Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Ovenden – Morning Star – compares Charlie Hebdo to Mussolini and Oswald Mosley.

with 8 comments


Ovenden: Mussolini, Moseley, Charlie Hebdo – même combat.

In today’s Morning Star an individual, Kevin Ovenden, a prominent member of George Galloway’s Respect Party, has this article published,

Racism; The Achilles Heel of Middle Class Liberalism.

He begins,

WASN’T Charlie Hebdo once something to do with the left, loosely a product of a previous upsurge of social struggle many years ago?

Yes it was. So were Sir Oswald Mosley, Benito Mussolini, Georges Sorel…

Ovenden is perhaps too ignorant of socialist history to know that Georges Sorel’s said of Lenin, after the Russian Revolution, that he was “the greatest theoretician of socialism since Marx” (see Wikipedia. The citation is from a postscript to Reflections on Violence – 1908, ‘In Defence of Lenin‘ added 1919).

Unless he means that admiring Lenin meant was proof that Sorel was a racist.

I will not dignify somebody who supports George Galloway by citing his reflections on Charlie, our Charlie, on an ill-judged ‘une’ poking puerile and forgettable  fun at the pro-abortion manifeste des 343, in 1971.

Dubious as the front page may have been what that has to do with racism is nevertheless beyond me.

Ovenden then refers to the Riss cartoon in the Weekly.

Islamophobia is the Jewish question of our day. It is not simply one reactionary idea among many, which all principled socialists oppose.

It plays a particular corrupting role across politics and society as a whole.

One effect is revealed when some people’s reaction to a viciously racist and Islamophobic cartoon is quickly to start talking about freedom of speech, as if the “freedom” to pump out that stuff in Europe were at all under attack from the states and governing political forces.

I would note that the Jewish question of today is….the Jewish question of today.

It has not gone away.

If you want proof there were people immediately arguing on Facebook that publishing Riss showed that Israeli funding for Charlie and the attendance of Netanyahu at the Charlie memorial  were somehow related to the publication of the Riss cartoon.

We have blogged our own critical views on the cartoon and we will not repeat them, except to say, we defend our beloved Charlie from the depths of our being, we do not defend every drawing they ever publish.

Ovenden then continues,

Freedom is under threat in France. There is a state of emergency. Scores of Muslim places of worship are slated for closure by the state.

The courts have declared that boycotting Israeli goods is illegal. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been banned.

Roma have been rounded up and deported. Trade unionists who occupied their factory against job losses have had nine-month jail sentences handed down.

The already extensive repressive arms of the state are being further extended into the banlieues and cités.

Instead of systematic and serious attention given to this — and similar developments in other countries — liberal intellectual and political life in Europe tilts at windmills.


Ovenden has skipped over the corpses of our martyred dead to make this comment,

To call to rally against a threat which is not there is, whatever the intentions of those ringing the tocsin, to divert us from those threats which really are there.

Alarm bell, false alert…..but……

Is there really no problem with violent Islamism in Europe?

Do the victims of the 13th of November count for nothing in the minds of Respect leaders?

Well totalitarian Islamism is a threat, to the sisters and brothers in Syria, of Iraq,  to the Kurds, to the cause of progressive humanity, to ordinary people who have been murdered, tortured and enslaved by the Islamists of Daesh.

But to return to this extraordinary article…

The idea that liberals and leftists have ignored the French clamp down in the état d’urgence will come as fucking news to our French comrades who have protested against it from day one, from countless independent left groups, radical leftists, to this appeal from the venerable liberal Ligue des droits de l’homme:  Sortir de l’état d’urgence (17th December).

This is what the comrades from Ensemble – the third largest group in the Front de gauche said on the 19th of November: Communiqué de Ensemble! Non à l’état d’urgence !.

This is what l’Humanité had to say at the end of November: Etat d’urgence. Le Front de gauche refuse l’exception permanente

This is an upcoming meeting against the repressive measures by the  comrades of the French Communist Party:

Agoras de l’Humanité – 30 janvier 2016 – « État d’urgence, déchéance de nationalité, citoyenneté menacée »

But like a SWP student leaflet Ovenden has managed to confuse matters by adding everything but the kitchen sink into his rant.

How the Goodyear sentences (the trade unionists he refers to), the decision on boycotting Jewish goods  are related to state of emergency would be interesting to see demonstrated.

What ever was Ovenden’s mind as he wanders further around the subject of racism in Europe, passing by Germany, his life in a working class port city in the North of England (Blackpool?), and the further faults of the high-faulting  petty bourgeoisie we will, hopefully, never know.

But why does he end by stating that he stands for class solidarity.

In the “Europe of extremes, I’m staking my lot — including my own personal sense of security, of hope against fear — on the proles.”

Like one horny handed George Galloway no doubt.

Or is this perhaps the “mordant satire and mockery” he loves amongst the proles.





Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2016 at 5:40 pm

8 Responses

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  1. The most repugnant aspect of Ovenden’s semi-coherent rant, is its philistinism: the suggestion that workers don’t care about ideas, free speech or other “highfalutin” (Ovenden’s choice of word) concepts: this crude philistine pseudo-workerism at a time when we are remembering Eleanor Marx, who taught Will Thorne to read – so that he could read Capital.

    Ovenden is an anti-Marxist disgrace.

    Jim Denham

    January 18, 2016 at 6:04 pm

  2. I edited this slightly when I realised that all his article really is, is extended student SWP shite that ‘dialectically’ ties everything, and anything together.

    As you say Jim – as somebody who comes from a working class socialist family going back even beyond my two sets of grandparents to great-grandparents,there are workers who are fucking proud of reading, talking about ideas, of going to Ruskin (my dad) of knowing Dickins inside out (English printer grandad), and, well, we are part of the labour movement and know this very well.

    As for liberals – I do not know if it’s the right word, but if I was ever in trouble with a repressive state I would be immensely relieved to have the Ligue des droits de l’homme behind me – they are the salt of the earth.

    Andrew Coates

    January 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm

  3. “,there are workers who are fucking proud of reading, talking about ideas, of going to Ruskin (my dad) of knowing Dickins inside out (English printer grandad), and, well, we are part of the labour movement and know this very well.”

    Well said Andrew, and I am one of the workers you allude to above, I have always known a small section of the left, when you scrape below the surface, do regard working class people as a homogeneous lump of unthinking ignorance. When in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

    Again, well said comrade.

    Mick Hall

    January 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm

  4. I don’t know where Ovenden’s from but Blackpool has never been a port as far as I know.

    Matthew Thompson

    January 19, 2016 at 9:55 am

  5. Ovenden is on the Stop the War Coaltion’s Steering Committee.

    And they wonder why the StWC has such feeble support these days!


    Andrew Coates

    January 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

  6. My little joke…..

    Andrew Coates

    January 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm

  7. To Jim – Yes..it’s all hugely patronising.

    For example, my grandmother was a devout working class Catholic from Leeds (spent most of WW2 in munitions factories under utterly horrific conditions). She was fairly idiosyncratic..in that she didn’t think myself and my sister ought to commit to Catholicism until we were at least mature enough to make up our own minds!! And…ok…we are both now atheists, but hey!

    However…we always had an astonishing array of books/novels in her house to read from many different political/philosophical angles and she loved debating and discussing them all openly. And she always had a big heart around issues such as asylum and gay rights…way, way before they became trendy Guardianista memes…which had a big impact on us, growing up.

    I think that some self-styled “working class warriors” actually contribute to right-wing stereotypes around “ignorant, intellectually lazy working class people” rather than challenging the stereotype and accepting what that challenge means in terms of political pluralism and openness for the left.

    alex ross

    January 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm

  8. I think one of the reasons people have reacted so strongly to this is that we have memories of the patronising way the working class self-educated are treated.

    When I saw Howards End the scene in which the Schlegels treat Leonard Bast’s efforts to ‘improve’ himself (he is after all a lowly clerk) with withering condescension really got to me.

    They gently mock him, beginning with music and, then, for liking walking in the countryside and suggest he probably has books of poetry and prose with titles like ‘The Open Road’.

    My mum and dad, both of the ‘people’ the lower classes (East Ham and Springburn born) loved rambling. When they retired to Suffolk apart from the Labour Party (Chair and Secretary of Leiston branch) they were members of a local group of what is now The Ramblers) and…had a copy of The Open Road.

    Which I have.

    I, and I bet others who read this Blog, have also been treated with this kind of condescension by people from the same class.

    Yet another reason to see how Ovenden does not know what he is talking about.

    Andrew Coates

    January 20, 2016 at 5:09 pm

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