““We need a movement of millions of workers to make a revolution to end capitalism,”

Meanwhile…

Islington Election Street Stall (North London)

  • Saturday, May 13, 2017

  • Nag’s Head Shopping Centre

    402 Holloway Road, London N7 6PZ (map)

  • near Burger King
  • Organised by North London Branch as part of the SPGB’s campaign in the forthcoming General Election when it will be standing a candidate in the Islington North constituency

The full list of candidates is as follows: Keith Angus (Lib Dem), Susanne Cameron-Blackie (Independent), James Clark (Conservative), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Michael Foster (Independent), Keith Fraser (Ukip), Knigel Knapp (Monster Raving Loony), Bill Martin (Socialist), Andres Mendoza (Communist League) and Caroline Russell (Green).

Written by Andrew Coates

May 13, 2017 at 11:49 am

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Mélenchon’s Mates wage Legal Challenge against French Communist Party.

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Rends-moi mes images ! Elles sont à moi !

Le fan club de Mélenchon porte plainte contre le PC 

Rends-moi mes images ! Elles sont à moi ! “: une dispute entre deux gamins ? Que nenni ! La revendication, fort sérieuse, des partisans de Mélenchon qui, faute d’obtenir satisfaction, envisagent de poursuivre le PCF devant les tribunaux. Jusqu’où ira le fan club de Jean-Luc dans le ridicule et le discrédit ? L’union de la gauche est mal engagée pour les législatives…

 

Without going into, extremely boring, details, they do not want the PCF to get any deputies elected.

 

Sectarian shite does not even begin to cover it.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Marine Le Pen: Filth.

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Comrade Cabu, spat on by New Left Review after his murder. 

I have nothing add this this, which is relevant for today,

Written by Andrew Coates

May 7, 2017 at 11:03 am

French Communists Stand Firm in Anti-Fascist Front as Macron Faces Hacking Threat.

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French Communists Stand for United Front Against Fascism.

 

This is the latest in the foulest election campaign in recent memory.

En Marche! movement says posting of massive email leak online ‘clearly amounts to democratic destabilisation as was seen in the US’

..

On Saturday morning, France’s presidential electoral authority, the CNCCEP, asked the media to avoid publishing information from the leaked documents and reminded them of their responsibilities given the seriousness of the election.

“The publishing of false information falls under the law, particularly criminal law,” it wrote.

Neither candidate could comment on the hacking because of the ban on communications and polls before the polling stations open at 8am on Sunday.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

Anti-Fascism Betrayed? The Left and the French Presidential Elections.

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The End of the United Front Against Fascism?

The French Presidential Elections: Anti-Fascism Betrayed?

“qui’il n’y pas de hiérarchie dans l’inacceptable entre le Pen at Macron. Entre la xénophobie et la soumission aux banques.”

There is no difference of degree between the unacceptability of le Pen and Macron, between xenophobia and surrender to the banks.

Emmanuel Todd.

“Last year I wrote in the struggle against fascism the Communists were duty-bound to come to a practical agreement not only with the devil and his grandmother, but even with Grzesinski.”

Leon Trotsky. 1932. The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany.

The 2/3rds majority of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise who support abstention, or a blank vote, in the second round of the French Presidential elections is echoing across the hexagon’s already divided left. In Wednesday’s Le Monde Jean Birnbaum wrote of the burial of the “united front” spirit of anti-fascism (le 4 août de Mélenchon, ou l’antifascisme trahi). There are those who argue that not only is Macron beyond the pale, a banker, a globaliser with a sorry Ministerial record as a hard-liner pushing liberal labour reform, but that his election would prepare the way for a future Front National triumph. Hence ballot spoiling, blank votes, for abstention are the only possible choice in an election where there is no choice. Birnbaum argues that this, amid smaller (indeed, very small) leftist groups and some public intellectuals refusing to “takes sides”, shows that the  unity of the left against fascism, which has been a cornerstone of its politics since the mid-1930s, is breaking up.

This is not, then,  a debate about abstention as such. This position, a very old one on the French left, going back to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865),  which argues for self-organising outside of Parliamentary institutions, is not at the centre of the debate. Alain Badiou early intervened in favour of a re-establishing a “communist vision” outside the “depoliticising” ceremony of the ballot box. Badiou’s recommendation not to vote because it only encourages them has not caught many people’s attention. (Alain Badiou. Voter renforce le conservatisme).

The Le Pen versus Macron duel has raised more serious issues. For Birnbaum, who has written on the blindness, if not indulgence, of a section of the left faced with Islamism (Un Silence Religieux. 2016 Review), some on the French left, many formed, like Mélenchon, from the Trotskyist tradition, have forgotten the need, which Trotsky (for all his acerbic attacks, and his loathing of the German Social Democrats, summed up in the figure of the Prussian Interior Minister, Grzesinski, demanded, faced with the prospect of Hitler’s rise, to defend democratic institutions.

No New Hitler.

It would be indecent to have to say that France today is far from the Weimar Republic. A new Hitler in power is not in prospect. There are no street battles between the Front National and the left. The FN does not offer a genocidal programme. Birnbaum’s argument that those who propose the view that Macron and Le Pen are politically twin-evils does not flag up the posthumous victory of the worst years of Stalinism, the Third Period. But, as many convincingly demonstrate the French far right is the vehicle for illiberal democracy. From leaving the Euro, Frexit, clamping down on immigration, including the expulsion of ‘suspect’ individuals, “national preference” (jobs first of all for French citizens), and tightening the borders, economically and socially, requires authority beyond normal Parliamentary democracy. The not-so-secret ambition of the extra-parliamentary wing of the far right, which would be emboldened by a FN victory, remains to fight the left violently, from the city pavements, civil society, education, and the workplace. (on this see the excellent: The Front National and fascism. Martin Thomas).

Yet Marine Le Pen’s party is, apparently, ‘normalised’. It is a refuge, Pierre-André Taguieff describes it, for those excluded by globalisation, a “pathological form of self-defence”, confronted with the erosion of nation states and the rule of elites. National-populism, he argues, reflects a “need” for identity and belonging. (La revanche du nationalisme. 2015)

There are doctors who claim to be treating this disorder. On the same page of le Monde, Henri Pena-Ruiz, Jean-Paul Scot and Bruno Streiff defend La France insoumise and refuse to be blackmailed into supporting Macron (Insoumis, osons penser librement!). They claim that their movement is at the forefront of the battle against the FN. On the one hand they have waged the “battle of ideas”, defending the role of immigrants n producing French national wealth, and the duty of “universal hospitality” to strangers advanced by Kant, a refusal to divide the world into “us” and “them”. On the other hand their “révolution citoyenne”, a 6th social, ecological and economic Republic, offers a message beyond short-term election battles. Federating the people, it can equally capture the best traditions of the left and those marginalised by globalisation.

Henri Pena-Ruiz has himself helped avoid faults that Birnbaum’s Un silence religieux attacked. That is the incapacity, mixed with an opportunistic eye to new recruits against ‘globalisation’ and ‘imperialism’, of some of the left confronted with Islamism. His Qu’est-ce que la laïcité? (2003) stands as a significant defence of secularism, and a rebuke to groups like the British Respect, and the Socialist Workers Party, who allied with the Islamic far-right.

Yet it does not help Mélenchon’s supporters that they choose to deny the accusation that they mirror 1930s sectarianism to cite the role of the German SPD in preparing the way for Hitler by, between 1924 and 1929, accepting a policy of austerity through their alliance with the centre (Catholic) party. This transparent attack on the Parti Socialiste, by Macron interposed, and its (mild) fiscal austerity indicates that in some way it holds  responsibility for the le Pen, and the far right. This is can easily be interpreted as indicating that the Macron ‘finance’ class are not only an enemy, but the real foe, beside which the Front National is a ‘diversion’.

Some readers may also consider that one could have done without the text’s references to their movement’s remarkable “intelligence collective”. Their is a feel of the courtier when they talk of the “honneur” of “non-guru” Mélenchon for organising a “consultation” of his supporters to know their views on voting in the second round. Others might wonder why there is no reference to the 15-16% of voters for this candidate in the first ballot that, polls indicate, who are ready to vote Le Pen on Sunday.

Populism and Sovereignty.

One problem remains. If those who refuse to ‘choose’ between Macron and Le Pen reflect a French debate, the underlying issues affect the left across the world. In Europe particularly ‘populism’ is not the preserve of the far right. Mélenchon’s intellectually ambitious advisers may look to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s efforts to theorise contradictions between the “power bloc” and the “people”, and as the a handbook for constructing a force, filling the “empty signifier” of the People with a voice that articulates the needs and feelings of a broad constituency, against the ‘oligarchs’. In doing so their own demands for ‘national independence” to “produce French”, not to mention lyrical rhetoric about the French revolutionary tradition, or references to Kant’s universal principles of right, have been criticised as nationalist. Their ‘movement’, La France insoumise, which lacks any serious democratic structure, has claimed to be “beyond” traditional political divisions, while falling back into one of the most traditional oppositions of all: the Nation against the other Nations. If Macron represents economic liberal policies, for them he embodies something more: the Cosmopolitan European project. They have, in short, entered the orbit of Sovereigntism.

La France insoumise at an impasse.

After pursuing this path, Mélenchon and la France insoumise won a strong vote but a position as Number Four in the poll. They look less like a force that has abandoned the anti-fascist front, than a movement unable to offer anything more than continued protest. Instead of attempting, as Birnbaum and many others argue, to mobilise against Le Pen, for the unity of democrats against illiberalism, with the prospect of future social conflicts against Macron in mind, they are marching in disorder, a third abstaining a third voting blank and a third for the representative of ‘globalisation’, and their own “excluded” voters still set to back le Pen. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to gather together enough strength to gather together with those they now pour scorn upon to reach agreements on the left for the June legislative elections.

Anther US Leftist Backs “pro-working class and anti-imperialist” Marine Le Pen – James Petras.

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Petras, now Backs “Pro-working class and anti-imperialist” Marine Le Pen.

The political confusion created by the entry of ‘Sovereigntist’ language and ideas into the left has not stopped echoing across the world.

Tendance Coatesy has sketched some of the origins of this confusion in France itself, where after the refusal of some on the left to join the Republican Front against the far right,  the latest addition to the ‘anti-anti’ Le Pen camp includes the ‘sovereigntist’ Emmanuel Todd – admired by British Guardian liberals  for his book length rant against Charlie Hebdo.

Todd who voted Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round, though was tempted to support the far right, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, now says that he will abstain on Sunday’s run off.

He refuses to “submit” to servitude. That is, to a Power system run by remote control by financial nu financial inspecteurs, top civil servants and the bankers, all gripped by a spirit of total submission to Germany. (“un système de pouvoir téléguidé par les inspecteurs des finances, la haute administration et le système bancaire dans un état d’esprit de soumission absolue à l’Allemagne. France Soir).

No prizes for  guessing which banker Todd has in mind.

A handful of US leftists far far outdo this.

They are explicit admirers of Le Pen.

After the notorious Diana Johnstone spoke up for Marine Le Pen’s  ‘left wing’ politics on the ‘left-wing’ site CounterpunchJames Petras, has joined the ranks.

The academic, professor of Sociology, active in many leftist causes,  begins an article published on the 1st of May, Twenty Truths about Marine Le Pen,  with this,

Every day in unimaginable ways, prominent leaders from the left and the right, from bankers to Parisian intellectuals, are fabricating stories and pushing slogans that denigrate presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. They obfuscate her program, substituting the label ‘extremist’ for her pro-working class and anti-imperialist commitment. Fear and envy over the fact that a new leader heads a popular movement has seeped into Emmanuel “Manny” Macron’s champagne-soaked dinner parties.

We learn this,

Macron has been an investment banker serving the Rothschild and Cie Banque oligarchy, which profited from speculation and the pillage of the public treasury. Macron served in President Hollande’s Economy Ministry, in charge of ‘Industry and Digital Affairs’ from 2014 through 2016. This was when the ‘Socialist’ Hollande imposed a pro-business agenda, which included a 40 billion-euro tax cut for the rich.

And this,

Le Pen is above all a ‘sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

And indeed this,

Despite the trends among the French masses against the oligarchs, academics, intellectuals and political journalists have aped the elite’s slander against Le Pen because they will not antagonize the prestigious media and their administrators in the universities. They will not acknowledge the profound changes that have occurred within the National Front under Marine Le Pen. They are masters of the ‘double discourse’ – speaking from the left while working with the right. They confuse the lesser evil with the greater evil.

Ending on a lachrymose note the former leftist, states,

If Le Pen loses this election, Macron will impose his program and ignite popular fury. Marine will make an even stronger candidate in the next election… if the French oligarchs’ judiciary does not imprison her for the crime of defending sovereignty and social justice.

It is only because some people think that rhetoric against “elites”and “global finance”, not to mention “globalisation”, and for national sovereignty and ‘independence’ that anybody could describe the Front National, which is economically pro-business, pro-French national interests, normally on the left described as “imperialist”, laced with vicious cultural nationalism, also normally called racist, that anybody could call them “left-wing”.

Perhaps this is what he means by the  FN’s ‘anti-imperialism’…

t comes as no surprise to learn that Petras has this on his shoulders.

Allegations of antisemitism

In a 2006 article entitled “9/11 Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Still Abound,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) criticized Petras’s assertion that there was evidence that Israelis may have known about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but withheld the information from the United States government. The ADL also noted Petras’ assertion that “The lack of any public statement concerning Israel’s possible knowledge of 9/11 is indicative of the vast, ubiquitous and aggressive nature of its powerful diaspora supporters.”[12][13]

In a 2009 article, the ADL again criticized Petras, alleging that he blamed the ongoing economic crisis on “Zionist” control over the U.S. government and world events, and alleged that Petras argued that pro-Israel Americans had launched a massive campaign to push the U.S. into a war with Iran. The ADL also alleged that Petras’ allegations included the antisemitic accusation that the American Jewish community controls the mass media and is “bloodthirsty” in its appetite for war.[14] The previous year, Petras alleged that “It was the massive infusion of financial contributions that allowed the [Zionist Power Configuration] (ZPC) to vastly expand the number of full-time functionaries, influence peddlers and electoral contributors that magnified their power – especially in promoting US Middle East wars, lopsided free trade agreements (in favor of Israel) and unquestioned backing of Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Syria and Palestine…No economic recovery is possible now or in the foreseeable future…while Zionist power brokers dictate US Mideast policies.[15][16]

The ADL also cited a 2008 interview in which Petras stated that [U.S.] presidents are at the disposal of “Jewish power” [17] and maintained that Jews represent “the greatest threat to world peace and humanity.”[18] In the same 2008 interview cited by the ADL, Petras stated that “it’s one of the great tragedies that we have a minority that represents less than 2% of North American’s population but has such power in the communications media” and that the reason “why the North American public doesn’t react against the manipulations of this minority…[is] because the Jews control the communications media.”[19] In an 2010 article published in the Arab American News, Petras stated that “For the U.S. mass media the problem is not Israeli state terror, but how to manipulate and disarm the outrage of the international community. To that end the entire Zionist power configuration has a reliable ally in the Zionized Obama White House and U.S. Congress.”

Written by Andrew Coates

May 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

La France insoumise: 2/3rds of Mélenchon’s Supporters Will Abstain or Vote Blank in Choice between Far-Right and Macron.

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Charlie Hebdo on the “prats” who will Abstain or Vote Blank Faced with Le Pen. 

Two-thirds of far-left ‘Unsubmissive France’ movement to abstain or cast blank ballot in presidential run-off France 24.

This “consulatitve vote” – since La France insoumise is a rally, not a democratic party, is apparently intended only as an “Indication” of what activists think.

S’abstenir ou voter Macron ? Les militants de La France insoumise de Mélenchon optent aux deux tiers pour le vote blanc ou l’abstention

Nouvel Obs.

La France insoumise a dévoilé ce mardi après-midi le résultat de la consultation de ses militants sur la conduite à tenir au second tour, entre vote pour Emmanuel Macron, qui refuse toute concession à Jean-Luc Mélenchon, et abstention.

Seuls 243.128 militants sur les 430.000 inscrits de la plateforme internet La France insoumise se sont prononcés. La consultation s’est close mardi midi et leurs votes se répartissent ainsi : 36,12% appellent à voter blanc ou nul, 34,83% à voter Emmanuel Macron et 29,05% se disent favorables à une abstention. Le communiqué précise : “Il ne s’agissait pas de déterminer une consigne de vote mais d’organiser la prise de parole des insoumis.es au sujet de leurs choix de second tour.”

Only 243,128 activists out of the 430,000 who belong to the Web Network of the La France insoumise voted. The consultation closed on Tuesday at mid-day. The voting was as follows: 36,12% for a blank-spoiled ballot, 34,83% for Emmanuel Macron, and 28,05% said they backed abstention. The communique added, “It is not a question of deciding how we should vote, but to give a voice to the choices that the ‘insoumis’ will make in voting during the second round.

The choice of voting Marine Le Pen was not available during the consultation, although over 15-16% of voters for  Mélenchon in the first round may vote for the far-right in the second (BFMTV).

Libération comments that Mélenchon did not have the courage to take a clear stand because he knew how divided his ‘movement’ was, “On comprend mieux la distance de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, qui a refusé de se prononcer publiquement, de peur de perdre des militants en route.” ( la France insoumise est divisée.)

From the French Communists, the PCF, the reaction was not favourable.

Alors que Marine Le Pen est aux portes du pouvoir le résultat de la consultation de la France Insoumise n’est peut être qu’une photographie mais c’est une mauvaise nouvelle », a réagi sur Facebook Igor Zamichiei, secrétaire départemental du PCF à Paris et membre de l’exécutif national.

When Marine Le Pen is at the gates of Power the result of the consultation of la France insoumise is only a photo-shot, but it’s bad news, remarked on Facebook  Igor Zamichiei, the regional secretary of the PCF at Paris, and a member of the party’s National Executive.

Le Monde. 

More comment unfolding: that the vote indicates a state of mind in some circles on the French left (se Charlie cartoon above….)

This  contrasts with those more directly affected by Le Pen:

 

 

See also: 

Why we support Macron in the second round – op-ed in Le Monde (English original) and DiEM25 France in Mediapart YANIS VAROUFAKIS.

In today’s Le Monde I call upon French progressives to vote for Macron in the second round of France’s Presidential election. The article explains my recommendation to French voters and finishes off with the following promise to Emmanuel:

“I shall mobilise fully to help you beat Le Pen with the same strength that I shall be joining the next Nuit Debout to oppose your government when, and if, you, as President, attempt to continue with your dead-end, already-failed neoliberalism.”

For the full article, in the original English, can be read below. (See also DiEM25 France’s collective position published earlier in Mediapart.)

 

 

 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Will not Vote Marine Le Pen, but Refuses to Say How he Will Vote.

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Image result for la france insoumise marseillaise

Marine Le Pen Launches Appeal to Patriotic Mélenchon supporters and their bleu-blanc-rouge flags. 

As the far-right gains support, the  sovereigntist, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of Debout la France (4,7% of the vote in the first round),  announced his backing,

Dupont-Aignan, who garnered 4.7 percent of votes in the first round, said he would vote for Le Pen in the second-round ballot on May 7 and would immediately join her campaign.

“I will vote Marine Le Pen and I will support her;” he said in a prime-time interview on French television, denying she was a far-right politician.

He said he had signed an agreement on the future government with Le Pen, who would incorporate some of his policy proposals into her election platform.

Earlier in the day, Le Pen’s National Front announced it was removing Jean-François Jalkh as interim party chief.

He allegedly made questionable remarks about Nazi gas chambers during World War Two. He has denied the allegations.

France 24.

This is the latest, if elected she will nominate Dupont-Aignan as Prime Minister.

Si elle est élue présidente, Le Pen nommera Dupont-Aignan premier ministre.

Dupont-Aignan is a Sovereigntist, anti-immigrant, law and order fanatic who is anti-EU, anti-globalisation, anti-feminist,  pro-Assad, anti-Israel,  homophobic (see more: Wikipedia).

Some polls show Le Pen rising at  41 % to Macron’s 59 %.

41 % of voters for  Jean-Luc Mélenchon  will vote for Macron’s En Marche !, while 18% have said they will vote for Marine Le Pen. (Sondage. Marine Le Pen réduit l’écart avec Emmanuel Macron).

The  Man of Destiny Jean-Luc Mélenchon hath – finally – spoken.  In a Youtube his – hours late – broadcast the Number 4 candidate in the first round stated that will vote, but will not say for whom, “though one not need to be a great scholar (and a gentleman – I just added that bit) to guess what I will do.”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon “Moi j’irai voter. (…) Ce que je vais voter, je ne vais pas le dire. Mais il n’y a pas besoin d’être grand clerc pour deviner ce que je vais faire.”

Nevertheless the high number of his voters (18%) who will cast their ballots for Marine le Pen lends force to the argument now gaining an audience that once he had adapted to nationalism – “sovereigntism” – it is easier for them to transfer their allegiance to the far right.

Marine Le Pen is appealing to his voters to support her against the ‘banker’ Macron and his free market policies (Marine Le Pen lance un appel aux électeurs de la France insoumise)She noted of his meetings that she was touched to see that red flags had been replaced by the French national flag and that the ‘beautiful’ Marseillaise has been sung by supporters of La France insoumise.

J’ai été comme vous sensible au fait que les drapeaux rouges aient été remplacés par les drapeaux bleu-blanc-rouge et que de belles marseillaise aient été entonnées par les partisans de la France insoumise», débute la candidate frontiste.

Further emboldened by his ambiguities she remarked today,

Marine Le Pen : “Comme Jean-Luc Mélenchon, je suis une Insoumise.

“Comme lui, je suis une Insoumise. Comme lui, je ne veux pas que Monsieur Macron soit élu président de la République car il porte une vision que je ne partage pas, et qui est rejetée par notre électorat. À savoir : transformer la France en une salle de marché.”

Like him I am an Insoumise. Like him I do not want Mr Macron to be elected as President of the Republic because he bears a vision that I do not share, that is rejected by our voters. That is, he wishes to make France into a marketplace.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 29, 2017 at 11:25 am

Miguel Abensour. 1939 – 2017. Radical Left ‘Insurgent Democracy”.

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Miguel Abensour. 1939 – 2017.

The radical left-wing political philosopher Miguel Abensour passed away on April the 22nd. From a Jewish family, and a childhood spent hidden from the Vichy regime in the countryside, Abensour began to teach political science in 1962. The young teacher, who had early discovered the division between “friends” and “enemies”, remained haunted not only by the experience of Nazism, but also by Stalinism. (1)

The Algerian war of independence and de Gaulle’s Fifth Republic saw the young university teacher’s involvement in the anti-bureaucratic and anti-capitalist left. Abensour’s ideas were influenced by Castoriadis and the review Socialisme ou Barbarie (1949 – 1967) During the sixties he was as founder of Utopie, whose other best known figure was Jean Baudrillard. The title of the journal could stand for a life-long interest in utopian thought, from Thomas More, William Morris, Walter Benjamin the anthropologist Pierre Clastres who speculated on societies without states, to Ernst Bloch and the Frankfurt School. He admired Hannah Arendt, her critique of totalitarianism, the destruction of pluralism, and her writing on the “hidden treasure” of the direct democracy of the workers’ councils. Unlike those, who in the wake of François Furet’s Penser la Révolution française (1978) saw in all radical revolutions the germs of totalitarian tyranny, he continued to defend a Marxist inflected “insurgent democracy”.

Tributes to Abensour have described his contributions to other journals, such as the 1970s anti-totalitarian Textures (to which Castoriadis and Claude Lefort contributed), and his publishing work in the collection, Critique de la politique.

La Démocratie contre l’État

Abensour’s La Démocratie contre l’État (2004) remains his most significant contribution to the independent critical left. Subtitled Marx et le moment machiavélien it is a reflection on Marx and Machiavelli. The work is informed by J.C.A Pocok’s account of how the Florentine’s idea of political Virtue might impose on Fortune and the form of the republic and Fortune, with sociology of liberty (The Machiavellian Moment. 1975). In the discussion of Marx Claude Lefort’s reading of Machiavelli come to the fore. For Lefort the description of the class divisions in Italian city-states, perennial conflicts, a refusal to be commanded or to be oppressed, were the foundation of liberty (Le Travail de l’oeuvre Machiavel. 1972/1986).

But Lefort, Abensour observed, had not stayed there. The former Socialisme ou Barbarie member’s defence of “démocratie sauvage”, heterogeneous movements for human rights, fights for legal rights in the sense also advanced by E.P.Thompson. After the 1970s vogue for ‘anti-totalitarianism’ in France Lefort had moved further into considering that “democratic revolution” could be focused around the “lieu vide” of power, the acceptance that there is a way of institutionalising contestation, pluralism, in a political place that remains “empty. That is, unoccupied by individuals, forces or ideas that impose a single social order. In other words, democratic societies are grounded on the acceptance of division. By contrast Abensour defended Marx. Against the charge that he wished to end this ambiguity in a society of total transparency and harmony. Marx did not imagine a return to ancient republicanism, a world of public lives under constant surveillance and ‘unity’. Insurgent democracy fuelled by such as sense of class conflict, closer to the spirit of anarchy, the “withering away of the state”, not only refuses totalitarianism, but also the structures of the state. Abensour thus rediscovered the possibility of radically new “espaces d’invention, d’évasion” – disorder that Lefort had turned away from. (2)

At a time when National Sovereignty is brandished by those who wish to occupy the space of democratic power, when the ‘federated’ People replaces for Class, and some would wish to claim the ‘independence’ of the Nation against the ‘Elites’ and ‘Oligarchs’, Abensour’s insurgent democracy stands as a rebuke to the narrow goals of populism, right or left. Yet perhaps there is some virtue in keeping the reins of power out of the hands of a single General Will. Those on the British left, now offering to fight to the last French person against Le Pen and Macron, might also reflect on those, like Michael Abensour, who have had more fecund dreams of a utopian future without domination and Sovereignty. He deserves to be as widely read as possible.

****
(1) Les guerres d’Abensour.

(2) Page 184. La Démocratie contre l’État le Felin. 2004

,

Written by Andrew Coates

April 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

As Marine Le Pen Rises in Polls Criticism of Mélenchon’s Silence Grows.

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Nothing to say on how to fight Marine Le Pen at 41% ( +1).

France 24 reports,

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon forfeited the opportunity to play kingmaker on Sunday night by declining to back centrist (and onetime banker) Emmanuel Macron over anti-immigration europhobe Marine Le Pen in the run-off on May 7.

Heady with the 7 million votes he scored in Sunday’s first round – or disappointed that he fell only 618,609 short of beating Le Pen to a spot in the presidential run-off – Mélenchon took no clear stand on election night, leaving his voters to hash out their choice for May 7 online. Third-place finisher François Fillon, of the conservative Les Républicains party, and Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon both used their concession speeches on Sunday to immediately back Macron for the presidency.

However, Mélenchon’s Unsubmissive France (France insoumise) movement launched a voter “consultation” he promised on its website on Tuesday evening. It gives the 450,000 supporters who signed up on the platform before 10pm on April 23 – when Mélenchon gave his speech, and two hours after polls closed – a chance to express their choices among three options: voting a blank ballot, voting Macron or abstaining. Pointedly, voting Le Pen is not provided as an option “because it is clear to us that the National Front is a danger for the workforce”, Mélenchon spokesman Alexis Corbière explained on Wednesday.

The straw poll will continue until next Tuesday at noon, after which the results will be announced. But Unsubmissive France said on Wednesday that Mélenchon himself would not make public how he will vote personally, even after the results of the survey are released.

A sensation who rose like a shot in polls in the month before the first round, Mélenchon managed the feat of relegating the Socialist candidate to an also-ran. A former Socialist himself who cut ties with the party in 2008 to establish his own movement farther to the left, Mélenchon scored more than three times more votes than Hamon, largely on the back of two charismatic TV debate performances on March 20 and April 4. In those clashes, the 65-year-old political veteran came off as lively, confident, witty and frank. The contrast between his showman flourishes then and his post-election-night silence now is jarring.

Calls to abstain

Mélenchon voters have taken to social media to air their misgivings about voting for Macron, a onetime banker and economy minister under Socialist President François Hollande who quit last year to mount his own independent presidential bid. Many, using the hashtag #sansmoile7mai (“May 7 without me”) have said they simply cannot vote for “le capitaliste” Macron, even against Le Pen; they would rather cast a blank ballot or abstain.

This position, whose ambiguities  we have already outlined is opposed to that of  whole trade union movement. All of the union federations have called for a  vote against Le Pen and the National Front on Sunday May 7. The CGT, Force Ouvriere, Solidaires, the CFDT, FSU and even the Christian CFTC, which only once before, in 2002, have all called on their members to ‘stop the National Front’.

The left, the PCF, Ensemble (in a rather contorted fashion, no doubt to avoid offending the Great Man),  and the French Socialists  have also done so.

Not everybody in La France insoumise is happy with the silence of the Man of Destiny.

Mélenchon’s  stand has raised a storm of protest on the left which has been reflected inside the rally itself.

Monsieur Mélenchon, que diable allons-nous faire dans cette galère ? Libération.

Par Baudouin Woehl, étudiant dans un conservatoire à Paris

Un militant de la France insoumise s’indigne de la non-prise de position de Jean-Luc Mélenchon contre Marine Le Pen.

An activist of La France insoumise is angry at the failure of Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon to take a stand against Marine Le Pen.

Dire non au FN, c’est se donner les moyens de poursuivre la lutte, c’est éviter de transformer ce «matin tout neuf qui commence à percer» dont vous parlez, en une nuit toute longue et incertaine.

To say No to the FN, is the way to get the means to continue the fight, that is, to avoid that the “new dawn which has begun to shine”, which you speak about, becomes a long night of uncertainty.

This is in a similar vein: Lettre à mes ami.e.s de gauche qui ne voteront pas contre Le Pen le 7 mai.

This demands that Mélenchon takes off the Red Triangle, sign of solidarity with victims of the Nazi, from his label.

Monsieur Mélenchon, ayez la décence de retirer ce triangle rouge de votre veste.Par Didier Daeninckx, écrivain.

On the British far left, amongst the professional dilettantes (the inevitable Tariq Ali) cheering on Mélenchon  is Kevin Ovenden,  who has been a leading figure in Respect and now appears close to the groupscule Counterfire, with influence in the Stop the War Coalition.

France: an historic moment for the left

He argues against the Vote Contre Le Pen campaign,

The Socialist Party and the Communist Party, in the false name of anti-fascist unity, are aiming to restore their own fortunes at the National Assembly elections, over the corpse of this radical breakthrough by the insurgent left last Sunday.

In endorsing Macron, they do three things. They give political support to someone who will launch an offensive against working people. They help Le Pen – for she wants this political constellation of her against all the old party machines. And they do Macron’s bidding in trying to rip away a part of the “insubordinate left” back to the centre, in return – if they are lucky – for some local pacts to deliver some parliamentary seats.

Instead, willing to share his successful strategy  in Respect Ovenden argues  to back an independent la France insoumise, do not vote against Le Pen in the polling booths, and to for those who supported Mélenchon to start  “providing them with the tools to maintain this insurgency.

For, “This is actually the moment of the fighting left. The agency for rupturing into a half century political settlement has been someone whose politics are actually closer to the patriotic social democratic left than they are to anti-capitalist revolutionaries.”

Ovenden  seems to be relishing the idea of street fighting if Le Pen approaches power, and no doubt afterwards.

He will no doubt offer his strategic skills to the French Left.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2017 at 1:10 pm

The Ambiguous Silence of Mélenchon on the Front National.

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2002, The Left United Against the Front National.

Time was when Jean-Luc Mélenchon has no words hard enough against the Front National.

He even called, repeatedly, for it to be banned. As in Jean-Luc Mélenchon : «C’est le Front national qu’il faut interdire». 17th April. 1997. And Mélenchon veut interdire le FN 23rd of January 2010.

Now he is ‘resting’ in initially in silence while his supporters decide on-line whether to vote against Marine Le Pen, that is, vote for Macron, in the Presidential run off.

After Sunday’s election the choice between Macron and Le Pen is the only one present in the ballot box.

An on-line vote by supporters of La France insoumise, the rally with 440,000 ‘members’ (Many of whom give a nominal sum and Web involvement), is taking place on their stand on the Second Round on the 7th of May.

On voting choices they will be able to recommend that the movement advocates one of these options:

A blank vote (or spoiled ballot as we would say), abstention or a vote for Macron. 

There is no option to vote for Le Pen.

Je vote blanc ou nul», «Je vote Emmanuel Macron», «Je m’abstiens».

Note the way this is posed: the second round will set against each other, “the candidate of the extreme right and the candidate of extreme finance” (the latter reads as oddly in French as English).

It continues, “none of us will vote for the far right. Even so, should one give a voting recommendation? We said during our campaign that our votes could not be used by anybody else for the second round. Our candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has loyally respected this commitment. Having indicated this since the beginning of our campaign, therefore we have organised this to give a voice to la France insoumise on what position they personally (my emphasis) take on the second round. This  will not be a voting recommendation; the (aim) is to know the position of those in la France insoumise.

La consultation des militants de la France insoumise a commencé. Libération.  More in  Le Monde.

At a Press Conference today speakers for La France insoumise began by emphasising, quite rightly, that they had an exceptional voting score, which reached nearly 20% (nearly as many as the candidate who came 3rd François Fillon).

On the consultation above they noted that already 50,000 people had taken part, and that it was to give supporters an opportunity to express  an opinion, not a voting recommendation. (“n’a pas pour but de donner une consigne de vote mais de permettre aux insoumis de donner leur avis). They then announced,  amongst other things, that they are not a traditional political party but a movement (Nous ne sommes pas un parti politique traditionnel. Nous sommes un mouvement) and that neither Macron nor Le Pen represented their ideas.

Waxing lyrical, if perhaps in a tone some would describe as  shouty if not hysterical, Alexis Corbière stated that they were they only political force to emerge in the Presidential elections (La seule force politique qui émerge dans cette élection, c’est nous”) and that they were also the only people capable of really standing up to the Front National (“La seule force en capacité de tenir tête à l’extrême droite, c’est nous”) and they were the only ones (again!) fighting the FN consistently and convincingly,  while everybody else was chattering away (“Nous, nous combattons le FN sur le fond et nous convainquons. Les autres font du baratin !).

La France insoumise intends to stand alone, against all other left parties, in the June legislative elections.

More from here: .

In the media, the médiacrates as Mélenchon calls them, have been asking his supporters what they think. 

Some are said to agree with Philippe Poutou, the candidate of the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NP), who, with a score of 1,09% (1,15% in 2012) advocates going onto the streets to shout against the FN but to stay away from the polling booths.

Others, will what may be called a firmer grasp of reality, will respond as the rest of the non-marginal French left has done, Voter for Macron, with a heavy heart, “« Tout sauf Le Pen. ». The ‘populist’ movement remains divided. (Macron « à contrecœur », vote blanc ou pour Le Pen, pour le « choc » : les électeurs de Mélenchon tiraillés).  More here: Silence de Mélenchon sur le FN : colère, démocratie ou «faute» ? Libération.

As in:

One of the main reasons for their confusion is that the supporters of La France insoumise are said to be bitterly disappointed that they were not able to reach the final round. Apparently they believed, perhaps alone, that they would face a straight Le Pen Melenchon battle. (L’armée en ligne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon à l’heure de la désillusion. Dans le café virtuel où 20 000 militants ont porté sa campagne en ligne, le débat est intense sur l’attitude à adopter pour le second tour.)

Media which are no friends of the French left – happy to ignore that from the Communists to others on the left of the left will vote against Le Pen (Le PCF appelle à voter Macron, puis à le battre aux législatives) – have seized on the ambiguities of La France insoumise and the Man of Destiny,  Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The New York Times reports,

The National Front is delighted. The party has extended a welcome mat to Mr. Mélenchon’s supporters, pointing out similarities between the candidates.

The Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen — kicked out of the party by his daughter partly over his racism — hailed Mr. Mélenchon’s position warmly in an interview on French radio Tuesday.

“This seems very worthy to me, coming from a candidate who made a remarkable breakthrough, and who was — it must be said — the best orator,” Mr. Le Pen said.

His daughter’s top lieutenant in the far-right party, Florian Philippot, said “many voters” for Mr. Mélenchon may now join Ms. Le Pen in the second round, adding that there was a “a kind of coherence, after all” in his refusal to endorse Mr. Macron.

“Among his voters, many will refuse to vote for Macron, and many could vote for us,” Mr. Philippot said on France Info, tying the former economy minister to “finance,” as Mr. Mélenchon does, and to the unpopular government of President François Hollande, in which Mr. Macron served.

“Lots of voters in the electorate that chose Fillon, Dupont-Aignan” — two candidates on the right — “and even Mélenchon are open to a number of our themes,” another top National Front official, Nicolas Bay, said in an internal memo quoted by Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

The coming vote would be a contest between “fans of Mrs. Merkel and the unsubjugated,” he wrote — an apparent reference to Mr. Mélenchon’s movement and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who is criticized on both the far left and the far right as pursuing policies that have impoverished European Union states.

One of Mr. Mélenchon’s top aides derided the candidate’s critics in a telephone interview Tuesday. “You’ve got to look at where the criticism is coming from,” said Éric Coquerel, a member of the Paris regional council.

“It’s coming from those whose policies have favored the development of the National Front, from the Socialist Party,” said Mr. Coquerel, referring to the quarrel that divided the French left for five years: the governing Socialists’ mild pro-market turn, seen as a betrayal by France’s far left.

“We don’t want to help Marine Le Pen, but we don’t want to endorse Mr. Macron,” he said.

“He’s the candidate of free trade,” Mr. Coquerel said. “He’s going to assist in the Uberization of society. Everything we are going to fight against in the coming months. There’s no possible rapprochement.”

Farage Gushes over Marine Le Pen; US Left Counterpunch’s Diana Johnstone Praises Front National “patriotic socialist left”.

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Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaks in Lyon, France. (Michel Euler, AP)

Attracts ‘Anti-Globaliser’ Fans from UKIP and from US left journal Counterpunch.

Leading contributor to Counterpunch, Diana Johnstone is the best known figure in a would-be ‘red-brown’ alliance.

Against the “global elites” she likes both Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen.

French Elections: Macron versus Le Pen in Run-off. Discredited Socialist Party. A Vote against Neoliberalism Diana Johnstone

The results seem to be just what the polls have predicted from the start: Emmanuel Macron versus Marine Le Pen.  As if the whole campaign brought us right around to the point of departure.

I would add that a significant result of this campaign is the substitution of a new left represented by Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the totally discredited French Socialist Party, which has betrayed all the hopes of its followers by totally adopting the neoliberal economic policies dictated by the Europe Union. This is a renewed and much more vigorous and original left.

The leaders of the failed Socialist Party are rushing to find a place in Macron’s ill-defined movement, “En Marche!”

So now we are faced with the choice between a fake left – Macron – and a fake “extreme right”: Marine Le Pen.

The plain truth is that Marine Le Pen, of a younger generation than her notorious father Jean-Marie, is simply not the same politically.  She has enthusiastically adopted as her main political advisor and number two in the National Front which she inherited, Florian Philippot, who comes from the patriotic socialist left represented by France’s best statesman of the past generation, Jean-Pierre Chevènement.

This difference seems impossible to explain to people who are stuck in the categories of a past that is not longer pertinent.  Emmanuel Macron is an agent of the globalizing elite, from NATO to Goldman Sachs.

As President, he will confirm French subservience to European Union rules which are destroying the French economy as well as to NATO’s policy of war in the Middle East and hostility to Russia.  Marine Le Pen prefers a policy of peace.  I am waiting to learn from my critics how she is the “fascist” whom we must all oppose.

Then we have this:

NIGEL FARAGE: Well, it’s very interesting. The way the international media are portraying this Macron is a centrist. He’s nice. He’s cuddly. He’s the really good guy. Quite why he’s called centrist when he was minister in a hard left, socialist government, I don’t know. And then Le Pen is painted out to be far right. Now, let me just tell you something. The origins of the French Front National may well have been far right, but she’s dragged them, I think, a long way from that. And, in terms of security, in terms of believing in sovereignty, in many of those things, she has a huge amount in common with firstly the Brexit campaign and secondly with President Trump.

“This is a big battle of two huge cultural ideals: one, the globalists who believe in open borders, and the other, those who believe in nation states and protecting their people,” he told the US network.” (from Here).

 

Macron Versus le Pen: Will Left Unite to Defeat Far-Right?

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Unite to Beat Le Pen in Ballot say French Communists.

Nos rêves d’avenir sont désormais inséparables de nos frayeurs.

Our dreams of the future are henceforth inseparable from our fears.

Histoire et Utopie Emil Cioran.

The French Presidential elections were earth-shaking, “In just one year, we have changed the face of French politics,” said a triumphant Macron, whose centrist pitch and so-called “progressive alliance” precipitated the country’s great political shake-up. Equally jubilant, his rival Le Pen said it was “time to liberate the people of France from the arrogant elites that seek to dictate their conduct”. Reports France 24.

Macron came first with 23.75% of the vote. Le Pen second, with 21,53%. Fillon third with 19,91% and Mélenchon fourth at 19.64%.

The Socialist Candidate, Hamon, at 6,35%, a score only slightly higher than their historic low (when they were called the SFIO), Gaston Defferre 1969 5,01 %  represented a party which is now starting disaster in the face (Après la déroute de Hamon, le PS au bord du gouffre).

The last time the Front National reached the run off for the Presidential election was in 2002, when Chirac faced Marine Le Pen’s Father Jean-Marie.

Much of the left was swept up in a country-wide mobilisation to the far-right from winning power.

Chirac won with 82,1 %  of the votes

This time both Fillon and Hamon have called for a Macron vote in the Second Round.

Mélenchon’s supporters, who had hoped for a duel between their candidate and Marine Le Pen, vented their spleen at the “« Médiacrates » and « oligarques ».

They have yet to say what to do in the second round.  Mélenchon preferred to announce that he would be consult his movement, by Internet (“Il n’a donné aucune consigne de vote pour le second tour et a expliqué que les 450 000 insoumis voteraient sur ce point.)

There are voices within la France insoumise  calling for a blank vote.

It has become common on the British left, and more widely in the English speaking world, to draw inspiration from Mélenchon and La France insoumise.

There is little doubt that the movement’s candidate is capable of inspirational, lyrical and rigorously argued speaking.

This sour post-election tweet offers a less attractive side to his public personality.

The US publication, Jacobin, has finally published an article which expresses doubts – familiar to readers of this Blog over the last couple of years –  about La France insoumise.

The Meaning of France Insoumise by

Bekhtari is a member of Ensemble, a major component of what was the Front de gauche. Ensemble’s majority  backed Mélenchon by 72%, but did not accept dissolution into the ‘movement’ La France insoumise (Ensemble ! soutient Jean-Luc Mélenchon sans intégrer La France insoumise. November 2016. ). This alliance of left socialist, Trotskyist, green left and self-management currents  has published both supportive and – minority – critical views on the candidate and the structure of this rally.

The following paragraph are particularly worth signaling,

Jean-Luc Mélenchon explicitly draws inspiration from the theories of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe – an official supporter of his – adopting the formulas already used by Podemos, defining the ‘people’ against the ‘caste’ or the ‘oligarchy’. His adoption of this approach is clearly expounded in books such as L’ère du peuple [The Era of the People] or Le Choix de linsoumission [The Choice to Rebel]. Mélenchon no longer uses the term ‘left-wing’, which in his view has been corrupted by the PS’s record in power and unattractive to the wider public. This discourse is also apparent in the position he has taken as a politician who directly addresses the population without the intermediary of a political party and its decision-making structures – not even the party of which he is still a member, the Left Party (PG). He has instead privileged the creation of France Insoumise, a new movement without elected structures whose base unit is the local ‘support group’ backing his candidacy.

…..

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s candidacy struggled to unite forces to the Left of the Socialist Party. His Left Front partners did not appreciate seeing him proclaim himself a candidate, or indeed the mechanics of his campaign, which only afforded a consultative role to the parties committing to his cause – thus preventing their leaderships from being able to shape his program and the line he put forward. As well as this anti-pluralist modus operandi, some of his politically problematic media sorties were also a turn-off for PCF and Ensemble! militants, for instance when he spoke of detached workers ‘stealing the bread’ of the French; with regard to migrants, when the first idea he expounded was that he had ‘never been for freedom of movement’; with regard to the war in Syria, seeing Bashar al-Assad as a lesser evil faced with Da’esh; or in terms of his refusal to recognise the existence of a Russia imperialism, itself at work in this conflict. Despite his repeated defensive claims – which have consisted of responding that his arguments and his positions were being mischaracterized in order to damage him – we cannot totally dismiss the argument that Jean-Luc Mélenchon has sought to deploy buzzwords able to attract the attention of disoriented voters tempted either to abstain or else to vote for the Front National.

After noting the breakthrough in French TV debates – it worked for me – Bekharti unfortunately speculates,

He came out of the debate as the most effective left-wing vote among all the ‘big candidates’. Even beyond the Left, he exercises a certain force of attraction among former right-wing voters seduced by his integrity and his calls for a clean break, which are interpreted as a promise to put an end to a system that today profits only the ‘political class’ and the ‘oligarchy’. Thus just days before the election he finds himself in third place in the polls, tied with Fillon. The possibility of Mélenchon reaching the second round – and even winning a run-off against Le Pen – is thus coming into view, against all expectations.

This has not happened.

The following exercise in wishful thinking looks even less connected to reality,

The strategy of social transformation via a revolution at the ballot box leaves a lot of room for doubt. We can expect a violent reaction by the bourgeoisie to protect its power and privileges. But in the current context, the hope of the step forward that could come from France Insoumise taking power, and the possibility that a period of radicalisation would follow, appear better able to mobilize the masses than any abstract warning of the future betrayals that may come from Jean-Luc Mélenchon once he is elected president.

One might still ask if fourth position is still a strong one – though not much of a hope for those who would wish Corbyn to follow this path.

But at present it’s the issue of voting in the second round that dominates the left.

Today the French Communist Daily L’Humanité calls for a united struggle against Marine Le Pen. The ballot box is the central means to stop her.

Nothing that Macron represents “financial circles” and liberal economic policies that have harmed France for decades the Parti communiste français nevertheless states that the immediate task is the following:

To block the road to the Presidency of the Republic of Marine Le Pen, to her clan, and to the threat that the Front National represents for democracy, for the Republic and for peace, is to use the ballot, unfortunately the only way to do so.

Le Parti communiste appelle à battre Le Pen.

The Socialists have just endorsed the same position, putting centreplace the need to beat the far-right, (à battre l’extrême droite).

Ensemble  calls to make May the 1st a Big Day of Action against the NF and for an anti-Le Pen vote, “Le mouvement Ensemble! appelle à la mobilisation, dans la rue le 1er mai, en votant contre Le Pen le 7 mai, pour empêcher l’arrivée au pouvoir de l’extrême droite.”

The FN remains a party of the extreme-right and not just for France, but for the European left and labour movement, it is important that the PCF’s call is heeded.

This does not mean that the problems their vote and deep political roots in France pose is solved by such a vote.

Yet…

Mélenchon is fond of citing Victor Hugo.

On wonders if Hugo would have backed abstention had it been possible to vote as freely as one can in the present French election to stop LouisNapoléon. 

Then we have the legislative elections….June….

And the Mail is jubilant…

 

*****

 

Official first round result

With 106 of 107 departements counted | At 04:49 CEST
Macron 23.75%
Le Pen 21.53%
Fillon 19.91%
Mélenchon 19.64%
Hamon 6.35%
Dupont-Aignan 4.75%
Lassalle 1.22%
Poutou 1.1%
Asselineau 0.92%
Arthaud 0.65%
Cheminade 0.18%.

Second-round projection

Pollsters Ifop asked voters for the main contenders who they would opt for in the second round, if the remaining candidates were Macron and Le Pen. Using the actual first-round votes cast, this would imply a second-round result along the following lines:

Macron 60.63%

Le Pen 39.37%

Macron inherits

43% of Fillon’s voters

70% of Hamon’s voters

50% of Mélenchon’s voters

Le Pen inherits

31% of Fillon’s voters

3% of Hamon’s voters

12% of Mélenchon’s voters

Counterpunch – Diana Johnstone – Defends Marine Le Pen Against “Racism” charge and Rallies to the Cause of National Sovereignty.

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Johnstone: Cannot “reduce” Marine Le Pen’s anti-Immigrant stand to “racism”. 

Diana Johnstone is a columnist for the American left site, Counterpunch.

She has, to put it mildly, ‘form’ on French Politics saying that the Front National is “basically on the left”. And indeed on British Politics, where she warmed to UKIP’s views on European immigration (Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism) (1)

In her most recent contribution (21st of April)  to the favourite journal of ‘wise-guys’ who want the ‘low down’ on politics, this is her view on tomorrow’s French Presidential election.

The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty 

Johnstone is torn in the French elections,

A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen.  Both speak of leaving the euro.  Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command.  Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.

Left-wing internationalists may protest at this side of Mélenchon’s politics (La chevènementisation de Jean-Luc Mélenchon Philippe Marlière).

She ignores such critics

The main divide appears to be racism.

But…

In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.

So that’s all right then.

Human rights bleeding hearts and internationalist globalisers  might remarks that giving national preference to the French in jobs and housing, chanting “on est chez nous”, claiming that the French have fewer rights than foreign residents(“les Français ont parfois moins de droits en France que des étrangers, même clandestins”) restricting free schooling to French citizens, and systematically linking terrorism to immigration is about as racist as you get.(Immigration et terrorisme : Marine Le Pen multiplie les intox.)

Then there is this,

The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her.  Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.

Against the views of the “globalist media” Johnstone concludes,

By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty.

 That  Counterpunch claiming to be on the left, publishes Johnstone’s  defence of the ‘nation’ against the EU is, well, not unexpected.

A section of the former French ‘republican’ and anti-EU  left has moved from  ‘sovereigntism’ to active involvement in the Front National. From the “regulation” heterodox economist Jacques Sapir (a former supporter of the Front de gauche) who has called for a “common front” against the Euro with the FN ( J’ai dit, et écrit, que, dans la lutte contre l’européisme, il faudrait faire front commun et que, sous certaines conditions, le Front National pourrait y participer) to Thibaut Garnier (former youth secretary of the  Mouvement républicain et citoyen (MRC) and many others, they have found in Marine Le Pen a defender of National Sovereignty (Ces chevènementistes séduits par le FN).

This little gang obviously has its admirers in the US.

*******

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity Against Terrorist Violence.

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Universal Values: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Peace, and Secularism, Against Islamist Terror. 

After the indecent claim earlier in the week by the Front National leader Marine Le Pen that if she was in power there would have been no terrorist attacks (“LE FN AURAIT ÉVITÉ LES ATTENTATS” : MARINE LE PEN RECYCLE SON INTOX FAVORITE) , how did the candidates react to the killings on the Champs-Elysées?

The 11 candidates were appearing on a television program ahead of the first round of voting in the two-part election when the attack that left one officer dead happened Thursday night.

Conservative contender François Fillon said on France 2 television he was cancelling his planned campaign stops on Friday.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers “once again targeted.”

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer.

Socialist Benoît Hamon tweeted his “full support” to police against terrorism.

Of particular interest is the reaction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

His policies on the root causes of terrorism include ending any alliance with the Gulf States, and engagement in destabilising wars. For French domestic legislation and practice he has promised to strengthen the fight against terrorism, under independent legal control to ensure that civil liberties are protected (ATTENTAT DES CHAMPS-ELYSÉES : COMMENT LES CANDIDATS COMPTENT LUTTER CONTRE LE TERRORISME).

Mélenchon also favours an international coalition under UN mandate, associated with Kurdish fighters, to eradicate the Islamic State and establish peace and stability in Iraq and Syria (Mettre en place une coalition universelle sous mandat de l’ONU pour éradiquer Daesh et établir la paix et la stabilité en Syrie et en Irak , associant les combattants kurdes. Mediapart).

The candidate of La France insoumise took a firm line after the attack on the  Champs-Elysées, evoking the Republic’s device of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

World of Culture Mobilises for French Election: Pamela Anderson Backs Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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Anderson has always had keen interest in Progressive International Politics. 

 

 

“Le Pen et Mélenchon ont tous les deux été espionnés par les États-Unis et les deux sont d’accords pour accorder l’asile ou la citoyenneté à Julian Assange”, a d’abord écrit Pamela Anderson sur son site internet. “Mr Melenchon for President! S’il vous plait”

Le Pen and Pamela Andersonhave both been spied upon by the US, and both agree on giving asylum and citizenship to Julian Assange” wrote Pamela Anderson, on her Internet site. “Mr Mélenchon for President! ! S’il vous plait.”

The candidate for La France insoumise has also impressed Ms Anderson by his work for animal rights (un défenseur de la cause animale) and the cause of climate change.

Huffington Post.

Her grasp of French politics has been, unfairly, criticised:

As Theresa May Sets out Hard Brexit Stall, Left Brexiters Want to Reform, not Oppose Her Plans.

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We have only to Wait for Him to Comment on UK Election Vote…..

The Daily Mail reports,

Tory manifesto will guarantee end of free movement, UK to leave single market and no more meddling by Euro judges as May issues her cast-iron Brexit pledges.

Theresa May will place a triple lock on Brexit in the Tory manifesto to stop obstruction by diehard Remainers. Tory sources say she is set to include specific pledges to overcome opposition within her party and in the Lords. The manifesto is expected to commit the Conservatives to ending EU free movement and pulling out of both the single market and European Court of Justice. Senior Tories see the three measures as essential in delivering last year’s referendum result.

Socialists should oppose these plans.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty speaks for a much wider constituency when they say,

Even on the basis of its existing policy, Labour could argue for opposition to the Tories’ Brexit plans, for defence of free movement and migrants’ rights, for remaining in the single market. We should fight for this. Otherwise Labour will go into the election echoing, or scarcely contesting, the Tories’ main message.

By contrast the remains of the Brexit left claim that they can reform these Brexit plans and harness them to their own ends.

Jeremy Corbyn must fight the election with socialist policies

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

Or so, instructs the Socialist Party (ex-Militant)

The SWP states,

To win a Brexit that serves the interests of the majority rather than the bosses means dumping the Tories.

Some of the Labour right would prefer the Tories to win than to see Corbyn in Downing Street. They will have to be pushed aside.

Socialist Worker helpfully reminds us,

“Moderation” is the enemy. Labour would be in a better position if it could raise slogans such as—“For the NHS, not Trident missiles”, “Chuck out the parasites, take over the banks”.

And the union leaders should be stepping up strikes and protests, not holding them back in the false belief that such resistance harms Labour.

We want Corbyn to win—but that means more struggle not less.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2017 at 11:47 am

Counterfire calls for Corbyn to Follow Jean-Luc Mélenchon and “denounce the banks and corporations, NATO and the EU as “capitalist con trick”.

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Rees explains to Corbyn how to follow Mélenchon’s book.

What, the masses, okay, John Rees and the groupuscule Counterfire, ask, should we do about Theresa May’s “gamble”, her all-too-evident desperation.

Well, they reply, to themselves, it’s proof of that agony the Tories are facing.

She has called a General Election.

You can’t get more desperate than that!

So,  Bring it on

Rees is a-buzzin’ at French politics,

Only weeks ago, Marine Le Pen was destined to be stopped only by a Blairite candidate. Now the far-left candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon has upset all predictions and, even if he doesn’t make the second round, he has rebuilt the French left.

Jeremy Corbyn should be aiming to make good the poll deficit by similar methods because Melenchon was at least as far behind in the polls when the French Presidential campaign began as Corbyn is now.

So,

….audacity is the order of the day. Corbyn should take a leaf from Mélenchon’s book and denounce the banks and corporations, NATO and the EU, for the capitalist con trick they are. He should unashamedly run as the establishment’s unbending opponent and as the outspoken champion of working people, the unions, and the social movements.

Then, if he fails, at least it will not be by his own hand and at the cost of demoralising the left and working people, their organisations and their hopes.

Yup, Mélenchon’s strategy of replacing the Socialist Party, that is Labour’s sister party, and his struggle for French “independence”, waving of tricolors an all, is just the recipe for a Labour victory.

He could also try a few of the poems Melenchon likes to stud his speeches with,

Mes frères, c’est dans la Paix que nous respirons à pleins poumons
L’univers entier avec tous ses rêves…
Mes frères, mes sœurs, donnez-vous  la main…
C’est cela la Paix.

Yánnis Rítsos.

Or this:

Rees is resolutely upbeat.

There may or may not be a majority Labour government, but that is not the only bad outcome for the Tories. There may be a minority Labour government supported by the SNP. There may be a Tory government with a reduced majority, and that would be a huge disaster for the whole UK ruling class and a huge opportunity for the left.

Those majority Tory governments are surely always an opportunity……

We need to make Theresa May’s election gamble her last, argues John Rees

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Criticism, the Programme, and ‘Federating the People’.

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L’avenir en Commun. Le programme de la France insoumise et son candidat, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Seuil. December 2016.

Before introducing this we have to put the small fraction of our leftist readership who are unaware of this out of their misery.

Mélenchon’s Trotskyist past was as a ‘Lambertist‘, that it the most ‘orthodox’, not to say stultified tradition of French Trotskyism, at the time in the shape of the Organisation communiste internationale (OCI), at the time run by its thuggish leader  Pierre Boussel, best known under his pseudonym Pierre Lambert. 

This is perhaps misleading.  Mélenchon’s real political debts, he would be the first to thank us for pointing out, lie towards former president Mitterrand -(Jean-Luc Mélenchon, le dernier mitterrandiste).

This is equally not a background which endears him to everybody on the left.

The below sketches some reasons to be sceptical about Mélenchon.

Unlike  in today’s Guardian we concentrate on the published programme of his Presidential candidacy.

A critical overview of the main axes of the programme of La france insomouise.

This programme, for the 2017 French Presidential elections and for the legislative elections that follow them, addresses the state of France, “note pays”, our country, in a vibrant call to action. Ecological issues, the land’s social disasters (unemployment, poverty and ethnic and religious divisions, ‘communautarismes’) are, writes Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the Introduction, three aspects of the same reality, “We are suffocating under the rule of Finance.” Finance governs the world. Its greed, and the free-market, are destroying human beings and the planet.

For the candidate of La France insoumise the priority is to give power to the people (“donner le pouvoir, tout le Pouvoir, au peuple’). Mélenchon calls for an assembly, made up of those who have never before been elected to Parliament, to write a new constitution that will replace the “monarchie présidentielle”. With “ecological planning” a new model will be created. France will become a “universalist nation” (nation universaliste), conquering its “independence”, outside of NATO, acting to create a new alter-globalisation” alliance of the world’s peoples. France will bring a special contribution to green maritime development, to space exploration, and information technology.

Down with the Oligarchy!

The programme begins by observing that citizens’ power is thwarted in the present French politics are dominated by the “oligarchy”, the “collusion between politics and finance”, run by a “caste of the privileged”. The programme proposes a series of measures to stem corruption, to end the connivance between politicians and business, and the influence of lobbyists to break the influence of this financial-political elite. Infringements will be punished with the full force of the law.

The Universalist republic will then be in a position to defend an open approach to French nationality, advance a patriotism that is opposed to racism and all forms of discrimination, and abolish “state and social patriarchy”, including the abolition of prostitution (“abolir la prostitution”, this claim is made on Page 29).

The platform calls for new citizens’ initiatives, referenda, rights to recall MPs, guarantees of media pluralism, the constitutional embodiment of the rights of people at work, protecting common property, “air, water, food, health, energy, the means of life, the currency (..) For young people, after, lowering the voting age to 16, la France insoumise, proposes an obligatory “ service citoyen” (including a military option) or the under 25s, paid at the minimum wage, for nine months.

Particular attention is paid to France’s overseas territories, from the Caribbean to the other ‘confettis of the empire’ in the Pacific, South America and the Indian Ocean, whose equality will be established within the French administrative domain. They will become “pilots” of the ecological planning. In this respect the “économie de mer” from aquaculture onwards, will spearhead development.

L’avenir en Commun promises to out an end to the economic “pillaging” of the Nation (capital letter in original, Page 45). Not only are privatisations and ‘public-private’ partnerships targeted, but the effects of social dumping. In “défense de notre souveraineté industrielle”, “protectionnisme solidaire” is proposed. Trade agreements have to be revised and other measures taken to project social rights and employment, against multinationals and international finance. Production must be re-localised. To fight against unemployment there will be investment in green infrastructure projects…

Fiscal Revolution.

The programme has drawn particular attention for its “révolution fiscale” and other ideas in the industrial/economic field (a more detailed account here) A rise in the minimum wage (16%) parallels a maximum salary for company bosses, on a ratio of 1 to 20 of the lowest wage, restrictions of redundancies, and a return to the contract protection pre-Loi Khomri are amongst measures proposed. There are plans to restore retirement at 60, a continued reduction of the working week, increased holidays, and a wish to ‘eliminate poverty’.

Critics focus on the cost, hidden by a slight of hand in which spending is transformed into a way cost-free boosting the economy (without major tax rises on the ordinary person or indeed much directly on most businesses). Others ask how the economy is going to be radically transformed by government legislation. There is no specific mention of independent working class or social movement initiatives outside of the political framework of the new 6th Republic, or to be exact, how they might engage in working through, from the grass-roots, independent forms of  new economic and social life.

Dead Europe.

Mélenchon prefaces the section on Europe by asserting that the “Europe of our dreams is dead”. The present European Union has become reduced to a single market in which people are submitted to the rule of the banks and finance. Our “indépendance d’action et la souveraineté de nos décisions” must not be subjected to the ideological obsessions of the Commission which have led to this anti-democratic impasse.

La France insoumise intends to renegotiate existing European Treaties. In Plan A it is proposed, amongst other measures, to end the independence of the Central European Bank, devaluation of the Euro, a halt to extending market mechanisms to public services (railways, energy and telecommunications), and a European conference to settle member states’ debts. If this fails, Plan B, a halt to French contributions to the EU budget, and for the Banque de France to take back monetary control and prepare the way for an alternative monetary system to the Euro. It is not specified what will happen if this fails, other than extreme pressure will be put. Potentially, France may leave the Euro and, could possibly exit the EU itself.

What will happen if they try all of this, draw back to the Franc, there is a financial crisis of staggering proportions, and the economy starts to crack, is not explained.

Let us imagine, as some have done, how the various scenarios  for A and B would play out.

As Frédéric Lordon explains,

I think that comrade Mélenchon, if he did reach power and if he really intended to combine words with actions, would find himself facing very great adversity indeed. For over the last thirty years, capital has got comfortable and has no intention at all of letting all the freedoms it has conquered, all the comfort it has secured, being taken away again. We have to understand what entering into confrontation with capital again means. There we really have political battles…

Himself not immune to dreams of establishing national sovereignty Lordon imagines,

So both to protect Mélenchon and to keep watch over him, his election must be just the beginning of a political process of a whole different dimension, necessarily proceeding by way of popular mobilisations. I do not know if that means re-awakening the old memories of the Popular Front or whatever… but all the same…

This ends up, for the moment,  in an interminable argument about a possible exit of France from the EU.

Or not.

As perhaps his hero Mitterrand realised in the early 1980s, exiting European , not to mention global financial and commercial constrains is not so easy…..

Perhaps he should consult Jean-Pierre Chevènement….

As more recently noted, (FRÉDÉRIC LORDON CRITIQUERAIT-IL LA STRATÉGIE DE JEAN-LUC MÉLENCHON ?)

Quand Jean-Luc Mélenchon dit qu’il veut « sortir des traités », cela a un sens. Ça ne peut signifier qu’une seule chose: si on sort des traités, on sort de fait de l’UE.

When Jean-Luc Mélenchon says he wants to leave the Treaties, that has a meaning. It has only one sense: if we leave the treaties we leave, in fact, the European Union…

Or not.

And so, on and on, in ever expanding and revolving  circles.

French Independence.

As part of his wider plans for sovereignty, and keen to assert the “indépendence” of France in the world, the platform, as cited, envisages not just renegotiating existing EU Treaties (or annulling them) but leaving NATO, but the IMF and the World Bank.

Yet we are promised that French overseas territories will join organisations for regional co-operation such as the Cuba and Venezuela ledAlliance bolivarienne.

In place of the existing military alliance, which drags European states behind the USA, France will be able to defend herself and act freely. In this sense a “coalition universelle”, UN mandated, to eradicate Daesh in Syria, has a part to play in establishing peace in that land, with free elections and a negotiated end to the civil war. Perhaps the reintroduction of military service will help France fulfill its part in the forces needed to meet this aim.

The programme wishes to continue to support the ‘two states’ solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict which is welcome.

The idea of France, a country which is a pillar of the international economic and military system, with a heavy colonial past, is an odd place from which to claim ‘independence’. One might say that the above objectives appear to give priority to a leading role in international affairs, not to freedom from overseas commitments.

There are many other measures in L’avenir en commun, on international co-operation to resolve the underlying causes of the different migration crises, for durable development, employees’ rights, a re-affirmation of secularist principles (laïcité), opening up education, and a ideas on health issues. The document includes a including a proposition to legalise, within regulated structures, cannabis. Asylum will be offered to freedom fighters (“combattants de la liberté”) such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (Page 89).

These are worth discussing on their individual merits, some of which (green policies, workers’ rights, legalising cannabis) are shared by his Socialist rival, Hamon indeed are better expressed by him.

The People….

This is the most contentious element in the platform of La France insoumise. In contrast to traditional left wing programmes there are no proposals for large-scale nationalisations. Economic strategy, apart from its green and social inflection, is centred on production in France within an expanded regulatory citizens’ right-based framework. It is the role of the people’s, re-formed, 6th republic to transmit these into practice.

The ‘sovereignty’ of the People as translated into this Sixth Republic, with the “transition écologique, are at the core of L’avenir en commun, ideas which also stand out from past radical left platforms, which have affirmed the central importance of the labour movement, or the working class and oppressed. Critics have not been slow to point out that the “L’ère du peuple” is not the epoch of the proletariat. What is less than clear is what The People are made of. French socialism, in the shape of the SFIO,  was founded as a citizens’ party,  not a class one, but recognised the importance of class interest. Apart from being against the oligarchs and elites nobody seems sure what the people is, positively, for, other than the accumulated traditions all so often evoked, a stance that has something in common with the 19th century non-Marxist current around the Revue Socialiste of Benoît Malon which considered socialism a broad stream of progressive thinking that extended to all people of good will. 

In the construction of the People, its ‘federation’ into an ‘us’ against the Oligarchs, the ‘them’, this ‘humanist populism’ relies on some ideas, perhaps better described as emotions, that are open to serious question. The first is the claim to republican  ‘patriotism’.

recent interview with Raquel Garrido, one of their spokespeople, elicited this response.

We are patriotic, not nationalist. Patriotism is love for one’s own, while nationalism involves hatred for others. In fact, according to the literary and political definitions, that is the difference. The far right is nationalist. We are patriotic. And patriotism is an empathy, an affect towards one’s compatriots. We really think that, insofar as our nation has been a civic nation since the French Revolution, it is not defined by any religion or skin colour or even language, it is universal. Our homeland [patrie] is republican.

Our patriotism is universalist. It is a patriotism of the Enlightenment. We think that precisely what our patriotism allows is the affirmation of citizens’ right to govern themselves. That is what our national sovereignty is, first of all meaning a popular sovereignty. Before anything else it is the question of the people’s political power. And fortunately for us, in our national history these two things are linked. That is why we think that the far right is not truly for sovereignty, because it supports only national, not popular sovereignty. It is for Marine Le Pen having power, not the French.

Apart from being one of the hoariest definitions of patriotism going, love of one’s own is many things, but by definition it is not love of ‘others’.

In constructing the ‘figure of the People’, Mélenchon and his allies, apart from their fuzzy progressivism, also appear to have much in common with the mid-19th century “internationalist republicans”. They wish to free the land from the forces of global capital, not Kings but the aristocrats of finance. But national histories have been profoundly affected by globalisation and there is little evidence that tearing up its roots is an easy task. How can we talk of the ‘national’ economy in the world today? What exactly is French ‘independence’?  What is the ‘national’ culture in a multicultural reality, not a policy but a fact.

It is hard to find  more substance in the programme of La France insoumise, that clarifies the meaning of ‘popular sovereignty’. People’s Power is about as precise as the evocation of a national General Will.  Of, as Garrido asserts, ‘the French’….

If it has any meaning it is largely negative, a desire to be ‘free of’ outside institutions, from EU Treaties to NATO.

Such a goal, of national independence and sovereignty, now stamped with green and social measures, and raises many issues if any moves are taken towards the end.

If the people is Mobilised to confront the rule of the “political caste” ‘finance’, EU Treaties, and the Commission (not capitalism as such), what is its future?  If La France insoumise ever swept the “oligarchy” from the Republic, how they could ever bridge the gap between their ‘universal’ aspirations, those in France who oppose their plans for the People, and those of other Peoples? Who would ‘federate’ them? What kind of universalism  would negotiations with the ‘non-civic’ nations and institutions result in?

The other set of issues concerns leadership.

What is there perhaps a role for a Chief, the Lider Maximo, of this left populism? Laclau whose work is freely drawn upon in the political logic of the project of La France insoumise, explicitly placed this role at the centre of his later writing on populism (On Populist Reason. 2005). It is right to ask, as Joshua Samuel has done, if  this is not the explicit intention behind constructing a movement, not a party, to support Mélenchon’s candidacy. (La France insoumise – « L’ère du peuple » et « l’adieu au prolétariat » ?)

This issue has not gone away, as this article illustrates, noting that the cult of the Man of Destiny is not part of French left-wing political culture, for all his claims to deny that he indulges it, while claiming to gather together the People and not the Left. “Le culte de l’homme providentiel accompagne le candidat sur son passage, ce n’est pourtant pas l’idée que l’on se fait de la politique à gauche, et dont il se défend lui-même. Certains parlent de césarisme, sinon de chavisme à la française. L’inquiétude est à son comble quand il prétend rassembler le peuple et non la gauche.”( Mediapart.  FRÉDÉRIC LUTAUD)

The author observes that  Mélenchon’ has a worryingly high number of fanatical, dedicated followers devoted to  his own personality…

There is plenty of evidence to back this up.

capture

Interplanetary Missions.

In the final chapter, La France aux Frontières de l’Humanité a sketch of some of the features of a “nouvelle ère” of international co-operation is offered. It only increases the suspicion that this programme is marked by national messianism. Space-exploration, including a European-Russian Moon Base, support for a publicly owned Arianespace, and interplanetary missions, including to Mars, feature prominently. The development of France’s role as a “maritime power”, creating 300,000 jobs, in such areas a aquaculture and the French merchant navy, as well as the French role in robot and information technology, are some of the ideas for a people with a “special and passionate responsibility” (une responsabilité particulière et enthousiasmante!” (Page 119).

These ideas make it hard to not to think of the jibe against such claims of French special universal responsibilities, “A particularism masked as a universalism”.

Other material: Excitement in the French elections: the meaning of Jean-Luc Mélenchon  John Mullen

…if myself and my Trotskyist revolutionary friends were to decide to build a perfect mass campaign out of Lego, there would be a number of Mélenchon’s priorities we would leave in the box. He goes in for a particular brand of left patriotism: Insubordinate France distributes French flags at some rallies and the French national anthem, the Marseillaise, is sung. The words of the anthem were written as a call to arms against tyranny during the French Revolution, and Mélenchon’s line is that the real France is the tradition of the fight for republican equality and fraternity, the Paris commune and the welfare state established after world war two by the national committee of resistance. In addition, he puts great store on the positive influence that he says France has sometimes had in international diplomacy, and the positive role France could play in the United Nations in moving against war and against the great imperialist countries. Moreover, he is not opposed to France retaining its nuclear arms. Obviously, these are positions which revolutionaries would contest, and there are more objections too. Though he regularly denounces anti-Muslim prejudice, he tends to think, wrongly, that a Muslim fundamentalist threat is widespread in French society, and he has joined in misinformed speculation about the “real meaning” of a Muslim headscarf.

Overhauling French Politics

“At stake in Sunday’s French election is the specter of the far right, the neoliberalism of the extreme center, and Mélenchon’s challenge to the system itself.”

A useful interview with    if  marked by the initial  claim about the world historical effects that French protests against the reform of the Labour code last year, “These spectacular strikes, blockades, and demonstrations, notably Nuit Debout, really rocked the world’s stage, but especially the French stage, just one year ago.” Not to mention the puerile term, “the extreme centre”…

there is the fact that he identifies with the French state in every aspect. He really sees the French state in its republican form as defending the common interests of humanity. On one philosophical level, this is a sort of extension of the French Revolution’s emancipatory gesture, but it also translates into an identification with the French state in its actual repressive form.

And a much less favourable analysis: Anti-German, soft on Putin – Mélenchon is no saviour of the left.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 18, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the Bolivarian Alliance, Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América.

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Mélenchon  wants French Caribbean ‘overseas Territories’ to link with Bolivarian Alliance.

Much has been made in recent days of sections of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s programme which proposes that France leaves NATO, renegotiates European Treaties and joins the “Bolivarian alliance” (L’Alliance bolivarienne de Mélenchon: tout, sauf un Eldorado.)

Set up originally in 2004 by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América), is an intergovernmental organisation based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

It figures in the proposals of la France insoumise

 Dans le chapitre 62, «Construire des coopérations altermondialistes et internationalistes», où il est stipulé qu’il faut «instaurer une politique de codéveloppement avec l’Amérique latine et les Caraïbes en adhérant à l’Alba (Alliance bolivarienne pour les peuples de notre Amérique)». Mais aussi dans le chapitre 15, consacré à l’outre-mer, où il est prévu de «rejoindre les coopérations régionales dans une démarche de codéveloppement écologique, social et de progrès humain : par exemple l’Alba (Alliance bolivarienne pour les peuples de notre Amérique) pour les Antilles et la Guyane française, l’Afrique australe pour Mayotte et la Réunion, etc.». Dans son livret thématique consacré à outre-mer, il est précisé que ce sont la Guyane et les Antilles françaises qui rejoindront l’Alba, tout comme la Communauté d’États latino-américains et caraïbes (Celac).

In Chapter 62, “Building  internationalist alter-globalisation co-operation’ where it is stated that it is necessary to “create a developmental strategy of co-development in Latin America and the Caribbean by joining ALBA, the  Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). It is also mentioned in Chapter 15, which is devoted to French overseas territories, where it is envisaged to “join regional co-operative agreements in the line of ecological, social and progressive co-development” – concerning the French Antilles, French Guyana, and with Southern Africa for Mayotte and la  Réunion. In the book devoted specifically to French overseas territories, French Guyana and the French Antilles who will join ALBA, as well the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC.

 

We are happy to say that we, like other readers of the French press, are now in possession of some clarifications on these proposals.

Mélenchon is above all concerned with the fate of France’s overseas empire, which he suggests should work closely with the body.

Le candidat de la France insoumise explique que sa proposition de rapprochement avec cette organisation d’Amérique du Sud concerne avant tout les territoires français dans les Caraïbes. Libération.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

Protests against Gay Concentration Camps in Chechnya.

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Hundreds of activists gather outside the Russian Embassy in central London in protest against the treatment of homosexuals in Chechnya.

Gay men are being held in “camps” in the Chechen Republic where they are subjected to torture and beatings, human rights campaigners have claimed.

The claims follow reports last week that 100 gay men had been rounded up and imprisoned in Chechnya, with at least three people allegedly murdered. The allegations were made by a Russian newspaper and human rights campaigners. “In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” independent newspaper Novaya Gazetaclaimed.

At the time, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson denied the claims on the grounds that no one in Chechnya is homosexual. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” spokesman Alvi Karimov told Interfax.

Independent.

 

Close the gay concentration camps.

Chechnya has opened the world’s first concentration camps for gay people and they’re as horrific as they sound. Men are being electrocuted, tortured until they reveal other names of gay people, and beaten so badly that some have died.

This is the first time we’ve seen camps like this since the Nazis. It’s both terribly upsetting and infuriating all at once, but we have a plan to stop it.

Avaaz will work with activists on the ground to help rescue the prisoners and set up a safe house, but first we need to show there’s a massive global outcry to end the crackdown. Join the urgent campaign and tell everyone – let’s get to one million.

Londoners protest against gay ‘concentration camps’, anti-LGBTQ violence in Chechnya

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Russian embassy in London on Wednesday to protest after reports from human rights groups that up to 100 gay men are being held and tortured in “camps” in Russia’s southern region of Chechnya.

Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported at least three of the men detained had been killed in secret prisons that were branded “concentration camps.”

More hereHundreds protest against ‘gay concentration camps’ in Chechnya outside London’s Russian Embassy.

 Amongst international protests this one will take place today:
DES HOMOSEXUELS ENLEVÉS, TORTURÉS ET TUÉS EN TCHÉTCHÉNIE
Appel au rassemblement le jeudi 13 avril à 19h00 – Place de Colombie, Paris 16e

Depuis début avril, les informations se multiplient concernant des homosexuels (réels ou supposés) en Tchétchénie : ils auraient été victimes d’arrestations, de détentions arbitraires, de torture et, pour certains, d’assassinats.

Amnesty International, l’Inter-LGBT, Russie-Libertés et SOS homophobie unissent leurs voix et lancent un appel commun au respect des droits humains en Tchétchénie.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm

François Hollande “writes off” his party candidate, Hamon, and seems to call for Macron vote.

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Image result for francois hollande caricature mr flamby

Hollande: dumps his own Party’s Candidate.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more confused in the French Presidential elections, this story erupts.

Si François Hollande n’a publiquement pris position pour aucun candidat à la présidentielle (ce que Manuel Valls ne juge “pas normal”), sa préférence semble aller à Emmanuel Macron.

If François Hollande has not publicly taken a position in favour of any candidate in the Prsidential elections (which Manuel Valls estimates is “not normal”) his preference appears to be for Emmanuel Macron.

Benoît Hamon accuse François Hollande de “pousser les socialistes à rejoindre Macron”

Now if there is one thing President Hollande was famous for, it was that he was a “party man”, a stalwart figure of the Parti Socialiste,  the Genial  First Secretary and all that.

Apparently not.

The story is developing:

 Sans vraiment le dire, François Hollande a discrètement appelé à voter pour le candidat d’En marche! dans un entretien à paraître jeudi 13 dans Le Point et dont le journal  Le Monde développe les principaux points dans un article paru ce mercredi 12.

Without exactly saying it François Hollande has discreetly called to vote for the candidate of En marche! in an interveiw which will appear on Thursday in Le Point (Note: hard line ‘liberal’ right wing weekly). Le Monde has outlined the principle point in an article which has come out today.

France Soir.

Le Monde,

François Hollande sort de son silence : « Cette campagne sent mauvais »

Sans appeler à voter Macron, le président s’inquiète de la percée de Mélenchon et semble avoir fait une croix sur le candidat socialiste, Hamon.

François Hollande  breaks his silence: this campaign reeks.

Without calling for a Macron vote, the President is worried about Mélenchon’s breakthrough, and seems to have written off the Socialist candidate.

This is the dilemma Hamon faces:

Four Way Race in French Presidential Election: Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck with François Fillon.

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Video Game, “Fiscal Kombat“: Mélenchon versus  Socialist Party Tax Evader Cahuzac.

France 24 reports, “Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck, or even ahead, of conservative candidate François Fillon.”

The  Independent states,

The first round in the French presidential election could turn into a four-way contest, after a leftist candidate’s unexpected surge in the polls.

Jean-Luc Melenchon is now 0.5 per cent behind conservative Francois Fillon, who sits in third place.

Mr Melenchon gained one percentage point in the daily Ifop-Fiducial poll, putting him at 18 per cent, while Mr Fillon was stable at 18.5 per cent.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is seen as leading the first round of the presidential election at 24 per cent, while centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is at 23 per cent.

The Independent points to this,

Ms Le Pen has drawn protests from her election rivals bydenying the French state’s responsibility for a mass arrest of Jews in Paris during the Second World War.

Her comments appeared at odds with years of efforts to make her once-pariah National Front (FN) more palatable to mainstream voters.

“I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” Ms Le Pen said, referring to the Nazi-ordered roundup by French police in the Velodrome d’Hiver cycling stadium of 13,000 Jews, who were then deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in July 1942.

“I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France,” she said in an interview with media groups Le Figaro, RTL and LCI.

Other polls give Mélenchon 18% and Fillon 17%.

The left socialist, and anti-‘Third Way’ candidate of the Parti Socialiste,  Benoît Hamon, is now below 10% in the opinion polls.

With an audience of 70,000 in Marseilles on Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke of peace and in defence of “métissage” (cultural and ethnic mixing). He called a minute’s silence to respect those who have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe (A Marseille, Mélenchon à bon port)

 

Meanwhile Macron’s latest backer is unlikely to bring him much joy:

Glory to the Martyrs! We won’t forget the Palm Sunday massacres! Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists.

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Glory to the martyrs
We won’t forget al-Qaddisayn
We won’t forget Maspero
We won’t forget Peter and Paul
We won’t forget Arish
We won’t forget the Palm Sunday massacres

YET ANOTHER bloody holiday for the Copts of Egypt. Once again churches are bombed and dozens of churchgoers are killed on a religious holiday. Once again the corpses of Copts lie with the debris of their icons and what is left of their churches. Once again, al-Sisi’s regime, its military rule and its police state fail to protect Coptic lives and churches.

Al-Sisi took power promising the Copts of Egypt that the days of fear, terror and sectarian violence were gone, and his regime would protect them from dark terrorism. Here we are in the fourth year since the coup, the third year of Sisi’s presidency, and the last four months alone saw the bombing of the Peter and Paul church, the killings and displacements of Christians in Arish and the two latest massacres in Tanta and Alexandria.

When a terrorist was allowed to go inside the Peter and Paul church and blow it up, the Coptic youth raged at the flagrant security failings and demanded the sacking of the interior minister. But al-Sisi intervened to prevent any talk of failings and naturally did not sack his interior minister. And now terrorists were able to attack a church barely a week after a bomb was discovered outside that same church! Here the security failings and the lack of accountability have become complicity with the crime.

We must remember that the few weeks before the January 2011 revolution saw large demonstrations of Coptic youths against the burning and bombing of their churches and the complicity of the security services. One sign of the political bankruptcy of the Mubarak regime was the abhorrent sectarian “deal” that counted on the Coptic Church to support the regime and contain the anger of Copts while giving free reign to the sectarian agitation of al-Azhar and the Salafists. Mubarak’s state was a particularly sectarian one, and al-Sisi’s state is based on the same sectarian principle.

The January 2011 revolution shattered this sectarian “deal” and saw, for the very first time in modern Egyptian history, unity between the Christian and Muslim masses, not around hollow nationalist slogans like “Religion is for God and the Nation is for everyone,” or police-sponsored superficial alliances between the Coptic and Muslim religious leaders, but around a common revolutionary struggle for democracy, freedom and social justice.

But this unique revolutionary moment did not last long. The Muslim Brotherhood betrayed the revolution by siding with the Military Council (SCAF), which exploited sectarianism and inflamed it with the Maspero massacre. The secular opposition has also allied itself with the military to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, paving the way for al-Sisi’s 2013 coup.

Al-Sisi restored the bases of the Egyptian sectarian state and re-established the very sectarian and securitarian deals that Mubarak’s regime had set up; the Copts are once again paying the price with their blood. The security services’ incompetence and complicity are only part of the picture, and we must of course join the Coptic youths when they demand that the interior minister be sacked and put on trial for criminal negligence.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BUT THE security failings are part and parcel of the political bankruptcy of the al-Sisi regime. Not only did the military rule and its security forces fail to protect the Copts and their churches, but this regime’s policies can only lead to more violence, bloodshed, terrorism and sectarianism. A regime that is based on tyranny, dictatorship and the suffocation of the political arena. A regime whose economic policies impoverish the majority for the sake of the same big businessmen who monopolized the country’s wealth in the Mubarak years and shared it with the generals. A regime that is based on sectarianism and uses the religious institutions, from the Coptic Church to al-Azhar Mosque, to gather support for the dictatorship. A regime that hasn’t made a single step to dismantle the systemic discrimination and persecution that the Coptic masses suffer, but on the contrary reinforces the discrimination and persecution, exploiting the sectarian card along with tyranny and repression in order to remain in power.

Once more, al-Sisi and the al-Azhar Imam will present their condolences to Pope Tawadros. And once more, they will talk of national unity and the evil plots against Egypt and other nonsense.

It is about time that we built an opposition that rejects all forms of sectarianism, be it coming from al-Sisi’s regime or groupings of political Islam. An opposition that doesn’t content itself with condemning terrorism and the terrorists and the failings and complicity of the security forces. An opposition that puts the struggle against sectarianism and the persecution of Copts at the center of its priorities.

Revolutionary Socialists.  (Egypt).

More from Socialist Worker (US).

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

Islamists Massacre Egyptian Christians on Palm Sunday.

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A bomb exploded in a church north of Cairo that was packed with Palm Sunday worshippers, killing at least 21 people and wounding 50 others, officials said. France 24.

The attack in the Nile Delta town of Tanta was the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt‘s Christian minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population and has been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists. It comes just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit Egypt.

CBC TV showed footage from inside the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers. Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed confirmed the toll from the attack in interviews with local and state-run media.

No one immediately claimed the attack (Blog Note, but there is little doubt that they were Islamists).

A local Islamic State affiliate claimed a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo in December that killed around 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the restive Sinai Peninsula that caused hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.

A militant group called Liwa al-Thawra claimed responsibility for an April 1 bomb attack targeting a police training centre in Tanta, which wounded 16 people. The group, believed to be linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has mainly targeted security forces and distanced itself from attacks on Christians.

Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

This tragedy cannot be blamed on Western intervention.

This tragedy cannot be blamed on ‘the West’.

There responsibility lies with those violent Islamists and jihadists whose hatred of Christians, and other non-Muslims, has already led to a mass exodus in the Middle East.

Our love and solidarity to all those suffering after this attack.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2017 at 11:35 am

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Rise of a French Patriot.

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Will Submit Young People to Re-introduction of National Service.

As Jean-Luc Mélenchon rises in the French opinion polls  with the latest even putting the leader of La France insoumise 19%, neck and neck (Un sondage donne Jean-Luc Mélenchon et François Fillon à égalité dans les intentions de vote) with the scandal-riven right-wing candidate, he is attracting a lot of new support.

One is of particular interest.

The veteran extreme right group, Action française (that is, the group which continues to identify with the organisation), has called to vote for a Presidential candidate who will help Frexit, (on the model of Brexit) (1).

Action française appelle à voter, au premier tour, pour un des quatre candidats – Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen ou Mélenchon.

« Frexit ! » est le mot d’ordre qui doit présider au choix de tout patriote. C’est pourquoi, considérant que seuls les peuples libres peuvent décider du sens qu’ils donnent à leur histoire, l’Action française appelle à voter, au premier tour, pour un des quatre candidats – Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen ou Mélenchon – qui se prononcent pour une dénonciation des traités européens existants, tout en privilégiant ceux qui envisagent clairement la sortie de l’Union européenne et le retour au franc.

Frexit, that’s the guiding line which must guide the choice of every patriot. That’s why, considering that only free people can decide their own history, Action française calls for a vote, in the first round, for one of these four candidates, Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen or Mélenchon, who have denounced existing European treaties, giving priority amongst them to those who have clearly called for France to leave the Europe Union and for the return of the Franc.

L’Action Française appelle à voter pour un candidat du Frexit

Mélenchon is not responsible for this recommendation from the ultra-nationalist and racist far-right.

Indeed he has gone out of this way to deny that he is a nationalist.

« Mme Le Pen et moi sommes séparés par le fait qu’elle ne croit pas à la nation républicaine comme moi. Elle croit à la préférence nationale. Je ne suis pas un nationaliste, je suis un patriote, ça n’a rien à voir. Je propose le protectionnisme solidaire. Je négocie avec les autres pays, je ne m’enferme pas. Je ne crois pas à la nation ethnique. Un Français sur quatre a un grand-parent étranger.

Madame Le Pen and myself are separated by the fact that she does not believe in the Republican Nation as I do. She believes in ‘national preference’. I am not a nationalist, I am a patriot, something quite different. I propose protectionism based on solidarity. I will negotiate with other countries, and will not cut myself off from them. I don’t believe in an ethically based nations. One French person out of four has a foreign grandparent.

Le Monde.

Those who look at his proposal for a compulsory 9 month ‘citizens’ service for the under 25s, including  military training, will have little doubt that he is indeed a French ‘patriot’.

This is a key proposal of La France insoumise: a return to national service.

Créer un service citoyen obligatoire pour les femmes et pour les hommes, par conscription, avant 25 ans proche du lieu de vie, en limitant le casernement aux fonctions qui l’exigent réellement. D’une durée totale de 9 mois, comprenant une formation militaire initiale incluant un droit à l’objection de conscience, rémunéré au Smic, affecté à des tâches d’intérêt général

The creation of a compulsory  citizens service for the everybody under 25, by conscription, this will take place near to their homes, limiting quartering in barracks to functions which really require this. It will last 9 months, with an introductory military training – to which the right of consciousness objection is recognised, and will be paid at the minimum wage, and will consist of community work of public utility.

Other candidates also propose similar measures. Marine Le Pen offers a minimum 3 months military service, and Emmanuel Macron, a short period of national service, structured by the army and the gendarmarie.

The Socialist Candidate, Benoît Hamon, has called compulsory schemes ‘paternalist’, inefficient, and unwanted by the armed forces.

There is already a national and voluntary “service civique” for the under-25, in which up to 100, 000 people have participated.

In the eyes of people in many countries the idea of returning to a form of national service looks, frankly, bizarre, flag-waving, and.. nationalist.

Latest opinion polls summary (from Stephan).

Le Pen (Far-Right) 23% ↓
Macron (Centrist, Pro-EU) 23% ↓
Melenchon (Left-Wing, Souverainism) 19%↑
Fillon (Conservative) 19%↑
Hamon ( Parti Socialiste) 8.5%↓
Dupont-Aignan (Right-wing, Souverainism) 3.5% ↓
Poutou (Far-left) 1.5%↑
Arthaud (Far-left, Trotskyism) 1% =
Lassalle (Centrist) 1% =
Asselineau (Souverainism, Euroscepticism) 0.5% =
Cheminade (Souverainism, Conspiracy Theory) 0.5%↓

 (1) “The AF movement still exists as the monarchist and anti-European UnionCentre royaliste d’Action française” and publishes a magazine called Action française 2000. Its leader was Pierre Pujo (Maurice Pujo’s son), who died in Paris on 10 November 2007.[6] The student movement, called Action française étudiante, has approximately 15 local delegations (in places such as Paris, Normandy, Rennes, Bordeaux, and Forez) and a newspaper, Insurrection. Its President is Oliver Perceval.” Wikipedia.

More (French)

“En octobre 2011, le CRAF, ainsi que l’AFE, prennent une part importante dans des manifestations contre une pièce de théâtre jugée christianophobe250, Sul concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (« Sur le concept du visage du Fils de Dieu ») du dramaturge et metteur en scène italien Romeo Castellucci, puis participent à la « marche contre la christianophobie » qui suit251.

Le Printemps royal défile au Jour de colère le 26 janvier 2014.

L’AF entretien des relations de grande proximité avec le Printemps français. En 2013, dans le cadre de La Manif pour tous, le secrétaire général du mouvement, Olivier Perceval produit une tribune proclamant la création du Printemps français à la suite de laquelle le mouvement apparaît effectivement252. L’Action française revendique la formation de cadres de Printemps français, ce qui se vérifie sur le terrain ou les dirigeants régionaux de l’AF y sont souvent impliqués253. À la fin des mouvements de La Manif pour tous, le Printemps français sert de succursale de recrutement pour l’AFE en prenant le nom de Printemps royal254. Le Printemps royal tient en 2014 un cortège à la manifestation Jour de colère du 26 janvier.

Depuis le mouvement fait parler de lui à de nombreuses reprises, faits dénoncés par Edwy Plenel, le directeur de Mediapart : « L’Action française. Ce laboratoire idéologique de la réaction, hélas non dénué de talent, qui poursuit son travail de subversion255. » Jean-Yves Camus pour sa part constate dans La Provence « une nouvelle génération plus activiste et tapageuse »256.

L’AF fait l’objet de menaces de morts régulières : en 2013 une grenade explose dans les locaux parisiens, en septembre 2015 une grenade et des balles d’AK-47 sont scotchées sur la porte des locaux marseillais257,258.

Les différentes actions du mouvement, notamment son regain d’activité dans le sud-est, conduisent le député Jean-David Ciot à redemander sa dissolution le 4 décembre 2015259.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Galloway’s Comment on Livingstone Affair is Unforgivable.

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This Blog has not so far commented on the Livingstone affair.

We stand by Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement.

Jeremy Corbyn statement on Ken Livingstone’s suspension

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party said:

“Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.

“Labour’s independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.

“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.”

Ends

Others have expressed their views well and better than I could.

David Rosenberg.

Hero or villain? The Livingstone question.

I do not believe Livingstone is antisemitic. Nor do I believe that right-wing Jews whom the media treats as spokespersons have any right to define what is offensive to all Jews. I respect the integrity of the longstanding socialist and Labour Jewish activists who gave supportive testimony at Livingstone’s hearing, several of whom I know personally. However  I do believe that Livingstone deliberately invites controversy and notoriety, that his judgement on these issues is very poor, that he has set back the Palestinian cause by his utterances, and made life more difficult for the embattled left-wing Labour leadership.

I hope that those of us fighting for justice for the Palestinians, fighting racism in all its forms, including antisemitism, and fighting to strengthen Labour’s progressive leadership will reflect on this episode and ensure that we are directing our fire on our enemies in ways that are both principled and effective.

 Phil is harder: Ken Livingstone and Anti-Semitism, Again.

Here lies Ken Livingstone. Yes, he has an excellent record as a campaigner against racism. Yes, five Jewish members of the party went to his hearing as character witnesses for the defence, including the sainted Walter Wolfgang. But time and again, when it comes to matters concerning Israel Ken goes straight up to the fine line and dances all along it. Why? The historical record doesn’t support his contention that Hitler supported Zionism before “he went mad”, and Ken knows full well that most Jewish people in Britain find the mentioning of Israel in one breath and the Nazis in the next upsetting and disrespectful. So, again, why? I don’t believe Ken is anti-semitic, but when you’re consistently provocative and unrepentant about it to the extent you damage yourself, the faction of the party you’re aligned with to the point of aiding the leadership’s opponents, and the standing of the Labour Party itself, it’s easy to see why many people aren’t so forgiving.

The National Constitutional Committee therefore were right to find Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute but wrong to to give him a slapped wrist. His behaviour should have made the ultimate sanction a foregone conclusion.

In this context,

Galloway’s Tweet is unforgivable.

Fortunately he has now for ever burnt his bridges with the Labour Party.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Jacques Cheminade: LaRouche Candidate in French Presidential Elections.

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LaRouche’s targets.

It’s not all serious politics in the French Presidential election.

A serious quester for truth, Jacques Cheminade is also standing.

He calls for ” libération de l’occupation financière »  leaving the European Union, the Euro, and NATO. He is also denounced “«sionisme» (Zionism – more on this here). Cheminade is an admirer of the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle

Jacques Cheminade wants to colonise Mars and industrialise the moon, has likened Barack Obama to Hitler and accused Queen Elizabeth of being involved in international drug trafficking. His party, Solidarité et Progrès, is the French branch of the US’s far-right LaRouche movement. In 2005, his party was listed as a “political sect”.

On the Moon, Robotic exploration, industrial and scientific centres, and a Lunar Village.”LANCER UNE EXPLORATION ROBOTIQUE LUNAIRE DE GRANDE AMPLEUR SUIVIE DE L’IMPLANTATION DE CENTRES INDUSTRIELS ET SCIENTIFIQUES SUR LA LUNE. SOUTENIR LE PROJET DE « VILLAGE LUNAIRE » DE L’ESA.” (L’espace, impératif économique et culturel).

What is the LaRouche Movement?

Wikipedia begins what could turn into a long, a very long, trail on the Net:

Lyndon LaRouche began his political career as a Trotskyist and praised Marxism, He and the National Caucus of Labor Committees abandoned this view in the 1970s. LaRouche no longer opposes capitalism as an economic system, and his analysis of political events is no longer phrased in terms of class.

According to Tim Wohlforth, during and after his break with Trotskyism, LaRouche’s theory was influenced by what he called his “Theory of Hegemony” derived from Vladimir Lenin‘s view of the role of intellectuals in being a vanguard helping workers develop their consciousness and realize their leading role in society. He was influenced by Antonio Gramsci‘s concept of a hegemon as an intellectual and cultural elite which directs social thought. LaRouche’s theory saw himself and his followers as becoming such a hegemonic force. He rejected Gramsci’s notion of “organic intellectuals” being developed by the working class itself. Rather, the working class would be led by elite intellectuals such as himself

This is also interesting,

LaRouche’s critics have said he is a “disguised anti-Semite”, in that he takes the classical antisemitic conspiracy theory and substitutes the word “Zionist” for the word “Jew”, and ascribes the classical antisemitic caricature of the “scheming Jew” to particular Jewish individuals and groups of Jews, rather than to the Jews as a whole.[37][38][39][150] “Modern Zionism was not created by Jews, but was a project developed chiefly by Oxford University“, LaRouche says. He says “Zionism is not Judaism.”[151] In 1978, the same year LaRouche’s article cited The Protocols, the LaRouche group published Dope, Inc.: Britain’s Opium War against the U.S., which cited the Protocols and defended its authenticity, likening the “Elders of Zion” to the Rothschild banking family, the British Royal family, and the Italian Mafia, and the Israeli Mossad, General Pike, and the B’nai B’rith. (Dope, Inc.) Later editions left out cites to The Protocols. This is the genesis of the claim that LaRouche has said Queen Elizabeth runs drugs. When asked by an NBC reporter in 1984 about the Queen and drug running, LaRouche replied, “Of course she’s pushing drugs…that is in a sense of responsibility: the head of a gang that is pushing drugs; she knows it’s happening and she isn’t stopping it.”[152]

Chip Berlet argues that LaRouche indirectly expresses antisemitism through the use of “coded language” and by attacking neoconservatives.[150] Dennis King maintains, for example, that words like “British” were really code words for ‘Jew.'”[153] Other critics of LaRouche believe that LaRouche’s anti-British statements disparage the British system rather than the Jewish religion. Laird Wilcox and John George write that “Dennis King goes to considerable lengths to paint LaRouche as a neo-Nazi, even engaging in a little conspiracy-mongering of his own.”

More on  Jacques Cheminade FrenchEnglish.

When he last stood for the Presidency (1995)  he got  0.27% of the votes.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Marine Le Pen “Tackled” by Philippe Poutou, Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste.

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Poster Boy.

The surprise event during last night’s French Presidential Debate (11 candidates) was Philippe Poutou, of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA)  landed some hard hitting blows on Marine Le Pen.

After refusing the ‘family photo’ with the other candidates, he had begun by attacking the corruption scandals enveloping the right-wing candidate, François Fillon, “Fillon, plus on fouille, plus on sent la corruption, plus on sent la triche,”, they more you dig the more you smell the corruption, and trickery.

Then Poutou went onto Marine Le Pen.

He began by recalling her most recent difficulties with the law, over  charges that the far-right leader had misused public and EU funds for her personal campaigns (see:  Marine Le Pen’s party under investigation for fraud).

The car worker commented, ” Le FN se dit anti-système, mais se protège grâce aux lois du système avec son immunité parlementaire et refuse d’aller aux convocations policières, donc, peinard ! ” The FN says it’s against ‘the system’, but protects itself with Parliamentary immunity and they refuse to respond to Police calls for interviews.

After pointing out that ‘on’, the workers, do not have Parliamentary immunity, Poutou then reminded the audience, in a political atmosphere where candidates evoke nationality above all else,  that he was talking everybody who lives in France, including ‘foreigners’, and not just the “French”.

https://twitter.com/PhMarliere/status/849386894513364992

In place of nationalism Poutou talked of class consciousness,

The Nouveau parti anticapitaliste’s candidate has made a great impression, with the media calling the debate the “Poutou show”. Many well-wishers expressed their solidarity, and even those on the left who are not supporters of the NPA or his electoral campaign overjoyed that he tackled Le Pen front on.

More on the debate:  « Nous, on n’a pas d’immunité ouvrière » : Poutou et Arthaud à l’offensive sur les affaires. Le Monde.

Guardian:  French election: factory worker Philippe Poutou emerges as star of TV debate.

Le Parisien reports,

Le candidat du Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) a une nouvelle fois marqué les esprits mardi soir, en cassant tous les codes établis lors du deuxième débat de la présidentielle.

Détendu, impertinent, anticonformiste et très direct. C’est un véritable show que Philippe Poutou, connu pour son franc parler et son côté «Monsieur tout-le-monde», a livré mardi soir sur le plateau du «Grand Débat» de la présidentielle. Du début à la fin, le «petit candidat» a détonné.

The candidate of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) had, again, made his mark on Tuesday evening, by breaking all the rules during the second Presidential debate.

Relaxed, cheeky, nonconformist and frank, Philippe Poutou, known for his direct talking and his Man in the Street style, began and ended by making waves on the studio set. It was a real extravaganza.

Both Potou and the far-left  Nathalie Arthaud [candidate of Lutte ouvrière]  are at below 1% in the opinion polls.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Tunisia: Banned “Call to Prayer Remix” now on-Line.

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Prayer Remix: “Violation against Good Moral and Public Outrage Against Modesty”.

Tunisian authorities have shut down a nightclub and begun an investigation after a DJ played a remix recording of the Muslim call to prayer, an official said on Monday.

A video, widely shared online since Sunday, shows clubbers dancing at the weekend to music that includes the call to prayer at the club in the northeastern town of Nabeul.

The footage sparked a storm of debate on social media.

The party, near the popular resort of Hammamet, had been organised by two European DJs.

“After confirming the facts, we decided to close this nightclub” until further notice, Nabeul governor Mnaouar Ouertani told AFP.

He said an investigation had been opened and the club’s manager detained “for violation against good morals and public outrage against modesty”.

“We will not allow attacks against religious feelings and the sacred,” Ouertani said.

The organisers of the Orbit Festival apologised on Monday in a post on the event’s Facebook page.

The DJ “did not realise it might offend an audience from a Muslim country like ours” and “had no intention to anger or offend”, they said in their post.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Jeune Afrique reports,

Organisatrice de l’événement qui s’est tenu de vendredi soir à dimanche matin, l’équipe d’Orbit Festival a de son côté « décliné toute responsabilité » et « présenté (ses) excuses », dans un message publié sur sa page officielle Facebook.

« Le DJ ‘Dax J’ est anglais et a joué ce titre récemment en Europe », il n’a pas réalisé « que cela pouvait offenser le public d’un pays musulman comme le nôtre », a-t-elle ajouté.

That is the Organisers of the event, Orbit Festival, have stated that the DJ, Dax J, is English, and they deny any responsibility for the incident, adding that they apologise, and that they had been as surprised at the incident as the general public and had acted after realising what was going on.

They add that the DJ has offered his “sincères excuses ” sincere apologies, for any offence caused.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2017 at 11:07 am

George Galloway: Aaron Banks’s Star Columnist.

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Galloway Visits Gorton. 

Yesterday the Observer carried this long story,

Arron Banks: ‘Brexit was a war. We won. There’s no turning back now’

Now out of Ukip – the party he bankrolled – Arron Banks is creating a political movement of his own. We met the ‘bad boy of Brexit’ just before article 50 was triggered – and found his ambitions go far beyond leaving Europe.

An important thread in the story was the importance of Putin’s grab for international political influence and use of all forms of media.

The following caught my eye,

Out in the open is this, Banks’s statement to me: “What you’re talking about is the degree to which the Russians actually – let’s say they influenced the Brexit vote. Say I’m pro-Putin. Nigel said he’s not anti-Putin, if that’s the right word. But all we’ve said is that there are elements of what Russians do that we don’t disagree with. We don’t agree with everything they’re doing, like murdering journalists in the street.”

I interrupt him. You’re saying, on the record, that you don’t agree with murdering journalists on the street?

“I’ll only say it once,” he says.

We both laugh. Though possibly only one of us has a slightly high-pitched edge to our voice.

Dismiss, distract, dismay. This, Nimmo tells me, is the classic Russian disinformation strategy. You launder information like you launder money. You pass it through a set of different bodies. You send it from one shell company/mouthpiece to another. You confuse its origins. You chuck in a distraction. You create outrage.

The Star columnist for Bank’s Westmonster site is George Galloway.

Galloway has close enough relations with Russia to have his own show on RT.

Now he has cosy connections with Banks and Westmonster,

GALLOWAY: I’M BEING CHEERED FOR BEING A BREXITEER

Read George Galloway’s Gorton by-election diary exclusively on Westmonster.

… as I reported last, down on the streets of Manchester- astoundingly the Official Child Poverty Capital of the country – the alleged 60% support for the EU is as visible as an honest MP.Last time I described my campaigning in the two Gorton Wards of the constituency. I faithfully reported that I found not a single Remainer or Regretter in a whole day of politicking.

Cynics put that down to the large number white English people in those two wards (itself a stunningly telling alibi).

Yesterday a huge crowd of mainly strangers came to the official opening of my campaign HQ. I filmed the speech and the audiences reaction and livestreamed it on Facebook.

Standing Room Only in Galloway’s Cubbyhole. 

It was an almost suspiciously perfect cross section of the Gorton constituency.
Black, white, Asian, young and old, poor and rich, men and women.

I dealt with my reasons for being a Brexiteer. They were cheered to the echo. As can be clearly heard.

My opponent – it is already a two-horse race – has as an MEP millions of good reasons for loving the monster that is the EU. His campaign initially thought my Brexit record might be my Achilles Heel. I suspect he now knows and with more than 30 days to go, that like with so much else inside the bubble, that is the opposite of the truth.

People Rush to Gorton Galloway Rally.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 3, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Against ‘Left Populism’ and Sovereigntism.

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Parliament now “Taking Back” the Country. 

A decade or so ago it was smart to hold Abigail’s parties, complete with prawn and grapefruit cocktails, diced cheese, salted biscuits, and bottles of Blue Nun and Mateus Rosé.

There is no post-modern irony in the present enthusiasm for restoring ancient Sovereignty. It is not just UKIP, the Patriotic Alliance, and the diehards of the Conservative and Unionist Party who look back to the days of British Constitution  ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. In the wake of the reverse evolution of the former ‘revolutionary communists’ of Spiked-on-line into the best activists for the national Parliament, a section of the left has persuaded itself that there is much to be said for critics of ‘liberal elites’.

With Brexit, now is the time to ‘take back control’ from the European Union. Concern with their electoral backing has led them to offer a ‘left wing’ defence of national sovereignty. Their retro-party, the People’s Brexit, does not seem to have attracted many guests as yet. But it is causing deep divisions on the left, turning people’s attention backwards and fuelling the growth of national populism.

Populism

Populism…An article in the latest New Left Review, a critique of the Jan-Werner Müller’s recent What is Populism? (2016). The book is described in the ‘Programme Notes’ as a “German contribution to a burgeoning genre on opponents of the liberal order.

The author, Marco D’Eramo, whom one assumes is not German, although the notes on the contributors fail to mention his nationality, marks its main point by assaulting the claim that populism has an essence. That it marked by charismatic Leaders is exclusive, and the People into the ‘real’ people, which they alone stand for. That it is, as a result, anti-pluralist, promoting an exclusive form of identity, actual or potential ‘occupancy’ of the state, suppression of civil society and pluralism. It is, above all, a “moralistic imagination of politics. With the aid of the latest discoveries of nominalist philosophy and Port Royal epistemology, They the People (New Left Review 103. 2017) shows that  Müller, like so much political science’s ‘ideal-type’ of populism, is wrong footed. It is not just ideal (as its inspirer, Max Weber, would, we cautiously suggest, accept), but an abstract universal taken for reality. (1)

There are well-aimed shafts at a theory, and hints that the book verges towards a view of fascism as a “populism plus”, and which tries to encompass Latin America and shunts to a footnote the inclusive ‘populism’ of Evo Morales’ Bolivia (a government not without its faults, from child labour to its recent development plans).

But he fails to extend his view from a defence of would-be left populists of Podemos to an examination of those who have taken Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s writings on the subject as textbooks for building another movement in France, la France insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This is no longer an issue of political science, but of political strategy. Could Mélenchon’s Constituent Assembly, having swept away “la caste”, politicians and oligarchs, instituted “protectionnisme solidaire”, and taken the country out of existing European Treaties, establish “l’indépendance de la France”?

Marco D’Eramo’s argument is essentially that ‘populism’ – insofar as it has any fixed meaning amongst its nominalised splinters – results from neo-liberalism. And where might be the hottest point in their confrontation? We come back to Europe, where the technocrats of said economic policies have been implemented by a “political and financial oligarchy”.

Müller, he suggests, all to clearly reflects the modern German consensus against the “decisionist’ sovereignty of ultimate power in the Nation (crudely, Carl Schmitt), and a “distrust” of “not only any idea of popular sovereignty but parliamentary sovereignty too”. Haunted by the totalitarian past he has been led to calls to “constrain democracy”, adding, in his Constraining Democracy (2011) “supranational constraints to national ones”, that is, the rule of the oligarchs fronted by a German style Grand Coalition. Hostility to the European Union that incarnates this prospect is surely shared by Mélenchon, who does not hide his dislike of Teutons, or… ‘Anglo-Saxons’.

Cosmopolitan Democracy.

We have been there before. From Jürgen Habermas to David Held’s “cosmopolitan democracy”, there have been a number of idealistic ‘post-sovereignty” theories. In 1994 Held advocated “cosmopolitan democracy” which could perhaps serve as a paradigm. This would be a world based on a kind of empirical version of Kant’s picture of human autonomy, in which “sovereignty can be stripped away from the idea of fixed borders and territories and thought of as, in principle, malleable time-space clusters. Sovereignty is an attribute of the basic democratic law, but it would be entrenched and drawn upon in diverse self-regulating associations from state to cities and corporations. Cosmopolitan law demands the subordination for regional, national and local sovereignties to an overarching legal framework, but within this framework associations may be self-governing at diverse levels” (2)

Supporters of ‘strong democracy’, that is systems with more definable locations than, “malleable time-space clusters” would not warm to Held.  But from the late 1980s to the turn of the new millennium for much of the centre and ‘post-Marxist’ left, and not just academics ‘self-organised’ civil society, the basis for “associative democracy”, was a popular idea.

There is a whole earnest literature on these topics, by writers such as John Keane, out there, waiting, neglected, to be rediscovered. One hesitates to nod at D’Ernamo’s sneers at constraints, or put better, institutional frameworks that guarantee pluralism. Much of this writing, sometimes possibly self-serving from those competing to win positions within post-Communist societies, was concerned with the very real oppressions and problems of ‘totalitarian’ societies. Its lasting legacy is not empty droits-de-l’hommisme but the defence of the democratic rights of those who are not, and will never be, sucked up in the single Sovereign Power of the People. (3)

Attention turned elsewhere. It might be argued that it was the growing perception that ‘globalisation’ was not extending the capacities of “self-governing associations”, but the national economic management that underpins states’ legitimacy, led to the erosion of those limited circles who followed Held’s cosmopolitan hopes to the full. That ‘governance’ of the economy remained poised between the national states, and, in Europe, the EU, while appearing battered by global financial, distribution and production flows, forced democratic thinking back to the nation. There they would rediscover Parliaments and Sovereignty.

Supporters of ‘strong democracy’, that is systems with more definable locations than, “malleable time-space clusters” would not have warmed to Held. Elections over a range of decision-making institutions, not just councils and Parliaments, or associations, but a wider range of public service bodies, have however taken place, as Police Commissioners have been open to the popular vote, with the extension of democratic participation that has not been universally greeted.  Few today advocate workers’ self-management, the extension of democratic principles into private companies.

Sovereigntism and the Left Today.

Sovereigntism has in fact little to say about the extension of democracy. It is a programme for national concentration and depriving everybody but the backers of populist parties of an effective voice, illiberalism against the ‘liberal order’.  But cultural and political issues (ones which have led to a great deal of often abstract debate about the nature of the ‘people’, and  the ‘imagined community’ of the nation) are only one part of the problem. For the right and for the left populists economic governance is the prize.

The body administering these processes, the State, is ‘capitalist’, that is, is institutionally wrapped around the existing power structure. It is organised to promote the interests of business. WE do not need an elaborate theoretical framework to see this. Every day shows that in the UK the administration is a ‘privatising state’ with several decades of institutional aid to companies who live off prebends for delivering ‘services’. That alone would make it a poor instrument for a radical left sovereign power. If it remains united, or is divided into the separate ‘nations’ of the British Isles, no People’s Brexit will penetrate its existing Conservative dominated legislative agenda.

The sovereigntists of the left are obstacles to wider democratic change. Many have concentrated on the nationalist populist drift of many of their supporters. For all the claims to “federate the people” these echo all too clearly the faults of populism outlined by Müller. The General Will of the People, cannot be found. Their ideal constituency, turn out to ‘the workers’ as the real’ people and the rest, as the ‘elite’, a moveable object with no clear class basis at all. The link of the Organiser of Trades Unionists Against the EU with the far-right Westmonster indicates that at least some of them feel comfortable with xenophobic dislike for migrants. If they lack charismatic leaders, they make up for it with their own blustering rhetoric.

But the difficulties lay deeper. Politics in the West does not work day-to-day through Peoples and Movements, it works through, imperfect, representative democracy which articulates, give voice to, a variety of interests strongly inflected by class.  If, through the mechanisms of election and public pressure, from protest onwards, a left government may transform it, it is less than probable that any form of democratic socialism will govern without sharing sovereignty. Making legal and economic agreements with other powers. It would need some kind of transnational union, for commerce, for migration, for finance, complete with agreed regulations. Beginning with perhaps, Europe…

********

(1) Page 106. “technically speaking, I am trying to construct an ideal type in the sense suggested by Max Weber.” What is Populism? Jan-Werner Müller. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2016.

(2) Page 234. Democracy and the Global Order David Held Polity Press. 1995.

(3) Democracy and Civil SocietyJohn Keane Verso 1988.  John Keane (ed.), Civil Society and the State (Verso, 1988);

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm

National Organiser of Trades Unionists Against the EU Joins Far-right Westmonster site as former Leftists takes up National Populism.

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Former Leftists Wave the Brexit Flag.

As Galloway is joined by a prominent FBU Trade Unionist, Paul Embery (London Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and National organiser of Trade Unionists against the EU, a campaign backed by the Morning Star, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and, notably,  the Communist Party of Britain and Socialist Party) on the far-right Westmonster site, we ask: is a section of the one-time left drifting towards national populism?

Westmonster carries articles promoting the new “Patriotic Alliance” scare stories about migrants, and – favourable – reports on Trump and the chances of a Marine Le Pen victory in France.

On the same site Embrey argues that trade unions need to stop being, “an arm of a tin-eared liberal establishment” (TRADE UNION MOVEMENT MUST RECONNECT WITH WORKING CLASS POST-BREXIT).

He argues forcefully against free Movement,

… on free movement, union leaders remain ambivalent at best, criminally silent at worst. This disastrous policy, which commodifies workers, atomises society and contributes to the undercutting of wages, has, more than anything else, contributed to the rupture between working-class communities and the political class.

Westmonster’s patriotic ‘socialists’ parallel many of the themes of the former ‘Marxists’ of Spiked-on-Line.

This section of the left has not just embraced the populist language of the “people” versus the  ‘elites’,  the ‘rulers’ of the European Union.

They have moved from ideas of “strong democracy”, which had something in common with the writings of Benjamin R. Barber, a critique of liberal “thin” democracy, based on rights, and advocacy of the ability of people to “govern themselves”.

In its place National Sovereignty has been rediscovered (see: Frank Furedi. Politics without sovereignty is not politics at all 2007).

Sovereigntism.

In parallel to French ‘sovereigntists’ (supporters of ‘souverainisme’), both former leftists and long-standing republican nationalists,  they both defend “national institutions and culture”. Against the European Union they support, ” une Europe des nations“, the economic and political  independence of each country, against globalisation. Right wing soveriegntists explicitly opposes  mass immigration, ‘left’ sovereigntists also express concern about both the free movement of capital and of people.

By its nature sovereigntism is fixed on national political institutions.

In France this tends to mean an exaggerated ‘republicanism’. In the UK it is driven by an obsession with Parliamentary sovereignty.

Spiked-on-Line fits comfortably into the role of the best defenders of the Mother of Parliaments.

Following challenges to Brexit by what he chooses to call an “Elite Remainer”and the  Spiked’s Deputy Editor Tom Slater evoked everything save the Magna Carta to defend Westminster.

Parliamentary sovereignty is a precious thing. We fought a civil war and chopped off a king’s head to establish that it is only a parliament, with the consent of its electors, that can govern, that can determine the politics of a nation. It was the promise of parliamentary sovereignty, of real representation for all, that agitators from the Chartists through to the Suffragettes struggled and fought and went to the wall for.

“The Brexit case was driven by disdain for the demos, not love for parliament.” he thundered, we must now defend not just parliamentary sovereignty, but also the radical, democratic ideas that underpin it..”

One time leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi has extended the argument in directions all too well-known to those familiar with French politics. In  August last year, (HOW ‘OPEN BORDERS’ BECAME AN ILLIBERAL CRY)  he tackled immigration.

The use of immigration as a tool to weaken national sovereignty is wholly destructive, provoking cultural confusion and uncertainty. An enlightened argument for freedom of movement must also uphold national sovereignty, and recognise the status of the prevailing national culture. Disregarding the special status of national institutions and culture is an invitation to a permanent war of cultures — that is, to real division and tension.

On the same Spiked-on-Line site, the day of Brexit was greeted by excited born-again nationalists,

THE BRILLIANCE OF BREXIT

Leading British public intellectual Julie Burchill announced,

It’s very handy that Brexit was born as the Labour Party was dying – now all of us comrades who are repulsed by forelock-tugging, nepotism and hypocrisy have a home to go to. I can’t remember a time when I felt so excited about the future. I was pleased but not shocked to learn that John Lydon, my teenage hero, is a proud Brexiteer – I’ve always said that the REAL thing the Remnants can’t forgive us for is not the imaginary hate crimes or the alleged economic Armageddon our victory will bring, but the fact that we’ve revealed them as a bunch of scared-stiff, curtain-twitching, tut-tutting, doom-mongering stick-in-the-muds, clinging on to the boring old status quo like a kiddy with a comfort blanket, when all this time they thought they were progressives. Bring on the chaos!

Former International Marxist Group member and Labour MP,  Kate Hoey says…

Today is brilliant because triggering Article 50 simply reflects the most basic element of democracy: putting into effect the choice of the people. With the entire establishment arrayed against them, the British public decided that the UK was strong, wise and generous enough to survive outside the restrictions of the European Union.

In a few years’ time, when we are making our own laws and freely trading with the rest of the world – including with our European friends – I predict that it will be very hard to find people who admit to having doubted that we could succeed as a proud independent country.

Kate is MP for Vauxhall.

Other comments include, from a member of the revolutionary wing of the Daily Telegraph, “It’s now up to left and right to contest what kind of future they want for the UK after Brexit. The 2020 election will pose a choice between socialism and capitalism. ”

Harsimrat Kaur adds a dash of humour by declaring, “The main reason I voted to leave was so we can implement a fair immigration system. The idea that a person with an EU passport has easier access to Britain than someone with a non-EU passport is outrageous. Going forward, I want to see us restore that equality.”

Equality indeed…

Brian Denny,  of the Trades Unionists against the EU, a regular contributor to the Morning Star and who appears to be a member of the Communist Party of Britain (see their site here),  says, “We have nothing to lose but Eurocratic dictatorship.”

In a gesture which links Spiked-on- line with Westmonster, Paul Embery (see above) says…

What happened on 23 June was a genuine democratic revolt. The establishment was shaken to its core. Working-class England – which had hitherto always played second fiddle in the minds of politicians to Middle England – arose from its slumber. And how! An entire class of people which had been ignored and patronised hit back. The left must get on board. Democracy just happened. We should cheer and embrace the new mood. Suddenly politics means something again. Suddenly we can see that the political order isn’t inviolable. There is a New Jerusalem to be built. And we have taken the first step.

Paul is regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and national organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU.

Many people on the left will no doubt wish to congratulate the FBU on having a leading figure write for Spiked-on-Line and Westmonster.

Or perhaps to explain to them a few things about internationalism, the working class having ‘no country’, the British state’s ‘capitalist’ faults, and perhaps,  something about who’s in charge of making Brexit, transferring EU legal documents and rulings into British law under their own terms: the hard right wing of the Tory Party, cheered on by the millionaire press (as the Morning Star might say..).

George Galloway’s latest Column on far-right Westmonster site on ‘People’s Brexit’.

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“The Patriotic Alliance is a grassroots movement built on the success of the EU referendum. By holding the political establishment to account and introducing fresh ideas to the national policy debate, the Alliance aims to capitalise on the huge promise delivered by Brexit. Join us to make Britain fairer, more democratic and more prosperous.”

Political revolution!

 

George Galloway’s by-election diary exclusively on Westmonster.

Brexit day was spent in the Gorton wards of the constituency where the great majority voted Leave in the referendum. It is said usually by journalists that Manchester Gorton constituency voted at least 60-40 Remain.

As a matter of fact no-one can know that because the votes weren’t counted on a constituency basis but like so much in this story if you tell a lie often enough.

….

In fact Brexit inevitably means a reinvigorated relationship with our Commonwealth, with people who stood by our side in our darkest days when otherwise we would have stood alone. People more likely to share our language add to our culture and with whom we share so much history.

I look forward to Brexit Britain resounding to newly re-engaged Canadian Australian New Zealand Indian sub-continental and Commonwealth African voices in the years to come.

I fought the 1975 Common Market referendum under the leadership of Mr Benn Mr Foot Mr Shore and Mrs Castle. The abandonment of the Commonwealth was one of their most powerful arguments. We lost then. But we’ve won now. Let’s build a Britain to be proud of, independent of the EU and firmly rooted in the world.

Westmonster

‘Anti-establishment’ site is being edited by Nigel Farage’s former press officer and will mix aggregation and some original content.

Westmonster says (March the 14th)

Leave.EU and Westmonster’s Arron Banks has clarified the situation with UKIP. In a statement just released he has said:

“UKIP has somehow managed to allow my membership to lapse this year despite having given considerably more than the annual membership fee over the past 12 months.

“On reapplying I was told my membership was suspended pending my appearance at a NEC meeting.

“Apparently, my comments about the party being run like a squash club committee and Mr Carswell have not gone down well.

“I now realise I was being unfair to squash clubs all over the UK and I apologise to them.

“We will now be concentrating on our new movement.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 30, 2017 at 10:50 am

Communist Party, Morning Star, “Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies.”

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Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies……

Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said leaving the EU must not become “an excuse for diluting people’s already meagre rights at work,” but said the left should set its sights on the opportunities the negotiations present.

“Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies outside the EU to control capital, raise public funds for infrastructure investment, enforce equal rights for migrant workers and radically cut or abolish VAT.

“Such policies would remain unlawful if we stay in the single market.”

Trade Unionists Against the EU’s Doug Nicholls saluted “a great day for workers in Britain.

Forty years of being controlled by those we don’t elect will soon be over, and we can rebuild a full-employment economy.

Morning Star.

A Morning Star Editorial declares,

Now Is The Time For Unity

Arguing for Unity around the Morning Star and the Communist Party of Britain’s programme the Editorial states,

A convincing left-wing resurgence requires unity. The labour movement cannot afford to rerun the arguments of the referendum ad nauseam, but should be pursuing a set of economic demands — the new deal for workers agreed at last year’s TUC is a good place to start — and framing any approach to the exit negotiations around how we meet those demands.

They conclude,

A determined push from the left to secure a British exit deal that promotes working-class demands and an end to neoliberalism will find an echo across Europe and help shape a progressive future.

A red rose future indeed!

Meanwhile in the world we live in Another Europe is Possible announces,

Unprecedented alliance vows to fight for a “Progressive Deal” after Article 50

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today. 29th March 2017

  • As Article 50 is triggered, leading Labour and Green figures, along with trade unions, vow to oppose “a harmful, extreme form of Brexit”
  • New Progressive Deal launched, fighting for workers’ rights, free movement, environmental regulations and other protections.
  • Campaigners raise the alarm over the Great Repeal Bill – which will hand ministers unprecedented powers to change the law by decree

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today.

The letter, which is signed by Clive Lewis and Caroline Lucas, as well as UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, states: “With article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.”

Writing in the Mirror this morning, Clive Lewis added: “There’s a difference between respecting the decision to leave the EU and giving Theresa May dangerous levels of power to decide the future of our country. Parliament let the British people down last month when they let the Prime Minister negotiate leaving the EU without any restriction or guidance.”

The unprecedented alliance of was drawn together by the campaign group Another Europe is Possible. It has launched a new Progressive Deal, which will fight to retain the six progressive elements of EU membership: free movement, workers’ rights, environmental protections, human rights, science and research funding and education links. The Progressive Deal (here) will be a focal point in the coming months.

Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “The Tories are using the technicalities of the Brexit process to strip us of rights and freedoms. The antidote to that is clear, principled politics – and finding a message that can cut through. We need to challenge the consensus that immigration and free movement are the cause of falling living standards, and we need to champion workers’ rights, human rights and other protections. That is what the Progressive Deal is about – and if the left can unite around a clear vision, we can absolutely shift the outcome of these negotiations.”

 

French Socialist Party Right-wing Commits Suicide: former Socialist PM Manuel Valls Backs Macron.

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Renegade Socialist PM Valls Backs Macron.

Former Socialist PM Valls backs centrist Macron for French presidency. France 24.

French former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday he would vote for centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron rather than Socialist contender Benoît Hamon, who had trounced him in a left-wing primary earlier this year.

Valls, a Socialist himself, said the election was wide-open and he would to do all he could to ensure that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, second-placed in opinion polls, did not clinch power on May 7.

“I’m not going to take any risks,” Valls told BFM TV.

Macron, who quit the Socialist government last year to run as an independent, has drawn support from politicians on both sides of the political spectrum and is favoured by opinion polls to win the election.

Valls is only the latest in a string of prominent Socialists who have deserted Hamon, the party’s embattled candidate.

He had previously pledged to respect the outcome of the primary organised by France’s ruling party in January, in which he was surprisingly – and decisively – defeated by Hamon.

More in English: BBC, Guardian,

The latter point is taken up by Libération: Valls sans hésitation, (Valls,….Waltz…without Hesitating…)

Valls avait promis qu’il se soumettrait à la discipline élémentaire de la primaire (sans laquelle elle n’a aucun sens). Il fait exactement le contraire. Un double cas d’école. Ou un Manuel du reniement.

Valls had promised to respect the elementary discipline of the Primary (without which the contest would have been senseless). He’s done exactly the opposite. A double lesson. Or a Manual (Manuel..) of denial.

Comrade Laurent Joffrin lists some of the Socialists who have proceeded Valls in the Macron rush, and  cites a previous betrayal in French politics, Chirac’s switch of support from his own party to Giscard in 1974, an act which, following nomination as PM, allowed the future President to take control and stab, in turn,  Giscard in the back.

Macon, Joffrin notes, is unlikely to reward his renegades so handsomely.

In the meantime the Socialist Party, whose candidate, Hamon is not doing at all well in the opinion polls, risks “exploding” under centrifugal pressure. (il faudrait encore que le PS n’éclate pas sous les poussées centrifuges des uns et des autres).

More in the latter vein here (le Monde): Valls choisit Macron, quitte à faire imploser le Parti socialiste.

Libé continues, Valls vote Macron et coupe les ponts avec le PS.

Burning his bridges with the Socialists Valls claimed that his support for Macron lay in the dangers represented by  the Front National. Briefly. Then he launched into a tirade against the following targets: from the PS candidate Benoît Hamon and his allies, the “frondeurs socialistes”, not to mention President François Hollande and the moderate social democrat Martine Aubry who has backed left-winger Hamon.

Evoking the ‘risks’ for France represented by Marine Le Pen Valls declared that his renegacy was justified in terms of his intimate acquaintance with the superior national interest, which is above party,  “L’intérêt supérieur de la France va au-delà des règles d’un parti».

Those with a strong stomach can read the full article via the link above.

You can watch Valls make his declaration on BFMTV, “Valls soutient Macron“.

There are signs of a re-alignment on the left.

Some on the French left welcome this treason, freeing Hamon from the ball and chain of the authoritarian, right-wing and unpopular Valls.

Stop the War Coalition: only way Islamist Murder can be ended is by “campaign against both war and Islamophobia.”

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End Terrorist Attacks By Stopping Western Wars and Islamophobia says StWC.

War, Terrorism & Islamophobia: Breaking The Vicious Circle Stop the War Coalition, also reproduced on the site of the groupuscule, Counterfire, which occupies many of the StWC’s leading positions.

Lindsey German writes,

The threat of Islamic terrorism requires a serious analytical response which cannot ignore the background against which it exists.

Does this involve an analysis of what Islamic terrorism is, the nature of groups such as the Islamic State, their genocidal ideology and practice? Their relation to Salafism, the social and ideological conditions in which they have grown in?

No,

..every serious analysis of the increase in terrorism over the past 16 years has to confront one central fact: that the ill-conceived and misnamed war on terror has actually increased the level of terrorism in Europe, not reduced it.

And,

The terrible consequences of the Iraq war – and subsequent interventions in Libya and Syria – have indeed led to a growth in terrorism both across the Middle East and South Asia.

German does not go further.

She offers nothing about the history of Islamism, from the Iranian Revolution (1979) to the conflicts between Shia and Sunni that mark the greatest number of terrorist atrocities. Or the Algerian Civil War, (over 100,000 dead, 1991 – 2002), an example of religiously inspired violence and state repression which has profoundly shaped the Maghreb, and left support for murdering Jihadism to be mobilised in the present conflicts.

There is equally not a word on the decades long development of Islamism in all its various forms, from the Muslim Brotherhood, back to its roots in the writings and practice of figures such as Sayyid Qutb to cite but one name, that a “serious analysis” would have to grapple with in any effort to explain the intensity, the blood-stained killings that mark the present batch of jihadists.

This is no doubt a large area, a hard reading list even for the learned German, but she could begin here Islamism (Wikipedia). Or indeed with the books reviewed on this site yesterday, notably, The Way of the Strangers by Graeme Wood.

Such a study would show that the violence, the racism and the totalitarian ambitions of the jihadist wing of the Islamist movement cannot be reduced to an effect of Western Intervention.

The invasion of Iraq, and the failed state that the US tried to create, has increased the possibilities for Jihadists to spread, fueled the wars between Shiites and Sunnis, and led to the wholescale religious cleansing of non-Muslims from a large swathe of the Middle East.

But the springs for the terrorist violence in Europe, the mechanisms which organise it, which encourage it, the actual series of intentional acts of murder, lie in the material shape of the Jihadist groups, their ideology and the individuals who carry out the slaughter.

German continues,

It is worth remembering that those countries still reeling from the effects of these interventions face regular terrorist attacks against their own populations, with often dozens killed in single attacks on markets and other public places. These receive scant coverage in the British media and certainly not the emotional responses that mark an attack in London or Paris. But they alone should prove as false the idea that these attacks are about British values. They are political attacks designed to promote the ideas of IS or al Qaeda or other similar groups and their main targets are other Muslims.

This is all too true, which might lead the leaders of the StWC to support those in these countries, Muslim or not, above all the liberals and secularists, fighting the Islamists, and, above all, the Jihadists, linked with, or members of Daesh and Al Qaeda.

But no.

That is there.

Here is here.

And here is, apparently, where the problem comes from.

The first is that the foreign policy which has contributed to the rise of terrorism has to end. These wars are not history but are ongoing. Only this week there have been reports of a US bombing raid on a mosque near Aleppo in Syria which has killed many civilians, in addition to the bombing of Mosul in Iraq – as part of the campaign against IS – which has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, including 200 in a recent attack.

Such attacks are exactly what has helped feed terrorism in the past.

Sagely German notes that,

The second message is that the response to such attacks cannot be further racism against Muslims.

Those advocating “further racism” take note!

What we can be certain of is that these attacks will continue unless there are major political changes.

This climate of racism here in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, is only helping to create a vicious circle where Islamophobia leads to a growth in extremism and terrorism, which in turn leads to more Islamophobia. It is a circle which can only be broken by a concerted campaign against both war and Islamophobia.

This will surely defeat the genociders of the Islamic State.

That is, it would, if Islamism and the Islamic State had been created by ‘Islamophobia’ and racism.

Faced with the depth of the challenge that Jihadism presents this statement marks the inability of the Stop the War Coalition to rise above slogans.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

The Way of the Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood. Reflections on Islamism.

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The Way of the Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood. Allen Lane 2017. La Fracture. Gilles Kepel. Gallimard/France Culture. 2016. Pour les Musulmans. Edwy Plenel. 2015 (2014).

The problem must be posed anew, the hypotheses inverted, for in this domain ‘ideology’ is but another name for ignorance: the religious expression of a social phenomenon is not its disguise, but its unveiling. Gilles Kepel. (1)

From the 7th of January 2015 Islamist murders at Charlie Hebdo and the Vincennes Hyper Cacher to the massacre on the 14th of July in Nice, on the Promenade des Anglais, was for those living in France, Gilles Kepel, begins La Fracture, “une année terrible”. That the anniversary of the 2016 jihadist killings in Belgium was marked last week by the Westminster atrocity has brought the Islamic State, Daesh, back to European headlines. In Mosul and Syria ferocious battles, waged with few scruples, continue against their genocidal tyranny.

Some figures have reacted to the latest tragedy with what Nick Cohen calls the “lies of the right” – Nigel Farage’s tirade against “migration” in first place – “debase civilised society.” (Observer 26.03.17) In Pour Les Musulmans the journalist Edwy Plenel one of the first to signal the dangers of Le Pen and the Front National in the 1980s (L’Effet Le Pen 1984 Edwy Plenel and Alain Rollathas written a generous appeal, in the spirit of Émile Zola’s Pour les Juifs (1896). Against hatred, and the accumulated prejudices against Muslims that makes them a “global enemy” and target in French political life, Plenel offers the British reaction to the 2005 London carnage, “We Are Not Afraid”.

Perhaps now is also the moment to look anew at Jihadism, the most violent wing of Islamism. In his column Cohen reflects a wider dissatisfaction with those who try to explain these outrages as responses to western foreign policy (the ‘anti-imperialist’ left), or the ‘result’ of multiculturalism (the ‘alt-right’).

Kepel was an early critic of the view that political Islam was a “mask” for deeper social causes. Since 9/11 we have heard much of the “religious disguise” that Al-Qaeda and now Daesh presented, while the ‘real’ issue of Western intervention, or more generally ‘neo-liberal globalisation’.  While these abstractions count for little, there are without doubt hard social facts that help extreme forms of Islamism flourish. In France the social divisions that leave many of those of North African descent marginalised, time in prison, and the psychological fragility of individuals, are conditions working behind the acts of individual Jihadists. But “l’idéologie donne la conscience de l’action et en détermine la forme.” Ideology is material, and exists, in ISIS/ISIL, as an organised would-be state, with international offshoots. Daesh, Kepel states, aims to provoke a violent fracture in France, which their ideologues elaborate from Salafist materials, a conquest of Europe, ending in the mass conversion, the enslavement or extermination of the inhabitants. (2)

The Islamic State.
These may be outrageous beliefs, but Kepel does not misrepresent them. The Way of Strangers is a thorough account, first hand evidence, of Islamic State ideas. Those wearied by the media use of the “so-called” before Islamic State will find that, after consideration, Wood, uses the term they use themselves. He shifts the attention to what they are and not to what a ‘real’ ‘Islamic’ state might be. It cannot be grasped as “Jacobinism with an Islamic veneer. It has its own story, the will of god written on the battlefield.

“The notion that religious belief is a minor factor in the rise of the Islamic State is belied by the crushing weight of evidence that religion matters deeply to the vast majority of those who have travelled to fight. “(3) Not only does it issue mountains of Fatwas and other pious declarations, but also, Wood demonstrates, the Islamic state cannot be understood without a deep immersion in the ideology of Salafism and a variety of Islamic schools. The “simplest explanation” for their roots is that their founders were “extreme Islamists”. As for effort to dismiss their faith basis, those doing so rarely have any knowledge of the clerics and scholars in its ranks.

“Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theoretic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.” (4)

In meetings, across the world, with those in sympathy with this goal Wood talks to figures, many of them converts, Musa Cerantonio, ‘Yahya’, Anjem Choudary, and some with decided distance from the Islamic state, such as Hamza Yusuf. The Way of Strangers melds these encounters, invariably over Halal food, with considerations on Islamic history, above all the legal school of Dhaharism, which rigorously bases its rulings on the Qur’an and the prophet, and no additional material or judgements. Parallels with the seventh century Kharijites, a vicious Muslim splinter group who practised mass excommunication, and denied all authority but their own, are dawn.

As one reads The Way of Strangers happy talk about Islam as a “religion of peace” quickly evaporates. The ‘literalist’ Islam of the Islamic, baked by scriptural authority, state sanctions the most severe forms of Hudud punishment, slavery, infamously including sexual captives, and the regulation of all aspects of personal life fused around loathing of the non-licit and the ‘kuffer’. It is obsessed with, The Way of Strangers continues, the takfir¸ the “sport” of declaring those who disagree with them and claim to be Muslims “apostates” under sentence of death. It has genocidal intentions, already put into practice against Yazidis. Wild dreams of a worldwide apocalypse the Islamic state’s followers, to come in decades not months, round off the picture.

Religious Genocide.

Most people do not want, Wood writes, to be part of a religion seen as “fanatical and bloodthirsty.”Most religions have zealots that the mainstream would prefer to make disappear and the Muslim bind is not unique”. Yet, is the Islamic State Muslim? “Whether it is ‘legitimate; is a question other believers answer for themselves, overwhelmingly in the negative” That can be said of any minority, “the group led and supported by Muslims albeit Muslims with whom they vociferously disagree.” To say that it has “nothing to do with Islam” is to deny that they “cite Koran, hadiths, and carefully selected thinkers within the Islamic tradition.” In brief, the denial of the Muslim roots of Daesh is a way of avoiding answering uncomfortable questions, starting with the fact that the Qu’ran does contain verses that support slavery, sexual oppression, and is riddled with ideas that are hard to reconcile with democratic values. Word for word reading shows them, and reasoning by analogy, historical context, and other methods used to adjust Islam to today, on the model perhaps of Saint Augustine’s 5th century reading of the Bible in On Christian Doctrine  always runs up against the problem that the book is claimed, however bizarrely, to be the inerrant word of god. (5).

The Way of Strangers is not just an important and brave book. It is a way of confronting difficult issues about religious politics above all religious genocide based on a form of spiritual racism. The immediate response to defend universal human rights a point of unity between people. Yet Wood leaves us with multiple dilemmas. If the Islamic State is now facing defeat in its Caliphate, will it be able to retain and rebuild support in other violent conditions? What will happen to those who have joined its genocidal regime? Will they return home, or will they, like the butchers of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen be tried and imprisoned?

*********

(1) Page 234. Gilles Kepel. The Roots of Radical Islam Saqi 2005. Originally published as Le Prophète et Pharaon. La Découverte. 1984.
(2) Pages 47 and 256 – 8 La Fracture. Gilles Kepel.
(3) Page 73. The Way of Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood.
(4) Page 77. The Way of Strangers.
(5) Pages 217 – 8 .The Way of Strangers.

 

Left Wingers Join Unite For Europe March.

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No Trump no Brexit no racist EU exit!

Why join the March?

Another Europe is Possible introduced the reasons:

Why we’ll be on the Unite for Europe march

This Saturday, tens of thousands of people will march through London on the ‘Unite for Europe’ demonstration. We’ll be there despite our criticisms – and here’s why.

The triggering of Article 50 on March 29th will represent a defeat for democracy and a blow to the rights of ordinary people.

Theresa May has managed to get away with a smash and grab raid on the Brexit process; if the government gets its way, parliament and the people will have little or no say over what is negotiated on our behalf. Millions of European citizens have no guarantees about their right to remain in the UK. And our human rights, rights at work, free movement and environmental protections are under grave threat.

We are in this situation because the terms of the debate have been set entirely by the Tories, UKIP and the right wing press. The message is: Leave won, so now we can do whatever we want.

But the referendum result is not a mandate to attack migrants, destroy the environment or undermine workers’ rights. The government has no mandate for the extreme, regressive form of Brexit that it is pursuing.

So we have to mobilise – to shift the debate and prevent the Brexit nightmare from becoming a reality. The 16 million people who voted for Remain are not our only allies in that task – there are many who voted Leave who do not agree with what Theresa May is doing, and many more who didn’t vote at all.

Another Europe is Possible will be on the demonstration this Saturday – not to wave flags and not to defend the EU’s policy or democracy as it currently exists. We were and are very critical of these.

We will be there because we all have a right to be heard – and a duty to fight against the tide.

Martin Thomas of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty argues:

Labour should fight Brexit all the way

Labour’s deference on Brexit also undermines the work of rebuilding Labour support.

The Labour right wing’s staged Shadow Cabinet resignations in June-July started the process which has given Theresa May a lead in the polls despite unpopular policies (continued benefit cuts, new schools cuts, grammar schools…) But the new line of deferring to a supposedly fixed Brexit majority has worsened it.

While the Lib-Dems – despite their so-recent record in government, despite the fact that one-third of their voters went for Brexit on 23 June, despite everything – have doubled their membership by making at least some show of fighting the Tories’ Brexit, Labour’s surge in membership has been paused or even slightly reversed.

We cannot beat the Tories by deferring to them. Labour should fight Brexit all the way!

The BBC reported,

Tens of thousands of people joined an anti-Brexit march to call for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The Unite for Europe march in London coincided with events to mark 60 years since the EU’s founding agreement, the Treaty of Rome, was signed.

A minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Westminster attack was held ahead of speeches at a rally in Parliament Square.

Comrade Bonnie Greer tweeted from the march.

Socialist Resistance have an excellent report,

Try and picture what a march of Brexit supporters would look like in central London, asks Andy Stowe. You immediately get images of portly men dressed in John Bull outfits, Farage gurning in front of the cameras, English and British flags, homemade placards with slogans about WW2 and not so subtle allusions to controlling borders. It would be a Glastonbury for racist English nationalism.

The Unite for Europe demonstration through central London on March 25th certainly had aspects that showed it wasn’t organised by socialists. The organisers’ homepage is decorated with two strips of European Union (EU) and British flags, the liberal way of showing that British people want o be part of the EU. Speakers at the closing rally included former Lib Dem leader and Tory glove puppet Nick Clegg, current Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, someone offering the ex-pat perspective (ex-pat being the correct term for a British person who’s an economic migrant in another country) and Blarite Rottweiler Alistair Campbell.

Almost immediately after the Brexit referendum result was announced there was a large, young and angry demonstration against the result. Those people were largely absent on March 25th. Press estimates of the size range from 25-100 000 but they tended to be older and more affluent. The young Europeans who keep the service industries of London running didn’t turn up. Supporters of Socialist Resistance who were distributing postcards advertising this year’s Fourth International Youth Camp remarked that it sometimes took a few minutes to find someone young enough to hand one to.

However, the demonstration was unequivocally progressive. British flags were substantially outnumbered by that of the EU. The people carrying them were making a statement that they rejected reactionary British nationalism and wanted to identify themselves as citizens of Europe. The home made placards they carried spoke of freedom of movement and being able to work in any EU state. It was a partial rejection of national borders. Coming only three days after an attack by a reactionary terrorist who murdered three people and injured at least fifty, the march was, in an unassuming way, an assertion of the power of mass action by people who want to engage in politics.

Socialist Resistance rightly make a number of critical observations.

Most of the marchers gave the impression that they had no criticisms of the EU. I saw no condemnations of its shameful deal with Turkey to prevent the movement of migrants or the rejection of the will of the Greek people. This of course is not the view of Socialist Resistance and others on the radical left who opposed Brexit. We argued that it’s a supra-national authority which has imposed austerity on the European working class and has reduced most Greeks to utter penury. Our reason for opposing Brexit was that we knew it could only be achieved by a massive xenophobic chauvinist campaign dominated completely by the right. The London demonstration was a rejection of that tidal wave of xenophobia and racism.

Politically the big winners on the day were they Liberal Democrats and they can expect to regain some lost ground by their stance on Brexit. Their membership turned out in strength distributing stickers, carrying placards and setting the tone for the day. A handful of Labour Party banners could be seen but the party had made the mistake of not mobilising for the event and there was no evidence of any organised trade union presence.

Brexit has shifted British politics to the right in a way we haven’t seen since the election of the Thatcher government. The Tories are now pushing through UKIP’s programme and the Labour Party’s response has not appeared coherent to many of its supporters. The Lib Dems threw down a gauntlet to the radical left, the unions and the Labour Party that our side needs to be the one defending freedom of movement, resisting Tory inspired xenophobia and protecting migrants.

The Another Europe is possible conference in Manchester next weekend will be an Important place to discuss how best to meet that challenge.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Marine Le Pen “Russia and France should work together to save the world from globalism and Islamic fundamentalism.”

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Marine Le Pen Meets Putin in Moscow.

Reuters.

President Vladimir Putin met French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin on Friday and told her Russia had no intention of interfering in France’s presidential election.

Le Pen, who has said she admires the Russian leader, was visiting Russia at the invitation of Leonid Slutsky, head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Russian news agencies reported.

State TV showed Putin telling Le Pen Moscow reserved the right to meet any French politician it wanted.

Interfax : “PUTIN AT MEETING WITH MARINE LE PEN: RUSSIA HAS ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION TO INFLUENCE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN FRANCE YET RESERVES RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF ANY POLITICAL FORCES.

France 24 reported earlier,

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was due in Moscow on Friday for meetings with lawmakers less than a month before a presidential election clouded by allegations of Russian interference.

The leader of the National Front, an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union party, is seeking to bolster her international credentials ahead of the two-round French election on April 23 and May 7.

Her visit comes on the heels of a trip this week to Chad, base of a French military operation that’s aimed at rooting out Islamic extremists from a swath of Africa.

The head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the Tass news agency as saying Le Pen would hold meetings on the “international agenda such as the war on terrorism”.

There was no official word as to whether the French far-right leader would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom she has described as “good for world peace”.

The BBC also adds this,

“I believe that barring parliamentarians from speaking to each other, working together is an infringement of democratic rights,” Interfax quoted her as saying in a meeting with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.  She vowed to push for the so-called “blacklists” of targeted invidivudals to be abolished. Ms Le Pen also said that Russia and France should work together to save the world from globalism and Islamic fundamentalism, Interfax said.

Background: Radio France International. (24.3.17)

Marine Le Pen est appréciée à Moscou, car elle prône le démantèlement de l’Union européenne, la levée des sanctions à l’égard de la Russie et surtout la reconnaissance de l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie. Le Front national avait d’ailleurs envoyé un représentant en tant qu’observateur lors du référendum sur le rattachement de la Crimée à la Russie, qui avait attesté de la transparence du scrutin. L’attitude a convaincu le Kremlin d’être bienveillant à l’égard du mouvement d’extrême droite.

Marine le Pen is liked in Moscow, because she backs breaking up the European Union, lifting sanctions against Russia, and, above all, recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea. The Front National had also sent a representative as an observer during the referendum in Crimea on joining Russia, which claimed that the vote was free and fair. This attitude convinced the Kremlin to take a friendly stand on the extreme right movement.

Et lorsque fin 2014, le parti a eu besoin d’argent, une banque russe, la FCRB, a accepté de lui prêter 9 millions d’euros, avant de se voir retirer sa licence quelques mois plus tard. Les relations sont toutefois restées au beau fixe entre le FN et Moscou, où Marine Le Pen est régulièrement accueillie par des instances aussi importantes que la présidence de l’Assemblée. A-t-elle été accueillie en plus haut lieu ? En tout cas, il n’en a pas été question officiellement.

When, at the end of 2014, the FN needed money, a Russian bank, the FCRB, agreed to lend it 9 million Euros, before having its licence withdrawn a few months later. Relations have nevertheless remained cordial between the FN and Moscow, where Marine Le Pen is regularly met figures as important at the President of Parliament. Has she been received by higher levels? If she has, it not been official.

As part of its detailed analysis of the FN programme Mediapart  (Le programme Le Pen 2017 au scanner de Mediapart) notes  that,

“Il y a de fait une vraie convergence politique et programmatique entre le Front national et Russie unie, le parti de Vladimir Poutine.

There is, in reality, a real political and programmatic converge between the Front National and Vladimir Putin’s Russia United party.”

The FN, in short, calls for a new strategic re-alignment, from one based on the United States, to one with the Russian Federation.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Solidarity with all the Victims and their Loved Ones.

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To all the Victims and their Loved Ones.

London is the greatest city in the world, and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said Londoners “will never be cowed by terrorism” following the attack in which five people died near the Houses of Parliament.

Some 40 people were injured when the attacker drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and crashed into railings outside the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday afternoon. A Metropolitan Police officer was one of those killed, as was the attacker.

Parliament Square and the surrounding area has been cordoned off since the incident, which began at about 2.40pm.

In a video message, Mr Khan said: “London is the greatest city in the world, and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life.

“We always have and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”

Independent.

Brussels, yesterday.

Belgium has marked the first anniversary of the Brussels airport and metro terror attacks which killed 32 people, including one man from Hartlepool.

Political leaders, victims and families all gathered in the Belgian capital for moments of silence, wreath laying and testimonies.

On March 22 last year, twin suicide bombers claimed the lives of 16 people at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, while a further 16 were the victims of an explosion at Maelbeek subway station.

More than 300 people overall were wounded in the attacks, for which so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility. During Tuesday’s memorial services, wreaths were laid outside of both attack sites, with the names of victims read out.

Airport and train staff, security, rescue personnel, as well as Belgium’s King Philippe were all in attendance for the solemn occasion.

During Tuesday’s memorial services, wreaths were laid outside of both attack sites, with the names of victims read out.

Airport and train staff, security, rescue personnel, as well as Belgium’s King Philippe were all in attendance for the solemn occasion.

Prime Minister of Belgium.

Shiraz writes,

There was a time when no Islamist terror outrage was complete without an article published within a day or two, from Glenn Greenwald, Mehdi Hasan, Terry Eagleton or the undisputed master of the genre, Seamus Milne, putting it all down to “blowback”. Such articles usually also claimed that no-one else dared put forward the “blowback” explanation, and the author was really being terribly brave in doing so. No such articles have appeared for a few years (the last one I can recall was after the Charlie Hebdo attack), so here’s my idea of what such a piece would read like today: (see post...)

Bang on cue the SWP screams,

We do not know the motivation of this particular attack. But it is inescapable that the war, torture, plunder and invasions backed by the British parliament and the government’s allies have created the conditions in which such horrors are certain to take place.

The shattering of Iraq and Afghanistan, the oppression of the Palestinians and many other imperial projects cast long shadows.

Their mirror on the far-right are also trying to make political capital out of the tragedy.

Poland’s prime minister drew a link on Thursday between an attack in London targeting the British parliament and the European Union’s migrant policy, saying the assault vindicated Warsaw’s refusal to take in refugees.

Reuters.

And,

Nigel Farage has suggested support for multiculturalism is to blame for the Westminster attack.

The former Ukip leader claimed the political support for multiculturalism had created a “fifth column” of terror supporters in Western societies.

Mr Farage argued this was the fault of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, claiming his government ordered “search parties” to track down immigrants from around the world to bring to the UK.

Independent.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

George Galloway to Stand – for Pirate Party? – in Manchester Gorton By-Election.

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Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Irn Bru!

Having already posted today I would not normally immediately follow with another.

But this is news!

Shiver me timbers..

Maties everywhere Thar she blows!

George Galloway to stand for Parliament again in Manchester Gorton by-election.

George Galloway is to stand for Parliament at an upcoming by-election in Manchester, he has announced.

The veteran left-winger accused Labour of being a “divided, ineffective opposition” and said he would contest Manchester Gorton to replace the late Labour MP Gerald Kaufman.

All hands hoay! 

Galloway chose to announce his decision on the Westmonster site, set up by Aaron Banks, which publicises Marine Le Pen, the Hungarian government and argues for a Farrage Hard Brexit (Westmonster describes itself as: “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.” Press Gazette).

The “All-Asian short-list” hand-picked by Keith Vaz is just not good enough for the people of Gorton one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain. The short-listing, which excluded many better candidates, is the latest in a long line of insults delivered by mainstream parties to local communities. I will run as an Independent candidate and will write a regular by-election diary for Westmonster. This is my initial election statement.

I have a long connection with the Manchester area – two of my children live here – and with the Gorton constituency in particular. The late Sir Gerald Kaufman was a friend of mine for over 30 years. Our friendship began before I was an MP, continued throughout my near 30 years with him in Parliament and afterwards. His appearance on my television show was his last big interview and will stand the test of time.

Sir Gerald was a big figure in the House of Commons and was known far beyond it from Hollywood to Palestine and Kashmir. When he spoke people listened.

Now he’s gone to Davy Jones’ Locker..

Batten down the hatches!

I have decided to seek election for Manchester Gorton in the forthcoming by-election precisely because of my admiration for its late MP and I hope to persuade voters of every background that I am the best person to try to fill his shoes.

I want to continue his work on international issues – which are particularly important in Gorton- especially the issues of Palestine and Kashmir but also the broader questions, the dangerous confrontation between the west and the Muslim world which threatens all of us.

I would like to be the big voice for Manchester Gorton it still needs. Manchester is great, world class. But Gorton can’t be left behind. Whether it’s jobs -proper jobs – wages public services the NHS and schools. The struggle for students has always been a parliamentary preoccupation of mine. I was a Labour MP when Tony Blair introduced tuition fees and I broke a 3 line whip to vote against them. I opposed Blair’s privatisation of the NHS too and warned on both that a future Tory government would only pile on the misery on top of New Labour’s foundation.

I opposed Tony Blair with all my heart and soul and paid for it with my expulsion from the party in 2003 – after 36 years membership.

Heave ho!

This week is the 14th anniversary of the Iraq War against which I was one of the leaders of the greatest mass movements ever seen in this country. I make this plain here – if I am re-elected to Parliament I will seek to put Mr. Blair on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and lying to the British Parliament and people.

I think you already know that when I’m fighting for something everybody knows about it.

Whether it’s my speeches in Parliament or on the streets,  my films, my TV shows, my radio shows, my work on social media where I have over a million followers, when I’m fighting for Gorton everyone will know about it. Everyone will have to listen.

I have been six times elected to Parliament and I don’t think even my worst enemy would deny my impact there.

Of course there will be other choices you might make. A thicket of councillors will put themselves forward. I am not a local councillor any more than Sir Gerald was. I am a parliamentarian as he was a parliamentarian. I will be heard if you elect me, on matters local national and international. On Brexit and Scottish nationalism, on war and peace on houses and Schools on work and unemployment on immigration on the commonwealth on roads and refuse. I will live here, I will work here, I will serve here.

..

I am like Sir Matt a Scot of Irish background. There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40 year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk.

Galloway will be able to say to Labour, in at least four languages, Walk the plank!

If I were to win here it would be the Mother of All by-election victories for “The hard working people of Gorton” who would never be forgotten again.

If I don’t, then the alternative will be a career politician, with NO change and no Development for Gorton. It will remain the same most deprived 10% of constituencies in our country.

We know that Labour is divided, an ineffective opposition still busy fighting each other, there is a danger that the people of Gorton will never be heard from at Westminster again. Don’t settle for ordinary. It’s been half a century since Gorton had an ordinary MP. You can make that change, Think big, Think George Galloway for Gorton.

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Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Momentum, UNITE and Labour: an Activist Comments.

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A ‘New Kind of Politics’? 

Unite statement on Tom Watson MP’s claims on Momentum and Unite

20 March 2017

Responding to the claims made today (Monday 20 March) in the national media by Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour party, Unite’s acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Tom Watson has made claims about Unite and its general secretary Len McCluskey which are entirely inaccurate.

“As Unite has made it clear it is exclusively for our executive council to determine which organisations we affiliate to. There are no plans for Unite to affiliate to Momentum. For the record, Len McCluskey has never met Jon Lansman to discuss this or any other matter.

“It is extraordinary that the deputy leader of the Labour party should  interfere in Unite’s democracy in this way, and it is very disappointing that he was allowed to make his unsupported claims without being challenged, and that the BBC ignored the Unite statement with which it had been provided well in advance.

“Mr Watson’s latest, and misguided, campaign is part of an unprecedented pattern of interference in the current Unite general secretary election by elected Labour politicians who should, frankly, be concentrating on their own responsibilities.

“Mr Watson is a Unite member with a right to a vote and a view. But he should remember that, first, he is deputy leader of the Labour party with the obligations that this senior post imposes, and second that Unite is not a subsidiary of any political organisation.”

Unite has complained to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the statement the union provided in good faith last night was only used in part and following representations from the union this morning. The union has also complained that Mr Watson was allowed to make his extraordinary claims about Unite and its general secretary without being subject to any demand for evidence.

This is in response to reports, such as this one, in the media. (Guardian).

Momentum’s Jon Lansman has hit back after fierce criticism by Labour MPs of his intention to affiliate trade union Unite to his grassroots group as a way to consolidate its power in the party.

The plans for Momentum to affiliate the UK’s biggest union and take full control of Labour’s structures by electing new representatives were described as “entryism” by the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, and were revealed after Lansman was secretly recorded speaking at a Momentum branch meeting in Richmond, south-west London.

In the recording, the chair of Momentum said the affiliation would require Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, to win his re-election battle against rival Gerard Coyne

….

A new constitution drawn up by Lansman last year made it clear that activists must be members of the Labour party in order to participate in Momentum, but in the recording, he suggested the restriction would not be enforced.

“It was important to require Labour party membership in the rules but it is down to enforcement. No one from the centre is going to tell you to kick people out,” he tells the meeting.

Watson tweeted Lansman on Sunday night, saying the recording was “very clear” in what it meant. “You’ve revealed your plan. If you succeed, you will destroy the Labour party as an electoral force. So you have to be stopped.”

Lansman replied: “We won’t allow non Lab members to hold office or vote (unlike Coop party or Fabians) but we won’t exclude them from activities/meetings. For 20 years the left was denied a voice. We will deny a voice to no one. We face big challenges, & we need our mass membership to win again.”

Poor old Suzanne Moore, no doubt wishing she were back in happier days ‘punting’ in the river Orwell,  has wadded in, waving her pole in all directions.

A secret recording reveals that even Momentum has given up on Corbyn. Does anyone inside Labour have any idea how ludicrous this all looks?

The insanity of a leader unsupported by his MPs, falling desperately in the polls, inert over Brexit, has the party simply waiting to lose for the reckoning to begin.

The issues raised have now come to the ears of Ken Livingstone (Guardian)

Ken Livingstone tells Labour: don’t lose Momentum party plans

Ex-London mayor says he finds it ‘bizarre’ MPs have issue over changes that would allow leftwing candidate to stand as leader

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, has said the grassroots group Momentum should be free to push for changes to Labour party structures that would secure Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy as a leftwing Labour leader.

The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, had accused the radical left group of “entryism” after its chair, Jon Lansman, was secretly recorded at a local meeting describing plans to elect a raft of leftwing candidates to key positions and his hope to seal an affiliation from trade union Unite.

A day of public accusation and backroom briefing by Watson and Corbyn allies ended in a fiery private meeting of MPs and peers on Monday night in parliament, where MPs clashed with Corbyn over Momentum’s influence on the party.

The tension hinges on a clause that Corbyn allies hope to secure at the next Labour party conference, to reduce the threshold of MP nominations needed for the next Labour leadership elections from 15% of MPs to 5%, which would make it easier for a leftwing successor to Corbyn to make it on to the ballot paper sent to members.

Comment.

Ken Livingstone’s comments are well aimed: the rule change under fire is a reasonable one.

UNITE is right complain about Tom Watson’s comments.

It is both hard to believe that he is unaware of the way they would be used in the union’s internal elections, and that he does not know that UNITE’s Executive is the body to which such a decision – which the union itself says is not on the cards – has to be referred.

But the “aspirational” claims by Jon Lansman, that UNITE should affiliate to Momentum, remain contentious.

It can hardly escape anybody interested – perhaps a declining number – in Momentum that the organisation has serious internal disputes, which led to the holding of the recent  ‘Grassroots Momentum’ Conference.

It would be too simple to describe this as a clash between leftist ‘factions’ and those around Jon Lansman. One day somebody may provide a diagram of the disagreements, in 7 dimensions.

This, apparently, escapes the attention of an enthusiast, Comrade Ladin who writes of its success within Labour, “Momentum’s strategy of mobilising members within these structures is undoubtedly the winning one” (Guardian. 20.3.16.7)

Others may point to internal critics’ comments which blow away the idea that this is a head-on battle between the Labour Right (Watson at the head) and Momentum.

As Stephen Wood in The Clarion remarks of the presentation of Momentum as a

….broadly consensual organisation where we “focus on what we agree about.”

The fundamental flaw is that while he is right that most of what was passed at the Grassroots Momentum conference and in fact even argued by his opponents on the Momentum Steering Committee he may actually have agreed to, he was absolutely against and stopped action being taken. Half-hearted support for the Picturehouse Workers Strike, a statement about suspensions and expulsions which has still never materialised were all agreed at what he described as “deeply unpleasant” SC meetings.

It would be easy to continue in this vein, and discuss the internal divisions of Momentum.

One thing is certain (at the risk of sounding the voice of ‘reasonableness’, but this is very much the case)  that  this is not a matter of  virtue , the leadership, and faults, “trots and the hard-left”.

Problems are not confined to one ‘camp’ or the other.

It is also the case that UNITE members who are active in the Labour Party, including those with positions of responsibility, are far from agreed on the merits of Momentum, whether on its general strategy, or the details of its demands.

UNITE is a “political union” that sees the best way of pursuing the interests of its membership lie in the Labour Party, above all a Labour Party in office.

Now would seem not a good time to divert attention away to other power struggles.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Emmanuel Macron: in the “battlefield” against Populists in French Presidential Elections?

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After the Dutch election, national populism is said to have another chance to make an impact in Europe in the French Presidential contest at the end of April (first round). Wilders may have been seen off in Holland but Marine Le Pen, who claims to promote the French “people” (in jobs, ‘priorité nationale’) against uncontrolled “mondialisation” (globalisation) the “elites” of the European Union. She leads the polls, with majority backing in the manual and administrative working class. The Front National’s chances may have been increased by the scandals that have all but wiped out the hopes of victory of Les Republicans’ candidate, François Fillon. It is claimed that many of the once favoured right-wing party’s supporters, feeling that their man has been the victim of a judges’ plot, filled with spite, and underlying affinity, could vote for the Front National in the decisive second round.

For some on the left of centre the candidacy of Emmanuel Macron, a liberal, economically and socially, centrist, “progressive” even a ““centrist populist” now represents the most effective riposte to the far right. A sizable chunk of the Parti Socialiste (PS) right and socially liberal personalities in the wider left orbit, have smiled on his candidacy. Polls suggest he may come close to Le Pen in the April ballot, and, with transfers from all sides of the political spectrum, though notably from left supporters, could win the two-horse play off in May.

A Bulwark against National Populism?

For some commentators Macron could be at the crest of a wave of modernising politics that may be able not just to defeat Marine le Pen but set an example to others on how to overwhelm nationalist populism. For others it could pave the way for an international renewal of the centre, or the ‘centre left’, including the one time dominant modernisers inside social democratic parties This has resonance in Britain, where Liberal Democrats gush admiration, former Social Democratic Party stalwart,  Polly Toynbee has fully endorsed him as a bulwark against Marine Le Pen, disappointed Labour leadership candidate, Liz Kendall is said to admire Macron, as has former Europe Minister Denis MacShane, who sees him as standing up to Euroscepticism, and would no doubt enlist him in the battle to rehabilitate Tony Blair’s record in government.

It is tempting to think of, or to dismiss, Macron as a political entrepreneur, a “personality”, the creator of a “start up”, a political firm (Candidate Macron Jeremy Harding. London Review of Books. 15.3.17). Others have concentrated on attacking his “empty words” (discours creux), and efforts to appeal to all, strongly criticising French colonialism, while offering a dialogue with the ultra-conservatives of ‘Sens commun’, if not further right.

These, together with an elitist education and high-powered insider employment (from the heights of the State to Banking) are important facets of Macron’s character, and his present politics revolved around that personality. But this is to ignore the reasons why this candidacy is unsettling the Parti Socialiste. The former Minister of the Economy (2014 – 2016) under PS Premier Manuel Valls, with, from time to time, most clearly from 2006 – 2009, membership of the Socialists, he was marked out for the economic side of his “social liberalism”. Macron promoted the maximum loosening of labour protection in the El Khomri  labour law, and advanced his own proposals for wider economic reform.

A Tool Against Hamon.

The left outside of France was more interested in Socialist Party critics of the El Khomri law, the “frondeurs” for whom this summed up their dissatisfaction with Manuel Valls and François Hollande’s market reform and fiscal policies. But Macron could be said to be embody the breakaway of the opposite side of the “synthesis” that held the government together between the Prime Minister’s authoritarian modernisation and those with socialist and social democratic values. In this sense En marche! is a handy tool against the present candidate of the Parti Socialiste, Benoît Hamon, the left-wing ‘frondeur’ now representing the Party, with the support of the Greens, EELV and the small, but traditional ally of the Socialists, the Parti Radical de gauche.

The development of Marcon’s campaign bears looking at through this angle. Briefly, in 2016, Macron wished the outgoing President, François Hollande, to stand again. Perhaps heeding Valls’ own judgement that the divisions within the Left, including those inside his own party, were “irreconcilable” he founded his movement En marche! in April that year, as his personal ambition – were it possible – became more assertive, he was obliged to leave the government in the summer.

It is at this point that a programme publicly emerged. Relying on the authority of an economist he has now revived the deregulating, “working with grain of globalisation” “skills and competitiveness” economics of the 1990s centre left. In this vein the central elements of the electoral platform of En marche!, his “contract with France” (Retrouver notre esprit de conquête pour bâtir une france nouvelle) calls to “Libérer le travail et l’esprit d’entreprise” by lowering social charges and doing away with obsolete regulation. His priorities, if in power, are, he has announced to Der Spiegel, (March 17th)

Three major reforms: The labor market must be opened, we need improved vocational training programs and the school system needs to support equal opportunity again.

For Europe.

France must restore its credibility by reforming the labour market and getting serious about its budget.

(and, this precondition fulfilled…)

Much deeper integration within the eurozone.

Just beneath the surface language, which evokes a meld of promoting a “core” Europe (negotiated after a ‘hard Brexit“….)  and French patriotic feelings it’s not hard to discover the economic liberalism that Marcel Gauchet has described as fixing the limits of what is politically possible (Comprendre le malheur français 2016). Macron’s core proposals could be said to be an internalisation of the reduction of state action to the needs of economic actors.

This is more than the traditional call to cut red tape. It is for a shake up of labour laws that El Khomri only began. The dream of much of French business, right-wing politicians, and pundits, but some on the PS right is apparently now possible because, Macron believes, we are in “extraordinary times”  The wish that France could follow other European countries and make a clean sweep of all the laws and protections that ‘burden’ the land’s labour market, and revive the dream of ‘flexibility’ to meet the global challenge, had found its voice again. Perhaps it is no coincidence that a large section of the programme entitled “a State that Protects” is not devoted to welfare but to giving people a sense of security through the protection of the Police and Security services.

Beyond this constituency is Macron a newly minted saviour for the centre? He declares his movement, “transpartisan”. As Thomas Guénolé, author of the witty, Petit Guide du Mensonge en Politique (A Brief Guide to Political Lies. 2014) points out in Le Monde, his “révolution par le centre” bears comparison with former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s “advanced liberalism” in the 1970s (Le macronisme est un nouveau giscardisme. 16.3.17). They have a shared admiration for the Swedish social model, hard, then as now, to translate in French terms, an identical privileged background, and support for social and economic liberalisation against socialism or, today, ‘collectivism’.

It is difficult to see how this brand of “reformism” will marry welfare, and liberal economics. How “progressive” politics will deal with mass unemployment and the problems of the banlieue that successive modernising French governments of the right and left over last four decades have not resolved remains to be seen. Holding hands across the French social and political divide is unlikely to be the answer.

All Have Won, All Must Have Prizes!

The telegenic Macron would no doubt wish to begin the Presidency, transcending “party lines”,  by announcing, “The Race is over! Everybody has won and all must have prizes! But who will award the trophies? What other forces will there be to do the job in the National Assembly, whose election takes place immediately afterwards and which forms the basis of a President’s Cabinet?

The scramble to secure government posts and positions on Macron’s hypothetical list of candidates for the Legislative elections, is accompanied by the refusal of former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls (despite his own record of less than easy relations with the leader of En marche!) to back his own party’s candidate Benoît Hamon.

Longer-standing political facts intervene at this point. While this hastily formed ‘trans-party’ may well get some candidates elected it is unlikely to win a majority in Parliament. As Guénolé points out, in order to establish his power properly Giscard had made a choice to ally with the right, the Gaullist party. Macron, while enjoying the backing of well-known individuals and small groups like the present incarnation of Giscardianism headed by François Bayrou and his MoDems, has yet to choose between an alliance with the real players: Les Républicans (LR) or the Parti Socialiste.

Either choice carries risks. The former agreement could end like that of the British Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, alienating liberal opinion. The latter would run up against the left, including not just the Hamon wing of the Socialists but those further to his left.

We might ask if, and it remains an if, Macron becomes President, if the results of his programme, which subordinate politics to the economy, would really mean in the words of his programme, that everybody would be have more control over their own destiny and that people would be able to live better together (‘chacun maîtrise davantage son destin et que nous vivions tous mieux ensemble‘) Standing against this possible future two left candidates, Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, both in their different ways, offer to put economics in the service of politics. But that needs a further analysis…..

See also this,  French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s ‘anti-system’ angle is a sham 

Latest Opinion Polls.

Présidentielle: Le Pen et Macron au coude-à-coude, Fillon distancé 

Yasmin Rehman wins secularist of the year award.

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Yasmin Rehman: Secularist of the Year.

A courageous campaigner for human rights against religious intolerance Rehman’s award should be widely welcomed.

It is fitting that she chose her acceptance speech to commend two “personal heroines” comrades Maryman Namazie and Gita Sahgal, who like herself have had to face the hostility of obscurantist bigotry, sexism and ill-judged criticism from some quarters.

It is time that all the left stands with these women.

Yasmin Rehman named Secularist of the Year 2017 (National Secular Society).

The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year 2017 has been awarded to Yasmin Rehman, the secular campaigner for women’s rights.

Yasmin has spent much of the past two years to get the Government to recognise the dangers faced by ex-Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims from Islamic extremists. She has used her own home as a shelter for women at risk of domestic abuse.

Accepting the prize, Yasmin Rehman thanked the Society for recognising her work and said she was “incredibly humbled” to be nominated among other figures who were “personal heroines.”

She said there were two women, Maryman Namazie and Gita Sahgal, whom she couldn’t have campaigned without, and that she was “honoured” to stand beside them.

Secularism was not opposed to faith, she said, before describing how she had been shut down as ‘Islamophobic’ and “racist” despite being a Muslim herself. There is anti-Muslim sentiment in society, she said, but ‘Islamophobia’ was being used to silence and curtail speech.

Yasmin said she didn’t know if she could ever go back to Pakistan because of her work in the UK, while in the UK it was “impossible” to get funding for secularist work. She asked where women could possibly turn if they faced religiously-justified abuse. Muslim women were left with nothing but religious, sharia arbitration, while faith healing was spreading, with ill women being controlled by male relatives and religious leaders and told to pray instead of seeking medical treatment.

FGM and honour-based violence were being dismissed as “cultural”, while in fact polygamist and temporary marriages were Islamic practises, she said. There is a slippery road from this to child marriage, and there should be “no space” in the UK for these practises.

“Great powers within the community” were holding women back, and low rates of Muslim female employment could not be attributed entirely to discrimination by employers.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “I’m particularly pleased that this afternoon we have a secularist who is also a Muslim to present our prizes. She is living proof that secularism and Muslims can co-exist if given half a chance and co-founded British Muslims for Secular Democracy in 2006.”

Mr Sanderson described how secularism protected the rights of all and said it and democracy were “interdependent”.

Dr Michael Irwin kindly sponsored the £5,000 award. The award was presented by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She said: “The thing I find interesting and frightening at the moment is when I talk to young Muslims is how little they understand what secularism means.”

She said the Society’s most important work was in explaining what secularism meant for young people, particularly Muslims, and demonstrate that secularism was not atheism.

She warned of the growth of Muslim “exceptionalism” and that “universalism needs to be promoted.”

The Society was joined at the central London lunch event by previous winners of the prize including Maryam Namazie, who was the inaugural Secularist of the Year back in 2005. Peter Tatchell, who won the prize on 2012 also attended.

Turkish parliamentarian and 2014 Secularist of the Year Safak Pavey was unable to join the Society, but sent a message to attendees: “I wish I could be with you but we have the critical referendum approaching and we are very busy with the campaign. Each and every one of your shortlisted nominees is a very distinguished members of the secular society without borders.

“I wholeheartedly thank all of them for their courageous and precious contributions in defence and support of secularism and congratulate this year’s Secularist while looking forward to work together for our shared cause.”

Mr Sanderson praised her for working in “increasingly dangerous” circumstances to resist the Islamisation of Turkey.

Other campaigners were thanked for their work and Terry singled out Dr Steven Kettell, who was shortlisted for the prize, for his “excellent response” to the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public which had advocated expanding many religious privileges. Mr Sanderson thanked Dr Kettell for pointing out the many injustices that CORAB’s recommendations would have introduced, in his “excellent” report.

Scott Moore, the founder of Let Pupils Choose, was thanked for his campaign work. He said that, as an 18 year old, he had been campaigning for his entire adult life to separate religion and state, after religion was forced on him and taught as “absolute fact” during his childhood. He said the education system in Northern Ireland “robbed” pupils of their religious freedom. “All belief systems should be treated equally, but they are not.”

He was applauded for his hard-fought campaign work and Mr Sanderson said Moore gave him “hope for the future.”

Nominee Houzan Mahmoud spoke powerfully about the important of universal rights and freedoms.

Barry Duke, editor of the Freethinker, was given a lifetime achievement award for his commitment to free speech, LGBT rights and equality and resistance to censorship in apartheid South Africa.

The Society’s volunteer of the year was named, Sven Klinge, and thanked for the many occasions on which he has photographed NSS events.

Yasmin Rehman had been nominated, “for her advocacy of a secularist approach to tackling hate crime and promoting the human rights of women. She said, “I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be included in the list of nominees for this award particularly given the work being done across the world by so many brave and courageous people fighting against the hatred and violence being perpetrated by the religious Right of many faiths.”

Yasmin Rehman is a freelance consultant and doctoral candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her area of research is polygamy and the law. She has worked for more than 20 years predominantly on violence against women, race, faith and gender, and human rights. Yasmin has worked for Local Government, the Metropolitan Police Service as Director of Partnerships and Diversity (2004-08) during which time she also held the Deputy national lead for forced marriage and honour based violence. Yasmin has most recently been commissioned as founding CEO of a race equality charity in East London, followed by Transforming Rehabilitation bid and now reviewing police responses to domestic abuse for national charities. Yasmin is currently member of the Board of EVAW (End Violence Against Women Coalition), an Independent Adviser for City of London Police and a member of the Centre for Secular Space.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Pakistan Asks Facebook to Track Down ‘Blasphemers’.

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“Enemies of Humanity” Says Pakistan Interior Minister.

Radio Pakistan ‘reports’:

NISAR VOWS TO BLOCK  BLASPHEMOUS CONTENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Interior Minister asks Facebook administration to cooperate in removal and blocking of the blasphemous contents.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says those responsible for blasphemy will be dealt with an iron hand.

Talking to media after inaugurating citizen facilitation center in Islamabad on Thursday, he said the culprits of blasphemy are enemies of humanity.He said that we have asked Facebook administration to cooperate in removal and blocking of the blasphemous contents.

 The Interior Minister said that government is making all out efforts to block blasphemous material on social media. He said eleven people who commented on such posts are being interrogated.

He urged all Muslims countries to practice unity against sordid conspiracies against Islam as the matter of blasphemy hurts feelings of all Muslims.

He said the government will take strict action against blasphemous contents and will avail all the possible options.

The Minister said that cooperation from the US Administration is also being sought through US embassy in Pakistan in this regard.

He urged the international community to have immense consultations on the issue of blasphemy as it has become a critical matter for the world.

He said ridiculing a religion in the name of freedom of expression will not be allowed

Al Jazeera reports,

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani authorities have contacted social media website Facebook for help in investigating the posting of “blasphemous content” on the platform by Pakistanis, according to a statement.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan. Insulting the Prophet Muhammad carries a judicial death sentence and, increasingly commonly, the threat of extrajudicial murder by right-wing vigilantes.

At least 68 people have been killed in connection with blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to a tally maintained by Al Jazeera.

“There have been positive developments in the matter of the Pakistani government’s contact with Facebook’s management regarding the blocking of blasphemous content,” an interior ministry spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

Facebook would be sending a representative to visit Pakistan with regard to the matter, the statement said, and the government has appointed an official to liaise directly with the social networking website regarding the censoring of certain content.

In a statement quoted by the AP news agency, Facebook said it viewed government requests with care keeping in mind “the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users”.

The move comes after Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, ordered a ban on all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” on Tuesday.

“Ridiculing a religion in the name of freedom of expression should not be allowed,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s interior minister, said on Thursday.

11 People under Threat.

Khan is spearheading the government’s efforts to have the material blocked.

Eleven people have been identified as having posted “blasphemous” comments or material on Facebook and will be acted against, the minister said. The identities of the 11 people in question were not immediately clear.

The authorities’ move comes after a senior judge at the Islamabad High Court called upon the government to block all blasphemous content online, “even at the cost of blocking entire social media”.

The petition at the High Court accuses five rights activists who were abducted in early January of running Facebook pages that had posted content deemed to be blasphemous.

No evidence has been shared directly linking the five activists to the Facebook pages in question, but during their three-week disappearance the men were the subject of a vast social media campaign accusing them of blasphemy.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws violate human rights and encourage people to take the law into their own hands.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.”

Amnesty: Pakistan: How the blasphemy laws enable abuse.

Al Jazeera continues,

Pakistan’s telecommunications regulator currently blocks hundreds of websites, including those run by ethnic Baloch dissidents, as well as sites containing pornography or material deemed to be blasphemous.

It is empowered under a 2016 law to block any content “if it considers it necessary in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, public order, decency or morality”.

In January 2016, Pakistan ended a three-year ban on video-sharing website YouTube, also over blasphemous content, after the content provider agreed to launch a localised version that would streamline the process for content to be censored for viewers in Pakistan.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeeras Web Correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Macron’s Government: Right wing and right-wing, while ex-Communist Leader Robert Hue Awaits the Call.

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‘Green’ Minister in France had links with Nuclear Industry. 

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron kept his pledge to form a government with both left- and right-wing politicians, unveiling a cabinet on Wednesday that threatens to throw the country’s established parties into disarray.

The names of France’s 18 newest ministers were read out loud from the steps of the Elysée Palace on Wednesday afternoon – an unorthodox mix that raised eyebrows and will force a few former political foes to gather under the same tent.

“Emmanuel Macron kept his promise, meaning a few ministers from the political left, a few from the right, a few from the centre, and a few non-politicians,” said FRANCE 24’s politics editor Roselyne Febre, also noting that France’s new 39-year-old president had chosen to “hand the keys of the economy” to conservatives.

The most important government job was already delegated to the moderate conservative Edouard Philippe last week. The mayor of the western port city of Le Havre was not a prominent member of the main opposition Les Républicains party, but was shot to fame when Macron made him prime minister.

Fellow Les Républicains member Bruno Le Maire – who mounted an eventually unsuccessful bid for the party’s presidential nomination last autumn – has now followed suit. A former junior minister for European affairs under former right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy, Le Maire was tapped for the all-important Finance Ministry.

France 24.

Note: all these figures are ‘moderate’ only in the sense that Theresa May is a ‘moderate’. That is compared with Marine Le Pen.

In other words this is a right-wing government, ” Un gouvernement qui penche dangereusement à droite. “

For example,

Le Maire is a conservative politician with right-wing Republicans party who was a candidate for the presidential election.
He served as minister of the economy and then agriculture between 2007 and 2012 in Francois Fillon’s conservative (UMP at the time) government. Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine the 48-year-old is like Macron, a graduate of both Sciences Po and the prestigious École nationale d’administration (ENA).

There will also be plenty to say about this pair of socialist renegades  in the future….

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Socialist president François Hollande’s defence chief for five years, was named France’s foreign minister, while Lyon Mayor Gérard Collomb will take over the Interior Ministry.

For the present we note that both are allies of right-wing ‘socialist’ Manuel Valls who sabotaged his own party’s election campaign. and both took an active part in ruining the chance of their own candidate Benoît Hamon.

The name François Bayrou comes up. Yug Yug and Yug…

The Plantu drawing above draws attention to Nicolas Hulot.

His is a so-called Green, of the modestly titled, La Fondation Nicolas-Hulot pour la nature et l’homme, who has accepted funds from large firms, like EDF, L’Oréal and Rhône-Poulenc)  is now Ministre de la Transition écologique et solidaire (1) Hulot is already  honoured as  an  “Officier de la Légion d’honneur, chevalier des Arts et Lettres”

Few top him for self-serving vanity. 

For trendy bandwagonnistas one cannot excel  Françoise Nyssen, who runs the  French publishing company Actes Sud (whose books I shall be removing from my front room  shelves in the coming days). She will take over as culture minister.

We  are saddened to hear that Robert Hue, former leader of the French Communist Party and candidate for President in 1995 ( 8,64 %) who backed Macron to the hilt has not received his due (Présidentielle 2017 : Robert Hue soutient Emmanuel Macron.)

He has *not* been honoured with a post of the new government. As “Président du Mouvement des progressistes” (sound familiar to the ‘progressives’ standing against Labour? ) one one only hope his efforts will be rewarded in the near future when his new best friend takes firmer hold of the reins of power.

*****

(1) “Un rapport parlementaire de 201162 épingle à son tour Nicolas Hulot et sa fondation, notant qu’« EDF est une entreprise de pointe dans le secteur nucléaire. Quant à L’Oréal, elle est classée parmi les groupes de cosmétiques dont les produits font l’objet de tests sur les animaux, au grand désarroi des opposants à la vivisection. Dès lors, comment interpréter, par exemple, la position très mesurée de Nicolas Hulot sur l’énergie nucléaire ? Quel poids donner à sa parole sur les activités principales de ses deux administrateurs ? » écrivent les députés, dont le rapport connaît un écho dans la presse et suscite des doutes sur l’opportunité d’une candidature de l’animateur / fondateur à l’élection présidentielle française de 2012.

More on Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Efforts by ‘left-wing’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon to Destroy French Communist Party.

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Mélenchon: Refuses Left Unity of the Front Populaire. 

Breaking news: la France insoumise refuses an electoral agreement with the French Communist Party.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon a écarté hier tout accord aux législatives. 

Entre la France insoumise et le PCF rien ne va plus. Même si les deux formations, qui ont appelé à voter Jean-Luc Mélenchon le 23 avril, affichent un même objectif pour la nouvelle campagne qui s’annonce : envoyer dans l’Hémicycle des députés capables de battre en brèche les projets du nouveau président. En 48 heures, les échanges en cours ont été interrompus. Après un communiqué de son directeur de campagne, la veille, annonçant la fin des discussions avec les communistes, Jean-Luc Mélenchon a confirmé, hier sur le plateau de BFMTV, deux faits marquants : sa propre candidature aux législatives à Marseille, et cette rupture des négociations avec le PCF. « Il n’y aura pas d’alliance avec le PS et le PCF. J’ai fait les gestes pour les rencontrer », a-t-il déclaré, renvoyant la responsabilité de cette décision aux communistes et à leur secrétaire national qui, selon le candidat, « ment » sur les raisons du blocage. Ce dernier, pour le coup, dément avoir rompu ces échanges et a appelé, hier, par médias interposés, à ce que « les négociations reprennent au plus vite. Pour une simple raison, a-t-il ajouté, c’est que l’enjeu des élections législatives, comme le dit lui-même Jean-Luc Mélenchon, c’est d’aller disputer une majorité qui n’est pas acquise aujourd’hui à Emmanuel Macron ».

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 11, 2017 at 10:23 am