Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Momentum: An analysis of the latest Rows.

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New Kind of Politics? 

The Independent reports,

Trotskyists are trying to take over Momentum

Labour’s grassroots movement risks being taken over by a ‘disruptive, over-bearing and ultra’left’ faction, according to a new member of its national committee

Trotskyists are a ‘vocal, disruptive and over-bearing’ presence within Momentum, whose ‘sectarian attitude is destructive to our movement,’ according to a new member of its central committee.

Laura Murray, who also works as Special Advisor to Labour Shadow Housing Minister Teresa Pearce, attended her first Momentum Committee, since being elected to the post of Women’s Representative, and has written a lengthy and scathing blogpost of the divisions within the movement that evolved from the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015.

Ms Murray said Momentum “would be engaging in collective self-denial if we were to downplay [Trotskyism’s] prevalence in Momentum. Dyed-in-the-wool Trotskyists are not the majority in Momentum. But they are a vocal, disruptive and over-bearing minority who have won themselves key position in the regional committees, National Committee and even the Steering Committee.”

Labour List led the way this morning with its account of the Momentum splits:

Fresh splits have emerged in Momentum in the aftermath of a crunch meeting to decide on reforms to internal democracy.

Laura Murray, women’s representative, has claimed that the tactics of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty are contributing to a form of “hard-left warfare” in the Corbynite group.

She published a highly critical blog, following Saturday’s meeting of Momentum’s national committee, in which she alleged there was a “plot” to oust Jon Lansman, chairman and veteran Bennite organiser.

Murray said the two suggested groups in Momentum – those from a Labour Party background and those from movements such as Occupy and UK Uncut – had been joined by a Trotskyite faction.

“Some people take offence at this term being used — understandably, as it is Tom Watson and the Labour right’s insult of choice for us. But we would be engaging in collective self-denial if we were to downplay it’s prevalence in Momentum,” she wrote on Medium.

“Dyed-in-the-wool Trotskyists are not the majority in Momentum. But they are a vocal, disruptive and over-bearing minority who have won themselves key position in the regional committees, National Committee and even the Steering Committee. To be clear, I am not anti-Trotskyist per se, and I recognise the enormous contributions that some Trotskyist thinkers and groups have made to political discourse, but the sectarian attitude taken by Trotskyist groups within Momentum is destructive to our movement.”

Nobody from Momentum could be reached to comment immediately.

They also noted,

Controversial activists Jackie Walker has been elected to a key organising role at Momentum.

Walker, who was removed as vice-chair earlier this autumn after offending many with comments about anti-Semitism, has won a place on the conference arrangements committee at Momentum’s national committee meeting.

The meeting, on Saturday, came after repeated cancellations of the meeting by the steering committee, which meant that the national committee had not met in seven months.

Walker, who was suspended from the Labour party over comments made about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, was removed from her position as vice-chair of Momentum in the wake of her suspension from Labour.

Walker said she had not found a definition of anti-Semitism she could “work with”, and accused Holocaust Nemorial Day of not being sufficiently inclusive in an outburst at a Jewish Labour Movement event at Labour conference, which was filmed and subsequently leaked.

Numerous senior Momentum figures were said to be deeply unhappy with her remarks, and the head of the TSSA union Manuel Cortes described her views as “abhorrent”. Walker, who is Jewish, later apologised.

Laura Catriona Murray‘s controversial Blog began,

Waking up the morning after the Momentum National Committee, I had that feeling you have after a horrible break-up from someone you love. When you momentarily forget what happened, then you remember and the feeling of loss comes crushing down on you like a ton of bricks all over again.

She cites as a basis for her analysis:  Lewis Bassett of Lambeth Momentum has eloquently described the inevitable conflict between the two political strands which merged with Momentum’s inception — Labourism, those people steeped in the traditions and ideology of the British Labour movement, and Movementism, those activists which had previously spurned party-politics in favour of innovative and exciting campaigning organisations like Occupy, UK Uncut and Climate Camp.

Bassett  summarises his argument:

I cover three developments of Corbyn’s left-wing advance guard, the extra-parliamentary group that evolved out of Corbyn’s initial leadership campaign: first the transition from “social movement” activism to parliamentarianism; second, how the extra-parliamentary politics of post-movementist activists are being tapered by the Labour Party; and third, the way movementist tropes regarding democracy are being operationalised in order to sideline the decision-making structures in Momentum which benefit the traditional left. I end with a critique of the traditional left’s position in Momentum at present.

My experience suggests that “social movement” activists from the recent period of struggle (the alter-Globalisation era) have had a tendency to prefigure the world they want to see, such that at times they have announced the premature death of an existing one. These proclamations have often included the death of the nation state as well as the traditional left which, it turns out, have only been dormant.

In the first part of his analysis Bassett is not uncritical of “movementism”. He describes them in abstract terms – the shift to “state-centred” strategies and then offers an outline of how the Greek left, Syriza has operated in the face of the restless hostility of the EU Troika, which is a largely external and hard-fought over history. Discussing Podemos, he alludes to the centralisation of the party, from its initial  circle based democracy, to the present day centralised -E-democracy. Bassett does not discuss the possibility that the adoption of some of the recipes from Laclau and Mouffe’s analysis of ‘populism’. That is,  how to  articulate political protest through relations of “equivalence” into a machine that pits the People against the ‘Casta’ (the ‘elites’ as French and English language populists call it), and the importance Laclau gave to strong leadership figures to do this.

Bassett however does not discuss the organising principles that have come to the fore in many (post the new millennium) social movements, from Occupy onwards. Consensus-decision making, with its roots in 1970s US feminism and the Quakers, is considered by many activists to have been an obstacle to wider participation – how it could be applied to Momentum is a thought worth considering!  He also does not mention that the latest widely publicised social movement,  Nuit Debout in France  collapsed this summer without making any serious impact at all beyond a limited circle of activists. One of the reasons lay in these organising forms (although the Place de la République meetings allowed a modified form of majority voting).

Bassett continues in terms of a contrast between the two trends he cited above.

Or rather he does not discuss what exactly the ‘traditional’ left is.

One could argue that ‘social movement’ trend has the same 1960s and 1970s origins as the present Labour and an important section of the extra-Labour far-left. One only needs to look at post-May 68 in France to see both trends (themselves a galaxy of different approaches) converging, party, anti-party, movementist, a revival or mainstream political parties. The British left saw a similar, if much less profound, emergence of differing, but allied, currents.

Both were marked by political and social objectives wider than capturing the existing state structure (ideas about participation), recognition of the importance of issues of gender, sexuality, cultural and ethnic (‘race’)  oppression, and an expressed wish for more democratic political forms.

No doubt what might be called ‘traditional’ is an emphasis on the central importance of class inequality and class struggle, (the more radical ideas of self-management and workers’ control were also developed) but each strand is recognisable as part of what was once called the ‘New Left‘.

These priorities, this cultural shift,  extended to some nominally Leninist – or ‘Trotskyist’ groups – though clearly not to others who remain thoroughly – and mendaciously – anti-democratic.

An interchange between these different strands happened during the Rise of the Labour Left, from the late ‘seventies till the ‘eighties. The late ’80s Chesterfield Socialist Conferences, supported by Tony Benn,  were perhaps one of the best known examples of this approach, arguing for socialist and social movement initiatives “inside” and “outside” the State.

Therefore it is not without precedent or surprising that this happened,

…social movement’ actors and organizations became inflected by an emphasis on class as well as a renewed awareness of the material and ideological power of the nation state, which, in the theories that had been popular among the movementists, was thought about only in terms of its erosion (eg Hardt and Negri, 2001). This shift in political consciousness was the prerequisite for ‘social movement’ activists adopting state-centered strategies.

Having worked with Negri I am sure he would be flattered at this degree of influence, though I doubt if anybody moved from the “multitude” to the Labour Party through any deep reading of, say, Commonwealth (2009) to seeing the Labour Party as a vehicle for establishing the ‘common’.

The reason for the support for these activists is a lot simpler: Corbyn’s election to the head of the Labour Party….

The two trajectories discussed here – the movementist and the traditional left – converged on Momentum. Corbyn’s election demonstrated an organic demand for a movement that could outpace the Party in terms of organizing. Tens of independent meetings were held to discuss the victory and ask where next, while in many official Party Ward and Constituency meetings the election was brushed over with an embarrassed shudder by the caste of incumbents.

There are good reasons for this: if these activists intend to pursue their own strategy – protest – how are they going to govern?

A centre to Momentum began to crystalize around the right to possess and access the data gathered during the leadership campaign. The names and contact details of tens of thousands of supporters were made the possession of a board of trusties composed of several Corbyn-friendly MPs and the seasoned Labour Party activist Jon Lansman. With a name provided by popular left-wing commentator Owen Jones, Momentum was officially founded and all other independent pro-Corbyn initiatives and the mass of supporters accepted the branding.

Bassett outlines the internal situation:

At the newly-formed centre, Lansman and behind him a network of activists with deep roots to long embittered struggles within the Labour Party, represented one pole of attraction; on the other were the three members of staff and group of unpaid volunteers drawn from the leadership campaign, among them James Schneider whose own checkered political history diverges dramatically from that of the typically “tribalist” Labour Party activist. Schneider’s thoughts on the development of Momentum reveal his intellectual “fit” with the movementist trend, evidenced by a weariness of trade union practices (motions and delegates, for example), a preference for UK:Uncut style tactics and an expressed desire to make the Labour Party “more like a social movement” (Schneider, 2016). Unprepared and under siege (both within and outside of the Party) Momentum’s centre and Corbyn’s offices contributed next to nothing that would definitively shape the early development of the organisation. Likewise Lansman’s initial efforts to limit and control the spread of local groups was counterbalanced by the movementists in Momentum’s office who ensured a laissez-faire approach. The result was that the aims and structure of Momentum took shape without a shred of authoritative guidance, a power vacuum into which the traditional left gained ascendance.

He concluded,

Can the ‘social movement’ and the traditional left trajectories work together productively? It is possible that the traditional left has the ideological maturity to counter a post-movementist turn to short-termist Fabianism. On the other hand the movementists offer a useful skepticism regarding bureaucracy and a greater sense of post-colonial and contemporary feminist perspectives. Between the two tendencies is Momentum’s office, the core of which will be probably unwilling to hand over the keys to any national structure that fails to make Labour the movement’s primary vehicle.

Whether this is the real division in Momentum remains open to discussion.

Murray makes the reasonable critical  point of how Saturday’s Momentum meeting seemed to be developing which locates the most immediate problem.

This system of using inwardly-focussed and off-putting meetings to elect delegates to hierarchical structures and to discuss motions which are very rarely implemented has failed the left for at least the last century.

It is fairly obvious that the present clashes are leading away from either possibility: towards faction fights, people advancing their personal bug-bears (see ‘anti-Zionism’ above).

Murray’s own comments are hardly above the fray,

the AWL — a group with such extreme Trotskyist politics that they are almost a caricature of themselves — and their fellow travellers. Subtle support for imperialist wars, uncritical support for Israel and fanatical support for the European Union are amongst their policies.

It is perhaps not a good idea to make up the political views of your opponents when you complain about ‘factionalism’, as this farrago indicates…

Though many will sympathise with this more considered judgement:

those who feel very supportive of Jackie Walker, many of whom know her through the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) or anti-racism campaigning, and feel outraged that she was removed as Momentum’s Vice-Chair. I have sympathy for this group because I’ve campaigned for Palestine my entire adult life and know that censorship of free speech on Israel is a very real and dangerous thing. However, I — like many others — believe that Jackie Walker’s comments on Holocaust Memorial Day and security in Jewish schools were insensitive, unnecessary and entirely inappropriate to make at Labour Party conference, as Vice-Chair of Momentum. The rage felt by many when she was removed as Vice-Chair — which was a badly-handled and unpleasant affair — has rendered them unable to grasp the nuance of the situation and unable to appreciate that the action taken by Momentum’s Steering Committee was a reasonable compromise in the face of an escalating situation which Jackie Walker herself could have easily avoided.

And this,

Seven months in which those who rallied around Jackie Walker had their initial hurt and anger stoked by baseless allegations of racism and of a ‘Zionist conspiracy’ against absolutely everybody who didn’t agree with them. Seven months in which these various groups did their upmost to whip everyone else up into a frenzied atmosphere of hatred of Jon Lansman. Online and in local groups, Jon Lansman is demonised, vilified and dehumanised by people who have comparatively not committed an iota of time or energy to the cause of the left in their lives.

I can only say that the more I hear against Landsman the more I concur with Murray’s statement.

In fact the more I hear the more I like Landsman.

But I personally want the Labour Party to be a successful democratic socialist party, with a modern European radical left programme.

I do not want it to be just a “social movement”. I do not want it to be a play-ground for left factions.

I want it to change this country, as part of an internationalist left movement that transforms the world, starting with Europe.

On the evidence Momentum is not, at present, part of that future.

 As counter-evidence one can read Michael Chessum’s eminently sane report:  Thoughts on finding a positive way forward after the Momentum NC.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm

British Far Right Daily Mail Weeps at Austrian Defeat of…Far Right.

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Anger: Hundreds of furious Austrians marched through the streets of Vienna on Saturday to protest against far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer

 

Is Europe’s Brexit revolution over? Gloating left-wing supporters wave ‘Thank God’ signs after far-right candidate LOSES Austrian presidential election which was set to deliver body blow to the EU 

  • Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has conceded as initial results declared
  • Polling ended at 4pm UK time and final result will be announced tomorrow
  • Hofer would have been Europe’s first far-right leader since World War II

The Independent reports,

Austria’s Norbert Hofer has conceded defeat after his hopes of becoming the European Union’s first far-right president were dashed.

The first official results showed left-leaning candidate Alexander Van der Bellen with what appeared to be an unbeatable lead over his rival.

When the results were released shortly after polls closed on Sunday, Mr Van der Bellen had 53.5 per cent, while Mr Hofer had 46.4 per cent.

In the election run up RT (Russia Today) broadcast many sympathetic reports on Hoffer,

Norbert Hofer, the Austrian presidential candidate for the Freedom Party who is often described as “far-right” by opponents, has dismissed the idea in an interview with RT, saying that he is “a normal man, who does not like extremes.”

“That’s not true,” Hofer told RT’s Egor Piskunov when asked about opponents accusing him of spreading nationalist ideas.

“Yes, I’m right side, but I’m not far-right. I’m middle right and if you compare things members of the government say here in Austria and things I say, I’m not more right than the government,” Hofer said.

RT payed special attention to this aspect of his policies:

Speaking of his plans in case he wins the election, Hofer noted that he would like Austria to cooperate with many countries, including Russia, as he makes a “strong economy” his number one priority.

In this regard, Hofer also touched upon the sanctions imposed against Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis and the situation after the Crimean referendum on joining Russia.

“I don’t think sanctions are now useful for keeping peace,” the presidential candidate said, adding that they don’t solve problems and it’s better to look for a diplomatic way out.

In its programmes on Hofer’s defeat RT underlined – like the Daily Mail – the role of ‘left-wingers’ who campaigned against the candidate of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ).

Election results (Der Standard): the Greens/Alexander Van der Bellen, had a strong urban vote.

Some more left-wing gloating:

Alexander Van der Bellen: Der Retter des Alpenlandes (Taz).

Triumph für den Alpen-Kretschmann (Neues Deutschland. Socialistische Tageszeitung).

En Autriche, l’écologiste Van der Bellen contient l’extrême droite (Libération).

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Momentum: Latest Internal Disputes.

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….rigorous and effective political discussion is not some self-indulgent distraction from the ‘real work’ – be that getting a Labour government or nudging up attendance figures at some demonstration. The great promise of Momentum is that it provides an opportunity to fight for political clarity among greater numbers of people….

Labour Party Marxists: Momentum: Fight for political clarity

Before beginning this post on Saturday’s Momentum Steering Committee meeting,  we note that there is no mention on the Momentum aligned  The World Transformed plan to hold events on the theme of “our Brexit” and “a Great Britain that takes power back from the economic elites Trump and Farage belong to.”

This has lost Momentum a lot of good will.

In the light of the Richmond Park by-election result, we await clarification of this idea, “Targeting marginal constituencies and areas with high Ukip support with a string of local events discussing Brexit to “Take Back Control”. How this will tie in with the decision to ” to fight for migrants’ rights and to defend and extend free movement, and fight for Labour to do the same.” when the events are intended to involve not just opponents but  “supporters of Brexit” (“bring together leave and remain voters“) remains to be seen.

But Momentum had other business to discuss than the details of most important issue in British politics today.

Left wins on democracy, but right keeps hold of Steering Committee – report of 3 December Momentum NC

Ed Whitby, Northern (North East and Cumbria) regional delegate

Today’s Momentum National Committee (3 December, Birmingham) was long overdue – no meeting for seven months, due to repeated cancellations of the NC by the Steering Committee – so the agenda was absurdly full with proposals about how to run the forthcoming conference, how delegates should be elected, how motions will be decided, etc, as well as motions on other issues.

The left, more radical, pro-democracy wing of the NC won on some democracy issues including the structure and powers of the upcoming national conference, passing policy for a conference of delegates from local groups that can meaningful decide Momentum’s policy and plans; as well as on some other issues (eg defending freedom of movement and migrants’ rights, and fighting expulsions and suspensions). But the more conservative wing managed, by one vote, to block holding a new election for the Steering Committee, even though it was elected seven months ago, before many events, debates and controversies.

..

The key votes:

•  The NC voted for a sovereign national policy-making conference, representing members via local groups with most of the time committed to motions and debate, as well as political education.
• That this conference should make policy and establish a constitution.
• We voted down the proposal from the SC majority that we could only discuss three key areas.
• We voted that the conference would be on 18 February, 25 February or 4 March (25 February clashes with Scottish Labour conference).
• We voted for a composite from the Northern, London and Midlands regions advocating motions can be submitted one each from local groups, liberation groups, students and youth, affiliated unions, the NC and regional networks; three weeks before conference; with compositing, an e-forum to discuss motions and an online priorities ballot.
• Two delegates for every 100 members or part thereof (at least gender balanced and groups sending more than four must send at least one young person).
• Those not covered by a group can send at same rate elected by ballot.
• If not covered by a group 30 people can submit a motion.
• Liberation groups and students and youth can send delegates, to be agreed by NC in consultation with these groups subject to verification of structures and elections.
• We elected a Conference Arrangements Committee of seven people: Alec Price, Huda Elmi, Josie Runswick, Delia Mattis, Lotte Boumelha, Jackie Walker, James Elliott.
• We voted against complicated formulas for voting and instead for simple delegate voting at conference.
• We voted that group delegates should be elected at face-to-face local Momentum group meetings.

This seems like major victories for democracy. The risk is that the incumbent Steering Committee will try to void or get round these decisions. We must urge them not to do so.

……

….many good proposals were won, but the failure to re-elect the Steering Committee, and the fact that the NC was stuffed with delegates elected on a dubious basis or not really elected, leaves many issues of democracy unresolved. On the other hand, given that, the victories the left won were even more impressive. However, there is a real risk the democratic gains achieved today will be overturned. The membership must fight to stop this happening.

Decisions taken

• For Momentum Youth and Students’ proposal to fight for migrants’ rights and to defend and extend free movement, and fight for Labour to do the same. This could be very significant indeed.
• A national housebuilding programme.
• The North West region motion for action against suspensions and expulsions from Labour and in defence of Wallasey, Liverpool Riverside and Brighton and Hove Labour Parties.

And,

No votes were taken on censuring the SC, on basic accountability, on the Momentum company structures.

This shows the, very low, turn out, for the on-line elections inside Momentum.

So, we know one thing clearly: there are some people who consider that there is a continuing battle between left and….right in Momentum.

There are also individuals, apparently on the Conference Arrangement’s Committee, publicly making the traditional virulently  sectarian remarks about opposing factions present at this meeting.

We look forward to seeing how they run this Conference. 

Whether it will be a force to win a Labour Party that fights for and wins an alternative to neoliberalism” remains to be seen.

But, as Red Flag, the group formerly known as Workers Power (League for the Fifth International) comment,

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Spectacular Rise in Polls for Belgium Far-left Parti du Travail de Belgique/Partij van de Arbeid van België.

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Image result for Parti du Travail de Belgique,

 

The public broadcaster in Belgium, the RTBF, led with this story this morning:

Le PTB, futur lider maximo? Le parti marxiste progresse dans les trois régions du pays, même si cela reste mesuré en Flandre (+1,4% pour +5,6% à Bruxelles et + 12,9% (!) en Wallonie). Tel est à nouveau le principal enseignement du baromètre Dedicated pour la RTBF et La Libre.

Autres vainqueurs: le Vlaams Belang et Groen! qui, en Flandre, font toujours jeu égal avec les partis traditionnels.

The PTB future lider maximo? The Marxist Party has risen in the opinion polls in three regions: up 1 % in Flanders, 5,6% in Brussels and plus 12,9% in Wallonie. This is the result from the latest poll by Deciudated, for the RTBF and La Libre.

The other winners are the far-right Vlaams Belang and the Greens, Groen!, who in Flanders are neck and neck with the traditional parties.

La Libre Belgique  says that  the Workers’ Party of Belgium (Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA; Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) is scoring 18,4% of voters amongst voters in Wallonie.

The PTB/PVDA is a Marxist political party with its roots in ‘marxism-leninism’ (Maoism) about which there is much to say. It is one of the few parties that operates as a single Belgian party. Site (French): here (Flemish): here.

Wikipedia notes that the PVDA-PTB hosts the International Communist Seminar, which in recent years has become one of the main worldwide gatherings of communist parties.

 

La  Libre Belgique.

Also see: Le PTB convainc 18% des électeurs en Wallonie Le Soir.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2016 at 12:06 pm

France: President François Hollande Selflessly Decides Not to Face Humiliation.

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Bye-Bye Hollande.

French President François Hollande said on Thursday he would not seek re-election next year, bowing to historically low approval ratings after a troubled term in power.

Reports France 24

The withdrawal means the 62-year-old Socialist leader is the first president of France‘s fifth republic, founded in 1958, to step aside after only one term.

“I have decided that I will not be a candidate,” a stony-faced Hollande said in a solemn televised statement from the Élysée Palace in Paris during which he defended his record.

He conceded that he was unable to unite his deeply divided Socialist Party behind his candidacy ahead of the presidential election in April and May next year.

“In the months to come, my only duty will be to continue to lead my country,” he said.

Hollande’s approval ratings have hit rock bottom after a term in office marked by U-turns on major policies, terror attacks, high unemployment and embarrassing revelations about his private life.

He is the most unpopular president in French polling history, a fact he tacitly acknowledged in his speech on Thursday.

“I am aware today of the risk that going down a route that would not gather sufficient support would entail, so I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election,” he said.

A new poll on Wednesday predicted he would win just seven percent of votes in the first round of next year’s election in April – strengthening Socialist critics who view him as a lame duck.

This decision leaves the forthcoming ‘Primary’ of the Parti Socialiste (PS) wide open.

This will take place on the 22nd and 29th of January 2017 (Primaire citoyenne de 2017).

There is speculation as to whether Manuel Valls, the present Prime Minister, described as a “social liberal” (in French terms, pro-market), marked by a dose of ‘Blue Labour’ conservative moral and authoritarianism, will stand. Others consider the Martine Aubry, the Mayor of Lille and a bearer of the European social democratic current, who has  been critical of Hollande, may present herself.

This morning on France-Inter on of the candidates from the left of the Socialist Party, Arnaud Montebourg gave his reactions.

Saluting Hollande’s decision he gave some no doubt well-meant advice to Valls: he cannot remain as Prime Minister while entering into the Party’s contest for a Presidential candidate.

Cela me paraît difficile que Manuel Valls puisse rester à Matignon (…) Je ne pense pas que cela laisse de la place à une campagne des primaires.

Faced with a parting shot by Hollande, warning of the dangers of “protectionism”, Montebourg offered an intresting – that is to say, contorted- defence of his project for ‘social protection’, which may, possibly, include economic…protectionism.

As in this:

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As Montenbourg was tailing, even overtaking Hollande, in the polls, it’s worth nothing that his programme principles also include suppoort for medium to small enterprises, anti-austerity, en end to “social dumping” , migrant workers under terms of conditions set in their countries rather than by France, activity by a ‘strong state’ such as  nationalisations (Banking sector), and … obligatory young people’s military or civic service for 6 months. (Quelles sont les propositions d’Arnaud Montebourg ?)

The other candidates, for the moment include (le Monde).

  • Marie-Noëlle Lienemann – Socialist senator left ‘frondeur’ (those who have criticised Hollande’s legislative projects and Presidency. Standing for ‘social justice, raising the minimum wage and a better deal for young people. Wishes to carry the message to the left as a whole, including the greens, and the left of the left.
  • Benoît Hamon – Former education Minister, critic of Hollande, stands for retaining the 35 hours week, and introducing a universal basic income. Nowhere in the polls.
  • Gérard Filoche  – former member of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire . Important figure in the campaign against the recent labour ‘reforms’.  Good bloke. Outsider. (1)
  • Manuel Valls still not officially declared candidate. Hard man of the Parti Socialiste right. Likes Tony Blair – enough said.

Others:  Les candidats des partis associés.

  • Jean-Luc Bennahmias (Front démocrate) Who?
  • François de Rugy (Écologistes !) Who?
  • Pierre Larrouturou (Nouvelle Donne). Who? Very odd group Nouvelle Donne….

The wider issue of who will be the left’s candidate in next year’s Presidential election is considered here: Après le retrait de Hollande, qui est candidat à gauche ?  Laure Equy et Sylvain Mouillard.

Hopefuls include: Emmanuel Macron (centre), Sylvia Pinel (of the small Parti radical de gauche), Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière) Philippe Poutou (Nouveau parti anticaptialiste),  Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EE-LV).

There is also Jean-Luc Mélenchon under the banner of his rally,  La France Insoumise  whose politics  we have presented often enough here to make further comment unnecessary for the moment.

Mélenchon stands at  around 15 % in the polls which makes him a front-runner for winning the same score as the French Communist Georges Marchais in 1981.

Update.

(1) Filoche has just launched an appeal for the left to develop a common left socialist strategy amongst the Socialists, the 4 left candidates in the primary and for meetings with Jadot and Mélenchon (une stratégie commune de la gauche socialiste, un « pack des quatre » dès maintenant, ensuite nous rencontrerons Yannick Jadot et Jean luc Mélenchon).

Hollande obligé de renoncer – Unité de toute la gauche socialiste et non socialiste avec les écologistes pour battre Fillon-Le Pen.

The ‘People’s Question Time: Brexit.” Lindsey German: “a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”

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Brexit: Lindsey German says, “..a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”

This is being organised the ‘People’s Assembly‘.

The People’s Question Time: Brexit – What Are Our Demands?
7pm, Thursday 19 January, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA. Register your place: https://pqtjan2017.eventbrite.co.uk/

Panel includes:
Emily Thornberry MP – Shadow Foreign Secretary, Labour Party
Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party
Kevin Courtney – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Lindsey German – People’s Assembly
Malia Bouattia – NUS President
Steve Turner – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE
(more tbc)

This is their puff: 


Do you have a question for our panel? Submit one when registering for a chance to put it to the event.

This has been a year full of surprises; the Political landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate. Brexit has been hugely divisive and has created a dynamic and unpredictable situation.

Our new (un-elected) Prime Minster and her cabinet clearly have no real plan. One thing is for sure, if the last 6 years are anything to go by, if the Tories are left to handle Brexit negotiations on their own we’ll see a deal that suits the bankers, the bosses and the corporations. What should we be demanding from the government that means Brexit is negotiated in the interests of the people? However you voted in the EU referendum, we need to put pressure on the Tories to ensure they don’t use Brexit as a way of increasing attacks on the majority, continuing austerity, whipping up racist divisions in our community and scapegoating immigrants.

The idea that Brexit, whose purpose is to serve the bankers, the bosses and the corporations, and to attack migrant workers, can be effectively changed through demands that it is “negotiated in the interests of the People’ is a straightforward, to put it simply, lie.

Speaking for the People’s Assembly (who have never debated the issue in public still less asked supporters to vote on the issue) Lindsay German holds these views.

Next stop… the People’s Brexit (3rd of November 2016)

The missteps of the ruling class can create space for our side, notes Lindsey German

No doubt influenced by her groupuscules belief in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ German goes into say,

The job for all those on the left now should be not to overturn that decision but ensure that the ruling class’s division is turned in our favour. We need to fight for an outcome that ensures a solution to the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights, as well as total opposition to scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms. 

….

….a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines. This now has an urgency given the likelihood of a general election next year. It means putting forward these demands, mobilising around them, building trade union strength, doing everything to support Corbyn in these electoral battles, and trying to give a voice to the millions of working people, whichever way they voted, who are looking for an alternative.

If Brexit is the occasion for this “chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines” then we are indeed in the actuality of great revolutionary events.

How Brexit will do anything but hinder the fight to resolve the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights,  is less than clear. As well as a being a major cause of the scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms it is becoming part of these crises.

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Well-established Rumour has it that this is German’s coming Retirement cottage. 

Looking forward to evenings eating toasted crumpets with honey, while Rees warms his slippers on the wood fire.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Teresa May Goes François Fillon and Plays the Christian Christmas Card.

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PM Defends Right to Speak of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. 

Much has been made, in the French media, about  François Fillon’s (successful) efforts to moblise the Catholic, and more broadly, conservative religious vote behind his Presidential bid.

Where Filly flows, May meanders behind.

CHRISTIANS must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear of repercussions, the Prime Minister has said.

Her comments come as a report from a think tank warns religious freedoms are being eroded after teachers, magistrates and other professionals have been disciplined and sacked for living according to their beliefs.

Reports the journal of record, the Sun.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, who sits on the Ecclesiastical Committee, warned that Christians have become “fearful” about mentioning their faith in public in case they encounter a backlash.

She told Prime Minister’s Questions: “Comments this week by the Equalities Commissioner not to be worried about talking about Christmas at work were important because many Christians are now worried, even fearful, about mentioning their faith in public.

“So would the Prime Minister join me in welcoming the recent Lawyers Christian Fellowship report Speak Up, which confirms that in our country today the legal rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech to speak about one’s faith responsibly, respectfully and without fear, are as strong today as ever?”

The Prime Minister fearlessly replied,

Theresa May, the daughter of a vicar, said religious tolerance is a fiercely guarded principle in Britain that must be respected.

She said: “You raise an important issue that matters to both you and me, and I think that the phrase that was used by the Lawyers Christian Fellowship was ‘the jealously guarded principle’ of that ability to speak freely, as you say respectfully and responsibly, about one’s religion.

“I’m happy to welcome the publication of this report and its findings.”

She added, we learn,

Of course we’re now into the season of Advent, and we have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.

I’m sure that we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also feel quite able to speak freely about Christmas.”

Snipers comment (Left Foot Forward).

 

The report itself has to be read in this context. It offers Christians guidelines (which it makes clear are not legal advice) on how to talk about their religion so more people follow it or adopt its ideas.

As Speak Up‘s introduction says:

“As Christians, it’s our responsibility to share the good news …

We know what a difference the gospel has made to our lives, and we should be passionate about seeing as many people as possible know this transforming good news, as well. …

We should grab hold of this opportunity and tell our friends, families, neighbours and colleagues about the life-changing good news we have received.”

In the conclusion, Dr David Landrum, advocacy director for the Evangelical Alliance, writes:

“The lost need the gospel, so we need to be intentional about sharing it. We hope that this resource will inform followers of Christ about the freedoms we have to do this, and encourage confident and fruitful evangelism in every area of public life.

The report has sections on ‘sharing the gospel at work’, ‘sharing the gospel in public’, and ‘sharing the gospel on social media’. It includes advice on where you can talk about people’s ‘sexual orientation’ and how far you can go.

The report doesn’t appear to call for any rule-bending, and does seem like a good faith (excuse the pun) attempt to inform people about their rights and the law. But it does so in order that they know how best to ‘share the gospel’ as part of a clear political agenda.

How political? Dispatches investigation in 2008, In the Name of God, found Andrea Williams, then LCF public policy director, called the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill the work of the devil, supported banning abortion, considered homosexuality sinful and was a young earth creationist. Williams no-longer works for the LCF.

But both groups are committed to seeing their views shape public policy, with the help of friendly MPs like Fiona Bruce. How nice for the Prime Minister to give them a boost under the banner of the non-existent ‘Christmas wars’!

With less than 59 per cent of Brits identifying as Christian (most of them Anglican), and at least a quarter ticking ‘no religion’ on the census form, this is a strange move for a PM who wants a society that ‘works for everyone’.

My Advent Card:

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Jack and Dinos Chapman: Fucking Hell.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Carnival of Reaction: Diane Abbott, “Sounding like Ukip is no way for Labour to win.”

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Diane Abbott: Labour Should Hold its Nerve Against Racists Who Say: “‘What are you still doing here? We voted for Brexit.’”

What has happened to the “People’s Brexit“, or, as the leader of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey German, called, “a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines” ?

The Carnival of Reaction continues.

The latest news is that this individual had been elected to lead UKIP.

People in my family, where I live in Hackney, have been shouted at in the street and told: ‘What are you still doing here? We voted for Brexit.’ Brexit has become a euphemism for anti-immigrant feeling. “I’ve got friends on the South Coast, which is not ‘left-behind Britain’, and yet people are shouting at them on the bus: ‘Why are you still here?’”

Says comrade Diane Abbott in the I’ today.

..the shadow Home Secretary, argued that the party should “hold its nerve” and appealed to its huge membership to confront “toxic” arguments over immigration. “It’s as if the Brexit vote has given people permission to say they things didn’t feel able to say before,” she said in an interview with i.

She continues,

Ms Abbott’s appointment by Jeremy Corbyn, and her decision to take personal control of immigration policy, has dismayed some Labour MPs who fear the party’s failure to take a tougher stance on the issue will make it vulnerable to Ukip. But she has no truck with that argument, insisting: “I don’t think there’s any way forward for the Labour Party electorally from sounding Ukip-lite. “If you are attracted by Ukip arguments, you are going to vote Ukip. And in areas where they are not so upset about migration they are going to be baffled about what we are actually doing.”

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington added: “What some of my colleagues don’t seem to bear in mind is there are
people out there who are genuinely frightened by the turn this debate has taken.” Ms Abbott blamed anti-migration feeling in many Labour-loyal areas which voted for Brexit on disaffection in post-industrial Britain and a “cry of loss for a world which isn’t coming back”. She accused New Labour of taking those areas for granted on the mistaken assumption that there was nowhere else for its natural supporters to go. Ms Abbott argued Labour’s 500,000-plus membership should take the initiative in campaigning on the continuing economic boost from migration.

It was a tough task “in the era of Farage and Le Pen and Trump” but was the right thing for the party to do, she said. “If you were a Corbynista you would feel very let down if we said anything else. “We’ve now got the biggest social democratic party in western Europe, and we have to respond to it almost conversation by conversation, but at the same time being seen to address the real concerns people have about the NHS, job security and so on “I understand how high feelings run, but I just think we have to beware of a downward spiral in the debate.”

The Independent reports,

Some Labour backbenchers are furious with Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, accusing her of trying to stamp on any debate about immigration which could see Labour trying to “outdo Ukip”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Fillon, Le Pen: Right wing Plague or Right-wing Cholera.

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French Far-Right Hesitates between Marine le Pen and François Fillon.

France 24 reports,

By overwhelmingly backing former prime minister François Fillon, voters in the primary held by France’s centre-right on Sunday opted for an economically liberal, socially conservative candidate whose vision for France leaves little ambiguity.

Any hope rival primary candidate Alain Juppé had of springing a surprise in the Les Républicains party run-off vote failed to come to fruition, with Fillon taking some 66.5 percent of the vote. If Fillon’s strong performance in the first round of voting could be in part attributed to voters merely wanting to shut out Nicolas Sarkozy, his landslide victory over Juppé on Sunday left little room for doubt: Fillon’s firmly right-wing platform had won the firm backing of the conservative electorate.

The “fight between one project and another”, as the more moderate, centrist Juppé had called his showdown with Fillon, had been decided. Despite attacks by Juppé between the two rounds of voting that had depicted him as both “ultra conservative” and “ultra liberal” economically, Fillon had clearly prevailed.

The Guardian columnist    comments,

The Front National leader has reason to fear the Republican candidate, whose views overlap with some of her key ideas.

..

The Front National has reason to fear Fillon. His traditionalist and socially conservative line on family values and “the Christian roots of France”, his emphasis on French national identity, “sovereignty” and “patriotism”, his hard line on immigration and Islam as well as a pro-Putin foreign agenda against “American imperialism” all overlap with some of Le Pen’s key ideas.

This could potentially see Fillon steal some of Le Pen’s most socially conservative voters, particularly rightwing elderly people, who always have a big turnout to vote but remain sceptical about the Front National.

“Fillon presents us with a strategy problem, he’s the most dangerous [candidate] for the Front National,” Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the Catholic and socially conservative Front National MP and niece of Marine Le Pen, told journalists this week.

..

Despite Fillon’s hardline rightwing stances, he is not a populist. “He’s closer to [the former British prime minister] David Cameron than [the Ukip leader] Nigel Farage,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the French far right.

This leaves Le Pen a wide margin in which to go for Fillon’s jugular as she fights a campaign centred on “the people versus the elite”. The Front National has already begun attacking Fillon as a snobbish, political has-been. It argues thatFillon, as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister, was responsible for the failures of the Sarkozy era and cares more about the rich, globalised elite than the working class who have faced decades of mass unemployment.

The battle will largely focus on economic policy. Fillon has promised a “radical shock” for France with free-market reform, major cuts to public sector jobs and reducing public spending. Le Pen claims to represent the “forgotten” French underclass and has an economic line that is essentially leftwing: she is anti-globalisation and favours protectionism and state intervention. Le Pen’s campaign director, David Rachline, has called Fillon’s programme “economically insane” for wanting to slash 500,000 public sector jobs.

Le Pen’s advisers believe Fillon will struggle to appeal to the lower middle class and working class voters who are afraid of losing their jobs. The Front National has slammed Fillon as a symbol of lawless, ultra-free market, globalised capitalism. Fillon, in return, says Le Pen’s economic project is simply “a cut and paste of the extreme left”.

Some on the French far-right are already moving towards backing Fillon (Le conservatisme affiché de François Fillon séduit à l’extrême droite).

Has the French left any chance?

The Socialists continue to hover between indecision and hesitancy.

This weekend the French Communist Party (PCF)  voted to back Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential bid (Finalement, les communistes soutiennent… Mélenchon. Libération). They supported his candidacy under the banner of la France insoumise  by a slim, at 53,6% for, majority. It is obvious that there was little chance of a the Communists being able to launch their own Presidential challenge. The Party announced its intention of launching their own campaign in support his proposals against austerity. They do not intend to give him ‘carte blanche’ (un blanc-seing).

This follows the decision of the other component of the (now effectively  defunct) Front de gauche, Ensemble, to back Mélenchon, Communiqué du Collectif National d’Ensemble des 19 et 20 novembre 2016)

 That Mélenchon  looks potentially capable of beating a Socialist candidate into fourth place no doubt counts in his favour – although no poll gives him a chance of getting to the run-off.

The reasons for the PCF’s reservations – shared no doubt by many in Ensemble, are not hard to find. Beginning with the personality of the Man of Destiny.

We nevertheless cite a major source of difference which, given the importance of the issue of immigration in the coming contest,  will no doubt grow in importance

 has noted (Guardian),

Despite a steady increase in Euroscepticism in France, the underlying principle of free movement of people across the EU remains broadly undisputed. Apart from in one telling area. There is growing evidence of opposition towards EU migrants and the notion of freedom in what has become known as “social dumping”. This relates to “posted workers”, employees sent by their employer to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis. Those EU workers do not integrate in the labour market in which they work.

 Hence, “social dumping”, where foreign service providers undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower (in terms of pay and social protection). Interestingly, the most staggering attack against posted workers has come not from the far right, as one would expect, but from the radical left.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an MEP, a presidential candidate in 2012 and running again in 2017, has singled out posted workers in a speech at the European parliament last July. He declared that “posted workers took the bread out of French workers’ mouths”. Part of the French left was stunned by words that could have easily been uttered by Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon  has insulted yet another section of the left. He has attacked the journalist and Latin American specialist  Paulo Paranagua with a series of allegations about his political past in Argentina.  The journalist, the Presidential hopeful  raved, had been objectively Muse of the CIA – no doubt the reason he was captured and tortured for his association with armed resistance to  the 1970s military regimes of the time. Paranagua was only released from an Argentinian gaol and deported to France after an international campaign in his defence.

A protest at these slanders has been launched: “Nous n’acceptons pas de voir notre passé commun insulté par J.L. Mélenchon“. Signatures  include Alain Krivine..

Update, Post Primary Opinion Poll:

None of the left gets more than 13% in opinion polls, Fillon, 26% Marine Le Pen (24%) Emmanuel Macron – Centre (14%) et Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%), t François Hollande9%, François Bayrou, Centre, à 6%. Ecologists Yannick Jadot and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 3% Far-left Nathalie Arthaud et Philippe Poutou 1% – poll today l’Express.

Crisis-Riven Momentum Shifts to National Populism: “This our Brexit”, “Taking back control is not the preserve of the right.”

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Momentum to Narrative Farage and Brexit Back Under Control. 

Momentum is undergoing a major crisis, amidst factional fighting and personal antagonisms.

This git so bad earlier this month that it appeared in the mainstream media  (How Momentum entered the crisis zone . Momentum was the engine of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory. Now a civil war is tearing it apart. New Statesman)

 Some of the exchanges are far worse than have been made public to a wider audience.

The latest has been an interminable dispute about its national structures.

It began with this, “MxV, an innovative digital democracy platform to enable Momentum members to shape the organisation’s purpose, ethics and structures.”

An on-line consultation resulted, we hear, in more suggestions for how the group should be run than a debate on how many angels can dance on the head of pin (see:  Democracy denied: Momentum’s online democracy platform.)

Or, the classic Left Unity conference debate on such issues.

Now Momentum is set to collapse into further in-fighting as the pro-Brexit – that is Lexit –  Populists take the initiative.

We observe that this ‘initiative’ has not been discussed with the Momentum membership at all. 

Corbyn’s Momentum group launches nationwide campaign to ‘Take Back Control’ of Brexit

‘Taking back control is not the preserve of the right.

Momentum has announced it is to host a series of nationwide events and debates to coincide with Government’s triggering of Article 50 in 2017.

Alongside The World Transformed the organisation – set up in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory as Labour leader – will launch a series of political and cultural events in local communities across the country.

The events will run under the name ‘Take Back Control’ – the political slogan used by the Leave campaign during the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

Emma Rees, one of Momentum’s national organisers, told The Independent: “After the success of The World Transformed in Liverpool, ‘Take Back Control’ is a series of exciting events that will bring together leave and remain voters to debate the terms of Brexit, the future of Britain and give a platform to voices too often left out of political conversations.”

Lotte Boumelha, a Take Back Control organiser, *added: “Theresa May claims ‘Brexit means Brexit’. But this empty phrase has been used to hide the fact that the government is in chaos. Many people, both leave and remain voters, have felt dis-empowered since the referendum and shut out of the debate.

“Take Back Control will be about reclaiming the narrative and opening up the negotiations. This is our Brexit. We should get to decide what it means and what it will look like. And while Theresa May has only a majority of 14 MPs – she will have to listen to us.”

In March, to coincide with the Government’s anticipated triggering of the exit process from the EU, The World Transformed will work with local Momentum groups, constituency Labour parties, and trade union branches to “bring together leave and remain voters, open up the Brexit negotiations and discuss how we can take back control from economic elites and establishment politicians.

How on earth these meetings are going to ‘take control’ of any negotiations, elites and politicians,  is as clear as mud. 

Anybody, anybody, who talks about “reclaiming the narrative” with Farage on the loose amid the Carnival or Reaction,  is a kenspeckle fool.

What are they going to do: story-tell it all to sleep?

The New Statesman comments,

While The World Transformed is “definitely” part of Momentum, according to Todd, its exact relationship remains under discussion, as does its relationship to the wider Labour party.

To repeat, nobody seems to know how the hare-brained initiative was decided on (certainly not by Momentum membership, or any accountable body, then by whom?), who controls it, and, as for its consequences…..

Anna Chen says,

Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum betrays the 70% of Labour voters who voted Remain

Fidel Castro passes: his anti-colonialist legacy

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Muere Fidel Castro, el último revolucionario

Muere Fidel Castro, el último revolucionario.

Cuba’s former president Fidel Castro, one of the world’s longest-serving and most iconic leaders, has died aged 90.

We make no apologies for reproducing in full this not uncritical tribute, by Dr Manuel Barcia, and published by Al-Jazeera, which stands out as one of the most balanced.

Fidel Castro’s anti-colonialist legacy.

Soon after his capture in 1953, following an attack he led on the Moncada Army Barracks, a young Fidel Castro was put on trial.

While conducting his own defence, Castro accused then-President Fulgencio Batista’s regime of depriving Cuba of democratic rule and of establishing a dictatorship.

He finished his speech with a phrase that has become well-known in Cuba and abroad:”You can condemn me but it doesn’t matter: History will acquit me.”

Interesting enough, Castro’s subsequent actions placed him in one of those inconclusive historical wormholes where agreeing on anything about him, let alone an acquittal for his actions, is almost an impossibility.

To some, he was an irredeemable monster who submerged Cuba into a long, dark age of tyranny and human rights violations.

To others, he was a socialist superman who brought about social equality – at least partially for women and for Afro-Cubans – and who introduced free education and universal healthcare.

From an economic and political point of view, Castro’s rule was characterised by a catalogue of mistakes that over the years led to more than one “rectification of errors” campaign. Domestically, many of his policies seemed bound to failure from the start.

A heavy dependence on the Soviet Union as a result of an unremitting American embargo left the country exposed to the rough forces of the free market in the early 1990s, fostering an economic crisis known in Cuba as the “special period in time of peace” that arguably still continues.

Internationally, Castro’s involvement in world affairs, especially those concerning Latin America, was a thorn in the side of US policies.

His alliance with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, which brought the USSR and US to the brink of nuclear war in 1962, was an early red flag that Castro was not about to back off when it came to confronting US imperialism.

Castro lent his support to Latin American armed groups fighting US-backed dictatorships countless times in the following decades, and in some cases supported movements taking on democratically elected governments, such as that of Romulo Betancourt in Venezuela in the 1960s.

Cuban secret agents wandered across the continent, training guerrilla commandos from Guatemala to Argentina.

One of the icons of the Cuban Revolution, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, even lost his life while trying to set up a guerrilla movement in Bolivia to topple the government of President Rene Barrientos.

Beyond the confines of Latin America, Castro’s influence grew steadily throughout the Cold War years.

In 1979, Cuba was elected to take over the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an organisation formed in 1960 to offer a peaceful alternative to the belligerent East-West blocs that characterised the Cold War.

Castro’s presidency of the NAM came as recognition of Cuba’s role in the international arena and was widely accepted and praised by all NAM members.

However, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan only three months into Castro’s presidency of the NAM caused havoc among the member states, and in particular affected Castro’s leadership since he was forced to side with the USSR.

In doing so, he failed on two fronts. He failed to stick to the actual principle of non-alignment enshrined in the NAM name and constitution, and he did so by turning his back on one of the NAM member states while supporting a Cold War power.

Even though Castro’s stock took a massive tumble afterwards, he continued to influence international politics, and nowhere more so than in Africa.

Cuba in Africa

Castro’s (and Guevara’s) role in assisting the decolonisation process in Africa was second to none. From the early 1960s, Castro threw all his support behind the Algerian liberation struggle against France.

Cuban doctors and soldiers were some of the first to arrive in Algeria to offer a hand to the independence forces fighting to push French colonialism out of their country.

In the following years, that support increased in size and scope across the continent. Castro offered Cuban support to the liberation struggles in Mozambique, Namibia, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Guinea-Bissau, and Angola, among many others.

In some cases, this support involved military interventions that did not always go according to plan.

For example, in the mid-1970s after Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by the Derg regime, Castro was forced to change sides – as the Soviets, East Germans, Czechs, and Americans also did – during a realignment of forces in the region provoked by ongoing disputes between Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Cuban personnel were required to abandon their former ally Mohammed Siad Barre, the Somali president, who now sided with the Americans, and take sides with their new ally Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Cuban troops fought the Somali invasion of the Ogaden alongside Ethiopian forces, and by remaining in Ethiopia gave at least tacit support to Ethiopian campaigns against Eritrean armed groups fighting for independence.

This position almost certainly became a political dilemma for Castro, who until then had always supported anti-colonial movements of liberation across the world.

While Castro’s intervention in the Horn of Africa was characterised by dubious decisions and tainted by the purges that Mengistu’s regime would eventually carry out between 1977 and 1978, his involvement in the Angolan war is the outstanding episode in his career as a champion of decolonisation.

Not only did he demonstrate to the world that Cuba was far from being a pet project of the USSR – Cuba’s support for the socialist MPLA was done without the approval of the Kremlin and almost certainly against its wishes.

It also helped raise his profile, and that of Cuba, to new levels of recognition and influence throughout the developing world.

Securing Angola’s independence

Cuban backing for the MPLA helped Angola to secure independence from Portugal in 1975, and helped repel the joint attempts of the South African apartheid government and Zaire’s Mobutu regime to occupy Angola.

Growing up in Cuba at the time, I can certainly say that I don’t recall any other Castro enterprise that united Cubans behind the regime to such an extent – except perhaps Cuba’s resistance to the 1983 US invasion of Grenada.

Contrary to what has been argued for years, Cuba’s involvement in Angola was a response to previous US and South African interventionism and to the very tangible threat of a South African invasion.

After almost two decades of struggle, when Cuba’s troops left Angola, they had secured not only the independence of the country, but had also contributed significantly to the independence of Namibia and to the fall of the apartheid regime.

Little wonder, then, that Raul Castro, in place of his brother, was one of the few world dignitaries asked to speak at Nelson Mandela’s funeral a few months ago.

Ultimately, Castro’s legacy in Africa is more of a Cuban legacy. Everywhere I have visited in Africa, from Dakar to Addis Ababa, from Niamey to Luanda, I have been welcomed with open arms and big smiles as a Cuban.

Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, in response to a New York Times question about Cuba’s role in Africa, said: “I am not sure that there is a single Cuban in the African continent who has not been invited by some members of the continent. So long as this is the case, it is not easy to condemn their presence.”

I am far from certain that history will acquit Fidel Castro. More likely history will record his journey through the past six or seven decades as a controversial one.

Almost certainly, he will continue to be an irredeemable monster to some – and a socialist superman to others.

Dr Manuel Barcia is Professor of Latin American History at the University of Leeds.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Leading Ipswich Tory, Kev, Goes Marine le Pen.

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“Fuck the system!” Says Kevin Algar, former Ipswich Tory Council Candidate.

It is not often that we publish news on Ipswich Tory Party.

MP Ben Gummer spends his time these days in a happy daze:

This is Ipswich’s Moment!

It is an exciting time to be in our town, and a privilege for me to serve this glorious constituency as it grasps a better future with both hands.

But all is not well in the Ipswich Conservative Association..

Leading activist, former Tory council candidate, and Brexit supporter, Kevin Algar, the Terror of Saint Jude’s, is now backing Marine Le Pen for French President.

He comments on Facebook today, “She will win, the EU will collapse and the people of Europe shall be free.”

According to well-established rumour Kev, as his friends don’t call him, plans to hold a Suffolk victory party for the Front National.

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This was his last celebration, (via East Anglia’s Premier Political Blog)  ” Congratulations to US President elect Donald Trump.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Galloway gets ‘Glitter Bombed’.

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The Mirror reports,

George Galloway has been attacked with glitter by student protesters while speaking at a university.

The controversial politician was making a speech in Aberdeen when the group stormed the front of the room and a scuffle broke out.

 In exclusive video obtained by the Mirror the former Celebrity Big Brother contestant can be seen starting his speech before being covered in glitter during the attack.

A group of protesters holding placards hurled the substances over the politician before being removed from the room.

Mr Galloway said he had been left feeling “unwell” and that there was an “unknown substance” in his eyes and lungs.

He added that his wife had “leapt forward” to defend him during the attack.

Protesters had been planning to picket the speech after accusing the former Labour MP of “bigotry”.

Dozens of activists joined a Facebook event urging: “Bring your pals, bring your placards.”

Mr Galloway said that a group of five people led by an “anarchist” had attacked him but he continued speaking.

We defend the poor-old puffer’s right to rave and cannot endorse the attempt to stop him addressing this meeting.

But

Galloway on Free speech for Charlie Hebdo (Huffington Post),

These are not cartoons, these are not depictions of the Prophet, these are pornographic, obscene insults to the Prophet and by extension, 1.7billion human beings on this earth and there are limits.

There are limits. There are limits to free speech and free expression especially in France.”

Galloway described the newspaper’s purpose as “to further marginalize, further alienate and further endanger exactly those parts of the community who are already alienated, already endangered. It is a racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag.”

“Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo,” he declared.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 24, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Socialist Worker: Left Needs to Focus on “Energetic Rallies” and not “internal” Labour Battles as the Socialist Party Calls for Victory by Letting it Join.

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Always Ready with Good Advice.

It’s a hard task, but –  hell knows –  somebody has to keep up on what the non-Labour left is saying these days.

How else would we know what the vanguard is telling us?

Socialist Worker reports,

The Labour right has defeated the left in recent battles inside the Labour Party—ensuring it holds its grip on party structures.

Candidates backed by the right won all leading positions at a meeting of the party’s National Policy Forum last Saturday. Its policies shape Labour’s manifesto.

It followed right victories at regional conferences and annual general meetings of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).

The paper continues,

There is a danger that the defeats could encourage the Labour left to step up its attempts to win internal battles.

Labour left group Momentum has focused on winning more seats for CLP representatives on the party’s national executive committee (NEC). The NEC had been set to meet on Tuesday to debate changes to its rules and make-up.

Momentum had focused its efforts on an online campaign in the weeks running up to the meeting, calling on its members to demand more CLP seats.

FBU union general secretary Matt Wrack recently called on all Momentum supporters to back the campaign. He warned, “Time is running out to transform Labour”.

But late on Monday evening the proposed changes were removed from the NEC’s agenda—meaning the left was defeated before the meeting even began.

The recent victories for the right show that the left is at its weakest when fighting internal battles against Labour’s right wing bureaucracy.

Weeks of campaigning can swiftly be quashed by backroom manoeuvering. And Labour’s new mass membership clearly has little enthusiasm for getting bogged down in internal battles.

But the left is stronger when it looks outwards. Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election campaign was successful because it drew tens of thousands of people to energetic rallies that promised a fight for a radically different society.

The Socialist, paper of the, you’ve guessed it, Socialist Party, has another option,

To be successful, Corbyn and those around him need to boldly come out for a programme to transform Labour and to transform the lives of working and middle class people.

That means opening up the Labour Party to all anti-austerity forces, allowing them to affiliate on a democratic, federal basis. It means inviting back into Labour all those socialists who have been expelled or excluded from membership by the Blairite party machine. It also has to involve being clear and open about what alternative is necessary..

Big public speeches, letting the Socialist Party join Labour….It’s all boiled down to what comrades have always said about these two groups: 1) The SWP organises “rallies” – that’s what they do. 2) The SP ‘builds the SP” – that’s what they do. Their lines have the merit of putting in second place all the other stuff about class struggle, nationalisation, revolution, People’s Brexit etc.

John Wight Goes Russia Today: RT is “winning” the argument.

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Image result for fight club film poster

Post-Split Wight Planned Fight Club Musical. 

Þe borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez..

..the burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes..

After Newshound Howie revealed the split in Socialist Unity noted Pugilist John Wight was said to be distraught.

Word reached us that he had been seen sleeping in a kailyard under a pile of old Soviet Weeklies.

Others claimed to have noticed him in ancient shuin accosting passers-by in Dundee with tales of how he “used to be John Wight’.

Taking inspiration from Oor Wullie and George Galloway’s project to make a Dusty Springfield musical  he was said to be planning a “comeback” with a scheme to turn Fight Club into song and bring it to the West End.

Now we know that his future is not so bleak.

Last night on RT Wight made an impassioned speech, defending the broadcaster against the Henry Jackson’s report, Putin’s Useful Idiots: Britain’s Left, Right and Russia.

Challenging the claim that, RT uses ““those on the left who can be relied upon to stand up for the West’s enemies whoever and wherever they may be, and those on the right who see Moscow as a defender of conservative values.” Wight declared that the channel is “winning” the argument.

Indeed.

Wight’s latest writing shows how:

Putin’s 2015 UN speech on ‘multipolar world’ coming to fruition John Wight Russia Today 20th of November.

Just over a year on from Putin’s address to the UN and ISIS is on the way to being defeated, Syria’s survival as a non-sectarian secular state is assured, and a new US president, pledging to reset relations with Moscow, has just been elected.

How the world has changed.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2016 at 11:46 am

Brexit: Poll provides evidence, says Counterfire, for how right Counterfire and the Brexit Left‘s strategy is.

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Image result for Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden – now with Counterfire – on the Actuality of the Brexit Revolution.

Brexit: new poll provides evidence for the Brexit left‘s strategy.

Writes Kevin Ovenden for Counterfire.

(Note some of the wording has been, in the interests of clarity, abbreviated)

  • Just 22 percent of people are in favour of ignoring the referendum outcome or holding a second one and blocking the Brexit process.
  • Brexit is the top issue both for those who voted Leave and for Remain.
  • While there is clearly an urgent need to develop campaigning and struggles against the government on a range of issues (the health service and housing stand out, alongside racism and xenophobia), strategically and politically for the left and labour movement the question of Brexit cannot be evaded. NOTE: Ovenden sees no link between these issues and the Brexit he backs. 
  • support for carrying through the referendum result is overwhelming.
  • That is terrain upon which the labour movement can provide a credible and radical alternative to the Tory Brexit.
  • When people are asked to choose between reducing immigration or doing what is best for the British economy (with the two counterposed) – 65 percent choose what’s best for the economy and 35 percent to reduce immigration. Among Leave voters, the figures are 44 percent and 56 percent.
    That shows the greater salience of the anti-immigration argument among Leave voters. But still 44 percent of them would choose to prioritise the economy over reducing immigration.

So people prefer the economy, and will let immigration remain in second place.

They are merely second preference racists.

Ovenden dialectically deduces from these figures the following (and I have omitted no intermediate stage).

In a choice between Britain controlling its own laws and British companies having access to other markets, the figures are 62 percent for controlling laws and 38 percent prioritising companies’ market access.

Taken together these support a strategy for the left on these questions which is 1) for an economy which is geared to people, not to companies, 2) on that basis (as well as others) challenging the anti-immigration arguments, and 3) firmly rooted in an expanded notion of popular democracy.

I will, ignore the idea of an “economy geared to people”, since in the realm of cliches and meaningless assertions this has few rivals.

Instead we might ask: what exactly that expanded notion of “popular democracy” (no doubt opposed to unpopular demcoracy)  is, we leave it to theorists to discover.

People believe there should be Brexit. They think it is the democratic thing to do. They have no confidence in the government’s handling of it. They are uncertain about the outcomes or what it should look like. When forced to choose, they will put economic well-being above anti-immigration propaganda and some notion of democracy and self-rule above the global fortunes of British companies.

Again ‘economic well-being’ is no doubt counterposed to economic ill-being.

As for the “democratic thing to do” and “self-rule”, does this mean, a decision-fired parliament, greater assertiveness fnational sovereignty, backing a populist party to carry out their wishes? Or – simply urging the Tories to get on with it. 

He seems to think, nevertheless, that because many people want Brexit, that the Tories are finding it hard to get through the legislative process – he does not even bother mentioning negotiations with the European Union – they will turn to something different, something that the left might favour, an  “expanded notion of popular democracy”.

Expanded into what? 

New forms of law-making, Web democracy, consensus decision-making, voting by hand-signals, demonstrations, occupations, or  perhaps…. soviets…..

Ovenden fails to elaborate.

On this he is sure.

In that context, there are good grounds for the left counterposing our Brexit to the Tories’.

Next stop… the People’s Brexit writes Lindsey German.

Cho, Cho!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Bye Bye Sarkozy, as Fillon Strikes a Vein.

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Pollsters Deny Not Having Foreseen Fillon’s Win. 

Sarkozy’s comeback in tatters as he’s knocked out of French presidential primary

Reports France 24.

Nicolas Sarkozy, whose dream of a triumphant return to the French presidency was destroyed at the first hurdle Sunday, failed to shake off a reputation as one of the country’s most divisive figures.

With tough talk on immigration, security and national identity, the 61-year-old tried to woo voters tempted by the far-right National Front with an unabashedly populist campaign.

But the man known universally in France as “Sarko” was humiliated in the rightwing’s first ever primary, finishing third behind the man who served as his prime minister, Francois Fillon, and another ex-premier, Alain Juppe.

 “I have no bitterness, I have no sadness, and I wish the best for my country,” Sarkozy said in a dignified concession speech.

Sarkozy
tried to bury the “bling-bling” image of his 2007-12 presidency by casting himself as a defender of the “down-and-outs against the elites”.

Spare a minute, or an hour, for celebration as we pop open the Leffe.

The great man’s supporters took his defeat calmly. At his HQ they shouted,  “it’s the fault of the left” (recycling the claim that left-wingers joined in the primary to vote against their candidate)  and added, “you journalists are traitors to France”. (Libération. Au QG de Sarkozy: c’est la gauche qui est «coupable»).

Sarkozy is now, more than ever, embroiled in scandal as these cases remain to haunt him.

A host of legal troubles failed to deter Sarkozy’s bid to take care of what he considered unfinished business.

He became the first former head of state to be taken into custody for questioning when he was charged with corruption, influence peddling and violation of legal secrecy in July 2014.

In what is potentially the most damaging case, he is accused of conspiring with his lawyer to give a magistrate a lucrative job in exchange for inside information on a different corruption probe against him, in conversations on a secret phone registered under an assumed name.

Or, (Wikipedia),

5 July 2010, following its investigations on the Bettencourt affair, online newspaper Mediapart ran an article in which Claire Thibout, a former accountant of billionairess Liliane Bettencourt, accused Sarkozy and Eric Woerth of receiving illegal campaign donations in 2007, in cash.[148][149]

On 1 July 2014 Sarkozy was detained for questioning by police over claims he had promised a prestigious role in Monaco to a high-ranking judge, Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for information about the investigation into alleged illegal campaign funding. Mr Azibert, one of the most senior judges at the Court of Appeal, was called in for questioning on 30 June 2014.[150] It is believed to be the first time a former French president has been held in police custody, although his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of embezzlement and breach of trust while he was mayor of Paris and given a suspended prison sentence in 2011.[151] After 15 hours in police custody, Sarkozy was put under official investigation for “active corruption”, “misuse of influence” and “obtained through a breach of professional secrecy” on 2 July 2014.[152] Mr Azibert and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, are also now under official investigation. The two accusations carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison.[153] The developments are seen as a blow to Sarkozy’s attempts to challenge for the presidency in 2017.[154][155]

On 16 February 2016, Sarkozy was indicted on “illegal financing of political campaign” charges related to overspending in his 2012 presidential campaign and retained as witness in connection with the Bygmalion scandal.[156][157][158][159]

In April 2016, Arnaud Claude, former law partner of Sarkozy, has been named in the Panama Papers.

A large shelf of books exists on this subject.

But they look now like the concern of specialists. Or gloaters…..

Now what of the actual result?

These are the figures at the moment (final result later today) ; François Fillon 44,1%, Alain Juppé,  28,6% et Nicolas Sarkozy  20,6%.

Former PM – under Sarkozy’s Presidency, with whom he did not enjoy an always easy rapport  – (2007 – 2012) Fillon emerged as a front-runner only in the last few days. It was initially far from a landslide lead. (1)

Now he has swept his opponents aside.

French papers talk of his organised support amongst Catholic right-wingers (catholiques conservateurs, including the overtly anti=-gay, Sens commun, ): he is ‘pro-family’ and (….)opposed to the right of gay couples to adopt children and to have access to artificial procreation  (Loi Taubira) and is strongly in favour of opening new ‘private’, that is, Catholic and religious, schools. Fillion is tough on some aspects of immigration, without singling out (in contrast to Sarkozy) any particularly group. On Islam He stands for a big cut in the number of public employees and state spending, as well as measures to increase the working week (continuing his efforts as PM), and ‘free’ up labour laws.

As a conservative (values) and a liberal (economy) Fillon appeals to the widest possible constituency of the right. (le Monde) He is said to have appeared au dessus de la mêlée. Crudely he lacks the hysteria of Sarkozy’s campaign, which became known for the former President’s remarks against not only ‘elites’ but Muslims.

Fillon is also said to enjoy good relations with Russia’s President Putin….( François Fillon et son ami Poutine).

What of the former favourite?

Alain Juppé (71 years old), has a past.

In November/December 1995, as Prime Minister his plan for Welfare State reform caused the biggest social conflict since May 68 and, under duress, abandoned it. He became the most unpopular Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic. ” Juppé  has his own – conviction – for corruption, “n 2004, Alain Juppé was tried for the felony of abuse of public funds, when he was head of the RPR and the RPR illegally used personnel provided by the City of Paris for running its operations. He was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail sentence, the deprivation of civic rights for five years, and the deprivation of the right to run for political office for 10 years. He appealed the decision, whereupon his disqualification from holding elected office was reduced to one year and the suspended sentence cut to 14 months.

That said, his slogan of  l’identité heureuse, (taken as a contrast to France’s answer to Melanie Phillip’s, Alain Finkielkraut’s rant, L’identité malheureuse, 2013 – it is truly dire.)  was a welcome stand in favour of tolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities. This morning Juppé’s supporters were claiming that there had been a sustained social media campaign against him alleging that he has close links with ‘Islamists.’

Juppé still  intends to go to the second round on the 27th of November.

Meanwhile the French left still looks as if it is going nowhere.

 

(1) L’ultime enquête réalisée par Ipsos pour Le Monde, vendredi 18 novembre et publiée sur notre site Web, au lendemain du dernier débat, donnait pour la première fois le député de Paris en tête (30 %) devant Alain Juppé et Nicolas Sarkozy, tous les deux à 29 %. On était encore loin du scénario du raz-de-marée de dimanche soir. le Monde.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Political Confusionism in London: The Brockley Festival of Ideas.

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A Festival of Ideas for Change -November 20th.

What a world! Inequality gone mad! Democracy, a hollow sham! Quantitative Easing pours money in the pockets of the rich – and debt, debt, debt for the rest!

Corporations write the laws, finance politicians, call out tunes for the daily trudge! Arms industries feed terror and war – and our so-called ‘politicians’ are their bagmen!

Sixty per cent of citizens need drugs, legal or illegal, to get through the day! And millions in the U.S. are considering voting for a medieval devil straight out of Hieronymus Bosch, named Donald Trump…

Here in Brockley, South-East London, we are holding a Festival of Ideas for Change. No party politics, no celebrity twaddle, just GOOD ideas which could transform our world! If you don’t think we need change, keep taking those pills! Otherwise: Brockley today, tomorrow the world!

It’s a free event, but places are limited. To make sure you have a place, book FREE ticket(s) here:

Brockley Festival of Ideas for Change Sunday 20 November 2016, 10am-5pm. The Mural Hall, Prendergast Hilly Fields College, SE4 1LE 10:00 Registration Tea and coffee available 10:30 Festival opens Welcome Morning Chair: Anthony Russell Clare Cowen, Brockley Society Session 1: PARTICIPATION AND DEMOCRACY Sean Coughlan – Broadcaster The future of education Ivo Mosley – Author A constitution for a genuine democracy Swetam Gungah – Mathematical Physicist: Sensible about science Camilla Berens – South East London Community Energy: Creating local energy Michael O’Keefe – Positive Money Change Money, Change the World 11:30 Questions and discussion 12:00 Session 2: A FAIRER WORLD Natasha Wort – Uniting for Peace How to save the world – A Buddhist’s Guide Tassia Kobylinska – Filmmaker, Goldsmiths College Film as social action Lui Smyth – Anthropologist Unconditional basic income for all 12:30 Questions and discussion 13:00 Lunch break View stalls at back of hall 14:00 Afternoon Chair: Clare Cowen Session 3: AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY Gabriel Gbadamosi – Writer The creative community as a condition of multicultural society Andy Worthington – Journalist and activist Demonising ‘the other’: Tackling the rise of racism and xenophobia Rosario Guimba-Stewart Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network Refugees and their challenges Jacqueline Walker – Author From life to Action 15:00 Questions and discussion 15:30 Session 4: BUILDING A NEW ECONOMY Bruce Mauleverer QC – The International Law Association International law, to be read on his behalf by Bob Barrett Aeron Davis – Professor of Political Communication, Goldsmiths What has the financial system ever done for us? Helen Mercer – Lecturer in Economics The Private Finance Initiative: how to end the rip-off Oliver Lewis – Campaigner Bring back British Rail Anthony Russell – Cultural Historian An ethos for a social renaissance.

Ivo Mosley background, “Ivo Mosley is the grandson of fascist leader Oswald Mosley. His book, In the Name of the People,  is an analysis of the non-democratic nature of Western democracies and, as it says on his website, “the strange lack of freedom that Western peoples experience in bondage to debt”.

Ivo Mosley on the “Money Power” without the anti-semitism, ”  nowadays bankers are Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, African, Indian, Jewish, Christian, Islamic or whatever: assorted individuals who have no more consuming interest than to make lots of money.” (Ivo Mosley Antisemitism and Banking also see this: Guest Author on Positive Money).

bank robbery money system

Ivo Mosley is associated with this:  Positive Money at the Labour and Conservative party conferences (Video)

Their aims?

Positive Money is not:

  1. Positive Money does not act on the behalf of any particular lobby or interest group.
  2. Positive Money is not a political organisation.  We don’t campaign for either a bigger or a smaller role for government.  We campaign for changes to the money system which would benefit the economy as a whole, and which is therefore compatible with the aims of all political parties.
  3. Positive Money is not against privately owned banks.  Privately-owned banks have an important function in providing payment services, a secure place for our money, investment opportunities, and to make loans.
  4. Positive Money is not against bankers.  Most people who work in banks do not understand the money system and its effects, and are simply trying to provide a service for customers and earn a living.  Undoubtedly some bankers have abused their power, but this is not the root cause of our financial crisis; the root cause is our current money system.
  5. Positive Money is not against lending, or charging interest on loans where an investor is lending their money to somebody else.
  6. Positive Money does not believe that regulation alone can solve the problems with banking or the money system. Regulation has been shown to be ineffective, and easily reversed, but furthermore it does not alter the root causes of the problem.  What is needed is legislative change.
  7. Positive Money is not a campaign for general financial reform, alternative economics or complementary currencies. While there are many other reforms that also need to take place, Positive Money has a specific and narrow purpose – to change the national money system in order to create a fairer and more stable economy.
  8. Positive Money does not support the use of illegal or violent means to bring about change.  We campaign for the money system to be changed with minimal social and economic upheaval.

Anthony Russell:

Anthony Russell  is a cultural historian, writer and artist. He has travelled much of the world combining painting with tour lecturing – principally to American university students on bespoke tours and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts.

He spent six years as a consultant for Luke Hughes advising on the furniture needs of prestigious buildings throughout Britain, including museums, palaces, schools and cathedrals.

Now based in London, he spends much of his time lecturing and undertaking research. At the British Museum, where he runs outreach events and hosts visiting lecturers, he has been described as “Hugh Grant meets the Dalai Lama.”

Committed to the ‘search for civilisation’ and as an advocate of nonviolence, he is the founder of the Chandos, on the committee for Uniting for Peace and a contributor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma.

He is author of the book ‘Evolving the Spirit – From Democracy to Peace.’, commended by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Laureate, as meaning a great deal to her. He is also Chairman of the Brockley Festival of Ideas and a Founding Advocate of Civil-isation.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm

The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine. A Political Account of Joseph Stalin Tony McKenna. A Review.

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Image result for The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine. A Political Account of Joseph Stalin Tony McKenna

 

The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine. A Political Account of Joseph Stalin Tony McKenna. Sussex Academic Press.

“I recently read an interview featuring a cultural commentator of the left. Alongside the interview a photo appeared of this individual against a backdrop which featured an image of Joseph Stalin.” In the Preface to The Dictator the Revolution, the Machine, Tony McKenna observes in this, not uncommon, gesture, a “certain wry sympathy for Stalin’s political endeavours.” The Chair of no less than the Stop the War Coalition, Andrew Murray, has expressed such empathy on many occasions. For these people Stalin’s title of Generalissimo and Hero of the Soviet Union, awarded in June 1945, was due recognition for a leader prepared to “get his hands dirty” in defence of the USSR. This judgement, McKenna states, with appropriate severity, “does a great disservice to the millions Stalin had murdered” (Page xi).

This is a study that attempts to explain the “objective trajectory of Stalinism” in Marxist terms, and the course of a life that is full of “terrible darkness”. Its premise is that the original form of “the Soviet democracy remains the first form of democracy in human history which was not premised on some manner of class exploitation.”(Page 169) This “…fused the economic organs of society, the factories and the workplace with a political decision-making process where power flowed from the bottom-up. (Page vii) That it “abolished the capital-labour relation.” (Page 170) A bold effort, “drowned in blood”. And yet, “Most of all I wanted to challenge the assumption that Stalinist totalitarianism was the automatic and inevitable result of a revolution which mobilised the poorest in society”. (Page x)

McKenna considers, then, that “Stalinism represented the negation of the proletarian revolution”. Lenin stood for the emancipation of the working class “to be an act by the workers themselves” (Page 42) Nothing could be more clearly opposed to Stalin’s “overwhelming distrust – not only for the masses, but for the process of revolution itself” (Page 16) For those who recount the political conflicts of the early Soviet Union as a clash between a growing bureaucracy, and those, siding with Lenin who railed against administrative power and privilege, this is a decisive difference. Leninism was popular creative power; Stalinism was the rules and regulations, backed by repression, of the office.

Lenin.

This guiding contrast in The Dictator the Revolution, the Machine is not without problems.  There is a different view, expressed by Rosa Luxemburg, that this was not, in practice, how Lenin’s ideology worked. To her Lenin had “a dangerous rigidity in argumentation, certain scholasticism in his political ideas, and a tendency to ignore the living embodiment of the masses, or even to coerce it into accepting preconceived tactical plans.”(1) There is the claim that, under Lenin’s aegis, there were “always various tendencies and groups within the Party, which was considered natural and normal.”(2) There is another picture of less than tolerant Bolshevik, as revealed in his years of exile of “ceaseless polemics with all those he considered philistines, pedants, whiners, sceptics, defeatists. (3) Or, more strongly that when with his hands on the levers of power these were not just arguments, “Lenin, as we have seen time and time again, could not assimilate opposition. It could only be overcome and destroyed. In place of complete creative freedom Lenin turned to a new discourse based on a completely opposite theme – iron proletarian discipline.”(4)

A recent biography of Stalin puts this more sharply, “assertions of a Bolshevik collective leadership predating Stalin’s ring hollow. Lenin’s secretariat took on an essentially limitless range of issues, setting a precedent, and no one did more than Lenin to establish a living example of one-man rule at the top. (When the other ‘collective leaders; disagreed with Lenin he threatened to expel them or, failing that, to quit the party and form a new one.” (5) One may contest this judgement. Others talk of ‘Stalin’s team’, a tightly bound group at the top- broadening some of McKenna’s focus on the General Secretary. In either case the legacy, however reshaped in new hands,  from Lenin’s rule cannot be ignored.  (6)

Iron Discipline.

McKenna’s book does not however shirk from describing the mechanisms used to enforce this “iron discipline” during, and after, the Civil War. This was, above all, the work of the secret police, the Cheka. He defends, “out of military necessity”,  “mass compulsion” “terror” was an absolute requirement in a context where a class or nation state is in the process of fighting for existence goes more or less without saying” (Page 29) But the “generalisation of terror to a social class carte blanche  – and specifically the petty bourgeoisie…. the peasantry” “the bureaucracy was beginning to weave their theoretical rationale for its terrorisation for the very group whose surplus produce was integral to its survival..(Ibid) It used “indiscriminate force” against peasant or proletarians who “bridled against the increasingly coercive power and needs of the bureaucracy itself.” (Ibid)

According to Alexander Solzhenitsyn the Gulag Archipelago could not have built without the early sanction of these measures of compulsion. “In the first months of the October Revolution Lenin was already demanding decisive draconian measures to tighten up discipline” In December 1917, he suggested for consideration, confiscation of all property.. confinement in prison, dispatch to the front and forced labour for all who disobey the existing law.” (6) During the period of War Communism, Trotsky advocated ever tighter punishments, and the militarisation of labour (Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky 1920) He  asserted that the dictatorship of the proletariat was able to make use of organized state power by the working class to crush its opponents and to pave the way for social transformation.

If every Cook could run the State, as envisaged in the State and Revolution, those who broke the rules risked more than admonishing in an acidic polemical article. The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly was the end of ‘formal’ democracy and its replacement by the ‘superior’ form of workplace rule. As experience rapidly showed, adversaries of ‘Soviet power’ from the right, the dissident left, and not all because of the violent opposition of the left Social Revolutionaries (Uprising 1918. Exclusion: Fifth Soviet Congress, 1918), the right and then the left Mensheviks and Anarchists, particularly those with suspect “class origins” (which began to be treated as a hereditary taint) were progressively excluded from the ‘democracy’ of the Soviets. The system was designed to be the opposite of ‘agonistic’ politics where open clashes between opposed views would be freely expressed.

Lenin’s Last Struggle.

Was Stalin’s hold on these reins of power inevitable? During Lenin’s later lifetime and following his death, disputes between bureaucrats – that is state employees – Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Stalin, to cite some well-known names, continued. But already the shrinking of political freedom had caught up with the Party itself, as factions had been banned, and all dissent was suspect. There seemed to be an inevitability about further moves towards enforced unity – “discipline” –  around One line One leader, on every single issue, economic, cultural, political, and ideological. Yet Moshe Lewin’s Lenin’s Last Struggle (1975) underlines the view that his Testament explicitly called for Stalin’s removal from office. Lewin claimed, “the use of constraint – let alone terror – is ostensibly excluded in establishing the foundations of a new society”. (8) This ‘tolerance’, at best putting up with people, was, as we seen, very limited. As McKenna narrates, not only was the Testament suppressed, and Stalin’s office confirmed, not to be, but also the range of forces allied with him, and the hesitations of his opponents, prevented even the document being discussed.

The Dictator the Revolution, the Machine is a passionate intervention into debates on these issues. The description of the full “shadow of totalitarianism”, Stalin’s 1930s Great Terror, and a thorough, searing, look at the Gulag, is outstanding. McKenna’s concluding hopes for a direct ‘utopian’ democracy that takes collective control of a socialised economy takes inspiration from the best side of the Soviet ideal. This review has argued that we cannot ignore, with Claude Lefort, and many others, the other side, the ‘temporary’ limitations on democratic expression sketched above. They cannot be ignored. They turned out to be the permanent basis for a totalitarian regime, and whatever form of erratic command economy one cares to call it.  Perhaps truly universal – unblemished – inspiration cannot be found in the early years of the Russian Revolution. The all-too-ready use of force to resolve political issues played some part in the emergence of Stalinism. The means, exile, imprisonment, forced labour and killing, by which the “Pouvoir soviétique se déliverent des enemies”, (how Soviet power got rid of its enemies) are not foreign to the emergence of Stalin’s system of rule, warped by his own personality though it may have been. (9) We should also ensure that this blood-drenched tyranny is never repeated.

  1. Page 85. The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg. Edited by George Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza. 2011.
  2. Page 385. Let History Judge. Roy Medvedev. Spokesman. 1971.
  3. Page 110. Lars T. Lih. Rekation Books. 2011.
  4. Page 212. Christopher Read. Routledge 2005.
  5. Page 419. Stalin. Paradoxes of Power. 1878 – 1928. Stephan Kotin. Allen Lane. 2014.
  6. On Stalin’s team. Sheila Fitzpatrick. Princeton University Press. 2015.Pages 19 – 10. The Gulag Archipelago. Vol.2. Colins/Fontana. 1976.
  7. Page 134. Lenin’s Last Struggle. 1975.Un homme en trop. Réflexions sur l’Archipel du Gulag. Claude Lefort. New Edition. 2015 (1976)

Louis Project writes,

The Dictator, The Revolution, the Machine: a Political Account of Joseph Stalin.

Tony McKenna is a bona fide public intellectual who contributes to Marxist journals without having any connections to academia or to the disorganized left. This gives his writing a freshness both in terms of political insight and literary panache. I first encountered his work in a collection of articles titled “Art, Literature and Culture From a Marxist Perspective” that reflected a familiarity with culture high and low and an ability to put works such as “The Walking Dead” into a broader political and social context. Was the popular AMC zombie show a good preparation for “The Dictator, The Revolution, the Machine: a Political Account of Joseph Stalin”, his latest book forthcoming from Sussex press? I’d like to think so.

Although I think that McKenna would be capable of turning a Unix instruction manual into compelling prose, the dead tyrant has spurred him to reach a higher level—one that is in inverse proportion to the degraded subject matter. At 186 pages, his study is both an excellent introduction to Stalin and Stalinism as well as one that gives any veteran radical well-acquainted with Soviet history some food for thought on the quandaries facing the left today. Drawing upon fifty or so books, including a number that leftist veterans would likely not be familiar with such as leading Soviet military leader Gregory Zhukov’s memoir, McKenna synthesizes it all into a highly readable and often dramatic whole with his own unique voice. It is a model of historiography and one that might be read for no other reason except learning how to write well. (McKenna is an editor and an aspiring novelist.)

More via above link.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Communist and Workers’ Parties Meeting in Vietnam: on Syria, and the EU.

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In the Morning Star Robert Griffiths reports,

Communists United Against Imperialism

THIS year’s international meeting of Communist and Workers Parties at the end of October took place in Hanoi, Vietnam against a global background of economic slowdown, political upheaval, rising military tension, forced mass migrations and growing climate instability.

This is of interest:

At least 25 parties also signed a solidarity statement calling for an end to “war, terror and human catastrophe” in Syria. (1)

It condemned the imperialist powers and their reactionary allies in the Middle East for creating a major crisis of war and destruction in the region. Their aim is to consolidate imperialist hegemony, ensuring unrivalled control over the flow of oil and free access to natural resources and markets.

“The US and EU powers are considering altering the existing borders of Syria and Iraq and creating new statelets in their place based along ethnic and sectarian fault lines,” the statement continued. “The New Middle East Plan is speedily taking shape.”

Making a distinction between foreign forces in Syria invited in by the Assad government and those not — who are in breach of the UN Charter — the signatories declared that there could be no military solution to the conflict.

Instead, communists called for all key non-terrorist players to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, respecting the independence and territorial integrity of the country. The arming and funding of terrorist organisations inside Syria should cease.

“The future of Syria and its government should be decided by the Syrian people alone, by their own free will,” the statement demanded.

As is this,

Most of the parties from Europe condemned the austerity, privatisation and militaristic policies of the European Union.“The Brexit vote of the British working class was a blow to the EU imperialists, and important support for our fight against the EU and the EU-EEA Agreement,” declared Svend Jacobsen of the Communist Party of Norway.

Eddie Glackin from the Irish CP said that the referendum result had “caused panic in the Irish ruling class and its subservience to London, Brussels and Washington DC.”

Not to be outdone:

Danish communists pointed out that people in their country had voted against their own rulers and the EU in a referendum last December, to retain national and democratic control over home affairs. Bo Moeller, the international secretary of the Communist Party in Denmark, told the meeting that “a break with the EU will be a major step towards our goal of socialist revolution.”

The German Communist Party (DKP) condemned the “unreformable” EU and its recent anti-refugee deal with Turkey. (1)

“Europe does not need a European Union as a capitalist construction guided by imperialist ideas and practice,” insisted DPK secretary of international relations Gunter Pohl.

We await the socialist Brexit revolution with bated breath.

 

(1)  For an end to war, terror and human catastrophe in Syria

We, the undersigned communist and workers parties meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, during the 18th IMCWP, strongly believe that the policies and actions of the imperialist powers and their reactionary allies have created an unprecedented political, social and humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East. The region is currently going through a major crisis of war and destruction. It has been the focus of carefully orchestrated attempts by US-led imperialism to consolidate its hegemony and to ensure unrivalled control of the flow of oil, the ability to freely plunder the region’s resources and to exploit its markets.

We are concerned that if the current situation continues, the Middle East has only a future of further wars, destabilisation and imperialist domination to look forward to.  Wars and terror in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel, as well as political crises in Lebanon and Egypt have scarred the face of the region.

The real beneficiary of the current situation is imperialism and its plans for continued economic, political and geostrategic domination.

The US and EU powers are considering altering the existing borders of Syria and Iraq and creating new statelets in their place based along ethnic and sectarian fault lines. The New Middle East Plan is speedily taking shape.

Currently there are a number of countries, some legitimately invited by the Syrian government, and others in direct contravention of the UN Charter that are militarily involved in the conflict in Syria.

We are concerned that the conflict in Syria could develop into a large-scale military conflict enveloping the region. From the outset of the crisis in Syria, we have stated that this conflict has no military solution and hence we have advocated a negotiated settlement in Syria respecting the independence and territorial integrity of the country and opposing every manifestation of direct or indirect foreign interference against the national sovereignty of the Syrian state.

We believe that without the people’s struggle and mass solidarity campaigns for peaceful resolution of existing conflicts in the region and in defence of the peoples, the tragedies will only continue to grow. The only victim will be the working people and the poor who have no other option but to take desperate measures in order to survive. In their desperate attempts to flee war and terrorism they have been forced to leave their homes and livelihood behind in a quest to find a place of safety.

We call for the immediate return of all key players in this crisis to negotiations based on the provisions of the UN Charter. There must be no place for any terrorist organization at the table, and the support, financing and arming of the terrorist organisations must be condemned and immediately stopped. The future of Syria and its government should be decided by the Syrian people alone with own free will,and the removal of Bashar al-Assad and the government should not be a precondition for an end to violence and a lasting peace.

We pledge to continue to do the following:

  • Mobilise the widest possible forces against the ongoing interference and aggression of imperialism in the region,
  • Mobilise our movements to disengage with apartheid Israel and pledge varied solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people,
  • Mobilise and organize mass demonstrations and marches for world peace and particularly for genuine peace in the region,
  • Mobilise against sale of weapons of war to apartheid Israel,
  • Organise seminars and other public fora to back the struggle for peace in the region.

Signed by:

  1. Communist Party of Australia
  2. Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB)
  3. Communist Party of Britain
  4. AKEL
  5. Communist Party of Cuba
  6. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
  7. Communist Party in Denmark
  8. Communist Party of Finland
  9. German Communist Party
  10. Communist Party of Greece
  11. PPP of Guyana
  12. Communist Party of India
  13. Communist Party of Iraq
  14. Tudeh Party of Iran
  15. Communist Party of Ireland
  16. Communist Party of Jordan
  17. People Party of Palestine
  18. Communist Party of Pakistan
  19. Philippine Communist Party (PKP – 1930)
  20. Portuguese Communist Party
  21. South African Communist Party
  22. Communist Party of Spain
  23. Communist Party of Sri Lanka
  24. Communist Party of Sweden
  25. Communist Party, Turkey
  26. Communist Party of Ukraine
  27. Communist Party of USA
  28. Communist Party of Venezuela

 

(2) German Communist Party Deutsche Kommunistische Partei, (DKP).

For the 2005 federal elections, the DKP endorsed the ticket of the Left Party, successor to the PDS. As of 2008, its membership has dropped to some 4,000, less than a tenth of its pre-unification strength.

The DKP received national public attention in early 2008 when Christel Wegner, elected to the state parliament of Lower Saxony on the list of the Left Party as the first DKP member of a state parliament, allegedly endorsed the Berlin Wall, the Stasi and other aspects of the East German state in an interview. This caused embarrassment to the national Left Party leadership. Despite denying that she made the controversial statements (at least in the form that was reported) she was expelled from the Left Party faction a few days later.

European election vote (2014):  25,204, 0,1%. ( Deutsche Kommunistische Partei)

This is also of relevance:

Dmitri Novikov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, chair of the Duma’s foreign relations committee, shared these anti-Nato, anti-EU positions. But he also pointed to the erosion of democratic rights, incomes and living standards under President Vladimir Putin and his austerity regime.

Statements by the CP’s on Brexit (Updated)

COMMUNIST PARTY OF BRITAIN:

Statement from the Communist Party of Britain on the EU referendum result

The referendum result represents a huge and potentially disorientating blow to the ruling capitalist class in Britain, its hired politicians and its imperialist allies in the EU, the USA, IMF and NATO. 
The people have spoken and popular sovereignty now demands that the Westminster Parliament accepts and implements their decision. The left must now redouble its efforts to turn this referendum result into a defeat for the whole EU-IMF-NATO axis.
But it is clear that the Cameron-Osborne government has lost the confidence of the electorate and cannot be trusted with the responsibility of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. It should resign forthwith.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2016 at 12:15 pm

John McDonnell Rails against “Elites” and stands by “British people” for “Positive Brexit”.

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McDonnell Drops Internationalist and European Principles for Brexit “Enormous Opportunity”. 

John McDonnell backs Brexit as ‘enormous opportunity’ for Britain reports the Politics site.

Labour today promised to get behind Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying they now believed Brexit is an enormous opportunity for the country.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour would not seek to prevent or delay Brexit, labeling those trying to do so as being “on the side of certain corporate elites”.

He told a meeting in central London that Labour “must not try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote,”

“If Article 50 needs to be triggered in Parliament, Labour will not seek to block or delay it,” he said.

He added that: “to do so would put us against the majority will of the British people and on the side of certain corporate elites, who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”

In a shift from Labour’s previous support for the EU, McDonnell said he believed it had been run in the interests of big business.

“While Labour supported remaining in the EU to protect workers’ rights, we cannot hide from the fact that too much of the EU also had aspects of the old model, putting the interests of big business over ordinary people,” he said.

“Labour accepts the referendum result as the voice of the majority and we must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us.”

He insisted that the party needed to change their attitude about Brexit

“It is time we all were more positive about Brexit,” he said.

McDonnell was asked how Labour could have any influence over the Brexit process when he had just ruled out voting against it, or seeking to block it.

He replied that the party would use “moral pressure” to influence the government.

“I think it’s the moral pressure that we’ll be able to exert… I don’t think it will come down to parliamentary procedures…” he insisted

“No government can resist (the moral pressure).”

Labour were accused of “capitulating” on Brexit, following McDonnell’s speech.

“Labour’s premature capitulation on Article 50 leaves those of us who oppose a hard brexit in a weaker position,” Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said.

“As a result we now have less power to persuade the government to give us proper details on their plans ahead of a vote.”

This language, the “British people” and the terms,  “certain” (which ones?) “corporate elites”, reflect national populist rhetoric.

They have no place in an internationalist socialist movement.

What exactly are the “enormous opportunities” McDonnell  is talking about?

Kicking out European workers, for example?

Ending EU legislation that promotes the workers’ and social rights that he cites, so that labour can be – even – more ‘flexible’?
More corporate giveaways and, perhaps, protectionism now that EU rules on a level playing field for the single market will be gone?

Negotiating with Donald Trump for a special US-UK trade deal?

The Shadow Chancellor gives no examples.

Nor does he specify  what the phrase “moral pressure” means, beyond insulting people’s intelligence with the assertion that, “”No government can resist (the moral pressure).”

One might suppose that McDonnell considers that one only has to think “positive” in front of the mirror, and, hop, positive things happen.

This intervention goes against the grain of the international democratic socialist left:

Left-wing parties across Europe are telling Jeremy Corbyn to block Brexit November the 14th.

Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from left-wing party leaders across the continent to reverse Labour’s Brexit policy and block Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Socialist parties across Europe, including Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), are calling on the leader of the British Labour Party to form a parliamentary opposition to Brexit.

We endorse this recent statement by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Labour should vote against Article 50. (9th of November).

Editorial

On 5 November Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that Labour will vote in Parliament against triggering “Article 50” — the formal procedure for Britain quitting the EU — unless the Tory government agrees to Labour’s “Brexit bottom line”.

That, he said, is mainly continued UK membership of the “single market”, within which customs duties and checks are abolished and trade regulations are uniform.

Better if he had said that the bottom line is freedom of movement in Europe — the freedom of EU-origin workers in Britain to stay here securely, for their friends and compatriots to join them, and for British people to work, live, or study in other EU countries with almost citizens’ rights, including such entitlements as public health care.

Since all sides now more or less concede that Britain cannot stay in the “single market” without also continuing freedom of movement — presumably with European Economic Area membership, or a sort of EU semi-membership, like Norway — it comes to much the same thing.

Then Labour’s right-wing deputy leader Tom Watson intervened to say that Labour would push “single-market” amendments, but would vote for “Article 50” regardless. Corbyn seems to have deferred to Watson.

Corbyn’s initial stance was right, and Watson is wrong. When the judges ruled that Parliament must vote on “Article 50”, that was an assertion of democratic norms.

The Tory government, in its legal dispute with the judges, has taken its stance on “Royal Prerogative”, the most undemocratic feature of British politics, the residue from the old absolute monarchy, the supposed right of the government to bypass Parliament.

The referendum result of 23 June creates no compelling democratic mandate for the abolition of freedom of movement, or for that matter the removal of EU citizen rights from over 50 million people. Or to impose the re-entrenchment of partition in Ireland. Or trigger the erection of a further probable new border between England and Scotland.

Aside from the facts that 16 and 17 year olds were excluded; that EU citizens living here were also excluded (though they can vote in local authority elections); that the referendum was run on poor electoral registers; and that opinion polls now show a Remain majority, the referendum could create no mandate for any particular form of Brexit. The Brexit campaigners were definite only on promises which they would scrap on 24 June (£350 million more each week for the NHS) and vague on the hugely different post-Brexit models (Norway? Switzerland? Canada? Albania? Singapore?)

It is more democratic for Parliament to decide the terms of Brexit negotiations than for May’s Cabinet to do it behind closed doors.

May has given secret assurances to the Nissan bosses. Labour should demand she give public assurances to migrant workers, and to workers and students who may want to migrate.

Maybe the combined votes of Labour, Lib-Dems, SNP, and Europe-minded Tories will be able to win terms to “soften” Brexit. That will be good.

If May refuses to trigger “Article 50” on “softened” terms, insists on “hard” Brexit, and can’t get it, then that’s her problem, and Labour should not help her out of it. It will be good, not bad, if the government cannot pass “Article 50” through Parliament — that is, if Parliament, in one way or another, upholds the rights of migrant workers.

Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that he welcomed the prospect of May calling an early general election. Activists should prepare for that possibility.

Under the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, passed by the Cameron government, May can call an early election only by engineering two successive votes of no-confidence in her government — not a good ploy — or by getting a two-thirds majority for it in Parliament, that is, only by getting Labour to vote for it too.

In circumstances like the present, where the Labour right’s relentless sabotage has given the Tories a not-yet-diminishing average 11% lead in polls over the last three months, Labour has an interest in gaining time to sort out the saboteurs, and a right to do so.

We have no interest in helping May to get a mandate from a snap election which she’d be fairly sure to win (despite “Remain” now having a majority in opinion polls), and which she could then cite as a “mandate” for hard Brexit.

Labour should fight every inch of the way to minimise barriers and divisions which the Tories want to raise with Brexit.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Galloway Goes National Populist: Trump, “. I don’t care what they do in their own country, just as long as they don’t plunge us into more wars.”

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Image result for george galloway on trump

“Beat the Establishment’s favourite” says George Galloway. 

Our old friend George Galloway, an accredited soothsayer, has some musings on the Trump victory.

George Galloway on Donald Trump and the US election ‘This result completely debunks the liberal agenda’

I first predicted a Trump win in a tweet on May 11 (note: George Galloway: Trump is better than Clinton. 6.7.16) and again at just after midnight on Wednesday morning when the media know-alls were still ushering-in Clinton. I knew because I can sense the wave of detestation of the political class across countries and borders. And it has happened particularly since the Iraq War. Sometimes that results in a move to the left and sometimes to the right, like with Trump and with Le Pen in France.

He is a big vulgar oaf, a locker room jock. But we knew that. And it is saying something he beat the Establishment’s favourite, the one with all the money behind her. Trump spent more on souvenirs, t-shirts and giveaways than he did on pollsters and focus groups. Who called that one right?

The elite – and Clinton represent that elite – have constructed a supra-national paradigm in which the losers, the ordinary people have no say. People want to live in a national economy. They don’t want globalisation which cannot be affected and they cannot, by definition, influence.

I’ve said it since Tuesday. I don’t care what they do in their own country, just as long as they don’t plunge us into more wars. If they want to build a wall that’s up to them. If they want to throw out illegal immigrants or keep out Muslims that’s up to them. It’s their business.

The idea that a legal immigrant loves an illegal immigrant is demonstrably false. They don’t. I know from my own experience in Bradford that just isn’t true.

Yes, how true, how very true, he has experience in Bradford.

Alas.

Galloway rapidly loses all sense of reality…

…here’s a big lesson here for the First Minister and other politicians not to get involved in other people’s elections. Wee Nicola won’t be celebrating St Andrew’s Day in the White House any more. And as for Kezia…the curse of Scottish New Labour strikes again! She abandons NHS Day here which had been three months in the planning to fly to New York to lick stamps for Hillary. Well if she didn’t ken then she does noo!

..

But not of poetry:

It’s reminds me of what Mary Brooksbank, the Dundee Bard, said in her Jute Mill Song

Oh dear me, the world’s ill-divided
Them that work the hardest are aye wi least provided

There is worse, as Shiraz notes, Galloway and his remaining mates have this letter in the Morning Star (Galloway and fellow Red-Brown scum welcome Trump victory)

“The defeat of the Clintons by a purported opponent of neoliberal economic policy and of neoconservative foreign policy, although time will tell, has secured the position of Jeremy Corbyn, who is undoubtedly such an opponent.”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Jeremy Corbyn Christmas Single: Get Pop-Picking Now!

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credit: Liam Scully/YouTube

Robb Johnson and the Corbynistas (Picture: YouTube).

One for all the pop-pickers out there!

The Metro reports (note, some of the words may have been slightly edited).

A Landmark Jeremy Corbyn Christmas single.

If, after a new kind of politics meeting,  you’re getting super extra excited ‘n’  full of energy and enthusiasm  to listen to this breakthrough track, the video is only a – safe – teaser – that’s right, the very best is yet to come.

The debut single is performed by Robb Johnson and the Corbynistas, and features a lot of people in lovely warm Christmas jumpers.

The video opens with Johnson on a street sweetly singing: ‘I’m voting Jeremy Corbyn, I’m voting Jeremy C. I like his ideas, they’re fair and they’re clear, Jezzer and me we agree.’.

And it ends with a group of people melodiously chanting around a table: ‘We’re voting for Jeremy Corbyn, JC 4 PM 4 ME.’

Smashy and Nicey say,” Clashtastic, mate!”ate!

Image result for smashy and nicey catchphrases

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2016 at 11:51 am

Le Pen: All Elections are now Referendums on Unfettered (‘sauvage’) Globalisation.

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Protest at le Pen Interview.

The BBC reports.

France’s far-right leader has told the BBC that Donald Trump’s victory in the US has boosted her own chances of being elected president next year.

Marine Le Pen, who leads the French National Front (FN), said Mr Trump had “made possible what had previously been presented as impossible”.

She is widely expected to reach the second round of the election in May.

Ms Le Pen also held up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule as model of “reasoned protectionism”.

Her Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party took more than 27% of the vote in regional elections last December but did not get control of any region because mainstream parties worked together to defeat it.

Analysts expect other parties to again rally behind her opponent in the presidential ballot, if she does reach the run-off.

These points stuck out from the broadcast interview (available here).

Welcoming Trump’s elections as part of the emergence of a new world replacing the old order Marine Le Pen claimed it was above all the victory of the People against the Elites and a sign of the emergence of new patriotic movements attached the Nation.

Citing the French  refusal of a European constitution (2005 European Referendum, 55% of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69%), and Brexit, in the light of the Trump win, the leader of the Front National asserted that these were signs that all elections were now becoming referendums against unfettered globalisation.

She asserted that Trump’s triumph made her own advance possible.

Le Pen stated that next April and May two round French Presidential election would offer a decisive choice,of ‘civilisation’ (that is, a whole political and cultural model). This would be between ‘multiculturalism’ on the “anglo saxon” model, in which Islamist fundamentalism is growing, inside a ‘region’  administered by technocrats from the EU, or, by contrast, an opportunity to choose for the creation of an independent nation.

This interview was not welcomed by everybody:

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is to appear on the BBC’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’, according to an announcement by the program’s editor – and social media users are not happy about it.

Already facing criticism for airing the interview on Remembrance Sunday, editor of the show Rob Burley along with presenter Marr defended the move.

Russia Today. 

And,

BBC defends decision to air interview with Marine Le Pen on Remembrance Sunday

Critics said it was ‘inappropriate’ to give Front National’s Le Pen ‘a platform for fascism’.

International Business Times. 

We note that le Monde refuses to publish Le Pen’s ‘opinion pieces’ but only objective analyses of her actions and ideology ( Prendre Marine Le Pen aux mots; Pourquoi « Le Monde » ne publie pas de tribune de Marine Le Pen mais choisit de décortiquer en détail sa doctrine politique, pour mettre en lumière ses non-dits. October 2016).

 

The Independent says,

The leader of France’s far right National Front has said there is not a “hair’s breadth” between it and Ukip.

Marine Le Pen said it was “ridiculous” for Nigel Farage and others in Ukip to pretend otherwise.

Pressed on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show about why Ukip refuses to associate itself with the National Front, Ms Le Pen said: “Sorry, no, but objectively, there is, on the topic of immigration and the European Union, there is not a hair’s breadth of difference between what Ukip thinks and what the National Front thinks, let’s be truthful here.

“Maybe Ukip is trying to counter the demonisation they are victim of by saying ‘we are the good guys and the National Front are the bad guys’, they can do so, but I don’t feel obliged to follow this strategy, because, frankly, I feel it’s a little bit ridiculous. “

Ms Le Pen, who has led a number of polls ahead of next spring’s French presidential election, denied that her party is racist, claiming that was a charge from the “elites”.

The far right leader claimed that the rise of nationalism across Europe was not a mirror of the 1930s.

“What doesn’t work is when you impose the same drugs on everyone, when clearly, if you will, the different countries are not suffering from the same disease, or that you want everyone to wear the same suit, but the suit will be too small and too big for everyone, except possibly for Germany, as they tailored it.”

Ms Le Pen predicted her election as French president next year will be the third act of a “global revolution” which has seen Brexit and Donald Trump’s seizure of the White House shake the world.

The National Front lender defended her party borrowing money from Russian banks as she praised Vladimir Putin.

She said his model of politics is “one of reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his country, defending his identity”.

Ms Le Pen blamed the EU and US for destabilising Europe and behaving aggressively towards Russia.

 Much has been made of Marine Le Pen’s stand on Islam.

Her latest campaign however is against uncontrolled immigration, ‘privileged’ migrants and asylum seekers which clearly resembles said UKIP and its fellow travellers in the British media (Les intox du FN sur les « privilèges » des migrants face aux Français).

 No opinion poll gives Marine Le Pen a chance of becoming French President – yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Socialist Party (Ex-Militant) Apply to Join Labour in order to “Kick out the Blairites”.

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Image result for socialist party petition deselect the blairites

Socialist Party Campaigns to Join Labour in order to “Kick out the Blairites”.

Expelled Militant Labour members apply to rejoin party, reports the BBC.

Expelled figures linked to the former Militant wing of the Labour Party have formally applied to rejoin Labour.

 75 applicants include former Militant leaders Peter Taaffe and Dave Nellist, who was Labour MP for Coventry South East for nine years.

They cite Donald Trump’s election as US president as a motivation to “assist the struggle to transform Labour”.

The internal battle with the Militant tendency faction was one of Labour’s biggest controversies of the 1980s.

Mr Taaffe, who Thewas expelled from Labour in 1983, said: “We want to play our part in the struggle to transform Labour and urge the National Executive Committee to aid this process by admitting us, and others who have been similarly expelled or excluded, into membership.”

Mr Taaffe, now the general secretary of the Socialist Party, was expelled along with ex-MP Mr Nellist – now the chairman of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Their affiliations with Labour rivals mean it appears unlikely that their applications to rejoin the party will be approved.

A Labour spokeswoman told the BBC: “It is against Labour’s rules to be a member of another political party or organisation which has its own programme, principles and policy, or distinctive and separate propaganda, and which is therefore ineligible for affiliation to the party.”

The Socialist Party  (SP) statement reads,

We the undersigned urge the Labour Party NEC to accept the joint application for Labour Party membership made by 75 activists who have previously been expelled or excluded from Labour for their socialist ideas. In total they have over 1,000 years of membership of the Labour Party.

Among the 75 are members of the Militant Editorial Board, including Peter Taaffe, now general secretary of the Socialist Party; Tony Mulhearn, one of the leaders of the struggle of Liverpool City Council in the 1980s; and Dave Nellist, previously Labour MP for Coventry South East.

They are socialists, trade unionists and anti-austerity activists who should have a place in the Labour Party.

Whether this is a “publicity stunt” (Morning Star) to mark the SP’s weekend event Socialism 2016 or not there are points to be made.

We note the following:

  • In asserting their right to a “place in Labour’ the Socialist Party makes no mention of dissolving its organisation. The Guardian states, “Taaffe said his aim was for the Socialist party to affiliate to Labour, and ultimately field joint candidates – and the application process would be part of a “rolling petition” by his supporters. He was dismissive of Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Corbyn and transform the Labour movement. “We don’t agree with Momentum,” he said, singling out Jon Lansman, its chair, for criticism. “He doesn’t agree with compulsory reselection. What is the point of Jeremy Corbyn without the right to remove the Blairites, who are an enormous drag on the progress of the Labour party?”
  • The Socialist Party has the goal of ‘removing’ the Blairites, that is purging them from the Labour Party. As they state, “the idea now of building a mass movement to keep Jeremy Corbyn and drive out the Blairites as part of preparing to fight and win a general election is widely accepted among rank and file Corbyn supporters.” (The Socialist). In other words Taaffe wants to join Labour – and will complain that his democratic rights are denied if he is not admitted – in order to purge the party of political opponents.
  • The Socialist Party is a Leninist party which does not tolerate internal differences of its own. It has also a long history of trying to impose its ‘line’ on other groups on the left.
  • In 2010 its trade union front, the National Shop Stewards Network, announced support for the “NSSN All-Britain Anti-Cuts campaign”, a rival body to the trade union backed, “Coalition Of Resistance.” There were complaints from the minority of non-SP members active in the NSSN, “Launching a further national anti-cuts campaign, while obstructing cooperation with other organisations, would be a retrograde step, as well as changing the nature and direction of the NSSN. If the NSSN becomes controlled by one political party which is unwilling to work constructively with any other shop stewards in the network, we would see no point in further participation. Confirmation that this is the way the the SP intends to proceed seems to be borne out by events since the meeting of the Steering Committee – the secretary has unilaterally announced that only SP members will represent the NSSN at 2 forthcoming meetings discussing left/anti-cuts cooperation, with not even a pretence at consultation with non-SP officers .” (Socialist Unity) This lack of ‘consultation’, in fact making decisions without any reference to the minority in the formal leadership of the NSSN, was described in much, much, greater detail by those involved and bore the marks of the culture of a classic sect/cult.  It would be tiresome to list all the other examples of this behaviour. They can be summed up by describing them as the actions of a ‘miniature’ orthodox Communist Party with its ‘front organisations’ run by the Party’s own leading bodies.
  • The Socialist Party actively campaigned for a Brexit vote during the European referendum. As formidable mythomanes,  at a local meeting, and no doubt elsewhere, they talked of a great, indeed massive,  movement on the European left and workers’ movement  to support Britain leaving the EU. It rapidly turned out (that is after asking other European comrades) that their network of support was based on the ultra-sectarian, nationalist, anti-EU and negligible electoral force, the French based Trotskyist group, Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID). Their ‘international’  meeting, last may, is reported  here . Pour le Brexit Mai 2016. POID, is the result of, you guessed it, a 2015 split, that is with the  Parti ouvrier indépendant. That group scored 0,34 % of the vote in the 2007 Presidential elections, with  Gérard Schivardi, now a member of POID.
  • The Socialist Party has formed the backbone of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), “In the 2015 General Election TUSC stood 135 prospective parliamentary candidates across England, Wales and Scotland, as well as 619 council candidates in local elections. The party performed badly at the election, winning 36,327 votes, or 0.1% of the popular vote. No parliamentary seats were gained and no deposits were saved (Wikipedia).

Regardless of the merits of admitting individuals who have been in the SP into Labour  the application, en masse, of Socialist Party members to join the Party is not welcome.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2016 at 11:50 am

Trump, Clinton, Brexit and ‘Social Fascism’: a Historical Note.

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Image result for earl browder social fascism

“Fire on the trained bears of social democracy! (Louis Aragon. 1931)

The comrades at Shiraz are extremely critical of the position taken by the Communist Party of Britain, and its organ, the Morning Star on Brexit, and, now, the American Election result.  Jim writes,

In 1928 the Stalinised Communist International (Comintern) adopted the  “Third Period” line which led the German Communist Party to denounce the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and dismiss the threat of Hitler taking power: it said “fascism” was already in power, and another form of “fascism” could thus be no new threat; and anyway, “after Hitler, our turn next!”.

The similarities with the Third Period were apparent as the Communist Party of Britain and their follow ‘Left Exit’ fantasists tried to give the Tory/UKIP dominated Leave cause a left-wing figleaf during the referendum campaign. This has led to some extraordinaryDaily Mail-style editorials in the Morning Star(the CPB’s de facto mouthpiece) culminating in a shameful attack on parliamentary democracy and the campaigners who brought the High Court case forcing the Tories to acknowledge parliamentary control over Brexit.

The mouthpiece of the CPB is only following a number of ‘leftists’ who imagined that Brexit would be both progressive in itself, a kick in the arse for the EU ‘neoliberals’, and a step towards post-Brexit unrest which they could take advantage of to push for the ‘People’s Brexit’.

Trump’s victory has thrown a spanner in the works for that particular project: it now seems that Brexit will be bolted to US trade negotiations for some kind of free-market between the UK and Washington and a deepening of …neoliberalism.

Popular fury on the left, impotent for the moment, is naturally fertile territory for new line which much of that left will be swept up in. Some are desperately seeking a form of ‘left-wing’ populism, ignoring that Trump and Brexit herald a swing towards national populism centred on the Nation. The left cannot outbid the right in defending its own version of a fusion between the ‘People’ and the Sovereignty of the Nation.

But Jim underlines the Morning Star’s latest attempt to see pearls amongst swine.

The Morning Star has published this extraordinary text on the US election result:

A Blow to Liberalism

Some commentators highlight Trump’s different tone taken in his acceptance speech, with platitudes about being president for all Americans, as though willing Trump to come into line.

This desire regards political normalcy as the target for all politicians, although it lies in tatters today.

Trump’s election isn’t alone in pulverising this discredited thesis. Britain’s referendum decision to leave the EU has similar aspects.

Both campaigns were derided by Establishment politicians and liberal media outlets from the outset.

Those whose votes secured the election of a self-styled outsider as US president and said No to membership of an unaccountable, institutionally neoliberal, bureaucratic EU superstate were demeaned as racists, xenophobes and idiots by liberal elites unable to believe that their conventional wisdom had been spurned.

Polling organisations’ failure to foresee the result of either phenomenon illustrates an inability to identify or empathise with those who have had enough and want something better.

There will certainly have been racists, xenophobes and idiots involved in both campaigns just as there were backing Clinton and Remain.

Insulting voters for their temerity in disagreeing with a business-as-usual agenda in these terms breeds resentment and makes political revolt more likely.

In other words Trump has joined the famous ‘revolt against elites” that the CPB (and no doubt others, such as the People’s Assembly, the SWP and Socialist Party, with dreams of a ‘People’s Brexit’) would dearly love to join – albeit on their own terms.

How far does the analogy go?

Most people on the left know something about the ‘social fascism’ line of the Stalinised Third International.

Social fascism was a theory supported by the Communist International (Comintern) during the early 1930s, which held that social democracy was a variant of fascism because, in addition to a shared corporatist economic model, it stood in the way of a complete and final transition to communism. At the time, the leaders of the Comintern, such as Joseph Stalin and Rajani Palme Dutt, argued that capitalist society had entered the “Third Period” in which a working class revolution was imminent, but could be prevented by social democrats and other “fascist” forces. The term “social fascist” was used pejoratively to describe social democratic parties, anti-Comintern and progressive socialist parties, and dissenters within Comintern affiliates throughout the interwar period.

Wikipedia.

More historical details are offered in this document, The concept of Social Fascism and the relationship between social democracy and fascism.

As Hal Draper noted, “The real enemy, then, was “democratic forms.” (The Ghost of Social-Fascism).

Today post-Brexit and post-Trump  it’s the elite, the Establishment, in which, social democracy and the US centre-left Democrats, are firmly placed.

The principal target is the “ business-as-usual agenda.” The ‘centrists‘ in the US and Europe who have bent to the winds of globalisation and free-markets.

Hence the tender concern for the feelings of “voters” who have the “temerity” of rejecting it.

But they are not just saying ‘no’ to the affairs as normal agenda: they have said yes to a programme that’s a lot worse. 

Social democracy, liberalism (in the US sense of centre left) risk becoming as great an ‘enemy’ as people of the stripe of Trump and his crew of thieving racists. A gang with ambitions to structurally embed their agenda.

There are good reasons to want to try to create an alternative to the remnants of the Blair Third Way, and whatever passed for an ideology with Obama.

But none whatsoever to rejoice in Brexit or to minimise the impact of Trump: both  of which have accentuated the drive towards nationalism and ‘sovereigntism’  – national populism.

Yet the comparison with to break down when we go into just how far the Comintern was prepared to go in attacking the democratic and socialist  left.

Even the most hardened loather of the internationalists who voted Remain would not openly come up with this kind of statement by the Communist Party of Great Britain’s J.T.Murphy in 1930 (Growth of Social-Fascism in Britain. The Communist Review.)

The rôle of the “Left” Social-Fascists, the I.L.P. (Maxton and Co.) in the situation stands out significantly and clear. It must be observed that neither Fascism nor Social-Democracy dispenses with demagogic radical declarations. This is but part of their stock in trade to get their policy across. Just so, also, with the “Left” Social-Fascists. The I.L.P. demands the “living wage,” the Labour Party denies that lowering wages will “improve matters.” Neither Maxton nor any of his associates lifted a finger to assist the strikers in the cotton dispute, but went to the Labour Party Conference and “deplored” the horrid job which “Charlie” Cramp and Walkden had to do, thus apologising and defending the wage-cutting Government.

Few today will probably  know of the way the  French Communist poet and novelist, Louis Aragon, who showed some real heroism in both the First and the Second World War, and during the Resistance, expressed the theory of ‘social fascism’  in his writings.

But it is perhaps one of the best ways of underlining the cultural differences between the Third Period and today.

In Red Front, written on his return from  a  visit to the USSR in 1931, Aragon expressed these lyrical wishes.

Proletariat learn your strength
Learn your strength and unchain it
It is preparing its hour Learn better how to see
Listen to that murmur coming from the prisons
It awaits its day it awaits its hour
its minute its second
when the delivered blow will be mortal
and the bullet so sure that all the social-fascist doctors
leaning over the body of the victim
extending their searching fingers under the lace nightshirt
listening with precision instruments to the already rotting heart
will not find the usual remedy
and will fall into the hands of the rioters who will push them up against the wall

Fire on Léon Blum
Fire on Boncour Frossard Déat
Fire on the trained bears of social democracy
Fire Fire I hear
death pass by as it throws itself on Garchery Fire I tell you
Under the leadership of the Communist Party
SFIC
You wait finger on the trigger
Fire
but Lenin
the Lenin of the right moment.

(Translation from here).

Prolétariat connais ta force

Connais ta force et déchaîne-la

Il prépare son jour

il attend son heure

sa minute la seconde

où le coup porté sera mortel et la balle à ce point sûre

que tous les médecins socialfascistes

Penchés sur le corps de la victime

Auront beau promener leurs doigts chercheurs sous la chemise de dentelle

ausculter avec les appareils de précision son cœur déjà pourrissant

ils ne trouveront pas le remède habituel

et tomberont aux mains des émeutiers qui les colleront au mut

Feu sur Léon Blum

Feu sur Boncour Frossard Déat**

Feu sur les ours savants de la social-démocratie

Feu feu j’entends passer

la mort qui se jette sur Garchery**

Feu vous dis-je

Sous la conduite du parti communiste.

(Full text here)

When the Morning Star republishes this classic, along with this poem, unaccountably rarely reprinted today: to the glory of the Guépéou, Stalin’s secret police and predecessor of the KGB, we will begin to worry.

Seriously.

Préparez les conseils d’ouvriers et soldats
Constituez le tribunal révolutionnaire
J’appelle la Terreur du fond de mes poumons
Je chante le Guépéou qui se forme
en France à l’heure qu’il est
Je chante le Guépéou nécessaire de France

Je chante les Guépéous de nulle part et de partout
Je demande un Guépéou pour préparer la fin d’un monde
Demandez un Guépéou pour préparer la fin d’un monde
pour défendre ceux qui sont trahis
pour défendre ceux qui sont toujours trahis
Demandez un Guépéou vous qu’on plie et vous qu’on tue
Demandez un Guépéou
Il vous faut un Guépéou

 

Vive le Guépéou véritable image de la grandeur matérialiste
Vive le Guépéou contre Dieu Chiappe et la Marseillaise
Vive le Guépéou contre le pape et les poux
Vive le Guépéou contre la résignation des banques
Vive le Guépéou contre les manoeuvres de l’Est
Vive le Guépéou contre la famille
Vive le Guépéou contre les lois scélérates
Vive le Guépéou contre le socialisme des assassins du type
Caballero Boncour Mac Donald Zoergibel
Vive le Guépéou contre tous les ennemis du prolétariat.

Wikipedia cache. (1931)

Marine Le Pen ‘CAN win’ French presidency after Trumpquake, says British Far-Right ‘Daily Express’.

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Image result for marine le pen Trump caricature

2017 Nightmare: Presidents Le Pen, Trump and Putin (Financial Times).

The far-right British ‘newspaper’, the Daily Express, asserts,

Marine Le Pen ‘CAN win’ French presidency after Trumpquake

DONALD Trump’s election and Britain’s Brexit have paved the way for Marine Le Pen’s Front National to win the French election.

Immediately after Trump was declared the 45th president of the USA Le Pen said: “Nothing is immutable. What has happened this night is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a world.”

And Le Pen’s chief strategist, Florian Philippot, tweeted: “Their world is collapsing, ours is being built.”

Like Trump Ms Le Pen is a populist nationalist and a right wing political outsider. They have similar views on immigration.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Wednesday said Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election was “good news” for France reports France 24.

“I repeat, the election of Donald Trump is good news for our country,” said Le Pen, who will be the anti-immigration National Front’s candidate in France’s 2017 presidential election.

Le Pen, 48, was one of the first French politicians to react to Trump’s stunning victory.

“Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and to the free American people!” she said.

Marine Le Pen outlined the real parallels between her Party’s programme and Trump’s. They are not, centrally, a ‘tough’ stand on immigration, but concern the assertion of national political and economic ‘sovereignty’ against ‘globalisation’.

In her brief remarks, Le Pen said a Trump White House would assure that the sweeping Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU would be rejected.

She added that “more generally, wild globalisation” would be tamed, and she predicted that international relations would improve, “notably with Russia”.

Le Pen said Trump would rein in “the warlike interventions that are the source of the huge migratory waves that we are enduring”.

If Trump keeps to his pledges, they will be “beneficial for France,” she said.

Libération notes in that Marine Le Pen’s  hopes to imitate Trump may not work out. (Marine Le Pen espère imiter Trump en 2017)

In moving from a  position of saying “anybody but Hillary Clinton” (Tout sauf Hillary Clinton) to her present enthusiasm the Front National has to confront one fact:  in polls before the US election 86% of French people preferred Clinton to Trump.

The Trump triumph has weighed heavily on the minds and speeches of other contenders for next year’s French Presidential election.

Today’s Le Monde reports that, « Ce qui est possible aux Etats-Unis est possible en France » – what is possible in the US is possible in France, said, Jacques Chirac’ former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin. (Quand Trump pèse sur la présidentielle française)

President Hollande began by stating that this election has created a period of  great “uncertainty”.

Right-wing socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls has judged that Trump’s victory shows the need for borders (le besoin de frontières) regulating immigration (réguler l’immigration) and the need, as well, to better distributed wealth and to protect the middle classes who are worried about their declining social position (Le besoin aussi de mieux distribuer les richesses, le besoin de protection pour les classes moyennes qui vivent ce sentiment de déclassement)  (Le Monde).

The National Secretary of the Socialist Party, and former Trotskyist Jean-Christophe Cambadélis,  states,

« Le national populisme plus ou moins xénophobe hante le monde occidental avec sa peur du déclassement, du remplacement et du métissage. Orban, Brexit, l’AfD en Allemagne, et maintenant Trump ! La gauche française est prévenue : elle continue ses enfantillages irresponsables et c’est Le Pen. »

National Populism, more less xenophobic, is haunting the Western world, with its fear of losing class and racial mixing. Orban, Brexit, the German Afd, and now Trump! The French left has been warned: if it continues its infantile disorder (Note: my translation, others put this as ‘irresponsible squabbling’), it will let Pen in.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign is particularly noted for  trying to climb on the Trump bandwagon.

Sarkozy, Trump, même combat contre la «pensée unique» (Libération).

Sarkozy’s campaigners claim to be against the liberal multicultural ‘elite’, the ‘correct’ way of thinking, for a firm control of immigration, heightened security against terrorist threats, and to be the spokesperson for the ‘silent majority’ (majorité silencieuse ). The link with Trump does however suffer from the fact that as long ago as ….March this year he dismissed the would-be Presient as without interest marked by  “populisme” and  “vulgarité”.

Sarkozy is, despite his ‘defence’ of the Nation and hostility to immigration, not opposed to Globalisation, or in favour of protectionism, or wishes France to have its own ‘Frexit’. and leave the EU.

He is also trailing in the polls behind the more centrist Alain Juppé to become the French right’s presidential candidate in 2017.

To return to the FN: Marine Le Pen is not given to making the same relentless torrent of outrageous sexist, racist remarks,  mixed up with sheer stupidity as Trump.

As France 24 also observes,

Le Pen is continuing her drive to sanitise the FN’s image.

Gone is the overt anti-Semitism and race-baiting of the past — her rhetoric on Muslims and migrants is softer yet still resonates in a country and on a continent reeling from an unprecedented terror threat and the Syrian crisis.

But she cannot escape her father’s embarrassing comments that the Nazi gas chambers are a “detail of history” and her party’s pledge to pull France out of the euro has drawn scorn from economists.

The FN has blamed the EU for much of France’s ills and pushed for a “Frexit” referendum on France’s EU membership.

Last year, the party topped the poll in regional elections with 28 percent.

Although Marine Le Pen has certainly won a lot of attention after the Trump result (TRUMP : L’ONDE DE CHOC PROFITE À MARINE LE PEN) opinion polls have yet to register a change in her rating, between  26 to 30 %.

The prospect of a defeat in the Second Round of the  Presidential election next May remains, for the moment, probable.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Sarah Palin, Trump Victory “inspired by Brexit” and “we don’t want this globalism.”

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Image result for sarah palin with trump

“Hookin’ up” with Brexiteers against “Globalism”. 

Sarah Palin has responded to Donald Trump winning the White House by likening it to the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

“Well, see, Great Britain and America, see how we’re hooking up now?” she told the Associated Press at a Trump rally as the results rolled in.

“We’re going rogue and saying, you know, the people are going to take back control of our governance.”

Ms Palin continued: “Really, we’re going to be able to say, no, we don’t want this globalism […]

“We can’t be telling other countries, other nations how to sweep their porches if we can’t sweep our own yet.

“So we’ve got to take care of what’s going on here within our borders, just like you all have done, especially recently.”

Reports the Independent.

The Daily Mail is enthusiastic. They continue the story,

Sarah Palin says Donald Trump’s sensational win was inspired by Brexit and said: ‘Britain – we’re going rogue and the people are taking back control’. 

The billionaire tycoon Donald Trump is set to be the next president of the United States after voters gambled on his promise to ‘Make America Great Again’.

It was a similar message to the one used by Brexiteers who successfully convinced voters that Britain’s future was brighter outside the European Union.

Ms Palin, a former beauty queen turned Republican politician, said this spirit had spread across the Atlantic and bolstered Trump’s campaign.

James Corden, now also a big star in the United States, tweeted he had ‘Brexit feelings’ as it became clear Trump would win.

..

Speaking at the Trump Rally in New York she said: ‘See Great Britain! America! See how we’re hookin’ up now?

‘We’re going rogue and the people are going to take back control.

‘We’re going to be able to say we don’t want this globalism, and we can’t be telling other countries how to sweep their porches if we can’t sweep our own yet.

‘So we’ve got to take care of what’s going on here within our borders just like you all have done especially recently.’

It came as Nigel Farage booked himself onto the first plane to America from London this morning to meet his friend Donald Trump.

..

….he’s already thought of a role he could fulfill: President Trump’s ambassador to the EU.

Not to be outdone by Trump, Palin and Farage, the People’s Assembly is said to be preparing its own People’s Brexit march, according to RSL 21 (Is a People’s Brexit possible? Seb Cooke).

There are signs that The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will look to organise an event around the theme of a ‘People’s Brexit’.

As the People’s Assembly will be mobilising and using trade union and labour movement resources for a pro-Brexit rally – pro- in the direction they want, a “People’s anti-European Union events, RSL warns against joining any anti-UKIP activity when Farage leads a pro-Brexit, march against the High Court,

There is a temptation to have a broad, anti-racist demo and campaign with whoever is opposed to Farage. This by its very nature could include several figures from the pro-EU centre. To be so broad, this movement would at best be non-committal about the idea of Britain leaving the EU and at worst have several elements seeking to overturn the vote.

…while Farage’s march will be racist, it has been called over Brexit and that is an important distinction we should make.

The pro-Brexit ‘left’ now claims that their demand for open borders (outbidding the existing EU freedom of movement, in a universal call to tear down frontiers) will protect them from accusations that they have joined in with the likes of Trump, Palin, and Farage,

But as Mark Boothroyd notes  (Brexit ushers in a Carnival of Reaction),

The response to the Leave vote by pro-Leave leftists of increased attempts at migrant solidarity work are welcome, but they rarely confront the point that this activism is necessitated by the very victory of the Leave campaign, and these effects were warned about by pro-Remain activists. Failing to acknowledge what is driving the attacks that they  were warned were coming in the event of a Leave victory, is shortsighted and politically dishonest, and leaves unanswered the bigger questions as to what stance to take towards the ongoing Brexit negotiations and its effects on migrants.

One could say that there is equally a logic in Palin’s cries against ‘globalisation’ and a wing of the anti-globalisation left. Their demand for ‘no-borders’ cannot be taken seriously when the refuse to recognise the side they have chosen: the Brexit side, for National Sovereignty against ‘globalisaiton’.

The ex-SWP faction concludes that they think many left-wing Remain supporters will accept that they should work with the strategy of the ‘left’ Leave campaign

will be open to working on the basis of a left wing exit from the EU even if they remain pro-EU.

Cautiously they note that some will not.

They

can’t support a People’s Brexit platform because they simply don’t want any Brexit ever.

Oddly many on the left are going to say to the – ineffectual, declining and marginalised –  People’s Assembly leadership (another ex-SWP faction, Counterfire): we don’t want Brexit. 

I suppose in the supple tactical minds of anybody who’s been in the SWP the whirl of constantly changing campaigns is part of the political culture. One day for hysterical Stand up UNKIP campaigns. The next for a refusal to do anything but lie down as UKIP marches to British ‘independence’ and Trump.

These revolutionaries take their cue not from Marxism but from Vautrin, Jacques Collin,  Trompe-la-Mort, one of the central characters of Balzac’s Comédie humaine.

This one of his best known statements, (Le Père Goroit),

 Vautrin : « Il n’y a pas de principes, il n’y a que des évènements ; il n’y a pas de lois, il n’y a que des circonstances : l’homme supérieur épouse les évènements et les circonstances pour les conduire. »

There are no principles, there are only events; there are no laws, there are only circumstances: the superior man shapes his conduct to  fit events and conditions. 

 

Update: Globalisation is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed.  

You’re going to hear a lot of wailing from the left about our “disconnection” with the values of “ordinary working-class people”. It is bullshit – both as a fact and an explanation of what’s happened. In every state in America there are working-class people staffing beleaguered abortion clinics, organising unions among migrant cleaners and Walmart workers.

Those who tell you the left has to somehow “reconnect” with people whose minds are full of white supremacy and misogyny must finish the sentence. By what means? By throwing our black brothers and sisters under a bus? Eighty years ago the poets and miners of the International Brigades did not march into battle saying: “Mind you, the fascists have got a point.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Donald Trump, “Mr Brexit”: Today is ‘gonna be Brexit plus, plus, plus’.

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Image result for trump brexit

Mr Brexit.

Speaking in North Carolina, Republican candidate Mr Trump – who called himself ‘Mr Brexit’ during the campaign – promised that today was ‘gonna be Brexit plus, plus, plus’. reports the Daily Mail.

The view of this Blog is that Trump is a disgusting pile of cack.

Beyond this we have not commented on his Presidential Bid.

But in evoking Brexit he has strayed into our Manor.

We wonder what those who relished Brexit, such as Susan Watkins, Editor of New Left Review, who said, “Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment—Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Juncker to Xi—has inveighed”, Tariq Ali, who was “Pleased’ Brexit Has Given EU  “Big Kick’ up ‘Backside‘”, those who believed it was a sign of the actuality of the revolution (Counterfire), a time to mobilise for a “People’s Brexit” (People’s Assembly), or a working-class ‘revolt’ against ‘elites’ (SWP and Socialist Party) think of Trump’s claims.

Actually we don’t give a toss.

For us the Republican Candidate is the Brexit Carnival of Reaction incarnate.

 Tendance Coatesy will not go into details about the problems about his contender.

For the moment we sincerely wish Hillary Clinton success – come what may.

Tariq Ali meanwhile has other ideas, ” Tariq Ali: Is Trump Any Worse Than Clinton? I’d Vote For Jill Stein.

If Ali’s stentorian voice is not enough to convince people that Hillary is the only option we would wish for, Galloway broadcast this yesterday:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2016 at 11:38 am

French Communist Party ‘Cadres’ Say “Non” to Backing Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential Candidacy.

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ere_du_peuple.png

The Era of the People: Without the PCF? 

Le Parti communiste dit non à Jean-Luc Mélenchon reports Libération.

The hard choice before the assembled ‘cadres’ of the French Communist Party, (PCF) at their National Conference, was between Jean- Luc Mélenchon or a Communist . Pierre Laurent, PCF National Secretary voted for the first option. André Chassaigne, MP and potential presidential candidate, backed the second. The 535 delegates, mandated by their PCF federations, cast their ballots 55, 7% for the ‘internal candidate”. The final decision will be put to the whole membership at the end of November.

The defeat of the PCF leadership’s recommendation is extremely unusual.

But hostility to the leader of the Parti de gauche and owner of his supporters’ ‘movement’, La France Insoumise, ran high. ” Some present declared, “je ne soutiendrai jamais Mélenchon»«je n’aime pas la France Insoumise».”, I will never support Mélenchon” or “I don’t like La France Insoumise”. Those who backed voting for him argued that it was “political choice” (that is, there being no other candidate to the left of the Socialists who is visible in opinion polls). To which one delegate replied, “Le refus de soutenir de Jean-Luc est dû à son glissement au niveau des idées, pas sur sa personne. Le cœur du parti n’est pas d’accord avec son positionnement politique.” Refusing to support Jean-Luc is due to his shift in his ideas, not about the individual. The heart of the Party is not in agreement with his political position.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who refuses to meet Pierre Laurent, has made a show of ignoring this decision.

The same story lead the morning news bulletin on France-Inter this morning (Le PCF ne soutiendra pas Jean-Luc Mélenchon).

From the outside one can observe that there are plenty of people around who certainly do not like the Man of Destiny, as an individual, a politician, as well as heartily disagreeing with his present politics.

A review by Raphaëlle Besse Desmoulières of Mélenchon’s newly published le Choix de l’insoumission in Le Monde (31. 10.16)  is a useful introduction to how many on the left feel about the self-proclaimed Presidential candidate.

Desmoulières describes Mélenchon’s background in the ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyist Organisation communiste internationaliste – a big black mark to start with. The leader of La France Insoumise expressed adulation of Francois Mitterrand, described as a “guide” and Le Vieux’ (a term normally used in these circles for….Trotsky) , and his uncritical enthusiasm for Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. It mentions that Mélenchon remains a Freemason (the lambertist leader Pierre Boussel, generally known by his ‘party name’  Pierre Lambert was staunch Freemason)

These aspects of  Mélenchon are not universally admired.

This is La France Insoumise’s ‘Projet’ which gives further reasons not to admire him.

It begins with the words, ” l’ère du peuple” “doit commencer ” – the era of the people must begin. This “citizens’ revolution” must overthrow the ” l’oligarchie financière et de la caste” – the financial oligarchy and the elite (caste, directly borrowed from Podemos, has as little resonance in French as it does in English).

It  promises to share the wealth of the country, to  transform the taxation system, and “Protégeons de la finance les salariés et la production en France. ” Protect wage-earners and production in France (my emphasis)  from Finance”.

It proposes “ecological planning”.

The ‘project’ proposes to leave European Treaties that impose on us ( nous) austerity, and the affirmation of “la souveraineté” against the decisions of the EU Commission.

We (nous) must be freed from following “des folies impériales des États-Unis et de leur outil de tutelle militaire : l’OTAN” the imperialist follies of the USA and their tool of military subordination, NATO. Our (Notre) anchor must be with the Mediterranean peoples and the Francophone countries of Africa. 

There are words about “progrès humains” (human progress) and “autres modèles de vie ” (other models for living).

Anybody who has got this far is in for a treat: the conclusion,

Je connais aussi la force d’entrainement des grands enthousiasmes collectifs. La France est le deuxième territoire maritime du monde, et la deuxième nation pour la cotisation individuelle à la conquête de l’espace ! Voilà qui fait de nous un peuple qui a une responsabilité particulière, enthousiasmante, aux frontières de l’humanité ! Ici se trouvent deux immenses gisements d’emplois, d’inventions et de progrès écologiques pour la France et la civilisation humaine.

I also know the power that great collective enthusiasm can bring in its wake. France is the second largest maritime territory in the world, the second nation, per individual contribution, in the conquest of space! This has made of us a people with a special responsibility,  enthusiastic, at the  cutting edge of  humanity (1). Here one can find two massive sources of employment, inventions, and ecological progress, for France and for human civilisation.

(1) I justify this somewhat free, though equally lyrical,  translation by reference to the text linked to, “Comment porter la France aux avant-postes de l’Humanité ?

The programme of La France Insoumise is clearly ‘populist’. Whether it is ‘left’ is up for the ‘people’ to judge.

Le Projet focuses on an ‘elite’, a fusion between finance, politicians – in  short, ‘them’. It has no reference to class struggle arising in production and distribution. It rests on a picture of a world in which exploitation and bad social conditions are the result of malevolent decisions by this upper crust, and foreigners, beginning with the EU, and extending, O so extending, to the US. Once rid of that lot, and “we”, the “special” people of France, will no doubt colonise the Moon…

A more comprehensive demolition of this approach, which begins with the basis of a new movement to answer the crisis of the “party-form”, extends to the dropping of the working class as a reference and its replacement by the ‘people’ and ends with the personalisation of the France Insoumise project around the Leader (“la nécessité d’une incarnation personnelle du processus) si given by   Samy Johsua in « L’ère du peuple » et « l’adieu au prolétariat » ?

All I can say after that is, yuk!

In Le Monde today Election présidentielle : la Conférence nationale du PCF refuse de se rallier à Jean-Luc Mélenchon continues the saga.

After outlining the above vote, Desmoulières speculates that the PCF may support the Socialist candidacy of Arnaud Montebourg, a contender in the PS’s ‘primary’ selection process to designate their own candidate. Above all he notes that this decision marks a definitive divorce between the PCF and  Mélenchon.

Some might say, echoing the PCF delegates, from the outside, about time!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Slavoj Žižek: Trump Presidency could result in a “big awakening” and begin “new political processes.”

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Slovenian Hipster Hegelian, Marxist Medialogue and Lacanian Lad Likes Trump.

In 1990, the well-known Slovenian sociologist, philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek was the Liberal Democracy of Slovinia candidate for the Presidency of Slovenia (an auxiliary body of the President of the Republic, abolished in 1992).  The party is a member of the LIberal International and Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe Party.

Slavoj Žižek is in the Presidential news again, this time it’s the US race.

He has courted predictable outrage with remarks appearing (‘dialectically’) to favour Trump.

Earlier this year the Slovenian Hipster Hegelian, Marxist Medialogue and Lacanian Lad, was in trouble for calling for the ““militarisation” of European responses to the refugee crisis in Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours (2016) This, it should always be recalled was  in the context of this ‘contradiction’, “my greatest problem with all this humanitarianism is that people are not aware of what is really happening in Europe – the massive anti-immigrant populist movement.”The following particularly aroused controversy.

The Slovenian savant  considered that there is a need to

Formulate a minimum set of rules that are obligatory for everyone, without feat that will appear ‘Eurocentric’ religious freedoms, the protection of individual freedom against group pressure, rights of woman, and so on; and second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life.

Such should be a “positive emancipatory leitkultur..”

Many might consider that those who attacked Žižek as a ‘racist’  were themselves trying to impose their own “leitkultur” which involves accepting absolute “difference” and a right to impose reactionary mores inside “their” community.

To make himself clear Žižek  went on to say,

With regard to the refugees, our prop­er aim should be to try and recon­struct glob­al soci­ety on such a basis that des­per­ate refugees will no longer be forced to wander around. Uto­pi­an as it may appear, this large-scale solu­tion is the only real­ist one, and the dis­play of altru­ist­ic vir­tues ulti­mately pre­vents the car­ry­ing out of this aim. The more we treat refugees as objects of human­it­ari­an help, and allow the situ­ation which com­pelled them to leave their coun­tries to pre­vail, the more they come to Europe, until ten­sions reach boil­ing point, not only in the refugees’ coun­tries of ori­gin but here as well. So, con­fron­ted with this double black­mail, we are back at the great Len­in­ist ques­tion: what is to be done?

One would have to be soothsayer to imagine the details of what world order the author has in mind here – but the intentions are surely good…..

But let that pass.

As often is the case with Žižek, people pick and choose what they want to hear.

I like this (though it’s old hat chez Coatesy),

…yet another Left­ist taboo that needs to be aban­doned is that of pro­hib­it­ing any cri­tique of Islam as a case of ‘Islamo­pho­bia’. This taboo is a true mir­ror-image of the anti-immig­rant pop­u­list demon­isa­tion of Islam, so we should get rid of the patho­lo­gic­al fear of many West­ern lib­er­al Left­ists that they might be guilty of Islamo­pho­bia.

Yet, I didn’t like this, on Donald Trump,

“Read Trump closely – it is difficult to do, I know – and if you extract his total racist and sexist stupidities, you will see that here and there, where he makes a complete proposal, they’re usually not so bad,” “He said he will not totally dismantle universal healthcare, raise the minimum wage, and so on.”

“Trump is a paradox: he is really a centrist liberal, and maybe even in his economic policies closer to the Democrats, and he desperately tries to mask this. So the function of all of these dirty jokes and stupidities is to cover up that he is really a pretty ordinary, centrist politician.”

Less noticed is that at the conclusion of Against the Double Blackmail Žižek called for a kind of left-wing leap in the dark, an act of profound ontological will, against the course of history.

As he put it, in strangulated sub-Walter Benjamin sentences,

In contrast to classical Marxism, in which ‘history is on our side’ (the proletariat fulfills a predestined task of universal emancipation), in today’s constellation, the big Other is against us; left to itself, the inner thrust of our historical development leads to catastrophe. To apocalypse. Here, the only thing that can prevent catastrophe is pure voluntarism, i.e. our free decision to act against historical necessity.

The  latest Žižek news is now of just such a jump into catastrophe…..

The ‘alt-right’ site Breitbart reports,

Slovenian-born philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek said a Hillary Clinton presidency is a greater danger to the nation than a President Donald Trump.

Žižek explained that while he is “horrified” by Trump, he believes a Trump presidency could result in a “big awakening” that could set into motion the formation of “new political processes.”

By contrast, Žižek said he sees Clinton as “the true danger”–pointing specifically to her insincerity, her ties to the Wall Street banks, and her dedication to the “absolute inertia” of our established political system.

Zižek explained that Trump has been able to “disturb” the entrenched political system and argued that a Trump win could set into motion “new political processes”:

“In every society, there is a whole network of unwritten rules, how politics works, and how you build consensus. And Trump disturbed this. If Trump wins, both major parties–Republicans and Democrats–would have to return to basics, rethink themselves, and maybe some things can happen there. … It will be a kind of big awakening. New political processes will be set in motion, will be triggered.”

Žižek, who has been described as “the Elvis of cultural theory,” rejected the narrative that a Trump presidency would introduce fascism in America. “Look, America is still not a dictatorial state. He will not introduce fascism,” Žižek said.

While the rockstar Lacanian Marxist professor, who has been described as a “leftist rabble-rouser,” said he was concerned by Trump’s pledge to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, Žižek explained that, in his view, the threat of a conservative court pales in comparison to the danger posed by a Hillary Clinton presidency:

“Listen, Trump has openly said … he will nominate right-wingers [to the Supreme Court], so there are dangers [to a Trump presidency]. I’m just afraid that Hillary stands for this absolute inertia, the most dangerous one, because she’s a cold warrior, and so on, connected with banks pretending to be socially progressive.”

How far should we take any of this seriously?

In  Slavoj Žižek: A Radical Critique we noted (Weekly Worker No 855 Thursday March 03 2011)

Will Žižek go further in this mystical, millennialist direction? Critics have accused him of randomly lumping together ideas, of repetition, of contradiction and of opaque thoughts. It would be better to say that his ideas are often hidden behind great verbal radicalism and convoluted digressions, as shown by his current religious themes. Very few people who take the time to decipher his writings will find substantial tools to use for mundane politics. The pictures of class divisions (included/excluded), immaterial production (exploitation reduced to rent), privatisation of the ‘commons’, and the dictatorship of the proletariat – not to mention the residue of Badiou’s timeless metaphysics – are, we have argued, botched. Nobody is going to storm heaven – or the state – with copies of these writings in their haversack.

Nobody with this rag-bag of ideas is going to begin the revival of mass emancipatory politics. It is even less likely that Trump, if he is elected (which we sincerely hope not) will lead to a “new political processes.” of benefit to any form of left.

Whatsoever.

We suspect this has the ring of truth about it,

Slavoj Zizek is auditioning to be on a CNN roundtable.Alex Shephard

The last time we checked in on collection of bodily fluids Slavoj Zizek, he was saying on-brand things about the election. Specifically, he had a “provocative thesis” that Trump was a liberal centrist. (In a Trump-ian twist, Zizek also described Trump in a way that is loosely descriptive of himself—as “personally disgusting, bad racist jokes, vulgarities, and so on.”) With five days to go until the election, Zizek is back and he’s trying on a new stained black t-shirt—the stained black t-shirt of punditry.

 No sleepless nights worrying about the future of  Žižek, though a few at the possibility that Trump might win.

*******

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Comrade Maryam Namazie awarded the Prix de la Laïcité 2016.

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Image result for Maryam Namazie Prix de la laicite

Comrade Maryam Namazie at Paris Hôtel de Ville. 

 was awarded the  2016  Prix International de la Laïcité 2016  on Wednesday (Comité Laïcité République

The Parisian ceremony, hosted by the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville),  was attended by Anne Hidalgo,  Paris Mayor, and Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister (Paris).

“Maryam Namazie, scientifique iranienne et militante de la laïcité et des droits des femmes, a reçu le Prix international pour son action sans relâche. Elle a enthousiasmé le parterre par sa verve, sa fermeté et sa vision universaliste de la laïcité, meilleure protection contre les diktats obscurantistes.” (Communiqué du Comité Laïcité République, CLR)

The Iranian scientist, and activist for human rights and feminism, Maryam Namaziereceived the International Prize in recognition of her tireless, efforts. Her eloquence, her determination, and her universalist vision of secularism – the best protection against the diktats of obscurantism – were greeted by the audience with enthusiasm.

Namazie delivered this address: In Defence of Laïcité: Our Lives Depend on it.

I am truly honoured to have been awarded the International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République in Paris on 2 November. The wonderful Malek Boutih won the National Prix and Étienne-Émile Baulieu the Scientific Prize for 2016.

Here is my acceptance speech in English.

The French translation, thanks to Marieme Helie Lucas is available here.

Thank you for this wonderful honour. I am so glad to have the support of so many present here, including my husband and son, as well as my Muslim parents.

We live in an age where totalitarianism is masked as divine righteousness, theocrats legitimised, dissent vilified and victims blamed for their own murder.

This is a time where “solidarity” is no longer an act of defending revolutionaries but fascists; where there is always support for Islamist projects like Sharia courts, the burqa, gender segregation, apostasy and blasphemy laws – whether de jure or de facto – but never for those who refuse to be silenced, erased and “disappeared”.

It’s a time when “progressive” all too often means protecting regressive identity politics, which homogenises entire communities and societies, and deems theocrats as the sole legitimate arbiters and gatekeepers of “community” values.

It’s a politics of betrayal – devoid of class struggle and political ideals – which sees any dissent through Islamist eyes and immediately labels it “Islamophobic” and blasphemous.

We are called “aggressive apostates”, “fundamentalist secularists”, “native informants”, “inflammatory”. We are accused of violating the “safe spaces” of Islamists on universities and even “inciting hatred”.

Don’t believe it. That is the Islamist narrative.

In the world today, it is we who are being slaughtered not the other way round.

In their world everyone dies yet we are accused of being “offensive” – as if cartoons and apostasy are worse than murder.

Islamists discriminate against, shun, flog, imprison, terrorise, abduct, and slaughter but somehow it is always the victim whose “provocation” is to blame – whether it’s Charlie Hebdo or Avijit Roy…

Laicite is not a theoretical discussion for ivory tower academics and champagne socialists. It’s a matter of life and death for many of us:
• The likes of Asia Bibi in Pakistan facing execution for blasphemy
• Young ex-Muslims (Islam’s Non Believers) in Britain facing a life-time of shunning
• The likes of Afsana Lachaux whose rights violations in a discriminatory Sharia court in the Middle East have been upheld by French courts due to bilateral agreements
• Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi given a 16 year prison sentence for opposing executions; Jafar Azimzadeh sentenced to 11 years for labour organising; or dual nationals used as pawns such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff as well as Siamak and Baquer Namazi in Iran
• Blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for writing about religion and politics and on and on and on…

“Secularism is the solution”, is a graffiti Raif Badawi saw scrawled in a Saudi prison lavatory. Yet we are told that secularism is a neo-colonialist demand by so-called “anti-colonialists” whose worldview always coincides with the ruling elite, including in former colonies, and never the dissenters. Those “anti-fascists” who are only anti-some fascists, some of the time. Those who are “anti-racist” as long as we do not venture outside the pigeonholes that we are meant to live and be buried in; (if we dissent, though, they are at the forefront of insisting on racist cultural relativism and “different” rights for “different” people). The so-called progressives who condemn us to living lives within the confines of Islam whilst the sky has no limits for them…

They cannot begin to understand that no one needs Laicite more than those who live, struggle and die under the boot of the religious-Right.

And this includes the innumerable voting with their very feet and dying as we speak to seek refuge in secular societies, including the women, men and children of Calais, who deserve the basic human right to asylum and protection, not vilification and criminalisation.

And it includes believers. The right to religion must have a corresponding right to be free from religion to have any real meaning.

The historical battle that we are faced with today is not a clash of civilisations as the vile far-Right says in order to promote what is fundamentally white and often Christian identity politics. Rather, it’s a clash between theocrats on the one hand and secularists and universalists on the other – across real or imagined communities, borders and boundaries -and including many Muslims and migrants.

Secularism is not French or Western or Eastern; it’s universal.

It must be unequivocally and unashamedly defended against this era’s totalitarianism.

Today more than ever, we need Laicite and we need it now.

Our very lives depend on it.

Thank you.

We learn that the latest Charlie Hebdo has an account of a meeting with Namazie (“Rencontre avec Maryam Namazie, féministe iranienne et récemment récompensée du prix international de la laïcité par la Mairie de Paris.“).

In Britain comrade Maryam Namazie, of the  Worker-communist Party of Iran and  spokesperson of Fitnah- Movement for Women’s Liberation has not received the recognition that she is due.

Namazie strongly distances herself from far-right anti-Islamic groups, whom she doesn’t regard as allies, but enemies as well. At the World Atheist Conference in Dublin in 2011, referring to the far-right, she said “they are like the Islamists” and that Muslims need equal protection under the law, while she stressed the need to be able to criticise religion.

Despite these clearly expressed views she has been attacked by British obscurantists and their allies,

In September 2015, the students’ union of Warwick University briefly banned her from a forthcoming talk on campus organised by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society because of a fear that she might “incite hatred” of the university’s Muslim students. In an interview with the Coventry Telegraphs Simon Gilbert, she was quoted as saying: “It angers me that we’re all put in a little box and that anyone who criticises Islam is labelled racist. It’s not racist, it’s a fundamental right. … The Islamic movement is a movement that slaughters people in the Middle East and Africa. It’s important for us to speak about it and criticise it.” The ban was lifted after a few days.

In December 2015 she gave a talk about blasphemy at the Goldsmiths University in London, sponsored by the university’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. During her talk, members of the university’s Islamic Society caused a disruption by heckling and switching off her PowerPoint presentation when Namazie displayed a cartoon from the series Jesus and Mo. Namazie asked for the disruptive students to be removed, but security refused to do so.

Wikipedia. 

Glory to Maryam Namazie!

Socialist Party on “Left Populism”, “Miserable experience” of Momentum and fighting for a “Socialist” Brexit.

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Taaffe’s Socialist Party draws lessons from Momentum’s ‘miserable experience.”

There has been discussion of sectarian bearpits.

Leave it to the experts to show what real sectarians are.

The ‘Socialist Party’, currently attempting to be admitted to the Labour Party, publishes a lengthy theoretical article on the Labour Party.

Corbynism and the rise of left populismPeter Taaffe. (Socialism Today November).

Taaffe begins with this observation,

…how did Jeremy Corbyn use his colossal victory at the Labour Party conference in September? He and his main ally, shadow chancellor John McDonnell – along with their supporters in the Momentum group – attempted to offer the right a way back. This has been the pattern throughout Labour history. On those rare occasions when the reformist left have won, they invariably failed to capitalise on their victory. When the right are in the ascendancy, they go all out to isolate and crush the left, as happened in the purges and expulsions of the 1980s, first against Militant and then the rest of the left, including the supporters of the late Tony Benn.

Now this unqualified identification of the left as a bloc, putting the Militant, a would-be Leninist combat party (albeit a very bureaucratic sclerotic one) in with democratic socialists, is pretty unremarkable.

What is clear is that Taaffe is arguing that the ‘right’ should simply not be “in” the Labour Party. As if all the MPs who are not on the ‘left’ should…well, disappear…

Taaffe, after a lot of glowing phrases about the SP’s activities over the years attempts to render his own organisation’s ‘theory’ of the Labour Party intelligible.

From its outset the Labour Party was, in Lenin’s phrase, a bourgeois workers’ party. Its mass base was composed of workers, particularly from the trade unions, while its leadership always had one foot in the camp of capitalism. Blair changed all that and created a ‘capitalist party’.

The Corbyn insurgency represents an attempt to turn back the wheel of history, to re-establish a new workers’ party.

How the laws of changing quantity into quality work are remarkable.

Bourgeois workers party – bourgeois party- new workers’ party.

This veritable triad of thesis and anti-thesis needs a lever to perform the process of Aufhebung to result in the synthesis.

One might have  guessed what – or rather who –  the SP.

But I anticipate…..

Taaffe wanders into an analysis of the forces at present trying implicated in the ‘Corbyn insurgency’.

It is the effects of this crisis, taken together with the worldwide anti-capitalist movements preceding it, as well as the political rottenness of the leadership of the ‘traditional’ social democratic workers’ parties and organisations, which have led to the emergence of left-wing populism. This is a loose term employed to describe nebulous phenomena, not clearly left but appealing to ‘the folks on the bottom of the ladder’.

Comment: the key feature of populism is not the vague notion of appealing to just plain folks. It is the opposition between the ‘people’ and the ‘elite’, la Casta (as Podemos calls the political and business elite). The problem is that the ‘people’ is a category which is also against a much wider group of the ‘anti-people’. Populism is also for the people (by definition), their rule, and their sovereignty. In the EU Referendum the Socialist Party stood for the same Leave – Brexit – vote as ‘populists’ (UKIP, Brexit Tories) against the EU ‘elite’,  for the Sovereignty of Parliament and the British ‘People’. (1)

 It is hardly surprising that a carnival of reaction accompanied this result as the British ‘people’ turned against the ‘non-people’, foreigners. 

Taaffe attempts to wish this all away with rhetoric:

The leave vote in the EU referendum represented at bottom an uprising against the elite by the working class alongside sections of the middle class.

They perceived the imperialist EU as an author of their misfortunes and took the opportunity to strike back against it and the British ruling class. Incredibly, sections of the left – including some alleged Marxists – opted for remain.

When did the concept of an ‘elite’ become a Marxist marker? If the SP leader  means “A group or class of people seen as having the most power and influence in a society, especially on account of their wealth or privilege” why doesn’t he use the language of class. Or is the Socialist Party advocating the progressive nature of  a populist movement mobilised for the power of ‘regular people,’ and in their right to have control over their government rather than a small group of political insiders or a wealthy elite. Even without the difficulties flagged above – we see here the drift to an endorsement of ‘uprisings’ against “political insiders” without examining the politics of the movement. That somehow the ‘class’ nature of that ‘revolt’ (a very very contestable claim that ignores the position of the labour movement and very large numbers of workers) is somehow more ‘authentic’ ‘regular’ than the Remain left camp. Who are, one assumes, part of that “elite” – and, hey why not, the cosmopolitans – another word associated with ‘elites’….

Relishing the prospect of Brexit the Socialist Party leader fails to mention any benefit to the left or the labour movement other than a potential split in the Tories,

The negotiations over Brexit could result in Britain leaving the EU, which will have colossal repercussions in the Tory party, and probably split it from top to bottom. This could result in a schism similar to that of the early 19th century over the Corn Laws which kept the Tories out of power for decades.

Taaffe’s views on on the ‘two parties‘ in  Labour, with a hefty dose of patronising lesson-giving, is the following,  “These transitional parties and organisations, inherently unstable, can give way through splits to a more defined form of left reformism. They contain elements of the past, alongside the undeveloped ideas and forces of the future. This is why we have described the present Labour Party as no longer a completely right-wing social democratic party but one which contains these features as well as the outline of a new radical socialist mass party. There are two parties fighting for domination within Labour.”

Transitional forms…one wishes for the old Trotskyist clarity: he means ‘centrists’ who waver between ‘reformism’ and ‘revolution’. Apart from this, these ‘features’ and the “outline” – clunky expressions if ever there were any – of a new radical socialist mass party are left undefined. The struggle between these “two parties” (barely defined beyond the most general level), given the criticisms of Corbyn and his allies, is all very well, but who defines what is on one side and what is on the other?

The impression – the correct impression – is that there is a ghostly ‘Socialist Party’ side (everything they agree with from Brexit onwards) called the left,  left populists in the middle, and the Right. Too terrible to be even in the same party.

At this point we would ask what of winding up the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  which campaigned for a mass working-class party and was the “side” in which the Socialist Party openly set out its stall?

Taaffe modestly describes TUSC’s present suspension of activity as  the means, “to consolidate the victory of the left.”

But for the real strategy inside the ‘war of two parties’ after TUSC’s – present- truce,  we have to turn to the Socialist’s Editorial today.

It’s theme is “Imagine if Jeremy Corbyn was currently campaigning for a socialist Brexit.”

But the article soon gets down to the issue of Momentum – dispelling the illusion that this it is part of the forces working for a ‘new workers’ party.

Few, however, will be inspired to get active by the Momentum leadership’s current strategy of endless conciliation with the right. This road, if continued down, will ultimately lead to widespread demoralisation and therefore defeat.

We warned of this when, soon after the foundation of Momentum, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, and Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary, met with Jon Lansman. Even then Lansman argued against fighting for mandatory reselection, believing that many of the MPs could be won over to Corbyn, enabling him to ‘cling on’ until 2020. Our warnings that the right was irreconcilably opposed to Corbyn and an attempted coup was inevitable were dismissed.

They warned, but were their counsels heeded?

The consequences of Momentum’s continued strategy of ‘clinging on’ are currently being demonstrated in the attempts of its unelected leadership to prevent any kind of democratic Momentum conference taking place. They are terrified that a conference might embarrass them by voting to combat the Blairites.

Because no doubt Momentum shovers at the very thought of a “combat” with the (unnamed) “Blairites”.

That is why they are proposing the conference be organised on an online voting basis. While online voting can play a useful supplementary role in some circumstances, if it is used to replace meetings and conferences it is always a means to consign the majority to the status of passive observers, whose participation is limited to the occasional click, while central decisions are taken by an unaccountable leadership.

Those who became active in Momentum in order to fight to transform the Labour Party need to draw the necessary conclusions from this miserable experience.

Which they can only counter by offering this sound advice: we were right. 

As the Socialist Party has argued from the beginning, what is needed is an open, democratic, fighting organisation that brings together all who want to fight to transform Labour into an anti-austerity party; whether or not they are currently allowed into the Labour Party by the right-wing machine. Such a force should fight clearly for the transformation of the Labour Party; including the democratisation of its structures – mandatory reselection, restoring trade union rights, readmitting expelled and excluded socialists – see our petition – and allowing socialist organisations to affiliate.”

The Socialist Party’s opposition to Momentum leadership is indeed a “warning” to the left, though perhaps not in the way the Editorial intends.

It would be interesting to know, from a party that has the loudest yelps for ‘democracy’, how its own party debates take place, their pre-conference discussions, their internal discipline, rules, and their rules on dissent inside their organisation. Oh, and their membership, figures and all. 

******

(1) See Ernesto Laclau On Populist Reason (Verso, 2005) and, more immediately relevant:  Podemos: In the Name of the People Chantal MouffeInigo Errejon , Owen Jones (Introduction). 2016. 

Update: the latest contribution to the Momentum issue:  The row in Momentum: a Q&A. Sacha Ismail.

More: How Momentum entered the crisis zone. Stephen Bush. New Statesman.

Warring Momentum members reach truce over ‘virtual reality’ talks.   Guardian. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Paul Mason Joins Momentum: “Labour can only win as an insurgency.”

with 10 comments

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Paul Mason: “Momentum itself is at a crossroads.”

Labour List reports,

Corbyn cheerleader Paul Mason has joined Momentum, he disclosed today, as internal disputes continued with senior members rejecting claims they had attempted to thwart democracy through “Blairite” manoeuvres.

Former BBC and Channel 4 journalist Mason said his decision to sign up was in part to support efforts to implement online all-member ballots which will decide how the group is run.

The proposed democratic structure, which would see all of Momentum’s 20,000 members vote on strategic decisions, has proved controversial, with officers on the steering committee publicly criticising the changes.

Now supporters of the reforms, which are backed by the group’s chair Jon Lansman, have defended the decision robustly, following a weekend of accusations of “bureaucratic manipulation” and a “coup”. Much of the internal unrest has played out in public, with steering committee members Jill Mountford and Michael Chessum penning public statements about their unhappiness.

Paul Mason’s announcement that he has joined Momentum – at a time when the grass-roots organisation faces a serious crisis – prompts a number of reflections.

This Blog has commented before that Mason began his journey in an activist direction in Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. Paul Mason. Review. Andrew Coates.

To Mason there are signs of the “emancipated human being” emerging “spontaneously from within the breakdown of the old order”. The illumination of the multitude can be seen in the “act of taking a space and forming a community” – from Tahrir Square to Wall Street. This showed “the deployment of digital communications at work, in social life, and now in the forms of protest.” But in the tradition Mason refers to, there are more sceptical strands. Capital and the state can colonise such “smooth spaces” (democratic and equal areas) and make them “striated” (integrated into established exploitation and power) is less obvious (A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze. Félix Guattari. 2003)

Paul Mason’s book  PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future  (2015) is an important book brimming with ideas. It uses many Marxist concepts (echoing Ernest Mandel on Kondratiev waves as in Long waves of capitalist development: the Marxist interpretation. 1980). This is the idea that capitalist development and crises, innovation and stagnation, are long-term cycles (we are on the downward one at present). We will leave it to specialists to judge how well he has integrated this theory into PostCapitalism and whether the premise stands in the first place. But, that said, it is always refreshing to see – as will be seen below – somebody  on the left who writes about the world today  beyond the categories of 1917 ‘Leninism’.

The heart of PostCapitalism is a reflection that  develops the labour theory of value in modern conditions.  “As Marx speculated, many commodities, such as software, music, and designs for objects to be reproduced by machines, can now be reproduced at virtually no cost.  This leads to a conceptualisation of  “immaterial” labour, the basis of what he calls “post capitalism”. “

“The defeat of organised labour did not enable – as the neoliberals thought – a ‘new kind of capitalism’ but rather the extension of the fourth long wave on the basis of stagnant wage growth and atomisation. Instead of being forded to innovate their way out of the crisis using technology, as during the late stage of all three previous cycles, the 1 per cent simple imposed penury and atomisation on the working class.”(PostCapitalism  Page 93)

He draws on Marx’s Fragment on Machines (a favourite text of the writers such as Toni Negri  and Michael Hardt. (Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire.) and Paolo Virno (A Grammar of the Multitude 2004). This is a form of social order and economics,  within capitalism itself, fostered by the (apparent)  central role of information in the economy, civil society, and the state.

As Mason says,

the Niches and hollows out the markets system “new forms are developing, new forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts” the “sharing economy”, “common” ‘peer production.” (PostCapitalism Page xxii)

 

Mason uses a number of  terms to describe the emergence of ‘post-capitalism’. The key conceptual divide is not class struggle but  “networks v hierarchies”. This is a belief that there is an inherent desire for a “beyond” capitalism in the search for human autonomy. The central lever of change in this direction is the “networked individual”.

At this point it would be better to look at PostCapitalism in terms of political agency. That is ““New opposition movements, “determined to avoid the power structures and abuses that hierarchies bring…” (PostCapitalism. Page xxii)

As David Tyfield notes (On Paul Mason’s ‘Post-Capitalism’ – An extended review. 2015)

Realizing the end of capitalism demands a social force actually to seize the reins of power. One may expect, given the Marxian resources used to this point, that the identity of this social agency would be obvious. Mason, however, makes a distinct and compelling break with his own orthodoxy at this point, arguing that post-capitalism will not be constructed by the ‘working class’. Indeed, going further, he argues that Left-wing movements seeking to expedite the emergence of a progressive information post-capitalism must do some profound rethinking of political shibboleths.

What is needed instead is the construction of a new global social movement, focused not on communal identities as exploited workers but on new and dynamic collective identities as enabled and emancipated and interconnected persons, enjoying the abundance and leisure of an equitable and socially just information society. On this point, then, Mason presents some speculations regarding how the political economy of this post-capitalist utopia could be organized, before finishing with an extended discussion of how we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ and what such a ‘transition’ could involve.

Although since he does refer to Cornelius Castoriadis or the contemporary current inspired by his ideas, this closely resembles the dynamic of ‘autonomy’  versus “heteronomy”. Humans, networking on their own initiative, face the ‘heteronomous’ (that is not just laws laid down by desire instead of reason but by ‘external’ forces, extra-social authorities ). Or simply, the world of capitalism constructed outside their control, and against their will. Creative, or “enabled”  individuals, need to seize control of the ‘imaginary construction of society”.  In Serge Latouche’s Cornelius Castoriadis ou l’autonomie radicale (2014) this goal is summarised as  “l’autonomie individuelle et la participation de tous aux décisions qui les concernent.” – individual autonomy (self-rule) and the participation of everybody in decisions which concern them. It will be the basis of “l’utopie concrète”.  The author, who also supports a ‘zero-growth’ (décroissance) version of Green politics, believes equally that everybody  except a tiny minority (crudely, those in control of the ‘heteronomous’ world, capitalists and politicians)  has an interest in this ‘project’.

Latouche makes clear the direction one can follow once ‘identities’ are reordered around terms like networks/hierarchies – or self-determined autonomy against external command. Mason believes we live in a “Post-scarcity” world, in which, referring to the radical theorist André Gorz (a figure that brings the two writers close), “Info-tech makes the abolition of work possible. All that prevents it is the social structure we know as capitalism.”(PostCapitalism Page 181)

Some of this is perhaps at odds with zero-growth theory (though both writer’s visions of the future are too vaguely defined to engage in a serious confrontation). But in other respects his vision of the future has parallels with Latouche:  eventually work will become voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free and economic management becomes primarily an issue of energy and resources, not capital and labour.  That will be, we might conjecture, the best version of “post-capitalism”. In some respects we are ‘already there’ in that significant commodities in the digital economy are free and open-source (FOSS) and non-capitalist, such as Linux, Firefox and Wikipedia.

A transition is summarised as follows:

The road-map will involve harnessing zero-marginal-cost production, and seeking to avoid the failings of twentieth-century Communism and capitalism.  The section articulates ‘five principles of transition’, all envisaged operating through non-hierarchical social networks:

  1. To use massive amounts of real data to understand, model, and test ideas for social change so that they fit observable trends in human behaviour.
  2. Ecological sustainability.
  3. Ensuring that a transition to post-capitalism is not conceptualised simply in economic terms, but in wider human terms.
  4. To address problems with diverse approaches, rather than attempting monolithic solutions.
  5. Maximise the power of information.

Mason boldly announces that more widely, “Under a government that embraced postcapitalism, the state, the corporate sector and public corporation could be made to pursue radically different needs with relatively low-cost changes to regulation, underpinned by a radical programme to shrink debt.”(Post Capitalism Page 278)

I already have a problem with Mason’s reference to a foreshadowing for this transition to Alexander Bogdanov‘s novel Red Star: like all utopias, from Étienne Cabet‘s Voyage en Icarie (1844) onwards, it looks to me more like an order than a democracy.  

I digress….

In the current New Left Review Rob Lucas (The Free Machine) offers a significant critical account of Mason’s views.

After outlining the wider economics (briefly sketched above) he falls upon  the networked individual.

Mason’s ‘networked individual’ might be read more as a figure of the future, an incarnation of the ‘social individual’ that Marx meditated upon in the 1844 ‘Notes on James Mill’: developed yet suppressed by capitalist reality, an individual no longer separated from the social means of reproducing her own life, and able to appropriate finally—in a formulation from the Grundrisse—‘all the powers of science and of nature’ and of ‘social combination and social intercourse’ that it has hitherto been capital’s task to develop. For now those powers remain largely locked in opaque technical infrastructures that someone else owns, scholarly literature in gigantic silos accessible only to those with the requisite affiliations.

Rather than Latouche’s bald assertion of a universal interest in autonomy, founded ultimately on our existence as beings on an ecosystem called Earth, Mason talks of the potential contradictions of capitalism.

But, as Lucas notes,

The rise of information cannot just mean the emergence of a new mode of production which can sit harmoniously alongside an enduring capitalist one—as in Yochai Benkler’s visions—or a stable new regime of capitalist accumulation, as in some post-autonomist interpretations, since ‘an economy based on information’ cannot ‘be a capitalist economy’.

The finality of this judgement sits a little awkwardly with Mason’s insistence that the transition will have to be implemented by a specific subject. But who should this be? Mason surveys the history of the workers’ movement, from rebellion (1900s) and repression (1930s) to co-existence (1950s), arguing that its spontaneous ideology was one of work-place control, solidarity, self-education and ‘the creation of a parallel world’. This, rather than trade-union reformism or revolutionary communism, was what the shop stewards who emerged outside unions supporting the First World War to form factory committees and councils, were looking for. But after the mass-slaughter of workers through fascism and war, a settlement came about in which work seemed ‘absurd, ridiculous and boring’, and from the early 1960s workers could see that a dramatic increase in automation was ‘no longer science fiction’.

These difficulties aside, out of this changes that have taken place since automation and the information society,  emerges the “The figure of ‘the network’, ” the alternative to Bolshevism’s command and control.

A network is a set of connections, it may be a way of giving a broad picture of  a social force (a market, a cycle of production, a political movement, even a ‘state’). But Mason does not precisely define one – we are all networked, any more than the recent theories of ‘populism’ have succeeded in demarcating the ‘people’ from the elite.

Lucas, if one can simplify his argument,  could be said to state that in the absence of any defined social  ‘subject’ of historical change,   “The theory risks becoming a sort of signpost merely pointing at a technological sublime.” Furthermore, “It’s not clear at which point Mason’s postcapitalist transition would definitively issue into a stable new mode of production. “

Now however Mason appears to have found his subject-object of historical change: Momentum. 

Why I joined Momentum. Paul Mason. 

Momentum itself is at a crossroads.

It faces two alternative futures: one in which all the negative, hierarchical and factionalist tendencies of the 20th century left are allowed to resurface; another in which Momentum — and ultimately Labour itself — becomes a horizontal, consensus-based organization, directly accountable to its mass of members.

Ones hackles are raised by the very term “consensus based” – presumably that means no elections but something ‘superior’ to them.

Mason later elaborates on this,

As to its internal structures, Momentum should take major decisions by consensus, using electronic democracy to engage every dues-paying member.

As L.A. Kaufmann puts it (The Theology of Consensus).

Instead of voting a controversial plan up or down, groups that make decisions by consensus work to refine the plan until everyone finds it acceptable. A primer on the NYC General Assembly website, the structural expression of the Occupy movement, explains, “Consensus is a creative thinking process: When we vote, we decide between two alternatives. With consensus, we take an issue, hear the range of enthusiasm, ideas and concerns about it, and synthesize a proposal that best serves everybody’s vision.”

Now let’s just note for the moment (apart from the failures of this model in the Occupy movement, and more recently, this very year, in efforts to use the model, even partially, in the unsuccessful Nuit Debout movement in France) that Jeremy Corbyn was not elected by consensus. That one of the few issues this Blog agrees with Chantal Mouffe on is the need for dissensus – the free clash of opinions – for the functioning of democracy. That a challenge to the existing political set up creates stasis, in the sense used by Giorgio Agambem, an upsetting of order and agreement that has parallels to civil war. Which it is the business of democracy to resolve as peacefully as possible.

Now let’s look at the practice.

Kaufmann states,

Movement after movement found, moreover, that the process tended to give great attention and weight to the concerns of a few dissenters. In the purest form of consensus, a block by one or two individuals could bring the whole group to a screeching halt.

Sometimes, that forced groups to reckon with important issues that the majority might otherwise ignore, which could indeed be powerful and transformative. But it also consistently empowered cranks, malcontents, and even provocateurs to lay claim to a group’s attention and gum up the works, even when groups adopted modifications to strict consensus that allowed super-majorities to override blocks.

If the forty-year persistence of consensus has been a matter of faith, surely the time has now come for apostasy. Piety and habit are bad reasons to keep using a process whose benefits are more notional than real. Outside of small-group settings, consensus process is unwieldy, off-putting, tiresome, and ineffective. Many inclusive, accountable alternative methods are available for making decisions democratically. If we want to change the world, let’s pick ones that work.

Electronic democracy is another problem, though before looking at its difficulties we should note that some critics of the Momentum leadership were recently trumpeting this method for Labour members to elect the shadow cabinet.

That E-democracy is no panacea can be seen by its central importance in Beppe Grillo‘s Movimento 5 Stelle: a means by his clique to run the show and not a democratic tool  at all.

That said, in practice Mason’s world does not look to me like a consensual model of politics: “Faced with an unprecedented level of hostility and sabotage from the media, the business elite, Labour can only win as an insurgency.

How on earth one could contain this clash, or quarantine it off, from the island of Momentum consensus is hard to tell. Perhaps this small-groups can operate it. And remain small groups.

Now I agree with the fine intentions behind this next statement, ” We need to turn half a million-plus members into activists: people proud to be identified with Labour as the party of social justice; people equipped with the ideas and organizational skills to start making a difference…”

This is also in the realm of good intentions:

I am not worried about “entryism”. Anybody who is in a left wing group or party right now should be allowed to join Momentum, so long as they openly and irrevocably dissolve their organizations and pledge to support Labour in all future elections.

Under party rules it would take them two years to become members so I favour a rule change to shorten that to a few weeks. Ditto for anybody who wants to leave the Greens or SNP and join Labour.

And,

The problem is not “entryism”: it is a view of politics whereby it becomes the task of a small group to capture and direct a larger organization.

That’s what the Blairites did to Labour; we don’t want a left wing version of it. Above all we don’t want a scenario where die-hard Bolshevik re-enactment groups decide to take over Momentum, so that it can then take over Labour, and then Labour takes over the state.

 As is,

I think the most revolutionary thing we can achieve is to put a left Labour government in power: to switch off the neoliberal privatization machine, to end expeditionary warfare and the arming of dictators, to redistribute both wealth and power to the people.

And this is about as ‘new’ as the ‘New Left’ circa, er, 1961.

We also have to propagate a new way of doing politics — emulating the best of the grassroots and horizontal movements, embracing popular participation, people’s plans, people’s budgets and popular assemblies.

If Mason’s contribution for the simple reason that it talks of wider issues and might deflect attention away from rants against Momentum’s  leadership is welcome it is far from clear that is about to become a full political actor in the Labour Party let alone the new subject-object of the transition from capitalism to ‘post-capitalism’.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Momentum Crisis: The Steering Group Majority Answers Critics – some comments.

with 3 comments

Image result for momentum

What Kind of New Politics? 

I am a difficult position commenting on the crisis of Momentum.

Not a member, but sympathetic to its broad direction, not with a card, but knowing many of the people involved in the dispute, in some cases for many years..

Like many my basic principle is that  I would like to see a strong Labour democratic socialist left.

As Tony Benn often said, politics should be about issues, not personalities. He was optimistic, and perhaps ignored the history of democracies since Pericles, but in the Labour Party one ought to try to focus on this, rather than the merits, or otherwise of Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet.

Firstly, I would like to see some meat on the bones of anti-austerity politics. That is serious policies on issues like public ownership instead of private public services, social security (Labour has no developed ideas comparable to the TUC/Unemployed Centres’ Combine Welfare Charter), housing, education, health, renationalisation, union rights, low pay, local authorities,  what UNITE calls Brexit on our terms, that is trying to salvage what we can, (not the ridiculous denial strategy of those who propose a ‘People’s Brexit’ after the defeat of collectivism and Another Europe is Possible in the Referendum), and…. I could continue the list.

Campaigning on these topics in the wider community is a way of connecting with our electorate and helping make it grow.

Secondly, like many I am not prepared to be silent about the disagreements left-wing internationalists have with the party leadership on issues such as Syria  and the need to fight all forms – state or not – of  reactionary Islamism.

Finally I would like to see Labour win elected positions, from councillors to MPs.

Momentum has become central to this democratic socialist project and therefore I, and others, are bound to react to the present dispute.

I do not want a fight between different tendencies, factions, and let’s be frank, groupuscules.

The present dispute centres on this, “Lansman, the founder of Momentum, was tonight accused of behaving in an “autocratic” manner after the organisation voted to delay a meeting of its national committee to December and that the vote on its founding principles in February 2017 would be using a one member, one vote system rather than a delegate system.” (Steven Bush New Statesman.)

This decision was opposed. The following resolution explains why,

“This meeting of the London Momentum censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

“We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

“We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November.”

Christine Shawcroft  explains why Momentum decided as they did.

These are the key sections of her article published today.

Members can vote for what ever kind of Momentum they want (Left Futures)

..what works as a temporary expedient when an organisation is first being set up and finding its feet is not necessarily what would work best in the long term. Like all new organisations, Momentum has had its teething troubles (as I run a day nursery, I know all about those!). The first people involved in trying to get it going were, by definition, more versed in the ways of the ‘old’ politics than the ‘new’. Working with enthusiastic young people with a different perspective on things has meant we’ve all been travelling along a learning curve. The temporary structures that were set up tended to be modelled on those of the Labour Party – decidedly not the new politics! Many local groups felt that a delegate structure tended to prevent grassroots participation by default.

The (temporary) Steering Group has therefore decided that the best way of involving all the members is to, well, involve them. Proposals for how we organise will be put out to the whole membership, any one of whom could also put their own proposals or amendments. There would still be a place for local groups and delegate structures, but final decisions on Momentum’s core politics, our code of conduct, and our democratic structures could be voted on by our greatest resource – the membership. A Founding Conference in spring next year could be live streamed and proposals voted for online.

On the Steering Group we feel that this could well answer the call for a new, inclusive and democratic way of doing things. And if the members disagree, and really want to ape Labour Party structures and have rigid decision making delegate bodies – well, it’s up to them. They can vote for whatever kind of Momentum they want: not only is that the new way of doing politics, that’s democracy!

Tony Greenstein has stuck is oar in and given the reasons for objecting to this idea.

Jon Lansman stages a Coup D’état in Momentum as the National Committee is cancelled by the Steering Committee.

The  Long Awaited Founding Conference of Momentum Will Be a Virtual Conference!

Describing this in typically restrained manner (“Coup D’état”)  Greenstein notes of Momentum’s way of evolving more permanent structures and policies,

Over the coming months, members will propose their ideas on Momentum’s aims, ethics, and structure. We will use digital technology to ensure that all members can be involved and shape Momentum’s future.”

This is the very opposite of democracy.” “It is designed to atomise individual members and undermine conference as the collective decision-making body of Momentum. It underlines the extent to which sections of the left have internalised the defeats of the past decades. It is Thatcher’s union ‘reforms’ writ large.

As somebody who respects (most, Greenstein being a major exception) individuals on both sides of this controversy (and if you look at the names who have backed Lansmann you will recognise that is not a straightforward division between ‘right’ and ‘left’), it would appear that there are merits in the majority’s decision.

It is also possible both to understand exasperation at it, and the way it was voted on.

At the same time many will harbour the feeling that some figures emerging in the local groups, including those with very very long histories of non- and even anti-Labour activism behind them, are not always greeted by people, like Christine, who have been Labour stalwarts for their entire lives.

One can also agree that  a meeting called with 19 hours notice is not the best forum for such a controversial decision.

But if a Conference is not to be the traditional sectarian bear pit there needs to be this kind of participation.

If it One Member One Vote (OMOV) was good enough to elect the leader of the Party it must have some virtues.

To repeat: I want to see a strong democratic socialist left, not the left of the party riven by factionalism. 

Update: Latest in the growing Row.

Dear Comrade, 31 October 2016

Re: A meeting of Momentum National Committee delegates to discuss the present situation & consider solutions

Over the past few days we have all been involved in discussions with Momentum members about the concerns which have arisen from the decisions of the Steering Committee to cancel the meeting of the NC due to take place on 5 November and to go ahead with a national conference with online voting of all members.

You will also know the consternation these decisions have caused and the response from London, Eastern, Northern and South East regions.

Below is an email sent yesterday (30 October) to the Steering Committee members from Matt Wrack who is a member of the National Committee and Steering Committee. We echo those observations and comments.

We are extremely concerned that we overcome this current difficult division that has arisen as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are proposing to convene a meeting of as many NC members as possible in Birmingham next Saturday 5 November to discuss the recent events and, most importantly, consider ways to overcome the resulting differences and to move forward together.

There is no desire or intention to create any separate or parallel organisation within or in opposition to Momentum. We are all committed to building Momentum, as we are all doing at a local level. We simply want to address what we perceive to be a democratic deficit in its decision-making at the present time.

Please let us know if you can attend. If you can’t, is there someone you can send in your place?

We will send out further information about the venue and starting time along with a provisional agenda as soon as we can.

In solidarity,

Matt Wrack
Delia Mattis    ) London NC delegates
Jill Mountford   ) “ “
Nick Wrack      )  “ “
John Pickard    ) Eastern NC delegate
Steve Battlemuch ) East Midlands delegate
Michael Chessum ) Member of national Steering Committee

More:  Momentum chiefs accused of “coup” over adoption of all-member ballot Conor Pope. Labour List.

Further splits have emerged within Momentum amid claims of a “coup” after the introduction of reforms to the way it makes internal decisions.

The Corbynite group spent much of the weekend debating internal divisions over direction, structure and accountability while one senior member has forecast a “revolt for democracy” in the organisation, which recently marked its first anniversary.

The group’s founder, Jon Lansman, is at the centre of the row, having given his support to a controversial move to hand a vote to every Momentum member about how the organisation should function.

The latest tensions emerged over the decision to call an emergency meeting of Momentum’s small steering committee on Friday to discuss postponing a meeting of the much larger national committee, which had been scheduled for later this week.

See link for rest of the article.

Yet more:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Momentum in Crisis?

with 7 comments

Image result for momentum

We publish this without detailed comment.

We welcomed – in broad terms – the creation of Momentum and note that it played a very positive role in trying to win support for a left-wing campaign to vote Remain in the European Referendum.

This dispute has all the air of a typical fight between left political tendencies that ends in a great deal of bitterness and unpleasantness.

It is, naturally, as nothing if people heed this self-serving appeal and admit the Socialist Party (Labour), the actively pro-Brexit Socialist Party –  back in Labour: Readmit expelled socialists,

More than 60 socialists, with over 800 years of Labour Party membership between them, have signed the letter below calling for their re-admittance to the Labour Party. Many of them were expelled in the past for supporting the Militant Tendency. Others have been excluded or expelled in recent months as part of the right-wing Labour Party machine’s attempts to defeat Jeremy Corbyn.

Yes they were expelled, for forming a disciplined ‘leninist’ combat party inside Labour.

And since then they have stood candidates against Labour, up till the very very recent past, pouring scorn on Labour and……

A short statement for the press Jill Mountford. 

I’ve had a couple of requests for comment from journalists. Here is a statement people are welcome to quote (obviously I would urge anyone who does so to not edit it so as to misrepresent what I’m saying!) You can also contact me at jillmountford@rocketmail.com or on 07904 944 771.

“I take no pleasure in sharply and publicly criticising comrades in Momentum. But for the organisation’s National Committee to be cancelled yet again, so that at best it will not have met for seven months – and what months! – smacks at the very least of an inadequate appreciation of the importance of democracy.

“At a time when there is an urgent need for Momentum to take the lead in working for a democratic, campaigning Labour Party and labour movement, a shocking amount of energy is being wasted on these kind of totally unnecessary, bureaucratically-generated internal rows. Normal democratic functioning would allow us to redirect that energy to taking the fight to the Tories.”

Report of controversial 28 October “emergency” Momentum Steering Committee. 

Jill Mountford’s Momentum blog.

Dear comrades – apologies if anything in this report is unclear or confusing. In addition to the events themselves being quite confused, this was written late at night after a very long day at work and then a long meeting. Please feel free to email questions and comments tojillmountford@rocketmail.com. See also my initial brief report here, which includes basic decisions about the NC and who voted how, and Michael Chessum’s comments here.

This evening’s Steering Committee (28 October), called at 21 hours notice on a Friday evening, and against the wishes of several SC members, pushed through most of Jon Lansman and Sam Wheeler’s agenda. Ironically arguing that local groups, regional committees and the National Committee are dubious in their legitimacy. If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.

The meeting was supposedly called to decide how the liberation groups inside Momentum elect their reps and on whether or not to cancel the long awaited November 5 National Committee. Michael Chessum, Jackie Walker, Matt Wrack and myself had all opposed an emergency SC for tonight arguing as Matt Wrack put it, it is “an outrageous way to do business”.

It soon became clear that Lansman and Wheeler were confident they had a strong majority to push through more than a cancellation of the NC.

Regardless of what you think about OMOV* of some sort vs a national conference based on elected delegates, how the majority on the Steering Committee behaved tonight is nothing short of total disregard for any democratic structures we have, however imperfect they may be, inside Momentum – again.

There was a reasonably quick resolution to the call for delegates from the liberation groups to be done by OMOV in time for the November 5 NC.

Next came the call to cancel the NC on November 5, Sam Wheeler, from the North West, argued we had to cancel the NC because it clashed with the NW Regional Labour Party Conference. Now bear in mind a) the date of the NC has been out for more than five weeks and b) the North West region of Momentum has more members than Scotland and the North East put together, and they only have three delegates. Yet Sam Wheeler said he feared the clash would be of detriment to both events. The arguments went back and forth with Sam refusing to a) to explain why we had to cancel as the NW regional committee given it would only take out three people from the NW and b) tell the meeting how many people from North West Momentum groups were due to go to NW Regional Labour Party Conference.

Sam Wheeler and Jon Lansman spent far too much time arguing that local groups and the regional committees were undemocratic and unrepresentative. Lansman illustrated his point by telling us he’d attended one meeting recently where the Chair hastily proposed himself and another incumbent to continue to be the delegates to the regional committee from that group. He said someone from the floor of the meeting asked if there was to be a vote and the Chair swiftly went to the vote without asking for other nominations. When I asked him which group this is and who is the Chair, he said “Southwark and Nick Wrack”. Lansman has it in for local groups, always has had because he knows local groups often represent serious activists who both campaign in their localities, want to transform the Labour party and understand the need for an actively participatory membership to do this.

Throughout the debate arguments for a form of OMOV were frequently put by Lansman, Sam Wheeler and Sam Tarry. Lansman then moved a procedural motion that the meeting goes to a vote on conducting the National Conference by OMOV. Michael and myself argued that this was not the business of the meeting, that it had not been put on the agenda, either as a discussion item or a motion to be voted on and that it was therefore not legitimate business. Regardless of what you think of OMOV, this committee did not have the legitimate power to make this decision.

Lansman pushed his procedural motion to go to the vote, confidently knowing he had a majority; and he won his procedural motion by 7 votes for, 2 against and 1 abstention (Martyn Cook – Abstained, Darren Williams, Cecile Wright, Sam Tarry, Marsha Jane Thompson, Christine Shawcross, and Jon Lansman in favour and Michael and myself against). Then we went to the vote on an OMOV conference with the same votes cast. This should have been the legitimate business of the National Committee.

Sam Tarry ended this part of meeting by asking: “Why bother with a national committee, let’s go straight to an OMOV conference!” And who sorts out the OMOV conference? Not a National committee made up of 50 or so recently elected delegates, but a steering Committee made up of a dozen people who were elected in February supposedly until August when a new Steering Committee was due to be elected and, of course, it never was because we haven’t had a national committee for six months.

Next Sam Wheeler moved his motion to cancel November 5 National Committee and the votes were same with the exception of Cecile Wright who voted with Michael and myself against the cancellation of the NC.

The only thing left at this point was for me to propose a date for another an NC on Saturday 3 December. This was carried by 6 votes in favour and 4 abstentions. The votes were cast as follows: In favour – Darren Williams, Martyn Cook, Cecile Wright, Michael Chessum, Christine Shawcross, and myself, while no one voted against, Sam Tarry, Sam Wheeler, Jon Lansman and Marsha Jane Thompson all abstained on a new NC date set for December 3.

This date has since been changed – by text! – to December 10.

A fine example of how to bureaucratically carve up an organisation of 20,000 members while arguing what they were doing was all about democracy and everyone having their say. What it will mean in reality is that a small clique will seek to run Momentum, calling the odd electronic plebiscite and or survey of the membership, in between members being called upon to defend the leadership at the next challenge. Such manoeuvres cannot build an open democratic organisation that is active on the ground, organising in the Labour Party to transform its structures, and building community and labour movement wide campaigns.

Time for the membership, activists, groups and regions of Momentum to fight back for democracy.

* To clarify what I mean by OMOV (One Member One Vote). Jon Lansman and co are not always clear, but it seems what they mean is that delegates to Momentum conference will not take any decisions but votes will instead be taken by an online ballot of all members afterwards. This is bizarrely reminiscent of Blairism, bureaucratic manipulation veiled in plebiscitary pseudo-democracy.

We are aware that support (including from forces wider than the above, that is, people I know) is gathering for a campaign to support a motion based on this:  Emergency motion for London region Momentum network (29 October) and this, “condemns the decision of yesterday’s Momentum SC to cancel the scheduled NC for 5th November and its decision to abandon a delegate conference in February.”

I would like to hear the reasons for these decisions from those who made them, but in principle I personally would be wary of going to, or delegating people to,  a conference that was a rally pure and simple or, as seems possible, could easily be a sectarian bear-pit.

It is unlikely that this view is not shared by others.

Update:  Jon Lansman branded “autocratic” as Momentum splits turn acrimonious. Steven Bush New Statesman.

Lansman, the founder of Momentum, was tonight accused of behaving in an “autocratic” manner after the organisation voted to delay a meeting of its national committee to December and that the vote on its founding principles in February 2017 would be using a one member, one vote system rather than a delegate system.

The move will make it harder for the Alliance of Workers Liberty, Lansman’s major internal opponents, to win key votes, as they are well-organised but have limited numbers.

Michael Chessum, a member of Momentum’s steering committee and a regular contributor to the New Statesman, accused elements of Momentum of having “absorbed the modus operandi of Blairism” in a post on Facebook.

The meeting was held with less than 21 hours notice, which led to Matt Wrack, the head of the Fire Brigades Union, and Jackie Walker, who has been stripped of the role of vice-chair but remains a member of Momentum’s steering committee, being unable to attend.

Jill Mountford, of the Alliance of Workers Liberty, said the decision to delay the national committee meeting again  “smacks at the very least of an inadequate appreciation of the importance of democracy”, and that a “shocking amount of energy” is being wasted on “totally unnecessary, bureaucratically-generated internal rows”.

Separately, Cecile Wright, who sits on Momentum’s steering committee as a representative of the organisation’s ethnic minority wing, has come under fire after replacing Walker as a vice-chair. One figure accused her of being “desperate for a seat”. However, Wright voted against cancelling November’s national committee meeting.

The divides within Momentum have spilt out into the open, with the removal of Jackie Walker as vice-chair the catalyst. Although the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty did not support Walker, they have cited the row as an example of their wider criticisms of the organisation’s democratic direction.

On a lighter note people may be amused by this weighty correspondence, from the august pages of the Weekly Worker, (Correspondence)

October 13

Hi Norrette

Please renew the affiliation of Labour Party Marxists to the LRC. I paid £50 affiliation fee online today (October 13), using the ‘donations’ button on the LRC website. Our contact details are unchanged.

Stan Keable

October 13

Dear Stan

You might recall that at the SGM earlier in the year the rules for national affiliates changed – as a result organisations are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the NC that there is evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation. When the current list of affiliates were reviewed, several were not deemed to have met this test, including Labour Party Marxists.

Whilst individual members of those organisations are welcome to renew their membership and attend the AGM, they will as a result not be able to attend as delegates from those groups.

If any payment has already been processed I’m sure we can arrange for a refund.

Michael for the EC

October 13

Dear Michael

No, I was unaware of such a rule change. This is the first time I have heard that Labour Party Marxists has been excluded from affiliation to the Labour Representation Committee. Surely I should have been informed, as LPM secretary?

May I ask which are the “several” other affiliates which were disaffiliated in this way?

Stan Keable

October 23

To: Michael Calderbank, secretary, Labour Representation Committee

APPEAL TO LRC NC

Dear comrade Michael,

Renewal of Labour Party Marxists affiliation to LRC

I am writing to appeal against the disaffiliation of Labour Party Marxists from the LRC.

Labour Party Marxists has been an affiliate of the LRC for several years now – at least since 2011, when we submitted our contribution to Peter Hain’s ‘Refounding Labour’ consultation – ‘Refound Labour as a real party of Labour’ – published in the first issue of the LPM broadsheet, and distributed at the November 2011 LRC annual conference.

Our members and supporters have participated in every LRC conference since then, including the special general meeting in February 2016, and have routinely paid our annual £50 affiliation fee in the period before each annual conference.

It therefore came as a surprise, when I paid the £50 affiliation fee on October 13 2016 to renew our affiliation for the coming year, to be told that LPM’s affiliation was rejected.

You wrote: “You might recall that at the SGM earlier in the year the rules for national affiliates changed – as a result organisations are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the NC that there is evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation. When the current list of affiliates were [sic] reviewed several were not deemed to have met this test, including Labour Party Marxists.”

Of course, we accept that the LRC national committee has the right, within the LRC constitution and in line with its aims and objectives, to accept or reject applications to affiliate. But I confess that, although I personally attended the February 2016 SGM along with other LPMers, we were unaware of the rule change, and unaware that LPM had been disaffiliated, or that our affiliation had been “reviewed” by the NC.

We were not informed of this decision, whenever it was taken. Indeed, we were not asked to provide “evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation” – whatever that means. In these circumstances, perhaps you can understand my suspicion that this might be simply a bureaucratic method of excluding unwanted political views, instead of sorting out differences through open debate. The immediate effect of our disaffiliation is that we are unable to submit amendment(s) or nominations to the forthcoming October 29 annual conference.

May I ask some relevant questions:

l Which are the “several” affiliates which were disaffiliated, being “not deemed to have met the test”?

l Have they been informed?

l When was that decision taken – at which NC meeting?

l Why was LPM not informed that it had been disaffiliated?

In a subsequent email message, on October 16, you explained: “if you are able to provide the NC with supporting evidence that you meet the criteria (eg, evidence of your national membership, minutes of national meetings, etc), they would be able to reconsider on appeal.”

In fact the LPM steering committee (presently five comrades) meets regularly, usually weekly, on Skype. Please see below, as a sample, the agenda and notes/minutes of our October 3 meeting, and agenda for October 10. Some comrades use cadre names. As you can see, we have members and cells in different locations around the country, not just in London.

We produce a widely circulated, irregular LPM broadsheet with increasing frequency, and produce frequent articles on our website and Facebook page, and in the Weekly Worker.

LPM national membership aggregates are held, jointly with the CPGB, roughly every two months (eg, January 24, March 6, May 8, June 26, September 4, October 16) and reports of these meetings can be read online in the Weekly Worker. Likewise, LPM organises, jointly with CPGB, the annual Communist University in August, which attracts a wide range of supporters from around Britain and beyond.

Membership is open to those who accept the LPM ‘Aims and principles’ (available on our website and in every issue of the LPM broadsheet), who contribute financially, and who actively participate in the work of the organisation through one of its cells. Isolated members meet regularly on Skype.

I trust this information satisfies the NC that LPM is a small, but effective, national organisation, with a positive contribution to make to the work of the LRC. If the NC requires further information, please ask.

Stan Keable

LPM secretary

October 23

Dear Stan

Thanks – I acknowledge receipt. It will be forwarded to the incoming national executive committee, once they are elected from the AGM.

Michael

Corrected: had problems with the Library’s computers yesterday: the main ones were out of of order and I was using ones limited to 30 minutes.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Spain: Mass Demonstrations Today against Rajoy’s ‘Golpe’ (Coup d’état).

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This weekend Spain will finally have a government, after inconclusive elections have led to months of failure to vote one in.

Spain’s 10 months without a government should end on Saturday when parliament is set to grudgingly grant conservative Mariano Rajoy a second term as prime minister.

But political instability may persist as Rajoy’s weak minority government struggles to build support to pass legislation in a hostile parliament.

After two inconclusive elections and months of fruitless attempts at coalition-building, a controversial decision by the opposition Socialists to abstain should allow Rajoy to be confirmed as prime minister in a parliamentary confidence vote set for 7.45 p.m. (1745 GMT) on Saturday.

Reuters.

El país says today, “Rajoy será elegido hoy presidente con la abstención y el desgarro del PSOE.” Rajoy will be elected with the – painful – abstention of the POSE (Spain’s Socialist Party). (1)

Called to protest at the ‘coup d’état’ this demonstration is backed by groups of the far left and left nationalists, “Alternativa Republicana,  Anticapitalistas, Asamblea Popular de la Elipa, Desborda Madrid, Distrito 14, Izquierda Castellana, Izquierda Unida, PAH Ciempozuelos, Partido Multicultural por la Justicia Social, PCE, Sindicato de Estudiantes, No Somos Delito, y Frente Cívico Somos Mayoría.” The plan to “surround” the Parliament (Rodea el Congreso).

El País says it is backed by Unidos Podemos. The daily states that it questions the legitimacy of the democratic system, and the validity of the process which will led to Rajoy’s investiture on Saturday in the lower chamber, of the country’s Parliament  (“y a la que apoya Unidos Podemos—, cuestiona el régimen democrático y la legitimidad del presidente que saldrá investido en la cámara baja.) The centre-left paper describes material for the march. It talks of  the “system” uniting the leader of the Partito Popolare , the King, and the socialist PSOE , talks of them as a “mafia”. It notes that it just at the limits of legal expression. It underlines that Spain underwent a real attempt at a coup in 1982.

cartel-c25s-pequeno

Íñigo Errejón, official spokesperson for Podemos, has warned of the possibility of violent incidents.

This video, by the Izquierda Anticapitalista (a Tendency within Podemos, more Wikipedia, English), calling for the demonstration and for ‘popular power’ (Poder populaire) certainly has strong revolutionary echoes. This is not without precedent, the Anticapitalistas,  it is alleged, have compared the Podemos “circulos” (base groupings) to…..Soviets (Hay quienes ya asemejan los ‘círculos’ de Podemos a los ‘soviets’: Quién es quién en Izquierda Anticapitalista, el partido que mueve los hilos dentro de Podemos. Vozpopuli)

(1) PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez was ousted in an acrimonious uprising that has torn the party apart. Sánchez had dismissed pleas from parts of the PSOE to allow the PP back into government, insisting that the latter was too deeply mired in a series of corruption scandals to be allowed to retake office. He stood down as leader this month after losing a vote that would have allowed grassroots party members to back or sack him in a leadership contest. The PSOE’s caretaker leadership has abandoned Sánchez’s position and decided to abstain in Saturday’s investiture vote, thereby allowing Rajoy to form a minority government. (Guardian)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2016 at 10:51 am

Posted in European Left, Spain

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Alain Soral – one of France’s best known anti-Semites – on Trial for Harassing Black Woman.

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Soral and the ‘Anti-Zionist’ List. (2009).

This court case (the judgement will known on the 29th of November) is astonishing.

Procès d’un ex-mannequin contre Soral : 6 mois de prison ferme requis. (Les Inrocks 20.10.16.).

During the trial a black mannequin,  Binti Bangoura, accursed Soral of a sustained campaign of harassment. That is, endless text messages, threats and and racist insults. She had contacted him via Facebook, on the basis that he appeared a fighter against injustice. She asked him to spread an article about Guinea, la Guinée.  They swopped intimate photos. Soon he became pressing. Too pressing. Trying to back off Bangoura found that Soral began to send more and more unpleasant messages. These included, “Ton destin c’est d’être une pute à juifs”, (Your destiny it to a whore for the Jews) and  “Finalement, il ne te reste que les juifs et les pédés” (in the end you’re only got the Jews and the Poofs.”) .

The campaign against Bangoura became a “tsunami”  of insulting messages on the Internet, including on Soral’s web site, Egalité et réconciliation.

This not an ordinary tale of sexual harassment. 

Alain Soral began his political career with a brief visit (whose date and existence from the mid-1990s to is contested)  to the Parti Communiste Français (PCF). He soon became a ‘sovereigntist’ opposing the Maastricht Treaty Referendum in 1992, and railing at Wall Street, the Frankfurt Bourse, the Dwarfs of Tokyo and…international Zionism. Soral’s call for a new alliance of Communists, nationalist Gaullists, ‘left’ republican nationalists, and ‘ultra-nationalists’ did not take off. He left the PCF.

Soral’s ‘post-left’ development began with a critique of ‘communitarianism’ – that is anything that is not French nationalism. In the new century he worked closely with the far-right Front National. At one point he was an adviser to Jean-Marie Le Pen. During this time 2006)  he visited Gaddafi, and expressed admiration for Hugo Chávez. Even Le Pen backed off when he began to talk of the gas chambers as a whimsical fairy-tales (lubies).

In 2009 for the European Elections, Soral, with the ‘comedian’ Dieudonné  and Yahia Gouasmi, President of the Shiite Federation of France, a « Liste antisioniste » anti-Zionist list (1,30% in Ile de France, 2,83% en Seine-Saint-Denis). It is said that it was financed by the Iranian government, to the sum of 3 million euros. He regularly participates in pro-Palestinian demonstration, despite opposition from some of the organisers. More recently he has been a great supporter of Vladimir Putin and has promoted the ideas of  “néo-eurasisme“. He is, it perhaps goes without saying, pro-Assad. A critic of globalisation, Soral propagates a variety of conspiracy theories, involving Freemasons, the bourgeoisie, the USA, the Banks and ….well you can guess.

He is, above all,  anti-Semite.

Soral is political confusionism incarnate.

Indeed his web site, Égalité et Réconciliation, claims to synthesize the values and culture of the Right with the economics of the Left.

There are too many legal prosecutions against him to list, but they all centre of his racism and anti-Semitism.

He is notorious for his opposition to events and memorials commemorating the Shoah, such as Holocaust day. One incident in 2013 involved him making the infamous ‘quenelle’ gesture in front of the Berlin Shoah momument, and broadcasting a video of the event.

Soral is close enough to Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala – who created the ‘up your arse’ Quenelle – to be known as his eminence grise.  Dieudonné, has himself run into trouble for his attacks on Jews, which he has attempted to defend pointing to their alleged role in the African slave trade. (See amongst scores of posts: Réponse courte à Dieudonné : les Juifs et la traite des esclaves).

The prosecution in the present Soral Trial has called for a six months prison sentence.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2016 at 11:51 am

Yazidi women win EU Sakharov Prize.

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Nadia Murad.

This is profoundly moving:

Sakharov prize: Yazidi women win EU freedom prize. (BBC).

Two Yazidi women who escaped sexual enslavement by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq have won Europe’s top human rights award, the Sakharov prize.

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar were among thousands of Yazidi girls and women abducted by IS militants and forced into sexual slavery in 2014.

But both survived and now campaign for the Yazidi community.

The freedom of thought prize is awarded annually in memory of Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet scientist and dissident.

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, described the winners as “inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality”.

“I am proud that they have been awarded the 2016 Sakharov Prize,” he added.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee their homes after IS fighters took the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in August 2014.

Thousands of women and girls were treated as “spoils of war” and openly sold in slave markets to IS militants. They were separated from the men and boys, many of whom were shot dead.

The Islamist slavers and  genociders have not gone away or been brought to justice.

U.N. investigators said in a report in June that Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Such a designation, rare under international law, would mark the first recognized genocide carried out by non-state actors, rather than a state or paramilitaries acting on its behalf.

Reuters.

October the 22nd:Dozens of Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS moved from Mosul, group says. (CNN).

Dozens of Yazidi women captured and enslaved by ISIS in 2014 have been moved from the Iraqi city of Mosul to Syria, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitoring group and US military officials have said ISIS militants are fleeing Mosul and heading for Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS, as Iraqi-led forces push to free the key Iraqi city from the terror group.

Dozens of ISIS families have already arrived in Raqqa, the observatory said.

Ethnic cleansing by ISIS has displaced, killed and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis, members of an ancient ethnic and religious minority. Modern-day Iraq is the traditional homeland of the Yazidis.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2016 at 11:48 am

The PSU (1960 – 1989): Quand la Gauche se réinventait. Le PSU, Histoire d’un Parti Visionnaire. 1960 -1989. Bernard Ravenel.

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Review: Quand la Gauche se réinventait. Le PSU, Histoire d’un Parti Visionnaire. 1960 -1989. Bernard Ravenel. La Découverte. 2016.

Following the rise of Spain’s Podemos there has been great interest on the left in the creation of new parties or changed forms of organisation that try to resolve the difficulties, electoral and political, of social democracy. This is not without precedent. The Parti Socialiste Unifié, PSU, (See Wikipedia entry, in English and in French) was created in 1960 in the middle of one of French socialism’s greatest crises, its inability to stand for Algerian independence and failure to stand up to de Gaulle and the creation, his mould, of the 5th Republic in 1959. The PSU became one of the most significant new left parties of the 1960s and 1970s with an impact across the European left. Apart from its anti-colonialism, it promoted ecological politics, feminism, ideas of participative democracy, and, above all, autogestion, self-management, which have resonance today,

In Quand la gauche se réinventait (When the left reinvented itself) Bernard Ravenel offer the first comprehensive history of the PSU. This is a difficult task. The party was far from a leftist groupuscule whose life can be summed up in account of a few ideologues and their battles. Founded with 30,000 members, they won two Parliamentary deputies in 1962, and 4 in 1967. In 1968, after participating in the May events, the PSU candidate, Michel Rocard (1930 – 2016) received 3,61% in the June Presidential elections. Throughout its existence the party had many local councillors, often in the hundreds. At its height in 1970 it counted 350 workplace branches and had strong links with the – then – radical socialist Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CFDT). One of its central motifs, self-management (autogestion) became popular on the French left, and was formally adopted by the Parti Socialiste in the mid-70s, occupying a major place during that decade in debates and policy formation. This was part of a broad international move towards backing workers’ control.

Bernard Ravenel describes the PSU as a “chaudron”, cauldron, whose brew nourished several generations of the socialist left. But Quand la gauche se réinventait is more than an account of that inspiring party in which people found their bearings. He aims to transmit the memory of their struggles to future generations, to create a bridge between them, and to help enrich present-day critical left thinking (“pensée critique”).

The legacy of the PSU is extensive. After fierce internal disputes Rocard, and many others, left the party and joined the Parti Socialiste in 1974 to become a leader of what some call the “deuxième gauche (second left). In a celebrated speech at the Nantes PS congress, 1977, Rocard attempted to distinguish “two lefts”. The First was centralist, standing for the authority of the State. It was ‘Jacobin’ and even nationalist. The Second stood for decentralisation, dispersed authority, civil society and support for a plurality of oppressed minorities. In practice market friendly policies and modernisation became the hallmark of the Second left. As Ravenel observes, this meant that self-management was – as it did for the Socialist Party in office – mere “varnish”. (1)

Erudite Hamster.

An “erudite hamster”, as less than friendly observers called him, Rocard was to become a Socialist Prime Minister under Mitterrand’s second Presidency in 1988 until 1991. He created the Revenu Minimum d’Insertion (RMI), a universal social security payment in a system that had hitherto been contribution based, leaving people at the end of a certain time with no money at all. But apart from this important measure Rocard is probably more remembered for reconciliation with the market than for radicalism. (2)

After Rocard’s mid-70s departure, along with his supporters and many others, the PSU had continued with diminishing fortunes. Their membership crept below 10,000. The party’s presidential candidate in 1981, Huguette Bouchardeau (1,1%) in 1983 entered the Mauroy government under François Mitterrand with responsibilities for ecology. Her participation in a cabinet committed to fiscal cut backs effectively marked the end of the PSU. It formally split in 1989. Some members joined the French Greens (les Verts), others the group (Alliance Rouge et Verte, AREV) which became Les Alternatifs, who now form part of part of the Front de Gauche, Ensemble. Former PSU activists have participated in range of movements, continuing to take up green issues, the defence of immigrants, and feminism.

Foundation 1960.

These are the bare bones of the history of the PSU. If the party is known at all on the English speaking left it is for its role in defending the cause of Algerian independence. Bernard Ravenel begins Quand La Gauche se réinventait by marking out the wider background to the groups that formed the party. It may come as a surprise to many outside France to learn that during the 1950s a variety of substantial groups – and not the tiny Trotskyist movement or the even smaller Socialisme ou Barbarie, – had opposed both Stalinism and the rightward moving French socialists of Guy Mollet’s SFIO (with the historically interesting name, Section française de l’international ouvrière).

These groups, which numbered around 20, 000 supporters, owed much to the attempts to create a ‘Third Force’ on the post-war French left, neither Stalinist nor social democratic. Others came along with the left-leaning reformist, and anti-colonial Prime Minister (7 months in 1954) Pierre Mendès France. Others, such as the sociologist Pierre Naville, the activist Yvan Craipeau, and the novelist Colette Audry, had been figures in the French Trotskyist movement wearied by its incessant quarrels and ineffectiveness.

Engaged in the fight for Algerian national liberation the PSU participated in the often-violent battle against the putschists who tried to maintain French Algeria. It is a measure of the honesty of Ravenel’s book that he does not fail to mention that many Communist students stood should to shoulder with them in demonstrations against the racist attempt to retain colonial rule (Pages 52 – 53).

Algerian independence in 1962 appeared to leave the PSU without a defining mission. But the party soon found a new role. This was not simply opposing De Gaulle’s Presidential referendum in 1962 but in laying down a new approach on the left.

The Counter-Plan.

In broad terms one might say that this had been dominated by two stands. The first, symbolised in the figure of Léon Blum considered that the French republic was basically healthy, the carrier of a long emancipatory history. If the left might pursue a long-term strategy of conquering power by mass activity, it could exercise power within this given framework. In the 1960s this stand meant, however, concentrating on the effects of De Gaulle’s ‘coup d’état’, to return to full republican democracy. The other strategy, at the heart of the line of the Parti Communiste français (PCF) was to consider that “monopoly capitalism” had fused with state power. An essentially healthy proletariat was both held down by capitalism, and formed for an historical leading role within production. Without the restraints of capitalism, freed under conditions of what the Communists would later call “advanced democracy”, and nationalisation, the working class, organised in unity within its allied union structures the CGT, and its party would create socialism. The political agency of socialism was therefore ‘given’, it was up to its political expression, the PCF, to conquer to the state and set it free. (4)

The PSU, critical Marxists, open a wide range of left thinking, inspired partly by writers such as Serge Mallet, looked to new forces within the working class who had begun to raise demands relating to the more immediate control of production. Around the ‘Front Socialiste’ the party supported workers’ struggles (such as the 1963 miners’ strike). But they developed wider ambitions, elaborating a “counter-plan” in 1964. At a time when indicative planning was still practised they offered an alternative to the French planning system based on democratic participation. As Ravel observes, this as the first time in the country that a socialist group proposed to develop planning, of investment and consumption, under democratic control as a form of transition to socialism. He writes, “le contre-plan veut ouvrir une voie démocratique at donc pacifique au socialisme..” The counter-plan wished to open the way to a democratic and thus peaceful transition to socialism. (Page 82)

This perspective, elaborated by PSU strategist Gilles Martinet (a former Resistance member and ex-Communist), offered an alternative to the “republican” reliance on a politically reformed state, and the PCF view that the workers needed to channel their demands through the CGT, and the Party. As the Party developed, particularly after 1968, the idea emerged of passing from such worker and popular “control” to the full-blown self-management (autogestion) of production and distribution. There was also a sketch supporting political decentralisation. For many of us, this thread of ideas, which Ravenel outlines with great clarity amidst the often-complex debates – not to mention critiques – that followed, remains one of the PSU’s enduring contributions to the left.

Badiou and the Armed Struggle.

Quand la gauche se réinventait is no less acute in its description of May 68 and the effects this had on the PSU. The leftist Trainspotter will rejoice in the accounts of the factional battles that ensued after the évévenements. One aspect has drawn the attention of reviewers: Alain Badiou’s support for preparing for armed struggle, with mass participation in the conquest of power (Page 202) More fundamentally in the early 1970s the PSU endured a prolonged confrontation between those who supported changing the organisation into a Leninist vanguard party (‘avant-garde” in French) and those continued to believe in a broad democratic socialist structure. Ravenel describes the latter in terms of a Gramscian vision of the party as a “collective intellectual” (Page 214).

These disputes ended with some ‘Leninists’ resigning and joining the group to be known as Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire. Another group, which included the future Green theorist, Alain Lipietz went on to found the grandly titled Organisation communiste gauche ouvrière et paysanne, GOP. Other ‘Marxist-Leninists’ were excluded. Rocard, and the more openly ‘reformist’ currents, made their excuses and left. Martinet had already quit for the Socialists in 1972.

Activists from the PSU were involved in all the central struggles of the 1970s. These included Lip (1973, the celebrated occupation of a Watch factory which was then run as a co-operative), Lazarc (protests against the military’s expropriation of peasant land) feminist campaigns (abortion), and the early battles against Nuclear Power. In 1975 they supported the Portuguese Revolution, and the (similar to PSU) ‘centrist’ Movimento de Esquerda Socialista (MES) efforts to establish workers’ power and popular control. Ravenel personally participated in on-the-spot links. Relations with the CFDT, cited above, continued, helped by the common Christian radical origins of many of their members, although they did not become close. The federation’s leader, Edmond Maire early expressed the view that he had no wish to become for the PSU what the CGT was the PCF. (5)

Critical of the Common Programme of the parliamentary left (PCF,  PS, and then the Radicaux de gauche (1972), from its signing to its break up (1977), the continuity PSU remained apart from the mainstream. The Party also had important differences with one group of backers of autogestion inside the Parti Socialiste. The faction, CERES, best known for its leader Jean-Pierre Chevènement, preferred a legislative and nationalised to a grass-roots framework. It was only a commentator on the processes which dominated this alliance up till Mitterrand’s victory in 1981. Yet it could be said that through such activists, and the presence of former members inside the Socialist Party, its influence continued to be felt within both movements and the institutional French left.

Quand la gauche se réinventait is not a history that deals with the alleged turn of intellectuals against the left during the 1970s. According to what one might call the New Left Review version of history, which treats of academics, ideologues, and the media, rather than activists, leads many to believe that the country underwent a profound ‘anti-totalitarian’ moment during the decade. Ravenel describes the more humble task of achieving political power for the democratic socialist left. He cites extensive documentation, including the PSU paper, Tribune Socialiste, and interviews with those involved. That the transformation of that left was never achieved by the PSU – Ravenel describes his book as a history of the vanquished (vancus) – should not detract from their achievements. He is not afraid to reveal one of the less savoury sides of their work. Following a degree of reconciliation with the Algerian one-party state, in 1970 they received a ‘loan’ (never to be repaid) for finance of the (modest but comfortable) Headquarters. These good graces of Houari Boumediene were not publicly trumpeted (Page 189)

Revolutionary Reformism.

Ravenel is thus transparently a trustworthy and welcome guide to some of the most important experiences on the 20th century French left. For him the dream of “reformisme révolutionnaire” was never achieved. Was this because of a change in the social landscape, the basis of the political environment? Ravenel concludes that the PSU was unable to realise its ambitions and programmes which were tailored to the transformation of “industrial society”. This world had gone, replaced by an increasingly “post-industrial” world. Referring to theorists of the ‘new working class’ amongst others in 1981 André Gorz announced the fatal decline of a motivated skilled working class that wanted control of production and had the means to do. (Adieux au prolétariat. 1981) This claim certainly had an impact on the way PSU activists thought. But, citing from own experience of these warm and open people, as the defeats of the 1980s accumulated against them, and their initial ‘critical support’ for Mitterrand evaporated, their legacy remains a vibrant source of hope.

********
(1) Page 135. Les Gauches Françaises. Jacques Julliard. Flammarion. 2012. Alain Bergounioux Gérard Grundberg as well as Ravenel remind us that a whole series of future leading Socialist party politicians, from Alain Savary, Jean Poperen to another future PM (1992 – 1993), Pierre Béregovoy passed from the PSU to the Socialists (in their case beginning with the re-alignments in the FGDS (1967). Pages 141 – 145. Les Socialistes français et le Pouvoir. Fayard. 2007.
(2) Michel Rocard, le président empêché. Jonathan Bouchet-Peterson. Libération. 27.16. 2016
(3) Pages 35 – 42. The Parti socialist autonome (PSA) a split from the Socialists, counted 8,500 members, the Union de la gauche socialiste (UFS), a Christian leftist organisation had 8,000, and a dissident Communist faction, the Tribune du communisme, had several hundred. These groups had a long and complex history, including relations with another force which would join with the PSU, the supporters of the reformist Prime Minister (7 months in 1954) Pierre Mendès France. Socialisme ou Barbarie was virulently hostile to the alliance with the latter. See. Maille. R.(Alberto Véga) : Mendès-France et le nouveau réformisme. Socialisme ou Barbarie. No 29. December 1959/February 1960. This followed a long history of hostility to this non-communist radical left, principally the result of their attachment to taking part in elections.
(4) See Page 125. Léon Blum. Pierre Birnbaum Seuil. 2016. On the PCF’s concepts see Le Communisme une passion française. Marc Lazar. Perrin. 2005.
(5) The CFDT vision of socialism as self-management and its relations the PSU is dealt with in La Deuxième gauche H.Hamon. P.Rotman. Editions Ramsay 1984. They describe the specific effects of the key events, such as the 1973 Assises du socialisme, and the intimate links between PSU members and the union federation. The CFDT identified itself increasingly as “reformist” formally abandoned all reference to socialism the Congrès de Strasbourg 1988, but retained a reference to autogestion.

Image result for Quand la Gauche se réinventait. Le PSU, Histoire d’un Parti Visionnaire.

For more on the PSU see: INSTITUT TRIBUNE SOCIALISTE

and,  Le Parti socialiste unifié (PSU), un parti germe pour l’autogestion. Patrick Silberstein.

Le PSU, une comète dans le ciel de la gauche : quelques leçons pour aujourd’hui, À propos de Bernard Ravenel, Quand la gauche se réinventait. Le PSU, Histoire d’un parti visionnaire. Gustave Massiah

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Spread Referendum Rebellion *further* in a positive direction says Socialist Workers Party.

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Image result for eu referendum result nigel farage

Farage Celebrates ‘Blow’ to Neoliberalism, Capitalism and Political Elite.

Socialists should seek to direct the rebellion of  23 June further in a positive direction and squash any reactionary elements. Those on the left who see only a further spiral downwards are turning their back on an opportunity to connect with and broaden working class revolt.

Says Charlie Kimber of the Socialist Workers Party and Editor of Socialist Worker. (Why did Britain vote Leave? International Socialism October)

I shall not bother with the ‘learned’ examination of statistics Nor with vapid claims that a small fraction of the European left backed Brexit (strangely Kimber does not mention the ultra-nationalist ‘Trotskyists’ of the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), with whom the British ‘Lexit’ campaign formed close ties during the campaign see here). Nor with the rhetoric about a revolt against the ‘elites’.

Instead let’s go to the core of the Kimber ‘argument’: the revolutionary prospects a Leave vote has created.

That is the idea that this was a “working class revolt” that needs to be ‘broadened’.

He observes,

The reasons for that rebellion are contradictory, and the fallout from the vote is uncertain. But that does not change the essential character of what has taken place. We should welcome this development. Liberals fear turmoil, revolutionaries should not. We are not going to get to the British revolution without some complicated and many-sided developments that require the left to grasp the moment—and if they don’t then the right can grab that feeling of anger instead. The year of the referendum also saw meetings in many places to remember 100 years since the Easter Rising in Dublin. Many in the audience would have nodded sagely at Lenin’s understanding of what happened..,

It would be interesting to learn more about how the British Revolution is helped by the victory of Farage and the hard-right Tories. The right has already “grabbed” this moment.

Is Kimber suggesting that this ‘anger’ is something you can go about snaffling for your side if you’re cunning enough?

In the meantime….

Of course the Leave vote was not the Easter Rising. But Lenin’s method is important.

Indeed, the Referendum has so many points in common with the Easter Rising that Marxists will have spotted them immediately.

Apart from welcoming chaos the SWP declares,

The Socialist Workers Party called for a Leave vote. We did so for three main reasons. Firstly, the EU is an openly pro-capitalist institution…  Secondly, the EU, through its Fortress Europe structures, acts to repel migrants and refugees from outside Europe…… Thirdly, the EU is part of the imperialist world order that, along with NATO, delivers important support for the United States and provides reliable partners in its murderous actions. That is why since the late 1940s the US has promoted European integration to secure a stable junior partner for managing global capitalism.

So the SWP voted to leave capitalism by supporting capitalist plans to quit the EU, to back further restrictions on freedom of movement to get rid of racism, and to undermine and get rid of the imperialist world order. No doubt as soon as possible.

The SWP believes the Leave vote will benefit the working class across the world and the struggle against racism. It is a further blow to the coercive neoliberal power of the EU and its racist laws. The dismantling of the pro-capitalist EU must begin with revolts at a national level.

The SWP “believes” that the Leave vote helped the working class across the world, and anti-racism, on the same secure basis that they believe that Lenin would have “nodded sagely” at their ‘line’.

As for the “blow” to EU neoliberalism –  that’s a lot of huff and puff.

Kimber instructs us, “However we voted on 23 June, we have to unite against racism, austerity, the Tories and the anti-Corbyn Labour MPs. “

That is, to unite with those who backed the “rebellion”, ” backed up by a wider programme raising issues that can engage with workers angry at the political elite and austerity.”

Interesting ‘Marxist’ concept that, the “political elite”. (1)

“We must be participants in the outcomes, and that means intervention, innovative thinking, and organising. After the Leave vote the battle is on. Socialists should gladly embrace and shape it.”

After the Referendum the leader of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said,

The Brexit vote was a defeat for the working class in Britain as well as internationally. It was a defeat for internationalism and collectivism. Brexit was a victory for populist demagogy, xenophobes and racists. Brexit has already had detrimental economic effects and worse is likely to come.

Brexit has resulted in a more right-wing government. It means an already difficult period ahead will be even harder for the trade union movement and the working-class communities we represent.

The Tendance says: we will not unite with those who actively encouraged the defeat of the working class, internationalism and collectivism.

Whatever Lenin said about the Easter Rising.

 Update:

(1) This is the SWP trying to get on down with Podemos and attempting to find a way to say, La Casta.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2016 at 11:31 am

Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo?

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London, Saturday.

Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo?

Syrian solidarity activists should therefore go and make the case in defense of the original uprising against the Syrian regime and Russia at, for example, forums put on by the U.S. Peace Council, which is currently touring apologists for Assad. We can organize debates about Syria and Palestine at political conferences, and challenge the views put forward by Blumenthal and Khalek in left publications and websites.

This attitude of fighting to win the debate is important. We have to win the left to a genuine anti-imperialism that opposes not just the U.S. empire, but its rivals (and sometime collaborators) as well. As revolutionary socialist Eamonn McCann put it so well in a speech in the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland, we must protest American imperialism’s crimes in Iraq, Yemen and beyond, while also challenging Russian imperialism in Syria.

Finally, and most importantly, we must stand in solidarity with genuine liberation struggles from below, regardless of which imperial camp they are challenging. Our slogan is neither Washington, nor Moscow, nor Beijing, nor Damascus, nor Tehran, nor Riyadh, but self-determination for oppressed nations and international socialism.

From Socialist Worker.

No, not the UK Socialist Worker of the SWP, but the US Socialist Worker of the International Socialist Organization.

This is only one contribution to a very serious debate taking place on the entire  US Left about these issues.

One could begin with one important and  latest contribution:  The numbers game in East Aleppo by Louis Proyect.

In the UK Socialist Resistance have published this: Syria – calling for an end to intervention is not nearly enough

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty republishes this: What’s wrong with “Stop the War”?

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2016 at 11:53 am

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebo – Part 479.

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Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

Stalinism and Trotskyism both back in vogue says Andrew Murray (Chair of the Stop the War Coalition).

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Image result for stalin trotsky alan wood

Both Stalin and Trotsky Back in Vogue says Chair of Stop the War Coalition.

Stalinism and Trotskyism appear to be back in vogue. Their shrouds are being waved — entryism here, a purge there — to terrify bystanders to the struggle over the future of the Labour Party, writes Andrew Murray.

“This illustrates the extent to which “dead Russians,” using the term slightly loosely, still hold the imagery and lexicon of the international left in thrall nearly a century after the October revolution.”

Andrew Murray is, to repeat, Chair of the Stop the War Coalition and holds some other positions in the labour movement.

He continues on this site.

In a learned analysis of Trotsky’s uncompleted book Stalin (apparently now out in a definitive edition) Murray  outlines within this context the background of the founder of the Fourth International’s final (uncompleted)  book.

It was Trotsky’s last major literary endeavour and he was working on it when he was assassinated by an agent of Soviet security in 1940. It was a biography so unauthorised that it may be the only one in the history of the genre whose author was murdered by its subject while the book was still being prepared.

We should nevertheless get the low-down on the cash involved.

Trotsky had been paid $5,000 for the job by a US publisher who was accurately anticipating a sustained assault on the Soviet leader.

Murray outlines the new version of the text now published by Socialist Appeal

In a herculean labour of love, Alan Woods and Rob Sewell of the Socialist Appeal group — that vindicated element of the old Militant tendency which argued that the fight in the Labour Party was not over — have restored the book to something more like what Trotsky would have intended. (1)

Here are some choice quotes from Murray’s review,

There is more to Trotsky’s bile than Olympian Marxist analysis. His outrage at the fact that he, the great leader of the insurrection and the Red Army, should have come off second best to a man obviously inferior to him in every salient respect — orator, writer, reader of second and third languages and so on — permeates every page.

Furthermore,

The USSR won the war and Stalin emerged stronger than ever, with socialism spreading to half of Europe and much of Asia, perhaps the most significant of the many circumstances which left Trotskyism without Trotsky stillborn as a major political movement.

Trotsky would have found all this quite incomprehensible but perhaps not as incomprehensible as his own political worsting by a nonentity from the provinces. Historians and some on the left will continue to dispute these questions ad infinitum.

Murray concludes,

But no, the Labour Party is not living through “Stalinism” versus “Trotskyism” reincarnated.

Time, perhaps, for a new political vocabulary.

Time indeed.

I shall leave it to the comrades to discuss this review in more detail, including this claim against Trotsky, his assertions about the number of Red Army officers suppressed in the purges are wide of the mark by significant magnitudes.”

Personally I much prefer Boris Souvarine’s Stalin:A Critical Survey of Bolshevism (Translated by C.L.R. James 1939. French edition 1935) (see also this  « Staline » de Boris Souvarine). “Souvarine was a founding member of the French Communist Party and is noted for being the only non-Russian communist to have been a member of the Comintern for three years in succession. He famously authored the first biography of Joseph Stalin, published in 1935 as Staline, Aperçu Historique du Bolchévisme (Stalin, Historic Overview of Bolshevism) and kept close correspondence with Lenin and Trotsky until their deaths.”

According to the one-time Trotskyist Fred Zeller in Témoin du siècle while he visited the Marxist leader in Norway he informed Trotsky of Souvraine’s work.

Trotsky did not have a high opinion of it, noting that the book was even not unreservedly  respectful of Lenin…..

Souveraine was, one observes today, critical of Trotsky, but rightly laid the emphasis on the monstrous crimes of Stalin and the immense social apparatus of repression and killing that was built from the 1920s onwards.

*****

(1) More here: In these videos, Alan Woods and Rob Sewell discuss Leon Trotsky’s great unfinished work, Stalin, which is being published this year by Wellred Books.  Alan Woods discusses the political and theoretical analysis provided by Trotsky, who attempts to explain some of the most decisive events of the 20th century, not just in terms of epoch-making economic and social transformations, but in the individual psychology of those who appear as protagonists in a great historical drama.  Meanwhile, Rob Sewell provides the story behind the publication of this magnum opus – the most extensive edition of the book ever released, completed from the original archive material.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2016 at 5:16 pm

Stop the War Coalition Opposes ‘Outside’ Help to Defeat ISIS in Mosul.

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Image result for mosul

StWC Opposes Outside Help to Defeat Genocidal ISIS.

Iraqi-led forces have surrounded a Christian town in an attempt to liberate it from ISIS control, but they are facing fierce resistance, exchanging heavy gunfire with the militants, a paramilitary general told CNN.

The operation in the town of Qaraqosh by Iraqi forces, Peshmerga fighters and a Christian paramilitary group is the latest in an aggressive push toward the city of Mosul by a coalition of around 94,000 people, aimed at unshackling the strategic city from more than two years of brutal ISIS control.

Part of Qaraqosh has already been liberated, according to General Amr Shamoun, who belongs to the Christian militia involved in the attack.

 More on CNN. 

Inside Mosul: IS threatens US and spreads terror among civilians

As Iraqi forces close in on Mosul, IS targets suspected spies and is believed to be using civilians as human shields.

Sky.

Meanwhile in another universe.

StWC Statement on Mosul (17th of October).

The misery of the people of the Middle East continues. We have condemned the bombing of Aleppo by Russia and that of Yemen by Saudi Arabia. Now there is the battle over Mosul in which both US and UK planes will be used for air strikes. While no one can support the brutal behaviour of ISIS, and all would welcome its disappearance, more aerial bombardment of civilians will not help to bring about peace and stability in Iraq. Indeed, the offensive on Mosul which began today is in danger of creating a grave humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands try to flee the city.

This is the key part of the statement,

The US and UK governments do not have the interests of the people at heart, but are concerned with their own strategic interests and control of the resources in the region, in the case of Mosul oil. Stop the War opposes all the outside interventions by foreign powers and all the bombing being carried out from whatever source on the people of the Middle East.

So the StWC would welcome the “disappearance” of ISIS – presumably in a puff of smoke.

In the meantime they are opposed to the military aid which might bring their defeat.

Because?

Because the US and the UK have an interest in Mosul Oil?

Because  they are “outside interventions”?

Mosul is a very hard case but what was their stand during this: the siege of Kobanî  when our Kurdish comrades fought for dear life against the genociders of ISIL (ISIS)?

By 2 October 2014, ISIL succeeded in capturing 350 Kurdish villages and towns within the vicinity of Kobanê,[60] generating a wave of some 300,000 displaced Kurds, who fled across the border into Turkey‘sŞanlıurfa Province.[61] By January 2015, this had risen to 400,000.[56] The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), coordinated as part of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room,[citation needed] were later joined by further Free Syrian Army (FSA) reinforcements, heavily armed Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and American and Arab airstrikes providing air support.[62]

On 26 January 2015, the YPG, along with the continued US-led airstrikes, began to retake the city, driving ISIL into a steady retreat. The city of Kobanê was fully recaptured on 27 January; however, most of the remaining villages in the Kobanî Canton remained under ISIL control.[8][63] Kurdish militia along with allied Arab armed groups backed by further airstrikes, then made rapid advances in rural Kobanî, with ISIL withdrawing 25 km from the city of Kobanî by 2 February.[64][65] By late April 2015, ISIL had lost almost all of the villages it had captured in the Canton, but maintained control of a few dozen villages it seized in the northwestern part of the Ar-Raqqah Governorate.[9] The battle for Kobanî was considered a turning point in the war against ISIL.

Wikipedia. Siege of Kobanî

Well, we know they oppose all foreign interventions.

This is important background reading: this time on the related struggles in Syria.

Joey AyoubWhat’s behind Stop the War’s aversion to Syria voices?

On 15 November 2015, Diane Abbott went on the BBC’s ‘Daily Politics’ show to defend herself and the Stop the War (StW) coalition against a rather odd accusation: that they refuse to give a platform to Syrians when discussing Syria.

It followed a heated exchange just days prior, in which Syrian activists challenged StW’s leadership on the matter during a talk on Syria. They were backed by Peter Tatchell, the veteran anti-war activist who had also been criticising StW for what many perceive as its intolerance towards left-wing, democratic and anti-Assad Syrian activists.

This was not a new accusation. StW has prevented Syrian activists from speaking at their rallies or from taking part in any “anti-war” campaign, while giving a platform to pro-Assad apologists and inviting Assad’s own allies like the Ghouta massacre-denier Fadia Laham, also known as “Mother Agnes”, for years.

This exposes two fundamental aspects of StW today: A de facto tolerance and acceptance of Assad’s tyranny translated as the problem of people “over there” which “we” must not get involved in, regardless of the repercussions, and a hatred for subaltern voices, in this case Syrians, who do not fit the accepted narrative.

This, in turn, works hand in hand with an outdated cold war-era framework, still plaguing much of the western and Arab Left, which romanticises (read: whitewashes) the Kremlin’s politics.

More on The New Arab.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Comrade Seumas Milniski on Protests at Russian Embassy over Czechoslovakia ‘Invasion’.

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Image result for socialist protest LOndon at invasion of Prague

Diversionists Protesting at Russian Embassy:  1968.

From Sputnik 1968.

“…the focus on the comradely Warsaw Pact intervention to restore stability on Czechoslovakia  was diverting attention from US-led coalition atrocities elsewhere.”

“.. unshakable fidelity to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism demand  an implacable struggle against bourgeois ideology and all antisocialist forces. ” “The petty-bourgeois forces outside the London, so-called International Socialists’ are wrecking elements foreign to the working class, must be condemned.”

Seumas Milniski.

Speaking on the Schwarze Kanal George Gallowski said,

“Already tourists are massing on the Czechoslovakian  borders to take advantage of the good butter and beer that have come with this new era of normalisation.”

Lindsey Germain’s comments remain unknown but it believed that she considers that nature of the Czechoslovakian government  is an issue for the people of the country alone to decide.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm

War Crimes in Syria? Just ‘chatter’ (bavardages) says French Left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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Image result for melenchon bavardages

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the leader of La France Insoumise.

He is  running for French President on a left-wing ‘populist’ programme partly inspired by Podemos and the ideas of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (Populisme et hégémonies culturelles : débat Laclau-Mouffe-Mélenchon 2012).

His organisation, social media based, with local supporters’ groups and run from above, is designed to support his candidacy.

It might properly be called a vast Rally.

Mélenchon announced earlier this year that following his call to destiny and the Presidency he had replaced need for an alliance of the left, the Front de gauche, an alliance of democratically organsied parties. (Mélenchon achève le Front de gauche. Le candidat à la présidentielle estime dans Mediapart que « le cartel n’existe plus ».)

At present he  stands at around 14 to 15% in the opinion polls (Les Echos)

This story broke a few days ago and has not gone way:

Des crimes de guerre en Syrie ? Mélenchon parle de «bavardages» Libération.

His main objection to French Policy was that it was following American leadership.

The leader of La France Insoumise disputes the notion of “Russian war crimes.” “All that is gossip,” he replied.

Now he has since ‘rectified’ this report claiming that the word bavardage referred to the words of Presidents Hollande and Putin’s words  but…..

This part of the statement got a lot of people’s attention,

“We’ll start by saying that we do not like shelling you and I (…) War is always dirty, it is horrible, it is horrible. The bombings in the Saudi Yemen are abominable, the bombing of civilians whatsoever are abominable, “he continued” admitting that while the military offensive launched by the Syrian regime in Aleppo has killed many civilian victims.

..

“We talk about the eastern part of Aleppo. Which is held by whom(…) Moderate, moderate Al-Qaeda who murdered the editors of Charlie Hebdo. You wish  all cost to choose between victims? “Said Mr. Mélenchon, who also criticiced the silence of the West over the” massacre “of the Kurds.

Now being charitable on might say that Mélenchon’s poor choice of words (bavardage) when talking of war crimes is one thing.

But to identify the inhabitants with the East of Aleppo with those controlling it (even if one accepted his definition of who is, which we do not), is another.

More information  here:

Mélenchon, la Syrie et les “bavardages” – Arrêt sur images

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm

As Marmite War Bites what now for ‘People’s Brexit’ of People’s Assembly?

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Image result for marmite chocolate

Christmas Treat Menaced by Brexit and its ‘People’s ‘Backers.

We stand for a ‘People’s Brexit’ based on investment, nationalisation, solidarity with immigrants and for the free movement of labour. People must be at the centre of negotiations and we reject the politics that seeks to divide communities.

These are arguments that we can win however WE MUST ACT QUICKLY and need all the help we can to reach those communities and workplaces that have been abandoned by mainstream politics.”

Says the group led by ‘actuality of the revolution’ Counterfire clique in their latest bulletin of the dwindling People’s Assembly)

Meanwhile comrade Polly Toynbee has a surer grasp on the reality of the class struggle.

With the great Marmite war, the reality of Brexit has started to bite

Indeed, and these were some of those whom the People’s Assembly claim as their supporters.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Jeremy Corbyn Speak out on Syria!

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Confbanner

Morally Bankrupt. 

Jeremy Corbyn must ‘break silence’ on Assad and Russian bombings

Labour and Momentum activists sign letter calling on Corbyn to help Syrians stop the war.

The people who launched this appeal are right to express their concerns.

They are deep comrades.

LIke many I was repelled at the baying at the Stop the War Conference against people who expressed their views .

 

Dear Jeremy,

We write as members of the Labour Party and Momentum, as socialist activists, or as other supporters of your leadership of the Labour Party. We agree wholeheartedly with your opposition to militarism and nuclear weapons, and your call for an end to British arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia. Yet we are concerned by your silence – thus far – on the ongoing slaughter of civilians by Russian and Assad-regime forces in Syria.

We share your scepticism about kneejerk military responses to the situation in Syria, such as the bombing campaign against ISIS proposed by David Cameron last autumn. We are not asking you to back Western interventions of this kind, but simply to say clearly and unequivocally that the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria are barbaric war crimes, and that you will seek to end them, and to hold their perpetrators to account.

We applaud your efforts, over decades, to end the crimes of brutal regimes supported by Western powers. But we do not believe that this exhausts the duties of anti-imperialists, socialists and peace activists in Western countries. The fact that Assad is supported not by the USA or Britain, but by Russia and Iran, does not make his crimes any less horrific, or the political future he represents for the people of Syria any less dismal. Nor does it mean that Western political leaders are powerless in acting to oppose these crimes.

We know only too well that there are those in the anti-war movement who will denounce any move critical of Russia, Iran, or Assad as tantamount to support for Western imperialist intervention. We also know that there are those on the right of British politics who will claim any such move as a concession to their policy of militaristic grandstanding. The debate on Syria has been polarised between these two positions – scrupulous “non-intervention” in the face of massive carnage enabled by Russian intervention, versus support for bombing campaigns as part of a Western “war on terror”. We have all been asked to take up a position in these terms. But the terms are false.

We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence. We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.

We also urge you to lend your wholehearted support to practical measures to support civilians and pressure the regime to end its attacks, such as airdrops of aid to besieged civilians by British military forces. Guaranteeing delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians is not only a way to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk of disease and starvation. It is also a non-violent and humanitarian way to pressure the regime into a negotiated political solution to the conflict, by undermining a key part of its strategy: the “kneel or starve” campaigns deployed against opposition areas since 2013. “Food not bombs” should be the rallying cry, not “Hands off Syria”, which only gives the Assad regime and Russia carte blanche to continue with their slaughter.

Failure to act on this issue now threatens to undermine practically and politically much of the work done over many years by the anti-war movement. The legacy of yourself and the anti-war movement over Syria must not be one of silence and inaction in the face of such momentous atrocities.

Yours fraternally,

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2016 at 1:43 pm