Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Animal Liberation’ Category

Putin as Abraham Lincoln: Counterpunch Bid to Outdo European Political Confusionionism.

with 8 comments

 

Image result for vladimir putin riding a shark

Vladimir Putin: Russia’s Abraham Lincoln says Counterpunch. 

Political confusionism is an ideological trend on the rise

As the word suggests (from the French leftists’ ‘confusionnisme‘:  see this site) is means the confused politics of merging left and right, of adding conspiracy theories to wild assertions, the anti-imperialism of fools to ‘anti-capitalism’, that goes in search of red-brown alliances, acknowledged or not.

Its starts with Israel, ‘anti-Zionism’, travels to Putin’s Russia (often), visits Syria, looks at the IMF, TTIP, Globalisation, Occupy Wall Street (what was that?), NATO (a bit boring this stuff..),  supports Lexit/Brexit, ‘sovereigntism’, and, hey presto, always gets back to Israel.

Counterpunch (a long time ago described as “left wing”) is the best known example of confusionism in the English-speaking world, though its echoes may be felt in, say the ramblings of British supporters of the idea that there’s a transnational Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie. It is so easy to find confusionists at work on Twitter and Facebook that’s it barely worth bothering citing them,

US left-wingers (on the Marxism List and no doubt elsewhere) are up in arms about this article in this august journal of reference for international confusionism, patronised by such weighty figures as Tariq Ali and some people who should know better.

There seems to be series of debates going on in activist circles these days that are inter-connected, the continued plight of Alison Weir and her abysmal treatment by various NGOs  and the issue of who to stand in solidarity with in regards to Syria. Both are informed essentially by one foundational theoretical point, the argument over the role of the neocons in Washington and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), with a significant group of people seeing everything going on in the region rooted in the PNAC policy suggestions that led us down the road to the war on Iraq and continued the brutalization of the Palestinians under George W. Bush.

There follows some garbled ‘history’ about the unification of Germany, the Berlin to Bagdad railway, and the “convoluted and intertwined family trees of John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Nelson W. Aldrich.” and the interesting information that ” differences between neocons and neoliberals on domestic American social policies were quite profound (abortion, sexual orientation, Affirmative Action), their policies in international colonial policies were identical.”

Quite.

Thereafter lost, we only resurface at this point,

In this sense, Wall Street does want to see the ouster of the Assad government because it would benefit their profits. It is a basic fact that Bashar al-Assad, just like Slobodan Milosevic, is not a saint.

A brave thing to say.

Plunged again into the deepest confusionism we get this,

They yearn for their idealized American democracy while refusing to acknowledge that, if black and brown voices did not matter in 1776, that means the entire edifice of electoral politics and American parliamentarism is a clever and well-funded farce, defined as an ideological state apparatus by the French philosopher and quasi-Maoist Louis Althusser. This apparatus is quite powerful and underwrote why many activists jumped on the Shachtmanite Chairman Bernie Sanders bandwagon in the last eighteen months. (1)

Althusser would not doubt endorse the view that backing for Bernie was proof of his theory of ideological state apparatuses. The Sander’s campaign showed capitalist “know-how”, the ” high priests of the ruling ideology” mould subject positions and domination for the “the reproduction of the conditions of production” within the Democratic Primaries.

Thank you for the warning about the way the Shachtmanites have colonised the political ISA (the political system, including the different parties).

We are now aware of how these misleader tout the ‘Representation’ of the Imaginary Relationship of Individuals to their Real Conditions of Existence

Finally there is this,

We should also seriously interrogate the notion of politicians and look to Marx himself for inspiration when dealing with Assad and Putin. He knew exactly what Abraham Lincoln was and was not as a white former railroad lawyer and son-in-law of a slave-owning family. Yet his journalism for Horace Greeley and letters to the president would make you think that the Great Emancipator was a premonition of Lenin. That is not because he was blind to Lincoln’s many massive flaws. Instead it was because he saw the Union Army as an engine of historical progress despite the flaws.

Does Vladimir Putin have similar flaws? Yes, many, but his challenge to NATO and the imperial project is objectively a progressive goal and effort despite the flawed engine that delivers it. For those who would rebut me with accounts of Putin’s crimes, which I do not doubt, just take a look at the depravity of Sherman’s march to the sea, a massive moving line of marauders who killed quite a few black and white men and raped quite a few black and white women. Yet Marx called their actions “matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.” This is the difference between English empirical thinking and German dialectical thinking. In the former, the morality of the individual actors is key. In the latter, the outcome of the actions in history, despite the individual actors and their flaws, is all that matters.

German dialectical thinking and, hop, we can see Putin’s challenge as a “progressive goal and challenge”.

It’s called the unity of opposites and the ‘aufheben’ of dialectical contradictions: the very rational kernel of the revolutionary programme of Counterpunch….

Inspired to back Putin and Assad, to the tune of Counterpunch new Battle Hymn of the Republic, Andrew, if I may call a fellow Andy, concludes,

The way to control American policy is through direct action politics, or, to quote Howard Zinn, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in- and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.” Electoral politics is able to be used as a tool to further radicalize voters into militant activists. The delusion otherwise dismisses the fact that abolitionists ended slavery and not legislators, who were forced by abolitionists to pass laws.

Hats off Comrade Stewart.

It’s all kicking off, everywhere!

Update:

(1) We have been asked, what is Shachtmanism?

Shachtmanism is the form of Marxism associated with Max Shachtman. It has two major components: a bureaucratic collectivist analysis of the Soviet Union and a third camp approach to world politics. Shachtmanites believe that the Stalinist rulers of Communistcountries are a new ruling class distinct from the workers and reject Trotsky‘s description of Stalinist Russia as a “degenerated workers’ state“.

Confusionnisme.info

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Tony Greenstein Makes New Friends in Wake of Trolling Natasha Allmark.

with 8 comments

https://i1.wp.com/www.brightonvisitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Brighton_Pier.jpg

Greenstein: at the end of the Pier.

Tony Greenstein is a fixture on the British left.

Widely admired, like Richard Seymour, for his wit, and limpid prose, his writings have been cited as an authority by no less (and certainly no more) a specialist in ‘anti-Zionism’, and ‘controversial’  New Left Review writer, Gabriel Piterberg.  Euro-Zionism and its Discontents. New Left Review .84. 2013. (1)

 Himself a redoubtable ‘conversationalist” over the last few days Greenstein has been ‘at it’ again.

Block and Unfriend Natasha Allmark – Suspected Informant (Tony Greenstein’s Blog).

You can satiate yourself on that link…

 Comrade Alan Thomas has commented,

Friend and Unblock Natasha Allmark — A word to the left

Well, this has been a sickening episode.

Let’s be clear first. I am a Labour Party member. I voted for Jeremy Corbyn last year and I have done so again this year.

I awoke this morning to an alert about this article, by one Tony Greenstein. It requests that people block and defriend one Natasha Allmark. It compares her to World War 2 era Nazi informants. Her crime? Threatening to call the Labour Party Compliance Unit on a group of professed Corbyn supporters with whom she had been arguing on Facebook.

“Nazi Informant”. Let that sink in for a bit. Consider the implications.

Natasha is an expectant mother and a student, and a supporter of the Liberal Democrats. She has children already. In the course of that discussion people publicly discussed calling social workers to her house. The behavior of those attacking her was akin to a shoal of piranhas. She was in distress, and not infrequently in tears.

In the course of one such row she told her interlocutors that if they did not desist then she would contact Compliance. She never did so. It was a defensive reaction from a distressed woman under attack. This is why Tony Greenstein compares her to informants who betrayed Jewish people to the Nazis. That’s it. He also uses her picture in the article, without her permission. Just so reader can be sure of exactly who he is accusing.

She is now afraid for her family. And I think as a left we have questions to ask of ourselves here? Do we want a political sphere where self appointed Torquemadas go around using public platforms to shriek accusations of betrayal at ordinary citizens? Do we want squads of online police telling people what is or is not an acceptable political view, and publicly flogging them if they dissent? I know what sort of “left” that sounds like, and it’s one that died in Europe in 1990.

It is beyond shameful that a veteran left wing activist would think it is OK to do this to anyone, let alone a heavily pregnant woman who he does not know. If I thought that were the real nature of the left in this country, I would want no part of it. It is sickening behavior.

So yes, unblock and friend Natasha Allmark.

It is an act of basic solidarity, and we owe it to her to show her that this is not how the left does business.

We stand with you Natasha.

I will not dignify Greenstein with further comment on this particular case: all the essential is expressed by Alan, with some additional information on Shiraz after Rosie posted the above.

But it interesting to note that Greenstein has now widened his field of battle.

If Iain McNicol was running a local authority election he’d have been arrested for Corrupt Electoral Practices.

Followed by,

Winning the Battle and Losing the War, “Momentum’s Inertia is Turning Victory into Defeat.”

More Greenstein friends will include “the present leadership of Momentum (which) operates by way of patronage and school chumminess.” Apart from their “cowardice” , ” fallible” Jeremy Corbyn, whose ” proposals for rail privatisation are completely bonkers.”

And so it goes….

Readers of this blog may possibly recall glancing at previous rants by Greenstein – more commonly known as ‘loony bins’ to his close friends around here – in response to, amongst other things, his views in the comments boxes of Tendance Coatesy on the “Kasztner” case and ‘Zionist’ relations with Nazism (Here: Tony Greenstein Resigns from Left Unity: World’s Progressives Shaken.)

The interventions are as lengthy as a small book and most people will have lost the will to live during the exchange between Michael Ezra, Greenstein calls him helpfully, “Mad Mikey”, and “cheap propagandist”  Paul Bogdanor.

This abuse is fairly mild by Greenstein standards.

It is unfortunate that the latest (there is an extremely long list) victim of his venom, Natasha Allmark, was unprepared for this.

It is also regrettable that people who should have known better have supported Greenstein in his efforts to become a member of the Labour Party.

******

(1) See also  The UCLA sexual harassment case that every professor should be aware of.  “This sexual harassment case at UCLA is jaw-dropping. From one plaintiff’s complaint, against history Professor Gabriel Piterberg:

51. He then started talking about the famous philosophers Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, who met when Arendt was Heidegger’s student and subsequently carried on a clandestine love affair for more than forty years. He told her that relationships like theirs were normal and that “If it is done right, professor and student relationships are supposed to be intimate.”

52. Professor Piterberg then told her that he masturbated while imagining the two of them together.

53. Throughout this meeting, Plaintiff Takla continued to voice her discomfort with him as her advisor and his comments, but Professor Piterberg was upset with Plaintiff Takla for wanting a new advisor. He told her, “If anything happened between us, it might be while you are writing the conclusion to your dissertation.”

More (2016): UCLA community protests professor’s punishment for sex harassment: $3,000 fine and 11-week suspension

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2016 at 11:18 am

Witch-hunt Against Socialist Fight by Love Bombing cynics and delusional Zionist right-wingers, Soft-Left, pro Zionist left Islamophobes,

with 10 comments

It had to come, it has come.

The witchhunt against Socialist Fight, orchestrated by the Tories, the Labour Friends of Israel and other Zionists and warmongers or capitulators to such, is quite a compliment to our politics. reports Newshound Ian Donovan on Socialist Fight.

The re-expulsion of Gerry Downing from Labour has brought out the latent Islamophobia, pro-imperialism and softness on Zionism and other forms of imperialist racism of some on the left in Labour.

“Dave Osler celebrates winning his libel case:  a pro Zionist left Islamophobe.”

Then there is Dave Osler. He has a long history of being one of the chief ‘independent’ left Islamophobes who hangs around the far left.  He also has form as an Islamophobic witchhunter of people who are too militantly anti-imperialist.

So Osler has form when it comes to supporting witchhunts against militant anti-imperialists. You don’t even have to be a revolutionary Marxist to end up in his sights. As someone who in practice is a soft left, Osler still reportedly thinks of himself as some kind of revolutionary, occasionally and in a dilettantish sense. But this is a joke, he is a pro-imperialist social democrat.

Owen Jones ‘love bomb.”

Owen Jones’ attribution of ‘anti-semitism’ to us stems in fact from his own opportunism towards chauvinist and racist sentiments, not his antipathy to them.

Andrew Coates and Jim Denham: “cynics and delusional Zionist right-wingers”.

Denham defines anti-Semites as those who do not defend Israel within its 1967 ‘borders’.

…in the small print, you find that ‘anti-semitism’ for the AWL does not mean racism at all. It is a code word for criticisms of political Zionism, that is, a form of racist Jewish nationalism, which the AWL does not like. The AWL thus consciously and deliberately libels others on the left, in the service of Zionism and Israeli ethnic cleansing, knowing full well that the allegation of anti-Jewish racism made publicly is false. In another article I will show that it is not just the AWL that does it, but people to the left of them have done this as well. In particular Tony Greenstein has done it.

Anybody missed by Ian Donovan please complain immediately to Socialist Fight: HQ pictured below.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm

George Galloway, “Spiritual Son” of Tony Benn, in Quandary as McDonnell Appoints Naz Shah his Private Secretary.

with 9 comments

Galloway: What would my Heroes do? 

What a difference a few days make.

On the 8th of February Galloway was on a roll.

Bolstered by opinion polls which gave him a commanding 2,1% of voting intentions in the London Mayor contest the former Bradford MP announced,

I Am The Spiritual Son Of Tony Benn And Jeremy Corbyn Is Making A Very Big Mistake On The EU.

George Galloway believes he is the “spiritual son” of left-wing hero Tony Benn, who he has posthumously appointed as the leader of the campaign to get the UK out of the EU.

In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, the former Bradford West MP spelt out his case for why the UK should vote Leave in the upcoming referendum, attacking the way the German-dominated EU “crushed” the anti-austerity government in Greece.

Galloway, who is running to be London Mayor, claimed the biggest mistake Jeremy Corbyn has made since becoming Labour leader is abandoning his years of euroscepticism.

Speaking in a coffee shop in Neasden, north-west London, minutes before taking to the streets to campaign, Galloway claimed some on Labour’s frontbench were even more left-wing than him.

Come this news.

This is now sinking in:

John McDonnell has made a hire that is unlikely to sit well with Galloway. The shadow chancellor has appointed Naz Shah as his Parliamentary Private Secretary. (Spectator).

Shah has history with Galloway. In the general election, the Labour MP fought against Galloway for the Bradford West seat she now holds. During the campaign, Galloway was accused of using dirty tactics after he claimed that Shah lied about being forced into marriage at the age of 15 — then using this to cast doubt on her back story. When Shah won the seat, Galloway said he would take legal action to overturn the result — claiming there had been malpractice in postal voting.

Since then, Shah has made no secret of her issues with Galloway, using her maiden speech to take aim at the former MP for his ‘misogynistic, vitriolic’ manner towards her:

‘I have many words, but sadly only a few pleasant ones. My predecessor was, I am told, a great orator. The sad truth is that the only words he ever directed towards me were misogynistic, vitriolic, very dangerous and, to quote him, “only ever had a fleeting relationship with the truth”.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his actions, which united the people of Bradford West. Their patience – and, indeed, mine –certainly paid off when we handed him his P45 on 8 May. The spandex cat has truly left the building.’

With Shah now moving closer into McDonnell’s inner circle, the ‘spandex cat’ is unlikely to be pleased by the appointment.

More on the way Galloway treated Shah during the General Election:  Southall Black Sisters  deplores attacks on Naz Shah.

George Galloway and his cohorts have signalled a new low in British politics by mounting what can only be described as a vicious and mean minded assault on Naz Shah, the Labour Party’s candidate for Bradford West in the coming general election.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Podemos, the Labour Party, and Momentum.

with 5 comments

https://i1.wp.com/www.telesurtv.net/__export/1450112750219/sites/telesur/img/multimedia/2015/12/14/podemos_campaign_dec_2015_13.jpg

Is it also the Moment for Momentum?

The radical left party, Podemos, won 21,3% (69 seats) in Sunday’s Spanish General election, just behind the socialist PSOE, at 21,7% (90) With Rajoy’s conservative PP party at 28,7% (123) and the centrist Cuididanos (Citizens) at 14,9 % (40) negotiations for coalition are underway involving smaller regional and other parties (Wikipedia).

Both Podemos and Cuididanos were present in this contest for the first time. Their entry into the Cortes Generales is a political earthquake with Europe-wide implications. Podemos draws on the Indignados movement that began as protests against the political class “la casta”, their corruption, budget cuts and mass unemployment (at the time up to 21%). Cuidadonos’ name also echoes that period, the march dubbed Mareas Cuidadanas – citizens’ tide).

Owen Jones, has expressed the view that the Labour Party is represented in Parliament by a British counterpart of the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE, while supporters attracted to Jeremy Corbyn were more akin to the radical left party, Podemos. Jones, whose pre-election visit to lend support to Podemos’ campaign was reported on the state broadcasters, is one amongst many on the European left who admire its left populist anti-austerity politics. In this view the change in Labour’s leadership (allowed through emulation of the ‘primary’ party elections of the French Parti Socialiste and Italian Partido Democratia, open to all for a modest fee, rather than the structures of Podemos) had brought our politics closer to Spain’s. It suggested that a form of ‘new politics’ has emerged in the United Kingdom, inside the traditional left and now given expression in the open forums of Momentum.

Ciudadanos

Podemos leader Juliá Iglesias’ entry into Parliament is joined, nobody has failed to notice, by the ‘centre’ group, Ciudadanos. Jones seems to have found a centrist counterpart in Peter Hyman. The former speech-writer and strategist for Tony Blair argued in the Observer that Labour is becoming the “Ukip of the left”, a party of protest and not power, with the prospect of capturing at best 28% of the vote (Observer. 20.12.15). This means that the party “mainstream” will look elsewhere. Corbyn, head of a left wing party, “appealing to mix of metropolitan elites, students and some trade unionists”, a popular constituency in “tribal Labour loyalty”, relying on “big state solutions” will carry on. They will keep trying to win arguments but have no prospect of coming to power. One could note that the British electoral system, unlike Spain’s proportional one, remains an effective bloc to the kind of shake up Hispanic politics has undergone.

Hyman attacks Ed Miliband for opening the door to the left – although it was the modernisers who promoted the idea of One Member One Vote in a ‘primary’ election form. He states that with the “wrong” result, – Corbyn’s victory – there is a “gaping hole in the centre and centre-left of British politics.” It would not take much to extend this to say that against the Podemos road Hayman advocates a British Ciudadanos. This would be an alliance of the centre and the centre-left, “modern progressive values-driven party” with a “commitment to social mobility”. A new ‘project’ would aim for a “leaner, more agile empowering state” that backs “social entrepreneurs” to build “diverse and democratic communities”. This formula, Peter Hayman believes, his appetite no doubt wetted, would have a “fighting chance of winning an election”.

It would be mistake on the left to take the take the analogy with Podemos and the POSOE to heart. Spain has suffered several decades of corruption scandals, affecting the established left, as well as a prolonged ‘dirty war’ against the armed wing of the Basque independence movement, in which Socialist governments were deeply compromised. These scandals continued under the conservative PP, from the 2013 Bárcenas affair, a slush fund to pay party members, and others too numerous to list, including one involving the than leader of the Catalan nationalist leader Jordi Pujol, whose party is now demanding independence.

There has been nothing in Britain to parallel the mass movement of the Indignados, the cradle of Podemos. It is estimated that between 6 and 8 million people participated in these street activities. Those protests made the US Occupy Wall Street look trivial, not to mention the smaller British initiations of the American demonstrations and occupations. A much more successful UK initiative, the anti-austerity People’s Assembly, has mobilised hundreds of thousands and set up large groups all over the country. It was, and is, however closely linked the existing mechanisms of the labour movement. There was none of the loathing for all “politicians” that the Spanish masses expressed. France, where the Podemos breakthrough has been heralded by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the home of the (deceased) writer Stéphane Hessel, whose book Indignez-Vous! gave the Indignados their name – saw, and has seen, practically no movement at all apart from trade union protests.

Populism.

The comparison with Podemos also runs into obstacles when one considers it more broadly. Its strategic line is said to draw on the writings of Ernesto Laclau. Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1988) offered a critique of traditional Marxism and a freeing of political and social contradictions from rigid class categories. It was widely regarded on the British left as dense theoretical fog for a shift from class politics to the nebulous democratic alliances of ‘new times’. In subsequent writings, generally languishing in academic obscurity, Laclau developed an approach to the specificity of politics. His interest in a left strategy that focused on the discursive articulations of popular democratic struggles and fights for left hegemony broadened into approaches to the – still predominantly ‘discursive’ – mechanisms of politics. Interest in the figure of the ‘People’ against the elite, linked Laclau to some of his earliest writings on Populism, with special reference to Latin America.

In On Populist Reason (2005) Laclau retained an emphasis on the specificity of democratic movements outside and against formal political power. Laclau stated, “populism requires the dichromatic division of society into two camps – one presenting itself as a part which claims to be the whole; that this dichotomy involves the antagonistic division of the social field, and that the popular camp presupposes as a conditions of its constitution the constriction of a globalised entity out of the equivalence of a plurality of social demands.” Put simply populism means pitting the people against an array of forces solidified into a simple enemy – an observation which did not wait for Laclau to be discovered. Interviewed this year in New Left Review Iglesias acknowledged his theoretical attraction to almost Marxist ‘Gramscian’ earlier writings, but that the later work offers a “useful tool” for explaining the “autonomy of politics”. Or, again, to put it directly, it gives legitimacy to a way of constructing politics in terms of friend and foe (Carl Schmitt) using a galaxy of propaganda forms to give this shape. It is widely claimed that Podemos’ consciously utilises this instrument in their strategy: the People are mobilised against the ‘Casta’, the ruling caste. (1)

These ideas, whose abstraction and infinite extension, leftwards and rightwards, critics have not failed to note, should not hide the difficulties of creating a different type of politics. Paul Mason’s post-election claim that the pro-business SNP is part of the same ” radical, populist and nationalist left” only reinforces this impression. (Guardian 21.12.15.)

The more modest and attractive aspect of Podemos has apparently been its openness, its willingness to dissolve traditional political organisational forms into new ones, connected to social media and other ways of vertical communication. But when it comes to decision-making problems arise. US and British experience of cumbersome conformity and construction of new elites inside the ‘structurelessness’ of vertical communication and “consensus decision-making” emerged in the wake of the Occupy movement. Inside Podemos there are widely shared complaints about a very visible “vertical” and top-down leadership. This has not been without its faults, as few members participated in voting on the Podemos electoral programme or candidate selection. By contrast Íñigo Errejón, a defender of their strategy, has talked of leading from in front, and the key role of the charismatic Julias Iglesias, as welcome features of Podemos’ efforts to break the mould of traditional left-right politics, indeed to surpass this “old” division. It is a “fundamental element in building hegemony.” (2)

Labour: a ‘Synthesis’.

The Labour Party is, to say the least, not a ‘new’ party. It is a coalition, or better, a ‘bloc’ of disparate forces. Unlike a true coalition it has not always reached full agreement on a detailed programme of political action. There have always been substantial differences on major issues – the present leader is the best example of this extending to Parliamentary votes. But as a “bloc”, that is to say a common front for elections, it has brought together ‘sociological’ forces – the unions – the Party – the NEC, the Parliamentary Party, professional politicians, an army of local councillors, and small more ideological groups or networks, from Progress to the Labour Representation Committee. In more sociological terms this is often portrayed in terms of a marriage between the radical intelligentsia, middle class social reformers, hard-headed trade unionists, and, it has to be said, patriotic ‘national’ Labour of all classes. It is electoral activity that holds these all together. But the signs are, as Haynes indicates, that as more ideological forces enter the field, from Labour First to and Momentum, disagreements are becoming sharper. Divorce, some say, is the only answer.

This break up may be desirable for some on the left and the right. But Hyman is right to suggest that winning elections is not a trivial affair. For those who want to see a Labour government a split is a disaster. The electoral system is not going to change – with boundary changes it is going to become more difficult for the party to elect MPs. In these conditions the principal problem for an old, not a new party, is not to extend its debates outwards. It is to reach some kind of equilibrium within Labour that holds the apparatus together. In some of the more ideological European socialist parties the idea of a “synthesis” between the different parts of these organisations in the process of presenting an electoral platform is a way to resolve these differences. Jean Jaurès, the towering figure of the 20th century French left, advocated a strongly democratic form of socialism (republicanism), human rights, reforms, social ownership and Marxist principles of class struggle. In short, he combined “evolution” and a revolutionary transformation of capitalism into socialism. The notion of drawing ideas together rather than setting them up for stage battles has, for those who wish to see a Labour Prime Minster elected with a party in support, is surely preferable to a prolonged civil war. (3)

What relevance does Podemos have in this context? Their tertulias (open debating forums) may perhaps inform some of those involved in Momentum. But there the analogy breaks down. There is nothing resembling the common sense of deep social angst and purpose that animated the 15-M Movement. Momentum is recruited around support for the new Labour leadership. Already the operations of small socialist organisations, using the Corbyn’s supporters’ network to promote their own agenda of party building and throwing discredit on Labour MPs and councils, have weakened claims about “new politics”. It seems that one objective, of these bodies, to hector councillors to set illegal anti-cuts budgets, has already met with Jeremy Corbyn’s disapproval. It is doubtful if these people care. These groups believe in making a new left-wing party, of contestable democratic credentials, whether the bulk of Labour Party members and supporters want it or not. The activities of the People’s Assembly, directed at the real enemy, the Conservative government, with the clear backing of the trade unions, engaged in a fruitful and respectful dialogue with sections of the Labour Party, appear to have run out of steam.

If we pick our way through the debates inside and outside the Labour Party there are grounds to imagine that a new ‘synthesis’ or at least co-existence of different strands of thought could come about. The modern Labour Party can make space for social democratic proposals for reform, universal principles of rights and justice, with our modern understanding of racial, sexual and gender equality, and expanded renewed welfare provision, Green issues, and more radical ideas on democratic nationalisation, economic transformation, internationalism, and the promotion of working class interests. Hay

Ideas of greater social mobility, “social entrepreneurs” and “progressive” alliances will look pretty tired faced with proposals for genuine equality, liberty and social solidarity. A rich vein of radical literature, from Pierre Rosanvallon’s studies of equality, Thomas Picketty’s critique of rentier capital, to David Harvey’s undogmatic Marxist approach to capitalism – to cite only a handful of new resources for change – could help debate. Some of the able Labour leaders’ advisers can surely expand this list of ‘tool boxes’ for democratic socialist change. In this sense Labour could present a challenge not to a broadly defined ‘casta’ but to the right-wing business and oligarchies and their hangers profiteering from the privatising-state not to mention their political representatives who are our real opponents.

Activists and Policy.

New Labour was marked by separation between policy and activism, between those who decided and those who carried out the leadership’s decision. This drove people away in crowds. If Podemos teaches us something it is that their brand of leftist populism has clearly reached an audience. It also, unfortunately, indicates that there is more than one way to institutionalise an inability to influence policy.

If Labour wishes to reach outwards it needs more open policy-making. Meetings that count, and not simple get-togethers, or tertulias, stand a better long-term chance of mobilising those new to politics. Nothing can prevent those who wish to grandstand, or find a pretext for criticising the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, coming along. Democracy always means minorities that disagree. But when the stakes, the possibility of making a difference to how a party works and what it is aiming at, are there, the potential for agreement also exists. Drawing a new audience into Labour and not outside it, the feeling that the public is not separated from ‘them’ inside the party, is not easy. But one suspects that it is preferable to a ‘populism’ whose final destination remains unclear.

******
(1) Page 83 Ernesto Laclau. On Populist Reason. Verso. 2005. Pablo Iglesias. Understanding Podemos. Interview. New Left Review. No 93. 2015. Populisme, Itinéraire d’un mot voyager. Gérard Mauger. Le Monde Diplomatique. July 2015.

(2) Podemos and its Critics. Bécquer Seguín. Radical Philosophy 193. 2015.

(3) Jaurés et le Réformisme Révolutionnaire. Jean-Paul Scot. Seuil. 2014.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Galloway: Corbyn Wants me for a Sunbeam as George Promises, “Every terrorist will be shot down dead.”

with 2 comments

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

Our old friend George Galloway is a busy fellow these days.

He’s full of lightness and sweet to boot.

Guardian article by   reports on the man living the dream.

As the only serious contender in the race for the Mayor of London, is good to hear of his,

expressions of pleasure in Corbyn’s triumph and accompanying disclosures about his closeness to Corbyn and members of his team. These claims of intimacy scaled a new peak over the weekend when the Sunday Times reported him describing Seumas Milne, my fellow Guardian writer who’s taken leave to become Corbyn’s executive director of strategy and communications, as his “closest friend” with whom he has “spoken almost daily for 30 years.”

Only one shadow, no bigger than a man’s endorsement by the Labour Party, stands in his way.

Sadiq Kahn.

Khan, who is, of course, Labour’s mayoral candidate. He’s called him a “very boring man”, a “flip-flop merchant”, a “product of the Blairite machine”, an accomplice in Blair/Brown “crimes and blunders” and an “unprincipled speak-your-weight machine” who “went into what can only be described as a swoon over kissing the queen’s hand.”

Galloway also appears to consider Khan, a Muslim, an inadequate practitioner of his faith, telling the Evening Standard that the Labour man erred by holding the Koran “in his left hand” when he met the monarch and that this “wasn’t missed by people who care about these things”.

The Guardian’s newshound interviewed the dapper gent hot on the campaign trail.

Such was the backdrop to my question, which I put to Galloway during a public meeting held on Tuesday evening at the Orford House Social Club in Walthamstow, E17. His answer began with a metaphor he often favours. “Sadiq Khan supports Jeremy Corbyn like the rope supports the hanging man,” he said, winning a ripple of laughter among the 100-plus people present.

One can see that Galloway has lost none of the touch that has made him a hit with audiences from Spring Road Allotment shed to the Dean Street telephone box.

Nor his surefire political acumen,

“I have no doubt whatsover that Sadiq Khan is part of the cabal which is seeking to bring Jeremy Corbyn down.”

“If you’re looking for a Corbyn in this election, it’s me. It’s not Sadiq Khan. I support all of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. I might put them a little differently. If you don’t mind me saying so, I might put them a little better. But I support them.”

Galloway is also the coppers’ best mate, reports a different Guardian (local paper for Waltham Forest amongst others),

Galloway also promised to support the police and security services in the fight against terrorism.

“The police will find a friend in me,” he added.

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

“I say to the police officer in the room, when it comes to your wages, your resources and your strengthening, you can count on me.”

The word – unconfirmed – is that Galloway also supports our gallant Russian ally’s bombing in Syria.

He’s got another Best Friend these days.

Galloway has just re-tweeted, John Ross, former leader of the International Marxist Group, and now best-known for his article, How China made the World’s Greatest Contribution to Human Rights.

 

Galloway is soon appearing in a US ‘theater’.

 

Book Now!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm

It’s Boost, Boost for Ipswich as Town named Fifth Lowest in Country on ‘Life-Satisfaction” Index.

with 3 comments

6th of August,

Ipswich is celebrating a real feather in its cap.

It’s today been rated the third happiest place in the country to live.

This was in a survey carried out by the property website ‘Rightmove’.

Picture of typical Ipswich person’s private transport (taken from above link):

Ipswich Marina.

Today (Ipswich Star).

The government’s Office of National Statistics has just published its “wellbeing” index for 2015, showing the responses from 165,000 people across the country.

They were asked to summarise how they felt on four different subjects – and to rate their feelings between one and 10.

When asked: “How satisfied are you with your life generally?” The average in rating in Ipswich was 7.14 out of 10 – the fifth lowest in the UK.

But Ipswich has many excellent amenities (next to town centre): 

https://i0.wp.com/www.ipswichfp.org/images/shop600.jpg

 

Local MP, Lord Mayor of Ipswich, Minister for Ipswich, Editor of the Ipswich Star, and Patron of Lady’s Lane Shrine for Healing the Sick and Poor,  Ben Gummer said he would take the survey with a pinch of salt – especially as it comes out just six weeks after another survey by estate agency Rightmove named Ipswich as the third happiest town in the country.

Mr Gummer added: “I’m certainly trying to do my bit to make the lives of the people of Ipswich more satisfying by working with others to improve the town centre, by keeping up the pressure to improve rail services, and by trying to ensure the Wet Dock crossing is approved.

“But I don’t think anyone should get hung up on this survey!”

Over Stoke Bridge near ‘Planned’ Wet Dock Crossing – convenient for yacht owners:

https://i0.wp.com/ipswich-lettering.org/suffolkrdstores.jpg

Mr Gummer is best known nationally for his radical plans to shake up local government,

Ben Gummer, who represents Ipswich, was speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference organised by the 2020 group of Tory MPs.

The group sees itself as a factory for radical political ideas.

He suggested shaking up local government so that councillors solely representing local businesses could be elected to town halls.

Mr Gummer acknowledged the idea “had no hope of getting into a manifesto” but pointed to the City of London, as a model for how his idea works in practice.

BBC 2012.

Mr Gummer’s private Transport system (Spotted in Rendelsham Forest).

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2015 at 4:10 pm