Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

“Cancelled” (Channel Four), “Sacked, blacklisted, ostracised, no-platformed…”

with 7 comments

“Cancel culture from all sides.”

Last night outside all was darkness, wet and cold. Inside on television, Richard Bacon presented a programme on Channel Four, Cancelled, which promised to warm up the viewing public.  “Sacked, blacklisted, ostracised, no-platformed: from comedy stand-up to trans rights, and race and academia, a look at cancel culture from all sides and how it’s affecting our lives”.

There was a stab at an uproarious spoof. What could be called A Woke Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Language at a business exhibition stand offered a feast of preferred gender pronouns and an ingenious system for toilet facilities to cater for an abundant number of sexual identities. How we laughed.

Bacon,  whose pronouns are ‘he’ and ‘him’, spent time, if not more, talking about his misadventures with Charlie. Something of a right Charlie, he/him reminded those who had long forgotten that “I was publicly shamed after Blue Peter,” and  forced to hand in his Blue Peter badge. Yet pre-Twitter (1998) he had no pile-on, no “cancellation” …and, you’ve already lost interest.

This is a shame. For those who watched it the programme was not a platform for a Laurence Fox given free rein to talk about “extreme political correctness”. Nor was there too much time on a comedian we learn is called Dave Chappelle or gleeman Jimmy Carr. For a moment I thought art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon was part of that troupe.

There were some serious issues raised, though we did not get more a glimpse of what the attacks on J.K. Rowling have meant.

As in:

There was also a transgender activist who plausibly explained why people can feel angry enough about gender critical feminists to protest against them.

At the end we had a swift look at the campaign to get rid of the Blackboy Clock in Stroud, statue removing, and the renaming of university buildings. Which we’ve all heard before.

The Culture War looks like it’s not taking place:

Sadly not:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2021 at 12:29 pm

“Liquidating” Labour Against the Witch-Hunt: the Inside Story of the Bust-up.

with 7 comments

Labour Against The Witchhunt (@LAW_witchhunt) | Twitter

Comrades and Friends…

Leaked minutes show Labour at odds over antisemitism claims | Labour | The  Guardian

In a battle which has been compared between the Big-Endians and Little-Endians in Lilliput, which, readers will recall, resulted in six and thirty moons of war with neighbouring Blefuscu, Labour Against the Witch-hunt has been “closed down”. Or merged, as the other side would put it, with the Labour in Exile Network (LIEN).

“Last Friday night members of Labour-in-Exile-Network voted by 31-8 to merge with Labour Against the Witchhunt. The following night LAW, at its first All Members Meeting for 3 months also voted to support a merger, albeit by a narrower but decisive majority of 47-27 with 12 abstentions.”

Now for the Alternative View:

Merging into a cul-de-sac (Weekly Worker)

“Derek James of the Labour Party Marxist argues that this is no time to give up on the fight against the witch-hunt. Nor will the attempt to form an amorphous socialist movement get anywhere.”

In an egg-shell the fight is about Greenstein and some surprisingly numerous allies (in Big-Endian terms), winning at a meeting which resolved to put LAW and LIEN together, effectively winding up LAW as distinct public body. As the sprucest gent on Brighton Pier said, ““LAW has outlived its usefulness.”

(extracts)

“Comrade Greenstein said that there was little that LAW could do to resist the witch-hunt and that the immediate task was to build a socialist movement that could keep together the 150,000 party members who had left Labour since Starmer had become leader. In due course, when the time is right, he suggested, this would lead to the formation of a new party. But what sort of party and programme are we offered?”

Speaking for the views of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Provisional Central Committee (CPGB-PCC, better known as the Weekly Worker) ‘James’ continues for some paragraphs, which those interested can read at length and at leisure through the link above.

The rub,

“Treacherous Role”.

Our critique of the as-yet-unnamed merger project is both political and strategic. The leadership of LIEN includes comrades who are uncritical supporters of Corbyn, do not understand his treacherous role and will not countenance a word said against him, whilst others who support the merger are openly and correctly critical of Corbyn’s surrender to the right during the witch-hunt. Hardly a recipe for harmony.

More plausibly,

“Whilst for many the merger is simply a case of huddling together in a cold and hostile political environment or continuing the headless-chicken ‘politics’ of ‘action, action, action’, others have a more clearly defined aim. Although it appears that, in arguing that the new initiative should work or join forces with other “like-minded organisations”, options are being kept open. In practice the general line of travel into a new broad-front grouping and political dead-end outside the Labour Party is clearly signposted. “

As in:

See also:

Stay and fight and fight again ..

A call that went unheeded: opening remarks by Graham Bash to LAW’s final all-members meeting.

I have not engaged with the resolutions before us today – and will not do so – and apologies if I am forced to leave before the conclusion. But a word of caution. We need firmness of principle, but we also need to try to reach out beyond our own small bubble. We need to go far beyond the unity that is being proposed today.

As always, the motor force of change will come from class struggle, from the fights against austerity, against racism, against climate change – in the trade unions and in the broader social movements. Our task as a left is to look outwards, build movements of resistance and try to give these political expression – within the Labour Party if we may, outside if we must.

Comment.

This is about the most accurate summary of the failings of the course of action proposed by the Greensteinites,

We do not believe that LAW can be effective if it is part of a much less focused and politically diverse organisation like LIEN, which has committed itself to Corbyn’s 2019 and 2017 manifestos. There are half a dozen groups with similar soft-left programmes – all small and entirely ineffective. Building yet another one on the same political basis is unlikely to lead to another result!

….

The motion commits the newly merged organisation to “work and/or join forces” with groups including Chris Williamson’s Resist. He is in his own unity negotiations with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and George Galloway’s nationalistic Workers Party and his lieutenants in the Stalin Society. That is not a serious strategy.

Why we resigned

Given that the people who has resigned are Jackie Walker, Kevin Bean, Stan Keable and Tina Werkmann, we would also ask how this merger is going to find new well-known figures and people with administrative competences.

One also notes that poor, if not worse, relations with the Greenstein faction seem to have precluded including their side of the story in the pages of the Weekly Worker.

The Man on the Brighton Pebbles says (TG Blog),

It is unfortunate that the majority of the LAW Steering Committee, having lost the argument and the vote have resigned rather than accepting the view of LAW members. Their argument is summed up in this week’s Weekly Worker (that is, last week’s, we await the latest Greensteinite bulletin on these matters) that we are ‘Deserting the Fight’. No comrades we are refusing to allow the fight against Starmer and his neo-liberal politics to be confined to simply machinations in the Labour Party.

The creation of a unified organisation is not the ‘liquidation’ nor the closing down of LAW. There is nothing LAW could have done that it can’t do in a merged organisation. LIEN is obviously committed to fighting the witchhunt and always has been.

LIEN already has a Witchhunt Analysis Group amongst 7 other groups. LIEN is already far more active over the witchhunt than LAW. There is obvious room for an 8th Anti-Witchhunt group.

Happier Days.

Labour Against the Witchhunt - Home | Facebook

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Éric Zemmour, Presidential Candidate. 

with 7 comments

Libération on Twitter: "À la une de Libération mercredi : 🔴 Zemmour, un cauchemar  français 👉 Cette édition est entièrement illustrée, l'essentiel du journal  est écrit par des auteurs jeunesse https://t.co/nj2k4mQp7h  https://t.co/asSVk24KjK" /

A French Nightmare.

Éric Zemmour’s most recent book La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (2021) is self-published by the Maison d’édition Rubempré. The far-right polemicist named his imprint as a tribute to the novelist Honoré de Balzac and the central character of his masterpiece, Illusions perdues (Lost Illusions), Lucien Chardon. The ambitious provincial writer becomes, by assent of the Restored Monarchy,  Lucien de Rubempré, “a cowardly and unscrupulous character”, able to play with women’s affections and a large fortune, in Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes.

Few French commentators who have alighted on this name and the fondness of the polemicist for the author of la Comédie Humaine have failed to remark that from being the toast of Paris, Lucien, “le dandy et le poète” ends up shunned, accused of fraud and theft in cahoots with the identity-shifting criminal mastermind Jacques Collin. In gaol, overcome with remorse, rent with a “fièvre de suicide” he hangs himself. Recounted in detail, it is a deeply affecting passage. “One of the greatest tragedies of my life,” wrote Oscar Wilde in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying, “is the death of Lucien de Rubempré. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely to rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh.”

Yesterday our modern Rubempré (whose fall one can only hope will be worse than Balzac’s famed protagonist) announced this, putting an end to a threadbare game about whether or not he would officially aim to be France’s Head of State.

This Blog has published quite a few posts about Zemmour, which we have no need to repeat.

One of the best overviews is offered by the Fondation Jean Jaurès (suitably named after a nemesis for the man who has cast doubt over the innocence of Dreyfus) by the specialist on the far-right JEAN-YVES CAMUS.

ÉRIC ZEMMOUR : UN DISCOURS QUI LIBÈRE LA PAROLE EXTRÉMISTE

The Origins of the Zemmour Candidacy.

“The first sign of the polemicist’s presidential ambitions dates back to the creation, in January 2021, of a website entitled “I sign with Zemmour”. According to the investigation of the daily Liberation and the weekly L’Express , it comes from the entourage of the mayor of Orange, Jacques Bompard 1and more broadly from the La Ligue du Sud, the micro-movement he founded in 2010. The former member of the Front National (1986-1988), which broke with Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2005, is a major actor on the “right outside the walls” working since the end of the five-year term of President Sarkozy to the constitution of a union which brings together those who, within the FN / RN and the conservative right, agreed to put an end to the ostracization of the camp lepenist (that is Le Pen, fille et père). He is also a follower of the “great replacement” theory, as shown by the motion for a European resolution that he tabled in 2015 as a member of the National Assembly 2. In his explanatory memorandum, we find two major themes of Eric Zemmour’s campaign: that of immigration-invasion and that, consequence of the first, of “massive immigration [which] resulted in an explosive and dangerous situation for civil peace and the future of France ”. “

Camus offers an extremely detailed account which is certainly one of the best available.

This is also highly recommended, by a radical left writer who is a critic of right-wing and left-wing populism.

This is equally important, how the upper-levels of the bourgeoisie are showing a degree of good-will towards Zemmour, invitations to speak at elite clubs, bosses’ organisations, and how some of the liberal left (Marcel Gauchet, Luc Ferry,  Jacques Julliard) have shown more than an interest in the way he has raised ‘real issues’:

In the last few days Zemmour has stalled in the opinion polls.

One of the reasons has been his response to a forceful female critic during his visit to Marseille, which has drawn comparisons with former President Nicolas Sarkozy who once told somebody who refused to shake his hand during a visit to the Salon de l’agriculture, saying it would dirty him, “Eh ben, casse-toi pauv’ con” – fuck off you pathetic tosser.

It seems that Zemmour is fond of the C word (one meaning is the same as the one in English), calling television presenter Gilles Bouleau a “connard” (stronger than con), yesterday.

A Harris Interactive poll for Challenges credited Eric Zemmour with 13% of voting intentions, far behind Marine Le Pen (19%). The polling institute gave it at 18% just a few weeks ago.

(1.12.21. Eric Zemmour candidat : bousculé sur TF1, vidéo polémique, sondages en berne… ça part mal

Then there is this:

Still Zemmour has some friends.

Oscar Wilde’s other famous literary judgement concerns Charles Dickens and The Old Curiosity Shop.

“One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”

Let us hope that Zemmour’s candidacy ends badly so we can also break out laughing.

And please, do not forget this:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2021 at 1:29 pm

Massive Row as Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network Vote to Merge into a Single Organisation.

with 2 comments

Banned group Labour Against the Witchhunt urges supporters to lie to party  about their affiliation - The Jewish Chronicle

Breaking: Resignations from LAW, Jackie Walker Kevin Bean, Stan Keable, Tina Werkman.

Breaking, Exclusive to this Blog and Tony Greenstein.

Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network Vote to Merge into a Single Organisation.

TG reports, hot-foot (today).

“Last Friday night members of Labour-in-Exile-Network voted by 31-8 to merge with Labour Against the Witchhunt. The following night LAW, at its first All Members Meeting for 3 months also voted to support a merger, albeit by a narrower but decisive majority of 47-27 with 12 abstentions.

It is unfortunate that the majority of the LAW Steering Committee, having lost the argument and the vote have resigned rather than accepting the view of LAW members. Their argument is summed up in this week’s Weekly Worker that we are ‘Deserting the Fight’. No comrades we are refusing to allow the fight against Starmer and his neo-liberal politics to be confined to simply machinations in the Labour Party.

Motion 1 in favour of the merger was passed with one amendment. The second motion, opposing the merger, moved by supporters of Labour Party Marxism therefore fell automatically.”

opponents of merging the two organisations wanted people to believe that LAW today is the same as it was 2-3 years ago. That simply is not true.  In the past 6 months LAW has done relatively little other than with LIEN. On LAW’s own website there is no activity registered since the Resist at the Rialto in late September. The fact is that there is next to nothing we can do to fight the witchhunt inside the Labour Party because there is no democracy left.

Comment:

LAW has not got wide support for many reasons, including ambiguities on anti-Semitism such as this (2020), “The anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein has told a meeting of the Labour Against The Witch-Hunt group: “I don’t know what a Holocaust denier is” – while backing what he said were “statistical, scholarly questions” around the question of whether six million Jews died in the Shoah. The American left-wing icon also heaped praise on the discredited Nazi apologist David Irving at the virtual event, describing him as a “very good historian” who “knew a thing, or two or three.”

Greenstein, who is another explanation of why LAW has not had wide support, gives the lowdown on the reasons why the Communist Party of Britain (Provisional Central Committee/Weekly Worker) through its front, the Labour Party Marxist (LPM) and its allies, opposed this move:

LPM has always taken the position that there is nothing in between the Labour Party, a bourgeois workers party in their eyes, and a revolutionary Marxist Party. All or nothing and they get nothing.

In other words, one probably the factor behind their view, was they would not wish a new left Labour grouping to emerge – the idea vaguely supported by some of those calling for the merger behind the talk of organising “inside and outside” the Party – within which they could not hope to have much influence. Greenstein notes, “the CPGB didn’t always take this position having participated first in the Socialist Alliance, Respect and Left Unity.”

This is the rub: the was the people and forces involved in LAW have spent their political lives in incessant switching from group to group, alliance to alliance, micro-party to micro-party. With one consistent force, the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) stirring the pot.

Here is their view on the affair,

Deserting the fight

(Weekly Worker)

“The drafters of this proposal do not say it, but what they are calling for amounts to the liquidation of LAW and giving up on Labour as a site of struggle – particularly stupid with the witch-hunt finding ever new victims and the signs that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and others of a similar ilk, might, at last, be willing to put up some kind of fight (note the excellent December 5 ‘Expulsion Rebellion’ initiative of Defend the Left). Organising ‘inside and outside Labour’ is simply smoke and mirrors, which blows away and shatters as soon as it is tested by the elementary questions of trade union affiliation and electoral choice. Do we, as comrade Greenstein has, call for trade unions to disaffiliate? Do we, as comrade Greenstein has, call for a vote for George Galloway? And to what point? Backing candidates of the nationalist Scottish Socialist Party, affiliating to Tusc, supporting the ‘left’ version of Brexit and immigration controls?”

The likely result is a further political degeneration into the British left’s worst habits: the substitution of piecemeal activism ‘in the movements’ for high politics (the only vaguely concrete political basis offered is the unqualified affirmation of XR and BLM). Decades under the influence of this particular drug have left us entirely unable to cope with the attacks of our enemies, because we have lost our instinct for the importance of mass political organisation and institutional strength.

Those with longer memories than fruit fly Tony will recall the Campaign for a Marxist Party and the CPGB-PCC’s own “worst habits”.

The Campaign for a Marxist Party was a campaign (founded 4 November 2006) run by the CPGB-PCC and other organisations on the British left for a political party with explicitly Marxist goals as part of a rebuilt workers’ international. Its members were Critique (who proposed the campaign initially), CPGB (PCC) and the Democratic Socialist Alliance. The Irish Socialist Democracy group welcomed the CPGB (PCC).

In November 2008, it was announced that the CPGB (PCC) would move to wind up the campaign at its December AGM.[15] Having done so, it claimed it will establish a new committee to promote “unity of Marxists as Marxists”.[16] A minority of members objected to the dissolution of the campaign including in published articles by Dave Spencer, Phil Sharpe and Steve Freeman

The Wiki entry does not mention the participation of the publication New Interventions and the Republican Democratic Group (Steve Freeman, above). There was a journal, Marxist Voice edited by Dave Spencer. Amongst many interesting contributions had a prescient article France the Left disunited, Andrew Coates, which truth be told could have been the title of anything about the French left, any time over the last 40 years.

The view many took is that this was the umpteenth proof that working directly with the Provisional Central Committee in political project was a dead-end. They would always find a way to promote their own project, to recreate a Communist Party, led by themselves. Nothing wrong with that, and, with appropriate distance, they are far from the worst on the left, with often interesting ideas, best explored in the abstract realm of ideas.

Once you get down to political strategy and political campaigning..well in every single case Greenstein cites, Greenstein notes, the Socialist Alliance, Respect and Left Unity, they, that is ‘Jack Conrad’ and the CC, have been endless source of division and mico-party building.

Then there is this problem, flagged by Bridget St Ruth, Crawling from the Wreckage: All over again. (on the break up of the Campaign for a Marxist Party. New Interventions. Spring 2009).

Why do this small groups always row? Step forward the presence of “Incessant Jabberers, Chronic Oppositionists Determined Differentiators, Long-term Feudists”, and one can add to this from one’s own list, Tony Greensteinites.

This is pretty well known on the small group left. As one specialist in such matters, and a doughty factionalist himself, once described them

“All the people of this type have one common characteristic: they like to discuss things without limit or end. The New York branch of the Trotskyist movement in those days was just one continuous stew of discussion. I have never seen one of these elements who isn’t articulate. I have looked for one but I have never found him. They can all talk; and not only can, but will; and everlastingly, on every question. They were iconoclasts who would accept nothing as authoritative, nothing as decided in the history of the movement. Everything and everybody had to be proved over again from scratch.”

James P. Cannon. ‘The Lunatic Fringe’. In The History of American Trotskyism.

Conclusion.

Greenstein observes that Tina Werkmann (a former CPGB-PCC member) was against this merger:

For reasons that are not clear, Tina reversed her position and put out a paper Why a merger between Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour In Exile Network is a bad idea.

As Cde Werkmann is, in some senses Labour in Exile Network (LIEN) this new lash up looks dead in a ditch.

Verbal fisticuffs are already breaking out:

On the LAW Steering Committee Whatsapp group Tina posted:

This feels very much like a hostile takeover and the only outcome is that it will close down LAW. Pretty shitty outcome.

On the LAW Facebook page Tina declared that the proposal to merge was a ‘Hostile takeover, really. Not sure it serves any purpose apart from closing down LAW.’ To which I responded that:

‘The Steering Committee opposed the merger. The members voted for it. Yes the members have taken LAW over as they realise it was going nowhere fast. Labour Party Marxists wanted to preserve LAW in aspic as a trophy that does very little.

You remind me of Bertold Brecht’s satirical poem “Die Lösung” (The Solution) in which he portrays the East German communists, after crushing the 1953 German Workers Uprising of wanting to abolish the people and start again

Leaving aside the fact that Tina herself was proposing what she now calls a ‘hostile takeover’ this is unbelievably arrogant.

Labour in Exile Network had ambitions to be a mass organisation and was given uncritical boosts in the Morning Star and the anti-Labour Skwawkbox. Given the 74 who participated in this vote that has not happened. Will the new orga work formally with the Labour Representation Committee? Nothing is less certain. Labour Briefing, which is aligned with the LRC, has not had an on-line edition since September.

Update, Meeting to organise new merged group:

UPDATE: JACKIE WALKER RESIGNS FROM LAW.

Join statement Why we have resigned from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt 

Following the vote at LAW’s all-members’ meeting on November 27 to merge with Labour In Exile Network (by a vote of 47-27 with 12 abstentions, all votes and motions here), we have decided to resign from LAW’s steering committee. 

We cannot support the view that the struggle against the Labour witch-hunt is over, or that “LAW has outlived its usefulness”, as Tony Greenstein, the proposer of the motion to merge, put it.

The witch-hunt in the Labour movement is expanding every day and a campaign like LAW still has a vital role to play. 

We do not believe that LAW can be effective if it is part of a much less focussed and politically diverse organisation like LIEN, which has committed itself to Corbyn’s 2019 and 2017 manifestos.

There are half a dozen groups with similar soft-left programmes – all small and entirely ineffective. Building yet another one on the same political basis is unlikely to lead to another result!  The prevalent view in LIEN is that Labour is ‘dead’.

While Starmer has been doing his best to close down all avenues for political intervention by the left, we should not underestimate that many working class people still see it as ‘their’ party – and therefore we need a strategy to continue the fight in Labour (which includes working with groups outside Labour).

We cannot simply run away from that struggle.

The motion commits the newly merged organisation to “work and/or join forces” with groups including Chris Williamson’s Resist. He is in his own unity negotiations with TUSC and George Galloway’s nationalistic Workers’ Party and his lieutenants in the Stalin Society.

That is not a serious strategy.

The recent expulsions from Labour of Graham Bash, Jo Bird and Pamela Fitzpatrick, as well as the ongoing reluctance of much of the official Labour Left to speak out against the witch-hunt, proves how necessary a single-issue campaign like Labour Against the Witchhunt still is. 

Thanks to all comrades who have fought in this battle with us over the last 5 years. 

In solidarity, Jackie Walker
Kevin Bean (beankevin1955@gmail.com)
Stan Keable (keablestan@icloud.com)
Tina Werkmann (tinawerkmann2014@gmail.com)

This statement is also available online here


*******

Campaign for a Marxist Party:

  • For the use of Marxist method to analyse global capitalism and its effects on the working class and to devise a programme for a planned democratic socialist society against the market.  Be honest and bold with Marxist ideas.
  • For internationalism and the re-building of a Marxist Workers’ International. For the maximum solidarity with workers in struggle throughout the world.
  • Socialism can only come through the self-emancipation of the working class.  This means a political struggle for the fullest possible democracy against capitalism and within the workers’ movement – the Trade Unions and socialist parties.  For the accountability and recallability of leaders and for full liberty of tendency, platform and faction.  Against bureaucracy, elites and the bureaucratic centralism of the sects.
  • We recognise that social democracy collaborates with capitalism.  Reformism is a dead strategy and we are against attempts to pretend to be reformists or to put forward any notion of intermediate stages towards socialism.
  • We recognise the counter-revolutionary and anti-human nature of the Stalinist regimes and Parties.  We seek to undo the damage done to Marxism by Stalinism.
  • We recognise that the continuation of capitalism threatens the future of humanity and the planet – for example in wars, poverty, disease, ecological disaster and the exhaustion of resources.
  • The CNMP will have a membership structure and will encourage members to participate in the broader working class movement against collaborationist policies and for the programme of working class political power.

Debates:

  1. Conrad, Jack (13 November 2008). “Exploring agreements and disagreements”Weekly Worker (745). Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee). Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  2. ^ Godwin, Mary (11 December 2008). “Something serious needed”Weekly Worker (749). Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee). Retrieved 25 October 2015. The 2008 annual general meeting, held in London on December 6, agreed a motion proposed by the national committee to dissolve the campaign. As the motion explains, some members of the CMP intend to establish a committee in the new year with the aim of promoting the study of Marxism and the unity of Marxists as Marxists. Not the unity of Marxists in yet another crazy halfway house project.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2021 at 9:33 am

Piers Corbyn Releases His Xmas Hits Chart Bid.

with 4 comments

Image

There is an anti-Vaxx sticker on a lamp-post by Bond Street next to the old County Hall in Ipswich near where I live. This year there’s been a spate of similar stickers round the centre of town. This one has plumbed the depths: it’s a protest against vaccinating school children. In other words, using the youngest to further their own frenzy against public health measures.

Piers Corbyn and his mates have got a reputation recently for targeting schools in their own campaign, “Anti-vaxxers have begun concentrating on kids, with Piers Corbyn yelling at London pupils in an try and scare them off getting the jab”

Is this the latest attempt by Conspiracy Corbyn to attract a youthful audience?

Here is Corbyn’s Impresario:

This would be sad were it not more than a joke.

Corbyn is sometimes compared to the ‘Protein Man’, Stanley Green, who would parade down Oxford Street with placards calling to eat less fish, bird, meat, cheese, egg, bens, peas nuts and sitting and selling  Eight Passion Proteins.  A man with odd, famously odd, views, that did not harm to anybody.

But Corbyn is not just an eccentric. Nor has his relentless turn as bad penny been without consequences: his lies have helped stir the pot for a whole range of anti-Lockdown types, not just limosine libertarians but the hard far-right.

The former (very former) comrade from the International Marxist Group and brother of Jeremy Corbyn looks like the fascist that he has become.

Like the tasty geezer in the picture above.

Update: in the MSM now:

Experts wade in:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2021 at 9:20 am

Brawl between Hong Kong democracy and pro-Beijing activists at Gerard Street Protest against Against anti-Asian Racism.

with 10 comments

Image

Rally marred by allegations of attacks by “pro-PCC thugs” on democracy supporters.

Chinese emigrants in London fought each other in group brawl.

A Chinese protest against racism in London has descended into a brawl as participants fought with Hong Kong emigrants who criticized them for ignoring human right abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang province.

At least one man was arrested as a dozen people got into a brawl in Chinatown on Gerrard Street on Saturday.

The rally — “Stop Racism! Stop Anti-Asian Hate!” — was organized by a human rights concern group Min Quan Legal Centre and several groups of Chinese businessmen and students.

Although East and South-east Asians are the third-largest minority in the United Kingdom, they are under-represented in the country. Due to racism, London’s Chinatown is struggling with a drop in sales, vandalism and boycotts.

However, a group of Hongkongers turned up at the protest, saying the organizers are pro-Chinese government and ignored the controversies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Activist Simon Cheng Man-kit earlier pointed out that among the organizers, The Federation of UK Fujian Chinese and London China Town Association, published ads in newspapers to support the “patriots rule Hong Kong” principle.

The group of Hongkongers shouted slogans such as “stop genocide in Xinjiang.” They said they supported denouncing racism, but wanted to address racism within China as well. The group of around 50 people were called “cockroaches” and booed.

When the protests came to an end in the afternoon, a dozen people got into a fight for two minutes before they were stopped by the police.

A video of the fight can be seen here

London police have arrested one Chinese man so far. Witnesses are urged to make reports to identify those involved in the fight. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Tony Blair, The “War on Woke” and “From Red Walls to Red Bridges”.

leave a comment »

pol/ - Tony Blair rails against the WOKE agends - Politically Incorrect -  4chan

“Blair calls for Labour to reject ‘wokeism’”. The papers have taken up the polling survey ‘From Red Walls to Red Bridges: Rebuilding Labour’s Voter Coalition’ by Peter Kellner on the basis of Tony Blair’s comment in the Foreword, “We should openly embrace liberal, tolerant but common-sense positions on the “culture” issues, and emphatically reject the “wokeism” of a small though vocal minority.” This is no throwaway, “in 2019 – this time with the far left in control – we suffered our worst defeat, and for pretty much the same reasons, but this time without that engraved Labour vote.” underlines the Third Way Labour leader. “The leadership should continue to push the far left back to the margins. The country must know there is no question of negotiating the terms of power with them.”

The Mail, in case anybody has the wish to unlink the two, binds left and woke together,”Tony Blair has urged Labour to ’emphatically reject’ wokeism and push the party’s hard-Left factions ‘to the margins’ if it is to win power again.”

The former Labour Prime Minister has every right to speak for himself in the publications of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. He is not alone. There have been unconfirmed suggestions that Blair has followed his ally, centrist President Emmanuel Macron. The French head of state has got his Minister of Education  Jean-Michel Blanquer to set up a Think Tank to fight “le wokisme”. (C’est quoi le « wokisme », cette idéologie que Jean-Michel Blanquer dit vouloir combattre ?). Supporters of New Labour must look with envy at Macron’s la République en marche (LRM) which is not only solidly based on the centre ground, has no internal elections, whose policy is decided by the movement’s leaders, and whose election candidates are selected by a centrally appointed ” commission d’investiture”.

The report, produced under the name of Kellner, who was educated at one point at what was known, while he was there, as Minchenden Grammar School in the most prosperous part of Southgate North London, and who is married to Labour politician Catherine Margaret Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, stands on its own merits. It is based on canvassing from Deltapoll – which questioned more than 2,500 former Labour voters and more than 3,000 who remained supporters.

Political analysts will look at the study in depth. It covers an issue at the heart of Labour strategy, “Peter Pulzer, one of the most eminent political scientists of his generation, wrote in 1967: “Class is the basis of British party politics; all else is embellishment and detail.” He was right at the time. But in subsequent years, the links between class and voting began to fray. Today they have largely gone, their disappearance marked by the Conservative gains of 2019 of an array of traditionally safe, “red-wall” Labour seats across the Midlands and northern England – from Bishop Auckland (County Durham) to Bolsover (Derbyshire), Wakefield (Yorkshire) to Wolverhampton (West Midlands).”

But the study does underline the point about the culture wars, wokeism onwards: (Executive Summary).

So-called cultural issues, such as Brexit and immigration, have contributed to Labour’s recent problems. This is despite the fact that British attitudes have become steadily more liberal in recent decades on a range of issues: the death penalty, abortion and homosexuality, but also on race and immigration. Labour maintained its clear majority support among manual workers in the early post-war decades despite the views of its core voters on these issues, not because of them. Liberal reforms were tolerated as long as voters were confident the party would deliver on jobs, homes, health, tackling poverty and boosting pensions. Today that confidence has gone. Economics no longer trumps culture.

The Conclusion of the report (PDF) says,

Just over 18 months after electing a very different leader from his predecessor, the party’s reputation remains toxic among far too many of the voters it needs to attract. Voters of all stripes want a government that helps ordinary workers, pensioners and the poor, but too many think Labour prefers to defend minorities instead of tackling Britain’s everyday economic and social problems. It’s not so much that these target voters are obsessed by the cultural battles that Labour is doomed to lose. Rather, it is that Labour has gained the reputation of fighting the wrong battles by choice. It risks the most damning of political verdicts: irrelevance to people’s daily lives.

A few provisional points can be made.

The political debate about the decline of working class politics goes back some time, as far back as (at least) Barry Hindess’ The Decline of Working Class Politics 1971. This was framed in very different terms. Hindess wrote of the Labour Party, “the determination of local policy is now very largely in the hands of activists in the more middle-class areas”, and that politics, at that time did not offer a choice outside of a narrow consensus (a 1960’s version of “post-politics”).

Today we have (Red Walls to Red Bridges):

Labour has failed to adapt to the loss of its historic, core voter base: manual workers in heavy industry, belonging to a trade union and living in council homes. Labour’s collectivist politics used to chime with the lives of millions of its voters. The death of heavy industry, sale of council homes and the rise of consumer society all undermined Labour’s traditional appeal.

Labour’s failure to adapt has been masked by Britain’s growing middle class, which has in turn increased support for the party over the long term. Demographically, the new dividing line in British elections is age, together with education. Labour does best today among students and graduates aged under 30, and worst among non-graduates aged over 50. These long-term demographic forces lie at the heart of Labour’s failure to retain its so-called red-wall seats.

It is striking that in Deborah Matterson’s Beyond the Red Wall (2020), travels, talks and interviews with the ‘left behind’, this is recorded,

“Listening to Red Wall Votes talk about social class – with the conversation generally revolving around their own working class status I was struck by the intensity of their sense of belonging to that class…None of the Red Wallers that I spoke to were employed in traditional manufacturing industries any longer, although most were manual workers, with the men typically working in construction. Some were now working on what was described by people in Darlington as the ‘service sector’ -baking, retail or class centres. Others were in the ‘public sector’: local government or health, often caring roles with most of the women in very location I visited seemed to do.” “their social class was the key to their identity and a badge of pride.” (Pages 85-6)

If there was one culture war that sticks out in Matterson’s book it is Brexit. This figures from the Introduction, “Leavers thought Remainers were ‘out of touch’ ‘politically correct’, ‘superior’ and ‘stuck up’. and the Conclusions: they wanted the Tories to “Stick to your promise”, “the first and most frequently heard piece of advice.”

There would be no paradox of those angels in marble who are proud of their class identity and loyal to the bosses’ party and Brexit if we began by recognising that there has long been a strain or working class conservatism, going back to the first limited franchise for the upper reaches of workers under Disraeli (Angels in Marble: Working Class Conservatives in Urban England. Robert McKenzie. 1968)

Deference in modern terms has, some suggest, been replaced with a willingness to follow the lead offered by the right-wing pack that set itself up in the Leave campaign against “globalist” “cosmopolitan” “elites”. Attacking the “politically correct” the “woke”, covers under which to attack minorities, and backing Brexit, a totem to wield against all the previous objects, has let loose a new wave of identity politics, this time from the right. Some Blue Labour figures, such as Paul Embery, and one-time liberals, like David Goodhart, a whole slew of them in The Full Brexit, have taken the idea that the need to defend a vision of a rooted indigenous people, working class brave sons and daughters of the soil, against cosmopolitans and ‘globalists’ at work in institutions like the European Union.

This is what the talk about class can mean, defence against outsiders. It would need a lot more probing, but instead of solidarity amongst the new working class, those in service sector, public sector and manufacturing, not to mention precarious workers, one possibility on offer is a backward march to a cultural identity. This is not a class “for itself” with goals to improve the wider lot, a forward looking grouping of people based on inclusion, but a subordinated group grounded on exclusion.

Britain has not gone as far as France in this direction but readers of Christophe Guilluy’s most recent book. Le temps des gens ordinaires (2020) will be aware his defence of the “heartland” of the “classes populaires” against “l’idéologie dite progressiste” of elites, the defence of diversity for minorities. Guilluy cites Brexit, a victory for “des gens ordinaires” (ordinary people) over “des classes supérieures ” a triumph of left-behind Britain over London. He ends, as such polemics do, with a lengthy call to further regulate (restrict, end?) immigration. From Zemmour to Marine Le Pen the demand has been taken up..

Guilluy offers a highly ideological gloss on Brexit, but there is no doubt of its importance.

This is what Red Bridges says

One of the paradoxes of Britain today is that on a great range of issues, we are far more liberal (or, perhaps more accurately, less illiberal) than 40cor more years ago – but that a liberal outlook is more likely to lose votes. The Brexit referendum and the two general elections since show what can happen when the central question concerns national identity rather than economic and social progress – especially for older, once-solid Labour voters who have now deserted the party in such large numbers. In 1966, the voters of Smethwick reversed their 1964 decision. Labour regained the seat on a swing of 8 per cent. This time, culture mattered less, and the constituency behaved like the rest of Britain.
Can Labour achieve today what it did in Smethwick 18 months after losing the seat? The party might wish to say nothing about immigration,post-Brexit relations with the EU and national identity, but silence on such matters is unlikely to work during a fierce election campaign. Our research suggests two goals for the party. The first is to distinguish nationalism from patriotism – two distinct values that the Leave campaign so successfully fused together during the Brexit referendum. The second is to link patriotism to a compelling plan for improving people’s daily lives. Labour is unlikely to win any argument for closer ties with the EU, or more liberal immigration.

A serious plan for improving people’s lives is a priority for any Labour leadership. Some many consider that patriotic enough without having to use the word – which nobody has ever managed to distinguish for any long period from nationalism. The quiet love and respect for people, the ‘classes populaires’, the working people, and those unable to work, the retired, and the left behind, is a hallmark of the best in the Labour Party and democratic socialism. Does Blair wish to boot out every single Labour activist who believes in these ideas?

We can criticise cultural campaigns whose objectives (as in much US inspired ‘woke’ movements and in Tony Blair’s Third Way) are equality of opportunity not equality of conditions for all. We can get annoyed at cancel culture – democratic socialism is based on freedom of thought and expression. We can be irked by forms of academic and political liberalism that turn illiberal as the rows about gender politics show.

But a campaign against Woke to follow the lead of right-wing identity politics?

This is to take up the themes of the worst kind of politics, whose direction Christophe Guilluy indicates all too well.

As political commentator, David Walsh says,

Too much reliance on focus groups is bad politics. I once spoke to a Millbank (as it was) staffer who told me “Inevitably after about 6 minutes a loud mouth racist emerges and everybody else there shrinks into themselves” He hated them and could not understand how some took them as gospel. Famously, John Smith went to his first one as party leader, left after an hour of CCTV and never went near one again.

******

(1)”a representative sample of 2,075 adults online throughout Great Britain between 10 and 12 September 2021. This was boosted by 6,104 further online interviews conducted between 14 September and 6 October, targeted to reach larger numbers of particular group”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2021 at 1:49 pm

Masks Back, Anti-Lockdown Movement too.

with 4 comments

Colleen Hawkins on Twitter: "So, remember all #NHS staff, if he ever turns  up at A&E with breathing difficulties, Laurence Fox is exempt from  wearing a face mask. Respect his wishes &

This would be funny were not Fox now again calling for people to ignore Masks.

Now if there’s one thing worse than Johnson it’s…

How long before this Public Nuisance gets in on the act?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2021 at 7:15 pm

LETTER TO KEIR STARMER: DEFEND ALL MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES (Another Europe is Possible).

with one comment

Thirty-one people drown after refugee boat capsizes in Channel, French  minister confirms – latest | World news | The Guardian

Another Europe NC Members have written to Keir Starmer expressing grave concern at his comments on migrant Channel crossings.

25th November 2021

Dear Keir,

Your comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (Friday 19 November) in relation to the situation of people crossing the Channel in an attempt to reach the UK are of grave concern to all those who seek the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants. 

It was deeply disappointing to hear you, as Leader of the Labour Party, mirror the dehumanising language of the Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel. Instead of highlighting the cruelty of the government’s border control policies, or dispelling dangerous myths about people arriving in the UK, you made it clear that your main concern about the governments’ approach was that it was failing to be as tough on migrants as it had said it would be.

You won the Labour leadership in no small part due to your work as a defender and promoter of human rights. Your leadership campaign included an unequivocal commitment to putting “human rights at the heart of foreign policy” and making the U.K. “a force for international justice”.

Labour members, voters and the country as a whole should expect a leader of the opposition – who is a human rights lawyer – to challenge the reactionary and xenophobic stance of a government which is deliberately undermining the recognised principles of international human rights. 

As thousands of desperate people remain deliberately trapped at the Polish/Belarusian border and others drown crossing the Channel, you should be making the case for safe and legal routes for those claiming asylum – in Europe and in the UK. You should be exposing the human rights violations of pushbacks at sea, demanding that the U.K. fulfill its legal and moral obligations and supports other countries to do the same. 

Instead, in criticising the government only for its failure to implement its regressive policies with sufficient vigour, you have further entrenched the idea that migrants themselves are a problem – and not the governments’ callous and cruel approach to migration policy. This same position has been repeated over recent days by the Shadow Home Secretary. 

Aping and encouraging the worst aspects of Conservative far-right populism will do little to promote Labour’s electoral chances whilst it will cause further damage and division in our society. 

Yours faithfully,

Laura Parker, Labour International CLP & Another Europe is Possible NC

Nick Dearden, Another Europe Is Possible NC 

Luke Cooper, co-founder, Another Europe Is Possible

Shaista Aziz, Labour councillor for Oxford City Council

Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance, LSE

Hilary Wainwright, co-editor Red Pepper

Glyn Ford, Former MEP 

Julie Ward, Former MEP

Niccolo Milanese, co-founder European Alternatives

Cat Villiers, Film Producer & Another Europe is Possible NC

Zoe Williams, Guardian journalist and co-host of the Another Europe Podcast

Alex Fernandes, Another Europe is Possible NC

Alena Ivanova, Another Europe is Possible Campaigns Officer

Dave Levy, Another Europe is Possible NC

Ana Oppenheim, Another Europe is Possible NC

Peter Radcliffe, Another Europe is Possible NC 

Seema Syeda, Another Europe is Possible Communications and Campaigns Officer

Tom Walker, Another Europe is Possible NC

Signed statement: safe routes, compassion and fairness need to be at heart of Government’s approach to people seeking sanctuary

Following the tragic deaths of at least 27 people in the English Channel – including children – it is time for serious action. We cannot stand by and let this Government’s harsh rhetoric and ill-thought-out approach go unchecked.  

This Government’s policy of grabbing cheap headlines and blaming the French authorities while paying them millions of pounds to build fences around the Channel ports has not worked. Now people fleeing conflict, persecution and war have paid the ultimate price. We know from the warehouses overflowing with donations for Afghan refugees that the public believes in the right to seek safety. That same public cannot stand for this.  

Instead of trying to blame people seeking safety for its own failures, this Government must step up to its responsibilities and focus on saving lives. 

For a start, parliamentarians must rethink the Nationality and Borders Bill. Not only will these new laws take a wrecking ball to the very principle of refugee protection, but we know they are unworkable. They will push desperate people further into the arms of smuggling gangs and will only inflame our international partners who we need to work with to ensure people seeking sanctuary can do so safely. 

We also need a cast-iron commitment from this Government that it will not pursue its policies on offshoring or pushbacks, which will cause even more harm and make deaths in the Channel even more likely.  

Above all, this tragedy shows how urgent it is for this Government to work with its international partners to create more routes to safety for refugees. This Government demands refugees take official routes, but for most people, these simply do not exist. Refugees are left with little option but to arrive here hidden in a plane or lorry or crammed onto a small boat.  

We are calling on this Government to make a long-term commitment to: 

  • create a compassionate asylum system that treats all people seeking asylum in the UK with kindness and dignity 
  • resettle at least 10,000 refugees each year from around the world 
  • reinstate the Dubs Agreement to protect child refugees from exploitation 
  • expand family reunion so that more people can be reunited with their loved ones 
  • introduce a humanitarian corridor 

We ask the Government to sit down with people who’ve gone through the asylum system, and their advocates, to create a new, more compassionate, and effective process which puts safety first. Now, if ever, is the time to do so. 

From comrade Martin Rowson:

After the Johnson letter to Macron relations between Paris and London are at their lowest

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2021 at 8:56 am

News from the Spotting Front Line: Chris Williamson to start “real socialist Party”, denounces anti-racist group Hope not Hate, Labour Against the Witch-hunt in Vicious Internal Battle.

with 9 comments

Fall Out in Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

Chris Williamson has been busy recently.

His Orga, Resist, has decided to launch itself on the path to a new socialist party.

Britain’s most celebrated Vegan is the creator of the definitive recipe for the radical peasant dish, Vegan Carrot Cake.

Now he’s off to new cuisine: attacking anti-racists and anti-fascists.

It’s a good moment to boost Greenstein who is said, according to well-established rumour, to be a bit down in the dumps in recent days.

The South Coast’s most celebrated struggler has his plate full this week as he engages in a war to the death, or bun fight, with the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee). It’s no secret that it’s over the future of Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW). The united front that brought together Jackie Walker and the Brighton Battler, the support of Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky looks as if it’s about to fissure, permanently.

Why Labour Against the Witchhunt & Labour-in-Exile-Network Should Merge

 “With the Collapse of the Corbyn Project there is a clear choice between Building a Socialist Movement or Retreating into the Politics of Sectarianism.

Frying it up non-sectarian sauce,  Greenstein states,

The blame for this state of affairs can be laid at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn and Lansman’s Momentum. It was they who accepted the false ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative of the right-wing, that Labour was ‘overrun by anti-Semitism’. It was they who supported the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. It was Corbyn and Lansman who supported the expulsion of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and myself.

Now who could possibly be against this “merger” of Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) and Labour in Exile Network (LEIN)?

The LPM (Editor’s note for those already lost, Labour Party Marxist, led for many years by Cde Ken Keable), which is the Communist Party of Great Britain, which produces the Weekly Worker. It is a small group of around 30-40 members which has stayed approximately the same size since it was formed from The Leninist over 30 years ago.

Their strategy, if it can be called that, is to form a mass revolutionary Marxist party which will, with the support of the unions, force the Labour Party into becoming a ‘united front of a special kind’.  In the meantime LPM simply writes off the hundreds of thousands of people who joined the Labour Party after the victory of Jeremy Corbyn and the millions who voted for the 2017 manifesto as having the ‘wrong’ politics. There is a complete failure to understand what the Corbyn project represented and how to build on it.

LPM is therefore fiercely opposed to such a merger or indeed any attempt to build the left other than temporary alliances with already existing left groups like CLPD or LRC in the Labour Party. It dismisses all attempts to build anything outside the Labour Party as a Labour Party Mark II.

In measured tones the seaside resort’s most celebrated dapper gent states,

“What they are advocating, behind their talk of Solidarity with all victims of the Labour witch-hunt! Step up the fight! is nothing less than an abandonment of any fight whatsoever. 

At the meetings on November 26 and 27 Esther Giles and myself will be moving a motion calling for the ‘consolidation  of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network into one organisation’.

There will therefore be a clear choice facing members as to whether or not to continue the fight against Starmer, but not necessarily on Labour Party terrain since that has now become enemy territory.

This is an Open Letter hammering out the line of Greenstein and the faction, Carel Buxton, Roger Silverman, Esther Giles, known as GB-SG (Non-Continuity).

In the unlikely event of anybody being interested further here is the Weekly Worker rival line:

Deserting the fight

Plans to close Labour Against the Witchhunt and form yet another amorphous broad-left outfit are not only, by definition, unprincipled: they are bound to fail, writes Paul Demarty

we have a call to abandon ship. This constitutes the effective basis of the motion, presented under the names of Tony Greenstein and Esther Giles, which will be debated at LAW’s all members’ meeting this Saturday. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2021 at 10:30 am

Radical Left Battles Over the Communist Party of Britain’s Young Communist League.

with 8 comments

Edinburgh YCL (@YCLEdinburgh) / Twitter

“Visually striking assertions of communist identity”.

Lawrence Parker is probably best known on the left as the gumshoe who uncovered the funding of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee). It turned out to be that they owned the copyright on the much-loved Wurzels’ hit,  ‘I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester’. (The CPGB-PCC, The Wurzels and me). (1)

in recent times, that is October, there was this spat this year with Gerry Downing in the pages of the Weekly Worker,

Gerry writes: “Comrade Parker is clearly nostalgic for Uncle Joe, as the title in his piece of October 16 – ‘The Communist Party of Britain disappears comrade Stalin’ – shows. In challenging the view of former CPB member Andrew Murray that ‘violations of socialist democracy during the Stalin period’, which were ‘a shameful blot on the proud history of the communist movement’, he points out that this ‘existed alongside a contradiction: the Soviet Union, despite these abuses of democracy, was still adjudged to be a socialist society and one where the ‘positive features of the socialist experience would far outweigh the negative ones’.”

There a longer intervention, of sufficient importance to get even more widely noticed than what they are already calling the Downing-Parker debate, was this, part of a series of interesting articles:

Young Communist League general secretary denounces critics as ‘saboteurs’ (November the 17th).

Correspondence – the Communist Party of Britain, the YCL and Stalin (October the 11th).

Now Cde Parker returns to the fray with a post that may succeed in its intention, to piss off other groups, largely the AWL, though also the (back to its birth name) Workers’ Power (WP).

British Trotskyists take notice of the Young Communist League

The British Trotskyist left has been forced to sit up and take notice of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and its associated Young Communist League (YCL). I guessed this would happen sooner or later because the sight of hundreds of young people marching under red banners, shouting revolutionary slogans and being sympathetic to the historical legacy of Stalin strikes at the existential heart of Trotskyism’s current crisis. If Trotskyists think about this then, surely, in their eyes, they should have won such forces after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the concurrent, although incomplete, disintegration of the ‘official’ communist movement? Who can forget Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and his truly gormless idea of the ‘red ‘90s’? But much of the Trotskyist left shared versions of this ‘us next’ mentality and I have documented such matters on this blog in relation to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). The whole idea of a revitalised YCL, which most Trotskyists understand under a pejorative and simplistic rubric of ‘Stalinism’, will be sending shivers of horror through various factional centres in relation to what such happenings reveal about the attractiveness, or otherwise, of various Trot sects and groupuscules.

I shall leave it to Cdes Sacha and Jim to respond, if they see fit, to the measured criticisms made in this, long, aesthetical post, “all the residual appeal of Jim Davidson reciting Macbeth. “social-imperialist AWL”, “such hysteria”.

But this, on Workers’ Power (WP), part of the League for a Fifth International is intriguing:

While the YCL comrades refer to their ‘party of a new type’, WP has historically referred to itself as a ‘fighting propaganda group’, which has a set of, ahem, remarkable similarities with the CPB/YCL variant. In both organisations, open factions are banned, public debates between comrades are rare and the membership is generally expected to parrot the group’s line. The rider here is that the CPB has a slightly better culture of open debate between its members than WP in that it at least publishes its low-level congress discussion every couple of years; unlike in WP where any attempt by members to debate publicly would be treated as an act of treason. If the “splits between Stalinists usually lead nowhere” where have recent splits from WP led other than to weaken and demoralise a much-diminished mothership, form a useless and defunct group such as Permanent Revolution and fritter away other cadres into ‘good causes’? This then is the depressing balance sheet of the bureaucratic centralism that has infected both Trotskyists and ‘official’ communists in brutal contradiction to the democratic and open traditions of our movement.  

The Weekly Worker, for which Cde Parker used to write, is again behind the curve: there is nothing on this row in the latest issue.

The YCL claims a massive 450 members.

**
(1) “there has been much discussion on the left about the financing of the CPGB, with many dubious explanations being advanced. In order to scotch these rumours I can reveal that, many years ago, Mark Fischer bought out all the copyright on songs by The Wurzels. This has been a constant source of finance for the CPGB over the years, and cider is indeed now obligatory at their many social gatherings. So the next time you’re reading some tedious diatribe from Jack Conrad, think about “I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester” and raise your glass with me. I hope that clears it up.”


CPGB – The Final Countdown?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Éric Zemmour Faces Street Protests, With More to Come.

with one comment

Éric Zemmour tiendra un meeting le 5 décembre au Zénith de Paris

Planned Meeting Faces Protests.

In the Conclusion to his self-published selfie, La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (2021) Éric Zemmour speaks of how his homeland has often faced death. On each occasion an invader has swamped her soil by armed force, occupying whole slices of the territory. There have been civil wars. A section of “nos élites” has taken the side of the “empire of the moment” against the people – in the name of a “universalism” gone astray. The empires were in succession, British, Spanish and German..

Yet, he perorates on the page, each time La France found a Man of Destiny (“Homme Providential”), Joan of Arc (sic), Bonaparte, de Gaulle. Each time, he continues, choked through with emotion, a handful of French people has gathered together around the principles that have guided the nation for a thousand years, whether it be the Capetian Monarchy or the Republic. Their names? Sovereignty of the nation against the empires, sovereignty of the state against the feudal barons, sovereignty of civilisation against the barbarians (“barbares”).

Across the world, the patriot thunders, the Great Nations have returned to their glorious past. The Russians have brought together the Czars and Stalin, China has synthesised Confucius and Mao, Turkey has fused the Ottoman Empire with Ataturk and the Islamic Umma, Britain has championed Peppa Pig World, Moses and the noise of an accelerating car.

Okay I made that last one up, but this writer is already bored with Zemmour’s opinons…

Despite his admiration for Joan of Arc and rude words about the British Empire ,Éric Zemmour has found friends in the UK. Fellow hard right nationalists that is,

Eric Zemmour: Macron’s nemesis taking France by storm

“..Zemmour looks down at a copy of The Spectator and cocks his eyebrows at the unflattering cartoon of him on the cover. He decides he doesn’t care. ‘It takes a lot to offend me, you know,’ he says. He then leafs through the magazine making polite and appreciative noises. ‘Ah, Doooglas Murray!’ he exclaims. ‘I like Doooglas Murray very much. We’ve exchanged ideas.’”

What are his views?

“His plans include reintroducing border controls, suspending Schengen border-free rules for two years and, according to a member of his team in charge of European topics, ignoring rulings from the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union — despite France being bound to the latter — on issues such as immigration and government subsidies.” (Politico)

A public meeting will be held in Paris on December 5 at the Zénith, which could, according to his entourage, be the first meeting of a campaign for the presidential election.

Visit to Geneva yesterday, 300 people came to listen to Zemmour.

.

Also, yesterday, Geneva: “We hate Zemmour”.

And not everybody in France loves Zemmour.

Call for a Protest against Zemmour on the occasion of his Zénith meeting, by the CGT Union Federation’s Paris wing.

May be an image of text

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2021 at 1:17 pm

The Far-Right and the ‘Covid Sceptic’ Bandwagon.

with 14 comments

Piers Corbyn Shown the Door.

(Anti-vax protestors including Piers Corbyn have been forcibly removed from an event led by Sadiq Khan in North London tonight.)

The presence, and in important cases, the leading role of the far-right in protests against restrictions brought about to deal with the Covid pandemic, has been widely reported. The hard core have propagated the view that efforts to stop the spread of the virus are part of a ‘globalist’ plan, run by a Cabal of various bodies, Big Pharma, an opportunity fabricated by those planning the Great Reset of Capitalism (after the expression prominent at the 2000 World Economic Forum).

A widely broadcast video, Hold Up, Retour sur un chaos by French conspiracist Pierre Barnérias claimed that the virus was created in “l’Institut Pasteur before being sent to Wuhan. On-line it was seen by over two million of people in France and elsewhere. The film compiles a variety of false claim “These include the supposed futility of face masks, claims that hydroxychloroquine is a proven remedy for Covid-19, the theory of links to 5G mobile networks and the notion of a totalitarian global government – known as the New World Order – bent on enslaving the people.”

During Lockdown there were protests in many countries, including Ireland and the UK. Their theme was ‘freedom’ from health based restrictions but included conspiracists and the far-right. No formal rightist presence was noted, although the robust anti-vacinne actions called by ‘Official Voice’, “a collective forum of like-minded truth seekers”, in September had a quasi-militarist look about them.

When in France the government introduced the Health Pass (Pass Sanitaire) large demonstrations took place. On the 17th July 100,000 marches across the country, initiating public demonstrations which reached a peak of 237,000 in the middle of August before declining to a few thousand in November. The leading role of Florian Philippot, former henchman of Marine le Pen put the leader of his own far right party, Les Patriots, back in the limelight. “When Philippot was addressing the Paris rally and introduced a man called Benjamin onto the stage, saying, “He got vaccinated, but that was his choice,” there was an awkward moment of hesitation in the crowd, Le Figaro reported. It then erupted into cheers when Philippot said, “But he’s against the health pass!” as Benjamin ripped up his vaccination certificate.” (France 24).

Phillipot’s association with the anti-Health Pass movement was joined by the participation of other extreme-right groupuscules. Their presence went with the anti-Semitic symbols and placards of some protestors, (asking Qui ? ‘Who’ said to indicate a cosmopolitan plot behind the Macron/Cazeneuve measures). This did not deter some left-wingers from joining the upswell, sometimes on the very same ground. For them it was an issue of civil liberty. Jean-Luc Mélenchon called the Health Pass, and other moves, Une addition de sottises sans nom, dans une inefficacité totale et une brutalité absolue.” (a pile of nonsense, completely ineffective and totally brutal) while dissociating himself from the racist presence. The La France insoumise Presidential candidate rejected being lectured to by the Macron political “caste” and complained of having to put up with the far right and anti-Semites on the rallies, ( France Info, “de devoir supporter l’extrême-droite et les antisémites.) Some suggest that the motive of this section of the left was to make a populist appeal to the remains of the gilets jaunes movement which has supported the movement.

At present France’s far-right is engaged in a battle for next year’s Presidential elections. In the duel between Éric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen Covid issues have come up. The former has winked towards the anti-Health pass movement and has promised to abolish the Health Pass, adding, that boosters will be only for the over 65s. The candidate of the Rassemblement National has called to end the obligation of health care workers to be vaccinated and an easing of restrictions. Florian Philippot has announced his own Presidential candidacy, around the call “le rétablissement de toutes nos libertés” (re-establish all our freedoms) which barely registers (Présidentielle 2022 : Florian Philippot candidat 16.11.21).

The issue has come to the fore across Europe with the weekend demonstrations in Austria, the rioting in the Netherlands, and outbreaks of violence during a Brussels march.

Today the US NBC sums up the most recent developments.

Far right spies an opportunity in Europe’s new wave of Covid pain and protest

A new fault line is emerging in Austrian and European politics: whether or not a party supports Covid restrictions.

The Vienna rally was organized by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest political party in Austria, which experts say has used the pandemic to further its anti-establishment credentials and re-establish public support after a high-profile scandal.

“STOPP Impffaschismus,” (stop vaccine fascism) one sign in Vienna read. “Kontrolliert die Grenze, nicht euer volk,” (control the border, not your people) another said — just some of the slogans mixing vaccine skepticism with right-wing ideology.

Austria has become an explicit case of direct far-right involvement in these issues.

What of the UK?

Piers Corbyn is still at it.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 24, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Gender ‘Debate’: J.K Rowling Receives Death Threats.

with 29 comments

JK Rowling's address posted on Twitter by trans activists | News | The Times

JK Rowling has accused three people who campaign on transgender matters of posting a photo of her Edinburgh address on Twitter.

BBC

The author, who has been criticised for her views on trans issues, has reported the matter to police.

Police Scotland said they had been made aware and inquiries were ongoing.

In a now deleted social media post, one of the group said the photo had been removed after they had received “threatening” messages online.

In her own Twitter thread, Rowling said the image depicted the three activists in front of her home, “carefully positioning themselves to ensure” the address was visible.

She said: “I want to say a massive thank you to everybody who reported the image to @TwitterSupport. Your kindness and decency made all the difference to my family and me.

“I implore those people who retweeted the image with the address still visible, even if they did so in condemnation of these people’s actions, to delete it.”

Rowling sparked controversy in June 2020 for posting tweets which took issue with the phrase “people who menstruate” – she objected to the avoidance of the use of the word “women”.

In a lengthy blog post, the writer of the Harry Potter books said her interest in trans issues stemmed from being a survivor of abuse and having concerns around single-sex spaces.

Critics said her views “diminished the identity” of trans people, while stars from the Harry Potter films, including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, distanced themselves from her comments.

*****

Some people make light of people standing outside somebody’s home to protest against them.

The first thing I thought of when I saw this story a few days ago was this:

Iglesias, who has since left the leadership of Podemos and politics, was targeted by the far right. The man organising the daily protest outside his house was Miguel Ángel Frontera, an ultra right activist and a sympathiser and voter for the far-right party Vox.

Frontera even took video recordings on his mobile of the inside of the residence:

There have of course been worse cases of harassment outside people’s homes, in the Basque Country, not to mention the North of Ireland.

The principle though, of protesting against somebody at their own address, the one where they live, is a very bad one. As can be seen, it can be used by all kinds of political forces.

The opponents of Rowling respond:

Anybody who wants to read what Rowling actually thinks on the issues should begin here.

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues. (2020)

(Extracts from a long piece).

This isn’t an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity.

For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what were deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

My interest in trans issues pre-dated Maya’s case by almost two years, during which I followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely. I’ve met trans people, and read sundry books, blogs and articles by trans people, gender specialists, intersex people, psychologists, safeguarding experts, social workers and doctors, and followed the discourse online and in traditional media. On one level, my interest in this issue has been professional, because I’m writing a crime series, set in the present day, and my fictional female detective is of an age to be interested in, and affected by, these issues herself, but on another, it’s intensely personal, as I’m about to explain.

……

It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There’s joy, relief and safety in conformity. As Simone de Beauvoir also wrote, “… without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Oppose the Expulsion of Pamela Fitzpatrick.

with 4 comments

“I received yesterday afternoon a letter from the Labour Party expelling me as a member of the party. My offence, that I spoke to Socialist Appeal in May 2020 about why I had applied for the role as General Secretary of the Labour Party. Labour proscribed Socialist Appeal this summer and has retrospectively applied the rule.

The party has been such a huge part of my life for so long I wanted to take time to think about what has happened before I told people. “

Pamela Fitzpatrick

*******

The Morning Star reports,

THE latest victims of Labour’s alleged witch-hunt against socialists urged the left to continue to speak out against the “oppressive regime” within the party today.

Local councillors Pamela Fitzpatrick and Jo Bird, who were expelled from Labour last week, were guests on the Not the Andrew Marr Show, hosted by Labour Grassroots’ Crispin Flintoff.

Ms Fitzpatrick, who represents Harrow and is a former local Labour group chair, accused the right of the party of expelling her to protect the “small group of men” at the heart of the abuse.

She also revealed that her expulsion had been briefed to the media, despite Labour’s insistence that those expelled maintain confidentiality.

“We’ve got to encourage [people to speak up] because keeping your head down is not working,” she said.

Ms Fitzpatrick accused those running the party of “abusing our processes,” adding: “They have no grounds to expel me, but they’ve done it anyway.”

Ms Bird, a councillor for Bromborough on the Wirral in Merseyside, said that she was “delighted” to have finally been expelled from the party.

“I feel free, I’m free from this ridiculous oppressive regime that the Labour Party has become.”

Yesterday Labour national executive (NEC) members Laura Pidcock and Nadia Jama submitted a motion to the NEC pointing out that a ban on “support” for various proscribed organisations had not defined what support meant, and that retrospectively applying it to discipline members for actions prior to the ban contravened natural justice.

Labour witch-hunt victims call on socialists to speak up about ‘oppressive regime’ in the party.

Comment:

No doubt some people will try to find a way to smear Pamela Fitzpatrick but the fact remains that the charge against her is that she gave an interview to a small circulation paper of the tiny group Socialist Appeal, before it was proscribed. Nobody is suggesting that she is a member of this organisation.

This Blog notes as well that the expulsion of Jo Bird comes at a time when moderate left voices are expressing deep concern at the exclusion of Jewish members.

More:

Perhaps Labour should (also retrospectively) investigate Keir Starmer for writing in Socialist Alternatives, a group aligned to the Tendance marxiste-révolutionnaire internationale (TMRI). The TMRI was considerably to the left of Socialist Appeal. Its leading figure Michel Pablo (Michel Rapitis) had been involved in actively supporting the armed liberation movement in Algeria, the FLN, which successfully overthrew French colonial rule.

(from The Left in Paris)

 He was one of the first to make contact with the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and began to organise solidarity action (the so-called “suitcase carriers” who assisted the FLN with publications and transferring funds.

One of the ‘bag carriers’ was Jakob Moneta (1914-2012), who was a Trotskyist employed as the trade union representative at the West German embassy at 28 Rue Marbeau. He used his ‘diplomatic bag’ to transport documents for the FLN.

Pablo was personally involved with two more ambitious ventures – setting up an arms factory in Morocco where Trotskyist engineering workers from France and elsewhere worked, and a project for forging currency; for the latter he was arrested and jailed in the Netherlands in 1960.

After Algerian independence in 1962 Pablo became an adviser to Ben Bella until his being overthrown in 1965.

The War in Algeria

Declaration of Michel Raptis at the Amsterdam Trial

(14 November 1961)

Put on trial for his part in a plot involving the fabrication of counterfeit money, Pablo and his comrades took advantage of the trial and used it as a political forum.

I don’t have a strictly private life. For many years the apartments I’ve lived in with my wife were open to the members of our organization, to our friends and our political sympathizers, to a great number of people. During the war and the Nazi occupation of Europe, Israelites or men of the Resistance of all nationalities hunted by the Nazi services naturally found refuge at our home. When the Algerian revolution began in 1954, and Algerian militants were in turn pitilessly hunted down by the police services and terrorists under the orders of colonialism, my wife and I told the Algerian comrades to do us the honour of considering our home at their entire disposal. It was the same in Amsterdam.

We hope to continue in this way until the end of our days, today aiding our Algerian brothers to the best of our abilities, tomorrow our black brothers of Angola and South Africa, our Indio brothers of Latin America, our brothers from everywhere, oppressed and exploited men fighting for the liberty and dignity of man.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Brussels: Violence at Demonstration against Covid Restrictions.

with 10 comments

Manifestation anti-mesures à Bruxelles: les premières images - Le Soir

Riot police in Brussels clashed with people protesting on Sunday at new Covid restrictions in Belgium. Police fired water cannon and tear gas in response to a group of participants throwing projectiles. At least 35,000 took part in the demonstration against a ban on unvaccinated people from restaurants and other venues.

The march was called “Ensemble pour la liberté”. According to La Libre Belgique a number of marchers were hooded and carried Flemish nationalist flags and symbols – associated with the far right Vlaams Belang and the hard right wing Nieuw-Vlaamse of Bart De Wever (a key ally of the Catalan nationalist independentists).

Dans cet affrontement, plusieurs manifestants portaient des cagoules et brandissaient des drapeaux nationalistes flamands.

Manifestation anti-mesures sanitaires: la situation dégénère entre la police et les manifestants (LIVE)

The Tweet below notes the presence of the extreme right:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2021 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Belgium

Tagged with , ,

Gender-Neutral Pronouns and the Gender Debate.

with 6 comments

Gender Neutral Pronouns | OK2BME

In Johnathan Rée’s illuminating work, Witcraft, The Invention of Philosophy in English (2019) he recounts the contribution of a 16th century English clergyman, Ralph Lever. The cleric objected to the use of Latinate and Greek words in English wit and speechcraft. In place of these “inkhorne terms” than nobody could understand, the maxim “every proposition is either an affirmation or a negation” should be, “every simple shesay..is either a yeasay or a naysay.” Made up of “true and auncient English” it would replace the language making a “mingle mangle” of our “native speache”. Logic and Dialectic would give way to the “self-explanatory term Witcraft”. As for “the latine worde, called a Conclusion. I call it an Endsaye, bicause it is a saying that maketh an ende of a reason.” (The arte of reason, rightly termed, witcraft, teaching a perfect way to argue and dispute. Made by Raphe Leuer. Seene and allowed according to the order appointed in the Queenes Maiesties iniunctions. 1573,

Alas, Lever’s vocabulary never caught on.

Today we have a new effort to reform our “native speache”.

What are the 78 Gender pronouns? Bob Cut.

Gender traditionally was associated with a person’s sex which was assigned to them at birth. In every societal structure, there are predefined gender-based roles, assigned to their binary genders. Binary genders such as man and woman used pronouns such as he, she. This predefined structure of gender, classified people based on their appearances, attitudes, and restricted expressions. Those who fell outside this pre-determined structure, were often outcast, dehumanized, and suffered greater misfortune in the hands of the public, and were mocked, or humiliated. In such a society, the self-expression of individuals was considered less important. Mostly it depended on how well the person behaved in conforming to these ideals, which the society had dictated.   

In a modern societal structure, however, the gender norms are much more complex and are made much more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community. It the important of building a community where everyone is accepted and are inclusive of each other without prejudice and move forward and build a better society. Even in workplaces, employers prefer using gender pronouns as a step to be more inclusive. The civil rights for LGBTQ+ commonly ensure the usage of gender pronouns, the violation of which can be considered workplace harassment. It is very important to ask someone what their preferred pronouns are and this could make them feel less intimidated and feel more comfortable in any stress-prone environment and provide a general sense of acceptance and give the comfort of a community. 

The gender-neutral language was introduced to English by feminists Casey Miller and Kate Swift. Their work was written to encourage inclusive language, as an alternative to the existing sexist language which was not inclusive to women. 

Neo Pronouns were also introduced which were used differently from the traditional gender pronouns such as he/she/they and incorporated the Spivak pronouns for gender-neutral and non-binary individuals.

These are the common gender pronouns used

SubjectObjectPossessivePossessive pronounsReflexive
(f)ae(f)aer(f)aer(f)aers(f)aerself
e/eyEmEirEirsEirself
HeHimHisHisHimself
PerPerPersPersPerself
SheHerHerHersHerself
theyThemTheirTheirsThemselves
VeVerVisVisVerself
XeXemXyrXyrsXermself
Ze/ziehirhirhirshirself

I merely add this point (familiar to many of those who have taught English to speakers of other languages),

A brief history of gender neutral pronouns

Now, in English, the word “they” is used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun – even though some critics argue that “they” should really only be used to refer to plural nouns.

But these identifiers are nothing new and have actually been used throughout the history of literature.

Examples of the singular “they” being used to describe someone features as early as 1386 in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and also in famous literary works like Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1599.

“They” and “them” were still being used by literary authors to describe people in the 17th Century too – including by Jane Austin in her 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.

While these pronouns weren’t used historically to define people as gender neutral, ‘they’ was used to specify a role being undertaken by a person.

“You could say that somebody was say, a teacher, but you didn’t know whether that teacher was male or female,” Dr Emma Moore, a professor of linguistics at the University of Sheffield, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But she says it was from the 18th century onwards that people started using male pronouns when describing someone of a non-specific gender in writing and this marks the time when opinions on what pronouns should be used started to change.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2021 at 1:17 pm

Kathleen Stock Row Over Transsexuals Continues as Investigation Looms.

with 25 comments

Kathleen Stock: Professor who resigned over trans rights 'witch-hunt' joins  new US university | UK News | Sky News

The Kathleen Stock affair continues.

Raising Prof Stock’s case in the upper chamber, Labour peer Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said: “She has been vilified by colleagues, abused by students, unsupported by a union and really let down by a university, which was far too late to defend her.

Other academics in many other universities are facing similar abuse, particularly women, for basically gender critical views.”

He added: “However much legislation you have, you need to have confidence in our universities to show some strength in defending their academics. What is the Government going to do about that?”

University to be investigated after Kathleen Stock forced to quit. The Argus (Brighton).

At the beginning of this month Sráid Marx (An Irish Marxist Blog set out a highly recommended set of summaries and reviews of three important books on the Transgender issue: Three books on Transgender politics (1 of 4) – Material Girls.

Outlining Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls he notes an approach to one of the main issues at stake. It does not appear unreasonable. You can agree or disagree.

..she sets out what she thinks is a “more helpful and detailed account” that involves, for a misaligned female gender identity, a strong psychological identity with a “particular female or with femaleness as a general object or ideal.”  This, she says, “fits well with first-hand testimonies about experiences of gender dysphoria.”  She argues that it does not then have to result in the medical and surgical intervention demanded by some trans activists.

She defends the traditional concepts of what a woman is and its necessary employment for how we live, including its importance for other concepts that are important, such as mother, daughter, lesbian etc.  She notes the radical revision to our understanding of concepts if adult human males could be considered as mothers, sisters and daughters, and adult human females considered as fathers, brothers etc (although some advocate removing words such as mother).

But in order to be trans-inclusive this would have to be the case.  And if this was the case, it would require new words, for example, for those who are not only mothers but also adult human females etc., although these new words would also necessarily be trans-exclusive.  A new word for lesbian would be required not only to denote same-sex attraction (if ‘sex’ is understood as equated to gender and not biological sex) but sexual attraction to those with a female body.

The issue of language is a relevant one. It can be seen how the fashion for new, non-binary, words has reached France.

French speakers remark that this pronoun is a nightmare for all kinds of reason, starting with grammer: how is it conjugated for 3rd person  pronoms disjoints, eux, elles? What happens to the accords of gender in reflexive verbs in the third person, ils se sont frappés, elles se sont frappées? Iel se sont Frappé(e)s Iel se sont frappé.e.s (you cannot do a “point médian” that is a stop in the middle between two letters, with ease on most keyboards (example of its use, « les salarié·e·s »).

But I pass that over for the simple reason that languages grammatically coded for gender are not the same as English ‘natural’ gender. So in French a recruit (that is, say, for the Army) is always une recrue (feminine) while amour is masculine in the singular and (still in older literary French) feminine in the plural… More obviously nobody (though some researchers, after a great deal of trying to find it, talks of a vague feminine association for some words) thinks of a Table as a female because it is La Table.

No doubt things would not have got so fraught in what apparently some on the US left call ‘TERF Island” were it all about row involving what somebody from a different philosophical tradition demanded, to ” rectify the names” to make words correspond to reality. (Rectification of names. Confucius). But as this interview in the Times indicates, a lot more has come to be at stake.

Many of the statements Kathleen Stock makes are reasonable, though one can certainly disagree with them, until she comes out with ones which are not.

The Times Interview (Extracts) commences well.

Here is a good starting point:

“Just as Stock was coming out, postmodern gender theory was migrating from US and British campuses into public policy. In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler asserts that the concepts “male” or “female, “man” or “woman”, are not scientific categories but social constructs. From this the trans writer Julia Serano extrapolated the concept of “gender identity”. “Being a woman” is a nebulous inner feeling unconnected to biological sex.”

Stock saw the attraction of these theories. “It means we can change reality through our words alone. That’s a sexy idea. It also places philosophers at the heart of everything because they get to produce the ideas that generate the world.” But Stock had been schooled in female biology by her physiologist mother, Jane, who drew reproductive diagrams to explain periods. (Stock’s sister is a research obstetrician.) She was appalled that gender theorists didn’t care about the real-world consequences of their ideas. “Their minds slide away when you say, ‘Yes, but hang on a minute. There are male rapists in women’s prisons because you changed the categories.’ ”

Male Rapists in Prisons does not sound to most people as something designed to further calm discussion.

This gives a flavour of her views, something which is equally (surely?) contentious.

Following that first blog, Stock was interviewed in the Brighton Argus where, discussing single-sex spaces such as changing rooms, she noted that the vast majority of trans women retain male genitalia. “This is a fact,” she says, “but it was treated as the worst thing I could possibly say.” (Stock’s friend, Professor Mary Leng, calls such a statement of unacceptable truth a “reverse Voltaire”: ie “I agree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death to prevent you from saying it.”)

There again it is hard, even for the softest hearted, to feel much sympathy with those doing this.

“That’s where everyone at Sussex’s ears pricked up.”Academics, especially in English and gender studies, began to organise. The chair of the LGBT staff network – “where I was trying to make friends as a new lesbian!” – petitioned against her. “It was very hostile.” Students formed a Facebook group to discuss how to get her fired and faculty members would post in solidarity. Blogs compared her support for single-sex spaces enshrined in the Equality Act to Jim Crow segregation. Open letters condemning her passed from desk to desk and friends would come under intense pressure to sign. When Stock organised a staff-student forum, trans activists leafleted to try to stop her speaking. In January, when Stock was made an OBE, 600 philosophers signed a denouncement.

“Did anyone ever argue with her in person? Stock laughs. “They come up to your bosses. They write to your managers. They used every bureaucratic mechanism against me. But it was very passive-aggressive. It was never, ‘I disagree with you. Let’s argue about it.’ When Stock challenged her most vocal academic opponent to a debate, “She said that my position was beyond rational discussion.”Over three years, campus life grew ever more toxic. Many times Stock resolved to step back and say nothing. “But I would go to bed and just fume until 4am then get up and write a blog defending myself. I’d press send and feel an enormous catharsis. I had to keep meeting every blow.” Moreover, her Catholic upbringing made her feel this “no debate” trans activism was a form of religion. “It involves special holy days, ceremonies, rituals, mantras and performing acts of ritual self-abnegation. I can see it completely.” Which frames Stock as a heretic.”

Perhaps things pass me by but one has yet to witness this here, no doubt in remote places like Ipswich (an hour from London on the train).

One leaves this to those familiar with the milieu to respond to this, which on the face of it sounds dreadful.

She was still convinced her logical arguments would persuade fellow philosophers. “But that didn’t happen because the men were all, ‘I’m not going anywhere near that.’ And the women were all, ‘Heretic! Burn her!’ It’s women who have really pushed the persecution.” Why? “Partly because in academia now there’s a career incentive to virtue-signal, to promote yourself as an ethical activist figure.”

If the previous comment about “holy days” is an indication “logic” is not her only weapon.

As lockdown began, Stock started to write Material Girls, which seeks to analyse gender theory using philosophical tools. It is so unflinching you can see why some are incensed. Stock compares trans identity to an “immersive fiction”. She insists she is not saying a male living as a woman is “deluded or lying or there’s anything wrong with this. You’re participating in an activity that can be really life-enhancing. However, it also has limits. And there is a difference between fiction and truth.” Stock points out she taught trans people throughout her career, always using their preferred pronouns. “I’ve had emails from former trans students saying, ‘I respect and support you. Thank you for everything you did for me at Sussex,’ and, ‘Your class was my favourite.’ ”

This is the kind of thing, dramatic effects removed, that makes you wonder about some people’s ability to make fools of themselves,

Material Girls was published in May, but it was not until October, when in-person teaching resumed, that protests intensified. Stock started noticing stares as she crossed campus, how colleagues stopped talking when she approached. “Trans flags appeared on faculty doors. There were lots of rainbow masks… Performative compensation for the mere presence of me.” Then an Instagram group called Anti Terf Sussex formed to plaster the campus with posters and stickers, let off flares, protest in masks at an open day. Until Stock was sacked, they said menacingly, “You’ll see us around.”But it was the statement from the University and College Union that finally made her quit. The university’s outgoing vice-chancellor had firmly supported her academic freedom (far too late, says Stock) but the UCU instead declared its support for trans students’ right to protest and, while opposing “summary sacking”, refused even to state her name.

Tired of confrontation, she has no desire to return to British academia since every university has “people like those at Sussex, who’ve got a light in their eyes, who want social justice according to a very narrow conception that does not involve employing me”. She has agreed to be a founding fellow at the University of Austin, along with other heterodox thinkers such as Bari Weiss, Steven Pinker and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But this new institution is at the “nascent germ of an idea” stage, and she’s received a one-off sum but not a salary and won’t move to Texas.

I have yet to find a newspaper article about Stock in French….yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2021 at 2:17 pm

US Far-Right celebrates Kyle Rittenhouse Acquittal as Protests break out.

with 2 comments

Girlfriend of Anthony Huber, man fatally shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, speaks  out

As French Presidential would-be candidate the national populist hardliner Éric Zemmour receives the backing of the violent outer fringes of the extreme right (the latest, Les Vilains Fachos, to add to la Famille Gallicane, who train in forests by shooting at caricatures of Jews, Muslims and Black people) and the far-right prepares to demonstrate today in Austria against new Covid measures, a reminder that racism and fascism are international phenomena that extend across the Atlantic. (1)

Sat, 20 November 2021,

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police Friday night declared as a riot a demonstration downtown against the acquittal of a teen who killed two people and injured another during a protest in Wisconsin.

The protest of about 200 people was declared a riot after protesters started breaking windows, throwing objects at police and talked about burning down the Justice Center, KOIN TV reported.

The protesters gathered following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Oregon, Portland officials react to Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdict: ‘Our hearts and souls are heavy’

Rittenhouse, now 18, killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, then shot to death Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, in the summer of 2020 during a protest over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

He claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges, including homicide and attempted homicide. He used an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, a weapon authorities said was illegally purchased for him because he was underage.

“Here in Portland especially it’s reasonable to expect there will be some type of reaction to the verdict,” Lovell said during a general news conference scheduled before the verdict was announced. “We’re supportive of peaceful protests, people exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Here’s a look at what others said:

Sandy Chung, executive director of Oregon ACLU, released a statement: “Our hearts and souls are heavy. We have so much anger, sorrow, and despair for the repeated violence and lack of accountability perpetuated by systemic racism and white supremacy. This jury verdict shows us again that anti-Black racism remains deeply embedded in our country’s consciousness and systems, including the legal system.”

Kyle Rittenhouse verdict – live: Protests across America as Biden ‘angry and concerned’ by decision

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts in his homicide trial, after four days of tense jury deliberations. The 18-year-old became visibly emotional as the verdict was read, seeming to cry and hyperventilate before hugging one of his attorneys.

Conservative politicians around the country celebrated the decision, with GOP congressman Madison Cawthorn offering Mr Rittenhouse an internship, and telling supporters to “be armed, be dangerous, and be moral” while exercising the right to self-defense.

Others, like writer and critic Roxane Gay, said the decision “emboldens white supremacist vigilantes.”

The White House on Friday said it was in touch with law officials in Kenosha, Wisconsin, about the controversial verdict, with press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters, “We are supporting any effort towards peaceful protests.”

Mr Rittenhouse, 18, was facing five felony charges for shooting three men in the aftermath of police brutality protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin on 25 August 2020.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley called for any protests following the verdict to be peaceful.

“We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence,” he wrote in a statement on Friday.

Former president Donald Trump congratulated Rittenhouse on Friday, who is scheduled to speak with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson.

See: Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

(1) From

Zemmour’s tiresome ‘when-will-he-finally-declare’ campaign is is said to be running out of steam as he struggles to win over the necessary local elected figures for his Presidential nomination and his organisation looks decidedly shaky. From the best sources (Libération) ….Les équipes d’Eric Zemmour doutent, sa campagne marque le pas

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2021 at 9:39 am

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) win 84 votes (6.08%) and 54 votes (3.74%) in Liverpool Council By-Election Breakthrough (they beat Tories and Liberal Democrats!).

with 4 comments

TUSC (@TUSCoalition) / Twitter

3,74% and 6,08% Breakthrough – Beat Tories and Liberals!

Labour has cruised to victory in three Liverpool City Council by-elections.

The ruling group comfortably held its seats in Anfield, Clubmoor and Fazakerley – with two former councillors returning to the authority.

Clubmoor

Matthew Smyth – Labour – 787 votes (54.50%) – ELECTED

Liam James Buckley – Liberal Party – 324 votes (22.44%)

Laura-Jayne Wharton – Independent – 167 votes (11.57%)

Ann Barbara Walsh – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – 54 votes (3.74%)

Peter Cranie – Green Party – 45 votes (3.12%)

Stephen Fitzsimmons – Liberal Democrat – 34 votes (2.35%)

Wendy Rose Hine – Conservative – 33 votes (2.29%)

Kirkdale

Dave Hanratty – Labour – 852 votes (61.69%) – ELECTED

Peter Furmedge – 171 votes (12.38%)

Maria Teresa Coughlan – Green Party – 160 votes (11.59%)

Roger Bannister – Trade Union and Socialist Coalition – 84 votes (6.08%)

Katie Maria Burgess – Conservative Party – 57 votes (4.13%)

Jenny Turner – Liberal Democrat – 57 votes (4.13%)

Roger Banister representing TUSC stood for Liverpool Mayor in 2021. He got TUSC – 2.88%

LabourJoanne Anderson38,95838.15%7,53546,49359.2%​​
IndependentStephen Yip22,04721.79%10,03232,07940.8%​​
Liberal DemocratsRichard Kemp17,16616.79%​​
GreenTom Crone8,7688.67%​​
LiberalSteve Radford7,1357.05%​​
ConservativeKatie Burgess4,1874.14%​​
TUSCRoger Bannister2,9122.88%​​
Registered electors336,382
Turnout101,17330.51%
Rejected ballots3,978

*****

George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain won a respectable increase of 2,2% in a Canterbury by-election

Result for Gorrell ward Canterbury District Council by election 18 November 2021Green 1149 + 10.3%Labour 803 – 6.0%Tory 608 + 0.2% Workers Party of Britain, Colin Barry Gardner, 58 2.2% + 2.2%

Whitstable voters elect first ever Green Party councillor to Canterbury City Council.

Voters have elected the first ever Green Party representative to a local authority in a historic victory.

Clare Turnbull bagged a decisive win at the by-election in Whitstable last night after scooping more than 40% of the vote.

Clare Turnbull (Green) earned 1,149 votes (43.9%) – 346 ahead of her closest rival, Dane Buckman (Labour), who had 30.7% of the vote share.

The Conservative Party’s Stephen Spencer got 608 votes (23.2%) and the Workers Party of Britain candidate, Colin Gardner, earned 58 (2.2%).

While the Greens have reason to celebrate winning in a hitherto safe Labour seat in Bohemian Whitstable, the future does not look rosy for left-wing mirco-workers’ party TUSC and Galloway’s red-brown alliance with the Marxist Leninist CPGB (M-L).

The Socialist newspaper, 17 November 2021

An appeal to trade union members to stand as anti-cuts candidates

Working-class people need our own political voice, as part of our toolbox to help us stand up to attacks from the Tories and bosses. That includes in local councils. In May over 6,500 councillors are up for election round the country. Whether your union is affiliated to the Labour Party or not, you can stand as a candidate.

The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), an anti-cuts electoral alliance including the RMT transport union, executive members of other unions, former Labour MPs and many individual socialists. TUSC is organising meetings to campaign for councils to set budgets to meet the needs of working-class people, not do the bidding of the Tories. These meetings will start to gather together socialists, trade unionists, community campaigners, working class and young people, who are prepared to stand in the elections.

Please consider moving this model resolution in your union branch:

1. This [union branch] believes that despite talk of “levelling up”, it is clear that the Tory government and bosses intend to continue to make working class people pay for their crises. This includes attacks on jobs, pay, conditions and services, alongside tax hikes and price rises. As part of this, we anticipate further austerity being inflicted in local government, which is responsible for over one fifth of all public expenditure.

2. We agree that we oppose Labour councils continuing to carry out Tory cuts.

3. [We acknowledge that our union is affiliated to the Labour Party/does not currently have any political affiliation]

4. Nonetheless, this [branch] resolves to encourage our members to consider standing as anti-cuts candidates in the council elections scheduled for May 2022, noting that there is nothing that prevents them standing as candidates, in a personal capacity, for any party which truly supports trade unionist and socialist principles.

Given their election results in the former Liverpool heartland of the Socialist Party (ex-Miliant) it looks like this call will fall flat.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Éric Zemmour Peroration at London’s Royal Institution Cancelled as Far-Right French Presidential Contender goes on Trial for Race Hate.

with one comment

2022 : Charlie a déjà les affiches de Zemmour - Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo Helpfully Suggests Zemmour Campaign Posters.

A few weeks ago an article in the French press remarked that it is tempting to run a new story every day about extreme right, will-he-or-won’t-he-run-for-President Éric Zemmour, the dances of the seventy veils as he shows his latest provocations, the cadres of the far-right backing him, amongst the crowd are (there is a constant stream) the anti-Semite Hervé Ryssen, radical identitarians like Daniel Conversano, up to the outermost fringes (latest, “La Famille gallicane“), his social network successes, and his wealthy backers, beginning with Charles Gave, and his potential electorate, “an alliance between the patriotic bourgeoisie and the popular classes” (i.e. workers, unemployed and lower middle class), with highest support from Marie-Le Pen and classic right-wing François Fillon voters (BFMTV) There has also been this, “France’s chief rabbi called Eric Zemmour, a Jewish journalist and far-right provocateur thought to be weighing a presidential bid, an antisemite.” (Times of Israel. 2.10.21)

For those welcoming the split on France’s far right between Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, which has weakened the support for her Rassemblement National, one should caution that the major effect has been to drag French political debate on the terrain of the identity anti-immigration politics of this pair and to render almost inaudible the campaigns of the fractured left wing candidates (at least 7 of them). In this atmosphere it is wonder that Michel Onfray has drawn together an alliance of sovereigntist ideologues in his magazine Le Front Populaire. axed towards the nationalist right but including one-time left-wingers. As Yves Colman has pointed out, the former left drawn to the politics of this side are no longer evidence of ‘confusionism’ but part the national populist far right.

The polemicist’s most recent book, La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (France has yet to say her last word), is a vulgar self-regarding, self-pitying 359 page long journal starting in April 2006. Launched to boost his campaign, over 205.000 copies have already been sold. This long pamphlet has a title whose rancorous tone that sounds like a cornered villain shouting “You haven’t heard the last of me! Come And Get Me Coppers!”.

It is a “man obsessed with the idea of ​​an inevitable fight to the death between the “native” French people of true national stock and the “enemies of France”, full of whingeing about feminism, gay marriage and his least favourite Daily, Libération, lightened by memories of playing Monopoly in a lost paradise of Gallic culture – Suburban France. Amongst the sustained hatred against the Great Replacement, a war waged by “envahisseurs prédateurs “(Predatory Invaders) we learn that in the Battle of Civilisations only France has a truly “Great” (Grande) Cuisine.

One of the few passages of note, as the writer talks of his brushes with famous people – his list of dining companions outclasses The Goncourt Journal – is a convivial visit in 2015 to Régis Debray, a sage much liked by New Left Review. Zemmour describes the once-upon-a-time revolutionary as his own Barrès (novelist and founding figure of La Terre et les Morts refrain) and Paul Valéry (greatly loved poet and essayist, yes I find the reference to him obscene, Le cimetière marin is one of the best poems ever written, his is the subject of a book by Debray, out in 2019). The one-time guerrilla says that he feels like he is living like a monk during the Fall of the Roman Empire, looking at ancient Greek manuscripts in which nobody else is interested. Debray said that he agrees with Zemmour’s views in his best known books, Le Suicide Français about everything except women, Islam and Vichy. Look it up, “J’ai bien lu votre Suicide français. Je suis d’accord avec tout. Sauf sur les femmes, l’Islam and Vichy” (Page 216).

Britain is now catching up on the permanent news machine that is Zemmour:

Royal Institution cancels event with far-right French pundit Éric Zemmour

Guardian.

London’s prestigious Royal Institution has cancelled an event at which the far-right French TV pundit Éric Zemmour was due to speak on Friday.

Zemmour, who has convictions for inciting racial hatred, is due to arrive in London on Thursday as he ponders a potential run in France’s presidential elections next year.

He was due to speak in the grand surroundings of the RI’s headquarters in Albemarle Street off Piccadilly, in an event billed as “Eric Zemmour in London”. The venue appears to have been deliberately chosen for its grandeur and association with the RI, which was founded in the 18th century to promote science and research and which boasts Prince Charles as one of its patrons.

The RI stressed that it had not invited Zemmour to speak and had only cancelled the booking after researching his background.

In a statement it said: “The RI has taken the decision to cancel a private venue hire booking for an event featuring the media commentator and politician Eric Zemmour.”

It added: “The booking was received at short notice and was one of many the RI receives each week. Following a process of due diligence the RI has taken the decision to cancel the venue hire event and therefore Mr Zemmour will not be speaking at the RI.”

Meanwhile.

Many famous and even notorious French writers and statesmen have sought refuge in England over the years. It’s the proud boast of the English to have hosted generations of exiles and dissidents from Voltaire to Zola, Napoleon III to De Gaulle. That was then. Zemmour appears to offend the tender sensibilities of today.

 I hear through a paper cup through a very long piece of string that on orders from Number 10, Conservative MPs have been banned from meeting Zemmour in London this week, for the absurd reason that this is a sensitive time in Anglo-French relations. As if Anglo-French relations have not been sensitive for 1,000 years. 

Michael Gove was said to be interested in meeting Zemmour. I’m guessing that won’t happen. It seems like a missed opportunity. Zemmour has at least a theoretical chance of being the next president of France. Is it smart that London should snub him? A cheeky Boris would be rattling Macron’s cage, inviting Zemmour to Downing Street for a cup of tea and a photo opp.

Zemmour will go ahead with private dinners in London as he raises money in advance of a possible declaration of his candidacy on 5 December at the gigantic Zenith concert hall in Paris. Where he’s not been cancelled. He has been speaking right across France recently without being cancelled. That he’s been shut down in London is pathetic.

To be honest I was not surprised to hear that Zemmour had been blacklisted (if you’re allowed to say that). For all its grandeur, the Royal Institution is evidently thoroughly woke, and only took the booking in the first place because it was too dim to refuse the money. It’s also been fairly broke, one reads. 

François Fillon, the French presidential centre-right candidate five years ago until he was written out of the script by a corruption investigation, spoke at the Royal Institution, so presumably it’s not French politicians generally who are unacceptable. As they say in France: ‘C’est comme ça.’ There have supposedly been 25,000 lectures at the Royal Institution but in our age of Cancellation, Eric Zemmour’s will not be amongst them.

Zemmour sill stands at 17% in opinion polls to Marine Le Pen’s 16%. The chances of there being a run off between a far-right candidate and Emmanuel Macron remain very very high.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2021 at 9:30 am

Breakthrough Party Wins Over 3 Labour Councillors.

with 8 comments

Policies | Breakthrough Party

Parish council chair defects from Labour to new socialist party.

Hull Live.

The chair of an East Riding parish council has defected from Labour to a new socialist party.

Ben Munro, chair of Thorngumbald Parish Council in Holderness, has left Labour to join the Breakthrough Party which formed earlier this year.

Cllr Murno said Labour was spending too much time looking backwards rather than forwards, costing it members in the process.

A Breakthrough spokesperson said Cllr Munro was the third to defect from a parish or town council since the party’s founding. Breakthrough’s website states it was formed to back workers it claimed current Labour leader Keir Starmer had abandoned in a swing to the right.

ts 10 point platform calls for a £15 an hour minimum wage, more affordable housing, public ownership of utilities, transport and broadband and introducing the proportional representation voting system.

Cllr Munro’s defection follows those of Samantha Cooper in Keighley and Katie Parker in Bury St Edmunds.

It began here:

Keighley town councillor defects from Labour Party to join new democratic socialist group.

Telegraph and Argus.

KEIGHLEY town councillor has defected from the Labour Party to join a new youth democratic socialist group.

Councillor Samantha Cooper, 34, who represents the Woodhouse and Hainworth ward has joined the democratic socialist party, ‘Breakthrough’, as its first councillor.

The party says it aims to “fill the political space created by Labour’s lurch to the right under Keir Starmer’s leadership”.

Cllr Cooper said: “Under the new leadership, the Labour Party has turned its back on the people I was elected to represent, and I can no longer look them in the eye while remaining in the party.

“There are some truly good people in Labour and those people will always have my respect.

“But as a primary school teacher and mother of two young children, I can’t watch the party walk back on its support for the trade unions, on its proud and unwavering support for the most vulnerable groups in our society, at the same time, keeping MPs who ally themselves with those who make the world more dangerous for people I love.

“I used to feel confident that Labour left no one behind. Labour supporters in Keighley are brilliant but since the change of leadership, the party has turned its back on them.”

Bury St Edmunds town councillor Katie Parker defects from Labour Party to Breakthrough Party

Suffolk News.

Bury St Edmunds town councillor left ‘incredibly jaded’ by mainstream political parties has defected from Labour to a new democratic socialist party.

Katie Parker, councillor for St Olaves Ward, has made the switch to the Breakthrough Party which formed in January and sees itself as a ‘new home for those determined to disrupt the failed status quo’ and wants to build a society that ‘uses its considerable wealth to provide dignity, security and justice for all’.

Cllr Parker, 46, said: “After being a staunch socialist my whole life and getting involved with local politics during the Jeremy Corbyn era, I have become incredibly jaded and cynical with all the mainstream political parties.

……

Cllr Parker grew up on a council estate in Ipswich and struggled with drug addiction in her teens, which led to a life of crime, prison and drug-related health issues.

But she went to rehab in 2004 and began volunteering, training, went to university and stabilised her life, building a career working in local drugs services and rehabilitation centres.

“I’ve learned that a big part of addiction is needing to belong and feeling part of a community is a huge part of this,” she said.

“I’ve started baby banks, fed children during school holidays, helped residents during the Covid crisis, helped bring the community together and a lot more in my two and a half years as a councillor.

“My passion for this has never waned. But I want change and to build something different, and I believe that the Breakthrough Party can do this.”

Cllr Parker is Breakthrough’s second councillor, following Samantha Cooper’s defection from the Labour Party in Keighley in August.

The Breakthrough Party is working with other left-wing parties to ‘break the two-party stranglehold on power’ and ‘give voters a real choice’.

Who are the Breakthrough Party?

Policies:

Many democratic socialists will agree with the group’s programme (although Basic Income goes to rich and poor and does not tackle the roots of inequality, nor would it cover full living costs, so some form of benefits would have to reman for the out of work and those with disabilities). It is hard to see why you cannot campaign for them inside Labour. Positioned as they are this initiative looks open to the operations of anti-Labour a, some of which have a poor record and a history of building their own parties. With three councillors and a youthful membership it is expected that small left wing groups will now make efforts to ‘influence’ and ‘work with’ the Breakthrough Party.

This More Borders Bloc has, however, not been heard of recently:

It is more than probable that amongst others the mythomanes of the hard-line pro-Brexit Socialist Party/TUSC will already be gearing up to attract the Breakthrough Party into their shadow mass working class socialist party.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2021 at 9:03 am

The Sins of G K Chesterton. Richard Ingrams. Review.

with 10 comments

 The Sins of G. K. Chesterton. Richard Ingrams. Quartet Books. 2021.

The Chesterbelloc is extinct, but the pantomime elephant still performs. The books of  one half of the duo, C.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936), the Napoleon of Notting Hill, (a satirical plea for the break up of Britain) The Flying Inn (a broadside against Vegetarians and anti-drinking Wellness), The Man Who was Thursday (a fable on the doings of the Spy Cops of the Edwardian era), have a modest but appreciative audience. The Father Brown series, based on the detective priest of Kembleford, is televised with the 9th season soon to come. The short exposition on St Thomas Aquinas and his Permanent philosophy is treasured by many Catholics, and has the respect of those outside the Universal Church.  His Charles Dickens (1906), amongst its enduring insights highlighted the writer’s “chief fountain…cheerfulness”, egalitarian radicalism, and the democratic reforms his novels and public stands promoted. The prolific essays “with that fantastic love of paradox which gives pain to so many critics” (The Secret Society of Mankind. 1923) have been harvested for their apothegms. Lines of his poetry, let us say The Rolling English Road and not the “journalistic balladry” (T.S. Elliot) of the White Horse, are cherished.

Chesterton was not that long ago proposed for Sainthood. He was presented, Richard Ingrams writes.  as a “benign genius who had gone through life in a spirit of childlike wonder, untroubled by the worries and doubts that make life difficult for the rest of us.” The co-founder of Private Eye, himself received into the Catholic Faith, wastes no time in demolishing the basis for canonisation. With little effort he finds abundant evidence of Chesterton’s anti-Semitism and portrays a troubling personality.

Ingrams takes to heart Bernard Shaw’s jibe at the bond between Chesterton and Belloc, the Chesterbelloc and extends it. There were “three people who exercised a powerful if not damaging, influence on the course of his career – his brother Cecil, Cecil’s wife Ada (always known as Keith) and, in particular the friend and mentor of both brothers Hillarie Belloc.”.

The Anglo-French writer Belloc is known today chiefly for his Cautionary Tales, in part for his pilgrimage, The Path to Rome (1902) – and unfortunately not for his perceptive account of early French poets, la Pléiade, in Avril (1904). He was also an admirer of Charles Maurras of Action Française, and had a life-long Barrésien nationalism rooted in worship of La Terre et les Morts. “It was the Dreyfus affair which first put in his mind the notion of a threat posed by cosmopolitan (in other words Jewish) finance operating independency of democratic government and threatening all national institutions in France particularly, but also in England.”

Chesterton’s brother Cecil, who had earlier been close to the Fabians and British radicals, teamed up with Belloc. He absorbed his judgement on Dreyfus “ “all the sources of the Hebrew money could do for him was done, with the result that after many vicissitudes and another trial (at which he was again condemned) he received a free pardon.” They expounded an enchanted tale of how the equitable promise of the late Catholic middle age had been ruined during industrialisation, paving for the Servile State and The Party System, with whose acquaintance the one-time Liberal Party member Belloc made during a brief unsuccessful Parliamentary stint (1906 to 1910).

Less interested in their social and political alternative, the ‘distributive’ programme of widened property ownership than in attacking that set up and its underhand deals.  The pair joined in attacking the tyranny of National Insurance schemes, “I think the Insurance Act not only a tyranny, but one of the historic turning points of tyranny like Ship Money or the persecution of Wilkes.” Cecil launched the National League for Clean Government to root out skulduggery. All of this weighed heavily on their, and Gilbert’s, trumpeting of democratic aspirations. They came to consider that the people were being thwarted by powerful underhand forces.

It was the ‘behind the scene” doings of political villains that preoccupied the pair. Anglo-Judaic plutocracy” was soon unearthed at work in the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company scandal, whose details will absorb those interested in such affairs. In their organ the Eye-Witness, which became the New Witness, they expounded the claim that the Marconi contract was the result of conspiracy. There proved no evidence for their allegations. Finally brought to court for Criminal Libel Cecil was found guilty fined £100 with costs, claimed a “victory of sorts”. Ingrams observes that this episode did not fade from their memory. “Marconi had become, like Dreyfus, an idée fixe for Belloc (and consequently for Chesterton).”

Cecil volunteered for the Great War and passed away near the end of the conflict in 1918. Chesterton claimed he had, Ingrams says,  “died a hero ‘in a dark hour of gloom.” The nearest to the truth he can get to the facts is that was ar. “premature death from nephritis brought on by a long route march in the cold and wet – fatal to a man already suffering from chronic kidney disease and, according to Keith, drinking a bottle of wine a day – something that would have aggravated his conditions.”(P 175) Gilbert was “incapable of expressing his grief or even accepting the truth about Cecil’s death” . He wrote an extraordinary Open Letter to Lord Reading. (Rufus Issacs)  casting wild aspersions on the man and his government. It is painful to read.

For The Sins Chesterton had not recovered from the Libel Court Case. He wished to “elevate Cecil to the status of a crusading champion”. But he “had witnessed his dearly loved brother being brutally exposed as a liar and a racist and finally being humiliated, forced to withdraw the charge of a corrupt contract, and condemned by the judge for his ‘incredible ignorance of business and prejudice.’”

Ingrams judges that Chesterton was unable to come to terms with Cecil’s passing. The writer had inherited his “father’s neurosis.” He had a “terror of death”, and reluctance “to confront antagonism, disputes and unpleasantness. These psychological traits may have furthered his path towards death in 1936.

This study continues, with the story of Chesterton’s 1920s and early 1930s activities – the creation and quarrels of the micro-party the Distributionist League and G.K.’s Weekly, “Chesterton’s Potty Little Paper”. There is one stand out thread, and that is a simple one  “So far from condemning past pogroms or future persecutions Chesterton and Belloc (both highly respected proponents of Christianity) helped to promote a conception of Jews as foreigners and aliens (or worse) thus fostering, in Britain, a more tolerant attitude towards Nazi barbarities than might otherwise have prevailed.” A sign of his indulgence towards fascism in Italy and feebleness was a failure to make a clear condemnation of Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia in 1935.

At the end of this charge-sheet Ingrams pays a muted tribute “Whatever his failings they cannot detract from Chesterton’s undoubted genius, least of his humility”. Yet consummate talent and a humble character are not qualities demanded for the author of some good and memorable writings, the works Chesterton laid before us. There remains one point, the prejudice firmly established in the pages of The Sins.. If before and after his entry into the Catholic Church in 1922 Chesterton had a “strong sense of the physical nature of evil” some sins seemed to have passed him by.

For those who doubt the depths to which the writer could sink when expounding on ‘Jewish Question’ this will set them clear:

The New Jerusalem Author: G. K. Chesterton. 1920.

“First, the Jews already exercise colossal cosmopolitan financial power. And second, the modern societies they live in also grant them vital forms of national political power. Here the vagrant is already as rich as a miser and the vagrant is actually made a mayor. As will be seen shortly, there is a Jewish side of the story, which leads really to the same ending of the story; but the truth stated here is quite independent of any sympathetic or unsympathetic view of the race in question. It is a question of fact, which a sensible Jew can afford to recognise, and which the most sensible Jews do very definitely recognise. It is really irrational for anybody to pretend that the Jews are only a curious sect of Englishmen, like the Plymouth Brothers or the Seventh Day Baptists, in the face of such a simple fact as the family of Rothschild. Nobody can pretend that such an English sect can establish five brothers, or even cousins, in the five great capitals of Europe. Nobody can pretend that the Seventh Day Baptists are the seven grandchildren of one grandfather, scattered systematically among the warring nations of the earth. Nobody thinks the Plymouth Brothers are literally brothers, or that they are likely to be quite as powerful in Paris or in Petrograd as in Plymouth.

The Jewish problem can be stated very simply after all. It is normal for the nation to contain the family. With the Jews the family is generally divided among the nations. This may not appear to matter to those who do not believe in nations, those who really think there ought not to be any nations. But I literally fail to understand anybody who does believe in patriotism thinking that this state of affairs can be consistent with it. It is in its nature intolerable, from a national standpoint, that a man admittedly powerful in one nation should be bound to a man equally powerful in another nation, by ties more private and personal even than nationality. Even when the purpose is not any sort of treachery, the very position is a sort of treason. Given the passionately patriotic peoples of the west of Europe especially, the state of things cannot conceivably be satisfactory to a patriot. But least of all can it conceivably be satisfactory to a Jewish patriot; by which I do not mean a sham Englishman or a sham Frenchman, but a man who is sincerely patriotic for the historic and highly civilised nation of the Jews.

For what may be criticised here as Anti-Semitism is only the negative side of Zionism. For the sake of convenience I have begun by stating it in terms of the universal popular impression which some call a popular prejudice. But such a truth of differentiation is equally true on both its different sides. Suppose somebody proposes to mix up England and America, under some absurd name like the Anglo-Saxon Empire. One man may say, “Why should the jolly English inns and villages be swamped by these priggish provincial Yankees?” Another may say, “Why should the real democracy of a young country be tied to your snobbish old squirarchy?” But both these views are only versions of the same view of a great American: “God never made one people good enough to rule another.”

d.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 16, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Argentinian Trotskyists Win 4 Seats in Legislative Elections.

with 4 comments

Argentina: FIT-U Statement on International Workers´ Day – International  Socialist League

Trotskyists Win Seats in Argentinian Election.

Argentina’s centre-left President Alberto Fernandez called for dialogue with the opposition after Sunday’s midterm parliamentary elections, with projections showing his governing coalition has lost control of Congress.

Having already held a minority in the lower house Chamber of Deputies, Fernandez’s Frente de Todos (Everyone’s Front) coalition looked set to drop from 41 to 35 seats in the 72-member Senate, based on projections with more than 90 percent of votes counted.

“If the numbers are confirmed, effectively we’ve lost the quorum in the Senate,” a government source told AFP.

Ahead of the election there was widespread discontent over an economy hit hard by the Covid pandemic.

France 24.

Fernandez will now likely be forced to make concessions to the opposition during the last two years of his mandate in order to pass laws or make key appointments, including to the judiciary.

Argentinian election results:

Full Wikipedia entry: 2021 Argentine legislative election

May be an image of text that says "Cambiemos Kirchnerismo 42,21% 9.765.987 votos Otros 33,79% 7.817.860 7.817 votos Izquierda 8,48% 1.961.963 votos Liberales 6,17% 1.426.398 votos Peronismo 4,95% 1.145.178 votos 4,40% 1.017.963 votos"

El Frente de Izquierda y de Trabajadores – Unidad (FIT-U), the Workers’ Left Front – Unity is an alliance of initially three Trotskyist parties in Argentina formed to fight a number of elections in 2011, 

2019739.366 2.96 %0/1302/257MinoríaMauricio MacriPrimera presentación como FIT – Unidad
20214/1274/257MinoríaAlberto Fernández

Previous good score:

20131.224.144 5.25 %3/1273/257Minoría

El País seems more impressed by the entry of the far-right La libertad avanza into the Congress which has won 5 seats..

La ultraderecha entra en el Congreso de Argentina

La ultraderecha ha entrado en el Congreso de Argentina. El partido La libertad avanza, encabezado por el economista Javier Milei, contará con cinco bancas en la Cámara de Diputados a partir del 10 de diciembre gracias a los votos obtenidos en la capital argentina y en la provincia de Buenos Aires. “Viva la libertad, carajo”, gritaban eufóricos los simpatizantes de la formación ultraliberal en el mítico estadio Luna Park, convertido este domingo en su búnker electoral’

The extreme right has entered the Congress of Argentina . The La Libertad Avanza party, headed by economist Javier Milei , will have five seats in the Chamber of Deputies as of December the 10th thanks to the votes obtained in the Argentine capital and in the province of Buenos Aires. “Long live freedom, for fuck’s sake!” the supporters of the ultraliberal formation shouted euphorically in the legendary Luna Park stadium, converted this Sunday into their electoral bunker.

Other sources indicate that La Libertad Avanza is more anti-tax, anarcho-capitalist and ultra-Thatcherite than a European style far-right national populist group.

International Statement of Support for the Workers Left Front – Unity (FIT–U) in Argentina.

We the signers of this statement — leaders, and members of working-class, anti-imperialist, and Left parties; from the peasantry, the youth, the women’s movement, the LGBTQ+ movement, and the environmental movement; from organizations that confront capitalist oppression — declare our support for the candidates of the Workers Left Front – Unity (FIT–U) in Argentina in the November 14, 2021, legislative elections.

The FIT–U, which was born 10 years ago as a coalition of the class-conscious, socialist Left, is made up of the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS, Party of Socialist Workers), Partido Obrero (PO, Workers’ Party), Izquierda Socialista (IS, Socialist Left), and the Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores (MST, Workers’ Socialist Movement). It is the only alternative to the capitalist parties and the politics of imperialism in Argentina.

The ruling Peronist coalition, led by Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and President Alberto Fernández, suffered a heavy defeat in the September 12 primary elections. This has created a major crisis within the government on which the right-wing, led by Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change), the party of former president Mauricio Macri, is trying to capitalize. The “libertarian” extreme Right is trying to take advantage of the discontent with the traditional capitalist parties to impose its proposed economic model of greater austerity and attacks on working people and the Left. In this context of disappointment and popular discontent, the Workers Left Front (FIT–U) emerged in the recent primary elections as the third national political force.

Rest of the long statement via above.

Includes:

The growing list of endorsers can be found here. (it looks as if the entire cadre of Révolution Permanente, who split from the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste not long ago and who have announced a candidate, Anasse Kazib, in the French Presidential elections, “Anasse Kazib, delegado sindical ferroviario y candidato por Révolution Permanente a las elecciones presidenciales de 2022”, not that he is likely to get on the ballot but who knows… have signed).

Alex Callinicos, profesor emérito de estudios europeos, King’s College London (Profesor Emérito de Estudios Europeos del King’s College, Londres)

Sebastian Budgen, Senior Editor Verso Books, Editorial Board member Historical Materialism

John Parrington, Profesor Adjunto en Farmacología Celular y Molecular, y autor, Universidad de Oxford.

Ronney Mustafa, dirigente sindical.

Argentinian Trotskyism is heavily influenced by ‘post-Morenoist’ ideas, that is while rejecting the indulgence towards populism, or Peronism, of the historic leader, Moreno (1924 – 1987, he has left his mark, and is a good place to start to come to grips with their ideas. It is still a very specific type of Trotskyism axed around theories of Permanent Revolution and the Transitional Programme and the very different Latin American experience of guerrilla warfare.

For those with appetite for such things one could start with this (by a North American current that is part of Left Voice, which backs the El Frente de Izquierda y de Trabajadores:

Who was Nahuel Moreno? Gabriela Liszt. 

Moreno’s political conceptions had much in the way of objectivism, that is, it overestimated the possibilities of the workers’ movement breaking with Peronism and spontaneously turning left under the pressure of capitalist crisis. He came to speak of “imminent and generalized revolutions” without taking into account the factor of leadership (that is, the subjective factor). This factor was the key to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and what Trotsky referred to in the Transitional Program. It became even more necessary after the strengthening of both Stalinism after World War II and social democracy prevented the development of working class self-organization. He put in question the subject of the revolution and favored the emergence of guerrilla and bourgeois nationalist leaderships.

It is for this reason that the organizations that he led and helped to build were centrist organizations, while remaining within Trotskyism, even if they often had policies to the left of the other important Trotskyist currents in the postwar period (Mandel’s United Secretariat, the OCI of Lambert, the US SWP). As a whole they gave in to these non-revolutionary or counterrevolutionary leaderships and did not build real combat organizations with the strategy of the taking of power by the working class, organizations that were prepared to intervene in revolutionary upsurges so that they can triumph and continue their struggle until the world socialist revolution. But by remaining on the terrain of Trotskyism they put up some partially correct battles against bourgeois, nationalist, Stalinist and petty-bourgeois tendencies. For us, these partial battles constitute the “threads of continuity” with the revolutionary Marxist tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and many other comrades.

After the death of Moreno, the leadership of the MAS developed more class collaborationist traits and formed Izquierda Unida (IU – United Left), an alliance with the Communist Party in 1989. Just as Stalinism around the world was falling to pieces, the MAS united with it by putting forward the presidential ticket of Vicente-Zamora (Néstor Vicente (PC) and Luis Zamora (MAS)), the ticket that would lead to the election of Zamora as a deputy.

The PTS broke with the MAS in May 1988, after the May 1 rally that they held at the football stadium known as the Ferro, and before the formation of Izquierda Unida (IU – United Left) and the Fifth Congress of the MAS that declared that revolution in Argentina was just around the corner while preparing its comprehensive alliance with Stalinism. The MAS leadership affirmed its national-Trotskyism as it turned away from the grand processes sweeping the world. This, above all, was one of the causes of the explosion of the MAS in 1992, which led to the formation of the Movimiento Socialistas de los Trabajadores (MST – Socialist Workers Movement) and many other groups. We do not claim to be Morenistas, in the sense that groups like the MST or Izquierda Socialista (IS – Socialist Left) do, because we think that the essence of their theoretico-political heritage is wrong. However, we believe that without a critical assessment that reclaims the threads of continuity maintained by Moreno and other currents of the Trotskyist movement (with greater or lesser weaknesses), our existence would have been impossible.

Here is a report on the elecctions from this network:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2021 at 4:57 pm

Workers Revolutionary Party (Newsline) to Celebrate 52nd Anniversary, Ian Hodson, Bakers’ Union (BFAWU) Keynote Speaker.

with 3 comments

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nl-anniversary.jpg

Ian Hodson (Bakers’ Union), “General Strike to Bring Down the Tories!”

Bakers’ union breaks ties with Labour amid furious row with Keir Starmer.

Mirror. 28/9/21.

The bakers’ union has severed its historic link with the Labour Party as Keir Starmer’s rift with the Left deepens.

Members of the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) voted for the union to disaffiliate from the party and accused Labour of a “factional internal war led by the leadership”.

The move follows the leader’s refusal to back a £15-an-hour minimum wage and Labour’s decision to kick BFAWU’s president Ian Hodson out of the party over his support for Labour Against The Witchhunt – a group banned under Labour’s rules following repeated accusations of anti-Semitism.

The union said in a statement: “The decision taken by delegates who predominantly live in what’s regarded as Labour red wall seats shows how far the Labour party has travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours.”

Skwawkbox was concerned.

Hodson’s Attendance at WRP (canal historique) annual rallies is well known.

Platform at the News Line Anniversary Meeting (L-R) JOSHUA OGUNLEYE, Young Socialists National Secretary, IAN HODSON, BFAWU National President; BILL ROGERS, Aslef; FRANK SWEENEY, WRP; DAVE WILTSHIRE, ATUA; FUAD SHAATH, General Union Palestinian Students;

2015.

Platform at the News Line Anniversary Meeting (L-R) JOSHUA OGUNLEYE, Young Socialists National Secretary, IAN HODSON, BFAWU National President; BILL ROGERS, Aslef; FRANK SWEENEY, WRP; DAVE WILTSHIRE, ATUA; FUAD SHAATH, General Union Palestinian Students

Workers Revolutionary Party (UK)

Torrance’s WRP is the only surviving Workers Revolutionary Party in the UK and still produces The News Line as a daily paper, and it is also included in a website. The party has been registered with the Electoral Commission since 15 May 2001, with Frank Sweeney as registered leader.[35] As of 2007, the WRP had assets of just over £4,000.[36] It remains electorally active and stood seven candidates for the 2015 UK General Election, six in London and one in Sheffield,[37] gaining a total of 488 votes.[38] It supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum.[39] 

Election results (5 candidates stood):

2017[47]5771 Increase154Steady
2019[48]5524 Decrease105Steady
Steady

Our views

We are the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, founded by Leon Trotsky. We are Marxists and fight for the principles founded by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

Our party is the Workers Revolutionary Party and fights to build a leadership throughout the working class and youth to lead the struggle for the British and world socialist revolutions. The youth section of the WRP, the Young Socialists, organises young workers and students in the struggle for socialism and a future. We produce a daily paper, the News Line and a weekly youth paper Young Socialist.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm

Sovereigntism: “Not Left, Right or Centre” George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain Stands Candidate in Canterbury District Council By-Election.

with 11 comments

The Workers' Party of Britain – The Workers' Party of Britain – Rebuild and  Transform Britain

British Sovereigntist ‘Left’.

Sovereigntist politics have made a big mark in French politics. Issues relating to claims about the importance of political, economic, and cultural independence of France are not only more explicitly discussed but make the political headlines beyond controversies as important as, say, Brexit is in the UK.

The news from France today is that Arnaud Montebourg, a former Socialist Minister and pessimistic reformer inspired by nation-state based versions of “anti-globalisation” (démondialisation) centred upon protectionist ideas, has not given up his Presidential bid. A sovereigntist, who sometimes still claims to be on the left, Montebourg got into trouble over this:

The quondam ‘left wing firebrand’ and one-time Minister of the Economy, Industrial Renewal and Digital Affairs (2012 – 2014) , announced his candidacy at the start of September. Better known these days for his Honey – he markets it under the highly amusing label of Bleu, Blanc Ruche (Bee-Hive) – this venture has got the backing of ultra-sovereigntist and another one-time Socialist, Jean-Pierre Chevènement and the remnants of the ‘Che’s Citizen and Republican Movement (MRC), the anti-Charlie Hebdo essayist and protectionist Emmanuel Todd, and (somebody of whom one would have hoped better Thomas Guénolé, whose unhappy experience of working at close quarters with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, La Chute de la Maison Mélenchon : Une machine dictatoriale vue de l’intérieur (2019) has been referred to on the present site. The objective was to gather together “sovereigntists”, that is those from all political backgrounds, who put French national sovereign power first, foremost, and at the top of priorities. Made in France has become the axis of his economic policy.

By no coincidence whatsoever that was the Chevènement Presidential programme (the MRC was then called the Mouvement des citoyens (MDC) in 2002 (5,3% of the vote). His approach was to appeal beyond left and right, to the Republic (“au-dessus de la droite et de la gauche, il y a la République”) . The campaign got the backing of, amongst others, this unenviable list,  Régis Debray, Max Gallo,  Emmanuel Macron and  Florian Philippot (later to be Marine le Pen’s henchman, now leader of his own far-right outfit, Les Patriotes).

L’Engagement is the name of the outfit working for Montebourg. It addresses those who want to “take back control of our lives” (reprendre le contrôle de nos vies) wrest the state from the hands of a minority and get it to work for the general interest ( le retour d’un État au service de l’intérêt général, libéré de l’emprise d’une minorité). A New France based on “la souveraineté populaire et l’indépendance économique.”

An important part of the campaign is a robust approach to immigrants and integration. Those living in France, he has said, must “learn French, respect the laws, accept the values ​​of French society, like secularism, and should work, and have their own resources ”.

Monty, as nobody calls him, got in a mess a couple of days ago with this call “, he proposed to block “all transfers” of money from immigrants , and evoked “the 11 billion that goes through Western Union” , to put pressure on countries that refuse to take back their nationals expelled from France. Wokists all all sides did not hesitate to point out that Marine Le Pen had already had that idea. It also looks as if preventing immigrants in France from sending money to family or friends, was not only illiberal but most certainty illegal under French and European law. Montebourg has back-peddled, “ C’était une erreur, cette mesure ne sera pas dans mon programme. » An error, a measure which will not be in his programme.

 0,2 % of those surveyed have expressed a favourable opinion of the candidate’s ‘robust’ views on immigration. But it is said that they have expanded his audience on Twitter, (Présidentielle 2022 : avec ses propos sur l’immigration, Montebourg élargit son audience… sur Twitter)

Beyond Left and Right Sovereigntist politics, with patriotism, protectionism and lots of state control, looks as if it’s found an expression in the UK….

Introducing the Workers Party

LEADER: George Galloway :: Deputy leader: Joti Brar

Our country needs the state to guide the economic life of the country in such a way as to promote work, to respect the dignity of labour, and to serve the working people. All adults have a duty to work in a useful fashion, according to their talents and abilities, and society has an equal duty to ensure that useful employment is available to all, part-time or full-time according to the domestic, health and life constraints of the worker.

The Workers Party positively embraces Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Britain needs to be free of the EU regulations that would restrict our fiscal and monetary policy and prevent Britain from taking public ownership of key utilities and transport infrastructure.

 If we are to be free to direct the affairs of our country to meet the needs of working-class people, we must be able to have something to say on the free movement of capital out of our country as well as the free movement of labour into it. Under a socialist system, the control of our borders, both physical and financial, will be a guarantee not only of the rights of our workers to good labour rights and rates of pay, but will restrict the ability of capital to pack up and leave for greener pastures, abandoning our workers and decimating British industry.

We reject a future of parasitism where the British people, through the operation of the City of London, degenerate into an unemployed feckless rump living off cheap imported food and the plastic-electronic consumables of global capitalist anarchy.

One has to admit that the Workers Party of Britain does have some rather ‘specific’ views on national independence:

Workers Party Britain-Kent Retweeted

Labour’s Brexit Policy a “trap” that “diverted Labour from it’s “Corbynite” left-wing, populist themes” – Morning Star.

with 3 comments

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

“Top People” got Labour to Oppose Brexit and back a People’s Vote – Morning Star.

The Morning Star describes itself as the Daily Paper of the left. It embraces many lefts that agree with its editorial line. In recent eulogy Andrew Murray writes warmly of a new book, The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan by his old mucker, Tariq Ali, a member of New Left Review’s Editorial Committee, a much-liked sage, a doughty fighter for Brexit, and a stellar figure in the international left. “Erudite and committed writings of Tariq Ali on Afghanistan, published at every stage of the calamity, are a illuminating read.” writes the one-time member of the Communist Party of Britain, scion of the Slains Pursuivant of Arms, and former top adviser to Jeremy Corbyn.

Murray expresses some reservations about Ali’s criticism of the Soviet Union’s direct military intervention to help the Afghan regime. The future leading aide to the Labour leader backed the move:

.

Our view was not informed by any particular knowledge of Afghan affairs, but by the supervening requirement, as it seemed to us, to support the Soviet government as a principle of international class struggle, the more so when it was under attack by the imperialists.

We were also concerned to support a regime in Kabul that seemed to have progressive achievements, although we understood little about it

But all’s well that ends well.

Looking back, I do not regret supporting the Soviet endeavour in Afghanistan, for the same reasons that I had at the time. However, on the substance of the matter — the wisdom of the intervention and its baleful consequences for both Afghanistan and the USSR itself — it should be acknowledged that, here too, Tariq Ali was right and has been vindicated.

Speculation is growing that Tel’s nipper, Oliver Eagleton, of New Left Review’s Sidecar and the popular TikTock broadcasts of Novara Media, is set to have his own column in the worker’s organ. He will explore his latest marotte, “After Brexit, the partnership with France unravelled, as Barnier and Macron pushed to inflict maximal damage on Britain to deter future experiments in popular sovereignty.”

Another one-time radical leftist who writes for the paper is Solomon Hughes. He was a member of the SWP and before Comrade Delta crisis wrote for Socialist Review, Tribune says that he has been “writing about corporate influence in politics for twenty years, mostly for Private Eye.”

Hughes also has a weekly column in the Morning Star. In that outlet he has been delving into the forces who opposed the Vote Leave camp, the ‘Left Brexit’ forces.

These campaigners called for a Second Referendum to thwart Brexit. The success of Britain’s departure from the EU, the burgeoning upsurge of a people’s movement to assert real popular sovereignty, “real independence”, was stopped in its tracks. Labour refused to support a People’s Brexit. “Unconstrained by EU treaties, single market rules and directives, a left-led Labour government could develop a worker-led industrial strategy; aid industry, invest in training, youth and jobs, social welfare, housing, education and health services; and take the transport, energy and postal service profiteers back into public ownership. ” Was this listened to? No. The result, as foreseen by leading CPB member Nick Wright, was the Labour Defeat in 2019.

How did this happen? Hughes has been piling on the evidence, or what he considers to be proof, of a damming trail of centrist plots and underhand deals, that show what happened in Labour behind the scenes ever since.

The latest, hot off the press:

How Labour got lumbered with its disastrous Brexit policy

SOLOMON HUGHES picks apart some revealing comments by the head of comms at the People’s Vote campaign

The writer asserts that he has found “confirmation that the whole reverse-Brexit People’s Vote campaign was, for some top people, “a stick with which to beat the Labour Party” and “an anti-Corbyn thing” comes from one of the top figures in the People’s Vote campaign itself.”

This is the smoking pistol:

“UK In A Changing Europe, a research institute based at King’s College London focusing on Britain-EU relations, is building an archive of interviews of major players in the various Remain and Leave campaigns: the interviews are invaluable and revealing on the People’s Vote.”

Tom Baldwin, who was head of communications at the People’s Vote campaign, told them: “There was always an issue about how much the People’s Vote campaign should be a stick with which to beat the Labour Party rather than a neutral instrument for just winning a people’s vote.”

Here it is…

“I was trying to maintain some strategic discipline around the latter but there were constantly people who wanted it to be an anti-Labour thing, an anti-Corbyn thing, a realignment thing, a Liberal Democrat thing, a proportional vote thing.

“I think those were all distractions and the more we did it the more we just confirmed some people in their view that we were a liberal elitist, metropolitan organisation that was playing at politics.”

Hughes continues in this vein,

Baldwin was particularly drawing attention to Roland Rudd: he is a City lobbyist and the brother of top Tory Amber Rudd.

The “People’s Vote” was not a typical grassroots campaign, and was instead built from the top, by lobbyists and multimillionaire donors.

Roland Rudd effectively controlled one of the main organisations in the People’s Vote campaign, an organisation called Open Britain.

Baldwin also pointed to Rudd’s ally, Hugo Dixon: he says these two figures wanted to use the People’s Vote campaign to “realign” politics.

At that time Labour’s leader was the very left-wing Jeremy Corbyn, supported by a large number of members and a surprisingly good “second-place” result in the 2017 election.

Then….

Baldwin suggests people like Rudd and Dixon wanted to use the campaign to “realign” politics away from the left back to the centre.

Baldwin said the “big strategic difference was over the extent to which we wanted to win a People’s Vote and then win a referendum, or whether we wanted to use this extraordinary energy that we had built up to realign politics.

“I was in the former group. I understand why, but The Independent Group (TIG) and the Liberal Democrats, and indeed the SNP in a different way, sometimes saw the instability we were helping to cause in a political system and within Parliament as an opportunity for them.”

Baldwin says: “That sort of strategic tension was very clear by the end, because I think people like Roland Rudd and Hugo Dixon were of the view that we should be part of a realignment process.”

It is pretty much an open secret that many central figures in the People’s Vote campaign saw the whole business as more about rebuilding “centrist” politics, which was in a weak position in a polarised politics of the time.”

This may well be true, and given the long-standing views of ‘centrists’ hardly news. The issue is, what effect did it have on the Labour leadership? Unfortunately for gumshoe Hughes this is what Baldwin said of their efforts to get Labour to back a People’s Vote,

I think that was very difficult for Jeremy Corbyn and difficult for the Labour leadership. There was huge resistance from the Labour leadership to us, because we were seen as some sort of New Labour plot or new party plot. I think there was that element there. It certainly wasn’t an element which I wanted to encourage or have any part in, and I remember having some terrible meeting with Karie Murphy in the Leader’s Office where she is sort of jabbing her finger into my chest and saying, ‘Who the fuck are you and what are you doing?

When we didn’t back the TIGs and we didn’t take those opportunities to back early votes in the House of Commons on having a People’s Vote, which were merely designed to embarrass Corbyn, we made a lot of headway with the Labour leadership – and people like John McDonnell in particular- in persuading them that we really were what we said we were. We were a campaign for a People’s Vote and not anything else. But it took a big effort.’.

Brexit Witness Archive – Tom Baldwin – UK in a changing Europehttps://ukandeu.ac.uk › Brexit Interviews

Influencing the Labour Party

We shall leave others to delve further.

But Hughes goes further. He insinuates that the Labour Policy was led into a snare as part of a deliberate plan.

When Labour was finally persuaded to adopt a “second referendum” policy, Rudd used his control to end the campaign, sacking key staff, so the People’s Vote would not actually campaign in the 2019 election.

It looked like a crude trap: Labour was persuaded to adopt an electorally disastrous policy, then left to crash without support by the people who did the persuading.

Labour’s policy was not exactly the same as the Morning Star newshound asserts, “Labour will give the people the final say on Brexit. Within three months of coming to power, a Labour government will secure a sensible deal. And within six months, we will put that deal to a public vote alongside the option to remain. A Labour government will implement whatever the people decide.”.

Most people think that Labour sounded neither fish nor fowl, a marriage between a carp and a rabbit. Nobody was satisfied. Nobody felt enthusiastic. The stand was tolerated, at best.

Hughes claimed that the whole People’s Vote campaign was an operation to divide Labour, firstly to win the leadership, and then and to pave the way for a centrist re-alignment. Few would underestimate the capacity of, say, the Liberal Democrats and micro-party Change UK to dream of an Emmanuel Macron style shake down of British politics. But it was just that, a voyage to the dream-time followed by tiny numbers of people, a handful of the ‘target’ MPs, and even smaller numbers of Labour members.

Labour took the policy stand it did as a result of pressure from the membership, overwhelmingly anti-Brexit, and a majority of Labour voters, also opposed to Leave. There were Labour Conference debates. During them internationalists from groups such as the radical left led Another Europe is Possible – who were amongst the leading forces opposed to tearing the country from the EU – met the brick wall of people aligned with figures like Kate Murphy, Andrew Murray and the Leader’s Office (LOTO) – from which the above compromise position emerged.

For Hughes, who is absorbed in his own nightmare, there was one result. Standing against the Bosses’ Brexit was a harmful diversion:

It diverted Labour from it’s “Corbynite” left-wing, populist themes. And it lumbered Labour with a policy that ensured the party would be defeated in the face of Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” election campaign.

A few more nudges at the beginning of this piece and one could believe that Starmer was in on the cabal behind it all….

You can follow Ace-Reporter Hughes’ footsteps and read the full inside dope here:

Brexit Witness Archive – UK in a changing Europe

Tom Baldwin,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2021 at 2:15 pm

A Note on Gender, Identity Politics and the Left.

with 14 comments

Right and Left Identity Politics Reflect, the “fragmentation of the dominated groups.”

The Communist historian, and former member of the leading body of the Parti Communiste Français, Roger Martelli wrote a few days ago, (La gauche en quête de sens, Regards. also here, Avant la présidentielle (France) : la gauche en quête de sens) a gloomy article on next year’s Presidential elections. The opinion-piece begins by asking whether the French left can avoid a disastrous result in the contest next spring (La gauche évitera-t-elle le désastre au printemps prochain?). Referring to to weakness of the left because of its splintering (the count of their candidates stands at 6/7, up to 9 if you include those who have formally thrown their hat into the ring, however gesturally) is not enough to explain this.

Martelli argues that the left is not longer in step with the development of ideas. The far-right thinker Alain de Benoist was one of the first (in the 1970s) to point to the désir d’identité”. Right-wing identity politics have taken off in the new millenium with writers like Christophe Guilluy pitting a cosmopolitan metropolitan France to the real ‘periphery’ left-behind France, the « périphérique’ Guilley’s latest book, now out in cheap paperback, sketches an even broader theme, as its title indicates, Le temps des gens ordinaires (Livre de poche, 2021) This theme is now being exploited by the   far-right (Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour). In the fight against these forces Martelli asserts, the left has “lost the battle of ideas”. Asserting one’s power against all others, protecting one’s identity, ensuring one’s security and safety are dominant themes in (French) politics.

Much of the argument here rests on the claim that the French left has, by promoting its own version of inward looking Republicanism and secularism , capitulated to the right on these themes. The intervention is centred around the politics of Hexagon. But as we all know left-wing identity politics – the only one according to the ‘anti-woke’ brigade in the English speaking world – is equally out to protect identities, and people’s safety.

Why is this? One of the points which emerges from Martelli’s intervention may indicate a reason.

Talking in terms even wider than the British debate which inspired the 1980s Forward March of Labour Halted (1981), initiated by another Communist historian, E.J. Hobsbawm, and plenty of other discussions, many of them largely on the academic left, Martelli asserts that the Marxist historical projection of the future (a major premise of much left socialist politics) has been undermined by the fundamental direction in which capitalism has developed..

The phase of relative unification around the reference to working class has given way to an inverse phenomenon of the fragmentation of the dominated groups. As the Communist Party Manifesto announced in 1848, capitalism has become universal; but it was not simplified by going global. If the polarity produced by the unequal distribution of resources remains the rule, it crosses all territories, all societies and all the groups that make them up. So today there is not a North and a South, a centre and a periphery, a people and an elite. The social, bourgeois or popular “bloc” (note – . a unified social and political force) is a myth.

He continues,

Social conflict is still there – we can refer on this site to the very documented analyses of Alain Bertho . Extremely combative, sometimes violent, it nevertheless distinct from the mobilisations of the past. These combats can stem from a cause: the climate, the rejection of racial or gender discrimination, the denunciation of gender-based violence. They can be more global and more clearly interclassist, like the Gilets Jaunes movement. In the latter case, a mass movement, the most widespread reason individuals had got involved was out of a rejection of their social exclusion and the contempt with which they were treated.

But, he states, “unlike the mobilisations of the workers’ movement” have not been held together with forward looking ideas “which backed anger with the expectation of a more egalitarian social logic” and the assertion of the “dignity of each individual. Lacking this “Principle of Hope” (from the German philosopher Ernst Bloch), and for lack of a clear identification of the cause of social ills” the anger generated has failed to serve unite. It turns against “scapegoats and can drift into resentment”.

Martelli, thinking of the Gilets Jaunes, states, “Without there being direct and massive manipulation, the most recent conflicts thus slipped into a political development more favourable to the extreme right” than to the left.

On might also comment that a fair amount of left wing liberal identity politics also lacks an “egalitarian social logic”.

The row about gender, gender critical feminism, and transsexuality, indicates these problems to a ‘T’..

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm

The BBC Breaks With Stonewall, New Gender Row Erupts.

with 21 comments

BBC QUITS Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme | Daily Mail Online

New Row Breaking Out.

Image

BBC quits Stonewall diversity scheme over impartiality concerns. Guardian.

The BBC has quit a diversity programme run by the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, saying it believes coverage of transgender issues should be considered an impartiality topic that requires the inclusion of critical voices.

The national broadcaster said it would no longer be a member of the Diversity Champions programme, under which the corporation paid Stonewall for ongoing advice and assessments on creating inclusive workplaces.

The BBC director general, Tim Davie, told staff it was “unquestionable” that its ongoing participation in the scheme “has led some organisations and individuals to consider that the BBC cannot be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active, campaigning, role”.

Jim Waterson Media editor

The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.

“Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

“Being a part of the Diversity Champions Programme has never required the BBC to support the campaigns of Stonewall, nor its policy positions. As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also governed by the Royal Charter and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Our journalists continue, as ever, to report a full range of perspectives on stories.

“Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

In other words, the issue is that the close work with Stonewall has led “some to question” the BBC’s neutrality on the issues which Stonewall champions (read: its positions on gender on transsexuals, self-identification, gender fluidity). The BBC has by contrast, it says, never been anything other than guided by its own “values”.

Reactions from Gender Critical Feminists, Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, and Stonewall.

This report in Variety is useful, above all because it puts the Nolan Podcast centre-stage. Having listened to the (long) series of broadcasts it is not hard to imagine the effect it would have.

The BBC has quit two controversial schemes run by Stonewall, an LGBTQ+ lobby group and charity, following an investigation by one of the corporation’s own journalists.

The public service broadcaster has now followed media regulator Ofcom and fellow broadcaster Channel 4 by withdrawing from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme and Workplace Equality Index.

The news comes after BBC 5 Live journalist Stephen Nolan released a 10-part investigative podcast examining whether the schemes had influenced the BBC’s editorial output. Journalist David Thompson also contributed to the investigation.

In the podcast, Nolan and Thompson questioned whether the BBC was too close to Stonewall, providing numerous instances of BBC internal policy and editorial output that appeared to breach the corporation’s own impartiality guidelines, as well as the Equality Act 2010, following communication with Stonewall in connection with these schemes.

The podcast, which was the culmination of an eighteen month investigation, quickly rose to the top of the charts on both Apple and Spotify after its release last month and garnered numerous headlines as well as comments from members of parliament.

Variety also notes this,

In June, Channel 4 also announced it was pulling out of Stonewall’s diversity scheme while Ofcom quit the scheme in August.

Numerous public bodies, including the Department of Health and the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission also announced they were withdrawing from the schemes this year.

Don’t let other people think for you on the podcasts.

Pass over the highly coloured description below and look at the material itself.

Nolan Investigates: Stonewall – All ten podcasts transcribed

In October 2021 a team of BBC journalists blew the lid off the controversial lobby group Stonewall and its influence on public institutions across the UK. Eighteen months of investigative work has now been broadcast in a series of 10 podcasts.

The new evidence and personal testimony contained within this series needs to be widely shared and easily accessible to as many people as possible. So a team of volunteer supporters at Fair Play For Women have transcribed the key contents of each episode for people to read and quote from.

You can listen to the full podcast on BBC Sounds here.

Episode 1: The brief

This first episode set’s out why these podcasts are important “It’s not about the rights and wrongs of what Stonewall are doing. They’re entitled to lobby.  It’s about the process.  And is it right that in a democracy, a lobby group can have so much influence within government on government policy. And if Stonewall can have it, who else can have it?”

Episode 2: Stonewall’s Schemes and the BBC

The team introduces the Work Place Equality Index and Champion schemes. Stonewall have created a league table, and organisations around the UK are trying to climb up this league table in order to say to the public they are LGBTQ friendly. Not only are the public bodies paying a lobby group to be marked by a lobby group, but then this lobby group is also saying, well, you’re not doing well enough. Pay us some money and we’ll tell you how to get up higher next year.

Episode 3: Self-ID and Gender Identity

Stonewall is campaigning to make it a societal norm, that rather than just male and female, human beings can have lots more genders, including genderqueer, queer, non-binary, two-spirit, many others. That is controversial territory. In this episode we hear what this means from different perspectives. We hear from Ben Cohen of Pink News and Rosie Duffield MP.

Episode 4: Being non-binary in the UK

In this episode the team speaks to a non-binary person, Owen Hurcum, about gender identity and why it matters. “Some women have penises. Some men have vaginas, some non-binary people have penises, some non-binary people have vaginas, and people can change that if they feel they need to.”

Episode 5 – A gender clinic insider speaks out

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. An in-depth interview with consultant Psychiatrist Dr David Bell about the treatment of children with gender dysphoria. “We’re at risk of taking the things at the manifest or surface level and acting too quickly on what is being said. And therefore in danger of doing irreversible damage to a child who might have desisted, and that’s very, very important”.

Episode 6 – Is Government Too Close to Stonewall?

In this episode the team sets out the evidence showing how governments and civil servants across the UK have been influenced by Stonewall.

Episode 7 – Lobbying and the Law

Stonewall’s advice to employers is to go above and beyond the law. The team presents the evidence that Stonewall are giving advice based how they want the law to be, and not as the law stands.

Episode 8 – The Debate

Not all trans people think the same! In this episode we hear a discussion between two trans people with very different views on sex and gender identity; non-binary Owen Hurcum and transsexual Debbie Hayton. “I’m still as male as I was when I was born. It’s simply the surgery has helped me become more comfortable with my own body. That’s the only thing that changed”. 

Episode 9 – How close was Ofcom to Stonewall?

The team cast serious doubts over the impartiality of OfCom. In this episode we hear the evidence that shows how OfCom has cited its own judgements on BBC broadcasts to impress Stonewall in an attempt to climb its equality league table.

Episode 10 – Is the BBC too close to Stonewall?

And finally we discover the extent of policy capture within the BBC. We hear what its been like from an ex-BBC employee and how Stonewall has influenced editorial content through the BBC style guide. “when I queried this stuff, I was told that the BBC kind of checked this with Stonewall and Stonewall were fine. They were fine with it, and therefore the BBC was fine with it.”

Update Julie Bindel:

When the BBC announced today that, “After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index,” sighs of relief could be heard around the corporation. Many lesbians, feminists and gay men had become sick and tired of the dominance of transgender ideology, and increased pressure to use pronouns on email sign offs and capitulate to various demands of the handful of transgender staff whilst being expected to side-line their own needs had become intolerable.

When Ruth Hunt was applying for the role of CEO of Stonewall in 2014, she requested a meeting with me. I was a little surprised and perplexed: I have never been a fan of Stonewall, and had written a book, published that same year in which I criticised the organisation for focusing on wealthy, white gay men bleating about ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’. I considered Stonewall to be a gay men’s rights movement, in which lesbians barely featured. I could never have imagined at that time how much worse it was to become.

During our meeting, which was perfectly pleasant, Hunt explained to me that she had “no intention” of Stonewall becoming a LGBT organisation, and was planning to, if she got the job, help support transgender organisations to autonomously fight for their rights by accessing funding and giving advice and mentoring.

Fast forward a few weeks, and, as soon as she was in post, Hunt held a meeting with several trans activists during which she apologised about my nomination for Journalist of the Year in 2008, at which there was a huge protest by trans activists on the grounds that I am seen as a transphobic bigot.

I am not suggesting that Hunt misled me during our meeting when she said Stonewall would remain focussed on sexual orientation and identity as opposed to gender, but I wonder if she allowed herself to be ‘persuaded’ by the individuals in that meeting that to exclude the T would bring trouble to her door.  This was in the context of brewing animosity about the unreasonable demands being put forward by some trans activists, and the trans rights movement was well on the march.

Whatever happened in that meeting that led to Stonewall changing direction. It soon adopted intransigent, strong-arm tactics. Its “No Debate!” catchphrase and the uncompromising, dictatorial mantra, “Trans women are women” alienated lesbians and gay men. They felt pushed aside by trans activists who argued that same-sex attraction was transphobic bigotry, and that lesbians can have penises. Gay men and lesbians began to turn against the organisation, feeling betrayed.

At the same time, as well as having no advocacy from an organisation that had supposed to be about protecting the rights of same-sex attracted people, Stonewall captured massive institutions that played a huge part in our lives, including the BBC, the NHS, the Office for National Statistics, the Crown Prosecution Service, much of the Police Service, and a number of workplaces including local authorities.

In extricating itself from Stonewall today, has the BBC, a treasured institution, lead the way for other public bodies to follow suit? No other lobbying organisation, particularly ones that refuses to even discuss differences of opinion on matters of public importance, should ever get that close again.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2021 at 9:57 am

Kathleen Stock to join ‘anti-Woke’ University of Austin.

with 42 comments

Bari Weiss, Steven Pinker Start NEW Anti-Censorship, Anti-Woke University -  YouTube

Anti-Woke Uni: “Bible College Without the Bibles.”

The Mail says,

“Spurned Sussex University lecturer Professor Kathleen Stock revealed she has been invited to join a new ‘free speech’ university in the US, described as a place for ‘witches who refuse to burn’.

The analytic philosophy expert confirmed she had accepted the invitation to be a Founding Faculty Fellow at the University of Austin.”

When this news came out the first thing to think of was that Kathleen Stock had found a place to teach in which expressing her views was not under threat.

Confirming she had been invited to join the new ‘free speech’ university, she wrote: ‘Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin, a new initiative announced today by @bariweiss alongside several other stellar individuals.’

She continued: ‘I accepted with alacrity. It’s an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry.

‘PS I should add to avoid confusion – this doesn’t mean I’m moving to Austin. And it’s not a full-time role. Just getting involved in various ways from a UK base.’

Announcing the new initiative, former reporter Bari Weiss said Austin University ‘will welcome witches who refuse to burn’. 

Palantir Co-Founder Starts Anti-Woke "University" w/ Bari Weiss

There is, unfortunately, a lot more happening.

It is with sadness that one reads details about the institution.

Alex Shepherd gives the low-down (and it is low) in The New Republic.

Do We Really Need an Anti-Woke University?

“The new University of Austin seeks to be higher education’s premier institution of monetizing moral panics.”

University of Austin—a new, as-yet-unaccredited, and largely half-baked “college” intended as a rebuke to America’s existing system of higher education, where wokeness runs amok and students throw professors who use the wrong pronouns into gulags. (It may or may not have been inspired by a fictional university from the Tom Green vehicle, Road Trip.)

The vagueness is the point: The University of Austin is pitching itself as a new system of higher education with a “commitment to free inquiry” and a “new financial model” that is never exactly articulated. At this point, it seems largely to be a continuation of the current iteration of the intellectual dark web, in which millions of dollars are poured into new think tanks, newsletters, and now colleges, in the name of building counter-institutions to those that have been corrupted by the plague of wokeism. In practice, however, this isn’t so much the promise of some new wave of Brookings Institutions or Liberty Universities but, rather, an elaborate and lucrative hustle.

Road Trip, with its University of Ithaca,  has had mixed reviews till now, “The consensus is: “Some humour is hit or miss, depending on the audience tastes, but the movie is funny overall.”

Many people would be delighted to visit, without any car journey, imaginary Unis. Our taste runs more to the Young Ones and Scumbag College than whatever a ‘Fraternity’ in the Todd Phillips film may be. But you get the point.

To our chagrin this venture does not look a barrel of laughs/ After the endless fluidity of the gender debate, and its moments of frozen intolerance, it now looks as if an unfunny joke, unfunnier than Road Trip, is taking institutional shape. The anti-wokeness brigade believe that academic freedom is under such threat that the the world of the piss-poor Dystopia imagined by Anthony Burgess in 1985 has arrived.

“Poor Bev Jones, once a paid intellectual, was driven out academia when his sort of academia was defunded for irrelevancy in the eyes of the dullards now running Tucland.” “Tucland (from Trades Union Congress) as it is known in 1985, languishes under the doleful lash of syndicalist trade unionism. Britain has been transformed from the vibrant (if, as Burgess admits in his essays, steadfastly stupid) society of yesteryear to one in which predatory tribes of homosexuals roam unchecked, an alien society quietly infiltrates, and any worker can provoke a general strike for such absurd goals as a reasonable wage and safe working conditions.” (James Nicoll).

It is no disrespect to Stock to suggest that it looks as if the Austin University is indeed the kind of protest of which Anthony Burgess would have approved. To continue with Nicoll, “Burgess is unhappy because people he regards as his social inferiors — women, young people, workers, homosexuals — dare to have voices and political ambitions. ”

Shephard comments, “Far from being an institution freed from the concerns of identity politics, it’s far more likely that the University of Austin will relentlessly burrow into issues of identity—the nail these hammer-wielders already see everywhere. This, coupled with the nod to Musk and Rogan, suggests that, rather than free inquiry and debate, what you will get at the University of Austin is a student body intent on nothing more than owning the libs—and making bombastic and likely offensive claims about issues of race and gender. It’s Liberty University but for the unwoke—except, of course, so is Liberty University. Perhaps this is a more apt description: The University of Austin is a Bible college without the Bibles.

In other words, right-wing identity politics in the vein of the Spikey ones.

Ban on cue the former cadres of the Revolutionary Communist Party on Spiked have just published this by the above Williams, “Author Women Vs Feminism & Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity”:

The University of Austin puts the rest of academia to shame. Joanna Williams.

Rarely does the establishment of a new university attract global media attention, but the University of Austin has achieved just that – and for good reason. This exciting project, based in Texas, is upfront in its commitment to academic freedom, unfettered intellectual inquiry and knowledge-based higher education. It stands in stark contrast to the majority of other academic institutions, which have grown ideologically conformist, censorious and overly bureaucratic.

…….even more inspiring than the people involved are the University of Austin’s founding principles. Kanelos writes:

‘Our students will be exposed to the deepest wisdom of civilisation and learn to encounter works not as dead traditions but as fierce contests of timeless significance that help human beings distinguish between what is true and false, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Students will come to see such open inquiry as a lifetime activity that demands of them a brave, sometimes discomfiting, search for enduring truths.’

Not having the slightest interest in the “deepest wisdom of civilisation” we rely on the wits of the Internet to inform us in detail about this new institution.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2021 at 11:52 am

Peru’s left-wing government says Nicaragua Vote “did not meet the minimum criteria of free, fair and transparent elections.”

with 6 comments

Neither free, nor fair, nor competitive' - Nicaragua's Ortega secures 4th  term, sanctions threatened | News24

Peru: Foreign Affairs Ministry issues statement on situation in Nicaragua

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement outlining the Peruvian State’s position on the last presidential and parliamentary elections held in Nicaragua on November 7.


Statement on the situation in Nicaragua
-Peru has closely followed the events prior to the presidential and parliamentary elections that took place on Sunday, November 7, in Nicaragua, which do not meet the minimum criteria for free, fair, and transparent elections as established by the Inter-American Democratic Charter; undermine the credibility, democracy and the rule of law; and deserve the rejection of the international community.


-Peru has supported the resolutions adopted by the Organization of American States (OAS) to avoid this serious situation, as well as all collective efforts aimed at promoting the restoration of dialogue and understanding among Nicaraguans, the release of candidates and political prisoners, and the implementation of the agreed electoral reforms.


-In this regard, Peru will continue to work in the OAS Permanent Council —made up of Nicaragua and the countries across the continent— to preserve Nicaraguan people’s right to hold free, fair, and transparent elections —in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter— and to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the political crisis in said country.

LIMA, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Peru’s Congress on Thursday confirmed a new moderate left Cabinet, three months into the administration of President Pedro Castillo, who’s first lineup of ministers crumbled amid political uncertainty and nationalization threats.

The vote was 68-56, with one lawmaker abstaining.

The reshuffle is widely seen as more moderate than Socialist Castillo’s original line-up, under which Peru’s currency tumbled to record lows. But the move has also alienated some of Castillo’s most left-wing allies.

The Morning Star……

Background, see:

monday
8 november 2021

Daniel Ortega seems to have won yesterday’s election: with half of ballots counted he is on 75%. As Gabriel Hetland wrote in our current issue, ‘Some will see this as proof of the vitality of revolutionary anti-imperialism in Nicaragua. A thorough examination of the facts suggests they will be wrong.’

Daniel Ortega, revolutionary no more? Le Monde Diplomatique.

Sept candidats à la présidentielle arrêtés depuis juin

Au Nicaragua, une élection privée d’opposition

Nicaragua’s unfair election Gabriel Hetland

If Daniel Ortega is again voted Nicaraguan president in early November, as widely predicted, could he reinvigorate the left in Latin America? His record suggests optimism is misplaced.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2021 at 3:33 pm

More Borders Bloc? Northern Independence Party, Left Unity, Breakthrough Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, and Northern Independence Party in ‘Progressive Left Alliance’ Talks.

with 3 comments

File:Logo of the Northern Independence Party.png - Wikipedia

Nips in More Borders ‘Progressive Left Alliance’?

“We are rich in minorities, as Mr. Thayer shows. Did you know that Contemporary Welsh nationalism was born in 1 886 with the establishment of an organization called The Cymru Fydd, one of whose founding members was David Lloyd George? Did you know that the nationalists of Cornwall are the only ones in this island who do not want to break away from England entirely? Did you know that there is a man who for years has been known as “The Prime Minister of Wales” ? Or that many brave Cornishmen believe that King Arthur will return?” ” George Thayer.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, a time when the hobby of leftist Trainspotting was taken up by a new wave of enthusiasts, novices had to learn the ropes the hard way. A few books in public libraries, like The British Political Fringe. George Thayer (1965, Full Text) with a single chapter on “the Outside Left” failed to slake many people’s thirst. Today the introduction to that section indicates how the field is both more crowded with leftist groups, and, yet, is in some respects unchanged.

“By my definition, the Outside Left consists of all left-wing groups that are either officially or unofficially outside the Labour Party proper. At the moment, there are twelve recognizable Outside Left groups in Great Britain; and, as pointed out in the previous chapter, they can be readily classified into four major categories: Communist, Trotskyist, independent Marxist, and anarcho-syndicalist.” One might quibble on the last category (it is doubtful if syndicalism fits everybody) but the British Political Fringe discusses anarchism in detail, including Max Stirner and individualism. And to the book’s lasting credit there is the major spot of Red Flag and the early British Posadists of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Trotskyist). “The members of the RWP follow such a revolutionary line that among Marxists they have earned the sobriquet of ‘ultra left adventurist maniacs’. The description is due to the RWP’s belief that atomic war is inevitable – one of the points on which it broke with the Pabloists.”

Thayer did the leg-work, visiting some leading figures of way out leftism, in their lairs. Here is one, head of the Committee to Defeat Revisionism, Michael McCreery, newspaper, Vanguard: “With him live a few other bachelors among the squalor of unwashed milk bottles, piles of dirty clothes, unattended dishes in the sink and rumpled beds. McCreery’s office in the flat contains a library of perhaps 2,000 books and pamphlets which line the face of one wall. Piles of loose literature are scattered over the floor. In the centre of the room is his desk on which he answers all his correspondence by hand in a neat, almost classic, script. “

But I regress.

The news today from the world of small political parties is stunning: a claim that Left Unity, which was anti-Brexit, and is aligned to the (European Parliament) radical left Party of the European Left (PEL), is negotiating an alliance with the pro-Brexit Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), run by the Socialist Party and backed by the RMT trade union. The news, uncovered by one of our ace reporters, comes in a tweet from the Northern Independence Party, known as the Nips, Whippets, or more familiarly, the Weasels. Another group, the Breakthrough Party, are involved.

Former MP and lacklustre candidate in the Hartlepool by-election (250 votes, 0,8%) Thelma Walker blocks the Tendance on Twitter not that we have ever been arsed to engage her views through this medium) so we shall have to get the gumshoes to find out what she has done in this lash up. From the notoriously taciturn TUSC there is not a word.

Yet there is a nasty NIP in the air:

Left Unity seems quite happy with a more borders policy of supporting Scottish nationalism.

But is this a step too far?

5 December Left Unity Conference

MOTIONS AT CONFERENCE

  1. Beautiful World, where are we? – North London Branch

(Extract)

  • continue to initiate and engage in discussions with other left forces and social movements in Britain on developing possibilities for political unity
  1. Yes to Left Unity – No to Northern Separatism! – Oliver Charleston

Conference notes:

  • Discussions held between Left Unity, Breakthrough Party and Northern Independence Party (NIP) were largely positive and welcomed by our members and those of the participating parties
  • However NIP is first and foremost committed to ‘establishing an independent North, to be governed by the people of the North. The historic nation of Northumbria once spanned from the South to Scotland, and so we seek independence for people from Cheshire all the way to the Scottish border.’ (https://www.freethenorth.co.uk/our-values)
  • The historic Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria existed from c.547 to c.878 CE (https://www.britannica.com/place/Northumbria) and has in fact never existed as an independent geopolitical entity since that time. NIP seeks to revive a state that has not existed for over one thousand years
  • The above NIP programmatic commitment comes before any mention of socialism and the party incorporates national-separatist themes e.g. flags of ‘Northumbria’ were clearly visible behind NIP supporters during recent discussions.

Conference believes:

  • Despite the serious social and economic disparities between the English regions, the working people of the North and the working people of the South, together with the Midlands, need each other now more than ever before, in the 21st Century.

Conference resolves:

  • Left Unity therefore cannot justifiably seek dialogue or any further discussion with a view to alliance building with NIP because of the NIP’s avowed Northern English national-separatist aims and objectives. England would emerge from such a split severely weakened, divided against itself, worker against worker, Northerner against Southerner and Midlander as well as family against family. This is clearly not the basis for building socialism but rather strengthening the whip hand of the English ruling classes seeking to further divide and rule (as they always do). Left Unity must prevail at all costs so we say no to this ultimately reactionary separatist tendency.

Will this debate be swept under the carpet?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2021 at 10:53 am

Communist Party of Britain Congress hears warning against “External anti-communist forces and saboteur elements”.

with 4 comments

CP 56th Congress – Communist Party of Britain

“Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division!”

The World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency, whose best known member is the British Socialist Appeal, took place in July this year. The clear-eyed spotted that present were comrades from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Leningrad (no this is not made up, that’s the names they used). Delegates heard of a “brewing mood of revolutionary anger”. Adding yeast to this fermentation “On a world scale, the IMT has grown by 43% since the beginning of 2020 alone. In some sections, such as the US section, we have grown by as much as 87%; and in Indonesia, in the same period, the section has grown by as much as 150%!” The current looked to the future, “In one corner of the world after another – whilst the other tendencies are in crisis and drip with pessimism – the International Marxist Tendency is advancing, confident of the future and firmly dedicated to the struggle for socialist revolution.” (Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021)

The gloom-mongering drips did not fail to notice the delegates from countries that no longer exist and a city now called St Petersburg. It was the occasion for a few chuckles and nothing more.

We misunderstood. It has been suggested that the IMT were pioneers of a new form of revolutionary theorising, uchronia, “how history might have been” if things had turned out differently. The genre is cherished in France. In Napoléon et la Conquête du monde / Napoléon apocryphe (1836) Louis Geoffroy recounted how Napoléon won the battle of Moscow and went on to conquer the world. The Felixstowe born Roy Lewis wrote The Extraordinary Reign of King Ludd: An Historical Tease (1990) – popular amongst French leftists under the name of La Véritable Histoire du dernier roi socialiste  ‘The true history of the last Socialist king’ (1994). This story begins in the 19th century where the 1848 revolutions had won and monarchies had been saved by socialist Luddites.

The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) is a party built around a uchronia.

As their own Congress, or Conference, took place they were tweeting this:

In their alternative time-line China is still shining socialist state:

The Young Communist League are rising!

Alas, there’s always those out to thwart the revolutionary forces. Back to the alternate reality of the Communists bravely fighting wreckers and saboteurs out to bring down socialism…

Young Communist League general secretary denounces critics as ‘saboteurs’. (read the full article, which explains this in depth).

Speaking to the CPB’s conference this weekend (6-7 November 2021) in Croydon, Johnnie Hunter, general secretary of the YCL, was keen to quell any offence that those remarks may have given to those CPB members who can still remember Crossroads and Wimpy restaurants. Hunter drew attention to CPB members in the 1980s and 1990s as “those comrades who fought liquidationism, those comrades who fought to maintain a Communist Party in our country”. Hunter “wanted to make very clear” that this generation were “held in the highest esteem by the young comrades joining the YCL today”.[3] Later in his speech, he boldly asserted in relation to the YCL and CPB: “We are you; you are us.”[4] The latter statement was clearly a case of wishful thinking.

Hunter moved on to deliver a colourful passage that addressed the internal divisions that have presumably taken up a lot of his recent time: “Comrades, as we heard today we’ve also endured this year… something that will become increasingly common as we make new successes and increase our influence: forces that seek to divide us. They’ve attempted to and will keep working, with increasing gall and determination, to drive a wedge between the [CPB] and its youth. They don’t do so for earnest reasons; they don’t do so from a dedication to socialism. They do so to attack and undermine the exciting progress that we’re making; to undermine and destroy the [CPB] and the YCL itself. So, we must be on guard against these external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements. Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division. We have to be vigorous in the defence of our organisational independence and also couple this with our unity in action, our common programme and our unbreakable link [with the CPB]. We’ve seen the devastating consequences in a number of European countries just this year where the link between the party and the youth is broken. We say: never here.”[5]

(One of the leaders of the British Young Communist League brings greetings to the 56th Congress of the Communist Party of Britain.)

Cde Parker suggests that “external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements” may refer to his good self and possibly the Weekly Worker.

Alas, there are other hard-bitten enemies at work.

Chin up pardners, that Congress “sure lived up to expectations”. Indeedy.

Note, this Blog condemns the kettling of the YCL by the Glasgow Polis.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Nicaraguan Elections and Ortega’s last ‘anti-imperialist’ friends.

with 2 comments

The 'deep human rights crisis' hanging over Nicaragua's elections |  Elections News | Al Jazeera

Today ‘elections in Nicaragua are being held. There are lots of reports on this

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega will seek a fourth consecutive term in elections that have been widely condemned by rights groups and international observers.

Ortega, whose Sandinista Front party and allies control the congress and government institutions, will face a field of little-known candidates on Sunday, while opposition figures who represented the most significant challenge to the former revolutionary leader’s rule remain in prison.

Al Jazeera.

Nicaragua votes in elections panned as ‘parody’ by international observers

They’ve been called “a parody,” “a sham,” and “the worst possible conditions” for a vote, but Nicaragua’s general elections are going ahead on Sunday anyway. After an iron-fisted crackdown on opposition voices this year, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is widely expected to claim a fourth consecutive term at the polls this weekend, alongside his vice president and wife Rosario Murillo.

The vote is the first for Nicaragua since a wave of popular demonstrations in 2018 rattled the country, and the Ortega government is taking no chances, having spent the past months blocking political participation of potential rivals and closely controlling the electoral process.

CNN

Ortega has put his opponents in gaol.

A summary:

Breaking the ban on journalists from abroad who are not supporters of the Dictator a reporter for El Pais reports today from the Nicaraguan capital.

There have been protests in a number of countries, including the UK.

But there is the ‘alternative‘ view:

Yes, this is him:

“Steve Sweeney@SweeneySteve Morning Star International Editor. Founder of Media Workers for Palestine. Anti-imperialist. Reports on global liberation movements, press freedom & resistance.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Communist Party of Britain Congress to debate “sex-based rights and gender identity”.

with 4 comments

Communist Party of Britain - Wikipedia

Communists attack ” reactionary theories of gender identity.”

From the CPB party pre-Congress discussion:

Defending the rights of women on the basis of sex

“I believe the EC Domestic Resolution sets out an excellent strategy for the party in the short and medium term. In particular I commend its strong commitment, described in lines 438 – 457, to defending the rights of women on the basis of sex, which have come under increasing attack from both successive Tory governments and more surprisingly from the mainstream parties, which seem to be competing with each other to discard decades if not centuries of women’s hard-won rights. The CPB is almost alone in this regard and along with its revolutionary socialist programme was a major reason I recently joined the party. Women are half the working class and central to the fight for socialism and I hope that this section of the resolution is not watered down or compromised when Congress comes to debate the resolution.”

Sonya Andermahr MIDLANDS district.

56th congress discussion and contributions.

The EC Domestic Resolution defends the view that “sex is a material reality” and commends Woman’s Place, (440 – 445)

Ideological attacks on women’s struggle for liberation have intensified as reactionary theories of gender identity have spread in the l our movement. Setbacks to women’s economic and social progress are setbacks for the class struggle as a whole. For these reasons and because the expression of materialist understanding of women’s oppression under capitalism is essential to a Marxist-Leninist analysis, we welcome the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in the Maya Forstater case, which concluded that the belief that a person’s ‘sex’ is a material reality, which should not be conflated with gender or gender identity is ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’ and is ‘not incompatible with human dignity and not [in] conflict with the fundamental rights of others’.

Much more study, discussion and education is urgently needed across the labour and progressive movements about the oppression and super -exploitation of women in class society and the importance of the fight for women’s emancipation in the struggle for socialism. Reactionary liberal and individualistic ideas which undermine and attack advances in women’s rights have to be challenged on the basis of class politics and the position of women in capitalist society. In recent years, the campaigning organisation Woman’s Place UK has won a wider understanding of the risks posed to women’s rights and helped hold back proposed changes to the law that could be detrimental to women. It deserves broader support across the labour movement. Much greater awareness is of the triple oppression borne by black and Asian women workers.

Back to the Congress…

It’s no secret that the Morning Star is independent of the Communist Party of Britain. It is wholly owned the friendliest co-op in Britain.

But the the labour movement and progressives are all talking about an important Communist event taking place this weekend.


“The 56th Congress of the CPB will be its biggest in decades due to the rapid growth of the party in the last three years.”

What’s in store for the Communist Party’s 56th congress?

The splinter group, the Communist Party of Britain, says it was “Founded in 1920” and “is a Marxist-Leninist party dedicated to fighting for workers rights & establishing Socialism in Britain!” Hardened veterans note that it is a split from the original Communist Party of Great Britain” and that, “In April 1988, a special congress of delegates from CCG and existing Party organisations declared the re-establishment of the Communist Party in Britain on the basis of democratic centralism, Marxism-Leninism and The British Road to Socialism.” The CPGB became the Democratic Left in 1991, and only hard-bitten gumshoes can say who its formers cadres are, in the New Politics Network and the Democratic Left Scotland.

THE Communist Party of Britain begins its 56th Congress today in a world in turmoil.

More than 140 delegates will gather at the party’s headquarters in Ruskin House, Croydon, to analyse, debate and propose responses to the challenges facing humanity.

This will be the biggest such congress in decades, reflecting a membership increase of two-thirds since the last one three years ago.

Election Results:

London Assembly20218,7870.3%London-wide list
Scottish Parliament20211,1420.2%[80]Contesting Glasgow (0.2%) and Lothian (0.2%) regional lists, and Motherwell and Wishaw constituency (0.6%)
Senedd20212,8370.3%

Overseas guests include representatives from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Portuguese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Ireland, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and — visa permitting — the Palestinian People’s Party.

Officials from the embassies of Cuba, China and Vietnam will also be present and video messages will be broadcast from the communist and workers’ parties of South Africa, Israel, Cyprus and Venezuela.

Reflecting a long history of solidarity, representatives of banned or semi-legal parties in the Middle East and Africa will also be in attendance.

The main international resolution to be debated is proposed by the outgoing CP executive committee and headed Halting Imperialism’s Drive to War.

It begins its analysis of the international situation by considering the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and global warming on the poorest and most oppressed sections of society.

A host of amendments from party organisations at branch, district and Scottish and Welsh levels emphasise the scale and calamitous consequences of climate change.

This is the context in which the emergence of “a new cold war” aimed primarily at China will be considered.

The ability of US finance capital to continue extracting super-profits around the globe is now increasingly threatened by the rise of China, which is set to become the world’s biggest economy within the next decade.

The smaller imperialist powers — notably Britain, Japan, France and perhaps to a lesser extent Germany — share that fear.

Despite their rivalries with one another, they have stepped up their campaign of economic sanctions and political propaganda against China.

Alongside this go the build-up of Western warships in and around the South China Sea, the strengthening of EU military structures, the big expansion of Britain’s nuclear arsenal and the formation of the new US-UK-Australian pact which, among other objectives, intends to enhance Australian and Nato capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, China’s willingness to engage in mutually beneficial economic relations with developing countries around the world makes it more difficult to enlist them in the new cold war on the side of the US, Nato and an unstable EU.

Hold, on I think we’ve already had enough of boosting the capitalist anti-working class, and-democratic Chinese red bourgeoisie.

Bla Bla Bla…

The CP congress will also analyse developments in the Middle East, Africa — a prime target for Western imperialist expansion — and the Americas, where the left, including the communist parties, are resisting US-backed attempts to roll back the anti-imperialist gains of recent decades.

Not surprisingly, there will be calls to escalate the campaign for Britain to ratify the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and build anti-war movements nationally and internationally, including the anti-imperialist World Peace Council and its affiliate the British Peace Assembly.

On the domestic front, an executive committee resolution declares: “The crisis is capitalism. Take the road to socialism!”

It analyses the major developments that have shaped the present political situation in Britain.

These include the outcome of the 2019 general election, when several million electors ceased voting Labour as that party dropped its commitment to respect the EU referendum result and instead — influenced by the likes of Keir Starmer, Lord Mandelson and their business backers — pledged to hold a rerun referendum.

The CPB actively campaigned and supported the Bosses’ Brexit.

Now they are trying to find a cover for their pro-sovereigntist, more borders, de facto alliance (and not so de facto in red-brown fronts like the Full Brexit) with national populists.

Instead of Boris Johnson’s centralised post-EU Britain, where sovereignty has been secured for British state-monopoly capitalism, the congress will consider a strategy to win “popular sovereignty” — for the working class and the people.

This includes the fight for a “progressive federalism” in which the nations and regions gain the democratic powers and financial resources needed to intervene decisively against the market forces of the capitalist monopolies.

The post-Brexit state aid powers stolen by Johnson from the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments must be taken back from Westminster and Whitehall.

Instead of splitting the political class struggle in three between Scotland, England and Wales, a united anti-monopolies alliance should be built — led by a reinvigorated labour movement — to challenge the wealth and power of monopoly capital.

Cop this one Cdes!

This will be the greenest congress in the Communist Party’s history. It is also likely to host major discussions on trade union and community action, sex-based rights and gender identity.

There it is.

Delegates will elect a new executive committee for the coming two years. However they vote in the secret ballot, it is almost certain that the Communist Party’s next leadership will be younger and more female than at any time since the re-establishment of the party in 1988.

One thing is certain: the Internationale will be sung with greater gusto than usual at the close of the congress, after a period of significant advance by both the Communist Party and the Young Communist League.

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2021 at 2:38 pm

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan. A Political Biography. Máire Fedelma Cross. Review.

leave a comment »

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan: A Political Biography (Studies in Labour  History LUP): Cross, Máire Fedelma: 9781789622454: Amazon.com: Books

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan. A Political Biography. Máire Fedelma Cross. Liverpool University Press.

(Published, slightly shorter, in the Reviews section of the latest Chartist magazine – November/December).

Flora Tristan (1803- 1804) has, writes Máire Cross, “has achieved as much literary and political renown since her death as during her tumultuous life.” She “became a conduit for a certain kind of socialism and feminism.” and “a symbolic figure in militancy”. Denied a part in the inheritance from her wealthy Peruvian family her first work was Pérégrinations d’une paria (1838). An unhappy marriage to an abusive husband ended with him attempting to kill her in a public shooting in 1838. Tristan’s feminism kept alive and developed the declarations of women’s rights by Olympe de Gouge (executed on the Guillotine during the Reign of Terror) and Mary Wollstonecraft (a writer Tristan admired), during the time of the French Revolution.

At the age of 41, shortly before her death, her last work was a call to create a universal workers’ union, the Union Ouvrière (1843). This call to ‘organise” labour was said by Marx and Engels to anticipate “Critical Criticism” (The Holy Family. 1844). In 1890 the theorist of reformism and “socialisme intégrale” Benoît Malon, celebrated its role in promoting the “international dimension” to workers’ interests and class struggle. The French socialist academic Charles Andler, in 1907 generously (the text itself contains many ideas) saw in her initiative an outline of the “frame of the Workers’ International”. Yet the First International did not acknowledge the woman who had cried Workers of the World Unite! – four years before the Communist Manifesto.

In the Footsteps does not just trace the path of Tristan’s life, or her reception and interpretation, academic and political. It is the story of two political legacies, “My contention is that the political legacies of Flora Tristan and Jules-Louis Puech beyond their graves are completely intertwined”, Their works, are, she argues, best seen in a “double biography”. Above all, Puech kept the memory of Tristan’s work alive and introduced her to new audiences in the 20th century.

Puech wrote prolifically (53 documents in the BNF) on Pierre Proudhon, socialism and utopianism. He embarked on the “trail of Flora Tristan” before the Great War, in which he fought despite his pacifist sympathies. His biography, La Vie et Oeuvre de Flora Tristan appeared, finally, in 1925. A “bourgeois”, married to the “suffragette and feminist” Marie-Louise Puech, (women had to wait till 1944 to get the vote in France) he was not a card-carrying socialist but had empathy for the left individuals and movements he wrote about. He was, she suggests, both a “spectator” and engaged.

Máire Cross makes a solid case that this deeply researched, “history from below” “seeking out forgotten lives” was a forerunner of modern “new social history”.

Tristan Puech paid due attention to the on-the-ground campaign for the workers’ union in 1843 and 1844, from her diary, meeting reports, and, more than 200 letters sent to workers. This is the background to Flora Tristan’s Diary: The Tour of France 1843–1844. This, she contrasts – rightly – with the approach taken in books such as G.D.H.Cole’s 5 Volume The History of Socialist Thought in the 1950s which concentrated on governments, conferences, the broad sweep of the socialist movement rather than the “little people”.

Puech also helped create the “Association of friends of Proudhon”. The theorist of ‘mutualism’ was probably the most anti-feminist thinker on the 19th century left. His followers continued to oppose women’s rights in the 1st International. It is a paradox that somebody who warmed to a man, hostile to any role for women “outside the home” could be sympathetic to Flora Tristan.

Perhaps one of the best introductions to Flora Tristan is her Promenades dans Londres, 1840. (The London Journal of Flora Tristan,). This lucid outsider’s view of London in the late 1830s.includes scenes of great poverty, aristocratic richness, hypocrisy, and her meetings with London radicals, Chartists and democrats. It covers a world that was different from the proletarian and industrial North of the Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). The scenes described in Outcast London by Gareth Stedman Jones. (1971, ” with its vast numbers of casual and irregular day labourers and the artisans and seamstresses engaged in seasonal and workshop trades” suggest that class structures in the British capital had far from simplified into bourgeois and proletarians by that time, even if one subtracts the presence of the “aristocracy”. What Tristan meant by ‘working class’, and what kind of ‘union’, and future she offered, in these conditions, may not be what a 21st century reader would be thinking of.

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan is in some respects a specialist work. Yet it contains such a wealth of research and analysis that Máire Cross illuminates whole areas of socialist, feminists and labour history. It should shape all future studies on Flora Tristan and, one hopes, Jules Puech.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2021 at 11:20 am

Socialist Democracy: RS21 reproduced “the most appalling arguments ever adduced by a man to justify the sacking of a woman” Kathleen Stock.

with 9 comments

Trans academics on being silenced and worse amid Kathleen Stock row

Important Material by Socialist Democracy on Kathleen Stock and Gender has already featured on this site.

The present contribution (thanks JR) is very relevant to debates that have been taking place here over the last couple of days.

Let’s see what’s at the bottom of this rabbit hole

04 November 2021

Some socialists sincerely believe that a person can change their sex because they self-identify as different from their biological body. Others believe that you can choose whatever gender identity you want but you have no choice over your biological sex. These differences of opinion are frequently not expressed in the most comradely terms, but one would have assumed that some common ground remained. For example, a worker should not face calls for dismissal for saying what most people believe.

God help any woman who works in Scottish higher education who says that sex is immutable and is relying on University and College Union (UCU) Scotland Executive member and Branch President (UCU Edinburgh) Grant Buttars to defend her if some students demand she should be sacked.

In the post-Trotskyist version of a witch trial Buttars produces some of the most appalling arguments ever adduced by a man to justify the sacking of a woman. After a long set up referencing a case of a racist advocate of paedophilia in “When is it right for a union to support dismissal?”, Buttars explains it is OK when the target is a racist, an advocate of paedophilia or a feminist who doesn’t agree with him on sex and gender.

He tries to justify the ousting of Kathleen Stock from her job at Sussex University following a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment by students which was supported by the UCU branch there. His core argument is that women who openly question the effects of gender ideology on women’s lives are comparable to Nazis and should be treated as such.

He doesn’t go as far as saying that she was seen flying on a broomstick, but he does say that her views on the differences between sex and gender were known outside the university. As Stock is a published author that is hardly surprising.

His next killer argument is that some students had complained about her views in the past. Any education worth the name must make students question their assumptions and interrogate evidence. Too bad if that’s uncomfortable for some. That’s how you learn to think.

Stock’s senior management were quite supportive of her when a group of masked protestors were on her campus and putting up stickers demanding she be sacked. What sort of union activist has a problem with a management protecting a worker facing unprecedented harassment? Grant Buttars is breaking new ground for trade unionism and 21st century revolutionary socialism. All the more so since RS21 only exist because they correctly identified the sexism in the Socialist Workers Party and left because of it. Now they are supporting the hounding of women for being feminists.

Anyone lacking the imagination or empathy appreciate the impact of a hate campaign like on its target this should watch or listen to Stock’s interview with BBC’s Woman’s Hour.

A political regression

Buttars’ line of argument will have consequences in the real world if anyone is unlucky enough to be in a union branch where people who hold his views are reps.

Dr Shereen Benjamin is Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at the University of Edinburgh. By writing for Woman’s Place UK she was effectively making herself a potential defendant in a witch trial. She said:“UCU (and others on the political left who purportedly care about academic freedom and freedom of speech) are selective in their defence of such freedoms, and themselves join in with misrepresentations and smear campaigns against feminists, they play into the government’s hands.”For people like Buttars this power of prophecy which allowed her to foresee what would happen to Stock is only further proof of her guilt.

The only thing he gets right in his apologia for harassing women out of jobs is:“As socialists and trade unionists we must side with the oppressed – always. That is solidarity.”Stock is on record as saying that trans people should have respect, safety and the right to live their lives as they please. Those are not the views of a bigot and neither Buttars nor the protestors who posted memes saying “ding dong the witch is dead” when they heard of her forced resignation can point to a single prejudiced word.

Solidarity with the oppressed also includes solidarity with women who know sex is real and say so in public. The RS21 piece is the latest and most extreme development in a prioritising of identity politics over material reality and class solidarity. It’s a political regression which is placing sections of socialists in direct conflict with feminists and is leading to an abandonment of a basic trade union principle.

…….

Socialist Democracy says,

Recent debates in Britain and Ireland have seen a sharp division in the socialist movement on the issue of gender identity.  These divisions have reached new heights following the harassment and subsequent resignation of Professor Kathleen Stock of Sussex University.  Socialist parties have justified the campaign against her and threats against feminists in other demonstrations. The University and college Union responded by condemning transphobia.

That case is summed up by Grant Butters of the UCU, who is also associated with the socialist group RS21.

A comrade involved with feminist defenders of women’s rights responds above (ed).

We can confidently say that Grace Lavery is a close competitor with Buttar’s for the title of appalling. Barrack room lawyer Lavery, who, initial reports suggested, had got her information from the Brighton ‘Albion’, has also entered the fray. If we recall she suggested that gender critical feminist academics were in league with génocidaires.

The Professor of English and legal-eagle promoted this by Caitlin Green· yesterday;

Caitlin Green is a linguist specializing in Discourse Studies and Pragmatics. She lives in California with her husband, daughter, and a very small black cat. She enjoys singing, knitting, embroidery, and taking long walks with a good audiobook.”

(Extracts)

Each year when fall arrives, the leaves change color, the students return to campus, and the media rings one of its favorite old bells: academic freedom is under threat. The fall of 2021 has been no different, bringing hundreds of articles, thinkpieces, tweets and blog posts focused on one or another academic whose freedom has apparently been violated, usually by ostensibly left-leaning students. The hand-wringers never seem to define “academic freedom” or specify how any particular anecdote is an example of the violation thereof. To investigate whether this framing is justified, we can take one of a litany of examples, the Twitter thread posted by the Economist on October 19, 2021, and check its claims, the first and most central being that academic freedom is being stifled in universities. 

Academic Freedom in the Media: Who Is Being Silenced?

After spending considerable time and effort searching, I found no concrete evidence of Stock receiving threats or harassment from students. But there is documented evidence that Stock has, on more than one occasion, reached out to the employers of students who have criticized her and demanded professional censure in retaliation, threatened them with frivolous claims of harassment and defamation when their speech should have been protected, and dragged their names through the mud. It is a common features in these episodes for those accused of harassment and bullying to leave their posts—if they do so at all—while proclaiming that they are actually the victims of the very behaviors (sic) they have perpetuated.

The learned scholar continues,

Pedagogical norms are also relevant to Stock’s case. These include norms about civility and respect for the humanity of one’s students and colleagues. These norms are not in conflict with policies regarding academic freedom in the UK, which only protect educators “within the law” to question and test received wisdom and to “put forward” (which does not mean endorse) controversial opinions. These norms also do not protect educators from criticism or protest, only from losing their jobs. As with all principles regarding freedom of expression, these protections do not cover discriminatory speech. Norms guiding how to do one’s job effectively and responsibly are not a stifling orthodoxy, they are a natural result of living in a society.

Phew, blimey, strike a light!

Jones’s annotations were popular amongst the gender critical users who follow her, suggesting that there is an attitude that this view, which Stock shares, is not actually discriminatory because it is true. Mental health research has been clear on this issue for quite some time now: all of the major national and international psychological and medical organizations agree that it is not only discriminatory, it is measurably dangerous for trans and gender non-conforming individuals to be deprived of acceptance for their gender identities (e.g., the World Health Organizationthe American Psychological Associationthe American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrythe American Academy of Pediatrics, and others). This is not a question of simple disagreement; for some people, social acceptance of their gender identity is a matter of life and death.

“Perhaps most chilling of all, Stock has managed to insert her beliefs about trans rights into political and legal proceedings. She added her name to the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, the credo of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, an organization that campaigns to undo nearly all aspects of the Gender Recognition Act of 2004.

Where such depravity is found, no wonder she’s driven off the ground!

And….

“…the general-secretary of the University and College Union, Jo Grady, today refused to condemn student protesters who campaigned to oust Prof Stock, a professor of philosophy.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Ms Grady instead denounced what she claimed was ‘consistent misinformation’ about Sussex UCU’s actions during the saga. In a statement, the Sussex branch had said all trans and non-binary members ‘now more than ever should receive the unequivocal support’ of the university”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Kathleen Stock Accuses Union (UCU) of Failing to “Protect Employees” in Transsexual Row.

with 76 comments

Free speech row prof Kathleen Stock: Protests like anxiety dream - BBC News

Kathleen Stock says she quit university post over ‘medieval’ ostracism

The philosophy professor at the centre of a row over her views on gender identification and transgender rights has said she quit her post at Sussex University because of what she called “a medieval experience” of campus ostracism and protests.

In a lengthy interview with BBC Woman’s Hour, Kathleen Stock claimed the student protests grew out of hostility from other academics. She said a lack of support from her colleagues and the unions led her to resign.

“There’s a small group of people who are absolutely opposed to the sorts of things I say and instead of getting involved in arguing with me, using reason, evidence, the traditional university methods, they tell their students in lectures that I pose a harm to trans students, or they go on to Twitter and say that I’m a bigot.

“So thus creating an atmosphere in which the students then become much more extreme and much more empowered to do what they did,” Stock said.

This stands out:

Stock said her “personal tipping point” came after Sussex’s branch of the University and College Union responded to a protest against Stock on campus in early October by calling for a university-wide investigation into transphobia.Advertisementhttps://a4852a59f78235f185227ef4990e234e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“It was when I saw my own union branch’s statement, which basically backed the protesters and implicitly made it obvious that they thought I was transphobic and accused Sussex University of institutional transphobia,” Stock said.

Kathleen Stock: I won’t be silenced

The trans activist campaign against the former Sussex professor has backfired

BY JULIE BINDEL

What was the final straw for Kathleen? She tells me it was when the Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) put out a statement in support of “our trans and non-binary students” and against “institutional transphobia”.

“At that point I was just hanging on. I was teaching from home. I saw the posters. I was advised to stay at home for my own protection. The police were coming round. I’m getting security stuff delivered to my house, trying to think about the future. I thought I’d  have to stay off campus for the rest of the term but at least I can teach on Zoom. I hoped they would support me.”

And then her UCU branch issued its damning statement. “It was a pompous peroration about ‘standing with our trans and non binary students against institutional transphobia’” Kathleen explains. “And all they could possibly mean by that is that I was there”.

“There’s nobody else who speaks out like I do. Plus, every second communication that comes out of the university is about trans and non-binary spaces in the library and trans or non-binary support groups and LGBT issues. There’s a staff network; there’s a Centre for Sexual Dissidence; there’s a Centre for Gender Studies.

“It’s literally saturated with positive messaging. It’s in Brighton, one of the most queer-friendly places in the world. So all they could mean by institutional transphobia is: ‘We haven’t shut that bitch up yet’. It came through on my email and it just felt like a punch in the gut.

“But this is a union! They are supposed to protect employees from their bosses and to offer solidarity with anyone who is an employee — especially in a university where they are being targeted for their academic research and their philosophical beliefs, which are also protected in law under the equality act.”

And, Kathleen tells me, this intolerance trickles all the way down from the top of UCU. As far back as 2019, for instance, Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, boasted of her decision to instal ‘Terf Blocker software’ on Twitter, which automatically blocks any account that has been deemed transphobic.

SWP Break-away (1):

The original from this groupuscule – the first time people have heard so much of them for a long time:

When is it right for a union to support dismissal? Grant Buttars (Edinburgh UCU). 

As Stock says they compare her to this,

(Extracts).

Christopher Richard Brand (1943-2017) arrived at the University of Edinburgh in 1970 as a lecturer in the Psychology department, but our story really begins in 1984, when 25 students protested against a class where Brand asked for details of their sexual fantasies and favourite sexual positions. By 1986, he was Director of studies and students were again protesting, this time about repeated racism and sexism. Following an official complaint, Brand was removed as Director but remained on staff. A student from the time recalls: 

Things were to escalate further with Brand revelling in being a scientific racist in the pages of The Independent in April 1996, stating, ‘It is scientific fact that black Americans are less intelligent than white Americans and the IQ of Asians is higher than blacks.’ and, ‘I am perfectly proud to be a racist in the scientific sense.’

The students’ response was to walk out of his classes, begin a boycott of them, and send a letter of complaint to the then departmental head, Robert Grieve. The University responded that, as Brand’s views were inside the law, they would not act. This parallels the Stock situation, where students and others attempted to use internal procedures to raise their concerns but to no avail.

…..

In November, Brand came out in support of paedophile Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, stating, ‘Non-violent paedophilia with a consenting partner over age 12 does no harm so long as the paedophiles and the partners are of above average IQ and educational level.’ This time, the University did act and Brand was suspended. 

By February 1997, it was rumoured that Brand, with RCP backing, was to be nominated to stand for Rector of the University. Whether true or not, it fell foul of the rule that neither staff nor students can serve as Rector. 

And so forth……

The case of Kathleen Stock

First of all, whether her behaviour is of a similar magnitude to Brand’s is not the primary question here. My focus is on what position a trade union should take when there is a clear call for somebody’s dismissal, especially over an issue which the union has policy on. Time and space do not allow me to include a detailed account of Stock’s behaviour but this is covered thoroughly in Grace Lavery’s meticulous analysis, which I thoroughly recommend. 

UCU is unequivocally inclusive. Our policy has been developed via numerous motions, particularly since 2017, and is detailed here. Stock meanwhile, as a Trustee of the transphobic hate group LGB Alliance and as a signatory of the Women’s Human Rights Declaration (WHRC), which calls for the ‘elimination’ of ‘the practice of transgenderism’ as well as the repeal of the Gender Recognition Act, has a position that is completely at odds with this. 

The statement released by Sussex UCU and endorsed by the national union is quite clear that they would not support anybody being summarily dismissed but calling for a full investigation into transphobia at the University of Sussex. Stock’s response, saying that it effectively ended her career, is itself telling, as is her subsequent decision to resign.

Had dismissal really been something that was on the cards, and Stock was still a member (she appears to have left at least 18 months ago), she would be entitled to union representation. The reality of course is that it isn’t and she isn’t so it is a bit of a moot point. Meanwhile UCU’s call to investigate transphobia on their campus aligns with similar demands coming from the students. 

The parallels between the Stock and Brand cases are similar in the following ways: 

  1. Both have/had public personas outside the academy and the focus of complaining was on these and/or the impact of this on their job. 
  2. Both have/had been the subject of complaints over an extended period.
  3. Both have/had demonstrable support from their senior management. 

As socialists and trade unionists, we need to understand the power dynamic involved. Who do we stand with? A trade union has responsibility to its membership as a whole and may often find it needs to defend a member or group of members from the actions of another, be it over bullying, sexual harassment, or a whole range of other issues where the power differential is key. Any member who causes major detriment to the safety and wellbeing of others is not entitled to unqualified union support. Union membership is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. 

Both Stock and Brand’s conduct, over a long period of time, was detrimental to the education of their students and to the wider community. Concerns about this were raised and repeatedly ignored. Having exhausted other avenues, those who campaigned for their dismissal were entirely correct to do so as were those who supported them. 

The situation with Stock perhaps has one key difference that is worthy of specific reference. While Brand was certainly able to shelter behind the power that came with his position in the University, Stock went further. As details continue to emerge about attempts by Stock and her supporters, with the full support of institutional power at the highest level, to gag and discredit criticism, she was not the victim but the perpetrator of the very behaviour she accuses others of. This is a question of class and power and framing it as having anything to do with academic freedom or freedom of speech is just a façade.

As socialists and trade unionists we must side with the oppressed – always. That is solidarity. 

Comment:

Blaming the victim barely covers this Spart rant from RS21, a body which had at one time intellectual ambitions and a theoretical journal. Now look at them, fresh from the pages of The Alternative Voice. That paragraph that ends with, freedom of speech, academic freedom, “just a façade” to start with….

The bulk of the piece is based around comparing Kathleen Stock to Chris Brand.

There are weasel words admitting some differences (and what differences!). The analogy is contemptible. Most people will gasp at the word paedophilia.

It proves the rule that easy cases (the reasons for his dismissal) make bad precedents for hard ones.

What of the present issues? Buttar says, “whether her behaviour is of a similar magnitude to Brand’s is not the primary question here”. No doubt she has never called her colleagues, “Jew-leftie-commie[s”

So what is the crux?

RS21 cannot even be honest and say they wish to get rid of somebody for the views. So the cling to the radical feminist lecturer’s “conduct” her”‘behaviour” and ability to “Gag and Discredit criticism” backed with support in high places, as a threat to her students.

If not worse. Indeed, follow the link Buttars gives and you will find Grace Laverly, who, readers of this Blog will know, accused Stock of being “someone who has wholly undermined academic freedom by reducing it to mere opinion, and attempting to use it to cover genocide apologism.

Then there’s her Trusteeship of the “transphobic hate group LGB”.

Nice touch lads.

And people complained about her! There was no response – instead the Power backed Stock.

As if nobody had ever made complaints about lecturers that had got nowhere.

Let us dismiss the argument about ‘class’ and ‘power’ which can be applied to any academic’s relations to their students, whatsoever. Do we call for anybody whose views we oppose, or dislike, to be sacked? Do we whinge about influence in powerful circles when we do not get our way, and harass the academic?

What the ex-SWP Splinter says, through the voice of the Chair of the UCU Edinburgh branch, can only confirm Kathleen Stock’s claim that some academic staff have played a role in stirring up the intolerance that led to her resignation.

This Blog agrees with Jim’s statement in the Comments here:

I think all decent people should be able to agree that (1) transgender people should be allowed to identify as male, female or non-binary, as they see fit; (2) discrimination, abuse and prejudice against trans people should be illegal (as it already is under the Equality Act); (3) the question of whether gender or biological sex is decisive, is a reasonable issue for debate and that compromise and/or agreement to disagree is desirable, given that most of us do not have the required expertise in philosophy, biology or medicine; (4) “gender critical” feminists have legitimate concerns about male-bodied trans women in women-only spaces, such as refuges and sport; (5) that lesbians have the right to refuse penetrative sex, without being called bigots; (6) threats, violence, denial of free speech and calls for the bosses to sack people on grounds of their views, are completely unacceptable.

Can we at least agree these ground-rules for a civilised debate?

See: Three books on Transgender politics (1 of 4) – Material Girls

The three books under review tackle an issue on which there is no agreement in the debate or even whether there should be one.  No agreement on the terms used and no agreement on the facts, no agreement on what the status of the terms employed have in relation to the facts and which are relevant to the issue.

Making resolution much, much harder is the conviction that what is involved are not only conflicting views but conflicting interests, and although there are some claims to these overlapping to some degree, both sides see the fundamental issue as one that cannot be resolved given the differences; what is therefore involved is a conflict that must be won.  What one side considers as philosophical critique the other identifies as physical intimidation and threat.

So, even to assert that there is a debate is seen as taking sides.  This review cannot help but notice that there is a debate so will even by this fact alone be taking sides; already we are into disputed territory. 

*****

(1) 2014 – January – RS21/Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (resigned 23 December 2013, founded 2014) – over ‘Comrade Delta’
https://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/54901525674/statement-on-…

Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2021 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Founder of Extinction Rebellion and Burning Pink, Roger Hallam: Warns of Doomsday without a “Spiritual Revolution” .

with 3 comments

Warning of “War played out in every city, every neighbourhood, every street..”

With COP and Climate Change dominating the news we hear a fair amount about Extinction Rebellion and their latest protests. But what are their wider politics, what is the kind of strategy their activists advance, and what what is their relationship to the left and any kind of progressive politics?

Here are some clues from a founding figures.

In 2021 only a Spiritual Revolution can bring us together. Only when we remember that we are all connected, only when we remember we are not separate from nature but part of it, only then can we come together on the basis of the one human value on which we all can unite: that life is good and we must preserve it at all cost. Whatever it takes.

Conservatives:

Allowing this to happen violates all our traditions, destroys families and communities, destroys our nations.

Liberals:

We face the destruction of all the progress towards freedom and prosperity built up over hundreds of years.

Radicals:

Corporate capitalism doesn’t just create vile inequality, it now creates global mass death. It has to be stopped.

From ROG,Website of Roger Hallam.

Julian Roger Hallam, a Welsh environmental activist, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, cooperative federation organisation Radical Routes  and the political party Burning Pink (which stood candidates in local elections last May, including in Ipswich).

The idea that Green Politics is neither Right nor Left but ‘Beyond’ or ‘Above’ political divisions is an old one. Hallam goes one stage further. He wants to abolish ballot boxes and elections and replace them with Citizens’ Assemblies, “I started Burning Pink in 2019 to create a direct action movement which would stand in elections to create a political revolution: legally binding citizens assemblies to take over from politicians. We have painted the buildings of NGOs and political parties that refuse to tell the truth and act upon it.”

This politics is based on a universal call to human kind. It has echoes of the 1980s anti-Nuclear movement’s fight against the potential global catastrophe of Exterminism (“Exterminism designates those characteristics of a society — expressed, in differing degrees, within its economy, its polity and its ideology — which thrust it in a direction whose outcome must be the extermination of multitudes.  “Exterminism and Cold War” E. P. Thompson 1987). For Hallam and his co-thinkers the answer to the present climate change threat is, transcendant yearnings aside, grounded on a ‘revolutionary’ proposal to replace elected democracy with institutions of decision-making selected by lot and statistics.

What are these Assemblies?

Permanent citizens’ assemblies need to become the new legislative arm of the state. This is the precise constitutional definition of a democratic revolution in the twenty-first century. They are legally binding so they cannot be ignored by parliaments and are organised by independent civil society groups and social movements rather than by the government and elites. When they announce their decisions, the carbon elites and their political administrators will break the rules and use lies and violence to try to take back power. This happens in all revolutionary episodes. We have to be prepared for this. As soon as citizens’ decisions are made millions will have to come back onto the streets to ensure the people’s will is done. That we demand life not death. And nothing will stop us.

Hold on. Who gets in these powerful bodies?

Extinction Rebellion has a sketch:

“The Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice will bring together ordinary people to investigate, discuss and make recommendations on how to respond to the climate emergency. Similar to jury service, members will be randomly selected from across the country. The process will be designed to ensure that the Assembly reflects the whole country in terms of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. Assembly members will hear balanced information from experts and those most affected by the emergency. Members will speak openly and honestly in small groups with the aid of professional facilitators. Together they will work through their differences and draft and vote on recommendations.”

Burning Pink sees them as a “representative group of people” “chosen at random like a jury”, to “reflect the wider population ” – age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, social class – and “sometimes relevant social attitudes (political left or right)”.

They have, Burning Pink asserts, a three step procedure, learning, deliberation, and decision-making. All good members of the aleatorily chosen ones will, there is little doubt, be united in a quest for knowledge, and follow these guidelines to the deliberate letter.

One is recommended to see the Sortation Foundation for the background (“sortition (also known as selection by lottery, selection by lot, allotment, demarchy, stochocracy, aleatoric democracy and lottocracy“). 

The idea of abolishing democracy, representative or direct, based on election in which different programmes, ideas, and people stand in front of the electorate, the result to be decided by ballot, is a good idea is pretty off the wall. Most people would not wish important public decisions to be made by people chosen on the basis that they are a statistical reflection of the make-up of the population.

Furthermore unlike elections, where members of the elected body may stand for re-election, sortition does not offer a mechanism by which the population expresses satisfaction or dissatisfaction with individual members of the allotted body. Thus, under sortition there is no formal feedback, or accountability, mechanism for the performance of officials, other than the law.

It comes as no surprise that Hallam has plenty of other ideas on bringing together all kinds of different politics.

Roger Hallam: the conservative case for Extinction Rebellion


The environmental campaigner tells Freddie Sayers his movement is not just for the radical Left.

(from the right-wing site Unherd)

In an eye-opening interview, he tells Freddie Sayers about the importance of the nation-state, social conservatism, local community, and how he wants church leaders and ex-police officers in his movement. His pitch, in short, is that philosophical conservatives should not be afraid to embrace radical environmentalism:

On why nationalism is the best approach: National identity at the end of the day trumps internationalism when you’re faced with annihilation. Now, I want to make clear that that does not mean the chauvinistic nationalism that a lot of left wing people associate nationalism with, for good reason, of course. But as we all know, there’s many different shades of patriotism and nationalism. And it’s silly really to weaponise it. What we’re looking at is a nationalism or patriotism which is rooted in a love of one’s country, a love of one’s tradition, and a love of one’s political traditions. – ROGER HALLAM, LOCKDOWNTV

Yet even so, this today is quite an eye-opener.

Then there is this…

He’s still at it:

That analogy leaves you with a sick taste in the mouth.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Stuart Wise, Original King Mob – English Section of the Situationist International – Member, Passes.

with 2 comments

King Mob Echo English Section of the Situationist International

 A highly personal, deeply political, coldly analytical and achingly optimistic account of what some consider to be one of the most important English political groupings of the 20th Century and beyond.

The psycho-mythological legacy left behind by King Mob, nowadays often tied up with its assumed influence on Malcolm McLaren/the Pistols and Punk Rock (and via it’s wider Situationist context, Factory Records and the Hacienda) far outweighs the physical imprint they left behind in the form of six glued together copies of its often wildly and deliberately provocative publication, and the iconic graffiti left up around West London and beyond. 

From a radical working class perspective, Dave Wise (helped by brother Stuart and longtime collaborator Nick Brandt) gives a first hand account of the (loose) formation of King Mob after their core members were excluded from the Situationist International by the schism-happy Debord in 1967. (Not, unfortunately, as the story used to go, after Debord came to London looking for the crack squad of pro-situ streetfighters he’d heard about, and found Dave and Stuart W. sat in front of Match of the Day getting on the lager- it never happened). “A Critical History….” celebrates their attempt to move “from the Situationist salon to the street” , whilst not shying away from identifying tactical, strategic and theoretical holes in the groups day to day actions, as seen by brothers Dave and Stuart.

Plans to blow up waterfalls, getting arrested on demos dressed as pantomine horses (the back end got off in court, on the grounds he didn’t know what the front end was doing…seriously), sharing oversized baked bean costumes with ultra-Maoists on Vietnam marches.  Getting high and hungrily devouring Coleridge, De Quincey, Rimbaud, Marx, De Sade, Breton, Joyce and Hegel. Pissing over the lectern whilst declaring the death of art at the 1968 English Surrealist convention, being (falsely) put in the frame for the 1969 Newcastle School of Art firebombing ; perhaps most infamously dressing up as Santa Claus in Selfridges toy dept, Xmas 1969, and watching the chaos of consumerism unfold before them as crying children had the King Mob freely-gifted toys wrenched from their arms by confused and desperate employees. There was never any danger of King Mob withering quietly on the vine of ritualised opposition, but the downturn of the early 1970’s and the apparent end of any hope for imminent social revolution as the “forthcoming horror of a totalitarian free market society of pseudo-individualism” hoved into view , hit some of them harder than they could have imagined. As more financially independent King Mob individuals drifted off into the warm embrace of various strands of bourgeois counterculture, others faced up to the harsher realities of the “capsized utopia”. Some didn’t make it through, as an at times unintentionally moving epilogue here recalls.

Dave Wise spent the next thirty five years combining casual work on the buildings with travel and immersive writing on everything from the Portugese Revolution to Punk, from deep-ecology to the Inner City Riots of 1984. As he continues with this “maimed praxis” into his seventies, “A Critical, Hidden History” is a living, breathing account of a brief moment in time, when the light got through the cracks in the wall, and a new world felt possible. As we career into the 21st century, with Capitalism apparently in semi-permanent crisis and new (often transient) zones of opposition appearing by the month, the relevance of the playful, life affirming, non-hierarchical, anti-capitalists King Mob seems as great today as it ever did.

King Mob Echo: English Section of the Situationist International

Full copy on Lib Com:

 I have to say I was Impressed by them, they just had a better line of rhetoric. I was excited by what they represented but didn’t fully understand what it was. It was a new way of looking at the world. You could grab whatever bits you could, like crumbs falling off a table. For us the Situationists were revolutionary artists.” Malcolm McLaren, Dazed & Confused

“The Situationists were the first people ever to provide me with a rational explanation of our irresponsible behaviour and to see everything in terms of political activity. They were much more fun, their writings were more fun, they were doing more interesting things, their pamphlets were more interesting than the boring fucking Trots.” Alan Marcuson, Days in the Life

Contents:
Rebel Worker 6 – Burn Baby Burn – London – May 1966 – Charles Radcliffe
Heatwave 1 – July 1966 – Charles Radcliffe
Heatwave 2 – October 1966 – Chris Gray – Charles Radcliffe
The Modern Art of Revolution and the Modern Art of Revolution 1967 – Tim Clark, Chris Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith, Charles Radcliffe
King Mob Echo 1 – April 1968 – Chris Gray
King Mob – Art Schools Are Dead – October 1968
King Mob Two – Letters on Student Power – November 1968 – Chris Gray
King Mob Graffiti and Flyers
King Mob 3 – 1969 – Chris Gray
King Mob 5 – W. Australian Anarchist Federation
King Mob 6 – Work – 1970

A CRITICAL HIDDEN HISTORY OF KING MOB

 “The adventure of the arts (painting, sculpture, poetry, literature, music) passes

 in its decline through three essential phases: a phase of self-liquidation (Malevich’s

 “white square”, Matt/Duchamp’s urinal re-baptized “Fountain”, Dadaist word-

 collages, Finnegan’s Wake, certain compositions of Varese); a phase of self-parody

 (Satie, Picabia, Duchamp); and a phase of self transcendence, exemplified in the

 directly lived poetry of revolutionary moments, in theory as it takes hold of the

Why should I even begin to write what could be a possibly longish text on something that happened so many many moons ago? King Mob, though only existing for a very brief period in the late 1960s, nonetheless affected everything I did afterwards, but I guess this response is also true of all others who were involved in one way or another. Always, always on my mind in some kind of way a push was needed in order to get it kick-started.

“I met a prostitute – Angela W – from the fishing port of Grimsby on the mouth of the Humber in the north of England. I instantly fell in love with her in an all-consuming way. The pain inside my body so massively accumulated with the death of hopes for the social revolution which would have given my life any meaning and, in a way, symbolised by the death of King Mob in my youth, was kind of half wrenched out of me as she slowly and pensively shambled towards me in a disarming walk. She had a certain compassionate expression on her face. I was finished and fulfilled through, it seemed, this obviously contradictory hammer blow. She was 55 –my age – though 5 days younger. Little by little I got to know her and the intensity I felt towards her just convulsively increased. I adored. The odds were gone and there was nothing left remarkable beneath the visiting moon. I just wanted to give everything of my self to her: the money I had, my possessions but most of all the intensity of my experience – the sheer truth of it – warts and all. Over the following weeks I typed her letter, after much mulled over, letter. They were about so many things but constantly came back to the need to transform traditional notions of Eros – extending the “oceanic feelings” inherent in Eros to all aspects of daily life. It was as though my youth had been re-visited on me – a youth cut off so abruptly with the extinguishing of revolutionary hopes. All I waited for was her kisses, her beautifully wrinkled breasts, and her northern, out for a good time, life-enhancing laugh (knowing that it also covered a rebellious spirit tinged with a puritanism that also lacked the courage of its convictions). If necessary – cornball though true – I would have willingly died for her as it felt like a dying in order to live. I was a slave to her erotic, transforming presence and it felt like I was on the brink of a new and different catharsis (infinitely dialectical if you like) the likes of which had never been born concretely in this world.”

The mob who shouldn’t really be here King Mob

HARI KUNZRU

The radical 1960s English group King Mob called themselves the ‘gangsters of the new freedom’, and combined hard-edged politics with the disruptive potential of Dada. Kunzru looks back at their world after sifting through their archive, which has recently been acquired by Tate.

At least two generations of London commuters knew about the radical group King Mob, even if they didn’t know they knew them. For many years, as the Hammersmith and City line tube passed under the Westway near Royal Oak station, a mocking message confronted travellers: SAME THING DAY AFTER DAY – TUBE – WORK – DINER [sic] – WORK – TUBE – ARMCHAIR – TV – SLEEP – TUBE – WORK – HOW MUCH MORE CAN YOU TAKE – ONE IN TEN GO MAD – ONE IN FIVE CRACKS UP.         

The message, painted in huge letters on a concrete barrier wall, survived into the early 1990s, before disappearing in one of the waves of regeneration that have transformed tracts of the city into a globalised consumer playground. The radicals responsible took their name from another piece of graffiti, which appeared during the Gordon Riots of 1780. On a wall of the destroyed Newgate prison some proletarian wit daubed a sort of signature, attributing the work to ‘His Majesty King Mob’. The 1960s King Mob centred around brothers David and Stuart Wise, who had attended art school in Newcastle, developing an interest in the disruptive anti-art potential of Dada and Surrealism and a hard-edged politics partly derived from nineteenth-century Russian Nihilism. In texts such as Pisarev’s The Destruction of Aesthetics, they found fundamental questions being asked about value, politics and the (lack of ) social function of art.

In 1967 the Wise brothers found themselves in London, in the orbit of the English section of the Situationist International. The Situationist picture of the consumer society as a giant machine for producing pacifying spectacle chimed with their own analysis, and SI members such as Chris Gray and Don N. Smith were drawn into King Mob, a name used to sign posters, texts and actions, all aimed at disrupting the hypnotic effects of the spectacular social order. Other associates in the Notting Hill underground included John Barker, later to serve a prison sentence for Angry Brigade bombings, and Charles Radcliffe, later part of Howard Mark’s cannabis smuggling operation. As David Wise subsequently wrote, the group was a ‘spontaneous coming together… sheer passion and the desire to live a life free of money (the intensified invasion of exchange) and the social relations of commodity production was the very essence of what we were about’.

King Mob actions were witty, carnivalesque and confrontational. In 1968 members, dressed in (among other things) gorilla suits and pantomime horse outfits, led a crowd that tore down the high fences surrounding Powis Square gardens in Notting Hill, reopening the place as a playground for local children. They sneaked their own float into the Notting Hill Carnival, and ran riot in Selfridges department store. Their publications often took the form of détourné pop-cultural images, such as the poster Luddites 69, in which Andy Capp, the stereotypical northern working-class cartoon character, shoots policemen, below a text reproduced from a nineteenth-century Luddite broadside: ‘I ham going to informe you that theers six thousand me cuming to you sooon and then we will goe and blow up all about hus, labring peple cant stand it no longer…’ Elsewhere, The Beano’s Bash Street Kids rag their teacher, who asks: ‘What do you demand in pitting the power of everyday life against hierarchical power?’ ‘Simple,’ respond the kids, ‘we demand everything, teacher!’

The other big influence on King Mob’s style and attitude was the floating population of New York’s Lower East Side anarchists centred on Ben Morea, publisher of agitprop journal Black Mask, friend of would-be Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas and founder and animating spirit of Up Against the Wall Motherfucker!, a self-styled ‘street gang with an analysis’. Morea’s Motherfuckers declared war on New York’s artistic elite, picketing MoMA and dumping trash on the steps of the Lincoln Center, all in the spirit of ‘cultural exchange’ – offering ‘garbage for garbage’. They revelled in the darkest and angriest aspects of the counterculture, repelling the more peace-and-love-minded underground types. ‘We are the ultimate Horror Show,’ read one of their communiqués, ‘Hideous Hair & Dangerous Drugs… Armed Love striking terror into the vacant hearts of the plastic Mother & pig-faced Father.’ In the mid 1960s the Wises spent time with Morea, co-signing at least one Motherfucker statement. The group’s wildness and willingness to take personal risks (during a 1967 anti-war rally, they broke into the Pentagon, and were beaten to a pulp) fed into King Mob’s confrontational street politics, worlds away from the Parisian avant-gardism of the SI. Indeed, it was the British Situationists’ support for Morea in a row with Raoul Vaneigem that led to their formal expulsion from the SI. Unlike the Parisian intellectuals, the Motherfuckers combined direct action with social activism, feeding the homeless, housing teenage runaways and standing up for the Lower East Side community against the notorious Ninth Precinct police.

Like the Motherfuckers, King Mob developed a healthy suspicion of the pretensions of many self-styled radicals. Terming themselves ‘gangsters of the new freedom’, they were a chaotic and often unwelcome presence at various nominally revolutionary events. During the Hornsey College of Art occupation, they were thrown out for mocking the ‘abysmal’ quality of the debates. At the LSE they distributed posters and leaflets encouraging occupying students to go further in their actions, material which was hurriedly suppressed by ‘odiously puritanical” student leaders who wanted to maintain the decorum of their protest. As revolutionary bullshit detectors and antiart activists, King Mob despised one thing above all – culture, ‘the commodity which helps sell all the others’. To them Godard was ‘just another bloody Beatle’, and the elite of cultural consumers who looked to the avant-garde or the political underground for shock or novelty were just as duped by the spectacle as any mass-media-watching suburbanite. And that means you, readers of Tate Etc. One thing is certain. King Mob never wanted to find themselves here, in the house rag of cultural consumption, let alone locked away in Tate’s permanent collection. But these posters and magazines are just detritus, the record of past struggles. In the present day, the real action is elsewhere.

Revolutionary Recreations: The Myth of Situationism

What Next Journal. No 21.

Andrew Hussey, The Game of War: The Life and Times of Guy Debord, Jonathan Cape, 2001. Hardback, 420pp, £18.99.

Reviewed by Andrew Coates

POLITICS REDUCED to boosting the free circulation of capital, the commercial landscape overshadowed by multinational logos, virtual wars fought as a spectator sport a little too close to the blood steeped arena, and it is hard to escape the over-abundant products of globalisation. Nor that these wonders have more than a touch of the unreal: “Capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image”, as the major Situationist text, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), put it.1 With capitalism’s onward march across the planet, whatever the cracks and fissures, a section of the left has retreated back to ’60s romanticism, railing against the one-dimensional choices on offer. A world in which only a total refusal, a “défi”, is the basis for revolutionary politics. Almost a universe where Jean Baudrillard, who owes a heavy debt to Situationism, can declare the 11 September massacre an eruption against the all-engulfing security order to attempt to “force a change in the rules of the game”. And, sententiously, that the bombing of Afghanistan is, like the Gulf War, a “non-event” (Le Monde, 3 November 2001).

A somewhat less dramatic challenge was represented, or rather, self-represented, by Guy Debord (1931-1994), and the body he led, and destroyed, the Situationist International (1957-1972). Andrew Hussey’s The Game of War follows a flurry of books published on Debord, some highly critical, in France (Le Monde, 23 March 2001). To the British author his fascination with Debord and the Situationists stemmed from admiration at their “bravery, resourcefulness, poetry and sheer contempt for the veneer of civilisation” (p.5).

Civilised media types fell over themselves puffing this volume, with lengthy reviews appearing in the broadsheets and Radio Three devoting a programme to Debord. It is indeed an exceptionally well-written biography, sensitive and knowledgeable about Debord’s French cultural milieu (though shakier on the politics) and written in a lucid style remote from academic jargon. Hussey demonstrates, nevertheless, when one has undertaken some serious investigation into the substance of Debord’s theories and politics, the fragility of that “bravery”. His concluding assertion, that by explaining the “eternal present” as spectacular reification, the Situationist No.1 presented “the clearest and most penetrating diagnosis of the causes and the nature of the most extreme forms of contemporary alienation” (pp.372-3), is, unfortunately, wholly misguided.

There is no point in indulging these myths, and now is a good time for some settling of accounts with la bande à Debord. Hussey contrasts the abolition of history and politics by the “post-modernist philosophy” of the Socialist Society with the “glamorous nihilism” of the Situationists (p.5). Hilary Wainwright may have her faults, and he is not totally wrong to criticise those Soc-Soc meetings (I speak as an attendee), but post-modernism owes much to Situationism and little to the British New Left. In fact Situationism was one of the most weightless and culturally absorbed efforts of the avant-guard left, its central oeuvre now stocked up in a Walpurgis Night of ghostly incarnations on the Web, mulled over by keyboard revolutionaries. Far from bathing in the illumination of the origins of the nunc stans, a sad dipsomaniac Debord went to his grave carrying on his late ’80s ranting about the “growth of secret societies and networks of influence”. His theoretical legacy to parapolitics, the conviction that there were “thousands of plots in favour of the established order”, is to be taken literally. For the Spectacle, he had long concluded, Mafia-style conspiracy had become “part of its very functioning”.2 This may make for good biographical gossip; it is the basis for very feeble politics.

There is plenty of evidence for Debord’s failings in The Game of War. Romance and a longing for the barricades of May ’68 aside, the attraction of the Situationists lies in three principal dimensions: their critique of cultural artefacts (from representation to urbanism), their sketch of the Spectacle, and their strategy (such as it was) to transform everyday life and politics. In their cultural roots, the Situationists emerged from an even more obscure artistic movement called Letterism. This operated in ’50s France, according to its Romanian chief founder, Isidore Isou, to promote radical artistic “auto-destruction”, chiselling language down to its basic sounds to form the amplitude of an artistic effect. Hussey describes well the rag-week nature of their exploits (disrupting a mass at Notre Dame in 1950), and their self-importance. The results of further experiments can best be judged by those who have heard them, or seen their cinematic production (and Debord’s early efforts), though, fulfilling their objective, they do not seem to have endured. Yet, if there is little artistic legacy left, it can be argued that the histrionics and small group narcissism of the last avant-gardes deeply marked the Situationists’ approach to these triple domains.

Guy Debord began his critique of consumer culture by ploughing through the legacy of avant-garde artistic movements, Dadaism and Surrealism, and their confrontation with modern society. From exposing the underside of contemporary life, he offered a vision of an alternative. The journal Internationale Situationniste appeared in 1958. Its programme was grounded in the “construction of situations”. This involved the discovery of inner wishes, “in order to make them real”, to “free people’s desire to play”, a break from the hypnotism of the pantomime of conditioned conformism. Their International was a micro society centred on a way of life, as Hussey observes, with parallels to that of the gypsy scholars of the middle ages. A central practice of the group around the review was derived from an earlier Lettrist pursuit, the “dérive” (“drift” in this instance – unguided motion/activity). Described by Hussey as those who “would float around Paris in the pursuit of anarchy, play, poetry” (p.91), it involved for the Situationists copious quantities of alcohol, “the transformative agent which released subjectivity and objective change into the city” (p.145).

Echoing as much the habits of a certain Karl Marx on a Soho pub crawl as the crapulous squalor of François Villon, this practice has been of course at the heart of British leftist activity for several centuries. Less familiar is the concept of “unitary urbanism” to which the dérive was loosely connected. This was the vision of an environment which creative subjectivity could mould “a new free architecture”. As Hussey describes it, this implied the rebinding of social and aesthetic qualities in the organisation of urban conditions, making cities into free spaces for play, and passion, a “chance meeting-place of various castles, ravines, lakes”, in which we would drift. The tyranny of town planning and the materialisation of capitalist domination of time and space were challenged by this “psychogeography” (rendering time and space in terms of the human psyche).

What may be charitably described as a leftist Disney World would eventually emerge from the “setting apart of a small number of areas where people are free to relax and to recognise themselves and one another as they really are”.4 It is significant that this concession to something that might actually be tried out in reality – as counter-cultural experiments that took place in the low countries and Scandinavian lands – was not written by Debord but by Raoul Vaneigem and Attila Kotanyi. Another legacy to the counter-culture was “détournement” (twisting round), subversion of advertising and cultural products by imitation. Hussey regards this as an original contribution, making waves in the anti-globalisation movement, though there are certainly precursors in photomontage and radical 1930s cultural militancy. More typically the Situationists, following their 1966 intervention in the University of Strasbourg and the publication of The Misery of Student Life, inserted strident messages about alienation and revolution inside comic strips. They designed the template for generations of unreadable and pretentious student leaflets all over the world.

These suggestive, if limited, forays into the theories of urbanisation and cultural studies are striking in despising the passivity of the “public” and for the Situationists’ own description of themselves as the “livers”. Vaneigem tried to bridge the gap through the liberation of everybody’s multiple desires, notably in his celebrated The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967 – original title, Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage de jeunes générations). He has continued this neo-Fourierian project right to the present, most recently in attempting a fully rounded conception of human rights (Déclaration des Droits de l’Etre Humain, 2001). Debord tried to discover more political methods to end the division between the reified and the savoury remnant in his defining work, The Society of the Spectacle, published the same year. Social relations are mediated by images that have covered the “entire surface of the world”, leaving people to stare at their reflections; from this cavernous gaol we will be led to the sunlight of reality, if we would follow.

In The Society of the Spectacle we are informed that “The origin of the spectacle is the loss of the unity of the world” (Thesis 29), that it is the “concrete manufacture of alienation” (Thesis 32), and that “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life” (Thesis 42). The working class is going to have a hard time becoming a “liver” in these conditions, or to become the “class of consciousness” (Thesis 88) that Debord postulates. In any case, the twin forces of Stalinism and Fascism (Thesis 109) have annihilated the revolutionary workers’ movement. Trotskyism is a hopeless return to a lost Leninist illusion. The proletariat’s “externalised power” helps to “reinforce capitalist society, not only in the form of its labour but also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power it has built to emancipate itself” (Thesis 114). Yet there is hope. By rejection of all “congealed externalisation and all specialisation of power”, and a “total critique of separation” it can rediscover the power of negation. This would require theory to be “lived by the masses”, for “workers to become dialecticians” (Thesis 123).

The Society of the Spectacle is not an original work. George Lukács’s concept of reification and class consciousness, the “critique of everyday life” of the independent Communist theoretician, Henri Lefebvre, and the critical, pro-self-management Marxism of the 1950s review Arguments (which published most of the texts that were the basis for the ’60s “new left”) breathe through its pages. The Game of War evokes Nietzsche as a source for the concept of the Spectacle, and one takes this on Hussey’s authority (though the German term “Shauspiel” has narrower theatrical connotations). This debt leads one to suspect that any “revaluation of values” undertaken by Debord, carried with it something of the same disdain for the vulgar herd who lacked any negative strength. A weakness for the trappings of genteel learning is much in evidence. There are, Hussey admiringly notes, citations and reference to Machiavelli, “the Spanish renaissance poet and courtier” Baltasar Granciàn, Shakespeare, “the distinguished American professor of history who held a chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology” Louis Mumford, and Fourier, proving, he informs us, its “originality” (p.218).

Régis Debray has argued that the theoretical framework of The Society of the Spectacle is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach.5 He has in mind The Essence of Christianity (1841), in which religion is explained as a process by which human properties are discharged onto a God, viewed as a nature apart from its creator. Liberation is the return of divine predicates back to human reality. Debord’s assertion that the unified power of the workers’ councils could bring back human practice – without any clear details about this would happen – from spectacular alienation has something of the same flavour. But the spectacle is not only God. The Society of the Spectacle could also be the object of Feuerbach’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy (1839) which attacked the Hegelian system as the “absolute self-externalisation of reason”.6 Debord’s categories exist in the purest state of objectification: the circuits of capital, their transformation into commodified images, and universal permeation, are laid out without any greater detail than be gleaned from browsing and thinking over a few well chosen texts. Institutions, from Stock Exchanges, Banks, States to Factories, from the Labour Process to the Media, are animated by the flow of images, but not illuminated by their detailed mechanisms. This “expressive totality” works with one simple contradiction (between practice and reification) throughout its entire unified fabric. The twist is that the crystallised forms of the Spectacle have always won until now, and have prevented real oppositions emerging. Or so it is bookishly affirmed.

Debord was not only sterile academically. The major 1960s Situationist writings are possibly unique in combining a virulent workerist streak (in contrast to say other studies of the consumer society, such as Marcuse’s), with a savage dismissal of the existing workers’ movement and its real (as opposed to potential) opposition to specific capitalist structures and policies. They are marred by reliance on rhetorical devices, such as antithesis (the world is at once “present and absent”) and bathos (the Spectacle is a “mere appearance”, reduced to the “empire of modern passivity”, yet it, as befits the emperor, “bathes endlessly in its own glory”). By the stroke of a pen, the struggle over the working day, over welfare, over partial reforms, as “externalisation” is written off.

The Situationists’ moment of glory was the events of May ’68. To Hussey their sloganising made the “events unique” (p.241). Such rhetoric was certainly unleashed at full throttle. Styling themselves after the French Revolution’s Enragés, their writings imitated Hébert’s Père Duchesne. Hussey unfortunately invariably renders their most frequent insults, “con” or “connard”, as “cunt”, which makes them speak the language of Trainspotting, rather than the average French colloquialisms they are. If it is these words which remain in most recollections of the period, including the anthologies that regularly appear, it is difficult to find many activists greatly concerned about this tiny organisation. Hussey concentrates wisely on Situationist manoeuvring in student politics, such as the Sorbonne Occupation Committee – the workers’ occupation councils safely distant – where they were one amongst a gaggle of leftist groups. The clashes between the unions, workers and the Gaullist regime, the scepticism of the CGT and PCF towards the student leaders and the university militants’ hostility towards the Communists (amply justified in both directions) took place in spheres remote from the Situationists’ field of vision.

Hussey remarks that “twenty years after the events Debord assigned the Situationists and himself the central role in the drama of the streets”. He regarded it as a time when “absolute change could occur” (p.247). The failure lay in that intellectuals and students had been unable to understand the nature of the enemy. Unable to face the totality they had crumbled. An aesthetic and absolutist approach to politics, where most of your own side are the tentacles of the Enemy (from anarchists to Stalinists), may also be counted as less than successful.

Debord’s record as a revolutionary, such as it was, is pretty dismal even by the low standards set by this vainglorious rancour. If their slogans made an impact their activities has little resonance. At times The Game of War’s account of his role in the Situationist International resembles that of Netchayev’s murderous conspiracy as rewritten by Dostoevsky in The Devils. There were seductions, manipulations, money dragged from the pockets of wealthy benefactors, beatings, and expulsions. The author, Jean Maitron, has his flat smashed up in his presence, for some slight. This died down as the early ’70s saw the Situationists wind up their organisation. To survivors, “the idea of a collective enterprise had collapsed”. Debord retreated into ever more snobbish and esoteric exercises. He was indulged by the impresario and publisher, Gérard Lebovia, who presented him with the imprint Champ Libre. Amongst those who collected these books, I can testify, were a few who truly appreciated the courtly elegance of Casteligone which Debord took to mirror his own aristocratic gentility. Tasting fine wines and eating gourmet food – still permanently intoxicated – Debord slumped into alcoholic grossness, playing war games in his country retreats. Lebovia’s mysterious gangland killing drove him to further misogyny. It is without surprise that we learn of Debord’s deep-rooted sexism (coming out with the hoary old “she does the washing up, I make the revolution”), and love of behaving badly (being nasty to anyone who tried to carry on his political work). To his credit Hussey reveals this side of Debord’s personality, a factor no doubt responsible for the threats he incurred from the remaining unconditional admirers of, as he calls Debord, the Prince of Division.

The Situationist had slumbered into the world of parapolitics. His last lieutenant, the Italian, Gianfranco Sanguinetti, has published On Terrorism and the State (English edition, 1982) alleging that the Red Brigades were a state invention. This, not unreasonable, claim was, however, supplemented by some of Debord’s own notions, which gradually implicated the spectacle into a conspiracy of self-maintenance. As Hussey states, “the concept of the spectacle implies of course that someone had put the spectacle in place” (p.372). The “of course” aside, what does this imply? That Debord far from pioneering a new form of romantic Marxism, or avant-garde experimental politics, had ended up a conspiracy theorist. Obsessed with drink he sunk rather than rose with it. He was obese. Like a 17th century squire he suffered from gout. For Hussey, Debord’s suicide on 4 October 1994 was an act of gravitas in a world that had left no choice for Revolution. It was appropriate that the “logic which had consistently dictated the rules of Debord’s war against the spectacular society [that] … his first and foremost appearance on television was in the form of a suicide note” (p.374). Perhaps, as Jean Baudrillard glossed the concept of the Spectacle, he had come to realise that he too was part of the “hyper-real”, the absorption of forms of expression, political struggle and labour, into a universe of simulacra. Yet more fittingly we can summarise him in different language: a legend in his own lunchtime, not a legendary life.


Notes

1. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Black and Red, 1973. Thesis 34.

2. Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie, Verso, 1990, pp.74, 82.

3. Christopher Gray, ed, The Construction of Situations. Leaving the Twentieth Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, Free Fall Publications, 1974.

4. Ibid, p.29. Signed by Vaneigem and Kotanyi. I note that Hussey’s index misspells Vaneigem’s name Vanaigem.

5. Régis Debray, “Remarks on the Spectacle”, New Left Review 214, 1995.

6. Ludwig Feuerbach, “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy”, in Lawrence S. Stepelevich, ed, The Young Hegelians, Cambridge University Press, 1983, p.107.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 2, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Campaign Against “Gender Critical Feminists” “Has to Stop” – Lindsey German (Counterfire).

with 32 comments

Sussex University backs trans-row academic despite her resignation | Metro  News

Pathetic attempts at ‘no platforming’ and demands for dismissal.”

Lindsey German on climate change and the case of Kathleen Stock

weekly briefing Lindsey German.

It has to stop  Counterfire (Monday).  

The decision by Kathleen Stock to resign from Sussex University is regrettable, if understandable. She has faced threats of violence, demonstrations and calls for her dismissal. The statements from both Sussex UCU and the national union both fell far short of what should be said faced with this campaign of intimidation. Accusations of transphobia against Stock are wide of the mark.

But the outcome raises wider questions about how we should handle debate on the issues of feminism and trans rights. There are very deep divisions here, but there is an acceptable and unacceptable way of dealing with them. The former involves serious and respectful debate and discussion, the latter the pathetic attempts at ‘no platforming’ and demands for dismissal which should be reserved for fascists.

This was also true last week when a well-attended meeting on women and prisons, organised by Woman’s Place UK, was subject to an unpleasant and sexist protest (Editor’s Note, see letter from Woman’s Place) by people who opposed their gender critical views and accused them (wrongly) of transphobia. It seems lost on these people that women are an oppressed section of society and that if there is a clash with other groups of the oppressed (such as transwomen and men) then it has to be taken seriously.

It is worth noting here that these protests tend not to be directed towards, for example, the government, or real transphobes, but towards those on the left, including established socialists and trade unionists, who are deemed to be wrong about this. In itself, this shows an inward looking and narrow approach – the rest of the left really is not the enemy.

It is not acceptable to use sexist, ageist and racist abuse, as seems to be the case from video evidence, against women. It is not acceptable to comment on their looks, the shape of their bodies, or anything else. We have spent decades now fighting against stereotypes of how women are supposed to look and behave, and it is still an uphill battle. How appalling then that people on the left, in the name of supposed solidarity with the oppressed, feel it is justified to join in with these right wing views.

Let’s be clear here: gender critical women are not fascists – they are mostly left wing. They should be allowed to organise as women without being abused and intimidated. And if you think that doing otherwise is helping fight oppression, you really are in a bad place. This has to stop – the only people it is damaging is the left.

Comment.

German and, by extension, many of those in Counterfire, have been known to hold these views on the campaign of intimidation against gender critical feminism for some time. It is good to see this clear stand expressed.

Update: Top Newshound John gives the background:

We, the undersigned, have a variety of positions about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Some of us have not yet fully formed our opinions.

We are calling for action within our movement to allow debate to take place over proposed changes to the Act.

You may be aware that on April 13 this year, an activist, Tara Wood was convicted of the assault by beating of Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old woman who had gathered with others in order to attend a meeting at which they could discuss the potential impact on women and girls of such a change to the law.

On March 8, an incident also occurred on a Bectu picket line in which trans activists, with no connection to the industrial dispute itself, mobbed and verbally attacked a female trade union member on the basis of having recognised her as an attendee at a similar meeting.

And in late April women in Bristol looking to meet and discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act were met with masked activists blocking entrances to the venue, and deliberately intimidating those wishing to go inside.

More recently, a meeting organised by Woman’s Place UK was targeted with a bomb threat which Hastings Police are investigating as a serious incident.

These cases are part of systematic attempts to shut down meetings organised by women at which they can discuss potential legislative changes and the impact these may have on any sex-based rights already enshrined in law.

They draw the whole of our progressive movement into disrepute.

Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.

Other women, including ordinary women concerned for their rights, as well as those active within the trade union movement and other political campaigns, are also now anxious and fearful that they will be subjected to such attacks when engaging in any political activity, meetings, or protests.

We are sure that, whatever your view regarding the issues around the Gender Recognition Act, you will agree that it is unacceptable for women to be made scared to engage in political life.

We, the undersigned, publicly and unequivocally condemn the use of violence or tactics of intimidation on this issue.

(Some names,well-known on the left and labour movement, are underlined.)

Yours sincerely,
Judith Green
Ruth Serwotka
Kiri Tunks
Lucy Masoud
Karen Ingala Smith
Lindsey German
Paula Lamont
Julie Bindel
Helen Steel

Gill Butler
Mark Serwotka
Mike Clancy
Vicky Knight
Tony Burke
Gail Cartmail
Susan Matthews
Len McCluskey
Sean McGovern
Maggie Ryan
Jane Stewart
Steve Turner
Tony Woodhouse
Philipa Harvey
Sarah Johnson
Dave Harvey
Heather McKenzie
Marilyn Bater
Paul Embery

Jeni Harvey
Julia Bard
Lisa-Marie Taylor
Pilgrim Tucker
Mary Davis
Jane Shallice
Rebecca Lush
Emma Wilkes
Charlie Dacke
Sybil Cock
Gill Parke
Ann Sinnott
Harriet Wistrich
Cllr Julie Davies
Maria MacLachlan
Nic Williams
Debbie Epstein
Kristina Jayne Harrison
Kay Green
Rosie Brocklehurst
Carolyn Thomas
Philippa Clark
Christiane Ohsan
Mary Adossides
Meirian Jump
Miriam David
Trish Lavelle
Megan Dobney
Anita Halpin
Carolyn Jones
Kath Campbell
Rachel Burns
Marj Mayo
Annette Mansell Green
Hilda Palmer
Janet Newsham
Annie Gwilym Walker
Alice Bondi
Helena Coates
Ceri Williams
Debbie Hayton
Gill Knight
Eleanor Hill
Bronwen Davies
Pam Isherwood
Hayley Mullen
Sybil Grundberg
Anne Morch
Jane Galloway
Diane Jones
Karen Broady
Emma Dolan
Jan Pemberton
Beth Aze
Louise Hersee
Naomi Grint
Emma Aynsley
Roy Wilkes
Holly Smith
Marjorie Caw
Catherine Bjarnason
Charlotte Carson
Gerald Clark
Carole Regan
Bernard Regan
John Millington
Therese O’Meara
Amanda MacLean
Gwenan Richards
Jayne Egerton
Kim Thomas
Helen Saxby
Marion L Calder
Gwenda Owen
Hannah Tahir
Kate Graham
Rebecca Heath
Catherine Muller
Radha Burgess
Lisa Bishop
Emma Salmon
Jan Pemberton
Lynne Caffrey
Becky Vaughn
Jan Baxter
Kate Jerrold
Jennifer James

Cllr Amy Brookes
Elizabeth Carola
Marta Garcia de la Vega
Ruth Gordon
Lorraine Roberts
Sona Mahtani
Caroline Spry
Ann McTaggart
Denise Bennett
Cllr Bob Walsh
Sue Lent
Helen Watts
Emma Barraclough
Beth Vennart
Ruth Conlock
Emma Flynn
Cathy Devine
Barbara Hughes
Louise Paine
Prue Plumridge
Sarah Tanburn
Donna Stevenson
Dinah Mulholland
Olivia Palmer
Hannah Laurel
Sandra Easton-Lawrence
Helen Soutar
Paula Dauncey
Tessa McInnes
Lynn Alderson
Abigail Rowland
Christian Stahle
Barbara Brookes
Hilary Adams
Fiona English
Frankie Rickford
Julie Timbrell
Jess Goldie

Here is Woman’s Place

This story is becoming known internationally.

There is, for example, now a French Wikipedia entry on Kathleen Stock.

Stock devient notoire en janvier 2021, lorsqu’elle est accusée de transphobie dans une lettre signée par 600 philosophes et autres universitaires, qui s’opposent à ce qu’elle reçoive un OBE (Ordre de l’Empire britannique). En octobre 2021, une campagne étudiante appelant à son licenciement suscite à la fois des critiques et un soutien envers Stock. Un groupe de plus de 200 philosophes universitaires du Royaume-Uni prend position en faveur de Stock et de la liberté académique. Malgré le soutien que lui apporte l’université, Stock démissionne.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2021 at 10:04 am

Alt Left Media in Crisis.

with 9 comments

And Fall: “Over at the Canary, traffic has fallen from a high of 8.5 million readers a month in the run-up to the 2017 election to around 250,000. “

In the post-Corbyn world, what next for alternative left media?

How are radical start-up outlets that thrived under the last Labour leader faring in the Keir Starmer era, and against the backdrop of newer right-wing players?

By Harry Clarke-Ezzidio (from David W).

Read the full article – recommended.

Extracts and comments.

Over the past ten years, a wave of platforms such as the Canary (founded in 2015), Evolve Politics (2015), Novara Media (2011), Skwawkbox (2012) and Another Angry Voice (2010) have identified a radical left-shaped hole in the media landscape. Many of these built on audiences inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Cumulatively, these outlets have 1.4 million followers across all major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). But with Corbyn gone and money pouring into right-wing news, how will they adapt?

(Note: this would include people who ‘like’ them on FB, follow them on Twitter but do not necessarily read them).

Broadcaster and campaigner Owen Jones recently set up a left-wing media venture based on his YouTube channel, featuring mini-documentaries, interviews and vlogs alongside his weekly news offering, the Owen Jones Show.

Cde Jones recently lost one follower.

What kind of content do they offer?

Yet the newer left-wing platforms also rely on viral hits with partisan content to build an audience. Double Down News, a left-wing site founded in 2017, does this largely through its video interviews with well-known figures on the left, such as Guardian environment journalist George Monbiot, economist Grace Blakeley, director Ken Loach and the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

All very interesting no doubt (hides yawn),

Let us get down to the subjects that interest the newhounds and gumshoes who contribute and read this site here.

Under Starmer’s leadership, the support given to Labour by sites such as Novara and Skwawkbox has diminished. These weaker ties do not trouble Sarkar. “Those four years of Corbyn really spoiled us,” she said. “Because the Labour Party has been boring for a lot longer than it was exciting.”

Having recently cancelled her party membership, Sarkar appeared at The World Transformed: an alternative convention that runs parallel to Labour’s autumn conference, established after Corbyn was elected. “I’m not interested, quite frankly, in what Keir Starmer chooses to do,” said Sarkar.

“He’s not somebody whose opinion I care about very much. What I care about is how the left deals with Starmer in order to achieve its policy goals and values. In the long term, if we gave up a really good climate change policy to give Keir Starmer an extra two points in the polls – that’s not going to be of great comfort on a burning planet.”

The article continues,

“Had their influence been overstated? McDowell-Naylor, who is working on a research project about the rise of alternative media outlets, thinks that while there was “something in the water” in 2017, crediting the new left media with that result ignores the wider context: “You also have to look at the fact that the Conservative Party’s 2017 election campaign was terrible by almost every measure.”

It then looks at Skwawkbox, interviewing the man himself, tactfully not mentioning UNITE, and letting the small businessman talk about his triumph in the solving the Penge Bungalow Murders, sorry Mid Staffordshire Hospital Scandal.

Steve Walker, who set up the pro-Corbyn Skwawkbox blog in 2012 to cover the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, disagreed. “I’m not interested in trying to brag… but the fact that there was a different narrative available, and the success of the spread of that into people’s consciousness – I’m sure it [new left-wing media] must have played a role.”

Walker – who was successfully sued for libel by ex-Labour MP Anna Turley in 2019, and (subject of controversy, we await clarification) – put Labour’s dismal 2019 performance down to the party’s Brexit position. He said Skwawkbox urged the party to sack Starmer, then shadow Brexit secretary, for backing a second referendum.

Now that Starmer is leader, and the left wing of the party holds less sway, many of these alternative outlets are considering their line come the next election. Who or what will they back?

“I am an anti-Tory person who takes an anti-Tory position, so we won’t discriminate according to the colour of the rosette,” said Walker. “But if you offer people the worst possible Labour government, you will end up with the worst possible Tory government.”

Novara Media: it’s all about Ash.

For Novara, Sarkar said success comes by “diversifying the product, not by diluting the principles which undergird [the] project”. This means being “responsive to the political moment”, but “still having that fundamental set of values about what’s going on and who it is you’re speaking to”, suggesting Novara will continue to be critical of Starmer’s Labour.

They are much more important than the Labour Party. “….the new left media believes its survival is distinct from who’s up or down within the Labour Party. “Novara isn’t about blind loyalty to Corbyn,” Sarkar said. “We predate the Corbyn project, and we managed to grow the most after its end: it was our coverage of the pandemic which really expanded our subscriber base, more so than the Corbyn moment.”

The social injustices and government sleaze arising from the pandemic response have brought new audiences to alternative outlets. Novara’s reporting on its flagship TyskySour current affairs show saw its YouTube channel grow exponentially during Covid-19: subscribers have nearly tripled, from 65,000 in March 2020 to over 170,000 in October 2021; overall, video views have more than tripled – from ten million monthly views prior to Covid, to over 40 million today.

Not having been arsed to watch this the Tendance cannot judge.

Then the Canary.

Over at the Canary, traffic has fallen from a high of 8.5 million readers a month in the run-up to the 2017 election to around 250,000. Editor-in-chief Andrew Rose put this down to a change in the Facebook algorithm in 2018, which significantly stifled traffic to his and competitors’ sites.

Yet the site and its former editor-at-large, Kerry-Anne Mendoza (who stepped back from her role this summer to prioritise her mental health), have also faced several allegations of anti-Semitism. (Rose said these allegations have “always been false”.)

It is asked: Will the alternative left media survive?

In 2017, Mendoza told the New Statesman that the Canary aspired to the same reach as the Daily Mail or the Sun: a lofty goal that looks even more remote four years on. “It’s difficult because we’ve been in existence for six years,” said Rose. “You can’t talk about any of the new left-wing outlets in the same way as about corporations that have both been in existence for hundreds of years, or [are] owned by billionaires.”

Despite the challenges, most in this media sphere believe they can defy the odds. Walker of Skwawkbox predicts social ills – poverty, instability, oppression – will provoke a reaction and generate new audiences. “The left outlets on their own are not going to set the world on fire. But people will, at some point, wake up to what’s being done to them.”

Rose said it “comes down to economics”, with the need for a wider left-wing support network to fund such coverage, including backing from trade unions. “We’re in it for the long haul, but I think it’s going to be a struggle.”

Prospects in the Metaverse are said to be good…….

That said many people will be surprised that the Squawking one is put in the same class as “radical start up outlets” and “alt media”. Skwawkbox is a bilious old grunter trained on a Remington who’s now lording forth against Labour and a variety of enemies (often inspired by his marginalised union cronies) through new technological toys in his basement. On might have little interest n Novara and the Canary, but a lurid fascination with factionalism – the chief pull of Steve Walker’s Organ – is not their forte.

The wider problem for the alt-left start ups is that they are not that interesting, people have had enough of their permanent talking heads, with notable exceptions their material is rarely of any depth, and the scene has more than its share of self-regarding coxcombs who are bitter at their failure to lead a new vanguard of comment.

For reasons best known to the author of their otherwise excellent piece he includes ByLines in the piece,

Reporting by the Byline Media group – which bills itself as non-partisan – has often been picked up by the mainstream press in the age of coronavirus: from uncovering  “crony” government Covid-19 contracts in the Byline Times, to Byline TV filming the abuse faced by Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater on the Batley and Spen campaign trail, and an interview with Dawn Butler MP after she was thrown out of parliament for accusing Boris Johnson of lying.

Bylines has recently established a series of regional outlets.

Their articles, often on local issues by people who know the topics inside out, are in a different league to the alt-left media’s efforts: written by those in direct contact with their subjects, and thought-provoking.

East Anglia Bylines.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2021 at 1:34 pm

Woman’s Place UK Letter to the SWP after Abusive Protest Outside Meeting, “A Women’s Place is not in Prison”.

with 26 comments

Protesters Outside Women’s Place Meeting.

SWP: Stand Up to Misogyny, Racism and Abuse

Many people saw this on Twitter:

This letter expresses the views of Women’s Place. To make their position clear we reproduce it in full.

Dear SWP,

Your paper’s coverage of the protests against Professor Kathleen Stock at the University of Sussex made it clear that the SWP believes it is legitimate for women who recognise that sex is a material reality to be harassed and intimidated at their workplace. The protests have now resulted in Professor Stock being obliged to leave the university. While the piece does say that women like us should not be driven out of our jobs, it gave a signal to your members that they have your organisation’s support if they take part in such protests, whatever the professional or personal impact on the targeted woman.

D, who identifies as an SWP member on Twitter, organised just such a protest at our public meeting A Woman’s Place Is (Not) In Prison on Wednesday October 27th at the QE2 Centre in London.

D’s public Twitter feed encourages people to join the SWP. D has retweeted statements suggesting that protesting at events like ours is a form of “anti-fascist solidarity”. The same individual also tweeted the time and location of our meeting encouraging people to protest at it and described Joanna Cherry MP and women who share her opinions as “absolute Nazis”.

Almost 600 women had bought tickets to hear an all-woman panel discuss how prison punishes women for being poor, violently abused and vulnerable. It was a meeting which would have been of interest to any socialist or feminist as it was discussing the cruelties of the prison system and alternatives to it for vulnerable working-class women.

There were only about six protestors and videos of them are circulating widely online.

Our event coincided with a conference for Black people in business as part of Black History Month.

People attending our event and the Black business meeting, venue staff and our stewards were subjected to the most extreme outpouring of racist and misogynistic abuse. The apparent organiser and leader of the protest, D, and the SWP by association, bear responsibility for the protestors’ language and behaviour.

These include comments such as:

“Shut the f*ck up, you c*nt” shouted into the face of our chief steward.

“Call Weightwatchers, your body’s not doing it.”

“Your hair is minging, buy a weave.”

“Your breath smells like you’ve been eating ar*e, have you been eating her a*se?”

“Are you a lesbian? No man would want that.”

“Your breasts are on the floor, buy a bra and some hair dye too.”

“You fucking bald b*tch.”

“You’re a stuck-up b*tch.”

“I have a better body than you. Like, you have no bum. How do you sit down? What kind of man would want you? A blind man?”

“We don’t want pensioners. We don’t want dinosaurs like all you lot. You are not going to be around in 40 years. Well, 40’s a push.”

“You call yourself a woman? DIE! DIE! DIE!”

To people arriving for the Black Business event (who did not interact with the protestors):

“You went through slavery, you went through discrimination, rape, sexual harassment, the slave masters raped and sexually abused you and now you are abusing me, as a trans woman?”

“You were persecuted. You were nothing under slavery.”

“You look me in the eye. Your ancestors went through slavery and you are here. Hang your head in shame. Slave Master! Yes! Slave Master!”

“You call yourself Black people?”

“Why are you here? Are you supporting these Nazis? Are you supporting neo-Nazis?”

We are asking that the SWP openly stands up to racism and misogyny organised and facilitated by one of its members. As a self-described socialist taking part in the protest and someone who has spoken on behalf of Stand Up To Racism, D had a duty either to tell his collaborators to stop the racism, misogyny and offensive behaviour against women at the venue or to walk away from it. D did neither but instead contributed to it.

It will be apparent to you from watching the videos that our activists refused to engage with the abuse. We are committed to respectful debate on questions of sex and gender with people who disagree with us.

The intimidation to which we were subjected by people who are practising what you preach will not prevent us from organising other major events in the coming months.

We are part of a resurgent women’s liberation movement to which your group is hostile. We accept that, but we would like an assurance that if your members take your paper’s advice and protest against us that they will not permit abusive, racist, misogynistic behaviour at mobilisations for which you are politically responsible.

Some of our activists work alongside SWP members in unions and campaigns. This is an impossible relationship to maintain if people in the SWP are saying in public that we are equivalent to fascists. If this is now the approved position of the SWP it needs to be stated explicitly. If it is not, that also needs to be stated explicitly, if only for the benefit of your members who seem unclear on the question.

The best way for your organisation to do that is to publish a public statement unequivocally repudiating racism, ageism and misogyny which will remind your supporters that they are unacceptable in every circumstance.

Response from a one-time leading figure in the SWP.

This is not the first protest outside a Women’s Place Meeting:

Women’s meeting besieged by raging crowd (2019)

The Morning Star reports from Woman’s Place UK’s Labour Party conference unofficial fringe meeting.

AN ANGRY crowd besieged a Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) meeting in Brighton on Monday night, crowding and shouting: “Shame on you” at individuals entering and banging on the windows throughout in an attempt to drown out the speakers.

Protesters chanted that “WPUK is a hate group,” repeating claims by some trans activists that the feminist organisation is hostile to trans people’s rights, an assertion rejected by speakers at the event.

One woman was doused in water as she entered while a young PhD student was reduced to tears and missed most of the subsequent meeting because the “terrifying” experience brought on a panic attack.

The protest against WPUK’s A Woman’s Place is At Conference event was endorsed from the platform at Momentum’s The World Transformed event, leading to a larger turnout against the meeting, but protesters were heavily outnumbered by the 100 or so women and a few men who braved the demo and attended.

One retired female police officer said the policing of the demo was “a disgrace,” saying one protester had leaned in and screamed: “Shame on you” in her ear.

Socialist feminist campaigner Dani Ahrens said the leadership of the LGBT movement had moved away from a liberating vision as it became closer to corporate sponsors.

This Blog is not a supporter of Women’s Place.

Apart from the accusations against the SWP, whose background in well known, it seems as if this culture war is not going away.

This is not the right way to debate the issues around gender critical feminism.

It should be condemned and opposed by the left and all democrats.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2021 at 9:27 am

Posted in Free Speech, SWP

Tagged with , ,

On the Resignation of Feminist Kathleen Stock after ‘Toxic’ Campaign against her.

with 30 comments

Trans-row professor Kathleen Stock quits university over 'toxic' environment

Disagree with her Opinions, if you wish, but oppose Intimidation.

“Hazlitt was the subject of constant attacks by the Tory press, of a kind we could not now tolerate. They called him depraved, blasphemous, malign, a fiend who endangered traditions and proprieties, a blackguard, a quack, a “pimpled coxcomb”

In its most vicious style one of the chief Tory magazines, Blackwood’s, was capable of ranting

“Let execrations gurgle in your gullet, distended with the rising gorge of your blackest bile; belch out your bitter blackguardism lest you burst; clench your fists till your fretted palms are pierced with the jagged edge of nails bitten in impotent desperation, stamp with cloven feet on the fetid flags of your sty till the mire mounts to your mouth.”

Flowers of despair. A C Grayling

Polemical language may be less colourful today but there is plenty of venom around in the attacks on Kathleen Stock.

The British campaign against her is already well-known,

Here is a lesser publicised justification for those calling for Stock’s Sacking.

Genocidal Ideology.”

The UK Media Has Seriously Bungled the Kathleen Stock Story (October the 17th).

Grace Lavery a Berkeley University Associate Professor of English, and specialist in Trans issues, has argued that academic freedom is “the collective right asserted by those working in universities to conduct research without interference by interior or exterior forces.”   She continues, “we do not believe that there should be any limits on what an academic like Prof. Stock should be able to research and publish.”The feminist professor has researched freely and has been widely – “prolifically” – published. These activities have not been threatened by her University, Sussex.

Here is a reply to these arguments:

So that is so far, largely, but not exclusively, an inter-academic issue.

But what has been the real issue for the “expert in Trans studies” and “one of the most followed trans scholars in the world”  ?

..students oppose Stock’s leadership of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance (LGBA), of which she is a trustee, and claim that her signature on the Women’s Declaration of Sex-Based Rights (WDSR), a manifesto circulated by the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC), creates an atmosphere of unsafety for trans students on Sussex campus.

Following a lengthy discursion on how terrible these bodies are Lavery ventures into the area of genocide.

to the extent that the WDSR affirms the position of the WHRC, it may be thought of as a genocidal manifesto.

Discussing what Stock has written – and a dispute with Amelia Jones she continues,

A naive reader would, I suspect, come away from Material Girls believing that Stock believed that the GRA should not have been passed; that, once passed, it should not have been enforced; and that, in general, it would be better if the GRA placed no obligations on anyone except the transitioning person. This position is indeed fully consistent with the WDSR, for the simple reason that it amounts to the elimination of trans women in law.

Lavery asserts that students have been fighting “genocide apolgism”.

“Journalists across the spectrum of media from right to left have published laudatory essays about Prof. Stock, portraying her as a valiant warrior for academic freedom, rather than someone who has wholly undermined academic freedom by reducing it to mere opinion, and attempting to use it to cover genocide apologism and labeling one’s critics “revolting.” Nobody has thought to ask Prof. Stock questions about why she thinks the WDSR is compatible with the GRA, when the Declaration was written explicitly to displace the Act; nobody has raised a peep about the systematic attempt to destroy Amelia Jones’ reputation after she had said no more than the literal truth: that Prof. Stock signed an eliminationist manifesto”.

This is what is at stake…

“the moral panic about “masked” protestors, nobody has wondered what steps they might take to oppose genocidal ideology, if the Vice Chancellor of their University was saying something like this:

Is genocide the issue? Really? “the Genocide Convention does not require killing (2a) or even assaulting (2b) any class of people in order to adjudicate genocide. The imposition of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction” (2c) is adequate.”

The obscenity of the comparison stands out.

The Genocide Convention refers to “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its
physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

The most notorious recent genocide, an open wound, was by the Jihadist Islamic State.

The Yazidis are a religious minority who mainly reside in northern Iraq and have a distinct religious identity. On 3rd August 2014, they were attacked by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The initial attack was followed by forced conversions to Islam, Yazidi men were killed and thrown into mass graves, and women were sold into slavery. According to a report from the UN, the violence varied “depending on the gender and age of the victims,” though the entire population was attacked. These acts of violence carried out during the genocide were carried out based upon ISIS’ interpretation of gender roles within radical Islam, where men were seen as leaders or fighters and women were seen as “spoils of war”. The Yazidi genocide has highlighted two things: Firstly, the Genocide Convention is gender-neutral and thus fail to recognise the influence of gender-based violence – hereafter GBV – during genocides due to the historic invisibility of women in warfare. Secondly, this makes it difficult for victims to get justice.

The Yazidi Genocide, lack of justice and gender-based violence in genocides

Here is the US Academic’s response to Kathleen Stock’s resignation.

Here is a much better stand on the controversy,

More responses:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2021 at 11:24 am

Kathleen Stock Resigns, Those Calling For Her Sacking Gloat and Crow.

with 11 comments

Sussex University students campaign to have 'transphobic' professor Kathleen  Stock sacked | News | The Times

Triumph of Intolerance over Enlightenment.

This Blog was not going to post today but this really sticks in the craw:

Anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock quits Sussex university in ‘massive win for LGBT+ students’

“Massive win for Sussex LGBTQ+ students today,” said an account on Instagram claiming to represent trans and non-binary students at Sussex. “Let’s take a minute to appreciate this.”

The group added: “Queer and trans students united, never to be defeated!!”

Counter-comment,

Kathleen Stock deserved better

JOAN SMITH Thursday, 28
October 2021

There is no other way of putting it: a distinguished academic has been driven out of her job at a British university. For insisting on the reality of biological sex. A belief protected in law. Scarcely believable, and a terrible commentary on the poisonous atmosphere at some educational institutions. How could it come to this?

We are an ad hoc group of people involved in the University College Union (UCU) who, now or in the past, have served in elected national or local branch positions. We are very concerned at the abject failure of our union to recognise that the key and pressing issue arising from the treatment of Kathleen Stock at Sussex University is that of her, and our, academic freedom. Through the brief statements below we want to show our solidarity with Kathleen Stock.  We also hope to promote a discussion amongst union activists, the wider membership and others too about the importance of affirming academic freedom as a central value underpinning both our role as academics and the purpose of the University.

This is not a political win for those supporting trans rights or gender theory. It is a victory for those who prefer to silence views they disagree with rather than debate differences. It is a triumph for intolerance over Enlightenment.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 7:04 pm

Piers Corbyn Appears on Neo-Nazi Mark Collett’s Show.

with 3 comments

From David W.

Image

Piers Corbyn discusses the ‘Jewish question’ on far-right political show

Piers Corbyn has appeared as a guest on far-right political party leader Mark Collett’s online show where the pair openly discussed “the Jewish question.”

Former BNP publicity director Collett – who has spoken sympathetically of Nazi Germany and shared conspiracy theories about Jews – asked the former Labour leader’s brother “is Piers aware of the Jewish question?” on his Patriotic Alternative Weekly show.

Anti-vaxx movement leader Corbyn responded by saying:  “There’s lots of ways of defining a Jewish question – the difficult is answering can lead you into certain dangers because you’ll say things …

Piers the ‘anti-globalist continued.

“I’m not trying to get out of that, but I’m not convinced we’ve got time to elaborate at this particular point in time.

“If you come and see me under different circumstances we could discuss that more fully if the meaning of the question can be clarified a bit more.”

Earlier Corbyn said: “I’m not a Holocaust denier in case you are leading up to that. Certain things you say, we are told we are Holocaust deniers.

“Well the Holocaust happened and that was horrific. That’s all I can say on that.”

The ‘Jewish question’ was a debate that emerged in nineteenth and twentieth century European societies on alleged special problems and concerns with Jewish people.

The expression was used by antisemitic movements since the 1880s, and also controversially by Karl Marx.

It culminated in the Nazi phrase of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.

It is not the first time that Corbyn has been linked with figures on the far-right.

In 2016 he gave a speech at an event in which he was welcomed by the disgraced academic Nicholas Kollerstrom, who was disowned by the University College London in 2008 for denying the Holocaust.

Collett’s Patriotic Alternative have been described as the fastest growing far-right party, with online broadcasts targeting younger recruits.

A proud fan of National Socialism he published a book in 2017 describing the “alleged extermination of six million Jews”, adding: “When it comes to the notion of white guilt, nothing is pushed more strongly.”

Hope Not Hate researcher Simon Murdoch has previously said: “Collett is a longstanding antisemite who has spoken sympathetically of Nazi Germany, described the Holocaust as the ‘alleged extermination of six million Jews’, and has regularly collaborated with David Duke, a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan.”

In 2019, the pro-Israel Israel Advocacy Group staged a live debate with Collett – but the stunt backfired after leader Joseph Cohen admitted the “ferocity of anti-Jewish racism expressed in the debate and by the audience was unlike anything we’ve experienced in over a decade.”

Leeds neo-Nazi Mark Collet behind far-right group Patriotic Alternative pushing ‘hateful’ home schooling with racist songs.

February 2021.

A neo-Nazi from Leeds is behind a far-right group promoting a home school curriculum that uses racists songs and claims all English people have white skin.

Mark Collet, a 40-year-old Holocaust doubter who has tweeted claiming ‘white genocide is taking place, runs Patriotic Alternative with Laura Towler, a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The group claims 10,000 people a month are viewing its ‘wholesome’ syllabus, which has also been dubbed ‘hateful and poisonous’, online during lockdown, the MirrorOnline reports.

It claims it helps kids “learn history and culture free from the shackles and ideology of the National Curriculum”.

Parents are told to teach their children how Britain abolished slavery, glossing over its involvement in the barbaric trade for 300 years and blaming “African chiefs” for selling their people.

Lessons focus on a “heroic age” when Britons were “a superior kind of people showing great feats of courage”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Empireland: a Culture War Worth Fighting.

leave a comment »

Empireland

“It is puerile to reduce imperial history to a matter of ‘good’ and ‘bad’; trying to weigh up the positive and negative in this way is like defending the morality of kicking a random old man in the shins one afternoon because you helped an old lady across the road in the morning.”
― Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

Empireland observes that much of British history happened elsewhere, in the Empire. This is one of the reasons why the land’s imperialism is not always at the forefront of everyday historical memory. Many people in the country (including this writer, who like millions is partly of Irish descent) will not consider Ireland as much of an “elsewhere” as the Island, and its brutal colonisation, are not far away. There was also the Hundred Years War (1337- 1453) when the English Plantagenets claimed to the Throne of France. A memorable incident from that conflict is commemorated by a copy of Rodin’s statue The Burghers of Calais, which stands in Victoria Gardens next to the Palace of Westminster.

But Sanghera’s point is well-made: if this Blogger is old enough to recall Commonwealth Days when we paraded around with flags at Junior school by already traffic-heavy the North Circular the Empire itself is a historical fact with little, if any, emotional weight. That is one reason why “Despite a recent surge of interest in British colonial history […] the effect of British empire upon this country is poorly understood.” It is not entirely true, at least for somebody who did ‘O’ Level modern history, (GCSE Modern World History) in which the forces which led to decolonialisation figured large. But it is no doubt often the case.

With emotional and historical depth Empireland argues for widening, not “decolonialising” how the British Empire is taught. The author illustrates through his own experience as somebody from a Sikh background not just how the prejudices of some people in this country affected his biography but the way in which the history of the British Raj shaped Britain today. This was a story of callous exploitation, racial hierarchies, kept together by vicious military campaigns.

There were the ‘nabobs’, familiar to many readers of 19th century novels and those aware of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings,  de facto Governor-General of Bengal in 1772–1785. Sanghera looks at the literary trace of those who amassed vast fortunes from their activities to fund lavish lifestyles back in Britain in the form of stately homes, art collections, places and objects the subject of recent battles the ‘anti-woke’ brigade and inside the National Trust. There was equally, in just about recognisable modern times (this is striking even if you know the outline) the stand-out Younghusband expedition to Tibet (1903 -4) when Buddhist monasteries were pillaged, the booty ending up in private hands and the British Museum and Bodleian. Looting, the mark of the wars of the ancient and medieval world, was carried into the twentieth century.

The subjects covered are vast, from the Transatlantic slave trade to the later ‘Scramble for Africa’, and explored in a thought-provoking away. Home and Away looks at the life of ‘expats’ in colonial society, with some portrayed as just as prejudiced and sordid (including sexual exploitation) as one imagines, if they have been thought of.

The British Empire did not have ‘progressives’ as famous as the centre left republican Prime Minister Jules Ferry who  justified French colonialism as a “mission civilisatrice’. But there were parallels and not only from those who bought into Rudyard Kipling’s view of the world and the White Man’s Burden. The Fabian Society had members who believed that, “British Empire is a potentially progressive force in the world.” and that, “The empire should be fruitfully utilised for greater and noble purpose: the establishment of a socialist “Common­wealth”. In the course of disputes over the Boer War Bernard Shaw argued that, “Fabian socialism and Imperialism were both based on the supreme duties of the Community, with State Organisation, Efficient Government, Industrial Civil Service, Regulation of all Private Enterprise in the common interest, and dissolution of Frontiers through international industrial organisation. ” – even if he did not agree with “every act of Imperial government.” They also discussed the potential difference between “higher” and “lower” civilisations. In general terms they “approved and justified” the division of the world between imperial powers. (Fabian Socialism and British Politics. 1884 – 1918. A.M, Briar, 1962)

Empireland advances the view that “as British empire grew and peaked in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it morphed into nothing less than a wilful, unapologetic exercise in white racial supremacy.”Yet for most of the population systematic views about racial superiority are, unlike prejudices, have not been widely shared on this archipelago  for some time, if they ever were.T his, infused with a keen sense of the class as well as racial, ethnic, difference, makes you realise why many people in Britain, the vast majority of whom have no direct personal or family connection with colonial society, neither feel hot nor cold about Empire.

Empireland helps us jolt out of this into awareness of the living legacy of British Imperialism. It is a brilliant thought-provoking book. Read it.

Gardner Thompson makes the point in Chartist Magazine (Selective amnesia)

“At one important level this book is a call to action: to implant the British Empire in the school curriculum. Sanghera has a chapter headed ‘Selective amnesia’ – but forgetting implies having first known. He observes that his GCSE History left him with “little more than superficial knowledge of the world wars, the Tudors, and Tollund man”. He adds, “empire, bewilderingly, remains untaught in most schools: its absence in my education, it transpires, is typical”. Generations have indeed been left, in a virtual knowledge vacuum, to adopt any opinion about empire they choose – as admirable and glorious (a view which has in turn nourished a regrettable sense of British ‘exceptionalism’), or as wholly deplorable.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 1:55 pm

Novara Media: Left and Right Unite and Fight! (“Against Big Tec Censorship”).

with 18 comments

Yesterday this happened.

Novara Media is, frankly, not a must-read.

A glance at its site today (the first for a long time) reveals no doubt worthy articles on the German SPD (Germany’s SPD Is About to Take Power. Can It Stick to Leftwing Principles?), Green stuff (Planet B: Everything Must Change – Land and The Green Transition is Already Underway – And It’s Not Looking Pretty), a link to tele Sour with an interview with John McDonnell about the Budget. a long piece by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow taken from their widely reviewed and much-talked about book The Dawn of Everything (Forget ‘Liberté’ – 17th-Century Indigenous Americans Knew a Lot More About Freedom Than Their French Colonisers) Cde James Meadway (The Government’s Net Zero Strategy Is Beyond Disappointing) and something by Noam Chomsky.

That took fourteen minutes.

All worthy stuff.

But I’ve lost interest already.

Apparently they have a YouTube Channel as well.

Lo!

Novara Media’s press statement

According to Novara’s senior editor Ash Sarkar, Novara had received no prior warning and one ‘strike’ (YouTube operates a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy) before the channel was removed:We could only appeal in the way that everyone else can, which is that you reply to this anonymous email. You’re not even sure if there’s a human on the other side of it. And that’s why we thought that the only means that we have for getting an explanation is by going public and drumming up support. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the role of Big Tech:It’s a bad thing that private companies have got so much influence, but the fact is they do. And so when they do play such a key role in our democracy, and when they play such a key role in making sure that journalism can reach an audience, there needs to be some kind of democratically decided regulation of those platforms, because it has an impact on our democracy. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On lessons she has learned:Well, I think that what you see there are people trying to make sense of a rapidly changing landscape and they’re kind of grasping for arguments which suit the thing that they’re trying to focus on at the time. And I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that…we don’t have a political framework of treating these as public utilities, having some kind of democratic oversight, and people grasp for the nearest available argument… And I think that that is something which has been a weakness in my own politics, right. This is something which I’ve gotten wrong. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Left’s attitude to free speech:There has been a censorious turn to the left. It’s no good denying it. And there has been, I think, a tendency to say, because this conversation has the potential to bring in viewpoints which we deem hateful and harmful, that this conversation shouldn’t be happening at all. That is something which I disagree with. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On Novara’s cross-political support:What was really great is that support came from all sides of the political spectrum. Because it doesn’t matter where you are on some of the big issues of the day, we can all agree that an unaccountable American tech company having this much control of whether a fully regulated, British journalistic outfit is allowed to operate — that’s an incredibly sinister thing. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Trump ban:Well, one of the things that I was saying at the time is that this isn’t something to celebrate. This is not something to just sort of go ‘woo, Trump, we don’t like him, he’s a racist, he’s a fascist. He’s currently corroding democratic norms. It’s a good thing that Twitter is able to just kick him off’, because I was like ‘well, what if next time, it’s a socialist president? What if next time it’s somebody on the left?’ – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

Would Ash interview Anjem Choudray?No, I absolutely would not. And the reason why I wouldn’t is because Anjem Choudary does not need to win the debate in order to have effects which I think are incredibly harmful in order to be able to recruit, in order to radicalise, and potentially turn people towards violence. He doesn’t need to win the debate. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On moving beyond the political divide:

This is much bigger than right versus left, UnHerd versus Novara, or anything else. What this is about is the ability of journalism to function, unimpeded by unaccountable tech giants. And that is something, it does matter where you are on the political spectrum, we all rely on journalism in order to make sense of ourselves socially, culturally, politically, it’s the lifeblood of a democracy. And if YouTube or Google or whoever else it is can just shut it off, no explanation, no justification, no warning. That is something incredibly dangerous indeed. –


Unherd is a predominantly (Cde James Bloodworth excepted and I have no idea or care what Bindel’s views are) ‘Euro-sceptic’ site – an antre from which a variety of national populists emerge to rant and rave against the Europen Union, liberal elitists, and ‘anywhere’ people. Giles FraserEd WestTanya GoldJohn GrayJames BloodworthMatthew GoodwinMaurice GlasmanJulie BindelMichael Tracey and Douglas Murray.

A post in August by anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery…

“While Labour was preaching the gospel of a militant cosmopolitan liberalism, post-industrial Britain was mourning the weakening of common cultural bonds and a lost sense of community and belonging. “

Embery is entitled to his opinions. But he is thin-skinned, and seized with the undeflectable belief that he has a special bond with the real working class wrapped up in mourning for the golden threaded neighbourhood ties- nay bonds ! -of yore.

I for one feel personally insulted by one of his latest sorties. Embery suggested that left-wingers has no shown enough sadness pr tributes after the murder of Southend MP David Amess, that we thought, at bottom, that he was ‘really’ human – The Left’s shameful tribalism Reaction to the death of Sir David Amess has been dispiriting

There is worse.

A lot worse.

The Red-Brown Front grows:

Steerpike doesn’t browse Novara Media much these days. The Corbynista website has ceased to have much in the way of news value since the Magic Grandpa stood down as Labour leader early last year. Nowadays the unholy trinity of literal communist Ash Sarkar, under-employed YouTuber Michael Walker and David Brent tribute act Aaron Bastani spend most of their time moaning on Twitter about Keir Starmer’s beastliness to their comrades on the left. 

(Note: pretty accurate summary)

But now Mr S has found an unlikely common cause with the Trotskyite trio. Novara has today announced that Google-owned YouTube has deleted their channel, supposedly without warning or explanation. This follows the news a fortnight ago that a speech by Tory stalwart to Big Brother Watch on vaccine passports had been unceremoniously purged from the same site – again with no prior warning.

The Red-Brown Front Spiked:

The deletion of Novara Media is an outrage

YouTube’s censorship of political discussion has got to stop.

Novara is demanding the channel be reinstated immediately, and anyone who believes in free speech should support this. Free speech is for cringey pseuds, too. We at spiked may disagree with their identitarian, jargon-laden word salads, but we will defend to the death their right to say them.

YouTube is not just any platform. With over two billion monthly active users it is essentially the video platform. If journalists or activists or filmmakers are deprived access to it, simply because YouTube bigwigs take a dislike to their opinions or output, this has a profound impact on their ability to get their ideas out there and to express themselves.

New Statesman: (a serious article by Sarah Manavis which has to be read).

Is Novara’s channel back up now? 

Yes. After two hours of public outcry – including from right-wing outlets and commentators, such as Guido Fawkes and Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges – the account was reinstated, at around 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, the same day.

 

So why did YouTube do this? 

It’s not entirely clear. A YouTube spokesperson told the New Statesman: “Novara Media’s channel was briefly removed after it was flagged, but upon review, it was then immediately reinstated. We work quickly to review all flagged content, but with millions of hours of video uploaded on YouTube every day, on occasion we make the wrong call.” YouTube did not give details as to why the account was initially flagged.

What does this mean for the media’s relationship with Big Tech? 

Even if it was a mistake, it is concerning that one of the UK’s biggest left-leaning media voices could be erased from a major platform so abruptly. In the past two years, Big Tech has been increasingly scrutinised for the power it holds over a free and fair press, and this incident should serve as a reminder of the outsize influence online platforms have in deciding whose voices are the most valuable in the digital media landscape.”

*****

Sarkar continues being Sarkar.

The CC of the Tendance is concerned about Ash Sarkar.

Like the other mourning ‘Corbynistas’ who run Novara Media she seems lost politically. Perhaps she thinks that issuing statements into the aether about left and right uniting against ‘big tech’ have no real consequences.

With the likes of Douglass Murray and oleaginous Priest of Brexit Gilles Fraser.

Not to mention the backing of Spiked…

This looks like one set of Identitarians (Novara Media) uniting with another gang of National Populist Identitarians.

In short, red-brown confusionism.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2021 at 9:51 am

No Sign of a Cease-Fire: the Gender Culture Wars Continue.

with 17 comments

Trans rights protest at the LGB Alliance conference | Dazed

There are rankles and rages crawling around the Internet. They may be called “”symbolic issues and questions of identity”. Politics has always been soaked in antipathies. Without something to hate, we would lose the very spring of thought and action. Debate would turn to a stagnant pool, were it not ruffled by the” jarring interests and unruly passions”.

For Dominic Sandbrook culture wars have always been around. But “What is certainly true,” he says, “is there are moments in history when disputes about history, identity, symbols, images and so on loom very large. Think about so much of 17th-century politics, for example, when people would die over the wording of a prayer book.” The same applies, he believes, to any number of periods, including the arrival of the permissive society in the 1960s, in which there is an attempt to establish new mores.” (Everything you wanted to know about the culture wars – but were afraid to ask. Andrew Anthony. June 2021)

This excellent ‘long read’ gives a glimpse into a overhanging feature, “if we look at America, where the modern incarnation of the culture wars was first identified, the conflicts over abortion and gay marriage have been fought, at least by one side, from an explicitly religious perspective.” In this respect nobody needs Carl Schmitt’s philosophy of the distinction between Friend and Enemy to explain the springs that exist in people and politics that seem to reoccur in multiple disputes. Seeing this through the faith dimension lets us peer inside more clearly

The Essayist and free-thinker William Hazlitt (1778 – 1830), a warrior in the cause of revolutionary liberty, had the measure of those rowing about the details of these moral codes, “They fortify themselves within the narrow circle of their new-fangled prejudices; the whole exercise of their right of private judgment is after a time reduced to the repetition of a set of watchwords, which have been adopted as the Shibboleth of the party; and their extremest points of faith pass as current as the beadroll and legends of the Catholics, or St. Athanasius’s Creed, and the Thirty-nine Articles. ” (On The Tendency Of Sects. 1815)

Culture wars do not need a direct religious infusion to resemble this structure of feeling. The godless and god-fearing “heirs of Puritanism”, the matrix of sectarianism in the English speaking world, are both now rampant, and nowhere more so than in the skirmishes and pitched battles over Gender. Above all “between trans activists and gender-critical feminists.” As Anthony continues, ” At almost the same time last week that Maya Forstater was winning her appeal against an employment tribunal, after saying that people cannot change their biological sex, the Labour leader Keir Starmer was reaffirming the party’s commitment to introducing self-identification for trans people.”

Some engaged in this fight do not just believe in a set of laws extending gender recognition, gender fluidity, rights at work and elsewhere, or, for their critics, that such legislation (either in principle or in its present form) is flawed. It is that their are many who stand as judgemental Deities, out to punish their rivals, and that they expect others to live by their scriptures. Or get cast out as fascists by Judith Butler. Or, should the other side have the upper hand, as misogynists. To add one more ‘Or’, as one of the worst articles ever written on the whole issue says – “negated by trans dogma, democracy itself is in peril.” (Frank Furedi)

“Nature seems (the more we look into it) made up of antipathies” wrote Hazlitt:” without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action. Life would turn to a stagnant pool, were it not ruffled by the jarring interests, the unruly passion… (On the Pleasure of Hating. 1826) Yet…..”They would gain proselytes by proscribing all those who do not take their Shibboleth, and advance a cause by shutting out all that can adorn or strengthen it. (On Jealousy and Spleen of Party. 1826)

Can one also interpret this aspect of the culture war in the way Engels compared the rival chapels and sects of the early socialists to the founding Christians?

Everybody who has known by experience the European working-class movement in its beginnings will remember dozens of similar examples. Today such extreme cases, at least in the large centres, have become impossible; but in remote districts where the movement has won new ground a small Peregrinus of this kind can still count on a temporary limited success. And just as all those who have nothing to look forward to from the official world or have come to the end of their tether with it – opponents of inoculation, supporters of abstemiousness, vegetarians, anti-vivisectionists, nature-healers, free-community preachers whose communities have fallen to pieces, authors of new theories on the origin of the universe, unsuccessful or unfortunate inventors, victims of real or imaginary injustice who are termed “good-for-nothing pettifoggers” by all bureaucracy, honest fools and dishonest swindlers – all throng to the working-class parties in all countries – so it was with the first Christians.

On the History of Early Christianity Frederick Engels 1894.

This suggestion can be left standing...

And, oh yes, it’s not just in the English speaking world that this is happening:

Entre “TERF” et “transactivistes”, féministes et militants LGBT se déchirent sur la question trans Marianne 2020.

Today’s reports from the Front Line:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Ex-Revolutionary Communist Party Leaders (Frank Furedi and Baroness Fox) to Speak at Social Democratic Party (SDP, Canal Historique) National Conference.

with 6 comments

Image

Family, Community, Nation.

“We are a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We believe in family, community, and nation, and seek the common good in Britain’s national interest.” (SDP)

Tip off from Gumshoe Evan:

.Here is the (very right wing national populist) SDP:

We are an honest, passionate, pro-Brexit party that believes Britain is good enough to govern itself and that the referendum result must be implemented immediately and in full. The establishment parties in Westminster have shown they are out of touch and contemptuous of the will of the people. It is time they were swept away.”

“SDP Brexit spokesman Patrick O’Flynn “

SDP opposes 10,000 new temporary visas

27th September, 2021 – The Social Democratic Party (SDP) condemns the government’s creation of 10,000 temporary visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers. Instead, our party calls on the government to support the creation of emergency domestic training schemes to Read more

Social Democratic Party opposes moves to vaccinate children

14th September, 2021 – The Social Democratic Party (SDP) today announces its opposition to the government’s plans to proceed with a vaccination programme for healthy children aged 12 to 15. Earlier this month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Read more

POLICY PLEDGES:

  • Immigration policy shall be based on applicant aptitudes rather than their country of origin. There must be a level playing field for applicants from every country in the world.
  • Our overall aim is to contain net immigration to fewer than 100,000 per year but in addition, to introduce an annual cap on gross immigration.
  • A points system will be introduced for migrants. All will be required to agree to a pledge to uphold and adhere to contemporary British values as a condition of migration.
  • Information and data systems at UK border control shall be upgraded such that the UK authorities know who is in the country and who is not.
  • A Royal Commission on community integration and social cohesion shall be instituted.

London Assembly elections SDP Result.

YearRegional VoteConstituency VoteOverall SeatsChange
20217,782 votes0.3%0 / 110 / 140 / 25New Party

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Populism

Tagged with , ,