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Britain’s New Lenin, Chris Williamson, Shocked by new Grayzone Revelations of “sinister plot” to “torpedo Jeremy Corbyn”.

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“Every cook has to learn how to govern the state”. Attributed Vladimir Lenin, Will the Bolsheviks Retain Government Power ? (1917) (1)

Britain’s Vanguard Leader has a busy schedule in the coming days.

Then there is this: Chris Williamson Former Labour MP for Derby North. Animal rights champion and creator of popular vegan croissants, is appearing at the Way Beyond the Fringe festival.

Programme includes:

You can’t say that! Racism, antisemitism, ID politics – are there limits to free speech? With Steve Walker, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Esther Giles and Chris Williamson

What future for the left? – Debating the way forward. With Lesley Mahmood, Dave Nellist, Steve Walker, Chris Williamson, Ian Hodson, Jackie Walker and special guests

We shall look with interest at what Williamson has to say about his new discovery:

This all hinges on the Renew Party (no, I had not heard of it either, unlike, say the anti-Corbyn, pro-Remain Change UK). * Claiming to lead an Emmanuel Macron style political re-allignment it was founded in 2017 and disappeared without trace in 2019.

Yet not without unseen, and so far unacknowledged, hidden, or perhaps occult? effects on British politics. Or so the sleuths of Grayzone can now reveal. Kitty has the lowdown on how “Renew eventually played a decisive but hitherto unacknowledged role in Corbyn’s downfall.” The Grayzone gumshoes have unearthed that, “a closer look at the origins of the campaign for a second referendum reveals a far more sinister plot.”

calls for a second referendum did not originate from the British grassroots, but rather from the obscure Renew. As this investigation will reveal, Renew was established by operatives with deep, cohering ties to Britain’s military and intelligence establishment, including a long-standing psychological warfare specialist.

Strangely, Corbyn and his advisors failed to consider whether those leading the push for a second referendum were truly motivated by their adoration for Brussels bureaucrats, but instead a determination to scupper Labour’s electoral prospects. 

Corbyn’s commitment to a second Brexit referendum should be regarded as one of the gravest political missteps in recent British political history. Rather than provide a popular alternative to the Conservative government’s floundering Brexit negotiation process, Labour aligned itself with a nascent, fringe political movement borne of the very elite British voters sought to reject

And they may have engaged in this act of willful political suicide with a quiet but concerted nudge from the intelligence services which saw Corbyn’s ascent as an existential threat.

That’s us lot from Another Europe is Possible well sorted!

There is a theory about why Williamson is obsessed with the historic importance and influence of an obscure micro-party, but I just can’t remember for the moment what it is.

Well-established rumour has it that when he takes charge of the Socialist Labour Party Williamson intends to create a new movement in honour of his hero, the Kibbo Kit, a camping, hiking and handicraft youth group with ambitions to bring world peace.

More inside revelations from Grayzone:

*2019 general election Renew Candidates.

ConstituencyCandidateVotes%
Bromley and ChislehurstJyoti Dialani1190.3[52]
Edinburgh North and LeithHeather Astbury1380.2[53]
Hackney North and Stoke NewingtonHaseeb Ur-Rehman1510.3[54]
Sefton CentralCarla Burns1370.3[55]

(1) The quote is a summary of this, “We are not utopians. We know that an unskilled labourer or a cook cannot immediately get on with the job of state administration. In this we agree with the Cadets, with Breshkovskaya, and with Tsereteli. We differ, however, from these citizens in that we demand an immediate break with the prejudiced view that only the rich, or officials chosen from rich families, are capable of administering the state, of performing the ordinary, everyday work of administration. We demand that training in the work of state administration be conducted by class-conscious workers and soldiers and that this training be begun at once, i.e., that a beginning be made at once in training all the working people, all the poor, for this work.

Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power. 1917.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2022 at 12:24 pm

International Solidarity with Iranian Protests after Murder of Mahsa Amini.

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At least 35 dead in eight nights of protests, Iran state media report.” Guardian.

Iranian Women at the Frontline of Change

By Aghileh Djafari Marbini, Hosnieh Djafari Marbini and Sue Lukes

(Aghileh is a Labour Party member and an Iranian political activist. Hosnieh is a Labour Councillor and her city’s migrant champion. Sue is a Labour Party and human rights activist.)

The unlawful death of Mahsa Amini is an example of the violence that prevails against the Iranian people and Iranian women in particular by their own government.

Mahsa and her brother were visiting family in Tehran but were from the city of Saqqez in the Kurdistan region. On September 13th, 22-year-old Mahsa was arrested by the Iranian regime’s notorious morality police because her headscarf was not sufficiently covering her hair. Mahsa’s brother was told she would be taken to a detention centre to undergo a ‘briefing class’ and released shortly afterwards. However, she arrived at Kasra Hospital shortly after and died on Friday September 16th, after being in a coma for three days. What happened between the arrest and her arrival at the hospital is not clear.

Read full article via link.

Fourth International:

Woman! Life! Freedom! (also on Anti Capitalist Resistance).

A SHORT REPORT ON IRAN’S CURRENT PROTESTS.

LAYA HOOSHYARI

In the years that the people of Iran have lived under the flag of tyranny of the Islamic Republic, they have faced all kinds of repressions and violence. With the inauguration of Ibrahim Raeesi as president in 2021, the executioner of the 1990s who led the murder of thousands of militant activists, including socialists and feminists, the level of repression has become even more than before.

Women, especially women of ethnic groups, religious minorities, the working class and urban poor, are among the groups that have experienced the greatest amount of oppression. Each of these groups is facing various economic, social and political crises, and at the same time, their very daily life is marked by resistance. Women are experiencing a myriad of oppressions, of which the mandatory hijab is one of the main forms.

….

What is the essence of the recent protests? One can find this in the slogans that have been used by the protesters around the country: Women! Life! Freedom! I will kill those who killed my sister! Death to the Dictator! (Islamic Republic) Emancipation is our right! Our power is our collectively! Bread! Work! Freedom! …

20 September 2022

While many on the left are already standing with the Iranian protesters, from (in the UK) Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP, the writers of the above article on Labour Hub, to groups like Anti-Capitalist Resistance and the AWL, other part of the left have difficulty in coming out in support for the women in in Iran. Gender theorists like Judith Butler, who has defended the veil as a form of ‘resistance’ and ‘agency’, those who claim that feminist opposition to the covering stems from “white saviour” colonialism are finding it hard to come to terms with the Iranian revolt. The British Socialist Workers Party, which has defended and continue to defend the hijab as a choice, and that “It’s really about the freedom of wearing it or not wearing it.” have the same difficulty.

How can they react to demonstrators who defy the head-covering, some of whom publicly burn the hijab? How can they explain that this is not about ‘choice’ but a religious legal system which imposes its rules on everybody, and has the claim to divine truth and the ambition to be a model for the whole world?

The problem remains: those who think ‘modest dress’, including covering the hair, though in some Islamic opinion the full body must be covered modestly, is not just a good thing, an option, but a religious duty, do not think it’s a ‘right to choose.’ but a duty before god. When they have a legal system to back their faith up in commands that originate from something unseen, whose words are transcribed in a book only believers hold as a guide to life, and they find that not everybody agrees to change their behaviour, how many will stand up for those with a different view?

]

Iran’s legal system and the morality police (gašt-e eršād)that enforce ‘modest dress’, are not individual choices. The are part of the foundation of the Islamic Republic. They are there to make Islamic Law and the Iranian system of Velayat-e faqih—or guardianship of the Islamic jurist— real. The compulsory hijab extends to non-Muslim women.

When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power some on the left, not least in Iran itself, argued for the need to stand in solidarity with the ‘anti-imperialist’ regime. The nature of that theocratic dictatorial state has long been settled, not least after its bloody crackdown on the left in 1998.

Between late July and September 1988, the Iranian authorities forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed thousands of prisoners for their political opinions and dumped their bodies in unmarked individual and mass graves. Minimum estimates put the death toll at around 5,000.

Since then, the authorities have tormented the relatives by refusing to tell them when, how and why their loved ones were killed and by keeping their remains hidden. To reinforce secrecy, they have also destroyed mass grave sites and forbidden commemorations.

By refusing to acknowledge the killings and fully disclose the fate and whereabouts of the victims, the authorities have committed the crime of enforced disappearance under international law.The anguish caused to families by this ongoing crime constitutes torture.

Update: London Protest:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2022 at 12:22 pm

This is Only the Beginning. The Making of a New Left, From Anti-Austerity to the Fall of Corbyn. Michael Chessum. An Internationalist Review.

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This is Only the Beginning. The Making of a New Left, From Anti-Austerity to the Fall of Corbyn. Michael Chessum. Bloomsbury.

(This review appears in the latest issue of Chartist Magazine No 318. September/October 2022)

It’s only a Beginning, Let us Continue the Combat. The title of Michael Chessum’s account of “how the left came back to life in the 2010s” echoes a celebrated declaration of the French Mouvement du 22 mars in 1968.  This account of the rise of a new left in British politics, from a leading figure in the anti-Brexit Another Europe is Possible (AEIP), is not a Court History of the Corbyn Project. It offers a valuable picture of the movements and “politics from below”, with conflicts and controversies, that propelled the left to leadership of the Labour Party.

Chessum came of political age after the 2008 financial crash during the student movement of 2010. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition had announced big rises in tuition fees, the abolition of maintenance allowances for 16- to 19-year-olds in England, and cuts. There were campus occupations and demonstrations, and a tumultuous occupation of the Tories’ Milbank HQ. Anger mixed with left politics. General Assemblies used “consensus decision making”. Critics in the Occupy! Movements would call it the “tyranny of the individual”. They argued that this model stifles democratic disagreement.

Students were amongst the first to react to politics of austerity. David Cameron and Nick Clegg extended their measures across the public sector. The Coalition of Resistance held a founding conference in 2010. This brought together community anti-cuts groups, many not just “broad non-sectarian and action-orientated” but co-ordinated by the pre ‘new social movement’ local bodies of the TUC, Trades Councils. When these campaigns took off with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in 2013, the small SWP breakaway Counterfire played a key role. Union support, from UNITE onwards, and backing from Labour councillors, gave the Assembly greater weight than loosely organised campaigns.

Were veterans of these social movements at the heart of the “Corbyn surge” of 2015? UNITE and other unions had encouraged anti-austerity activists to become “registered supporters” of the Labour Party. This boosted the numbers backing Jeremy Corbyn and many soon became full members. But the 59,5% victory came from the existing left, “keeping the flame alive” and, backing from a wider section of the party. A popular leader, plucked from the backbenches, who spoke at mass rallies across the country, offered the prospect of winning elections. Left social movements that supported Corbyn and campaigns like the People’s Assembly got involved. Many would say that this offered a better prospect for change than tents on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Aware of the hostility of the Parliamentary Party to this result, and recalling the weakness of previous lefts, Momentum launched as the grassroots wing of the Corbyn movement. Concern about the potential influence of left factions led founder Jon Lansman closing its structures to potential division. The machine and most MPs stayed hostile. The gulf that opened between the pro-Corbyn membership, and the apparatus led to “tub-thumping” loyalty, activists willing to defend the “leadership against its internal opponents at all costs.”  It “was all about Jeremy – expecting him to deliver everything that everybody wanted.” One could add that, unable to agree with this take, visible from the start, some on the left stayed away from Momentum.

This is Only the Beginning, speaks about Brexit. Momentum showed “relative apathy” during the 2016 Referendum, the Party leadership, despite formal commitment to Remain, and appearance at a few rallies, took “little interest in shaping a radical case against Brexit”. When Leave won it was an “inconvenience” to be worked around. Corbyn’s close advisers, Andrew Murray and Seamus Mine were pro-Leave. The left campaign for a People’s Vote, Another Europe is Possible (AEIP), which put forward a programme for a transformed EU, was a threat to the “iron discipline” of the Corbyn wing. The present book offers the insights of a AEIP activist intimately involved in the movement who attempted to bring its politics to bear on Labour policy. Successful motions on the issue to local parties and a left bloc on People’s Vote marches, met with hostility, including to Michael personally. At the 2019 Conference “speakers bellowed ‘back your leader’” The Leader decided on a “New Brexit deal” “a “credible Leave option” or Remain” to be put to popular vote.

The Brexit policy fudge neither appealed to the sovereigntist pro-Brexit wing, nor the internationalists of Another Europe, and failed to convince the voters. Michael Chessum argues that  Labour’s politics of bureaucracy and triangulation had won out over promises to democratise the party. The opposite of the social movement politics he engaged with this  stifling politics of top-down decision-making has grown worse under Keir Starmer,

It’s only a Beginning, concludes, that Labour needs to split, and to find a new way of doing politics. He floats the idea that this requires the end to the First Past the Post Electoral system. Does this mean yet another New left party? That reminds us that the radical left in France also had high hopes after the May events.

Andrew Coates.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Chris Williamson and his ‘Resist’ Movement Join Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party.

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“Lenin recognised the need for a vanguard political party — and I believe the SLP could fulfil that role.”

There are really serious things happening in the world, from Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invasion, to the fight for democracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Here in Britain we have the deeply depressing Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng budget today.

Sometimes you need a laugh.

Viz and PE have been overtaken by the Morning Star, the ‘People’s Daily’ independent of the Communist Party of Britain and run by the co-op.

It is time to back a new party in the elections

Announcing his intention to join the rival Socialist Labour Party established by Arthur Scargill in 1996, CHRIS WILLIAMSON argues that the time is now right to advocate a mass vote for parties that run against Starmer’s Labour from the left

“Britain’s democracy is a sham, but I believe the political vacuum could be filled by a rejuvenated Socialist Labour Party (SLP), the alternative party founded by Arthur Scargill in 1996.

I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me that what we need is “a socialist Labour Party.”

That is why Resist’s steering committee unanimously recommended to our members that we should join the SLP, and in a poll of Resist’s membership last month, 89 per cent voted in favour of the move.”

……

Britain’s most popular Vegan after Morrissey continues,

It is 110 years since Vladimir Lenin published his seminal pamphlet about the situation in tsarist Russia, What Is to Be Done.

We need to ask ourselves the same fundamental question — what is to be done in 21st-century Britain?”

NOTE, “Lenin’s work What Is To Be Done? was written at the end of 1901 and early in 1902. Published as a separate work in March 1902 ” (Hat tip GC).

Trade union militancy is also on the rise as a reaction to the cost-of-living catastrophe that has been facilitated by Nato’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

Lenin recognised the need for a vanguard political party — and I believe the SLP could fulfil that role.

Corbyn showed that there is an appetite for a socialist alternative and I think the SLP has the potential to mount a serious challenge to the political duopoly.

It won’t be easy of course. The first-past-the-post system favours the mainstream parties, but the political duopoly has been broken before — and it can be broken again.

More recent attempts by parties like Respect, Tusc, and the SLP for that matter, floundered because the timing wasn’t right.

my plea to all Morning Star readers is to join us in this endeavour to build the Socialist Labour Party into a serious electoral force.

You can join us in Liverpool this Sunday at the Liner Hotel, which is a minute’s walk from Lime Street Station, when we will be formally announcing our intention to join the SLP.

Before one says, je te pisse à la raie, most of us are already pissing ourselves laughing..

Socialist Labour Party Election Results.

Election year# of total votes% of overall vote# of seats won
1997[15]52,109 Increase0.2% IncreaseSteady
2001[16]57,288Increase0.2% IncreaseSteady
2005[17]20,167 Decrease0.1% DecreaseSteady
2010[18]7,196 Decrease0.0% DecreaseSteady
2015[19]3,481 Decrease0.0% SteadySteady
2017[19]1,154 Decrease0.0% SteadySteady
2019494 Decrease0.0% SteadySteady

In 2019 the SLP stood only one candidate, Kevin Cranney in Hartlepool. He got an encouraging 1,9% of the vote in the General Election that is 494 ballots, which stands up well to recent TUSC results..

The SLP leader, one Arthur Scargill, called a “would-be labour dictator” by his opponents such as the Weekly Worker lot, was not known in the past for his tolerance to any rival leadership or competing groups in his little band. They have an interesting history with Stalin Society stalwart Harpal Brar, on their executive in the early years of the new millenium, whose little band was booted out, formed the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in 2004, and whose members are now are the main cadres of George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain.

The Communist Party of Britain (Provisional Central Committee), of the Weekly Worker, publisher of another Arthur who writes on this Blog, were also in the SLP till the formation of the Socialist Alliance around the same time.

There is also the, sadly not widely known, tale of the SWP break-away, the Revolutionary Democratic Group, which, amongst other alliances, had been involved with Spiked’s forerunners, the RCP in the ‘Red Front’ and which passed some years inside the SLP as the ‘Republican Group’. Steve Freeman’s League Against the Corn Laws/Republican Socialist Party may well still be around.

Whether the SLP micro party has changed, Scargill is 84 years old, remains to be seen.

Nothing as yet on the ‘Resist Movement’ tip-top site, whose ‘latest news’ dates to 2021.

Resist Movement latest news

But those who’d like a further laugh will soon be able to treat themselves here:

Resist announces their intentions to join the Socialist Labour Party

1 waiting Scheduled for 25 Sept 2022

This Sunday(25th Sept) in Liverpool at The Liner Hotel, Resist will be announcing their intentions to join the Socialist Labour Party, as a real alternative to mainstream UK political parties.

Seasoned observers note that Resist had got caught up in the gender wars…

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2022 at 10:52 am

Russian Protests Against Ukrainian War Escalation Erupt. Left Stands in Solidarity while Stop the War Coalition is Silent.

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In his just published L’épreuve et la contreépreuveDe la Yougoslavie à l’Ukraine the French journalist and veteran left-winger Edwy Plenel begins his defence of internationalism, “Un nouvel impérialisme menace la paix du monde, et il est russe.” The reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine forces us to look at this straight in the eye.

One of the founders and mainstays of Mediapart, he dubs this an “imperialism of revenge”, born of the resentment of nations who have lost their leading place in the world and who turn their wounds into aggression against other peoples and states. It is equally driven by a mission, to defend a conservative and identitarian world-vision, an alternative to Western decadence. Russia is also a nuclear power, run by a man and his clan of oligarchs, which has swung from authoritarianism to dictatorship. In the present international balance of power, Plenel, who began his career in the 1970s working for the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire paper, Rouge, declares, countering Russian aggression means having to deal with NATO (“composer avec OTAN” Page 37).

L’épreuve et la contreépreuve merits its own review. But for the moment these lines offer some clear lines of thought: Russia invaded Ukraine. Internationalists should oppose it root and branch. As Plenel says on Mediapart, (En défense de l’internationalisme 12th of September).

Being in solidarity without conditions or reservations with the resistance of the Ukrainian people to the Russian invasion does not prevent us from fighting the disasters for which the powers that support Ukraine militarily, the United States in the first place, are responsible. But these disasters can never justify abandoning the Ukrainian people today to be under the yoke of Putin’s Russia, just as the Syrian people were left under the boot of the Assad dictatorship.

“Il faut aider l’Ukraine, y compris militairement, dans l’espoir de mettre fin aux ambitions de l’impérialisme Russe.” (Page 106) Ukraine must be helped, including militarily, in the hope of putting an end to the ambitions of Russian imperialism.

Putin faces domestic opposition:

Pleney’s views, in outline, are widely shared on the European left.

The National Union of Miners has submitted this motion to the Labour Party Conference:

Motion Title: Ukraine
Motion ID: 1287
Conference notes:

  1. That Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to tens of thousands of deaths; nine million fleeing Ukraine and ten million internally displaced; horrendous war crimes and human rights abuses by Russian forces.
    Conference believes:
  2. That Russia’s war, waged by a power that oppressed Ukraine for centuries, is unjustified, unprovoked imperialist aggression.
  3. For the sake of democracy and resisting growing authoritarian tendencies globally, Ukraine must win.
  4. That Western governments have not yet given Ukrainians sufficient weapons to liberate their country and bring peace to Ukraine.
    Conference condemns all who would seek to exploit the cost-of-living crisis to undermine support for Ukraine.
    Conference resolves:
    To declare solidarity with the people of Ukraine and their labour movement who are resisting the invasion.
  5. That Labour will campaign for:
    a. A free united Ukraine, with any peace deal determined by the people of Ukraine.
    b. Increased military aid necessary to enable Ukrainians to free their country, including modern tanks, aircraft and artillery.
    c. Justice for victims of war crimes, including POWs killed.
    d. Lifting of restrictions on refugees fleeing Ukraine.
    e. A socially progressive reconstruction in which trade unions and civil society are properly recognised and can democratically participate.
  6. That the party will also:
    a. Promote Ukrainian trade union fundraising appeals for aid
    b. Encourage CLPs to invite Ukrainian labour movement speakers.
    c. Call a National Day of Action, ‘Labour Supports Ukrai

There are those who take a different view.

On the Stop the War Coalition’s site Chris Nineham, Vice-Chair of the Stop the War Coalition, author of Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukács and supporter of the revolutionary Marxist group, Counterfire, has not been silent.

For those who wish to see why the marginalisation of the Stop the War Coalition has happened there is no better place to start than here.

THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT MAKES CLEAR THAT WE ARE NEARER TO GREAT POWER NUCLEAR CONFRONTATION THAN AT ANY TIME FOR GENERATIONS.

 

Never Lose Sight of Western Responsibility.

Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a new mobilisation of reservists and his statement that Russia is prepared to use ‘various means of destruction’ if Russia is threatened, marks an alarming new escalation in the terrible war in Ukraine and must be condemned. It makes chillingly clear once again that we are nearer to great power nuclear confrontation than at any time for generations.

It is without doubt a recognition of major military setbacks for Russia as the Ukrainian’s autumn offensive has forced Russia into humiliating retreats, particularly in the north of the country.

It also shows in the starkest possible way that the current Western strategy of backing the Ukrainian army by pumping vast amounts of weapons into the country, huge numbers of troops into the region and by economically isolating Russia is inflaming the war and risking further catastrophe.

Never Forget The Cost of Living Crisis:

Truss has been leading the calls for increased military spending across the NATO alliance to pay for a Western war against authoritarianism, “The free world needs this economic strength and resilience to push back against authoritarian aggression and win this new era”. She has launched a new review of British foreign policy and committed Britain to spending a record 3% of GDP on defence – more than any other European country – till the end of the decade. This of course at a time when many people will be facing the prospect of not being able to heat their homes or feed themselves this winter.

Never Forget Ordinary People.

Ordinary people in Ukraine, Russia and the wider region cannot possibly benefit from this dreadful conflict. Whether the war grinds on for months or years more or whether it suddenly flares up into a terrifying wider confrontation, it will be they who suffer most.

But this war is blighting the lives of millions around the globe. It has caused life threatening food shortages in countries across the global south. It is a major contributory factor to the inflationary crisis we are all facing. Now once again politicians and commentators are nonchalantly discussing in the media the possibilities it raises of nuclear conflagration.

It is up to all of us to do everything to try and end this madness and to challenge the idea that there can be any winners in this war.

,

Socialist Worker gives their outline on the debate about Ukraine at Labour’s Conference.

Left wing MPs earlier this year withdrew support for a Stop the War Coalition statement opposing Western involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Now the right are confident that they can pass a motion supporting the West’s Nato military alliance in Ukraine. Another motion by the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign calls for the West to escalate the war by pouring in more weapons.

Meanwhile no left wing ­organisation is proposing any anti‑war motion. And no Labour MP is speaking at Stop the War’s annual conference fringe meeting.

This the Stop the War at Conference:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 22, 2022 at 11:40 am

The Murder of Mahsa Amini: Protests Against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Iranian women shave heads and burn hijabs on TikTok to protest death of Mahsa Amini

“The public anger that erupted over her death has seen an outbreak of political unrest in Iran, with protests reported in Tehran, Qazvin, Arak, Mashhad, and several other cities.

Women who are unable to take part in the protests have turned to TikTok to express their outrage at Amini’s death, with the hashtag #mahsaamini receiving more than 66m views at the time of writing.

A number of videos show Iranian women cutting their hair or the bottom of their hijabs in solidarity with Amini, who was punished under the Islamic republic’s strict dress code that demands women wear headscarves in public.”

Some of the protests can be seen here.

Solidarity:

Le Monde: Iran demonstrations once again reveal a regime removed from its people

EDITORIAL

Triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, the courageous protests by Iranians demonstrate that they are a people subject to a political position they do not support.

Once again, the Iranian regime has been caught off-guard by demonstrations. Once again, it is responding to them in the only way it seems to know how: brute force. It all started with the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in Tehran on Friday, 16 September, three days after her arrest by the “morality police” – the sinister Gasht-e Ershad. The reason was her veil, which must be worn in Iran, and which they say she was wearing in a way that was inappropriate.

After decades of arbitrariness, the word of the authorities – who denied any “physical contact” between the police and the young woman – did not convince anyone. No autopsy has been performed. Many Iranians, most of them young, responded as they do when frustration peaks: They took to the streets.

Elected in 2021 – in a process controlled from start to finish by this military-religious regime which tolerates as “opposition” only that which it chooses itself – the ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raissi made his position clear with an announcement in July. As Iran sinks once again into economic stagnation, largely due to international sanctions linked to its nuclear ambitions, Mr. Raissi said it was necessary to take “preventative measures” to stop “the enemies of Iran and Islam” from harming “the values and religious foundations of society.”

This was a brutal step backwards after the relative leniency of his predecessor, Hassan Rohani, during his term in office. In 2018, Mr. Rohani disavowed the police force which is today incriminated, reproaching them for an “aggressiveness” highlighted by a widely shared video in which three of its members violently attacked a woman accused of wearing her headscarf in a manner deemed “indecent”.

After Mr. Raissi’s remarks in July, another video spread on social media. It showed a mother trying in vain to prevent the arrest of her daughter by the morality police. Under pressure, the authorities admitted to an overzealous approach. In the face of the public reaction to Ms. Amini’s death, some dignitaries once again deplored the methods used.

In addition to displaying the courage of ordinary Iranians who defy security forces known for their brutality, the latest demonstrations once again reveal a regime removed from its people, entirely focused on its own survival – and a people without freely elected representatives, who are subject to political positions they do not support.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Breakthrough Party Breaks Up.

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The Breakthrough Party, founded in January 2021, is one of the left-wing micro-parties that have been formed in recent years, a list which includes the Nippers (NIP, Northern Independence Party), Chris Williamson’s (elusive) Resistance Movement, and joins older organisations such as Left Unity, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Party led Trade Union and Socialist Coalition in the list of groups who have stood candidates against the Labour Party in elections. * Breakthrough has a number of councillors, 8 – defectors from Labour – at a District, Town and Parish level.

The ideas of the Breakthrough Party are mainstream democratic socialist. They are part of the wider left and labour movement, although organised separately they have limited reach and influence.

Wikipedia entry (not up to date).

This is frankly odd:

*The George Galloway led Workers Party of Britain is widely regarded as ‘red-brown’ and not left wing.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2022 at 6:53 pm

German Left Party, Die Linke, Splitting over Ukraine.

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Wagenknecht: Ukraine wants to drag NATO more and more into the War.

Only a few years ago Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen was being compared to ‘left populist’ movements like La France insoumise and groups such as Britain’s Momentum. In 2018 Goran Therborn, noting that we live in an “era of loosely structured movements that mobilize through social media and on the streets”. Hedging his bets over its future, the Swedish sociologist called it “an ecumenical rallying force, embracing left-wing social democrats, Greens and Left Party supporters. ” (New Left Review. 113. The Twilight of Swedish Social Democracy.) Also in 2018, noting her hostility to refugees, the US populist Jacobin carried an informative piece, “Last year, both Wagenknecht and her partner and political ally Oskar Lafontaine began publicly discussing the need for a broad, left-populist formation to counter the rise of the Right and cohere a center-left majority in German politics capable of shifting the balance of forces in parliament. ” It added that New Left Review pillar and supporter of the Full Brexit red-brown front, Wolfgang Streeck was a backer. (Standing Up to Merkel.)

There is a large vault of material in German on the influence of the theorist of left populism, Chantal Mouffe on Aufstehen. This is in English, Aufstehen, Germany’s imperfect if promising new Left Populism Rufus Pickles. 2019.

Aufstehen founders hope to emulate the success of other left-populist movements across Western Europe like Britain’s Momentum, France’s La France Insoumise and ‘gilet-jaunes’ street protesters. To understand Aufstehen’s political project one must delve into the ideological roots of Europe’s new left. They take much inspiration from the Belgian post-Marxist philosopher Chantal Mouffe..

The issue of immigration came to the fore in Aufstehen. It took a hostile stand seeing it as part of ‘neoliberal globalisation’ similar to the British Blue Labour, and Full Brexit Stalwart, Paul Embery. They questioned Germany’s asylum policies. By 2020 Wagenknecht’s claims to ‘tackle’ and control immigration was internationally notorious enough to feature in Pierre Rosenvallon’s Le Siècle du Populisme. The French political sociologist mentioned that she had was concentrating less on party activity in Die Linke as she began a media career. A book attacking left liberalism, “Die Selbstgerechten” (“The Self-Righteous”), is one result, whose title indicates more parallels with those who think it is right to “hate” “the liberal left”.

Breaking with this Blog’s tradition we cite this review in the ‘Northite’ WWSN,

Die Selbstgerechten (“The Self-Righteous”), the latest book by Sahra Wagenknecht, is a völkisch-nationalist diatribe. Wagenknecht, a leading member of the Left Party, venomously fulminates against cosmopolitanism and cultural openness while promoting protectionism and a strong state. She denounces migrants and refugees as wage depressors, strikebreakers, and foreign cultural elements, and seeks to drive a wedge between working people who have a university degree and those who do not. There are paragraphs in the book that can also be found almost verbatim in texts of the far-right AfD and the Nazis.

The nationalist diatribe of a Left Party leader— a review of the new book by Sahra Wagenknecht. Peter Swartz.

Not much has been heard of Aufstehen recently, in 2021 Der Spiegel carried a story saying it had massively lost influence and “failed” (gescheitert). They already threatened to create a new party (Wagenknecht-Lager droht mit Gründung neuer Partei)

Now Wagenknecht is back in the news.

Germany’s Die Linke on verge of split over sanctions on Russia.

Germany’s Die Linke could split into two parties over the Ukraine war, as the ailing leftwing party’s indecisive stance over economic sanctions against Russia triggered a series of high-profile resignations this week.

after a week of vicious public in-fighting over a speech in which the former co-leader Sahra Wagenknecht accused the German government of “launching an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier”.

Supporters of Wagenknecht, a controversial but prominent figurehead, are already hatching plans for a breakaway party to compete in the 2024 European elections, the German newspaper Taz reported this week.

Such a split would be likely to spell the end of Die Linke, 15 years after it was founded in a merger between the successor to East Germany’s Socialist Unity party and former Social Democrats disillusioned by their party’s direction under Gerhard Schröder, and just under a decade after it formed the largest opposition force in the Bundestag’s 2013-17 term.

In her speech last Thursday, Wagenknecht had called chancellor Olaf Scholz’s left-leaning governing coalition “the stupidest government in Europe” because it imposed sanctions on Russia, which supplied over half of Germany’s gas needs before the start of the war in the spring.

“Yes, of course the war in Ukraine is a crime”, Wagenknecht said. “But how dumb is the idea that we can punish Putin by pushing millions of German families into poverty and destroy our economy while Gazprom makes record profits?” The speech was greeted with applause not only by the Linke leadership but also by delegates of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

Wagenknecht no longer holds any official positions in Die Linke, but was nominated to be its sole speaker in the recent parliamentary session on the national climate budget.

Wagenknecht’s friends in the Morning Star have been impressed with this action.

While the movement-oriented Bewegungslinke dominates Die Linke’s leadership, the Wagenknecht faction continues to grab headlines, most recently by calling for a revival of cold war-era “Monday demonstrations” in protest against rising energy prices. With the party’s parliamentary status in a fine balance, there have until now been few attempts to rock the boat by seeking an open conflict.

They are even more impressed with her anti-sanctions stand:

The party as a whole is in an impasse.

..draining of support is reflected at a grassroot level. According to internal party figures seen by the Guardian, Die Linke has lost more than 3,000 members – or 5.5% of its total membership –in the first half of this year.

After gaining 4.9% of the vote at federal elections last September, the leftwing party has failed to make it over the electoral threshold at five consecutive state elections.

Taz, the Geerman daily sometimes compared to Libération carried this report on the turbulence in Die Linke and the resignation of MP Ulrich Schneider a few days ago:

Der Letzte macht das Licht aus (The last one leaving -please- put out the lights).

Anlass für Schneiders Austritt ist der unsägliche Auftritt von Sahra Wagenknecht am vergangenen Donnerstag im Bundestag, bei dem sie in einer vor Nationalismus triefenden Rede behauptet hatte, die Bundesregierung habe einen Wirtschaftskrieg gegen Russland „vom Zaun“ gebrochen. Was sie dort vom Stapel gelassen habe, sei zu viel für ihn gewesen, twitterte Schneider am Montagabend.

The reason for Schneider’s resignation is Sahra Wagenknecht’s indescribable appearance in the Bundestag last Thursday , during which she claimed in a speech oozing with nationalism that the federal government had launched an economic war against Russia “picking a quarrel”. What she put forward there was too much for him, Schneider tweeted on Monday evening.

Back to the WSWS:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2022 at 12:01 pm

La France insoumise and “L’affaire Adrien Quatennens”. 

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Mélenchon top-ally ‘steps back’ from party leadership role, admitting to having slapped wife.

Adrien Quaterness is a MP for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s ‘mouvement’ La France insoumise, LFI (created in 2016), a member of his inner-core Parti de gauche (since 2013), and was, until now, the ‘co-ordinator’ (Coordinateur de l’équipe opérationnelle) of LFI. Since 2017 he has been MP for a constituency in the North of France, winning in the second round by 65,24% against 34,26% an opponent from Emmanuel Macron’s party. Thirty-two years old, Quaterness has been seen as a rising star in the left group, which has 75 deputies, and is part of the NUPES bloc (151 MPs). He is widely said to be effective, respected and liked. It was speculated that the author of  Génération Mélenchon (2021) might one day succeed the present head of LFI in the leading role.

Le Monde: Mélenchon deputy ‘steps back’ from party leadership role, admitting to having slapped wife.

Adrien Quatennens announced on Sunday, September 18, that he was stepping down from his position as “coordinator” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party La France Insoumise (LFI). The move comes after weekly newspaper Le Canard enchaîné revealed his wife had a made a statement to police after a domestic dispute, without formally filing a complaint. “I am stepping back my position as coordinator of La France Insoumise to protect the movement, its activists and all those who rely heavily on me,” he explained in a statement published on Twitter.

Quatennens’s wife,  Céline, made a statement to the police in a form which has a particular judicial status in France. She put in “une main courante”, a formal declaration about something of which you have been the witness or have experienced.

His letter comes days after Le Canard enchaîné published an article revealing that his wife Céline Quatennens had made the statement to police. In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Quatennens couple had asked for “respect” for their “private life” after the revelation.

As signaled above, a “main courante” is more than just telling the local police about something you say has happened. Today Libération reports that the Lille Parquet concerned, the equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, had, in line with their policy of investigating cases of domestic violence, decided to take the case further and launch an enquiry. Their policy includes informing an association which helps the victims of such abuse. (Affaire Quatennens: le parquet de Lille confirme l’ouverture d’une enquête)

Elsewhere Le Monde notes that this “comes a few weeks after two other cases…In May, journalist and activist Taha Bouhafs withdrew his candidacy for the legislative elections after reports of sexual assault to LFI’s internal committee for monitoring gender-based and sexual violence. Mr. Bouhafs criticised La France insoumise for “the absence of a fair and equitable procedure” and for not knowing the facts of which he is accused.” “The other case is that of Eric Coquerel, targeted by an investigation by the Paris prosecutor’s office in early July, for sexual harassment and assault – the facts of which the deputy of Seine-Saint-Denis, also a leading figure of LFI, fiercely denies..”

Unusually the Affaire Quatennens is now in the Guardian.

Dismay after French politicians defend MP who admitted slapping wife

“Wife of Adrien Quatennens, a senior politician in radical left LFI party, reported him to police.”

In a statement on Sunday, Quatennens said his wife had not intended to bring legal action or speak to the media. He added that he had no idea what was in his wife’s declaration but that she had wanted to “leave a trace of our arguments”.

He admitted the couple’s relationship had become “strained” and they were planning to divorce after 13 years together. He said that in one argument he had “seized her wrist” and had taken her mobile phone.

“To get it back, she jumped on my back. I got away and in getting away she hit her elbow,” he wrote. He described an earlier dispute in which “in a context of extreme tension and mutual aggression, I slapped her … I profoundly regret this action and I have said sorry many times”.

Quatennens announced he was withdrawing from his role as LFI coordinator.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a presidential candidate earlier this year for LFI, praised Quatennens for his “dignity and courage” and blamed the police, “media voyeurism”, and social media for intruding on the crumbling marriage. Another LFI MP, Sophia Chikirou, praised Quatennens for his “honesty and self-sacrifice” and called on people to “leave them [the couple] alone”.

Their support was immediately condemned by women’s groups. Anne-Cécile Mailfert, the president of the Fondation des Femmes (Women’s Foundation) said Mélenchon needed to educate himself about marital violence. “It’s not a conflict, it’s violence,” she wrote.

Caroline de Haas, of the feminist movement Nous Toutes (All of Us), wrote: “The violence at the heart of a couple is unacceptable, whatever conflicts are present … I send all my support to women victims everywhere in the world.”

This is the official statement from Quatennens:

Women from La France insoumise have given their own response, which is much better than Mélenchon’s:

Before this goes further it has been noted that nobody, apart from the partner of the MP, Céline, the police and judicial authorities, knows the details of the declaration she made. Nor are all of the political rivals of La France insoumise in a position to give lessons in this area.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2022 at 4:48 pm

Former Leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi, Pays Tribute to the Queen.

with 6 comments

We publish an extract from this moving, and humble, tribute.

The queen’s service to history Frank Furedi.

Elizabeth II gave Britons a connection to a past they could be proud of.

Queen Elizabeth II, in Britain at least, came to embody this sense of historical continuity. As Britain’s longest serving monarch, she successfully personified the connection between the nation’s past and present. In doing so, she came to play the role of a countercultural monarch. Her values and her behaviour reminded British society of a very different world to the one being promoted by the media and other cultural institutions. In some ways, this was the source of her popularity and moral authority. She made people feel good about who they were and instilled pride about the British way of life.

The author of Colonial Wars and the Politics of Third World Nationalism, (1994) which ” examines Britain’s colonial wars in Malaysia, Kenya and Guyana within the wider framework of imperial politics” continues,  

Despite her refusal to play the celebrity game or ‘modernise’ her behaviour and image, she continued to successfully symbolise the British nation. At a time when Britain’s elites wilfully alienated themselves from the nation’s past, Elizabeth stood apart. Through her words and behaviour, she never let people forget that, on balance, Britain’s historical achievements should be seen as a source of pride.

This was a remarkable achievement. In a world in which Britishness has become a constant target of anti-patriotic ideologues, she steadfastly affirmed it as something of which we can be proud. Almost single-handedly, this historical queen ensured that the thread that connects Britain to its past remains intact. She will be missed.

A contribution to the History of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its transformation into Spiked.

Meanwhile something stirs in Brixton:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Douglas Murray and the New York Times’s ‘Jihad’ against the UK and Queen Elizabeth.

with 8 comments

The New York Times is not my “paper of record”. I scarcely read it. I stir, occasionally, from preparing the day’s mutton and gruel, to look, through the dense fog that drifts from the river Orwell, at the Guardian, Le Monde, the East Anglian Daily Times, the Ipswich Star, the ‘I’, Libération, El País, and, when the PCF puts it through my letter-box, L’Humanité.

But, writing in the pages of New York’s rival to the Ipswich Star, the New York Post, Douglas Murray, says,

That is what they have done in recent years about my own country of birth — Great Britain. The cause seems to be that in 2016 the British public failed to take the advice of the NYT and had the cheek to vote for Brexit. Since then the paper has carried out a jihad against Britain. For six years they have been running hit-jobs on the country.

One can forgive the chap’s infelicitous style, “my own country of birth” – as opposed to one’s own country of residence? One’s own country?

Let us set this aside. This, if distant, parturition, is an honour for which not only should the United Kingdom be grateful but which ought to be recognised in the purlieus of the ‘Center of the Universe’ .

A “daily diet of malcontents” is rendering Murray’s life intolerable. The New York Times has carried stories, “attacking the Queen for the Empire, colonialism and even slavery.”

Scholar, with a degree from Oxbridge University, and gentleman, though Murray be, he has yet to master the Oxford Comma. Corrected this reads, “the Empire, colonialism, and even slavery”.

Murray’s latest book-length philippic is titled,The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason (2022). It is an identitarian rant in defence of the Occident that would not be out of place on the book-shelves of Éric Zemmour.

Murray’s battlefields range from the National Trust, statues, Western Holy Places, Museums, Schools, the American centred Black Lives Matter movement, and academic and educational institutions, also centred on the USA though with some nods to domestic haunts. Now he has centred his counter-offensive back on the USA.

Why anybody who is a devoted Monarchist should care about what columnists in the New York Times say when they can behold the emotion of the Queue, and the affection felt for Queen Elizabeth is beyond the ken of many of us domestic republicans, quiet, and not so quiet.

The British Monarchy was the head, titular, of the British Empire. Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. Why should people not learn about the wrongs of imperialism, beginning with the British Empire, of the injustice and exploitation of colonialism and the nationally, racially or religious based oppression of empires, from the Romans, to amongst others, the British, French, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and Ottoman, and resistance to them, from African anti-colonial struggles, the South Asian fight against the British Empire, the Spanish-American wars of independence, the anti-imperialist wars in Indo-China, including Vietnam, the to the fight to free lands under the boot of Istanbul. Or indeed about the history of Stalinist rule from Moscow which has been compared to imperialism (Victor Serge, Le nouvel impérialisme russe. 1947). Including the USA’s history of slavery, genocide and the war in Vietnam.

If the US paper wants to bring up the British Empire that’s fine by me. I only wish they would be fighting something more significant than the battles of the day before yesterday.

Now, when it comes to Enoch Powell I find the NYT is offering thinner gruel,

New York Times compares Liz Truss to notorious Enoch Powell

The New York Times published an opinion piece comparing Ms Truss’s economic policies, ‘hard-line’ stance on immigration and supposed nostalgia for the British Empire to that of Enoch Powell.

Mr Powell, who was the MP for Wolverhampton South West for 24 years, is infamous for his ‘rivers of blood’ tirade, in which he said immigration would lead to ‘the black man [having] the whip hand over the white man’.

His prediction of a ‘bloody race war’ and call for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants eventually saw him kicked out of the shadow cabinet in 1968.

Ms Truss was dubbed ‘heir to this tradition of thinking’ by the article’s London-based author, Kojo Koram who is a lecturer at Birkbeck College.

He said Ms Truss’s promise to increase the country’s border force by 20% and her support of the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was an example of this mentality.

But the biggest comparison Mr Koram drew was over the two politicians’ views on how to run Britain’s finances, specifically their shared belief in the ‘miraculous power of tax cuts’.

Lily livered stuff.

Paul Foot’s seminal book on Enoch Powell The Rise of Enoch Powell: An Examination of Enoch Powell’s Attitude to Immigration and Race, (1969) has this poem by the former MP in it,

I hate the ugly, hate the old

I hate the lame and weak,

But more than all I hate the dead

That lie so still in their earthen bed

And never dare to rise.

A later article: Paul Foot Beyond the Powell (1998).

Everyone who wrote about him was certain of one thing: Enoch Powell was not a racist. He ‘said things we didn’t agree with’ (Tony Blair). He was ‘an extreme nationalist, but not a racialist’ (Denis Healey). He inspired racialists ‘but was not a racialist himself’ (Tony Benn). The Tory papers which revered him and called for parliament to be prorogued in his memory would not contemplate the possibility that he was a racialist. The unanimity was complete. Which is all very odd because the most important thing by far about Enoch Powell was that he was a racist pig of the most despicable variety.

The point is easily proved. In a private speech to lobby correspondents some years before he started speaking in public on immigration, he said, ‘Often when I am kneeling down in church I think to myself how much we should thank god, the holy ghost, for the gift of capitalism.’ Powell believed in capitalism just as a religious nut believes in the holy ghost. When fighting elections in Wolverhampton he would spell out the ‘simple choice’ between ‘free enterprise and a planned society’. He gloried in what he called the symmetry of capitalism. Ponderously, with a deliberate form of speech which many mistook for careful thought, he explained how the market drove and inspired the capitalist economy to ever higher summits of perfection. There was only one condition: that capital should be left to find its own place and its own direction.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2022 at 5:57 pm

Piers Corbyn and David Icke at World Wide Rally for Freedom.

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Piers Corbyn: Still Going On About It.

Anti-Vaxxers and Anti-Lockdown conspiracists are thought by most of us to be history, figures in novels or documentaries about Covid. Or classed as strange-but-true click-bait on the MSM.

Did they ever have an impact? The anti-vaxx movement in the US is said to have influenced the Trump right the point where it features inside the Republican Party, which of course is not a national ‘party’ in the European sense but based on state caucuses. In France and other countries there are hard right parties, like Germany’s AFD, Alternative für Deutschland, which has electoral weight, and Florian Philippot’s Les Patriotes, which has none, that have taken up the anti-Lockdown cause. The hardest anti-Lockdown candidate for the London Mayor, Piers Corbyn, standing for Let London Live, got 20,604 votes in 2021, 08%. He was beaten by Count Binface, 24,775, 1% but did better than the Climate activist Valerie Brown of Burning Pink who got 5,305, 0,2%. There is the UK ‘Freedom Alliance’ Party, “to provide real opposition to the state’s Covid narrative”. They “have stood 160 candidates for election across Britain” – Council and Parish Council included. They have had no success. It is miniscule.

They certainly have left a legacy in series, films and books. Above all their own material, “The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19″, “Hold Up” and “Plandemic: Indoctornation”. There are pandemic novels, and ones which touch on it. I mean to read, at some point, Isabel Allende’s Violetta “Spanning the century between the Spanish flu and coronavirus pandemics”.

Far-right presence in the health and climate crisis is part of the backdrop of the French Les Derniers Jours des fauves (2022). Jérôme Leroy adds an Extinction Rebellion lookalike, les Bonobos effondrés, to his alternative history thriller, which includes a revived Gilets Jaunes movement, bombings, shootings and riots. It centres on a woman Emmanuel Macron, Nathalie Séchard, Présidente, leader of of the party, Nouvelle Société (NS..like Emmanuel Macron, En Marche, EM) swept up in forces that eat into her support and power. The book is an uchronia but it’s rooted in the present,  

Author Leroy, who is a card-carrying member of the French Communists, the PCF, and opposed to the extreme right, got the summer drought right in this entertaining tour-de-force. But for moment history has not followed fiction. There been no social breakdown. Nor has a Man of Destiny emerged that looks likely to take power amid chaos, in Paris, or elsewhere.

Out on the fringes, where New Age meets ‘libertarian’ Right, not to mention fascism, the efforts of the anti-lockdown movement in France, and across the world, seem not only bootless but unnoticed and unheard.

But they have not gone away.

To be more precise, Piers Corbyn has not gone away.

World Wide Rally for Freedom

  • Freedom of Speech.
  • Freedom of Movement.
  • Freedom of Choice.
  • Freedom of Assembly.
  • Freedom of Health.

Lockdowns and border closures have taken lives to increased suicide rates, and destroyed Livelihoods, causing financial ruin.

No population should ever again be subjected to Ubiquitous Public Incarceration.

Excessive Coronavirus Restrictions measures must come to an end, and all state of emergency declarations enabling these measures must be repealed.

Tyrannical suppression of dissenting voices must be stopped, and peaceful citizen assembly must be respected by police forces, instead of being violently crushed.

We have had our bodily autonomy violated by mask mandates, restricting our ability to breath and speak freely. All mask mandates must end.

Plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations, enforced by Totalitarian Vaccine Passports, are being rolled out internationally.

And so it goes, till we come across this effort at creating a Confusionist Front with the people for completely different reasons who back the Trade Union led Enough is Enough Movement.

An International Freedom Movement is emerging that is building alternatives to established power structures, and ways of living.

People are choosing to leave densely populated areas, and forming new communities where they can more effectively govern themselves.

People around the world are saying “Enough Is Enough” and are refusing to comply with overbearing restrictions, and helping others to gain the confidence to begin their journey of non-compliance.

Those attending include:

ARTS & ACTS

Corbyn has been busy elsewhere:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2022 at 5:42 pm

Mahsa Amini: Murdered by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Morality Police.

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Protests break out in Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini dies following morality police arrest

Over the past few months, Iranian rights activists have urged women to publicly remove their veils in an act of defiance. The gesture can lead to women being arrested for defying the Islamic dress code.

Mahsa Amini fell into a coma while in custody in Tehran after being arrested by officers enforcing the country’s strict hijab rules.

Police said the 22-year-old was taken to hospital after she allegedly had a heart attack.

Pro-reform news websites quoted an uncle of Ms Amini as saying she had no history of heart disease.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has asked for the cause of the incident to be investigated with “urgency and special attention”, state media has reported.

The Centre for Human Rights in Iran said Ms Amini had been visiting her family in the capital when she was arrested on Tuesday for her “alleged inappropriate hijab”.

“Her family was told that she was being taken for ‘re-education’ and would be released later that night,” the organisation said.

“Under Iran’s sharia (Islamic) law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators face public rebuke, fines or arrest.” France 24.

Iran is an Islamic Republic. Article 2 of the constitution the Islamic Republic states that the Republic “is a system based on belief in … the One God … His exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate”. It is ruled by Islamic Law, in this case the decrees passed by the government (no non-Muslim can be a supreme legislator) and inspired by the Shia concept of “of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist)”.

Arash Azizi in The Shadow Commander (2020) explained what this means.“Iran’s ruling doctrine Welayat al-Faqih (as he transcribes the term) or ‘guardianship of the jurist’ could only work in a Shia-majority society. The key article of faith transfers all political and religious authority to the Shia clergy and makes all of the state’s key decisions subject to approval by a supreme clerical leader, the vali-e faqih (guardian Islamic jurist). Azi argued that with this structure, Iran has not created an “attractive model of Islamist politics and economics to offer the world” (ibid) It is essentially a “Shia theocracy”.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2022 at 11:26 am

Skwawkbox Falls Out with UNITE the Union.

with 6 comments

We had lost track of Skwawkbox. We assumed he would still be informing his readers of the doings of dreadful Dempsey, or amongst things useful to mankind, to acquaint them therewith, of his coming appearance at the Way Beyond the Fringe event outside the Labour Party Conference. Or calling the Labour Party a heap of vice and absurdity. Perhaps discoursing on His Majesty’s right and title, and the Protestant succession to those dominions.

Yet, keeping up on intelligence from the town (‘S.C‘), we learn that a new turn has befallen the Busy Body who pens the journal of reference for all things radical and trade unions.

There is nothing that can give a man of any consideration greater pain, than to see order and distinction laid aside: Skwawkbox has tussled with his quondam ally, and benefactor, UNITE the Union. *

The smart fellow refuses to let us see his electronic chirrups – “You’re blocked” – but perseverance reveals the cause of the quarrel.

A case, an Ogle, a Brendan Ogle….

Unite threatens legal action against Skwawkbox for reporting abuse allegations.

A Unite spokesperson said: “Over recent months Skwawkbox has made a series of false allegations against Unite, for reasons they are well aware of. Accordingly, Unite has now started legal action to deal with this. Skwawkbox has faced legal proceedings previously for similar unfounded allegations.”

Steve Walker continues,

Skwawkbox’s output regarding Unite ‘over recent months’ primarily consists of articles supporting Unite members against bad employers, or against betrayals by the Labour party’s right-wing leadership. In the last month, the site has had to cover a number of items concerning either Sharon Graham personally – an analysis of critical comments by Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), which had backed Ms Graham in the Unite general secretary election, and reports that she had banned Unite representatives from supporting or quoting the ‘Enough is Enough‘ campaign – or the behaviour of Unite’s senior management in general.

Well-wishers are flocking to Skwawkbox’s defence:

One looks with keen expectation to Walker’s coming appearances at the Playhouse, “You can’t say that! Racism, antisemitism, ID politics – are there limits to free speech? What is free speech: Should certain issues be ‘off-limits’ for the left? Is free speech an absolute right or are there limits for racists, homophobes etc? Is no-platforming a good way to deal with prejudice and mistaken ideas? Should we enforce ‘zero tolerance’ in working class organisations? With Steve Walker, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Esther Giles. September the 27th. “What future for the left? – Debating the way forward. With Lesley Mahmood, Dave Nellist, Steve Walker (Skwawkbox), Chris Williamson, Ian Hodson, Jackie Walker and others” September the 28th.

There are those who wonder if Howard Beckett, a UNITE Assistant General Secretary, also starring at one of the spectacles at the drolly named Beyond the Fringe Festival, is holding (The summer of discontent – which strategy now for the trade unions?), will, turn up, in a personal capacity or otherwise.

* 2020.

Unite wastes more of its members’ money defending the indefensible.

Just before Christmas, former Labour MP Anna Turley won a libel case against Unite over a post on the notoriously unreliable Skwawkbox blog/website.

Turley – who lost her seat in Redcar, North Yorkshire, in the general election – was awarded £75,000 in damages by the High Court after she successfully sued the union and small businessman Stephen Walker, the owner of the Skwawkbox blog site. The site is also closely associated with Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy, architect (together with Seumas Milne) of Labour’s disastrous 2019 election strategy, and close associate of Len McCluskey.

Turley claimed a 2017 article on Skwawkbox, which quoted a press statement from Unite, libelled her by suggesting that she had acted dishonestly when submitting an application to join the union.

Unite funded Skwawkbox‘s defence against Turley’s libel claim.

A former Labour MP who won a libel claim against a union and a blogger will get back more than £1m she paid out in legal fees. BBC. 2021.

Anna Turley, who lost her Redcar seat in December 2019, sued Unite and Stephen Walker over an article on his Skwawkbox blog published in 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2022 at 10:57 am

As Russian Invasion Faces Ukraine Push-Back We Need to Talk about the Stop the War Coalition.

with 12 comments

Stop the War Coalition at The World Transformed Festival, Liverpool, 24-27 September

The Stop the War Coalition boasts that “Since February our campaigning has reached levels not seen since the early years of Stop the War.”

Pete Duncan says in Chartist,

Support Ukraine’s people!

It is unfortunate that the Stop the War Coalition, Jeremy Corbyn and the Morning Star refuse to commit themselves to the victory of Ukraine, the defeat of Russia and the return to the frontiers which Russia recognised in 1991. Putin will claim any agreement which permits further seizure of Ukraine’s territory beyond Crimea as a victory. If Putin is not defeated, he will have time to develop his war economy and train more soldiers. When he’s ready, he will launch further attacks on Ukraine. If he succeeds in his aim of installing a puppet government in Kyiv, he will seek to conquer the whole of Ukraine and Moldova. If he’s allowed to do that, then he will consider that NATO is not a serious alliance after all. Next, he will attack the Baltic states, and then Poland. Making an agreement with him that sacrifices Ukraine’s interests would amount to appeasement.

It is vital to understand that we are not in a situation like that at the beginning of the First World War. The 1907 International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart rightly feared that Europe was moving towards a war between imperialist powers and called on the labour movements to stop the war. We are in a situation more akin to 1939, when socialists around the world united with liberals and conservatives to stop Nazism. Stalin betrayed this movement and did his deal with Hitler, which lasted until Germany attacked the Soviet Union. We cannot fail to notice that some of the people, and the Morning Star itself, who previously justified the Stalinist system are now, in effect, apologists for Putin.

Fortunately, Putin’s victory is far from guaranteed. At the moment, Putin is slowly running out of men and weapons. Labour, and socialist parties internationally, should call for the delivery to Ukraine of all the weapons that it needs to end Russian aggression and defeat Putin.

How the StWC has been busy:

Why is Ukrainian resistance invisible to you?

An appeal to supporters of the Stop the War Coalition

Here are notes I made for a talk at an on-line meeting of the Stop the War Coalition’s Brent (north-west London) branch tomorrow (28 June). I was due to speak alongside Lindsey German, national convenor of the STWC. But last week it turned out that she had an unavoidable clash, no-one else was available, and the event was cancelled.

I wrote to Brent STWC to say that I thought the cancellation was “a shame, politically speaking”, because there have been “precious few meaningful exchanges of views between those in the UK labour movement who have a broadly ‘plague-on-both-your-houses’ view, such as Lindsey German, and those who believe support should be given to the Ukrainian resistance, such as myself”.

An opportunity for discussion has been missed – while the biggest war in Europe since the middle of the last century rages.

I sent these notes to Brent STWC last week (as a pdf, downloadable here), and suggested discussion in spoken or written form. Obviously I don’t care if that’s in Brent or elsewhere. Please, engage with the arguments. Simon Pirani.

I will start with a confession. When approached about this meeting, I was asked, as someone who has been travelling to both Russia and Ukraine for a long time, whether I could put Brent Stop the War in touch with a suitable Ukrainian speaker. I said I could not think of anyone, but that I could do it. In fact, I would have felt embarassed, even ashamed, to ask a Ukrainian friend to speak here.

I imagined Ukrainian friends, who daily witness the most horrendous violence against their country, looking at the coalition’s web site. I thought that they would feel that here was an organisation utterly removed from Ukrainian reality. An organisation that – unlike some significant Russian anti-war organisations – is interested neither in Ukrainian communities’ suffering, nor in those communities’ response to that suffering. An organisation that seems uncritically to accept, and even repeat, Russian government propaganda.  

Stop the War supporter Jeremy Corbyn is speaking at this event during the coming weekend.

Join us on 17 and 18 September at ManiFiesta, the solidarity festival.

 It is organised by Solidaire, the newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), and Medicine for the People, PTB’s network of medical centres.

The Workers Party of Belgium,  Parti du Travail de BelgiquePTB/Partij van de Arbeid van BelgiëPVDA, 24,000 members and 12 MPs in the 150 strong Chamber of Representatives, traces its background to ‘anti-revisionist’ Marxism-Leninism. Its first leader, Ludo Martens (12 March 1946 – 5 June 2011). Martens is known internationally for his book, Another View of Stalin (Un autre regard sur Staline). Harpal Brar, at present a close ally of George Galloway wrote of the book, “while nailing the bourgeois, professorial and Khrushchevite revisionist lies about Stalin, brought to the fore the brilliance of Stalin’s stewardship of the CPSU(B) and the USSR, which made such a monumental contribution to the march forward of the Soviet people and humanity at large.” (Obituary: Ludo Martens).

They say the party is reconstructed since those days.

“The party abstained from the vote condemning the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Chamber of Representatives. According to PTB MP Nabil Boukili, “the diplomatic way is the only possible way to avoid a war”. Party spokesman Raoul Hedebouw said he condemns the invasion of Ukraine but does not think NATO should be part of the solution.”

Of course there is always Chomsky…

=

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2022 at 11:55 am

Femi says he is “threatened with lawsuit” from Eddie Dempsey.

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Femi Oluwole, Under Attack by the Express and Eddie Dempsey.

The far right Express, Monday.

Femi moans about Liz Truss and King Charles III as he slams UK in democracy rant

REMAINER Femi Oluwole has slammed the UK’s political system following Liz Truss’s appointment to Prime Minister and King Charles III becoming Sovereign after the Queen’s death.

“The Europhile took to Twitter to criticise the appointment of the new Prime Minister and Head of State after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He said that “not a single free vote was cast” to determine their positions. “

This is the latest of many articles in the daily, and the fourth since August the 21st 2022.

I Just can’t put my finger on why Femi is such a hate figure for the Express.

Now there is this:

Femi makes the point everybody is thinking about:

Having given details, at length, about Dempsey’s speech at a red-brown (alliance between Brexit Party members and sovereigntist left, plus a tonne of odd-balls) Full Brexit meeting, March 2019, this Blog will simply refer to the latest post reiterating them. Pour en finir avec Eddie: Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, Defends Eddie Dempsey Hating the “Liberal Left”.

Dempsey said that “people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”..

He further commented that “too many in the Labour Party have made a calculation that there’s a certain section at the top end of the working class, in alliance with people, they calculate, from ethnic minorities and liberals, that’s enough to get them into power.” (Brexit, the white working class and liberal left. 2019)

In the latest dispute supporters of Dempsey keep referring to some work he did against the English Defence League. It’s as if the man is the only activist to have confronted the far-right on the streets, when in fact tens, hundreds, of thousands of people have done so, from the 1930s, the 1970s to the present day.

Digging deeper:

Three impossible things before breakfast: some comments on the “Full Brexit” group

What does anti-fascism actually mean? One way Dempsey has expressed his understanding of anti-fascism was through a glowing obituary of Alexei Mozgovoy, leader of the Prizrak (Ghost) Brigade in the Ukranian conflict. A few details were missing from his account: he mentions the Ghost Brigade raising red flags, but doesn’t mention that they were also known to fly the flag of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s far-right LDPR, or the Amnesty International report documenting abuses by the groupOne writer described Mozgovoy as believing that “Jews… are conspiring to divide up the Slavic people and make them slaves.”1 Another article, “‘The spectre’ of communism or Mozgovoy as Che Guevara for Tolkienists” offers further criticisms of Dempsey’s myth-making obituary.

On another occasion, Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight publicly thanked Dempsey for his work defending a talk by Vanessa Beeley from protesters, writing that “Eddie Dempsey… kept the jihadists at bay”. Beeley’s own far-right links have been documented at great length in numerous places.

Now the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, whose salary to reported to be  £108,549 (My London), is said be threatening Femi with legal action for being rude about him.

A top journalist makes some contorted comments:

As an organ which cannot be accused of sympathy with Femi said in 2019,

In defence of Femi. Spiked.

Richard Tice, chairman of the Brexit Party and a co-founder of Leave.EU, is threatening to sue Remain campaigner Femi Oluwole for defamation.

 ..to reach for the lawyers over an insult from a political opponent is always wrong.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2022 at 10:56 am

Socialist Worker Warns “West Gloats as Russian forces lose in Ukraine”

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 EdwardsDashti, joined RT in the UK in 2015 as a broadcast journalist and left in February 2022.

‘Habibi’, aka, David Toube, comments, noting that Andrew Murray’s organisation (after a brief visit to the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership), the Communist Party of Britain, are publicising the meeting.

Tauby forgets this:

Yesterday the Morning Star covered a declaration from the European Left, a grouping centred, but not exclusively, around the EU. It has 27 member parties, 8 observers, and 3 partners from 25 European countries, from tiny groups, like Left Unity in the UK, to groups with MPs and MEPs, like the Danish Red-Green Alliance, Greece’s Syriza, to Communist Parties, like the French PCF.

Heinz Bierbaum of the German Die Linke and the President of the European Left told the Star the way forward was negotiations for Peace.

On his FB Page on September the 1st it is written,

Even 83 years later, in 2022, the global struggle for peace is still a central issue. We live in a new age of the arms race. Military-industrial complexes everywhere are rubbing their hands with glee. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that already the 2021 global military budget surpassed US$2.1 trillion for the first time. The Russian invasion has provided just another pretext for massively increased arms spending — and it’s maybe a great news for weapons manufacturers’ profits but a catastrophe for the ordinary people. While some make huge profits with death, investments for public services, climate, health, measures to protect the poorest population from inflation are missing out.

We also have to disarm for the climate. There should be no exceptions for the military in the climate agreements. The military, armaments industry and war destroy the environment as the basis of life and human security and contribute significantly to the climate catastrophe. In view of the dangers, a new policy of detente is more than necessary!

⮞Stop the war!

⮞Peace and solidarity for the people of Ukraine and worldwide!

⮞An immediate ceasefire to pave the way for negotiations and a political solution

⮞New global policy of detente

⮞End to the new armament spiral

⮞September 1st, the Anti-War-Day, should be celebrated as a European holiday

This is what the head of the Party of the European Left was up to over the weekend.

We await their reaction, and that of the Stop the War Coalition to Ukrainian advances against the Russia invaders.

In Britain the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and Counterfire have so far been silent.

Now, saying out loud what the Campists and “multipolarity’ (Jenny Clegg, at meeting in Manchester, an apologist for the Chinese state, and backs a “multipolar world”) ‘anti-imperialists ‘ are mostly, with the exception of well-known supporters commenting on this Blog, saying quietly, Socialist Worker headlines,

West gloats as Russian forces lose in Ukraine

Ukrainian military advances are a result of Western arms supplies and the demoralisation of Russian troops

The Ukrainian military has routed Russian forces in the last few days, taking large swathes of territory in the north east of the country. The attack hurled back Russian troops and took 3,000 square ­kilometres of Ukrainian land.  Russia responded last Sunday with missile and artillery strikes on power plants in the areas where it had been defeated.

The Ukrainian assault, which defence minister Oleksii Reznikov described as a “snowball rolling down a hill”, is the biggest setback for Russia since it invaded in February. The defeats show the lack of ­commitment by Russian troops to the war. There are repeated reports of soldiers running away or surrendering and handing over their weapons with hardly any real resistance.

Unfortunately,

But Ukrainian successes also ­underline how the West has armed Ukraine with the most modern weaponry. The vast armoury of long-range missiles and artillery—including from Britain—has transformed the war. It’s enabled Ukrainian forces to bombard Russian positions well behind the frontline.

After warning of the danger of a nuclear conflict the SWP concludes,

Putin’s invasion was always a reactionary manoeuvre. But the US and its Nato allies will now seek further advances as part of their agenda of spreading their power.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 13, 2022 at 4:57 pm

Jean-Luc Godard (1930 – 2022).

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Jean-Luc Godard, giant of the French new wave, dies at 91

The radical director of Breathless and Alphaville, and who was a key figure in the French Nouvelle Vague, has died. (Guardian).

Of all the Godard films for this writer À bout de souffle (1960) has left the most memorable impression and is widely accepted as the loadstone of the Nouvelle Vague, La Chinoise (1967) the most politically personal and affecting, and  Éloge de l’amour (2001), is the later picture that most made a mark.

“Inspired by the May 68 protest movement that shook Paris and other European cities, Godard became increasingly politically outspoken. With his longtime friend Francois Truffaut, he led protests that shut down the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, to show solidarity with the students and workers.”

Mon ami Godard Daniel Cohn Bendit (2010).

Comment nous nous sommes rencontrés en 1968, comment nous avons tourné un film ensemble, comment nous nous sommes disputés sur “A bout de souffle” avant de nous réconcilier en mai dernier.

From Libération just now:

Mort de Jean-Luc Godard, histoire du cinéma

Wikipedia does the job of classification very well over the long term, if you want to see clearly, proceed in stages: the Anna Karina years (1959-1967), the Mao years (1967-1973), the video years (1973 -1979), the return to the cinema (1980-1988), the “Histoire(s) du cinema” (1988-2000), the sequel being, it seems, for lack of hindsight, more difficult to name, even if there are still five feature films and shorts to be inserted in a filmographic course that the IMDB site evaluates at 130 different titles, all formats and media combined.

Didier Peron then does a good job of unpicking these categories and chronology.

But this time-scale is not really convincing if we are willing to consider that the meeting with Anna Karina, whose existence and adherence to Maoism he would share, is not quite the same kind of enthusiasm. You can also decide not to classify anything at all, leaving the work in its coherent disorder. Because, basically, two voices can speak forty years apart on the same elegiac wavelength that combines, disturbs, echoes the distant wandering of a thought that finds no place to rest: the voice of Michel Piccoli in Le Mépris, Contempt (1963) stating the verses of Dante (“ Already the night was contemplating the stars / And our joy quickly metamorphoses into tears / Until the sea had closed over us“) and that of Godard in the short and so beautiful Dans le noir du temps (2002) declaring, with this trembling solemnity that has become the recognisable tone of all these film-essays, ” when I look at the sky between the stars, I can only see what has disappeared ”. And because the discontinuity, the overlapping of the soundtrack, the unusual character of the events as they begin, cease or take place in strange, distanced stagings – like the hold-up in Prénom Carmen where children scream (for real) and adults continue to read the newspaper (for fake) while gunshots go off in all directions – had been the hallmark of Godard from the start.

Less lyrically:

Godard, the cinéaste, was an all time great. Godard, the person was, biographies state, (even the largely favourable, leaves some impressions, Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70. Colin McCabe. 2003) not always easy to work with, universally loved or trusted, Godard, in later life, was capable of some politically unforgivable statements, (2014) “The filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, known for his taste for provocation, welcomed, in an interview with Le Monde published on Wednesday, that the far right came first in European elections in France, believing that President François Hollande should appoint Marine Le Pen Prime Minister.” (La Presse).

Why Godard keeps trying to prove to everyone that Jews aren’t really good is his problem. But in doing so, he still asks a good question.

Godard’s films are immortal.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 13, 2022 at 12:13 pm

Dream-Child. A Life of Charles Lamb. Eric G. Wilson. A Radical Review.

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Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb Eric G. Wilson Yale University Press. 2022.

Io! Pæan! Io! sing
To the finny people’s King.
Not a mightier whale than this
In the vast Atlantic is;
Not a fatter fish than he….

Name or title what has he?
Is he Regent of the Sea?
From this difficulty free us,
Buffon, Banks, or sage Linnæus.
With his wondrous attributes
Say what appellation suits.
By his bulk, and by his size,
By his oily qualities,
This (or else my eyesight fails),
This should be the Prince of Whales.

The Triumph of the Whale. Charles Lamb. (1810.)

“The essays of Montaigne, Lamb, even Addison, have the reticence which springs from composure, for with all their familiarity they never tell us what they wish to keep hidden.” Virginia Woolf addressed the Dr Johnson’s words, “common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices..” in The Common Reader (Second Series, 1932) assuming that those who came across her pages on William Hazlitt would not just be aware of Michel de Montaigne and the amiable Spectator but would be closely acquainted with the works of Charles Lamb (1775 – 1834). If some ordinary readers cherish the author of Essays of Elia, the preconceptions of the literary world, Eric Wilson writes, turned against him. Described by Denys Thompson in the 1930s Scrutiny, the author of the popular textbook Reading and Discrimination (1935), called out somebody “profoundly ignorant and hostile to serious art and intelligence” and “excoriated” his friendly intimacy. Lamb is rarely taught in schools or universities. The last full biography, The Life of Charles Lamb, by E.V. Lucas, appeared in 1906.

The “time feels right for Charles Lamb” and Dream-Child is a welcome part of a “renaissance”. He “speaks to our age”, of the urban world, perhaps, and here one might dissent about an author described by William Hazlitt as “not conforming to the Spirit of the Age.” (Elia and Geoffrey Crayon. 1825), “closer to our postmodern ideas of selfhood.” and “bending gender roles”. Few but a student of modern literary theory would link the short letter defending a “passion for crowds (which) is nowhere feasted so full as in London” (The Londoner), would describe it a “flâneur’s creed”. The allusion to the stroller on the wide Parisian boulevards of Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin’s modern urban spectator or Poe’s The Man of the Crowd, whose epigraph is ” Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul” strain the imagination. For those who can imagine, and may know the addresses, “a mob of happy faces” at the pit door of Drury Lane Theatre, the crowded Strand, and Fleet Street”, and the defence of “the very deformities of London”, and his evocations of the Temple, or the “old Blind Tobbits that used to line the wall of Lincoln’s Inn Garden ” (On the Decay of Beggars), will suffice. Lamb ended his days in still half-rural areas of what is now the London Borough of Enfield, an aera he described as “dull” in a letter to Wordsworth in 1830.

Lamb, Wilson outlines, participated in the British Empire as a clerk for the East India Company, he was part of the circles of Unitarian political radicalism, a friend of the Lake poets, of William Godwin and Mary Shelley, appearing with Godwin, Coleridge and Southey, in the Anti-Jacobin satire, James Gillray’s New Morality – the Promis’d Installement of the high Priest of the Theophilosophes, with the Homage of Leviathan and His Suite (1798).

Unlike most of his best-known Romantic friends, Lamb remained behind the cause of political reform, writing for Leigh Hunt’s democratic Reflector in 1811, during the Napoleonic Wars, which “explore deformity”. “As the war drained England’s (sic) economy, beggars, derelicts and drunkards teemed.” “the chronic threat of an enemy and the paranoia of a government terrified of rebellion.” One is more than grateful to Wilson for flagging up the memorable, “On The Danger of Confounding Moral With Personal Deformity With a hint to those who have the framing for advertisement for apprehending offenders.” and On The Inconveniences Resulting from being Hanged.

Lamb, Wilson argues, might not trumpet his politics, but had absorbed right to his bones the ideas of the radical Joseph Priestley, chemist, defender of English dissenters, and French Revolutionaries and a founder of British Unitarianism. He had a commitment to “the most radical principle of Priestley’s Unitarianism: human sympathy, not the rules (selfish or whimsical) or a monarch, should guide our lives.”

Lamb’s poem, The Whale, 1810, “a verse satire of the regent” was never prosecuted. But a more direct attack on the Heir to the Throne, In the journal The Examiner by Hunt, “The Prince of Wales on St Patrick’s Day, in 1812, was. The Examiner article accused the Royal of being a “violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers, and demireps, a mean who has just closed a century without on single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity”. Leigh and his brother John were prosecuted for criminal liberal and banged up for two years. In the bizarre conditions of the time he was placed in a suite of rooms in the infirmary where he received guests, including Lamb, Byron, Jeremy Bentham and Hazlitt. Hunt was, Wilson, reminds us, the model for this character in Bleak House, “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!” Others prefer to remember him as a democratic radical and the author of Abou Ben Adhem, still recited at funerals.

After the Cato Street Conspiracy in 1820 revealed the extensive use of state agents provocateurs, Lamb wrote of three police agents, Castles, Oliver, and Edwards, the poem, The Three Graves, which ends,

“Rivers of blood, from living traitors spilt,
By treachery stung from poverty to guilt.
I ask’d the fiend, for whom these rites were meant?
“These graves,” quoth he, “when life’s brief oil is spent,
When the dark night comes, and they’re sinking bedwards,
—I mean for Castles, Oliver, and Edwards.”

One of the many merits of Wilson’s biography is the breadth of references to people, friends, and those whom Lamb came across. They range from those already cited, including Shelly the poet, to the widely appreciated (but unknown at the time) rural radical poet John Clare, his early (mixed) appreciation of William Blake, “the man is flown” – whither I know not, to Hades or a Mad House”, and was one of the few to attend Blake’s art exhibition in 1809, his friendship with the radical abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, whose ties with the French Société des amis des noirs during the Revolution, predated the wider British anti-slavery movement), to the Cockney Poets, above all John Keats. The duel, egged on by the degraded venegrance of one Walter Scott, which came around the reactionary attack in Blackwood Magazine on these writers, ending in the death of their supporter,  John Scot. His murderer acquitted this became a radical cause.

Dream Child handles with tact and delicacy the tragedy that marked Charles’ life, his sister’s matricide, in a fit of madness. While Mary spent periods of severe trouble in the forbidding institutions of the day, he spent a lifetime caring for her at home. Well enough for her attendance to be recorded by Lamb’s circle of friends, her troubles, Lamb who had his own breakdowns, often “to a degree insane” and a difficult relationship with drink, lived through the crises of his life helped by, Wilson suggests, by the glow of Priestley’s approach to Christianity and ethics. The biography portrays a woman standing on her own two feet, although not everybody will enjoy the line about a Brighton visit, when she “loved walking among the eldritch hills of the Downs”.

Mary and Charles would write the Tales From Shakespeare, (1807) narratives whose prose, Wilson assets, have a clarity that can be compared to a Hemmingway’s. Produced for Godwin’s Juvenile Library it continues to find a place on many shelves. If the two volume Everyman edition of his Letters is also in some bookcases, the Essays of Elia and Last Essays of Elia, continue to be read an enjoyed. Wilson writes in illuminating ways about them and his style, his “baroque wit” (Hazlitt mentioned “mannerism”) and debts to old writers like Robert Burton (Anatomy of Melancholy. 1628), Thomas Browne (Religio Medici 1643, Urn Burial, 1658) and, a figure even the erudite would strain at, Jeremy Taylor (1613 – 1669), “the Shakespeare of the Divines” Wikipedia informs us.

A reader new to the essayist might well begin with the strange “magical realism” of A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig. Wilson does not miss out the prejudice displayed in Imperfect Sympathies, although dislike of the author of the Heart of Midlothian is understandable. Amateur of English literature and drama before professionalised and institutionalised studies began Lamb’s “fantastic flights of imagination and reverie” still “haunt the mind” as Virginia Woolf projected. Of his poetry perhaps only The Old Familiar Faces, without the line on his Mother, which he removed in 1818, is familiar to a wide audience.

The year after his death Wordsworth offered a tribute in Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg (1835), “Lamb, the frolic and the gentle”. Wilson’s new full-scale biography, ends with fitting lines, that Lamb would “suffer life’s stings all over again for those evenings of whist and gin, or he long London walks with Mary”.

***

See also this review: EDWARD WEECH The Man with the Golden Pun Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb. By Eric G Wilson. Literary Review.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2022 at 3:35 pm

As Ukraine fights back where are the ‘anti-Nato’ and Peace Left?

with 74 comments

(From Poumista)

Earlier this year New Left Review published this Editorial by Susan Watkins,

AN AVOIDABLE WAR? January/April 2022. NLR 133/134.

(the laboured whataboutery introduction comparing the reaction to the invasion of Ukraine with the Ethiopian attack on Tigray, the war on Yemen and Afghanistan can be safely skipped).

“A single narrative, implicit in news reports and explicit in editorial comment, drives the media coverage. This is an unprovoked Russian attack in which, contrary to Putin’s declarations, nato’s eastward enlargement played no part. “”Sustaining the argument that nato expansionism played no part in the crisis required some casuistic contortions on the part of the broadsheet press.” ” a second line of argument blends with the first. On the hallowed principle of sovereign national self-determination, Ukraine has every right to elect to join nato, taking its place within a defensive alliance of liberal democracies.”

The Editor continued, satisfied that the reader will have knowingly nodded its head and added, with only her heavy prompts to guide them, (indicated by the italics added above), that “no major Western news outlet is pressing for an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated settlement.The only question is how far to escalate.”

Surveying the contents of this issue of the journal she states, “This contribution tackles the claims of the dominant narrative:  that the us has played no role in provoking the war; that nato is a purely defensive alliance; and that joining it is a matter of Ukrainian national self-determination.”

Watkin’s prose aims to outdo Macaulay, “After the Second World War, if two colossi faced off against each other, as Isaac Deutscher put it, the us had emerged strengthened from the global conflict, ‘in full-blooded vigour’, while the Soviet Union lay almost prostrate, bled white, with over 20 million dead..” evokes the Editor, stirringly. The learned may well catch an allusion to Baghot, “nato’s vast real-estate footprint—its ‘dignified’ component, the sprawling glass palace outside Brussels; its ‘efficient’ military hq in Norfolk, Virginia, and forty-odd major bases—nor the third-rate European politicians (Stoltenberg, etc.) . It quickly descends into Baudrillian sneers, “The Kremlin’s catastrophically misjudged invasion has generalized the bad-jujitsu logic.” “Fukuyama sees new light on world history’s liberal horizon, as regime change in Russia comes into view.”

Those who can have distilled the message, ” For once, this is not a nato war, but—metonymically speaking—a Russian war against nato.” Or in plain English – were that possible – a war in which an attribute of the conflict, the evocation of NATO (to which Ukraine does not belong) by Russia means that this stands for the whole invasion. Russia, that is, doing the associating, if one wishes to continue this contorted use of classical rhetorical figures, NATO is employed synecdochally “part of something (Putin’s claims) which is used for the whole”.

As it is, most people will not give a toss

There are those who side with the likes of Galloway (above), those who come out with long-winded arguments for focusing on NATO and the US rather than the invasion itself (New Left Review, and those who Stand with Ukraine.

Now we have this welcome news:

Breakthrough in Ukraine:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2022 at 6:06 pm

The Stop the War Coalition and Ukraine: Critical Notes.

with 8 comments

StWC Meeting Postponed “till further notice”…

One of the most celebrated Radical Liberals of the 19th century, John Bright (1811- 1889), described British foreign policy as “a gigantic system of (welfare) for the aristocracy” (1858). Called by Karl Marx in that year, “one of the most gifted orators that England has ever produced”, the free-trader of the Manchester School, was best known as an advocate of political reform, and would support the revived movement for Manhood Suffrage in 1865, including the Reform League, in which many British members of the International Workingmen’s Association placed their hopes .

Bright did not favour the Empire. In 1857 in Birmingham he said that whilst he would “take steps” “to preserve order within” the kingdom, “I shall repudiate and enounce the expenditure of every shilling, the engagement of every man, the employment of every ship which no object but intermeddling in the affairs of other countries, and endeavouring to extend the boundaries of an Empire which is already large enough to satisfy the greatest ambition…” (Selected Speeches of the Right Hon. John Bright M.P . J.M.Dent. 1907)

Nor did the “Orator “believe in taking part in what some would now call “proxy wars”.

As the Crimean Conflict loomed in 1853 Bright warned against “interference” on behalf of the Sultan of Turkey against Russia. He headed a “miserable, decrepit, morbibound Government which is now enthroned, but which cannot last long, in the city of Constantinople.” Not only will men be slaughtered for this tainted cause but the “large amount of taxes” paid, “will be but a feeble indication of what you would suffer”. War, he continued, brings the economic ruin seen between 1815 and 1822 when the “sufferings of the working classes were beyond description, and the difficulties and struggles of the middle classes were such as few persons have a just idea of” (Speeches. op cit).

Bright, from a Quaker background, advocated Peace. He appealed for “a time which shall last for ever – when ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”.

It is not the intention here to compare the historical figure and career of John Bright, a man elected as MP more than once, who resigned from Gladstone’s Cabinet after the Royal Navy bombarded Alexandra in 1881, calling that “a jobbers’ war” for capitalists, and who was liked and respected as an advanced thinker in his time (although his views on women’s equality and Irish independence do not stand muster today) with the people who run the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

Yet the arguments that band of ‘anti-war’ activists seem to have fallen back on when talking about Ukraine, a “war” between ‘proxies’, hinge on something similar to Bright’s 19th century rhetorical combination: would-be Realpolitik, appeals to the purse, and high sentiment. In February 2022 they warned of the danger of interference, “the British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis”, and a call for Russian withdrawal, a call that” this “dispute could and should be resolved peacefully” STOP THE WAR STATEMENT ON UKRAINE – 24/02/22 Now, the popular pocketbook has been added, as Counterfire’s Chris Nineham states on the StWC site this month, “TO AVERT A COST-OF-LIVING CATASTROPHE WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT UKRAINE.

That is the StWC public face. It would be interesting and important to discuss the Russian invasion in deeper terms. Their organised pillars, Counterfire and the Communist Party of Britain, could do so, and do so, at great length. The reason why these groups take the views they do lies in their picture of world politics, and above all, ‘imperialism’. Behind the outlined efforts at arguments to touch a mass audience,there is a whole continent of dense, contentious, debate on ‘Empire’ and the imperialist, or not, powers at work in a globalised world.

To begin with, the export of capital linked to colonisation and formal empires does not exist. This planet now cannot be considered as dominated by the forces Lenin described as the motor of rivalry and war, or talked of it as the monopoly stage of capitalism and the “division of the world among capitalist associations”. (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1916) Or as N.I. Bukharian did when he said in 1915 of  “state capitalist trusts” within the boundaries of world economy” fighting it out. ” Capitalism has attempted to overcome its own anarchy by pressing it into the iron ring of state organisation. But having eliminated competition within the state, it let loose all the devils of a world scuffle.” (Imperialism and World Economy).

Efforts to grapple with changing conditions in David Harvey’s New Imperialism (2003) are already dated. Is “accumulation by dispossession”, the colonisation by dispossession of public property by neo-liberal economics and the projection of US power through military means (such as the invasion of Iraq) the dominant trend when Washington has withdrawn from Afghanistan and has been powerless in Syria ?

Today vast “technofeudal” companies, whose libertarian ideological gloss barely conceals a new ‘age of surveillance’, influence the mode of accumulation, and the work paradigm. The neoliberal axiom, you can’t buck the market, had a hard time during Covid; few mention it during the present cost-of-living crisis.

If there is not a new scramble for colonies, does big power conflict explain Russia’s invasion? Or is it a kind of Eurasian thrust, Moscow ultra-patriotism? Or is it, as Lily Lynch says on New Left Review’s Blog Sidecar, asserts through the special knowledge the journal has access to, to be fitted back into the US-Hegemon pattern?

Europe is decisively lining up behind the United States and NATO; talk of ‘decoupling from China’ abounds. There is little ambiguity about what is happening. With the vast majority of the Global South loathe to impose sanctions on Russia, the current global competition is one of ‘the West’ against the rest. This serves the interests of the US and Silicon Valley quite well. ‘The core mission of our company’, Karp said at Davos in 2020, ‘always was to make the West, especially America, the strongest in the world, the strongest it’s ever been.’

Looking East

The claims of Lynch and her comrades (if they have even heard of them) or the wider-known Stop the War Coalition spokespeople have gone unheeded. There may be some reasons, for some people, and well set out by Sráid Marx, to be wary about the Ukrainian state and government.

But standing with Ukraine, that it the People and the People’s War, is the only stand for common decency, and internationalism.

However we consider it, the Stop the War Coalition, which was once an important voice in British politics, is on the sidelines.

And please, stop that stuff about linking the invasion to the cost-of-living. It makes you want to retch.

Ukraine war: reports of mass deportations recall Russia’s dark history of forcible relocations 8th of September.

“The sheer scale of the forced deportations is breathtaking, according to a statement from the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken:

Estimates from a variety of sources, including the Russian government, indicate that Russian authorities have interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children, from their homes to Russia – often to isolated regions in the Far East.

He added that Moscow’s actions appear premeditated and draw immediate historical comparisons to Russian “filtration” operations in Chechnya and other areas. These filtration operations, he said, are “separating families, confiscating Ukrainian passports and issuing Russian passports in an apparent effort to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine”.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 10, 2022 at 5:52 pm

Stop the War Coalition to Link Cost of Living Crisis, the War in Ukraine, and ‘Peace’.

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The StWC talks about “the war in Ukraine” – not the Russian invasion of Ukraine…

HOW DO WE END THE WAR IN UKRAINE? – STOP THE WAR LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE FRINGE MEETING

“The devastating war in Ukraine has seen thousands of lives lost and sent economic shock waves across the globe.

While the Tory government has pumped billions of pounds of weapons into Ukraine during the most severe squeeze on living standards in living memory, we at Stop the War have remained steadfast in the belief that the only way to end this war is through a negotiated peace.

Disappointingly, Keir Starmer has consistently sided with the government’s support for the war and has publicly attacked Stop the War on several occasions. But if Labour wants to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, it must not ignore the links to the war in Ukraine and should push for peace.

Stop the War will continue to campaign against war and the British government’s involvement in it, including Labour’s support for it. Anti-war politics must be central to any Labour movement and it’s vital we demonstrate that the politics of peace are still alive and well inside (and out) of the Labour Party.

Join us in Liverpool to answer the question: how do we end the war in Ukraine?

Speakers:

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Oliver Eagleton, Author & Commentator

Lindsey German, Stop the War Convenor

Andrew Murray, Stop the War Deputy President

Muslim Association of Britain Speaker.

More information here.

Amongst other things we note that Tel’s Nipper, theorist of Keir Starmer’s doings on behalf of the ‘Deep State’ and US/NATO links,  (The Starmer Project, Oliver Eagleton. 2022) is Stop the War Coalition’s New Speaker on the “war in Ukraine”.

The argument of the StWC follows the Communist Party of Britain, Morning Star, line, a few days ago, “MAMMOTH protests in Prague at the weekend made the direct link between Nato’s confrontation with Russia and the cost-of-living crisis.

It is a connection that needs to be made here as we gear up for mass demonstrations against a new Tory prime minister promising hundreds of billions more in military spending while millions cannot afford their energy bills.

The Internationalist Left has a different stand:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 9, 2022 at 6:22 pm

Paying Respect to Queen Elizabeth.

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RMT Pays Respect.

The Queen was a decent person devoted to public service.

Friday (update) one of the best commentators:

Now is the moment for quiet republicanism. Respect for the person of Elizabeth II, respect for the grieving family and the millions who mourn. Opposing Monarchy as the new Crown takes the throne and Capital reigns over her ministers in the House of Commons. Rejection of the pseudo-‘anti-imperialists’, fighting, the day before yesterday, the League of Empire Loyalists.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Britain, British Govern

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Chris Williamson wins Praise from ‘Lobster’ contributor (while we are waiting for serious news about the Queen).

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Williamson, “principled Labour activist of wide experience”, with comrade.

While we are waiting for serious news about the Queen:

Chris Williamson finds a fan who will get his eulogy published in Lobster Magazine – the “journal that looks at the impact of the intelligence and security services on history and politics. From espionage to dirty tricks to conspiracy theories.” Amongst Robin Ramsay’s contributors over the years was Larry O’Nutter, who wrote under the pen-name of Larry O’Hara. Our one-time Warwick Cde went on to from the Borderland which last appeared in 2016. Apart from his support for the red-brown Full Brexit O’Nutter has not been heard of recently. It was therefore with pleasure that I find my old mucker filed away on the Web in Lobster Issue 24 (December 1992) ” Notes from the Underground“.

It is with interest that one learns the magazine is carrying on the old traditions.

Ten Years Hard Labour Chris Williamson Review. by John Booth | Blog

A version of this article with detailed footnotes and links will shortly appear on the website of Lobster magazine – https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/” Watch out for this on the Lobster site.

This is a revealing and powerful book by a Labour MP who vocally supported the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and paid the price by losing his career. It’s an angry book because he says that this loyalty was not reciprocated when it mattered.

Yet what could have been an opportunity for change was strangled by the “Labour antisemitism” furore, Williamson being a prime target as the leading Corbyn supporter in Westminster. As a lifetime anti-racist campaigner on good terms with many Jews in his constituency and in the wider Labour movement, he quickly realised what was behind the so-called “crisis”.

He called it out for the political scam it largely was and so was subjected to ever more vilification by the Israel lobby and its political and media allies. This included death threats, the vandalisation of his constituency office and routine daily abuse by Labour MPs in Westminster. Meetings at which he was invited to speak had to be cancelled because hotels and other venues received threats to their premises and the safety of their staff. He recounts how the location for one meeting in Brighton had to be repeatedly shifted following similar menaces. It finally took place in the open air where local activists physically protected him from a threatening critic.

Here was a principled Labour activist of wide experience – how many council housing chairs have worked on construction sites? – and interests – Williamson worked closely in Parliament on animal welfare with murdered Conservative MP Sir David Amess – whose career was destroyed by the outrageous smears of unscrupulous enemies and the complicit silence of supposed allies.

Conclusion:

“Like many sensible seafarers the author had early in his life apparently heeded the wise words attributed to General Omar Bradley: “Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship.” Ten Years Hard Labour details the dim and fading lights of many ships who passed by Chris Williamson and, in so doing, left the British people in the grubby hands of Boris Johnson and his rich and decadent supporters.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2022 at 2:20 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon will not stand again for French Presidency and devotes himself to “intellectual work”.

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En retrait mais pas à la retraite Jean-Luc Mélenchon affirme ne plus vouloir être candidat à la présidentielle

Libération.

The founder and uncontested leader of France’s largest left organisation, La France insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon declared recently that he has both stepped back and has not stepped back (“en retrait mais pas en retraite“, from his political role. Some, perhaps wishfully, might linger on the phrase, and take it, like the Libération headline, “En retrait mais pas à la retraite”, to refer to la retraite, retirement). The former MP for a Marseille constituency did not stand for re-election for this time and has no Parliamentary position. One thing seems now clearer: not wishing to stand for (4th, 2012, 2017, 2022) time for the French Presidency in 2027 the 71 years old veteran campaigner, ‘en forme’, says that he will now devote himself to intellectual work at the LFI Foundation, La Boétie.

I have formulated for the first time an overall theory which allows us bring together political ecology, the heritage of historical socialism, republicanism. It is called the theory of the era of the people and of the citizens’ revolution. My task is to finish this intellectual work.”

Mélenchon came third, with  21,95 %, in this year’s Presidential contest. But with 75 LFI MPs, the largest group in the NUPES left bloc, (151 Deputies) in France’s National Assembly, the French left, full of vibrant debate and activism is making its mark. The return of the left to substantial presence in the Assemblee Nationale (in 2017 they were reduced to 64 and the Greens, EEL had no MPs at all). The insoumises’ support for trade union action and street protests, if met with difficulties in getting the different union federations to back his plan for a march on the cost of living crisis, shows wider ambitions.

If nothing else this year’s score makes the projection of a 2027 election contest in Michel Houellebecq’s Anéantir (2022) look unlikely. The novelist imagines a fight between the far-right Rassemblement National candidate and a Macron redux, backed by the business right, and equally presented as the voice of the “quartiers populaires”, Benjamin Sarfati. The Greens are sidelined in third place while the traditional right and left reduced to below 5%, just above the Trotskyists and animal rights parties.

Not that Mélenchon would have entertained the possibility of being classed in that way, even if he acknowledges his debt in launching his elected political career to former Socialist President François Mitterrand. In the 2016 Interview book, La Choix de l’insoumission (with Mark Endeweld) he asserted that “La pensée révolutionnaire de notre temps – celle qui appelle à la révolution citoyenne, doit intégrer tous les aspects dans lesquels se déploie l’activité humaine, inclut l’aspect du travail, de l’invention et la technique.” Revolutionary theory, the citizen revolution, integrating all aspects of human activity, including work, invention and techniques.

The theoretician of the Ère du peuple (the epoch of the people), uniting the people against the oligarchy, the globalising elites, who has brought together the Marseillaise and the Internationale at his meetings, one-time admirer of the Venezuelan ‘Bolivarian Revolution’, and interlocutor of the theorists of ‘left populism’, Chantal Mouffe and the (late) Ernesto Laclau) (Populisme et hégémonies culturelles : débat Laclau-Mouffe-Mélenchon. 2021) has a lot on his hands. While pondering his response to the voluntary and not-so-voluntary servitude of capitalism in the La Boétie institute, Mélenchon has some words on his succession inside the movement (some call it a Rally), La France insoumise, also known as L’Union Populaire, their broad strategic front for the last elections.

The head of LFI asks, what other leader can say they have ” participated in the creation of an organisation which has produced so many personalities as young, and as well trained”? They too need to gain the affection of the supporters of the movement. This is he way for a candidate to take over the handles of leadership of LFI and avoid in-fighting. And if there are signs of internal battles he will come down like a tonne of bricks, “«Le premier qui déclenche une guerre civile, il aura affaire à moi».

Full interview, and broadcast here:

Jean-Luc Mélenchon : «Je souhaite être remplacé»

I wish to be replaced..

Reporterre, specialises in Green issues. There is a lot more during the interview on Mélenchon’s views on ecological topics, from air travel, the energy crisis, climate change, to the drought and on the nature of collectivism. These are interesting in their own right.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2022 at 6:07 pm

As PM Appoints Electric Shock ‘Dog Collar’ Thérèse Coffey as Deputy, Liz Truss Plans Energy Bill ‘Scam’.

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Thérèse Coffey, Deputy PM, and Health Minister, Karaokes (2021) “The time of my Life” when she was Minister of Work and Pensions – as Benefit Cuts Took Place.

Like everybody else in the UK thinking about the gas and electricity bill is something you do (mine has already more than trebled over the last couple of years. Aware of the kind of person the new PM is, and her diversity five starred Cabinet are, the drip drip feed about the plans to freeze our payments, was both a bit of a relief, and then, when a few details came out, a horsey present with some worrying teeth in the mouth. There was something about the idea of paying back the money.

Today the Independent explains what this is likely to mean:

Let’s call Liz Truss’s plan to help with energy bills what it is – a scam.

It’s like a mortgage or a student loan – except this huge debt, effectively running into many thousands of pounds, will be compulsory.

Sean O’Grady.

“By all accounts, and against expectations, Liz Truss is going to freeze gas and electricity bills until at least next year and, possibly, until the next general election.”

It’s short term, and it’ll have to be paid back before long. The bad news is that the way Truss and Kwarteng are structuring the scheme means higher bills, possibly quite markedly higher, for everyone for decades to come.

This huge debt, effectively running into many thousands of pounds will be compulsory. The extra £3,000 or £5,000 you were due to pay this year (if you could) will be “put on the tab”, a kind of credit card for your arrears. After two or three years there could be £10,000 or £20,000 to pay back! You’ll still owe the gas and electric companies, and you’ll still be worse off; the pain will be postponed and spread out. Yet the reality is that even a modest increase in average bills over an indefinite time period will impose great hardship on the poor.

This is the kind of person now running the country (2019).

Mirror.

 A minister has been blasted for using an electric shock collar to train her family dog, despite the Tories vowing to ban them.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey phoned dog trainer Steve Andrews for help with her pug-beagle cross, Lola.

He said: “I said, ‘If you are the Therese Coffey I think you are this could be an interesting conversation [on electric collars]’. We enjoyed a bit of a joke.

There’s a lot more to say about Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, a constituency which borders Ipswich. She is widely hated by claimants for her actions as Minister for Work and Pensions:

Therese Coffey criticised for karaoke video after benefits cut

A Suffolk MP has been criticised for singing a karaoke version of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life as a controversial cut to Universal Credit came into place.

Therese Coffey, the Suffolk Coastal MP and work and pensions secretary, performed a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister and Colchester MP Will Quince at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Labour called the timing of her karaoke performance of the Dirty Dancing tune, as the government removes the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for millions of people, “an insult and a disgrace”.

Note this – the campaign took off in Leiston Suffolk, part of the Suffolk Coastal constituency.

Then there is this:

The Worrying Votes and Views of Boris Johnson’s Latest Right-Wing Appointment

David Hencke

10 September 2019

Just before Parliament was suspended, Boris Johnson appointed one of the most hard-line and divisive women to replace Amber Rudd as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Her voting record reveals a tranche of reactionary views, likely to be offensive to the gay community, women, pensioners and non-smokers. She would also like millions of Europeans who live in the UK to have no right to stay here.

Cigar-smoking Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, would like to lift the ban on smoking in public places, bring back limitless betting odds on addictive gambling machines, and is an opponent of gay marriage.

As a former member of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in the past she has defended Rupert Murdoch over the phone hacking inquiry and was a staunch supporter of Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor and the current CEO of News UK, who she claimed was a victim of “a witch hunt”.

The MP, who was appointed to the £154,000 job after Amber Rudd resigned over Boris Johnson’s ‘no deal’ Brexit stance, confirms that the Prime Minister now has one of the most right-wing Conservative cabinets since the latter period of Margaret Thatcher’s Government.

Coffey opposed gay marriage in Britain in 2013, following up this year by voting against a Commons measure to extend the right of gay marriage to Northern Ireland. She also supports parents who want to withdraw their children from sex education in schools.

On human rights, she voted both to repeal the EU Fundamental Charter of Rights and the Human Rights Act. She is in favour of allowing discrimination against Indians of lower caste and also wants the human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to lose some of its powers.

On Europe, although she voted Remain, she has since been hostile to Europeans from both the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) living here after a ‘no deal’ Brexit. She voted against giving them and their families residential rights, but made an exception for the Irish.

On benefits and pensions, she is a firm supporter of the so-called bedroom tax, under which disabled people have to fund for themselves any extra bedroom for a carer. She does not believe that people who are long-term disabled need higher benefits, wants pensioners in work to pay National Insurance, and supports cutting the welfare bill.

A landlord herself, she voted against changing the law to prevent landlords letting property that was unfit for human habitation.

Her declarations in the House of Commons’ Register of Interests reveal that she has a penchant for going to major racing events at other people’s expense. Both Ladbrokes – which campaigned against the limit on fixed-odds betting terminals – and ITV have paid for her and two of her staff to go to Royal Ascot. Her last visit in June was worth £2,318. She has also enjoyed free trips to Chester, Doncaster (paid for by Ladbrokes) and regularly to the Grand National at Aintree (for herself and a guest costing anything between £640 to £1,125).

She has employed her sister, Clare Coffey, on a casual basis on the parliamentary pay roll since 2015, and takes interns from the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference, which pay for interns and provides them with accommodation.

Coffey and Truss go back a while:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2022 at 11:03 am

Éric Zemmour’s Far Right Party La Reconquête in Difficulty.

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Éric  Zemmour  founded La Reconquête in December 2021. As polls suggested he might get enough votes to overtake his rival on the far right, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, in the April 2022 French Presidential elections (17% in October), over 100,000 people joined to “défendre l’intérêt national et de promouvoir la grandeur de la France.” Financed by the wealthy, from financiers, managers in banks, hedge funds, and, notably, Chantal Bolloré, sister of  media billionaire Vincent Bolloré the ‘éminence grise’  of the polemicist (owner of his best known pulpit, CNews), the movement also attracted extreme right groupuscules from the ‘identitarian’ right, like Les Zouaves, ready for more than electoral action.

In books, including the best-selling  Le Suicide français (2014), and from his generously rewarded media platforms (RTL, then Europe 1, CNews, Valeurs Actuelles, Le Figaro), Zemmour promoted the (Pre-‘Woke’) ‘anti-May 68′ drum beat, left (from feminism, gays, multiculturalism, left wing egalitarianism and internationalism) defended French identity. He stood up for those who think it right to hate the liberal left, elitist metropolitans of all stripes, and wish to stop immigration eroding the culture of old communities. In 2016 Zemmour said on RTL that the Left had “deserted the People, the working class, and the Nation” (‘La gauche a abandonné la nation, le peuple et la classe ouvrière”). It not hard to imagine the capital Zemmour and his ilk were able to make, to give just one example, of the murder of 86 people, with 434 injured in 2016 by a jihadist linked to a racist Islamist network who drove a lorry into crowds, which included many Muslims, in Nice on Bastille Day.

Increasingly Zemmour took to evoking military imagery. Referring to De Gaulle, and Napoléon Bonaparte, in La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (2021) he stretched his nationalist template back to the 100 Years War and Jean D’arc, and the present day battle against “la subversion migratoire”.

In 2021 it seemed as if Zemmour’s time had come. During the 2022 Presidential campaign, “the political terrain had been pulled to the right, to the point of a kind of fasciation of public debate” Rémi Lefebvre stated in Faut-il désespérer de la gauche? (2022) Zemmour was able to openly express xenophobic, Islamophobic, sexist and homophobic views. Remarks in 2022 such as “If we have such explosive crime rates, it’s because of immigration. Without immigration, there would be almost no more crime.” If you do not already know that the candidate had already three convictions for inciting hatred, you would, one would consider that this kind of statement would, bar him from public platforms

The obsession with – French – identity continues, with Lefebvre continues, the importation of the US term ‘Le Wokisme’, and the culture wars. It is easy to see a parallel with UK right wing identity politics, the warriors of the culture wars, in the UK amongst the Conservative Party, right-wing media, like the Mail and its sister site, Spiked, not to mention the self-pitying writings of the Blue Labour and Full Brexit stalwart Paul Embery, on “Whiteness as Original Sin” and “liberal wokedom” (Despised. 2021)

Zemmour did not get into the second round of the April Presidential election. He scored a miserable 7,07% None of the candidates for his party, La Reconquête, got elected in the following June Parliamentary contests. Zemmour came 3rd in the Var with 23,19%, which eliminated him from the Second Round.

Libération today carries this report:

Coup de balai Chez Eric Zemmour, la rentrée est à la pupurge

Several supporters of the former presidential candidate have been gradually removed in recent months by the former polemicist and the Maréchal-Peltier-Bay trio, at the helm of Reconquête. A clean out that could announce the sidelining of Zemmour himself.

Those encouraged to leave/have jumped ship include a former leading figure from the Gilets Jaunes, Jacline Mouraud (own Wiki, in English!). From the wing of the movement identified with the far right, she made a living as a “”hypnotherapistmetapsychist, and parapsychologist, and another Gilet Jaune, Benjamin Cauchy (also active in Debout la France (DLF), a kind of French UKIP). Gilbert Collard, a transfer from Marine Le Pen’s RN, is said now to be pinning his hopes on a red-brown or “sovereignist” list that the essayist Michel Onfray and one-time ‘anarchist’ intends to set up for the European elections of 2024.

A significant disappearance is that of Philippe de Villiers from the Vendee, who had his own sovereigntist party,  Mouvement pour la France for many years and has stood for President – 4% in 2007. Eurosceptic, they still had, him, as a MEP in 2009. Villiers, over the years, had become increasingly anti-Muslim, which was such this is largely what he is known for. In 2014, exhibiting wider interests, he travelled to Crimea to meet President Putin and defended the annexation of the Ukrainian territory.

In the French daily Nicolas Massol argues that the figures of  Nicolas Bay, Marion Maréchal (of the Le Pen family) Guillaume Peltier have their hands on the party steering wheel. That the intend to base its long-term future on that of an identity (or “civilisational”) right-wing, doctrinally liberal on the economy and reactionary (they say “conservative” ) on moral issues. In their plans Zemmour’s leading role may well be marginalised.

That remains to be seen. It is hard to see a future for a national populist party, largely built on media imagery, without the ‘charismatic’ leader, even if he looks now a shrunken figure, at the helm.

Predictably it’s the wider membership that has been draining away: after an election peak of 130,000 members , only 32,000 took part last month in the internal Reconquête ballot on their new set up. Will they renew their cards when their year’s membership from 2021 runs out? Many will not. Predictably it is said that the more active ‘identitarian’ groupuscules involved have already gone back to their extra-parliamentary activities.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 6, 2022 at 6:02 pm

Liz Truss, the Socialist Worker Student Society Fortnight.

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Larry the Cat’s election campaign is over, now is the time for some serious politics.

Let us begin here.

Liz Truss’s two weeks in the Socialist Worker Student Society

A number of friends from university have been sharing their memories of Liz Truss, who was in the year after me at Oxford. This was a time of huge, almost weekly student protests, and those few figures who joined the Conservatives at the time – Iain Corby, Sheridan Westlake, were often the targets of derision.

But, of course, Truss wasn’t a Conservative then. She was a Liberal Democrat and elected to various roles as a representative of her party.

What I do remember is, in autumn 1993, before she had even formally joined the university, insinuating herself onto the mailing list of our student Socialist Worker Student Society.

I was the person who signed her up after a long conversation in University’s Examination Schools. Truss impressed on me that she was a socialist, from a comprehensive school, a regular attendee on CND protests (that part may have been true, her parents were left-wing) and keen not just to join but to get involved in the group, assuming we had any vacancies in a leading role.

I may well have expressed an interest in her offer: our Society had around 300 “members” on our mailing list, and a core of around half-a-dozen people who were expected to do all the work of booking speakers, editing our newsletter, etc.

I then met her again two weeks later, leafletting my own college St John’s for the Liberal Democrats. I pointed out that she’d lied to me about who she was. She, or perhaps one of her friends, said something awful and hackneyed about how she was a “radical,” just not my sort of radical.

What conclusions do I draw – was she just lying perhaps in order to spy on us?

(Good point).

I don’t think she was *simply* lying. The left-wing parents were genuine. Within days of my encounter with her, she was speaking at the Lib Dem conference and calling for the abolition of the monarchy.

What I did get to see in that short period was a yawning ambition, a complete carelessness about which side she was on or what she needed to tell people she believed. Oxford was a leftwing place then, our student society was on a roll then with high profile speakers (Foot, Eagleton…), regular meeting of over 100 students at a time, and Britain was plainly heading towards a Conservative election defeat. It wasn’t entirely daft to think that being around SWSS we could have boosted her career. Well, actually it was – we were among the most militantly anti-careerist folks anywhere in Oxford politics. She worked that out. And if we hadn’t struck her off our membership lists (which we did), she would no doubt have vacated herself.

Along with the dishonesty, the other thing that struck me was a profound mediocrity. I’ve had all sorts of Conservative opponents, and even friends, over the years – I’ve known right-wingers capable of saying something interesting or amusing, or even being in their own ways steadfast, principled, etc. Johnson’s successful career you could see a mile off. Stewart’s recent reinvention. Kwarteng was making his way through school and university politics not far behind, making friends along the way.

Not Truss, though. Soon after I spoke to her she was elected as her college rep on the student union council – as I was too. She was a yellow blur at the back of meetings which debated how to protect student mental health, what sort of examination system would break the public schools’ dominance of Oxford entrance, etc. I don’t recall her saying anything there, and certainly nothing of interest, in 2 years.

Author, David Renton: “I was educated at Eton College, which I loathed, where I became a supporter or member of successively the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Labour Party and ultimately the Socialist Workers Party. “

Oxford Socialist Worker Student Society is still going.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 6, 2022 at 10:33 am

Morning Star Urges British Left to Follow Red-Brown ‘Czech Republic First’ and “link the cost-of-living crisis to climate change and war”.

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‘Czech Republic First’: Model for the UK Labour Movement and Left?

The Guardian carries this story today:

Thousands gather at ‘Czech Republic First’ rally over energy crisis

Around 70,000 demonstrators demand new gas deal with Russia and end to sanctions over war in Ukraine

The Czech Republic is facing an autumn of discontent after an estimated 70,000 demonstrators gathered in Prague to protest at soaring energy bills and demand an end to sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Far-right and extreme-left elements coalesced at a “Czech Republic First” rally to call for a new agreement with Moscow over gas supplies and a halt to the sending of arms to Ukraine, while urging the centre-right government of the prime minister, Petr Fiala, to resign

The rally, part-organised by the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) and the rump Communist party that once ruled the former Czechoslovakia, featured calls for military neutrality and complaints over the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. About 400,000 have been granted residence in the Czech Republic since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Alongside banners bearing slogans such as “The best for Ukrainians and two jumpers for us”, Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková of the hard-right, anti-EU Trikolora party told protesters: “Fiala’s government may be Ukrainian, it may be Brussels, but it is definitely not Czech.”

Some demonstrators wore T-shirts praising the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, while others carried banners voicing anti-EU and anti-Nato sentiment. The Czech Republic has been among the western alliance’s staunchest supporters of Ukraine.

The Belgium  Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française RTBF also makes the far-right presence clear:

Organisée sous le slogan, “la République tchèque d’abord“, la manifestation visait l’inflation croissante tirée par une flambée des prix de l’énergie, la vaccination Covid-19 ainsi que les immigrants.

Organised under the slogan, ‘ Czech Republic first ‘, the protest took aim at rising inflation driven by soaring energy prices, Covid-19 vaccination as well as immigrants.

Der Spiegel carries the same lines, almost word for word.

Bei der Kundgebung unter dem Motto »Die tschechische Republik zuerst« kamen nach Polizeiangaben rund 70.000 Menschen auf dem zentralen Wenzelsplatz zusammen, um gegen die hohe Inflation, die von den hohen Energiepreise getrieben wird, zu protestieren. Demonstriert wurde aber auch gegen Corona-Impfungen und die Aufnahme von Migrantinnen und Migranten.

According to the police, around 70,000 people gathered in the central Wenceslas Square to protest against high inflation, which is being driven by high energy prices. But it also included opposition to corona vaccinations and the admission of migrants.

The Morning Star urges the British labour movement and left to follow the red-brown Czech Front.

As in Prague, the left must link the cost-of-living crisis to climate change and war.

Morning Star Editorial today.

MAMMOTH protests in Prague at the weekend made the direct link between Nato’s confrontation with Russia and the cost-of-living crisis.

It is a connection that needs to be made here as we gear up for mass demonstrations against a new Tory prime minister promising hundreds of billions more in military spending while millions cannot afford their energy bills.

Czech communists were right to dismiss claims that because the far right were mobilising for protests the left should sit them out — instead rallying under their own banners and promoting their own, socialist solutions.

(On the same Protest?)

Similar attacks have been made on left politicians in Germany who plan a string of “Monday protests” from today demanding action to bring down energy prices and a halt to Berlin’s policy of propping up energy suppliers’ profits by levying a charge on every kilowatt-hour of energy used.

Again, liberal figures within left organisations use the bogeyman of far-right protests to suggest socialists should stay off the streets and confine their criticisms of government to official channels.

That is a recipe for one thing only — empowering the far right by making it the outlet for popular anger at runaway inflation.

Those in Die Linke who have rejected the naysayers and promised a “hot autumn of protest to stop a cold winter of unheated homes” are right about the need for public confrontation with the system.

In Britain we face a different problem.

The far right are not as strong as in Germany or the Czech Republic, and show no signs yet of benefiting from the cost-of-living crisis.

The left, in the form of trade union-led campaigns such as the People’s Assembly, Unite for a Workers’ Economy and Enough is Enough, is leading resistance.

The latter is packing out rallies in city after city and plans a day of action on October 1, coinciding with Ofgem’s decision to ratchet up the energy price cap by a staggering 80 per cent.

But we should be wary of narratives that separate the domestic from international crises.

No British politician questions the logic of sanctions on Russian energy, though the price rises these fuel are proving a bonanza for Vladimir Putin who has increased sales to key Western suppliers like Saudi Arabia and even indirectly to Europe — which is buying huge quantities of liquefied natural gas from China which experts assess to be resold gas of Russian origin.

All sides at Westminster oppose talks on ending the war in Ukraine, instead backing massive increases in military spending which will inevitably come at the cost of our public services.

The cost-of-living crisis is global. Food and fuel inflation cannot be separated from the impacts of climate change and war.

Britain’s new prime minister must face a movement that raises demands for peace and climate adaptation at the same time as calls for pay justice and price controls.

*****

Others were less impressed with the Prague march: (Pawel Wargan is Coordinator of the International Secretariat of the Progressive International).

Some people just can’t resist a march with “Anti-EU” and “Anti-Nato” slogans. The bloc of the pro-Brexit left, including the Morning Star self-identifying left, with nationalist forces and Brexit Party backers in The Full Brexit, has obviously given some people a taste for red-brown alliances.

The idea that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can be described as ” Nato’s confrontation with Russia” and putting in the same sentence the cost of living crisis is confusionism, is beyond distasteful.

Furthermore, let us be clear, we do not march, as in Prague, as the Czech Communists (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, no MPs, one MEP) did, “allying, under their own banners” with the far right, in this case principally the national populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party (20 MPs in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic ), under any conditions whatsoever.

*****

Personal note.

Many on the left have links with the Czech Republic, back to the time when it was, with Slovakia, Czechoslovakia. Apart from backing the Prague Spring and opposing the 1968 Russian invasion, an indelible impression was made for many by Artur London’s account of the 1952 anti-semitic Slánský Stalinist show trials (1968) and the 1970 film by Costa-Gavras created from it, The Confession (L’aveu).

My mother worked as a secretary for the International student organisation based in Prague during the 1948 ‘Prague coup’ and was, at the time, favourable to the Communists, though 68 put that in question. She had a deep affection for the people (one of her friends in Bounds Green was Czech) and the country. Her Czech-English dictionary is on my shelves as is her copy of the Good Soldier Švejk. My parents visited Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

This song sums up what many on the European left felt about the 68 invasion and Stalinism when the French Communist Party tried to say that the balance-sheet (le Bilan) of Official Communism was positive. It references L’aveu.

It makes me weep:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2022 at 10:09 am

Burston School Strike Rally, Mick Lynch, and a Surprise Appearance by Jeremy Corbyn.

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“Let’s have an autumn of demand and a winter of discontent, if necessary.

Many trade union and left activists in East Anglia go the Burston Strike Rally every year – it is “our Tolpuddle” event as we say. The Village Green, which has a small museum to the ‘longest strike in history, is covered with trade union, campaign, and left group stalls. There are speeches from memorable labour movement figures (Tony Benn, amongst many others), entertainment (Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson have featured in recent years), and a parade of trade union banners down the village lanes.

There has not been a rally since 2019 – in 2020 the Covid Lockdown scuppered public gatherings. This year there were stands from all the main trade unions, Norwich Trades Council, Key Workers United, Acorn Tenants Union, Norfolk Constituency Labour Parties, the Greens, the Socialist Party, the SWP, to the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), the Stop the War Coalition, Jewish Voice for Labour, the Peace and Justice Project, and other pressure groups including WASPIs, Extinction Rebellion (XR)Amnesty and the Hunt Sabs. The Socialist History Society was amongst the stalls. People were selling socialist papers, this Sunday these included, Socialist Worker, the Socialist, the Morning Star (independent of the CPB and run by the co-op), Workers, from the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (not to be confused with the CPB), and Socialist Appeal (SA) SA had an Ipswich banner on the march around Burston and surroundings.

The afternoon speeches (see below) were followed by the show. This September it included Attila the Stockbroker and Mark Thomas, the political comedian. Some suggested that Cde Thomas was perhaps too kind towards Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. The RMT had a blimp flying over the village which quickly acquired witty nicknames relating to a Senior Assistant General Secretary of the union.

A good time was had by all, and it was some bloody serious politics and action that was talked about both on stage and off.

The Eastern Daily Press already has this report,

Union boss declares ‘now is the time to stand up’ at Norfolk rally

The leader of a national union has told hundreds of people at a rally in Norfolk that “now is the time to stand up and say, we will fight”.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) was one of a number of speakers at the Burston Strike School Rally, near Diss.

Mr Lynch told the rally: “Our people, the working class of Great Britain, are going to face the worst cost of living crisis ever. Now is the time to stand up and say ‘we will fight’.”

The rally also saw an unannounced appearance from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He said: “All workers across all industries deserve fair pay, conditions and treatment at work. Let’s have an autumn of demand and a winter of discontent, if necessary.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 4, 2022 at 7:16 pm

Skwawkbox, Steve Walker, to appear at ‘Beyond the Fringe’ Alt-Left Rally Alongside Chris Williamson.

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‘The Future of the Left’….

Bored by the prospect of ‘dishrag’ Labour conference? Try ‘The Future of the Left’ instead

Small Businessman Steve Walker writes in his inimitable style,

“A new ‘state-of-the-art’ alternative to the Labour Party conference will take place in Liverpool this autumn as the left fights back against Keir Starmer’s drab, Establishment-aligned husk of a party and the ‘limp dishrag’ managerialism he embodies.”

Speakers will include Audrey White, who famously gave Starmer a dose of Scouse truth when he dared to show his face in Liverpool recently; Stella Assange; former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein; anti-racism activists Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker, both unjustly expelled by Labour; Dr Deepa Driver; former Liverpool Lord Mayor and now Community Independent councillor Anna Rothery; Howard Beckett (Note: “The leftwinger Howard Beckett has pulled out of the race to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of the Unite union at the last minute to throw his weight behind the frontrunner Steve Turner!) (1) ; former Labour MP Chris Williamson; union leader Ian Hodson; former MP Dave Nellist (Note: Socialist Party); Labour finance expert Esther Giles; Skwawkbox’s Steve Walker, Socialist Telly’s Kernow Damo and many more.

The many more includes David Miller, Tony Greenstein, of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party, n doubt promoting the launch (?) of his new venture into self-publishing.

David Miller (also speaking at the alt-left rally),

What future for the Left? Discussing the way forward.
Do class politics still matter? Should we abandon concepts of left and right? Is the time right to build a new left party? What programme should the left fight for? These are the kind of questions we want to discuss in this session.
With Lesley Mahmood, Dave Nellist, Steve Walker (Skwawkbox), Chris Williamson, Ian Hodson, Jackie Walker and others.

Chris Williamson..

Is Walker still a member of the Labour “drab, Establishment-aligned husk of a party”?

***
On Howard Beckett’s link with Skwawkbox see:

Skwawkbox, Beckett and Waterloo.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 3, 2022 at 5:01 pm

Salvador Dalí proposed to enslave “all the coloured races” as part of a new world order.

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Short Answer: Yes.

Salvador Dalí wanted to enslave races he considered inferior and establish a sadistic world religion, according to a newly discovered letter, which was written as fascism was on the rise in Europe.

The ‘I’ (the highly recommended daily, which the Tendance always buys) continues.

The Spanish surrealist proposed the enslavement of “all the coloured races” as part of the new world order, which would be “anti-Christian and materialistic and based on the progress of science”.

“The domination or submission to slavery of all the coloured races” could be possible, Dali said, “if all the whites united fanatically”.

In the letter, which was written in 1935, Dalí also insisted on the need for human sacrifices but did not specify what these should be.

This is worse than even a lifelong hater of Dalí would expect.

The letter is published in El País  (unfortunately you need an on-line sub for this article: El día que Dalí inventó una religión racista). There is a short report in Pousta, Dalí quería fundar una religión racista.

Dalí wrote the letter to André Breton, the French writer and co-founder of the Surrealist art movement.

Surrealism was offered an outline by Breton in 1924. It is “pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express…the real process of thought. It is the dictation of thought, free from any control by the reason and of any aesthetic or moral preoccupation.” His two Manifestes du surréalisme (1924, 1930) contain a lot more, including reference to Swift, “surrealist in his nastiness”, Sade,”surrealist in his sadism”, Rimbaud “surrealist in the way he lived, and elsewhere”. The first Manifesto declares its commitment to “absolute non-conformism”.

The second, declared their commitment to Historical Materialism, and Social Revolution, but not to the principle of “proletarian art”. Breton saw no signs of a separate working class literature and art even under the existing “proletarian regime” of the USSR. It would be, he asserted, citing Trotsky writing in 1923, be after a long and painful transition period, up to those living in a full communist future to develop their own forms of artistic development.

Nadja (1928), “un récit autobiographique” is, for many, Breton’s best book although  L’Amour fou, “le mot ‘convulsive’…pour qualifier la beauté”, (1937) rivals it. Both are published with the written text and (black and white) surrealist paintings, photos and images. There is this, amongst many memorable passages, from Nadja, “l’émancipation humaine à tous égards, entendons nous bien, selon les moyens que chacun dispose, demeure la seule cause qui soit digne de servir.” Human emancipation, in every respect, let’s be clear, with the means that everybody had, remains the only cause that is worth serving.”

Many of the Surrealists had deep ties to the left. in 1931 they published a Manifesto against the official ‘Colonial Exhibition’ in Paris: « Ne visitez pas l’Exposition coloniale » : le manifeste du groupe des surréalistes en 1931. Not content with protesting against the official event they organised their own counter-exhibition, “Surrealists and Communists in Paris A counter-exhibition that changed Western understanding of colonial cultures.”

Surrealist anti-colonial credentials were impeccable, despite accusations that they were publicity-seeking agitators and opportunists; their various tracts such as Don’t Visit the Colonial Exhibition railed against deportation of the Vietnamese, exploitation of colonies to fill the vaults of the French Central Bank, and the complicity of administrators, politicians, churchmen and industry in the repugnant idea of a Greater France. The empire’s colonial subjects were the allies of the world proletariat; it was pointless to distinguish between good and bad colonialism. Another pamphlet First Account of the Colonial Exhibition was published after a fire that destroyed the Dutch East Indies pavilion; the arrogance of the West considered its art superior to the native artefacts destroyed in that fire. The ‘savage’ was the justification for colonialism’s civilising mission, whereas for the Surrealists the savage was the superior civilisation.

There are plenty of political issues to explore in the relations between the surrealists and the political left, and particularly the fraught, eventually hostile, links Breton in particular had with the French Communist Party (PCF). There was also the transition of his founding surrealist comrade Paul Eluard to writing Ode à Staline (1950) or Louis Aragon from writing the 1920s fragments assembled as Les Aventures de Jean-Foutre La Bite to Editorship of the post-war PCF controlled Les Lettres françaises. The writer of the original surrealist manifestos, by contrast, protested against the Moscow Trials, in the late 1930s worked with Trotsky, and in 1938 they launched the Fédération internationale de l’art révolutionnaire indépendant. FIARI. In the 1950 Breton moved closer to anarchism, the Fédération anarchiste and wrote for the journal Libertaire.

There were plenty of conflicts between Breton and other surrealists for a wider variety of reasons, and his efforts to exert control over the movement had got him early on known as the “”Pape du surréalisme.” But one thing could be aid to bring them together: antifascism.

André Breton, put Dalí on “trial” in 1934 for “the glorification of Hitlerian fascism” and he was suspended. He was permanently expelled from the movement in 1939. The French surrealist’s enduring loathing of the Spanish artist is celebrated by his anagrammatic sobriquet for the painter, Avida Dollars.

This letter continues,

He said there was a need for “new hierarchies and more brutal and stricter than ever before” to “annihilate” Christianity.

“I believe that we surrealists are finally turning into priests,” Dali added.

He appeared to be scornful of Christianity’s altruism, adding: “We don’t want happiness for all men, rather the happiness of some to the detriment of others”.

The letter, which was published in El País newspaper on Thursday, was recently discovered in the digitalised personal library of Sebastian Gasch, an art critic who died in Barcelona in 1982. It had been verified by another historian who specialises in the work of Dalí, William Jeffett.

The Spanish site Cuatro says, “Tras recibir esta carta, Bretón expulsó a Dalí de su grupo.” After receiving this letter Breton kicked Dali out of his (Surrealist)group. (Los planes secretos de Salvador Dalí, al descubierto: el artista quería fundar una religión racista

The artist’s fascination with Hitler and fascism are well known but until now there has never been such an explicit expression of its values written by Dalí.

In other comments, made at the time, Dali admitted that he found Hitler “exciting”. He also said he found Nazism “hyper original” because he thought it was an example of surrealist government, with the swastika as a surrealist symbol.

The letter was part of the reason that he was permanently expelled from the Surrealist art movement in 1939. He had also professed admiration for lynchings in the United States.

During the long dictatorship of General Franco between 1939 and 1975, Dalí chose to stay living in Spain while many artists like his contemporary Pablo Picasso went into exile.

Many Spaniards admire his work but find his attitude towards the Franco regime difficult to accept. In his native Catalonia, there are few monuments to Dalí in Barcelona.

Sources from the Fundación Gala Salvador Dali, which guards the image of the artist who died in 1989, told the i: “These letters relate to the first attempt to expel from the surrealist movement.”

As is well known there is a lot of material on Dali and fascism.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2022 at 5:36 pm

‘Animal Rebellion’ to try to prevent millions of people from buying milk.

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After a Summer of Love and Resistance will Britain’s most famous Vegans Join the Rebellious Animals?

Animal Rebellion is set to try to force people to stop drinking milk.

“Animal Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion that focuses on the environmental harms of animal agriculture, claims it has hundreds of supporters willing to be arrested and go to prison for taking direct action. (Guardian)

The group also said it would take action at supermarkets in five UK cities on Saturday by blocking shoppers from reaching milk and dairy aisles.

In a statement, the group said “millions of consumers will be unable to buy dairy milk” once it begins taking action in the first two weeks of September.

If they begin with milk, then cream, yoghurt, fromage frais, and cheese will not be far behind.

Bandwagon jumping barely covers this tweet.

They have already been in action:

Cadre Training to Lead the Enlightened Vanguard that will force us to be free of dairy:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2022 at 10:35 am

Pour en finir avec Eddie: Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, Defends Eddie Dempsey Hating the “Liberal Left”.

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Brendan Must Fall!

The former Editor of Spiked, its chief political writer, Brendan O’Neill, writes today:

Why they hate Eddie Dempsey

Both woke leftists and liberal leftists fear working-class democracy.

The former Revolutionary Communist cadre, friend of the Brexit Party, and national populist writes,

“It’s Eddie Dempsey. It’s always Eddie Dempsey. He’s the senior assistant secretary general of the RMT. He’s also a full-throated backer of Brexit. And that makes him ‘gammon’ in the eyes of the middle-class lovers of Brussels. It makes him suspect. He comes from a working-class background and voted Leave? Racist!”

The shared dread of Dempsey between liberal-leftists and woke leftists confirms the narcissism of small differences between these two camps. Their weekly shouting matches only disguise how much they share in common. Particularly on the issue of working-class democracy. The woke side might refer to working people as ‘gammon’, while the liberals prefer to brand them Europhobes, but both clearly believe that the uneducated throng should not have too much power.

Another national populist, who has written of “A New National Religion’ Liberal Wokedom’, ‘Liberals against the Masses’ and the ‘Brexit revolt’ (Despised. Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class. 2001), Blue ‘Labour’ Paul Embery tweets.

The reason for the interest? The Communist Party of Britain put this on their Twitter Feed.

“Dempsey said that “people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”..

He further commented that “too many in the Labour Party have made a calculation that there’s a certain section at the top end of the working class, in alliance with people, they calculate, from ethnic minorities and liberals, that’s enough to get them into power.” (Brexit, the white working class and liberal left. 2019)

So what the fuck is Brendan O’Neill rambling on about when he says in, “a trade unionist who says the working class has both the capacity and the right to govern society gives both a fit of the vapours.” and ta Labour take over by the ” managerialist middle-class left.”? What has that got to do with people, rightly, objecting to the strident phrase, “hatred of the liberal left” in the same sentence as “people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos” and “right to hate them”?

To return to what is at issue here.

At the time….

Dempsey’s defence of this language was uttered, in a rather scornful tone, that when he uses the words liberal left they mean just what he chooses them to mean — neither more nor less.

Defending himself Dempsey said, “Did I say that Tommy Robinson supporters were right to hate the “liberal left?” Yes. Clearly, my comments need further explanation. I said these words as a warning against Labour abandoning large sections of the working class in favour of middle-class Remain voters.”

 

I believe the “liberal left” — what I understand to mean the political and media representatives of Blairism, who have socially left-leaning but economically right-leaning views, not “left-Remainers”, many of whom I recognise as solid comrades — have been complicit with aggressive, neoliberal policies, have allowed Labour to abandon its core base and have left millions of people disgruntled and isolated from wider society.

The far-right have sought to take advantage of this — sometimes successfully — by offering horrific alternatives…

When Jones says that Tommy Robinson supporters hate the liberal left because of their perceived anti-racist and anti-Islamophobia politics, this is true, and I agree with Owen. I have never said otherwise.

Instead, I said they are right to hate the liberal left for the liberal left’s abandonment of the working class and their interests…

You can read a response to Dempsey from an RMT activist in the group he calls a “cult” the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: Becky Crocker replies to Eddie Dempsey.

Firstly, to take one element in which Dempsey’s response to Jones is not consistent with his original statement. One of his original controversial statements at the March 2019 Full Brexit rally was:

“The one thing that unites [the people who turn out for Tommy Robinson]…. is their hatred of the liberal left. And they are right to hate them”.

This foregrounds hatred of the liberal left as the unifying factor amongst Tommy Robinson supporters. It does not mention nationalism or far right politics, a striking omission to say the least. Yet in his response to Owen Jones, he states:

“When Jones says that Tommy Robinson supporters hate the liberal left because of their perceived anti-racist and anti-Islamophobia politics, this is true, and I agree with Owen. I have never said otherwise”.

Does Dempsey think that uttering the words, “I have never said otherwise”, will mean that we fail to notice the contradiction between Jones’ depiction of Tommy supporters and Dempsey’s original statement?

Jones argues accurately that Tommy supporters hate the liberal left because, however inadequately, the liberal left challenges racism; Dempsey originally claimed that the “one” unifying view amongst Tommy supporters is not racism, or sympathy with the far right, but hatred of the liberal left because of anti-neoliberal sympathies.

Jones is honest about the right-wing politics of Tommy Robinson supporters; in contrast Dempsey’s original statement tried to downplay these elements or even claim some common ground with them. Dempsey’s response to Jones cannot change the meaning of Dempsey’s original characterisation.

There are other examples in Dempsey’s response where he attempts to re-write the meaning of his original statements. But I will leave it for readers to spot those inconsistencies.

Moving onto Dempsey’s self-proclaimed advocacy for working-class diversity. Sadly, it does not match up to Eddie’s record as a prominent activist within the RMT.

The Meeting Dempsey spoke these words at was held by The Full Brexit. If he replied to his critic, Owen Jones by saying that, the rightly loathed liberals were hated for their “abandonment of the working class and their interests…” what about this group to which he gave his full support?

The Full Brexit may have thrown a few left-sounding words around, “the left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future”. It said it was “seizing the historic opportunity Brexit offers for restoring popular sovereignty, repairing democracy, and renewing our economy”.

But who were they in reality. Spiked backed this front, which involved supporters of the Brexit Party, Blue Labour (Paul Embery, Baron Glasman), old-style national Labour types, the British Communist Party, a few self-identifying ‘left’ sovereigntists, the odd Tory, and the even odder Green, Larry O’Nutter (known under his pen-name Larry O’Hara).

Why we’re campaigning for a Full Brexit. (2019)

Last week, ‘Transforming Britain After Brexit’ was launched. This is a national Left Brexit tour organised by Labour Leave, Trade Unionists Against the EU, the European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy, Polity Books, and The Full Brexit.

Spiked is the successor to Living Marxism, the magazine of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which is now engaged in national populism and various red-brown fronts, after its ‘contrarian’, ‘libertarian’, rightward drift over the last couple of decades.

Bob From Brockley wrote at the time (2019).

THE RCP’S LONG MARCH FROM ANTI-IMPERIALIST OUTSIDERS TO THE DOORS OF DOWNING STREET.

One LM initiative in the post-Referendum period was “The Full Brexit”, an avowedly left-wing pressure group launched in the summer of 2018 to reframe the Brexit narrative as one about “democracy” rather than just bashing immigrants. Alongside a smattering of Blue Labour social conservatives and Lexit Marxists, a good half of its 20 founding signatories are RCP network members. Academic Chris Bickerton has been a Spiked contributor since 2005, when he was a PhD student at St John’s College, Oxford. Philip Cunliffe, Furedi’s colleague at the University of Kent, is another long term Spiked activist. Pauline Hadaway, another academic, is a veteran of the Living Marxism days. James Heartfield was a paid RCP organiser. Lee Jones seems to have been recruited at Oxford around the same time as Bickerton. Tara McCormack is an RCP veteran, as is Suke WoltonBruno Waterfield write for Living Marxism. Other signatories aren’t part of the network but have been promoted by Spiked: Paul Embery and Thomas Fazi for example (Fazi is also connected to the 5 Star Movement and recently retweeted an antisemitic tweet from someone with “Nazbol” in his user name). Many are also involved in Briefings for Brexit, which has several RCP veterans on its advisory committee, and some are involved with Civitas. This is a peculiar form of left-right crossover politics.

The RCP then played a key role in the creation of the Brexit Party, again providing “left” cover for a deeply right-wing project. Otto English in Byline Times documents how, in February 2019, a film-maker, Kevin Laitak, a disciple of Furedi, began turning up at local Leavers of Britain groups, telling campaigners that he was making a short film about rank-and-file Brexiters. He then recruited activists who might consider standing for the new BXP, who were then called by a woman called Lesley Katon. Katon told would-be recruits that she was the co-founder of a group called ‘Invoke Democracy Now’, whose activists, English notes, included Claire Fox, as well as Luke Gittos, the legal editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, its editor, Living Marxism alumni Tessa Mayes and Munira Mirza, and Mick Hume, former editor of Living Marxism (for more on Invoke Democracy Now, see Colin Lawson). Katon herself has several LM connections, and among the candidates emerging from this process were In addition to her client Claire Fox; Katon’s colleague David Bull who spoke at a Spiked event in 2003; James Heartfield, a long-time RCP cadre; Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, a former RCP activist and Spiked contributor; and in Scotland long time Spiked writer Stuart Waiton. Of these, only Fox was placed high up enough a regional list to get sent to Brussels.

Both Trade Unionists Against the EU and Labour Leave received donations from hard-right millionaire Brexiteer Arron Banks. More details on this: John Rogan, Lexit and Brexit collaboration-what did the Morning Star know?

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2022 at 4:58 pm

Left Reactions to the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – 2022).

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“The last socialist ” amongst the Russian leaders ?

“What did old communists and the general left expect from the USSR in the 1980s except it should be a counterweight to the USA and by its very existence frighten the rich and the rulers of the world into taking some notice of the needs of the poor? Nothing, any longer. And yet we felt a strange sense of relief, even a glimmer of hope, when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985. In spite of everything he seemed to represent our kind of socialism – indeed to judge by early statements, the sort of communism represented by the Italians, or the ‘socialism with a human face’ of the Prague Spring – which we had thought almost extinct there.

Curiously our admiration was not to be significant diminished by the tragedy of the dramatic failure inside the Soviet Union, which was almost total. More than any any other single man he became responsible for destroying it. But he had also been, one might say, almost single-handedly responsible for ending half a century’s nightmare of the threat of nuclear war, and in the Eastern Europe, for the decision to let go of the USSR’s satellite states. It was he who, in effect, tore down the Berlin Wall. Like many in the West I shall go on thinking of him with unalloyed gratitude and moral approval.”

Eric Hobsbawm. Interesting Times. 2002.

“Initially the re-established Communist Party welcomed ‘glasnost’ (openness) and ‘perestroika; (restructuring ) in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. As these twin processes fell prey to forces favouring marketisation, privatisation, national separatism and the restoration of capitalism, the CP organised a series of large public meetings in alliance with former London mayor Ken Livingstone, Socialist Action Labour Party campaign group MP and others on the left.

The downfall of the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe in the early 1990s compelled British Communists to analyse the reasons for counter-revolution. The reconvened 41st congress of the CP in November 1992 made its assessment:

The root cause of the collapse lay in the particular forms of economic and political structure which developed in the Soviet Union, Specifically, the great mass of working class came to be progressively excluded from an drecut control over their economic and social destiny. The erosion of the very essence of socialism increasingly affected all aspects of Soviet society.

The Communist Party. 1920 – 2010. Robert Griffiths and Ben Stevenson. (Communist Party of Britain. CPB July 2010)

Comment:

Many on the left neither recognised any form of socialism, even Eurocommunism, in Gorbatchev, or the measures during his time in power, but welcomed openings to free expression and glasnost, without feeling any identity with the USSR regime. If it ever had a democratic shape in the first days of the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks under Lenin and before Stalin, eliminated political competition from the right and the left, during the Civil War. If they were bastards they were for some periods, during the Front Populaire in France and the fight against fascism in the 1930s, largely because of the existence of large Communist Parties in Europe, sometimes “our” bastards.

As for the CPSU it did not take more than casual acquaintance and reading to know that its ‘socialism’ excluded anybody but themselves from power. Unlike the mass European Communist parties in Europe which adopted Eurocommunism (whatever one might think of their national strategies or own apparatuses see, From Stalinism to Eurocommunism. Ernest Mandel. 1978), they never contested real elections. There was a gulf, to put it mildly, between the mass of the Western European left and the cadres of the Eastern European Soviet bloc, let alone the CPSU. What happened under Gorbachev began the processes of change in the USSR surpassed (depasser is the verb I am thinking of) us, in common with just about anybody watching it. We were observers. If there was any emotional pull it was rather towards those against installing what is now called the rule of the oligarchs.

Morning Star (independent of the CPB and run by the co-op).

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has died aged 91 in Moscow, according to Russian news reports.

Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital said he had died “after a long and serious illness.”

Gorbachev led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985-91 and is famous for his policies of “perestroika” (restructuring) and “glasnost” (openness), which were pitched as attempts to democratise Soviet socialism and make it more economically efficient. Critics said the policies dismantled much of the socialist system and caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism.

Following a failed bid to overthrow him by Soviet loyalists in August 1991, he was outmanoeuvred by the then head of the Russian republic within the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin, paving the way for Russia’s declaration of independence from the USSR which prompted its collapse despite 77 per cent of Soviet citizens having voted to preserve the union on an 80 per cent turnout that March.

Hailed in the West for ending the cold war, Gorbachev was deeply unpopular in post-Soviet Russia because of the fall in living standards that followed the dissolution of the union. In 1992 he was formally expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for causing its collapse.

French Communist Party leader:

The last leader of the USSR, father of perestroika and Nobel Peace Prize winner has died. He worked for the reduction of nuclear armament and the end of the cold war. Pacifist when Putin himself engaged in a criminal war.

L’Humanité,

Mort de Mikhaïl Gorbatchev, père de la perestroïka

Mikhail Gorbachev died on August 31 at the age of 91. In 2021, in front of the camera of Russian director Vitaly Mansky, the last leader of the USSR talked of his memories.

Television interview in 2021. Mikhail Gorbachev’s USSR – From Reforms to Collapse (Arte. Available in 6 languages).

“Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, died on August 30 at the age of 91. Adored in the West but strongly decried in his country, the craftsman of perestroika and glasnost allows himself to be filmed in his intimacy by the director Vitaly Manski who delivers here the existential and political testament of a combative nonagenarian despite illness and loneliness.

Like his moonlike face, his exhausted body, swollen with diabetes, is unrecognizable, but on the smooth skull, the famous birthmark of the one whom the world, from his seizure of power in 1985, to his resignation after the fall of the USSR, in 1991, celebrated as a liberator, remains clearly visible. At the end of 2020, approaching his 90th birthday, the ultimate ruler of the empire, who ” fought to the end ” but in vain to save his “Soviet homeland ” by democratising it, lives in retirement nearby of Moscow, in a vast and beautiful villa lent by the Russian State. Surrounded by a small circle of relatives and employees, at his home or at the foundation that bears his name, and the ubiquitous portraits of his wife Raïssa, who died of cancer in 1999, (see: Poutine, l’irrésistible ascension ) whom he knows well and is close to, film him in his diminished daily life, and question him on his historical and political record. How does he explain the resentment towards him of the majority of his compatriots, who regard him as the gravedigger of the empire? Does he recognise today that his company was doomed to failure?

“The Last Socialist”


On these two central questions, the contradictory, but affectionate dialogue between the two men inevitably proves to be instructive, more by the anecdotes and tasty comments distilled in passing by “Mikhail Sergeyevich” than by a profession of faith of which he has no never deviated, including two years earlier, in front of Werner Herzog’s camera. But this immersion in the intimacy of an old man is worth less for this piecemeal political testament than for the paradoxical power of seduction that it gradually reveals. Whether he evokes his love for Raïssa or for a grandfather spent in Stalinist jails, whether he mocks the ” Yeltsin method ” and his ” half-buckets of vodka“, or even (magic of direct cinema, which captures this facetiousness of history on the fly) that he opportunely loses his sonotone while Vladimir Putin delivers his New Year’s wishes on television, Mikhail Gorbachev keeps direct simplicity, the humour and humanity that made him so popular. He who defines himself as ” the last socialist ” among the Russian leaders also remains a homo sovieticus shaped by an apparatus and a doctrine that he refuses to deny. first as a man standing facing his approaching death, assuming his past responsibility as well as his present weakness. A fascinating portrait, broadcast thirty years almost to the day after the brief putsch which, on August 19, 1991, constituted the first act of his defeat .”

The French Daily comments:

“The Russian director obviously wanted to hear Gorbachev bluntly claim, in the name of the ideals of democracy and freedom, full responsibility for dismantling the system. “I cannot agree with the idea that the Soviet Union, our country, was a victim of democracy. I fought a fierce fight, until the end, to stop it being dismantled”, insisted on the contrary the former leader, without however challenging the aura he enjoys in certain former satellite countries, for his historic role.”

Shiraz: Gorbachev and the collapse of Stalin’s system.

Republished below: Socialist Organiser‘s analysis of the collapse of the Soviet Union following the failure of a neo-Stalinist coup against the “reforming Stalinist Tsar” Gorbachev.

Socialist Organiser (a forerunner of Workers Liberty) posed the choice facing the Russian working class as “Chinese-style authoritarianism and a growing sphere for market economics, or else a radical popular revolution which destroys the power of the old state: as we know, there was no working class-led revolution, and authoritarianism (and capitalism) eventually triumphed, though not exactly on the Chinese model and more gradually than might have been expected.

Tributes:

The heavyweights wade in:

More on the YCL and CPB:

YCL: Gorbachev was ‘coward and traitor of the USSR’ Lawrence Parker.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2022 at 11:17 am

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Backs Enough is Enough Campaign.

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A political big beast, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has backed the Enough is Enough Campaign.

A significant section of Channel Four News this evening was given over to a report and interview with the Labour politician outside this evening’s rally in Manchester. People may have noted that he added a call to restore the £20 Covid extra for Universal Credit claimants, a step in the right direction but far from enough for claimants bearing the brunt of the present energy price rises and inflation.

Andy Burnham criticises Starmer’s policy against joining picket lines (Guardian).

Andy Burnham has voiced criticism of Keir Starmer’s policy of stopping Labour frontbenchers from joining picket lines, saying he would not “see this as controversial” during a crisis over the cost of living.

The mayor of Greater Manchester is due to join Mick Lynch, the leader of the RMT rail union, at the launch of the Enough is Enough movement in the city on Tuesday. The group is calling for lower energy prices and increases to wages and benefits.

Speaking to Sky News, Burnham again declined to rule out standing for the Labour leadership in the future, saying he would consider this “one day”.

Already the Mail is in action: “Andy Burnham courts hard left and infuriates Keir Starmer’s allies by agreeing to appear at rally this week.” The right-wing of Labour is calling Burnham “Corbyn lite”.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2022 at 8:27 pm

Roger Garaudy, Holocaust Denier, Gets Unearthed.

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US Islamist site, Garaudy “died persecuted and isolated⁠—all because he rejected the Zionist version of history.”

Like the Loch Ness Monster, though less beguiling, Roger Garaudy has been rediscovered. Roger Garaudy: Why This French Intellectual Remains Unknown. Hint: He Was Muslim headlines a recent piece in the US Muslim Skeptic. The writer, one Bheria, asks, “Who was this Roger Garaudy? Who was this individual that received one of the most prestigious awards in the Muslim world; and that too for his “Service to Islam”; and then also having shared this honor with the renowned Ahmed Deedat? (And how do you even pronounce his name?).”

Garaudy died in 2012. He was 98 years old. The US author laments, “He basically died persecuted and isolated⁠—all because he rejected the Zionist version of history.”

Roger Garaudy is pretty well known, and not just because he was one of “France’s leading intellectuals from the last century.”  He was (successively), a Communist (he joined the French Party in 1933), a Resistance Fighter, leading Stalinist Communist (he appeared for the French Communist Party (PCF) during the Kravchenko libel Trial in 1949, to stand with the USSR against the charge that it held concentration camps, as one of the witnesses of its ‘morality’, témoins de moralité), an ‘Official Philosopher’ of the PCF from the 50s to 60s, Marxist-Humanist (first during the Party’s opening to these ideas, to which a number of its intellectuals were attracted, such as the – serious – philosopher Lucien Sève), some-time Atheist, Christian-Marxist (Protestant, from youth he had an association with La  Réforme  in France, then Catholic) , Ecologist, and finally, in 1982, a convert to Islam.

One of Garaudy’s legacies is the Calahorra Tower in Spain. This museum, which he founded, celebrates the Arab colonisation of the Iberian peninsula, and suggests that the invasion under the Umayyad Caliphate and Muslim rule over their new subjects led to a “time of brilliant cultural, artistic and scientific achievement” between the 9th and 13th century”.

A more famous reason why Garaudy is remembered is this, which Behria cites:

Already in 1982 his miltant anti-Zionism led him to compare Zionism to Nazism.

In the 1990s he published The Founding Myths Of Israeli Politics, which argued, among a number of other controversial claims, that Hitler had ordered the deportation and not the extermination of the Jews and that typhus, not gas chambers, was responsible for the deaths of Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

After an outcry in the press, Garaudy was prosecuted under France’s tough laws against inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity, to be found guilty in 1998.

He appealed against the judgement at every possible level but lost each time, with the final verdict from the European Court of Human Rights declaring that he had received a fair trial.

Garaudy died in Chennevières, in the Marne valley east of Paris, at the age of 98.

The Muslim ‘sceptic’ comments, “Yet another example of the sheer hypocrisy of freedom of expression—an un-Islamic liberal concept.”

I have little idea of who the chap who has rediscovered Garaudy is. He writes stuff like, “Holy Incest in Zoroastrianism” and Salman Rushdie: Neo-Orientalism and Western Hypocrisy He looks like an Islamic version of political confusionism, mixing appeals to the fight against ‘colonisation’ with this, ” The 19th Century Jewish Critique of Modern Liberal Western Degeneracy.” On second thoughts, he is a genuine fascist….”You can’t reject Western degeneracy selectively because you like this person’s poetry or that person’s painting. In order to be coherent you have to be “radical.””

The one-time humanist turned anti-Semite is not exactly forgotten in the Muslim world: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praises Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy as brave and tireless. (2019)

Garaudy’s development does raise the question of what kind of ‘Marxist humanism’ he ever believed in.

During the early sixties, stated no less a figure than Perry Anderson, “the values of humanism were extolled from the balconies of the French Politbureau by its major ideologue Roger Garaudy, while in the USSR Kruschev’s new party programme for the CPSU proclaimed ‘Everything for Man’.” (Arguments within English Marxism. 1980) The case of Garaudy, the erudite one-time New Leftist wrote, “was well known”, comparable to John Lewis in the UK”. Another writer, perhaps more familiar with French politics, once wrote of him as “formerly witch-hunter general, now dispenser of extreme unction, in quick succession champion of Stalin and defender of the Khrushchevite faith” (Gregory Elliott, Althusser – The Detour of Theory. 1987, hat tip, MHW))

Lewis, a former Ipswich Unitarian Minister who became a leading philosopher in the Communist Party of Great Britain, wrote in 1961 that “Stalin’s work tends to be undervalued today.” “The great creative statesman, however much he may have blundered in later years” expressed, the Soviet leader said, “the definitive objective of developing real freedom in the best sense of the term.” (Socialism and the Individual). He was in this respect a supporter of official ‘humanism’.

The French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser attacked this form of ‘humanism’ in Pour Marx (1965). He claimed that, Marx broke with an approach “based history and politics on an essence of man.” and an ideology, “(socialist) personal humanism”. His targets included the (unnamed) Lucien Sève  and Garaudy. Whatever the piece’s merits, it is hard to make sense today of Althusser’s talk of “the transition to communism, the end of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the withering-away of the State apparatus, presupposing the creation of new forms of political, economic and cultural organisation”. He was referring to the 1960s USSR and Eastern Bloc…

A more explicit clash took place with John Lewis in the pages of the CPGB journal Marxism Today much later, in 1972. This battle, generally considered to be substitute for the earlier attack on the PCF’s theorists, greatly exercised E.P.Thompson in The Poverty of Theory (1978). The labour historian and long term socialist humanist he declared that the École Normale supérieure  teacher was part of a “general police action within ideology” an “the attempt to reconstruct Stalinism at the level of theory”, when he asserted that it was not “man”, human beings in the abstract, but concrete class struggles by the masses that “made history”.

In appealing to the authority of ‘Marxism-Leninism’ Althusser was on shaky ground at the time, a floor that has collapsed for good since. He claimed that “The “Stalin deviation” was a deviation above all because it implied that the road to communism lay not so much through class struggle as through the development of the productive forces. That is why it can be characterized in terms of humanism and economism. But it is precisely Stalin’s humanism and his economism which Khrushchev did not touch, which he did not rectify.(Louis Althusser Essays in Self-Criticism. 1976.) And further, as Gregory Elliott has shown in Althusser: The Detour of Theory (2014) the theorist failed even to begin to deal with the history of Bolshevism, the shape of Marxist-Leninist ideology in the crystalised in the USSR state, the totalitarian crushing of class struggle and human rights, and its inability to develop the productive forces beyond the capacities of a ramshackle semi-militarised command economy.

But what, to his credit, Althusser and other structuralist ‘anti-humanists’ did was simple. They had little to say on ethics, less on the material reality of human rights created in the successive democratic revolutions of the last centuries. What they did was to question the idea that calling yourself a ‘humanist’ and criticising, a picture of the young Marx’s writings in which he ‘alienation’ of human beings caught up in externalised was both a hallmark of capitalism and a explanatory tool for historical change. Althusser may have been unfunny when he said of Lewis’s worldview that in it “man is a little lay god”. Yet he may well have had in mind the Khrushchev Soviet humanism which the British Communist had backed, one that is a cruel mockery of slogans that made human beings the centre of that society.

Humanism has a long and noble history. E.P.Thompson’s fight, begun under the banner in the 1950s, was against Stalinist Marxism, and the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution by Soviet Tanks in 1956 and the Soviet Glacis in Eastern Europe. Today the word can be a deeply felt rallying cry against injustice, certainly better and more unifying than anything that ‘god’ believers can offer. But as social and political theory? It is an ethical and political objective. There are too many humanisms to pin the word down to one approach to explaining the world, or to one form of politics.

Post-PCF Garaudy did not find an enduring home on the left. After expulsion from the Communists in 1970 for disagreements over the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the May student movement, he branched out. In his writings he advocated new political blocs and ways of organising on the left and the “non-alienated” socialism of “man as a creator” The Turning Point of Socialism (1970). Seeing what few would glimpse today the communist still had some hopes in the socialist camp, “As the Chinese Revolution has shown it is possible to proceed directly from an agrarian-feudal society to socialism without any intermediate capitalist phase.” Yet he plunged further into the sea of a new faith and “self-management” in The Alternative Future: A Vision of Christian Marxism (1976). The book looked to China as “radical alternative to that prevailing in western and Soviet Civilisation…”there are cities without banks, without advertising without drugs and alcohol, without private cars..”

Stability was to come after conversion to Islam he wrote, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne (The Founding Myths of Modern Israel), 1996. “In his book, Garaudy rejected many of the premises of the Jewish claim to a homeland in the Levant and to the legitimacy of the state of Israel as “myths,” e.g., the “theological myths” of the Bible; the twentieth century “myth of Zionist anti-Fascism”; the “myth of justice at Nuremberg” the “myth of the six million,” and the “myth of the land without people for a people without a land.” These and other myths, Garaudy’s book argued, had been used by world Zionists in a conspiracy to dispossess the Palestinians of their homeland.”

You can read Garaudy’s book on the site, Radio Islam, alongside articles by other people on subjects such as The Jews behind Islamophobia and Jewish Manipulation of World Leaders.

Forward to the Arabic edition of Garaudy’s The Founding Myths of Modern Israel (Shoah denial site, The Journal for Historical Review)

After the war, the legend of the Nazi Holocaust and its promotion, particularly in the US, attracted Reed’s attention. Reed’s approach in discussing this myth in practice was based primarily on demographic data and what they pointed to. Such data, Reed felt, do not lie. He cited the statistics of the League of Nations on the number of Jews in the world in 1938, the last annual report of this global organization before World War II. Then he compared those data with the figures found in the first post-war population statistics published in 1947 by the United Nations — the organization that replaced the League of Nations. The comparison revealed that the number of Jews in the world after the war of 1939-1945 was the same as it had been before the war — just under eleven million persons.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2022 at 1:52 pm

French Left Populists, La France insoumise, Publicly Debate Macron Ministers; Talk of Mélenchon’s Successor Grows.

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Impressive Sign of Self-Confidence: Adrien Quatennens (MP,La France insoumise) publicly debates Minister of Olivia Grégoire, Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises (La République en Marche) .

On Saturday several government ministers responded to an invitation to debate from La France insoumise (LFI): Marlène Schippa, Olivia Grégoire, Clément Beaune. Rachida Dati, former minister, was also asked to come.

At the end of the August holidays La France insoumise held its ‘summer days’ event. As one would have expected figures from other parties in the NUPES alliance were present. But whoever they were their attendance was sidelined by the visit of figures from the cabinet of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron, and the former Home Secretary (2007 – 2009), under Nicolas Sarkozy’s hard right Presidency, Rachida Dati (looking around she got offered a T-Shirt reading ‘Taxez les riches’ by LFI Euro MP Manon Aubry).

Le Monde reported, “After a legislative campaign centered around demonising the LFI’s MPs, Nupes and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, three ministers from the Élisabeth Borne government made the trip to the summer rally and debates of the “insoumises” , Marlène Schiappa (social economy and solidarity), Clément Beaune (transport), Olivia Grégoire (SME, trade and tourism). “We have points of agreement, in particular on the fight to be waged against the far right and its ideas” , concluded Marlène Schiappa at the end of her debate on secularism with the deputy of Seine-Saint-Denis Alexis Corbière.

A further Le Monde report noted, “Beyond the spectacle, a substantive debate took place on the supply-side (that is (orthodox and liberal) economic policies, practiced by the government, to which LFI opposes demand-side (that is Keynesian) policies based on an increase in the minimum wage, price freezes and tax. on “superprofits”. Olivia Grégoire delighted in lecturing the “insoumises” on one of their ideological inspirations “Read Marx again! He says the best way to raise wages is to create jobs.” She did not get a good reception for that remark…..

In his concluding peroration Jean Luc Melenchon announced that the autumn would see a “bataille générale” as the left will act in the National Assembly and protest in the streets against the French government’s failures to deal with the cost of living crisis (even without the energy bills that will wreak havoc in the UK):

Meanwhile the thorny question of who will follow Jean Luc Mélenchon (71 years old), who is no longer a Deputy in the National Assembly where the new alliance of the left, the NUPES, has focused people’s attention, to take the leadership of La France insoumise has been brought to the fore.

The question of the succession of Jean-Luc Mélenchon is again on the table, when he announced that he was withdrawing from LFI to take care of his La Boétie foundation. Among activists, Adrien Quatennens(Note, see lead picture on post) has strong support but “JLM” has refused to decide. (Europe 1. 27.8.22)

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2022 at 5:15 pm

Cost of Living Action: Campaign to Link Protests.

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At the beginning of the last decade, we saw how quickly civil unrest can spiral out of control when authorities push local communities to breaking point. In 2011, riots broke out in London and throughout the country after Mark Duggan was killed by the Metropolitan police. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If this injustice continues, if extortionate food prices, energy bills and rents continue to rise, I fear something like that could happen again unless those in power do the right thing.” James (Guardian).

Cost of Living Action launches to tie together waves of protests. Morning Star.

Cost of Living Action includes Fuel Poverty Action, Just Stop Oil, London Renters’ Union (LRU), Global Justice Now and the Social Housing Action Campaign and is supported by Labour MPs Nadia Whittome and John McDonnell.

Ms Whittome said: “The growing mass movement around the cost-of-living crisis — from striking workers to protests to action against rip off energy bills — is an inspiration.

“We are facing an unprecedented attack on the living standards of working-class people, and the response will need to be co-ordinated.

“By providing a neutral platform for all campaigns to promote protests and local meetings, I hope that this project can play a role in bringing people together.”

LRU activist Ygerne Price-Davies said: “We are witnessing the development of a mass movement against corporate greed, corrupt politicians and climate apocalypse.

“To move to the next stage, we need to build democratic local groups in every town, city and neighbourhood.

“That is why we are joining forces to call for united local assemblies in September and beyond.

“Through these meetings and the alliances forged, we can help to organise a huge movement around this crisis.”

Everything is going up – except our pay. It’s time to organise.

Everything is going up: our food costs, our bills, our rent, our mortgage and debt payments. The wealth of billionaires, the profits of big businesses and the CO2 we pump into the atmosphere are going up too. The only thing that isn’t is our pay.

Workers are leading the fightback against the crisis, and community campaigns are springing up. Coalitions like Enough is Enough and the People’s Assembly have called national protests and rallies. Campaigns like Don’t Pay are calling national days of action against rip off energy bills.

We are a network of activists, organisations and grassroots campaigns. In the months of August and September, we are calling for local assemblies across the country to unite and amplify the movement against the Cost of Living Crisis.

This website is a neutral resource for anyone who wants to get involved in the movement against the Cost of Living Crisis, or who wants to advertise a local meeting bringing together workers, campaigners and networks in their area.

1. Support strikes
Workers and unions are leading the fightback against real terms pay cuts and falling living standards. In local organising assemblies, we need to organise solidarity with strikes: attending picket lines, helping with ballot campaigns, raising money, and linking workplace disputes to the wider community. There are major national disputes being run by several major unions, and you can see what’s going on in your area by checking out Strike Map.

2. Build protests
All across the country, protests are being planned. On Saturday 5th November, there will be a major national demonstration, organised by the People’s Assembly. We want to use local assemblies to build, organise and unite protests, locally and nationally.

3. Promote non-payment campaigns
In 2023, energy bills will rise to as much as £5,000. BP, Shell and EON have all announced record-breaking profits while millions of people will be choosing between heating and eating. Millions more will be simply unable to pay when bills go up again on October 1st. Don’t Pay is the national campaign calling for a boycott of energy bills, and local assemblies can discuss and promote it.

4. Solidarity and mutual aid
In a time of immigration raids, bailiffs and mass impoverishment, we need to look after each other. From crowds blocking border force and police vans, to community food banks, to community unions taking the fight to landlords and debt collection agencies. Local assemblies can provide a space to link up these efforts and share resources.


Our aim is to amplify all of the campaigns around the Cost of Living crisis, and to call for united local assemblies to organise the emerging movement. As well as the organisations that have initiated Cost of Living Action, and our events map, we are fully committed to working co-operatively with initiatives like Enough is Enough and Don’t Pay.

****

This should not be forgotten:

Comrade Nadia Witthome, like John McDonnell, is committed to the internationalist left:

This is interesting:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2022 at 11:31 am

A British Syndicalist Revival?

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“Unions barons plot coordinated strike by THREE MILLION workers to bring Britain to its knees this autumn: Unite, Unison, RMT and CWU join forces to threaten mass walk out spanning rail staff to teaching assistants and nurses. ” Daily Mail…..

Many of us are worried. Personally, and because of the effects on friends, and people across the country, that the huge rise of energy bills will have, alongside rampant inflation. The prospect of a hard right government led by Liz Truss adds to the feeling that we have already got to a low point.

At the same time there is a sense of solidarity and optimism, fueled by strikes and protests. This extends from small gestures, like the good wishes a couple gave us on a protest outside the Ticket Office at Ipswich Railway station last week, to the big pickets at Felixstowe Port in the last few days. Our Ipswich PPC for Labour, Jack Abbott, has been out visiting and showing solidarity with the trade unionists, from the Docks to the Postal Workers.

Now there is this (front page of the Observer today).

Unions threaten ‘waves of industrial action’ over UK cost of living crisis Move could see synchronised strikes in autumn as new prime minister takes office.”

For most it is as plain as a pikestaff that the root of these conflicts is the basic conflict between wage labour and capital, fought out on the terrain. But there is a lot more. It a real mood for strikes, backed, for the first time in decades, by large numbers of people. Some consider that this has become the heart of politics in the country. This has echoes of ‘syndicalism’, which Tom Mann (1846 – 1951), a British syndicalist, defined in this way, that “the object of the unions is to wage the Class War”. Some would make the claim that the trade unions are now the real opposition. At the very least, as the Mail and the rest of the far right media rumble into action, disputes about pay have become more than just about wage levels keeping up with the cost of living.

Some say that despite the very welcome rise in Labour support in the opinion polls there is not much an opposition can do in Parliament. Others criticise the lack of national Labour direction faced with this revolt, adding, for the fringe, that Keir Starmer is a hinderance not a help.

A comparison could be made with Bertrand Russell’s observation that “syndicalism arose in France as a revolt against political Socialism” (Road to Freedom. 1918). The radical philosopher traced this to disillusion with French socialist divisions in the late 19th century, and the Parliamentary socialism, the compromises made that led to the appointment of the socialist Alexandre Millerand as a Minister  (1899 – 1902) in the (faced with the Dreyfus crisis)  gouvernement de Défense républicaine. The problem here is that a majority of Socialists in France at the time, including not least Jean Jaurès, stood by the Parliamentary road. The critics, however justified in the detail about ”  ministérialisme” , has no strategic alternative that won proper electoral support.

Some opponents of this ‘opportunism’ turned away from electoral contests and placed their hopes in pure union struggles. More properly called revolutionary syndicalism, bolstered by the decision in the French union federation, the CGT, to adopt the separation between unions and political parties in the 1906 Charte d’Amiens. Their objective was “ownership by organised labour”; the means was the General Strike. That is a general work stoppage, country-wide, in effect a synonym for revolution.

Industrial unionism on a similar basis, often led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had some influence in violent class conflict in the United States before the First World War. In Britain Tom Mann played a critical role in the industrial struggles of 1910–1914, better known as “the Great Unrest” or “the syndicalist revolt”. In France a general strike never happened, although in 1908 some strikes were met with extreme state violence. On the eve of the 1914 war, Jean Jaurès – who had called for anti-war protests and strikes, co-ordinated with the German labour movement – was assassinated by an extreme right nationalist. The CGT, which had called for Peace or Revolution launched with a general strike, soon rallied to  l’Union sacrée , national unity behind the government against Germany.

Russell claimed that a major problem with syndicalism was that it was that it considered the individual as a “producer rather than consumer”. He saw a reform-minded analogy in the British Guild Socialists, whose influence extended from G.D. H. Cole’s Self-Government in Industry (1917). Cole (1899 – 1959) advocated a socialism grounded in self-managed units sited at the workplace and in the community rather than in any central apparatus of the state, or restricted to the “producers” After the Great War a wave of radicalism, saw not just Soviets in the USSR (rapidly absorbed by the Bolshevik state bureaucracy and purged of democratic content) but workers’ councils in immediate post-war revolutionary upsurges in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Poland.

In this period the right-wing of the movement was open to widening the scope of democracy in a social direction.. The Fabian Webbs, wrote in 1920 A Socialist Constitution for Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain. It envisaged a state with based on the Producer, the Consumer and the Citizen. It would have a “Parliament (divided) between two co-equal bodies, the Social and the Political Parliaments, both elected on a geographical basis by all the adult citizens. The Political Parliament will deal mainly with defence, justice, and foreign-affairs, and will have a keen eye to the protection of the liberty of the individual. To the Social Parliament all else falls—labour, health, education, the control of industry, and care for the interests of generations yet unborn. In the hands of the Social Parliament rests also the power of the purse…”

The influence of syndicalist themes can be seen not just in the continuing, if small, anarchist movement, ands in the 1970s Institute for Workers’ Control.

Georges Sorel’s the “myth of the general strike” (a projection of the future influencing strategy in the present) was discussed at length in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Better known today for “left populism” the radical democratic authors stated, “Marxism for him is not merely a scientific analysis of society; it is also an ideology uniting the proletariat and giving a sense to it. struggles”. Classes are not objective structures but “poles of reaggregation that he calls blocs.” Class war is the field in which class identity is created. Millerand’s socialism (I would say the 3rd Republic, which any reader of Sorel’s writings will soon see, he loathed), saps proletarian identity, corrupts it, and undermines its basis. “The syndicalist general strike’, or the ‘revolution’ in Marx, is a myth that it functions as an ideological point of condensation for proletarian identity, constituted on the basis of the dispersion of its subject positions.”

It is possible that some of this revolutionary syndicalism may return to politics, in this reformist country, in the coming weeks. Violence, of course, is the very last thing on our minds. There is a no evidence of a revival of what George Sorel called the ‘Ethics of the producers” including, Sorelian “moral factors”, pride in a work potentially free of the bosses – amongst those protesting at the huge bills, and striking or better pay, let alone a feeling that we can create a world of “free producers” – not the language one can find even amongst the most radical union lefts. What of a motivating vision of the future? The socialism of the union lefts today, already set back after the Corbyn defeat in 2019, is rarely based on anything like syndicalism or self-management. If their is strain of syndicalism is lies in the importance they put on industrial action and not just the, union backed, Enough is Enough “the campaign to fight the cost of living crisis”. Yet in bringing people together there is a glimpse of what cooperative activism could bring.

People are heartily sick of the Conservatives. But even those who feel the most contempt for the present government will be unlikely to agree with Sorel that, “Electoral democracy greatly resembles the world of the Stock Exchange; in both cases, it is necessary to work upon the simplicity of the masses, to buy the cooperation of the most important papers, and to assist chance by an infinity of trickery..” It is unlikely that there will be a general strike, although what is called a  grève générale et nationale, in reality, a Day of Action, common in countries like France, involving different unions, may take place. Such is the challenge thrown down by the government that it can be predicted that the opposition to it, led by “co-ordinated strikes” is creating “an entirely epic state of mind.” Reflections on Violence (1908) – Georges Sorel

The class enemy are also organising:

See: Syndicalism – an introduction. Lib Com.

“Syndicalism refers to the practice of organising workers into unions to fight for their interests. Originally, the term comes from the French work for Trade Unionism (Syndicalisme), but in English the term specifically refers to rank-and-file unionism.”

There are two major tendencies: Revolutionary Syndicalism, typified by the French CGT, and Industrial Unionism, typified by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). A related tendency is anarcho-syndicalism, but its specifically anarchist politics differentiate it from syndicalism, which is purely economic, or ‘non-political’. The idea behind syndicalism is to create an industrial, fighting union movement. Syndicalists therefore advocate decentralised, federated unions that use direct action to get reforms under capitalism until they are strong enough to overthrow it.

Official: The Future is Golden. Will the pro-Brexit Left not Rejoice?

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“I have never been more certain we will come through this well – and that Britain will emerge stronger and more prosperous on the other side.” Boris Johnson.

Listening to the French radio this morning, France-Inter, one thing was striking. Over the last weeks there has been a lot about their own cost-of-living crisis, (la crise du pouvoir d’achat, literally spending power) and various measures to deal with it, and criticism from the left alliance, NUPES, of the Macron appointed government’s strategy. But one canine did not bark: an explosion in the cost of domestic energy affecting consumers.

There is no massive rise in French household bills for gas and electricity. “France to keep curbing hikes in households’ energy costs.

The French government plans to continue to work to curtail the effect of rising energy prices on households next year, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in remarks published on Saturday.

“We will maintain measures to soften the rise in energy prices and we will take specific measures to assist the most vulnerable,” Borne said in an interview with the French daily Le Parisien.

“French people can be reassured, we won’t allow energy prices to skyrocket,” added Borne

Those on the left, the so-called Lexit (Left Exit) camp, who voted with the Tories and UKIP to leave the European Union claimed that the neo-liberal bloc would prevent government measures that stopped the market operating freely.

Tel’s Nipper has written an attack on Keir Starmer (and John McDonnell) that, apart from claims that the Labour leader is an agent for “Britain’s deep state” centres on their anti-Brexit stand (The Starmer ProjectOliver Eagleton 2022). The book argues that Starmer’s disruptive interventions prevented the emergence of an alternative Left-Populist Brexit programme.

The self-identifying revolutionary Leninist said in 2018 that his pro-Brexit views were influenced by Tariq Ali. Eagleton considered, that “a vote for Leave is not a vote for UKIP or for neoliberalism. In fact, it may deprive such forces of the international structures which sustain them.” Looking at Lexit : Everyday Lexiteers – Interview 3 : Oliver. The offspring of Oxford Professor Terry Eagleton and present member of the New Left Review editorial committee described the Remain campaign to stay in the EU as “vacuous and elitist“. In 2019 (The Article) he looked forward to a bright future, “Labour should produce a series of policy documents on nationalisation, state aid, immigration, foreign affairs and workers’ rights, each of which would explain how radical change is inhibited by the EU, and how a post-Brexit Labour government would exploit its newfound autonomy in these areas.”

A Left, or as they repackaged it, a ‘People’s’ Brexit was never going to happen. It did not happen. Those who claimed to be on the left and backed Brexit helped one very neo-liberal, chancer, charlatan and crook, the populist shape-shifter, one Boris Johnson. It’s his lot that has been able to use this post-EU ‘autonomy’.

We can now see what the “affirmation of sovereignty” has brought us.

It has not stopped Lexit supporters from trying to explain their way out of this horror-story.

Anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and one-time leader of Trade Unionists Against the EU, Paul Embery, also tries to wriggle his way out.

Perhaps Eagleton will appreciate this anti-state power piece by his national comrade:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 28, 2022 at 11:27 am

George Galloway Rants Against “NATO Refugees”.

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Red-Brown Front.

There have been a few people who have questioned whether George Galloway and his “Workers Party of Britain” are a red-brown front.

The issue is now settled.

On Tuesday, 1,652 ‘refugees’ arrived in dinghies on our beaches from France, mainly from NATO protectorate areas as Kosovo and Iraqi Kurdistan, WHICH WE OWN.

Ipso Facto they’ve not suffered war or repression, so aren’t refugees.

Did you hear the one about the fisherman picked up in the Channel and put up for free in a 3-star hotel?

#GallowayShow #NATO #OurAllies #Refugees #ChannelMigrants #EnglishChannel

More from the campist side of the red-brown front:

These forces hostile to the labour movement and democratic socialism say this:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2022 at 11:34 am

Beyond the Fringe: Fringe Left at Labour Conference 2022.

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One of the Stars at ‘Beyond the Fringe’ a “radical alternative” to the Labour Party Conference.

The Morning Star today publishes a Press Release, sorry, article about this event.

Activists plan ‘radical’ alternative to Labour Party conference 

“Speakers are set to include Stella Assange, who is the wife of jailed journalist Julian Assange, former Labour MP Chris Williamson, anti-racism campaigner Jackie Walker and Liverpool campaigner Audrey White who confronted Keir Starmer in a video which went viral.”

Beyond the Fringe producer Paula Drummond said: “We wanted a real alternative fringe rather than the sanitised and controlled meetings you usually get at the Labour Party conference.”

“So we developed the idea of a live online TV format, with interactive debate open to everyone, with a strong Scouse flavour. It’s vital that now more than ever the left, both inside and outside Labour, discusses the way forward and develops a real strategy.

From their own site:

REBELS LAUNCH “RADICAL ALTERNATIVE” TO LABOUR CONFERENCE

Rebel activists plan to launch a state-of-the-art radical alternative to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool autumn.

It will, the organisers claim, form a major offensive in a new leftwing fightback against  both the Tories and Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

“Beyond the Fringe – the Future of the Left”,  will be a three-day series of events running alongside the Labour’s Party conference in late September. 

Provisional Agenda.

  • You can’t say that! Racism, antisemitism, ID politics – are there limits to free speech? With David Miller, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein;
  • The Middle Eastern revolution and the struggle for Palestinian rights. With Asa Winstanley, Huda Ammori, David Miller and Ronnie Barkan;
  • The war on woke and the war on the left. With Jackie Walker, Asa Winstanley and guests;
  • Reclaim Pride – 50 years of LGBT+ struggle. With Teddy Brown, Phil Maxwell and guests;
  • Has the Left got it wrong on race? With Jackie Walker and guests;
  • The Forde Report: Lessons of the Corbyn years. With Jackie Walker, Duncan Shipley Dalton and Tony Greenstein.

Others names associated with the event (on their site) include the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition TUSC candidate Dave Nellist, Howard Beckett, who still has something to do with UNITE, and Ian Hodson of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

Chris Williamson’s latest hobby-horse:

Chris Williamson Retweeted

The Labour Left Alliance is, insiders say, the main force behind this bean-feast.

The main Labour left group, the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) withdrew support from it back at the end of 2019.

It has had little public presence recently.

This is from a time earlier this year.

We hear that Tina Werkmann is still involved. Democratic socialists would not touch a body that promotes the likes of Tony Greenstein, David Miller, and Chris Williamson (to name only the most egregious cases) with a barge-pole. One wonders who role Jackie Walker sees for herself in all endless list of panels she is appearing in at this event.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2022 at 4:13 pm

French Left Debates its Future Strategy.

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The French left, in the electoral and Parliamentary alliance, Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, NUPES, 151 MPs is engaged in serious debates about the way forward. The mood is reported to be warmly optimistic, La Nupes en débat aux journées d’été des écolos: «Finalement, je les adore tous». Libération today carries an article at the French Greens’ summer event, attended by the leader of the CGT union federation, Philippe Martinez, figures from Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, Génération·s (founded by the Socialist Presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon), and Socialist Party spokesperson, Dieynaba Diop. The CGT chief injected a note of caution,” Nupes did not get a tsunami of votes (“raz-de-marrée”) And above all, there are 89 fascist deputies.

The Fondation Jean Jaurès has just published this important study: QUEL FUTUR POUR LA NUPES ?

Conclusion:

  1. in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, the three blocs are quite different: between those close to the Socialist Party who mainly come from older generations, those close to La France insoumise, are from younger generations and from the working and middle classes, and those close to EE- LV (Greens) from fairly well-to-do social categories;
  2. Regarding opinions on a set of political issues, our study rather tends to show the same responses by Nupes supporters when we analyse the views of those close to the three main forces (Note, ranging from the role of the state in the economy, the minimum wage, immigration, adoption by gay couples,. Their views are broadly similar and the differences that exist are simply differences in degree in the positioning and not differences in kind. There are certainly some points of divergence (nuclear power, globalisation), but they do not seem to us to be of a nature to prevent any form of unity;
  3. the strategic question is certainly the most problematic for the future of Nupes, as at present those close to the Socialist Party and EE-LV favour an attitude of negotiation with the government much more than those close to LFI.

This inquiry also forms the backdrop to negotiations about forming common lists for negotiations about a common list for the 2024 European elections:

Mélenchon supporters overwhelmingly back EU membership, survey finds.  Théo Bourgery-Gonse.

“Only 58% of LFI supporters deem EU membership to be a good thing (compared to 81% for those supporting the PS and EELV). However, that’s not to say LFI supporters reject the EU completely: only 10% consider that membership in the EU is a bad thing, which is only slightly more than supporters of the PS (3%) and EELV (7%),” the survey found.

“These results are surprising,” Antoine Bristielle, the survey’s author, said in an interview with EURACTIV. “We had the feeling during the campaign that LFI was strongly anti-European while EELV and PS were in favour of more Europe. The data says something else: Euroscepticism among LFI supporters is marginal”.

Another important issue has been taken up in recent days by supporters of La France insoumise, its leadership and internal structure and LFI’s organising methods. In a detailed contribution published a few days ago, the deputy Clémentine Autain suggests far-reaching changes ( LFI : franchir un cap pour gagner). The supporter of Ensemble! offers constructive criticisms of the movement’s “forme gazeuse ” (effervescent shape).

It has already said by those less friendly to LFI that that with no formal democratic structure, led by a leadership that heavily invests in media communication and leaves local ‘groupes d’action’ (GAs) do “grassroots organising”, Mélenchon’s ‘left populism’ has made a merit of being Leader centred. For Autain, these “loose” (lache) and flexible arrangements, centred on ‘action’ paid off in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Autain asserts they maintained pluralism without encouraging the growth of permanent factions led by ‘notables’.

Nevertheless,

Reposant de fait sur un petit noyau de dirigeants, elles permettent difficilement d’agréger des cadres, d’en former de nouveaux pour animer un mouvement véritablement implanté sur tout le territoire et de profiter de la diversité des regards contenus dans le mouvement,”

Based in reality on a small core of leaders, they make it difficult to bring together organisers, to train new ones,  to bring to life a movement that is truly grounded across the country, and to learn from the multiple insights of those inside the movement.”

Autin’s suggestions to help create more open and durable structures with genuine local roots include exchanges at town, city and regional levels, regular ‘conventions’ (rather than the occasional gathering or ‘assembly’), and national funding (at present the GAs are self-financing). The MP for Saint-Denis believes, though not everybody will agree, that the ‘consensus’ method of decision-making inherited from the anti-globalisation movement, an “alloy of pluralism and consensus” ( “l’alliage du consensus et du pluralisme”) is a way to help deepen pluralism within LFI. She also calls for a more substantial and permanent National ‘Parliament’ of NUPES – few can imagine that this could function by this method of agreement let alone decision-making.

The debate Clémentine has launched is underway. Yesterday Contretemps carried this important article by Etienne Pénissat France Insoumise : vers la construction d’un mouvement politique populaire ? Penissat covers the views of Picard LFI deputy Françoisn Ruffin on the need to appeal to “La France périphérique des bourgs” and former industrial areas (similar to our old Red Wall areas) that have turned rightwards. LFI leading figure, Manuel Bompard’s reply to Ruffin contained in a longer interview, observes that it would be wrong to make such definite statements about geographical zones, the far-right voe grew across the county, and to ignore the importance of the working class multi-cultural suburbs where the left has won seats. (Manuel Bompard « Une force d’alternative prête à gouverner demain » )

Penissat suggests that at first sight Clémentine Autain’s intervention looks secondary in comparison. However, the call to change the “politique de structuration de LFI.”, the way the movement is structured, is on need of change. Bolder than “franchir un cap pour gagner” he details why, from a centralised media-strategy, a lack of internal democracy, local groups (GAs) in their present bare-bones activist shape, and high turn-over of supporters, are not sufficient to build a party/movement that has roots and social weight in the working class and popular masses in areas like the North of France, not to say elsewhere. Suggesting that something like the US ‘Community Organiser’ strategy designed for a country with a marginalised left, is perhaps a useful suggestion for those regions where the historic French left has also been pushed to the sidelines by Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National.

La construction d’un mouvement politique populaire ? suggests that there is an urgent need to fill the gap left by the lack of nationally backed local cross GA, intra and extra-constituency, meetings, and the lack of local infrastructure such as LFI offices. These features – still astonishing to a left observer from outside France – Pennisat notes, go with poor election results at a municipal level.

Conclusion,

” Building a truly mass and working class political movement is therefore urgent. From an electoral point of view but also to strengthen social movements, starting with the weakened trade union movement, able to defeat the government’s reforms. The PS and EELV have neither the means nor the political will to make the mobilisation of the working classes a priority issue. LFI’s responsibility is therefore great and the stakes are vital for those in the ‘camp of emancipation’. The experience of the first years of the movement and the legitimacy acquired in the electoral and social struggles constitute an achievement and a good basis for taking up this challenge. In addition, the means exist to initiate a new stage of construction of the organisation with a group of MPs spread over the territory and the multiplication of its public funding from 4 to 8.4 million euros . It now remains to give the political impetus.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2022 at 12:42 pm

Andrew Murray Goes Xi Jinping: “China increasingly reveals the advantages of socialist systems and societies.”

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“..the CPC remains the leading force and develops plans for Chinese society on a scientific basis” Andrew Murray.

In a less than challenging interview for Tribune, (the Podcast A World to Win), Andrew Murray talks about on his much heralded book, Is Socialism Possible in Britain? Reflections on the Corbyn Years (to be published by ‘new left’ Verso in September). Responding to the hard line Lexiteer (pro Brexit left) Grace Blakely, who “really enjoyed the book”, the former key Corbyn adviser talks of Labour Party history. This is marked, he asserts, by a division between “hard and soft reformism” in the party, and the lack of Marxist and Leninist influence.

The long-term Communist Party of Britain activist disposes of the its founding political force, the Independent Labour Party, in which Marxism was a marginal influence, and its “ethical socialism”, which he believes is a distinctive mark of the British labour movement. Other may observe that the German revisionist Eduard Bernstein was charged with this for his appeal to Kantian critique and ethics in his picture of ‘evolutionary socialism’, and amongst the French reformist current, the influential figure of Benoît Malon (1841 – 1893) wrote of “La morale social” which has also been compared to Kant (Emmanuel Jousse. Les hommes révoltés. Les origines intellectuelles du réformisme en France 1871-1917. 2017). 

Labour historians may equally question in more depth Murray’s claim that the ILP was not interested in the class struggle. Caroline Benn’s memorable biography of a ILP and Labour Party founding figure, Keir Hardie, is full of accounts of their backing for striking workers, trade unions, and the way in which the Scottish socialist mediated ethics, Christianity, socialism, and even references to Karl Marx. “Hardie firmly believed as well that the ILP was the ‘advanced wing’ of the working class, as ‘Marx intended the socialist section of the working class to be.'” (Page 260. Keir Hardie. 1997).

Corbyn and Corbynism was, he admits, “soft reformism”, a Parliamentary road to socialism, if rooted in the “politics of mass protests”. The book promises more on this, and, at the centre, the role of UNITE which substantially backed the anti-austerity movements, above all the People’s Assembly, that formed during the Conservative governments post 2010. It is without doubt the case that the left leader of the Party’s distance from the Parliamentary “game” and refusal to accept market liberal policies created great hostility from those who would have no truck with any form of reformism that could upset them. Above all one that was rooted on the “outside” world of street demonstrations, extra-parliamentary campaigns, or what Blakely grandly calls “social movements”,

That, by the former UNITE Chief of Staff, will be well worth reading, although dismissing ‘Parliamentary socialism’ – in Ralph Miliband’s view a loyalty to Parliament that outweighs any socialist policy is problematic (Parliamentary Socialism: A Study of the Politics of Labour (1961). It does not mean much unless you have a convincing argument and evidence for extra-parliamentary politics beyond marches, small local groups in civil society, a left presence in trade unions that is limited to the prime function of unions to defend members’ jobs, conditions and pay, and public meetings. Nor is it helpful for Murray, from his own political background to talk of Labour in terms of something external to be dissected. It is a mass party, a movement with a changing balance of forces between more complex lefts and rights than soft or hard reformists, and very far from socialist forces such as those around Tony Blair’s ‘modernisers’, groups in Parliament, local government, councillors, CLPs. and card-carriers. Aware of this potentially changeable structure Miliband’s final book, Socialism for a Sceptical Age (1994) did not think Labour was fixed in its direction. He speculated long before Murray’s sketch of the conditions that encouraged the growth of Corbynism, and during the first wave of modernising right-wing politics under Neil Kinnock, that one could never exclude social and political pressures that could push a move to socialist policies in a democratic party of the left.

But the former Chair of the Stop the War Coalition has a bee in his bonnet about “Imperialist social democracy”. Murray suggests that it is the right of the Labour Party , champions of NATO and Trident (UNITE backed Trident, on the basis of employment in the arms industry) champion, who have been the source of opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-imperialist foreign policy, seen as a threat to the “ruling elite”. Blackley, with a good degree from Oxbridge University, does not push the pillar of the StWC on the criticisms of their ‘anti-imperialist’ stands from left-wing internationalists on issues such as Syria, and Ukraine. Or China.

There are many reasons to criticise the form of anti-imperialism that Murray represents. The Tribune interview does not mention China…

Our job is made simpler by this article, which appeared a couple of days ago in the Chinese state chauvinist outlet, Global Times.

China’s power in the world, economically and politically, a fact not going to change: former Corbyn adviser.

“Andrew Murray (Murray), a former communist, deputy president of London-based anti-war organization Stop the War Coalition, and former adviser to former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, shared his views on these issues with Global Times (GT) reporter Xia Wenxin.”

Is China’s success under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) fully understood in British society?

Murray: Many of the CPC’s enormous achievements are generally neglected in the narrative in British society. I think that was based on a view that China would eventually become a sort of liberal, capitalist, bourgeois democracy. Now there is great anger that has not happened, and the CPC remains the leading force and develops plans for Chinese society on a scientific basis. So, I think the role of the CPC is not well understood. Partly it is seen as if it was merely the same as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in years gone by, despite the many differences and the historical experience between the two countries.

I’m sure China will definitely carry on developing in the foreseeable future. The economic growth will not perhaps be at the rate it was 20 years ago, but that is normal – you can’t grow at a rate of 10-12 percent a year forever. But I’m confident that China will continue to develop.

My hope is that its development will increasingly reveal the advantages of socialism. I hope having made this tremendous development will not let inequalities breed too far, or let private domination of the economy go beyond a certain limit. China does not seek to be a model for any other country. It says, we do what works for China, and other countries can learn as they please. But China increasingly reveals the advantages of socialist systems and societies.

Murray thinks China, in contrast to the ‘neo-liberal’ imperialist West is a socialist beacon. One imperialist capitalist market bad, one imperialist capitalist market society good.

There is a word for the kind of thinking that enables somebody to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them. Perhaps a trawl through Google will help

Written by Andrew Coates

August 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Andrew Murray Launches Left Unity Offensive.

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“If the working class is back, a united left fightback is all the more essential” Andrew Murray. (Morning Star)

Enough is Enough has given the left a tremendous shot in the arm, says ANDREW MURRAY – but unity across campaigns and unions is the only way to deliver success.

Andrew Murray, reported to have rejoined the Communist Party of Britain, (the article does not mention the political organisation to which he belongs but nobody has denied this claim) calls for unity.

THE working class is back.” So said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch at the recent rally launching the Enough is Enough campaign.

It is the most important declaration in British politics this year, maybe this century. In it lies the seeds of the only possible solution to the imposing range of crises besetting the country and the world.

The decline of the trade union movement; the shattering of so many working-class communities; the neoliberal assertion of a consumerist individualism as the measure of all things; and the prolonged hegemony of New Labour in what used to be called the labour movement’s political wing, a hegemony refreshed at least temporarily by Starmer — farce following tragedy right on schedule; the causes of the smashing of the working class as a political actor are well understood.

That absence has been particularly keenly felt since the neoliberal economic model went down in flames, and nowhere more so than in Britain, in 2008.

The years of austerity and slump since have proved that no situation is so dire that the elite cannot survive if there is no-one bidding to take over control.

Murray does not talk of what he has called “Brexit derangement syndrome” (those who opposed actually existing Brexit led by one Boris Johnson), “rancid identity politics” and, “Demands for human rights” which  “articulated the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.”(Page 97.The Fall and Rise of the British Left  (2019)).

Instead,

The decline of the trade union movement; the shattering of so many working-class communities; the neoliberal assertion of a consumerist individualism as the measure of all things; and the prolonged hegemony of New Labour in what used to be called the labour movement’s political wing, a hegemony refreshed at least temporarily by Starmer — farce following tragedy right on schedule; the causes of the smashing of the working class as a political actor are well understood.

That absence has been particularly keenly felt since the neoliberal economic model went down in flames, and nowhere more so than in Britain, in 2008.

The years of austerity and slump since have proved that no situation is so dire that the elite cannot survive if there is no-one bidding to take over control.

Former close adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, Murray continues,

If one of Corbynism’s weaknesses was that it walked perforce on one leg, the party-political one, unbalanced by an aroused and militant class movement, there is no value in simply switching to the other leg and still hopping.

The record of trade union action without political initiative is not encouraging, historically.

That is not to say that there is any value in parliamentary point-scoring or obsessing about Labour’s internal affairs. For the present, that game is played out and will stay so until Labour’s left finds the ways and means to defeat the Starmer counter-revolution.

But who is going to lead the fight against the counter-revolutionaries – and by implication the Labour Party in its present shape?

The retired UNITE chief of staff calls for a “political strategy”, based on strikes, and the “new spirit in fighting unions”,

The launch of Enough is Enough by leading trade unionists from the CWU and RMT and left MP Zarah Sultana has injected a massive shot of the energy required.

Hundreds of thousands have signed up to the campaign so far. It brings together the leaders of the unions which have been in the forefront of the summer’s industrial action together with some of the few MPs not to have lost their voice under the Starmer dispensation.

The labour historian notes,

There have been criticisms as to how Enough is Enough was established, and these would seem to have some validity.

All this echoes the Cook-Maxton campaign, launched by miners’ leader AJ Cook and ILP MP James Maxton in 1928 to rally left forces against capitalism. That, too, was beset by controversies over its launch and it speedily fizzled.

However, that initiative was taken when the industrial tide was going out, post-general strike. Today, the prospects are better.

Murray notes – without saying so directly, that UNITE the union is not involved in Enough is Enough. Neither is the People’s Assembly, which still exists, and is said in Suffolk to have support in some out-of–the-way villages and possibly some people elsewhere, is not in the driving seat of Enough is Enough.

Yet which campaign would not be the stronger for the weight of Unite behind it, together with its perspective of rooted action in the communities, an essential complement to the sometimes ephemeral nature of internet clicktivism.

Likewise, the People’s Assembly has a track record of pulling people and organisations together in the fight against austerity at the grassroots. Hopefully, the new campaign will reach out in these directions.

The strategist comments that unbecoming frowns, and sullen sighs – perhaps from these quarters? – are unwelcome,

But now is not the moment for carping or noses-out-of-joint sulking. If the working class is indeed back, the potential of that return — a renewed fight for socialism against crumbling capitalism — can only be realised in unity.

It has to be said that Murray will be taken more seriously when he comes up front about what political party he is now a member of. The scion of a Slains Pursuivant he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1974 and, in 1995, with his faction that emerged during the battles that led to its break up, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), which is said to have some influence in the Morning Star. Membership of the Labour Party began late in his career, in 2016, and, after having formed part of Corbyn’s inner circle as a consultant. After the 2019 defeat he resigned from his position as an adviser in 2020. It is said, a few years later, he has rejoined his old comrades a card-carrier of the CPB.

In the meantime the Tendance, like many others, will back Enough is Enough whose target is the present and in-coming September Conservative (Truss…) government.

How was the working class politically “smashed” ? Is capitalism “crumbling”? What kind of “fight for socialism” can be created today?

Many studies, long since the 1980s debates on the forward march of labour halted, the end of heavy industry, and the rise of neo-liberalism and its globalising conjunct, point to deep changes in the regime of capital accumulation, right down to the workplace, that have taken place in the new millenium.

This is not the result of a a choice for “neoliberal assertion of a consumerist individualism.” It is world some left economists are now calling “rentier capitalism” and “techno-feudalism”. Others have different terms for the importance of  ownership of key types of scarce assets—land, intellectual property, natural resources, and digital platform, tilting upwards the importance of profits by extraction of rent (often literally, through landlordship) rather than innovation.

This is a “giant economy of rent” with new “fiefs” run by vast digital platforms, right down to the digital management, databases and algorithms, and surveillance of all forms of employment. They are above all structural changes. We may disagree about their explanation, and importance in the regime of capital accumulation. But they are not “assertions”. This is an environment in which, writers like Cedric Durant suggest, leads to the crushing and absorption of individuals in work, the financialisation of social relations, and digitalised government (Techno-féodalisme – Critique de l’économie numérique. 2020).

These changes, some argue, have a deeply individualising effect, separating people and dissolving the older ways of bringing the workforce together in common conditions. Accounts of life in Amazon indicate ruthless efforts to control and discipline staff. Home-based work even removes office socialisation. If there is resistance in these sectors it appears more likely to take them immediate form of spontaneous walk-outs or quiet domestic sabotage than mass strikes. Work stoppages at present, taking place in the remaining union organised parts of public service and industry are classic pay focused battles, demanding rises in conditions in which collective bargaining in highly restricted, which is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

That such changes in work and the labour market have deeper causes than the policies of successive British governments can be seen in the parallel weakening of labour movements across Europe. They may be inflected by ‘neo-liberal’ policies, but few would seriously suggest that the transformation of the economy in the last decades is motored by policy and no structural forces.

For some on the left the changes also offer (as many have speculated with the rise of ‘immaterial’ labour processes since the 1990s) to the potential ground in the productive forces for a future development of full individuals, able to create a cybernetic socialism. This should be a major theme in thinking about the new shape of a labour movement, forced into a corner by the cost-of-living crisis, and obliged to play its part in the struggle between wage-labour and capital.

There are no short-cuts.

It is equally a challenge for the left to see how Marx’s picture of class struggle in The Poverty of Philosophy in 1847, could be applied today:

“Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have noted only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle. “In the struggle…this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle”.

That of course is politics based on strikes, but Marx did not lay down an exact political strategy based on strikes. What is Murray’s line of march once work stoppages and protests have got off the ground? Move to a general strike? How will this change the employers’ and government’s decisions from the outside. Should a political force from the working class be back too? Is there one that can take the reins of power? Workers’ councils evolving out of Enough is Enough and marches? A workers’ party present in the ballot for a General Election?

One thing looks clear, the workers may have returned, but the Communist Party, and other vanguard Leninist groups, have not.

*****

(1) See also: EVGENY MOROZOV CRITIQUE OF TECHNO-FEUDAL REASON NLR. 133.134. 2022.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 24, 2022 at 1:38 pm

Aleksandr Dugin, the Far-Right and the Red Brown Front.

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Red Brown Front (2018), Dugin, ‘Socialist’ Caleb Maupin, Julien Rochedy (former Marine Le Pen cadre but backed Éric Zemmour in 2022) , Leonid Savin (anti-globalisation protest activist in the Peoples’ Global Action (PGA), now Dugin full-time supporter), and veteran extreme rightist, one-time close Marine Le Pen adviser, Emmanuel Leroy co-founder of the association “Urgence Enfants du Donbass” (Emergency Children of Donbas), aimed at supporting the Russia-backed separatists in the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Eastern Ukraine now Eurasian activist.

The car bomb which killed Daria Dugina, (see the excellent, “No tears for Dugina” on Shiraz) a Russian nationalist journalist, has brought a spotlight on the influence and ideas of her father Aleksandr Dugin. From the National Bolshevik Party to the Eurasia Party the ideologue has had an influence beyond the frontiers of the Federation headed by President Putin.

“One of the first Russian figures to build bridges with the European radical Right, Dugin has, since the early 1990s been able to reply on a large network of supporters in France and Italy for Western Europe, in Greece and Hungary for Central Europe and the Balkans as well as in the United States among the so-called Alt Right” observed Marlene Laruelle in Alexander Dugin and Eurainsim (Key Thinkers of the Radical Right. Ed, Mark Sedgwick. Cambridge 2019) His ultimate goal, she wrote, is “a meta-ideology, common to all enemies of the open society”. That he is fluent in (heavily accented) French and English has, as commentators have noted after Darina Dugina’s assassination, helped win an international audience for his mental constructs, and political allies on the far right.

Dugin’s – shifting – theoretical and agitational writings are centred on a call for a new Eurasian empire (backed by pseudo-ethonogical and ‘occult’ histories of Russia’ history in the steppes) hostility to the USA, the refusal of liberal values in the name of right wing ethno-cultural identity politics and opposition to ‘globalism’.

A thorough account of Dugin’s political and ideological career is given in Black WindWhite Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism Charles Clover (2016). It includes sections on his cultural forays, including with punk-pornography novelist Eduard Limonov, combining fascist and communist-nostalgia in the National Bolshevik Party (1992).

Anybody familiar with the European far right can see the imprint of the French theorist of the Nouvelle Droite Alain de Benoist and his views on the primordial nature of cultural difference and hostility to liberal globalisation. Emmanuel Leroy, pictured at the top of the page, was involved with his project of a ‘Gramscian of the right’ in the Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne (Grece).

As this (old) interview indicates Dugin and Benoist are in agreement in opposition to globalisation, the ‘post-modernist’ project to make the world one vast supermarket and the processes of mass immigration, and the creation of multiple ‘poles’ of cultural identity to oppose it. One doubts, in this context, however that Dugin relished being lectured on European unity and the need for deep links between Europe and Russia….

There are, as attested in the interviews between the two figures, L’Appel de l’Eurasie (2013), convergences: loathing of ‘liberalism’, support for a “multipolar world”, a defence of a “bloc of civilisations” against uniform – US-led- globalisation. (Eurasie, le «choc des civilisations» version russe). It would be interesting to see Benoist, who has some serious ethnological knowledge, commenting on Dugin’s cartoon portrait of Russian history as a “steppe and woods” culture and empire. But a response seems hard to find…(though I imagine there is one).

There are more up to date, and detailed, introductions to the links between the European far right and Dugin.

Christian Buchet is a life-long factionalist on the French extreme right (and a leading figure in the ‘revolutionary nationalist’ current ending up (2008) in the Front National. At present he edits the review, Historia Occultae and refers to figures ranging from the Italian fascist Julius Evola, the metaphysician  René Guénon to Aleister Crowley (to whom he dedicated his doctorate on ethnology). He could be called a “spiritual’ neo-pagan extreme rightist. Buchet has close ties to Dugin (see interview below).

His comments after the death of Daria Dougina  are worth noting,

Christian Bouchet : « Contrairement à ce que je peux lire ici et là, Alexandre Douguine n’est pas un nationaliste russe, bien au contraire » [Interview] [MAJ : la réaction d’A. Douguine après le décès de sa fille]

Alexandre Douguine is both a traditionalist, inspired by René Guénon and Julius Evola, and a geopolitician heir to Russian Eurasist and National-Bolshevik thinkers.

In his books, he proposes a deeply anti-liberal model of society, respecting identities and, therefore, favorable to a Eurasian imperial construction, which I, a disciple of  Jean Thiriart , whom Douguine met and appreciated, call “The Greater Europe”, the one that goes from Galway to Vladivostok.

Contrary to what I can read here and there, he is not a Russian nationalist, quite the contrary. He thinks in terms of Empire, not race, nation or ethnicity.

Alexandre Douguine est à la fois un traditionaliste, inspiré de René Guénon et de Julius Evola, et un géopoliticien héritier des penseurs russes eurasistes et nationaux-bolcheviques.

Dans ses livres, il propose un modèle de société profondément anti-libéral, respectant les identités et, donc, favorable à une construction impériale eurasienne, ce que moi, disciple de Jean Thiriart, que Douguine a rencontré et apprécié, j’appelle « La Plus grande Europe », celle qui va de Galway à Vladivostok.

Contrairement à ce que je peux lire ici et là, ce n’est pas un nationaliste russe, bien au contraire. Il pense en termes d’Empire, pas de race, de nation ou d’ethnie.

These themes are explored further here: (2020)

ALEXANDER DUGIN, AN ALAIN DE BENOIST WHO HAS THE AUDIENCE OF AN ERIC ZEMMOUR AND THE INFLUENCE OF A BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY

The editor and writer Christian Bouchet just published a work in French by the Russian author Alexander Dugin, published in Russian in 1997 and entitled The Templars of the Proletariat. At this time Dugin co-directed the National Bolshevik Party with the writer Eduard Limonov, now deceased. Lionel Baland interviewed Christian Bouchet for Breizh-info.

Breizh-info.com: Who is Alexander Dugin?

Christian Bouchet: A theorist and militant, a man who offers us a new vision of the world that its partisans call the “Fourth Political Theory,” the other three being liberalism, communism, and fascism.

Breizh-info.com: What are your relations with him?

Christian Bouchet: I am his editor and we are friends. I’ve known him since 1992, a period where he represented the European Revolutionary Front in Moscow, a small nationalist-revolutionary “internationale” of which I was one of the leaders.

Breizh-info.com: What is his influence on powerful circles in Moscow?

Christian Bouchet: It’s very difficult to estimate. In the Yeltsin era, he was an adviser to the Speaker of the Duma (then held by the communist Gennady Seleznyov) on strategic and geopolitical questions and he was a first rate opposition journalist.

Henceforth, they’ve presented him, for a time, as “President Putin’s Rasputin”, but that’s as inaccurate as it is idiotic.

If I had to make a comparison with France, I would say that he’s an Alain de Benoist who has the audience of an Eric Zemmour and the influence of a Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Breizh-info.com: Alexander Dugin appears as one of the theorists of neo-Eurasianism. What does that consist of?

Christian Bouchet: The first Eurasianist movement was founded in the 1920s by emigrant Russian intellectuals (Trubetzkoy, Savitsky, Alekseev). They affirmed that Russian identity arose from an original fusion between Slavic and Turkic – Muslim elements and that Russia constituted a “third continent” between the West (denounced as materialist and decadent) and Asia. The Eurasianists differentiated themselves from classic nationalists and Slavophiles and, without being communists, were not opposed to the Soviet experience, which they regarded as the continuation of the Russian imperial idea.

Dugin’s neo-Eurasianism reiterates these ideas, but goes much further. It elevates the theory of Mackinder, which contrasts thalassocracy and tellurocracy, “the global island” (America) and the “global earth” (Eurasia), to the height of an explanation of history. Consequently his Eurasianism is perhaps both a purely Russian idea and at the same time a universal idea since Eurasianists, wherever they reside, are those who refer to the values of tellurocracy. Thus, one can consider Dugin’s Eurasianism as more than a simple political ideology, it’s a system of thought and a vision of the world.

Breizh-info.com: Is Dugin inspired by Russian or Western writers? Who are his principal inspirations?

Christian Bouchet: Among the Russians, there are the Eurasianists I just mentioned. Among the Westerners, Jean Thiriart, Alain de Benoist, Julius Evola, Hermann Wirth, René Guénon, etc.

Breizh-info.com: You edited the newly published work entitled The Templars of the Proletariat, written by Alexander Dugin in 1997. At this time, he co-directed the National Bolshevik Party with Eduard Limonov. What are the principal lessons of this work?

Christian Bouchet: In a series of independent chapters, Alexander Dugin retraces the genealogy of contemporary National Bolshevism: the right wing and left wing Russian National Bolshevism of the 1920s -1930s; Orthodox esotericism and its Third Rome thesis; the Russian sects that arose from the raskol [Translator’s note: The split of the Old Believers from the official Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century triggered by Patriarch Nikon’s reforms]; the Socialist Revolutionaries; and, more curiously, various Western influences like Guy Debord or the esotericists Aleister Crowley and Jean Parvulesco.

Surprising, sometimes unsettling, this work allows us to better understand the thought of a man whose influence, thirty years later, is extensive.

Breizh-info.com: In this book Dugin speaks of right wing and left wing Russian National Bolshevism in the 1920s – 1930s. What is the difference between these two tendencies?

Christian Bouchet: For Dugin, “left wing National Bolshevism” or the “Scythian movement” was composed of those who considered the October Revolution as a mystic phenomenon, messianic, eschatological, and profoundly national. The principal ideologues of Scythianism were the left wing extremist Ivanov-Razumnik, the member of the presidium of the central committee S. Mstislavsky, and the poet and writer Andrei Biely. Famous poets and writers who would become classics of Soviet literature also grouped around them: Alexander Blok, Sergei Yesenin, Nikolai Klyuev, Alexei Remizov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Olga Forsh, Alexei Chapygin, Konstantin Erberg, Evgeny Lundberg, etc.

Scythianism was characterized by the “apologia for barbarism” against Western civilization, the appeal to the archaic element of the nation and to destructive spontaneity which creates a “new world.” One could include in the “left wing National Bolsheviks” Maxim Gorky, who attempted to create a special popular religion for the communist era.

“Right wing National Bolshevism” is based upon a rationale: the life of a nation, a state, and a people is an organic process which always keeps its center intact. In all dynamic transformations – including crises, revolutions, and insurrections – there exists a dialectic of the “spirit of the people” which leads to providential aims, whatever the desires and the will of the direct participants of events. The nation stays the same – as a living organism – in the different stages of its existence, and even its sickness sometimes represents a syndrome of renewal, a way towards strengthening. The existence of the nation is deeper and more absolute than its sociopolitical history.

Consequently, all changes within a nation are conservative, whatever the external forms which embody them may be. This concept of “right wing National Bolshevism” was consistently and fully formulated by Nikolay Ustryalov. For Ustryalov, Bolshevism and the revolution were only steps in the history of the Russian nation, and dialectically aimed to surpass the crisis that had made the revolution possible. In other terms, Ustryalov and the other “right wing National Bolsheviks” saw the “conservative” element not in the theory of the revolution itself, but only in the continuity of the national context, to which all sociopolitical instruments are subordinated – including the revolution.

Breizh-info.com: What is National Bolshevism’s influence in Russia? Does this idea have influence within the communist party or nationalist formations?

Christian Bouchet: The influence of this current in Russia presently seems to be nothing. Partly because of the strategic error of Eduard Limonov who chose a frontal opposition to Vladimir Putin when a critical support would have been strategically a thousand times more promising.

The principal communist party in Russia – there are many – would be considered nationalist in France. As for the nationalist groups they leave me perplexed and I often doubt their seriousness.

Breizh-info.com: Has National-Bolshevism developed in other countries?

Christian Bouchet: One can consider that there has been as many versions of National Bolshevism as countries where communism took root. Ceausescu was doubtlessly a Romanian national communist, there was a Yugoslav national communism. In France even, we had the Parti français national-communiste of Pierre Clémenti.

Breizh-info.com: Does Dugin have influence outside of Russia?

Christian Bouchet: Yes, incontestably. His work is translated into a great number of languages, from English to Turkish passing through Finnish, and he gives conferences in nearly every country in the world where he hasn’t been forbidden to travel – he’s been banned in the USA – so he’s recently spoken in China, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Iraq …

In the Financial Times yesterday.

The global reach of Alexander Dugin Gideon Rachman.

In China, Iran and Turkey, Dugin has become a spokesman and co-ordinator for those who are seeking to destroy America’s global hegemony. Meanwhile in Europe and the US, he has liaised with far-right forces, positioning himself as an ally in the battle against “globalism”. In his lecture series at Fudan, Dugin argued that Russia and China must jointly build a “multipolar world order”, ending US dominance. At a meeting in April the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers embraced this idea, with Sergei Lavrov assuring Wang Yi that the two nations would “together . . . move towards a multipolar, just, democratic world order”. In Dugin’s worldview, the continental countries of the Eurasian landmass, centred on Russia, are naturally opposed to the maritime world led by the US and, before that, by the British. Dugin has praised the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt for his “clear understanding of the ‘enemy’ facing Europe, Russia and Asia that is the United States along with its . . . island ally, England”.

IRAN.

These anti-western and illiberal ideas have also found a ready audience in Iran. Dugin has been a frequent visitor and is particularly popular with the hardline elements in the regime. In 2015, he flattered his Iranian hosts by telling them that Iran is “the main base of the war against modernity” (a good thing, apparently). Dugin has also regularly visited Turkey, sometimes as a guest of the ruling AKP, and has made common cause with anti-American forces in the government.

EUROPE.

In Europe, meanwhile, Dugin and his sponsor, the Russian banker Konstantin Malofeev, have cultivated ties with hard-right parties such as Austria’s Freedom Party, Italy’s League and France’s National Rally — maintaining links through conferences, lectures and meetings in Russia and western Europe.

The US.

In the US, Dugin’s natural bedfellows are on the far right. Early in the Trump presidency, Dugin gave an interview to the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, expressing his hopes for “Mr Trump, who I support with all my heart”. He told Jones that pro-Trump and pro-Putin forces should unite against “our common enemy, the globalists”. Richard Spencer, the American far-right figure, who was filmed shortly after Trump’s victory shouting “Hail Trump” and giving a stiff-armed salute, is also connected to the Russian nationalist. Spencer’s wife has translated Dugin’s work into English.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Felixstowe Port Strike. “Ça fait très français, n’est-ce pas ?” Miles Hubbard, UNITE the Union.

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«Ça fait très français, n’est-ce pas ?» (It’s very French, isn’t it) Le syndicaliste Miles Hubbard (Libération today).

Strike action begins at Port of Felixstowe. Ipswich Star. (Ipswich is 30 mins drive from Felixstowe)

Workers at the Port of Felixstowe have begun an eight-day strike.

Around 1,900 members of the Unite union at Felixstowe have walked out in a dispute over pay. 

It is the first strike at the UK’s biggest port since 1989. 

Members of staff formed a picket line outside the port this morning. 

Workers including crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores are taking action after voting by more than 9-1 in favour of strikes.

In the French daily Libération Miles Hubbard, UNITE regional official, known and liked by many union and left activists in East Anglia, is quoted today. Grève au Royaume-Uni: «Les dockers ont décidé que c’en était assez» Nina Guérineau de Lamérie, envoyée spéciale à Felixstowe.

«Ça fait très français, n’est-ce pas ?»  (It’s very French, isn’t it?”) Le syndicaliste Miles Hubbard, gilet rouge sur le dos, sourit. This unprecedented strike will have a “huge impact” on the supply chain, affirms Miles Hubbard. “ A freighter can carry up to 10,000 containers. Imagine what it looks like when you multiply it by 10,000. 

Our members want a 10% salary increase, ” explains Miles Hubbard. Hutchison [multinational and parent company of the port of Felixstowe, editor’s note] has more than the resources to meet this demand. The Port of Felixstowe made £61m profit in 2020, during Covid, and also paid out £99m in dividends to its shareholders. It would take a small part of these proceeds to pay all of our salaries. The fact that they refuse “is just iniquitous”, he protests.

“Dockers have worked throughout the pandemic. Unloading and loading ships can lead to injuries, it is extremely difficult work, says Miles Hubbard. And the latest salary increases were lower than the rate of inflation in recent years. This year, they decided enough was enough.

Commenting on the ballot and the decision to hold a work stoppage Hubbard says, ““It’s a strict system, where everyone has to be a member of the union to participate….And yet, with all these obstacles, we obtained 94% in favour of the strike.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Red-Brown Caleb ‘Spanky’ Maupin Booted out of “Center for Political Innovation” which then “dissolves” itself.

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One Red-Brown Front Down!

Red Browner Booted out of his own Cult.

The ‘Center’ did not hold after allegations surfaced about Caleb Maupin.

‘Spankie’ Maupin had got exposed in a long Medium piece (CPI Members Speak Out) by members of the group (extract and link posted on this, and other, Blog). Now he is not only chucked out, but the whole cult has been wound up.

Unity Negotiations with the LaRouche Movement (Schiller Institute) and George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain are alleged to be underway.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2022 at 9:58 pm

Mick Lynch: Back the Great Strike Leader not his International Politics.

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Like many people, and all of the left, this Blog backs the RMT – and TSSA, and ASLEF – railway strikes. The naked class hatred of Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps recalls of the Tories of the 1970s and 1980s. His call to “impose new contracts on railway workers, effectively ‘fire and re-hire’ on worse conditions, unless RMT calls off strike action” is contemptible. Radio and television are beginning to broadcast the views of the anti-union brigade that make up the hard core constituency of the Right in this country. It is great to see Mick Lynch make mincemeat out of Tory and Boss opponents.

This is, nevertheless, no reason to be silent about the wider political views of Mick Lynch, and, even less so, his right-hand man, Eddie Dempsey (Senior Assistant General Secretary). Lynch has, above, expressed his ideas on a range of international issues in recent days as the post by Jim Denham (below) makes clear.

To begin with the most domestically contentious. The RMT backed, and effectively launched the 2009 and 2004 No to EU/Yes to Democracy election slates for the European Parliament elections. This, called a thinly veiled UKIP posing left was backed by the Communist Party of Britain and other fringe groups, like the Socialist Party and Tommy Sheridan’s more borders band in Scotland. It got a humiliating 1% and 0,19% in 2014. Dempsey stood on their 2014 London list. They got 3,804 votes,0.2%, though managed to beat the Harmony Party’s 1,985 who came just below them at the bottom of the poll.

The failed electoral front was behind the creation of Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU) The RMT affiliated in 2016. This organisation had many strange contacts, including the French ‘patriotic Trotskyists’ of the Lambertist current, the split led by Daniel Gluckstein, the Parti Ouvrier Indépendant et Démocratique (POID). The POID organised in May of that year a Paris Rally against the EU (“rupture avec l’union européenne“) which backed the UK leaving. The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was impressed by this staged event, “The meeting included contributions from RMT senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley and former RMT president Alex Gordon.” Trade Unionists Against the EU enjoyed cordial relations with the far right millionaire, Aaron Banks. Banks donated £54,000 to this ‘trade union’ campaign. Banks also helped them in the production of leaflets.

John Rogan wrote in 2018,

One long standing Lexiter is “former” leading Communist Party of Britain member Brian Denny (also from the RMT union who also backed Brexit). He has written extensively on the need to get out on the CPB’s website (Trade Unionists need to take the lead against the EU” 14 Aug 2015) and was a co-ordinator for NO2EU (Lexit electoral alliance), organiser for the (“Eurosceptic Labour Movement”) Campaign Against Euro-Federalism (CAEF) and a founder of Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Denny (“former” CPB) and Banks (Ukip) worked together to maximise the Leave vote. Here’s an extract from Arron Banks’s “Bad Boys of Brexit” (28 Jan 2016) where Banks saw Labour voters as key to winning and the need to fund an anti — TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) leaflet produced by Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Paul Embery the TUAEU National Organiser, who now writes for Spiked and the Daily Mail, promoted the ideas of Blue Labour, Family Faith and Flag, before moving on to attacking “rootless cosmopolitans”. Embery was a supporter of the Red-Brown Full Brexit a platform and site which brought together Brexit Party supporters, the Spiked Network, and anti-EU sovereigntists of the left.

Eddie Dempsey spoke on the Full Brexit Tour in 2019. This created great controversy on the left because of his public comment ““whatever you think of people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”. The Full Brexit felt obliged to publish a wordy attempt at a justification Transforming Britain After Brexit: Eddie Dempsey and the Divided Left.

Dempsey is case in itself: his 2016 use of infantile Stalin memes, pale before this: Dempsey visiting Alexander Mozgovoy, an uber-nationalist, uber-misogynistic paramilitary leader in the pro-Russian militias during the war in eastern Ukraine. When Mozgovoy was killed a week after they met, Dempsey wrote a glowing obituary of his comrade..” (Eddie Dempsey and the misogynistic warlord. 2019).

That this has been picked up by the right-wing media (and blog viewing figures on this site indicate one of the public sources they drew on) is not the point.

It puzzles many people that, personal loyalty aside, that somebody with this political history has a senior position in the Labour movement.

The issue of the RMT chief’s wider political stand has come to the fore because of an interview in the the New Statesman,

Mick Lynch’s contentious views on international issues, including the European Union, are taken apart today in Shiraz.

Jim’s demolition is to be welcomed.

Mick Lynch: great strike leader, terrible on international issues.

Jim has just posted this, which many internationalist left wingers of many different backgrounds, will agree with:

I am (or was) something of a fan of RMT leader Mick Lynch. Like many others, I’ve been impressed by his engaging, straightforward manner and I cheered him on as he made mincemeat of a succession of ill-informed TV interviewers (especially the spectacularly self-important Piers Morgan).

There’s no doubt about it, Lynch is an impressive advocate for his union and their campaign for a decent pay rise, as well as for working class solidarity in general.

So it was very disappointing to read an interview in the present issue of the the New Statesman, in which Lynch comes out with a series of simply appalling political positions. It is possible to accept that what he has to say about Brexit, though demonstrably wrong (France is nationalising the energy company EDF), is at least the democratically agreed policy of his union.

……

But his comments about Ukraine and the China (specifically regarding the Uyghurs) are not RMT policy – in fact they go against the union’s policies – so presumably represent Lynch’s personal views, and are simply disgraceful:

Read the full post via link above.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2022 at 11:42 am