Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Left Reels as Socialist Unity – John Wight – Goes Anti-Corbyn.

with 23 comments

More Dead Dreams. 

John Wight leading contributor to Socialist Unity Blog (1).

“Writing and commentating on boxing and politics. Politics leaves more bruises. Author of Dreams That Die.”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 4, 2016 at 10:46 am

23 Responses

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  1. Thanks for plugging the book Andrew. Much obliged.

  2. Welcome to the swamp John!

    Andrew Coates

    August 4, 2016 at 11:07 am

  3. Bless.

    John, I’m just wondering about your evident disappointment with the (debatable) lack of enthusiasm displayed towards the EU by the Labour Party leadership.

    How does it fit with your view that because people wanted a simple Association Agreement with the “increasingly militant” (whatever that means) EU, Ukraine deserved to be invaded, have part of its territory annexed and a proxy war instigated by Russia and its far right partners in the East of the country?

    Just asking!


    August 4, 2016 at 11:28 am

  4. I thought there were quite a few swamps in East Anglia – not sure how rotten or seething they are?

    alex ross

    August 4, 2016 at 11:52 am

  5. After the deluges there was a swamp on my allotment the day after the Brexit vote.


    I think not!

    Andrew Coates

    August 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

  6. There was a democratically elected govt in Ukraine Andrew, which decided against entering said Association Agreement in a move supported by other Ukrainians, perhaps the ones that you don’t approve of as much. The coup that followed, you will recall, was driven by ultra nationalists and neo fascists.

    The point is that that we don’t like in Ukraine or Russia, and as I have said my vote in the referendum was not for the EU but against Brexit.

  7. Heh. Well done for toeing the RT party line. After all, you don’t want them picking an awful Nazi like Manuel Ochsenreiter over you as their next “expert” talking head on those oh so important big geopolitical issues, do you?


    August 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

  8. “How is the anti-European left going to recruit the “youth” in these conditions?” It isn’t. But so what? The “anti-European left” exists as a thing only in the imaginations of the pro-EU left. Most of the left opponents of the EU have already moved on to something else. As a movement, it was risible – a few public meetings, and that was it. But there is a far more important issue for the pro-EU left, which almost none of them seems to be addressing: there is an important part of the population – those who feel left out by globalisation – that is not listening to you. The pro-EU left had nothing to say to these people in the referendum campaign. There are large numbers of working-class people who feel themselves to be the victims of the latest developments in world capitalism, and the pro-EU left offered them no alternative. That is not the fault of the “lexit” bunch. They were invisible. The failure of the pro-EU left is entirely its own failure.


    August 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

  9. By the way, John – what exactly is the “American Herald Tribune”? They appear to have some rum old views about that there holocaust!


    August 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm

  10. Yes we did.

    Programmes for a ‘social Europe’ a “European social republic” developed by amongst others, the French Gauche Socialiste,people in the Party of the European left, have been around for some years, indeed I wrote about them in Labour Briefing.

    This is a more recent declaration:

    lundi 15 août 2011.

    Pour la République sociale européenne.


    They put forward ideas about ‘levelling up” welfare legislation, workers’ rights and opposition (as in above declaration) to racism, nationalism and xenophobia.

    If by not speaking to people you mean not saying what xenophobes and racists wanted to hear – that the ‘foreigners’ were the “problem” – then we are naturally at fault.

    Something which the ‘Lexiters’ who campaigned for “local jobs for local people’ (local bosses for local people?), that is clearly against jobs</em> for ‘non-locals’, well we are also guilty.

    Andrew Coates

    August 4, 2016 at 12:58 pm

  11. Andrew – that’s precisely my point. A statement in French. Merveilleux! And anyone who doesn’t listen must be a xenophobe and a racist. There was a complex and serious case to be made to the people – there were lots of them round our way – for whom globalisation seemed to have meant loss of job security, lack of affordable housing, précarité in general, as to why “foreigners” weren’t to blame, and why leaving the EU wouldn’t help. It needed to be made in plain language, and, preferably, for maximum impact, in English. It also needed to recognise that there was a problem with many of the developments associated with the neo-liberal-led EU, and put forward realistic alternatives.

    It seems to me that the pro-EU left sat back, assumed that the establishment would be able to fix the vote as planned, and did very little. And now it is in a blind panic, and the left as a whole is tearing itself apart. Pretty good, considering that the whole referendum business was dreamed up to fix a little local problem in the Tory party.


    August 4, 2016 at 1:19 pm

  12. Or a neo Mc Carthyite swamp, whats one of those? In or near Ipswich surely not!


    August 4, 2016 at 2:25 pm

  13. Francis, I translated the 1990s documents on the social republic, and, pre-Web, circulated them.

    I campaigned with the local Labour Party for Remain (principally leafleting the houses and flats in the town centre, quite a maze of addresses), I wrote Blog articles.

    The local Party did a lot more, leafleting and canvassing all over town.

    Another Europe is Possible did a lot of work.

    As I actually know plenty of working class people – a category I would not dare call ‘one’ group – and the ‘poor’ and marginalised I would not say that the statistics make for a uniform reading since there were plenty, particularly trade unionists, who backed Remain.

    The core Leave vote, well, I assume you have met the obsessive anti-EU types who are xenophobic and racist. I can assure you that they were there in plenty – indeed I noticed that Norwich had a severe bout of post-Brexit attacks on ‘foreigners’.

    No doubt you would be happy having a reasonable debate with obsessive anti-migrants.

    Small it may have been but the ‘lexit’ campaign gave legitimacy to these ‘concerns’ with plenty and winks and nods to UKIP – though only Galloway and Scargill were explicit in this.

    “Unfortunately, too many comrades laying claim to Marxism have long given up using it to try and make sense of the world. One of these is socialist hero and scourge of governments past, Arthur Scargill. At a recent Socialist Labour Party rally in front of a thimble full of supporters, Arthur tore into the EU as if it was responsible for the cuts programme gleefully implemented by the Conservatives, and underlined his opposition to the free movement of capital and labour. As something of a Stalin nostalgic, I’m not at all surprised his position hasn’t moved on since the 1970s – nor the rhetoric, it seems. But it gets worse. According to someone who was there, Scargill went on to describe working with UKIP as a tactical necessity, much in the same manner as the Molotov/Ribbentrop pact. According to the Stalinist fantasy, this was a move so the USSR could re-arm and crush the fascists later, and so for Arthur his idiot allusion is that after UKIP and the Tory right win, they’re actually paving the way for their own defeat. Incredible.”

    Phil, A Very Public Sociologist. 19th of June.


    Andrew Coates

    August 4, 2016 at 4:16 pm

  14. I have a strong sense that Wight’s argument on Ukraine now represents a small group on the left and has been losing ground one Russian action after another. Nevertheless, corrections time …

    There was a democratically elected govt in Ukraine [which they abrogated when they passed laws banning all opposition, civil rights and then started shooting people] Andrew, which decided against entering said Association Agreement [because Putin personally bribed the President] in a move supported by other Ukrainians [EU Association was a long term project, way before Yanukovych and had strong, majority support], perhaps the ones that you don’t approve of as much. The coup [Yanukovych was overthrown in a vote in Parliament after his own deputies deserted him and after EU/US had tried for months to broker agreement keeping him in place, there was no coup] that followed, you will recall, was driven by ultra nationalists and neo fascists [whose actual numbers have been confirmed in elections as being much lower than in many EU states and the significance of their Maidan presence debunked by local anarchists and socialists].

    The point is that that we don’t like in Ukraine [support for EU membership, and also of NATO, has been going up the past two years] or Russia, and as I have said my vote in the referendum was not for the EU but against Brexit.

  15. I guess it depends which Ukrainians you speak to and (as in Georgia…which is facing a similar internal debate on the EU…although currently via peaceful means) there is often a discrepancy between the liberal, English speaking middle classes who tourists may come into contact with and those outside that bubble. That said, although there are far-right activists on both side of this conflict, I do think the bulk of the Maidan crew want to move Ukraine in a more Western, liberal-democratic direction. The anti-Maidan crew tend to nod more to Putinesque authoritarianism which is never going to go down well with those of a democratic bent. On top of this, I think there is a complex relationship between conservative nationalism and liberalism in many former Soviet states – a desire for “liberation” (as in separation from Russian domination…in response to a cruel history) combined with often very socially conservative and nationalistic attitudes. Interesting that Saakashvili (in Georgia) empowered the Georgian Orthodox church as a means to ferment anti-Russian attitudes and hey (who’d have thought it!) Illia II is now besties with Krill in Moscow and they both share the same attitudes to women, gays, religious minorities…

    alex ross

    August 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm

  16. The link from the Socialist Unity Wikipedia page to Andy Newman rather amusingly redirects to Thunderclap Newman.

    Matthew Thompson

    August 5, 2016 at 9:10 am

  17. Thank you Alex Ross.

    Initially I was very hostile to the Ukranians for reasons too obvious to cite.

    But when people like yourself (there’s a number on Facebook as well) began pointing out the reality of the politics involved, and to the ideology of the pro-Russian groups, I began to change my stand to something like yours (though obviously I am less well-informed).

    The last thing the left needs is to follow RT and the various British supporters of the Donbass ‘anti-fascist’ rubbish coming out on the issue.

    Andrew Coates

    August 5, 2016 at 12:19 pm

  18. I would say Georgia and Ukraine are very different. The Church has much less of a hold and is split. The Kyiv Patriachy has been very pro nationalist. The war, which is still killing Ukrainian soldiers almost daily, has driven the country from one where a minority was for NATO to now and overwhelming majority for NATO.

    Things like June’s Ktiv Gay Pride march being protected by the state are key markers on the country’s direction. Yes, it could go backwards, as in Georgia, but there is a disconnect between formal politics, which is a mess, and the society of non-government groups, which continues to grow and will exert pressure alongside an quietly engaged EU against corruption and all the other ‘non European’ goings on.

  19. Yes agree….Ukrainian religious institutions very much more fragmented. Georgia seems to be going back and forwards at present…with blasphemy laws and anti-gay laws being proposed then being rejected in an effort to make for credible EU membership. Upholding a more liberal stance is proving a more difficult prospect, as the lack of resolve around Ukraine is demonstrating that the EU is not meaningfully committed to standing up to Putin and promoting democracy.

    alex ross

    August 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm

  20. Alex. I’m not sure you’re right on the EU and Ukraine. There is now a large EU presence in Kyiv and engagement with numerous partners. The movement has been spasmodic but it is going in one direction. Where I might agree is over Minsk but even there the much feted backdown on sanctions never happened and the Germans, in particular, seem even more hardened against Putin than before.

  21. This is a very good piece by my friend on the state of progress in Ukraine http://www.raamoprusland.nl/dossiers/oekraine/achtergrond/171-westerse-media-oordelen-te-snel-over-oekraine

  22. Interesting article. Will circulate to interested parties I know. I think the primary problem is one of perception (e.g. when I speak to say Georgian or Moldovan friends) Ukraine is widely seen as as symbol of EU weakness and a shit to emboldening Putin’s power. To emphasise some of the positives that, perhaps, don’t get much mainstream press attention would be very powerful.

    alex ross

    August 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm

  23. Sorry – “shift” – not “shit” – Freudian slip!!

    alex ross

    August 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

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