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Peter Taaffe Stands Down as Socialist Party General Secretary and Warns of Keir Starmer “right-wing ‘counterrevolution'”.

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Peter Taaffe. Socialist Party Political Secretary. 

Following a very successful Socialist Party national congress the newly elected Socialist Party executive committee has unanimously agreed that Peter Taaffe will become political secretary, while Hannah Sell will become general secretary.

Peter has been general secretary since the inception of the Socialist Party, and prior to that was editor of the Militant newspaper. He will remain on the executive committee.

The Socialist.

In his keynote speech to the Congress Taaffe issued this warning about the Labour Party leadership election,

If Starmer wins, this will represent a right-wing ‘counterrevolution’ in the party, regardless of the more ‘left’ face he has been forced to present in order to try and win the contest. With Starmer as leader it would be necessary to find another route to the building of a mass workers’ party in England and Wales.

Taaffe was GSec from 1997 until this year, 2020.

Some suggest that Taaffe has followed the lead of Harry Pollitt, who, after handing over the Communist Party of Great Britain job to John Gollan in 1956, had a new and more or less honorary job created for him, party Chairman.

The Socialist Party underwent a split last year.

In analysing this division and the history of his faction Taaffe found much to congratulate himself as he recounts in In defence of Trotskyism.

Introduction 12th of December 2019.

 ….we stubbornly but correctly defended the historic role and potential of the working class in the forthcoming battles that were likely to open up internationally.

We were very soon vindicated in action in the mass revolutionary upheavals that erupted, particularly in France in 1968 with the working class reaching out for power through a general strike and organised occupations of the factories.

Our general approach allowed us to subsequently face up to winning and mobilising the best working-class youth, and at the same time winning a significant layer of student youth in the universities who put themselves politically and historically on the standpoint of the working class.

One would have, perhaps, to be closely attuned to the higher secrets of the Marxist dialectic to appreciate the full text.

Yet these further extracts are of some interest to a wider, lay, audience,

Marxism historically has consistently first sought to unify the working class in action – and particularly women workers with their male counterparts – at the point of production in the factories, the workplaces, in the localities and in general society. Our opponents – the long-term sectarians, together with those on the right wing of the labour movement and their quasi-left political cousins – of course deny that is their aim. But in practice this is what invariably takes place.

In war – including the class war – the first casualty is truth! This bourgeois maxim is taken for granted amongst the ruling class. However, with the labour movement, and particularly those who claim to be Marxists or Trotskyists, it behoves those who seek to represent the working class to tell the truth both about the objective situation and to seek to answer criticisms honestly. However, Lenin stressed that in Russia he had never come across a really honest labour movement tendency outside of the ranks of the Bolsheviks, the genuine representatives of Marxism and the working class.

It is impossible to answer all the myriad lies used against us. This should be kept in mind when reading some of the slanderous documents, and the language and shameful behaviour of those who supported identity politics in the ideological struggle.

Slander and shameful behaviour are not the end of it:

The starting point of the sectarians and advocates of identity politics is firstly to hone in, to seek to emphasise and magnify any differences in consciousness between sections of the working class. A Marxist and Trotskyist approach does the opposite: it seeks to emphasise what unites working people in struggle. Of course, we recognise the special oppression of different groups and accordingly formulate specific demands. But we at the same time always seek to unify in action the struggles of working people through a common programme, instilling confidence in their ranks with a strategy for victory. We recognise the points of difference where they exist, which means supporting particular demands, but also we have the responsibility to seek to enhance the general struggles of the working class, to free them from opportunist and sectarian leaders and unify them on a fighting programme.

One hopes that the youth will learn the lessons of this magisterial volume!

The answer to how to undertake this colossal task can be found – particularly by the new generation – in reading and absorbing the lessons of this book and the method of Trotsky and Lenin to forge the political weapons that will create a new socialist world.

The Socialist Party monthly, Socialism Today, drew up a balance sheet also relating to the butter debate his February.

The New Party Gen Sec, Hannah Sell, a long-standing opponent of ‘identity politics’ (Unpacking the rucksack) writes,

Featured article from February 2020 Socialism Today (Monthly journal of the Socialist Party- CWI England & Wales.

Socialists debate identity politics

The relationship between fighting women’s oppression, identity politics, and the struggle for socialism is a feature of many debates in the workers’ movement internationally. Mistakes made on this question by the Irish Socialist Party were central to the division that took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International in 2019. In the wake of the Irish general election HANNAH SELL draws up a balance sheet.

In 2019 a major debate took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated. The debate resulted in a split in the CWI with some of its former supporters moving in a rightward opportunist direction.

One of the main triggers for the debate was the mistaken approach of the leadership of the Irish Socialist Party (then the CWI’s affiliate in Ireland) towards the fight against women’s oppression, and its relationship to the struggle for socialism. The debate on these issues has important lessons for the workers’ movement internationally, particularly in this period where identity, rather than class, is frequently put forward as the central divide in society by individuals and forces who claim to be on the left.

Issues relating to this will come up in different forms again and again in future struggles. Just as Lenin and the Bolshevik Party would have been unable to successfully lead the Russian working class to power in 1917 without a correct approach to the right of nations to self-determination, it will be essential to future struggles to change society that a correct approach is taken to all the many forms of special oppression.

The Socialist Party (the group publishing The Socialist, and previously known as Militant) has split after a special congress on 21 July. So has the CWI, the international network of groups of which the SP was the pivot.

SP delegates voted 173-35-0 to “refound” the Committee for a Workers’ International by calling an international conference in 2020. The congress also declared that people continuing to support the existing CWI would place themselves outside of Socialist Party membership, effectively expelling the minority in Britain who support the (apparent) majority internationally within the CWI (bit.ly/cwi-26).

The split concludes months of bitter and increasingly public fighting within the Socialist Party (public due to lack of computer skills by some, rather than to any spirit of open debate).

The faction led by longstanding SP leader Peter Taaffe accused their opponents of “capitulating to petit bourgeois identity politics”. The opposition contended that Taaffe’s standoffish approach to feminist or other broader political mobilisations takes away the opportunity to fight for working-class politics in these movements.

Now they are moblising against the “counter-revolution”, that is those in the Labour Party who back Keir Starmer.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Right-Wing Identity Politics and the Trans Debate: the New Reactionaries.

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“In cultural matters the old division of right and left has come to look more like two Puritan sects, one plaintively conservative, the other posing as revolutionary but using academic complaint as a way of evading engagement in the real world.”

Robert Hughes, The Culture of Complaint. 1993. (1)

Trevor Phillips has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobia. What looks like a parting factional swipe at a long-standing opponent of Corbynism, only adds to the culture wars. After the crisis over anti-Semitism recent weeks have seen a new battle, over Transsexuals, reach a peak. Some have demanded that transphobes be added to the list of the expelled. Defenders of family, faith and flag from Blue Labour, self-identifying libertarians, and supporters of the Brexit Party in Spiked, full-blown national populists, and radical feminists have joined together to attack demands for trans rights.

Judith Butler wrote in her critique of ‘foundational’ identity politics, Gender Trouble (2007) “If I were to rewrite this book under present circumstances, I would include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality, the way that ideal gender dimorphism work in both ways to discourses, the different relations to surgical intervention that these related concern.” At present it looks improbable that differences between gender-critical, or “materialist feminists”, and those defending transsexuals, can take place within reasonable limits.

For Blue Labour, citing the inevitable Christopher Lasch on ‘narcissism’, Jonathan Rutherford asserts that, “Like other forms of identity politics, the language of its more extreme advocates has the same mix of moral self-righteousness and ideological certainty. Scientific facts that compromise ideology are dismissed.” “Identity politics becomes the singular pursuit of self-interest detached from social obligations.” He claims, “It is a struggle that many women feel is all the more threatening because of the involvement of powerful lobby and corporate interests.” (The Trans Debate And The Labour Party)The nastiness of a minority amongst those defending absolute ‘cis’ gender has shredded that hope to pieces. The Suzanne Moore affair has opened up a breach that is unlikely to be bridged. (2)

In 1993 Robert Hughes was one of the first to suggest that Marxism, dead after the collapse of official Communism, has had an afterlife by shifting away from “economic and class struggle in the real world”, theorising instead a variety of oppressions and “discursive” articulations and antagonisms. This ‘cultural Marxism’, exploring themes from German and French left theory, has become a target for conservatives railing against “multiculturalism”. Speech codes, the “PC wars” of the 90s, and. fast-forward. Today we have Mark Lilla’s 2018 left of centre critique of “liberal identity politics” (The Once and Future Liberal), and Douglas Murray’s conservative broadside against “identity politics and intersectionality”, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” (The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. 2019) (3)

National Populism.

Those attracted to national populism, who disdain the causes of minorities, have become champions of identity, of the “Somewhere” plain folks against the identity politics of the ‘Anywhere” cosmopolitan elites. This strategy is not confined to the English-speaking world. “The ambition is to imitate the activism of minorities – postcolonial or LGBT – fed by French theory …..in order to serve the cause of identity” writes Nicholas Truong in this Saturday’s Le Monde (Il s’érige contre la « dictature » de la « bien-pensance » : l’essor du national-populisme intellectuel et médiatique). In France, “national populism”, a “catéchisme néo-réactionnaire”, the theme of immigration, the fear of the “great replacement”, the ‘Islamisation’ of urban spaces, up to hostility to human-rights “mongering” (droits de l’hommisme) , and the “terror” of feminist campaigns against sexual violence and harassment. The denunciation of multiculturalist “bobos” (Bourgeois bohemians) parallels British sneers, from Blue Labour, Spiked to the Morning Star at the ‘Islington left”. Truong, with good reason, compares this to French Communist language of the past century attacking the “petty bourgeois”.

In Le rappel à l’ordre (2002) Daniel Lindenberg outlined the way a group of French writers had begun to denounce May 68, human rights, feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, Islam, and “globalism” (mondialisme). These “new reactionaries” had moved from the left critiques of market liberalism to national republicanism, He suggested that anti-globalisation could serve as a crossing-point

A “crude piece of work” commented Perry Anderson. It takes no more than a few minutes to see some names, Marcel Gauchet, Alain Finkielkraut, reappear in Truong’s article, some, like Eric Zemmour, and Jean-Pierre le Goff, author of a study that is recalled or its postscript on the enduring impact of “cultural leftism” post-68, had yet to come to wider attention. Others, like the once respected historian of the French left, Jacques Julliard are much more recent entries, though one was perhaps forewarned by his willingness to debate Jean-Claude Michéa, who asserts that the original sin of French socialism was its Dreyfus Affair alignment with democratic liberal human rights defenders. That one of these figures, Michel Onfray, a self-styled anarchist and pop philosopher has extended his openness to reaction by contributing to the pages of the Nouvelle Droite Eléments, is the occasion for sadness. (4)

Realignments to the right that have yet to go so far could be seen in the UK during the EU Referendum and Brexit process. The Full Brexit brought together left sovereigntists, Blue Labour, Labour Leave, activists in Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and members of the Communist Party of Britain. They contrasted the real popular sovereignty of the nation against the workings of the globalist EU elites. Andrew Murray has expressed the widely shared views of these sections with his hostility towards “rancid identity politics”, pitting the rights of “peoples” against the “poisonous seeds” of human rights (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)

The French new reactionaries have, Truong outlines, a strong and highly visible media presence right in the mainstream, the MSM. For those inflamed with hatred for identity politics Britain offers the consolations of Spiked, the Spectator, and the hard right press for those hostile to all things Woke, with the occasional television platform like Sky Press reviews. As interest in Brexit has waned some of  this new sect of plaintitive reactionaries  has taken up the cudgels against transsexuals. Elsewhere Verso Books publishes Andrew Murray, who thanks Tariq Ali for his “support and political commitment., The journal of Perry Anderson, New Left Review, is home to Wolfgang Streeck, a supporter of the Full Brexit, who believes that national borders are the “last line of Defence”….

 

*****

  1. Page 60. The Culture of Complaint, The Fraying of America. Robert Hughes. Harvill. 1994.
  2. Page xxviii. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Judith Butler. Routledge 2007.
  3. Lecture 2. Multi-Culti and its Discontents. Robert Hughes. Op cit. “PC Wars” in Chapter 8. New Consensus for Old. One Market Under God, Thomas Frank. Vintage 2002.
  4. Page 169. Perry Anderson The New Old World. Verso. 2009 Jean-Claude Michéa and Jacques Julliard La Gauche et le Peuple. Champs. 2014.
  5. Page ix. Andrew Murray. The Rise and Fall of the British left. Verso, 2019

Morning Star, “recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.”

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Be Alert: Keep a Copy of this Handbook Close at all Times!

The leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography. Nick Wright.

 

(5 Retweets).

The former Straight left stalwart writes in the Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op.

This article may be seen as a response to the Guardian column, The Labour leadership contest has exposed new factions in the party ( ).

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth was this section,

 The orthodox left still basically wants to implement the Communist party’s 1951 plan, The British Road to Socialism, with its vision of socialism being implemented in one country by a strong, centralised national government. They lean heavily towards a pro-Brexit position, while tending to interpret support for Brexit among working-class voters as incipient class consciousness rather than tabloid-inspired xenophobia.

Followed by,

The radical left is still a very new, fragile and inexperienced tendency that has a long way to go before emerging as a mature political formation. It brings together the more libertarian strands of the hard left, the more radical strands of the soft left, and a new generation of activists from outside the traditions of the Labour party.

Wright makes a clarion call for the whole of the left to support Long-Bailey, and follow the doughty progressive patriot for better reasons than the (official) left who back her, “mainly out of sheer loyalty to her mentor, John McDonnell, that most of the radical left have supported her.”

He aims to dampen down this deviation:  “Privately, many on the radical left agree with former MP Alan Simpson that the dogmatic and authoritarian tendencies of the orthodox left smothered the creative and democratic potential of Corbynism, contributing to its eventual downfall.

The Communist Party of Britain sage writes of Labour’s General Election Campaign.

The disparate elements that Corbyn’s election united has ended and the wide legitimacy that Labour’s radical programme commanded is now challenged by people who attribute the election defeat to “socialist policies” which must be abandoned.

With the help of ace-reporters Wright discovers that Labour was, at one point, on the brink of victory,

…. a wave of popular participation, an effective social media operation, skilled targeting of swing seats and a bold manifesto (along with the divisions in the Tory ranks and a weakened Liberal Democrat Party) produced a surge in support that eroded a 20-point Tory lead and took Corbyn within a few thousand votes of No 10.

We may not have noticed that, but he did!

The fault lay in a failure to respect the decision to respect the Brexit vote, something which Wight and his comrades tirelessly campaigned for.

Instead of becoming a springboard for a further assault on a divided ruling class — this itself apparent in a highly conflicted Tory Party in government — this hopeful prospect was dissipated as Labour’s activists and mass base were sidelined by a parliamentary party intent on subverting the clear decision to respect the referendum result.

Worse was to come,

Labour (was)  corralled into an increasingly Get Brexit Undone policy, the way was open for Labour’s manifesto to be driven to the margins of public discussion.

The People’s Vote campaign, a middle class mass movement, had sown confusion in Labour ranks.

The success of the Remain camp in conflating “internationalism” with a kind of shared European privilege to travel, study and work freely threatens to undermine the deeper internationalism that found an expression in the mass movement against neoliberal trade deals, in the Stop the War movement, the anti-racist and solidarity action with refugees and migrant workers and the Palestine solidarity movement.

The kind of internationalism that has stood by while Assad, Russia and Iran,  attack Idid in Syria, in short.

Remain, unlike Boris Johnson and the ERG, had a “neoliberal project.”

Worse the pro-EU side has  echoes of fascism, foretold in  ” manifesto of Oswald Mosley’s postwar racist revival”.

He cites Gilbert (above), without mentioning (surely an oversight),  the passage of the British Road to Socialism,

It is to Jeremy Gilbert, professor of cultural and political theory at the University of East London, that we owe the insight that the leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography and that the only way for Labour to win is to ditch “Labourism.”

Writing about Labour’s so-called “soft left,” he writes: “Despite the failures of both Kinnock and Miliband, their default assumption remains that progressive government can be achieved by selling moderate social democracy to the electorate, led by a guy in a smart suit.”

Worse is to come….

It is to this inspiring standard that the recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.

The Morning Star writer has a warning to them:

While it might suit some to reduce much of politics to the clash of cultures, no-one should underestimate the political potency of questions of nationhood, patriotism and identity.

As in progressive patriotism.

Cde Wright ends with a stirring call for unity behind the banner of the “Orthodox Left”-  including these “recycled fragments”, supporters of a neoliberal project, who admire something with the odour of Oswald Mosley “?

A dog-eared copy of Betty Reid’s, ‘Ultra Leftism in Britain’, (1969. CPGB) would surely show the dangers of the “ultra left” in their true light.

The Blair Government Reconsidered. Jon Davis, John Rentoul. Review: Blairism Rehabilitated?

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The Blair Government Reconsidered. Heroes or Villains? Jon Davis, John Rentoul  Oxford 2019.

“Will New Labour in retrospect be judged to have failed for the same reasons that Very Old Labour failed in 1929 – 31, namely a refusal to break with current economic orthodoxy?”

Eric Hobsbawm. Marxism Today. November/December 1998. (‘The Death of Neoliberalism’).

In a special one-off, titled Wrong, the Editor of Marxism Today, whose End had been announced in 1991, wrote, “New Labour did not usher in a new era but more properly belongs to the previous one.” Martin Jacques was followed by other heavyweights. Stuart Hall stated that, “Labour has been quietly seduced by the neo-liberal view that, as far as possible, the economy must be treated as a machine; obeying economic ‘laws’ without human intervention”. In words that resonate today about those now asserting the need to attract pro-Brexit voters, and the “Somewhere” people he asserted that Blair’s “key constituency in the run up to the election was ‘Middle England’ – a profoundly traditionalist and backward looking cultural investment.”

In reply Geoff Mulgan defended the “open” debate about the Third Way, synthesising centre-left traditions, and Labour commitment to practical radical reform. Citing Walter Benjamin, the Demos director complained about intellectual “peaceful negativity” – endless carping from the outside. History had moved on, and Blair’s “permanent revisionism” was the future.

Accusations of resurrecting New Labour, of “Blairism” have been anything but part of a serene critique in Labour’s present day leadership contest. Voices outside Labour, relayed within, predict a defeat for the left in the wake of a Keir Starmer Armageddon. Party democracy, in the view of the Socialist Party and the SWP and some claiming to be on the Labour left, has been thwarted; the ‘Blairites’ have not been purged. A historic defeat looms. The time has come again to mobilise outside the Party….

New Labour in Power.

In these conditions is there space for an in-depth account of New Labour in power? Discussion of what ‘Blairism’ actually was, and what remains of it could hardly avoid this. Davis and Rentoul, who teach on “the Blair Years” at King’s College, begin The Blair Government stating, that Tony Blair was “the political colossus in Britain for thirteen years after he became leader of the Labour Party in 1994. He was prime minister for ten years, second only in length of service to Margaret Thatcher (11 and a half).” Yet, as they note in the conclusion, “Much of the difference between Blair and Thatcher is explained by how much they are regarded by supporters of their own party, Where Blair is reviled by many Labour voters, Thatcher is revered by Conservatives.” (Page 300) By contrast, “The purpose of this book is to assess criticisms of him and his government in a dispassionate way…”(Page 2)

The first thing that strikes the considered reader is that The Blair Government is, far too much for the politically committed reader, focused on “government works” and “how Blair run his administration”. The charge that the Prime Minister accepted the ‘Thatcher consensus’ that privatised nationalised industries, utilities and transport, introduced anti-trade union laws, and the modelling of public services after private business practice. There is little on the role of the Labour Party itself. There is nothing on the international difficulties and evolution of social democracy, which some began to compare with New Labour at tis zenith The book focuses on the “conduct of government”, issues such as Prime Ministerial versus Cabinet government, “sofa government”, the Civil Service faced with an increased role of Special Advisers (‘Spads’), that occupy this account of the nuts and bolts of Blair’s time in office. (1)

The relationship between Blair and Gordon Brown is of interest to any biographer. The independence of the Bank of England and its relationship with the Treasury gets in-depth treatment, as does Brown’s partnership with Ed Balls. . The critics’ charge of economic orthodoxy rang and rings true. In this field, PPS, Public private Partnerships, rightly attacked for critics on cost grounds and as a “hallway house to privatisation” is considered in terms of “mobilising private funds for public purposes”. (Page 224). Brown’s project, Davis and Rentoul note, was in line “redistributive market liberalism. A significant role of government is to remedy market failure in areas such as healthcare, not to intervene in the foundations of the economy (Page 227).

 

The Third Way.

The Blair Government does not discuss the Third Way, the social-ism, adapted to the “new capitalism” that Tony Blair, or at least his supporters, spun during his years up to government and in power. There was the emphasis on “community” sometimes drawn from communitarian political philosophy, more often from homely speeches about balancing rights and obligations, “mutual responsibility”. One responsibility dominated. People needed to be equipped with skills to compete on the global market; there should be “equality of opportunity” for the aspirational to succeed. The welfare-to-work New Deal, outsourced to private providers, fell short of offering quality training and opportunities to the majority of its clients. If the minimum wage and tax credits helped the low-paid, this – undeniably important help – went with the idea of improving individuals’ market capacity within an “open economy”. (2)

The difficulty was not only that this strategy was bound to skirt around forces pushing rising inequality, a world wide trend left-wing writers link to finance driven ‘neo-liberal’ globalisation. Public services had been kept going, even expanded in some areas, although its higher reaches became subject to stiff fees. When the “dynamism of the economy” faltered, and “boom and bust” reappeared in the 2008-banking crisis, the period of Gordon Brown’s Premiership that followed this study’s focus, these measures teetered on the brink. Eric Hobsbawm’s warning proved right as orthodoxy, with the aid of a bit of bank saving, prevailed, austerity began. The bulk of policy initiatives, or tinkering, proved not to be structural, lasting, reforms. Whatever trace of equality they had sustained vanished quickly with the return of the Conservatives to power. Schemes for sanction-ruled and pared down welfare amidst the expansion of precarious employment have erased their memory. Brexit has set in train a new form of free-market rule, national neoliberalism, backed by Boris Johnson’s national populism. 

Davis and Rentoul are more forthcoming on the Iraq War. Regardless of the merits of the decision to play a full part in the invasion of Iraq, Blair acted out of “deep conviction”. He gave public support to President Bush. The issue of ‘humanitarian intervention’, one that preoccupied many people on the left at the time, is ignored. What counted is that it could be seen as poor policy, “on planning for the aftermath, he failed to consider how badly it could turn and…If a fraction of the intelligence effort devoted to weapons of mass destruction had been devoted to war-gaming the results of toppling Saddam, a better decision might have been reached.” (Page 280) Or it might not…..

The Blair Government Reconsidered  is a fluent, accessible study. That said, if there’s anything that all the candidates for the Labour leadership have noted is this, the Blair years claim that “What matters is what works”. New Labour’s package of policies, though not without electoral victories that should make us pause, did not, as a whole, work.

 

***********

(1) The Retreat of Social Democracy. John Callaghan. Manchester University Press.  2001

(2) Alex Callinicos. Against the Third Way. Polity 2001.

Solidarity with the Victims of Communal Violence in Delhi.

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Delhi Riots: Mosques and Huts Burned, Children Attacked, at Least 2 Dead in Mustafabad

Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey

At least two mosques in the northeasrt Delhi neighbourhood have been vandalised and attacked with stones, reportedly by a Hindutva mob. Elsewhere in the area, masked men shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ torched Muslim huts.

New Delhi: The Mustafabad area in north east Delhi also saw violence on Tuesday evening as a Hindutva mob attacked the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site, injuring sevhttps://twitter.com/SAsiaSolidarity/status/1232951475896307712?s=20eral people including children.

According to residents, a mob of around 50 men gathered in the area and began to pelt stones.

At least two mosques in the area have been vandalised and attacked with stones, by the same mob.

Residents told The Wire that men armed with rods and pistols gathered outside the mosques in the area and attacked them. At the time, several children were inside the mosque and were attacked.

The locals rescued several children from the mosque and some have severe injuries. The Wire saw a 15-year-old boy with severe head and leg injuries being rescued from inside the mosque. He was unable to walk and claimed that he had been attacked by rods.

 

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

India: WSS strongly condemns the State Sponsored Hindutva Violence in Delhi!

In light of the extraordinary situation with which we are confronted, WSS strongly and unequivocally condemns the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal led violence. We also condemn the inaction and silence of the state and central government in the wake of the violence. We demand:

1. Immediate restoration of law and order, de-escalation of violence, and fulfilment of the duties of law enforcement agencies.

2. The Delhi government must immediately begin serious efforts to restore the right to safe living of the Muslim community – men, women, children – in these violence-wracked neighbourhoods and across the city. All efforts must be made to ensure that those who have been forced to flee are able to return and live in their homes safely.

3. The Supreme court should take suo moto cognisance of the violent situation and act urgently to contain the violence.

4. The state should be providing immediate medical relief on site, in homes of the injured, and ambulance services to those injured. People trapped in these areas should be provided rations by the state government, in light of the destruction of their homes, livelihoods and property.

5. Immediate and stringent action against BJP ex-MLA Kapil Mishra for inciting violence, as well as all individuals and policemen seen engaged in stone-pelting and beatings.

6. The ongoing violence should be investigated by a SIT.

7. Immediate resignation of the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Delhi LG Anil Baijal and Home Minister Amit Shah.

UK’s Corbyn condemns violence against Muslims in Delhi

Labour chief and leader of the opposition in the British parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, has condemned violence against Muslims in Delhi by extremist Hindu groups linked with the ruling Bhartya Janata Party (BJP).

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, the Labour leader said he’s saddened and shocked at the killing of innocent Muslims in Delhi riots, initiated by the extremist Hindutva groups linked with Narendra Modi’s government.

“I am totally shocked by what has happened and totally deplore the killings that have happened. I stand by those who have protested for their rights. They have the right to protest and they have the right to disagree, that’s what a democracy is all about,” he said.

“The basis of international law has to be the universal declaration of international human rights which of course guarantees and protects the right of religious freedom and assembly and the right of equality before the law of citizenship,” he added.

When asked about his views on the ruling party BJP supporting a progrom against Muslims, the Labour leader said all faiths are equal and no faith has the right to attack others.

“There has to be a basis in every society that there is no supremacy of one faith or ethnic group over another. That’s what a democracy is all about, equality before the law irrespective of your ethnicity of your faith.”

Finally there is this:

And this:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2020 at 1:18 pm

A Critique of Susan Watkins – New Left Review – on “After Brexit”.

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Let Brexit Be Done!

 

“Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve got, and from one of people too; that makes it harder to bear, eh? Never mind, he’s worse off than you are.” It was, 1814, the time of the French Restauration. London had been celebrating a visit by His Sacred Majesty, the Bourbon King Louis the 18th. Zachariah Coleman a Dissenter and Radical, had not doffed his cap as the French King appeared. Hit by a burley Drayman’s fist, saved by the intervention of the above Major, the hero of The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane (1887. Mark Rutherford, W.H. White) could stand for the left after the blow of December’s General Election. We are still reeling as the People have cheered, or at least, voted, Boris Johnson into office.

In Britain’s Decade of Crisis, Susan Watkins talks of this present-day “restoration”. “The Tories are back in office with their largest majority since the 1980s, thanks to the long-ignored northern working class”. Like the Bourbons, the PM’s “ traditional ruling-class persona” gave the trappings of “decisiveness, vitality, enjoyment”. Rolling these phrases the Editor of New Left Review sees no cause to revise her judgement on the Leave victory in the 2016 Referendum. “Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret this knocks against it, against which the whole global order establishment – Obama, Merkel, Modi, Junker, to Xi – has inveigled.” (1)

In another return to the old order New Left Review clutches at Tom Nairn’s portrait of British capitalist development. The “rising bourgeoisie was absorbed into the existing aristocratic state and civil structures”. “The world dominance of the City of London served to divert investment away from the northern industrial regions: higher returns were to be found overseas.” To cut a long, and contentious, story short, the country ended up with this: “While London remained the financial capital of Europe, ‘outward-orientation’ in the era of bubblenomics was above all Atlanticist.”

In other words, leaving the EU was not a knock to the neoliberal global order, or to “southern-based financialised capitalism”. Those gaining from “bubblenomics”, some of the funders of the Leave movement, show that much. The multinational state, Nairn’s bugbear, which he calls by the laborious name of Ukania, may be under strain. Watkins cites the ‘Scottish Rebellion’. She does not mention the sage’s speculation that “the breakup of Britain will be accompanied by the dissolution of its heartland or Southern nationalism into a larger European entity”. (2)

UKIP’s ‘National Independence” movement.

A belated English national independence struggle, led by UKIP, and with wider roots in the Northern Rust Belt, fuelled the demand for Leave. “England without London”, the alliance of the “disaggregated” working and middle classes who backed Leave, the ignored “will of the working class” given voice in Tory support is the result. But like the former mining and industrial districts of Northern France that have turned to Marine Le Pen, this is an alliance of the less-well off with their betters, the traditional reactionary wing of the right. French and British legitimists may add colour to the bloc; former mining families, self-pitying pathos. Racism, xenophobic, the germs of popular base for national populism, could be cited. They are not. One equally suspects that Simon Kuper is onto something when he talks of the “middle class anti-elitist” as the vanguard of Leave support, not the working class and poor ‘left behind’. (3)

Britain’s Decade of Crisis skirts over the movements against austerity that grew after the 2008 Banking crisis and state cuts. The People’s Assembly, run at the top by the small left group, Counterfire, funded by trade unions, such as UNITE, it galvanised and brought together grassroots protests. Prefiguring the election of Jeremy Corbyn, anti-austerity campaigns brought together left activists, local councillors, trade unionists and a big slice of community groups. Many involved joined the Labour Party – actively encouraged by the unions, and the transitional stage of supporters’ membership – under the new leadership. Some saw this as the basis for Labour insurgency, a challenge to “capitalist realism” in civil society. Yet, paradoxically or not, the anti-austerity movement began to fade the moment Jeremy Corbyn was elected and Momentum was floated as the new ‘social movement’. There is little doubt that placards and demos can only go so far when confronted with Council budgets and the Fortress of the DWP. (4)

Labour, Corbyn and the Media.

Watkins jumps to the challenge “from the Labour Left under Jeremy Corbyn: an appeal to redistribute wealth and recast foreign policy, distancing the UK from NATO’s wars.” We learn little about how Labour’s team prepared to turn these policies into a digestible form and the criticisms they faced, up to, and during the election about the unintelligibility and volume, of their plans Indeed the difficulties that the ‘Corbyn project’ faced are externalised.

We hear a lot about how the Parliamentary Party tried to frustrate Corbyn, and a great deal, a very great deal about the media’s hostility to Labour. The “Labour leader came under an unprecedented three-way assault—from the establishment intelligentsia, from his own parliamentary party and from opponents of his anti-war foreign policy.”

Nobody pointed out, that blaming foreign wars, with barely audible qualification, for the Manchester bomb attack – mass murder – was factually and politically doubtful. Nobody questioned Labour’s failure to give more than tepid support for Syrians killed by Baathist, Russian and Iranian forces, or do anything to back the Kurds, to back democrats against Assad, was reflected the ethically bankrupt ‘anti-imperialism’ of key Corbyn advisers. Nobody mentioned it in New Left Review!

Instead the issue of anti-semitism loomed over all others. She concludes“… given the scale and toxicity of the establishment onslaught, besides which the concoction of the Zinoviev Letter in 1924 appears the work of amateurs, the first duty is to salute the moral integrity of Corbyn and his courageous Jewish allies.” This no-holds, no concessions, defence offers little to resolve an over-commented issue. It is hard to credit that Corbyn supporters who reacted with as much vitriol as their critics helped resolve the issue, or that the way some treated the Labour Party as  a place to play out their absolute anti-Zionism, was not the best way to deal with a predictable attack from this quarter, helped. 

“The media’s anti semitism campaign represented a damaging assault on Corbyn’s Labour from above.” Far from the only one, but Watkins is eager to go for the next issue. “Brexit hurt the party from below—dividing it from an important section of its historic voter base.” Again, without surveying the influence of those called the Corridor Cabal, who backed Brexit even more enthusiastically than Watkins, or the turn outs on some of the biggest mass demonstrations ever seen in Britain, for remaining in the EU, she concludes, “ Instead of proposing an alternative solution to the crisis, as in 2017, Labour was the main force blocking the implementation of the popular vote, in a defence of the status quo—aligned with the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, the ‘Remainer elite’.”

Let Brexit be Done!

Any attempt to stop Brexit was not only doomed, it frustrated an alternative. “Corbyn could have avoided this position by giving Labour mps a free vote on Brexit legislation in 2019, ‘according to their conscience’, as Harold Wilson had done on the divisive 1975 referendum on the UK’s entry into the Common Market. With the ‘northern group’ voting for the bill and two dozen Labour abstentions, Johnson would have been denied the chance to make electoral hay out of the obstruction of Brexit, and the prospect of combating a much weaker Tory administration would have lain ahead at the next election.”

In other words, Labour should have let Brexit pass. The Northern patriots would have been appeased, Johnson, his key policy given the green light, his own remain opponents tossed aside, and pro-EU protesters rattled, would be in a mess. Or “much weaker”.

With the blessing of hindsight  Zachariah Coleman should have tipped his hat to the Bourbon King.

Having cheered him on his way, the Dissenter would only have to wait till 1830 to see the elite gone, and a fine musical, Les Misérables, written to celebrate it.

What now for Labour and the Left. Momentum, according to some reports, has frazzled out. Long-Bailey looks unlikely to hold the Corbyn candle. The pro-Corbyn left is fragmenting.  “The new left keeps open the prospect of taking the fight to the terrain of the future with bold solutions for inequality, climate change and the international order, as the Corbyn leadership tried to do” states Susan Watkins towards the conclusion of the New Left Review Editorial. This looks like a rerun of the alter-globalisation folk politics of the past, without any prospect of power.

What constituencies should the new left and Labour address? Reworking the themes of the Somewhere and Nowhere people, the Metropolitan and the Periphery, the political and electoral cartography stands as this: For Paul Mason, the progressive alliance of the future lies squarely with the ‘internationals’, the young metropolitan professionals of the Remain camp. For Wolfgang Streeck, the national level offers the only effective basis for democratic accountability, for calling the ravening forces of capital to order.” Paul Mason, internationalist, opponent of right-wing populism and “national neoliberalism”. Wolfgang Streeck, star writer for New Left Review, member of the alliance between left sovereigntists and Brexit Party supporters, the Full Brexit, the man who thinks national borders are the “last line of defence”…. The Editor leaves little doubt about where her support goes….(5)

*****

  1. Susan Watkins. Casting off? Editorial. NLR No 100. 2016.
  2. Page 391. The Enchanted Glass. Britain and its Monarchy. Tom Nairn. Radius 1988.
  3. Simon Kuper. The revenge of the middle-class anti-elitist. Financial Times. Feb 13th. 2010. Most British Leave voters lived in the south of England, and 59 per cent were middle class (social classes A, B or C1), writes Danny Dorling, geographer at Oxford University.
  4. Exiting the Vampire Castle. Mark Fisher. 2013. “One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.
  5. From the Demise of Social Democracy to the ‘End of Capitalism’: The Intellectual Trajectory of Wolfgang Streeck. Jerome Roos. 2019 HISTORICAL MATERIALISM 27(2): 248-288

As an example of how the pro-Corbyn left is splintering this could not be better:

 

Here

As Support for Keir Starmer Grows and Grows Socialist Worker Attacks “Right-wing Labour Leadership Candidate.”

with 8 comments

Peter Tatchell, Starmer would make a “fine Labour Leader”.

The Newsnight debate yesterday.

This is highly recommended:

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and longtime acquaintance of Starmer, remembered him as always being “very open to representation from outside his own circle” as DPP.

“I was involved in helping to defend two Balochistan activists who the government of Pakistan was trying to frame on terrorism charges,” he said. “When I approached Keir about the case he immediately said ‘Come in and see me. Let’s talk about it.’ He was a very high-profile, busy man at the time but he took the time, you know, which I think is a measure of his character and integrity.”

Tatchell said Starmer would make a “fine Labour leader” but said he hoped he would take on some of the “very thoughtful, intelligent proposals” made by Clive Lewis, the left-wing Labour MP who dropped out of the leadership contest in the early stages.

“I think the Keir you see today is pretty much the Keir of 30 years ago,” Tatchell added. “He’s got a very sharp mind and is very articulate. I think it would be a great asset if he can work on a sense of humour as well. … Yeah, it’s a bit hidden.”

Keir Starmer Is Not Who You Think He Is. Emily Ashton.

James McAsh writes on Labour List.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are in the lead by a considerable margin. Each has approximately 60% of nominations. Two in five CLPs have nominated both candidates, one in five have nominated each one alone, and only one in five have nominated neither.

……

 Perspective on the EU is still a factor. CLPs nominating Starmer and Thornberry are more likely to be in areas that voted Remain, while those supporting Long-Bailey or Nandy more often voted Leave.

Nonetheless, the Brexit vote does not disrupt the headline results: Starmer has won a majority of both groups, Long-Bailey is in second place, and Nandy is beating Thornberry to third place. Perhaps we’re not so divided after all.

It is all but impossible that Starmer and Rayner will lose. Moreover, their staggering leads make it clear that they have hoovered up support from both previous Corbyn supporters and his critics. Is this a new era of unity? A happy compromise between those who want the Corbyn project to enter a new stage, and those who want it to end? Or rather, will the expectations for the new leadership be ultimately irreconcilable? Only time will tell.

As the Labour Party looks to a new leadership to replace the failed pro-“People’s Brexit’ Corridor Cabal that damaged the party during the election.

From the SWP sidelines comes further reasons to back Starmer charging him, falsely with wanting to “move to the right”, and sneering at his human rights work, and, correctly, with having been pro-internationalist on the issue of the European Union.

The SWP no doubt thinks that if they repeat the claim that Starmer is a “right-winger” long enough people might believe them.

Right wingers lead as Labour leadership race enters final stage

Right wing Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer looked set to enter the final round of the contest with the most nominations by far.

Starmer had won backing from 280 Constituency Labour Parties—local party organisations—as Socialist Worker went to press.

His nominations surpassed the left’s candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who had the backing of 131 CLPs, and the two other candidates Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

Among those nominating him last week was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Islington North—prompting gloating from the Labour right and barely concealed joy from political pundits.

The deadline for nominations was Friday this week. The final stage of the contest—a ballot of individual members and affiliated supporters—was set to run from Friday of next week until Thursday 2 April.

Yet the scale of the nominations for Starmer is an indication that the mass support that sustained Corbyn’s leadership may not become backing for Long-Bailey.

Starmer says Labour has to move right to be electable—and activists worry that this is swaying members.

He has tried to cultivate an image as ­someone who supported workers as a campaigning lawyer.

Yet he also relies on his image as a “respectable” politician due to his background as Labour’s shadow Brexit ­minister and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Starmer was one of those responsible for Labour’s slide towards backing a second referendum—which was central to the disastrous 2019 general election result.

He also ­publicly backed ­remaining in the European Union. Yet demoralisation among Labour members mean some are pulled by the idea that Labour needs a leader more acceptable to the right and the media.

Meanwhile, Long-Bailey was attacked for promising to ban bosses from forcing workers to answer emails out of working hours, and to ­support “every” strike.

Yet her campaign has also made concessions to the right—including ­backing MP Angela Rayner over the left wing Richard Burgon for deputy leader. She’s also backed rules that would allow left wing activists to be purged from Labour for anything more than the ­mildest criticism of Israel.

Labour lost the general election partly because its leadership under Corbyn consistently conceded to right wing arguments, allowing them to take hold and undermine him.

Now the pressures of “unity” and “electability” look set to drag the party even ­further to the right.

Fellow supporters of Brexit, Spiked, are also anti-Starmer.

On another identity issue, the ‘Trans pledge’, the leadership debate has seen Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey back calls to purge Labour of feminist dissent on the issue.

In thoughtful and reasoned comment Lindsey German said earlier in the week said that the issue should not be used to shout down debate,

No platform should only be for fascists

Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP who has such a good record on the left, has come under attack in the past week for making the following statement as part of a much longer article: ‘The women’s movement needs space to talk about sex and gender without fear of being “no platformed”’. She has been called bigoted and transphobic. Yet what she says is absolutely true. There is no justification for refusing a platform to someone who wants to discuss these highly controversial issues. They are not fascists, indeed many have a long record of fighting oppression. Moreover, they are as resolutely opposed to attacks on, abuse of, or discrimination against trans people as are the people attacking them. So they cannot be lumped in with right wingers who want to deny trans rights.

The truth is there is no automatic unity of the oppressed and positions need to be argued and fought for. Demonstration against feminists who are concerned about transgender issues, shouting them down, trying to get them sacked or removed as speakers, should have no place on the left. It’s 50 years since the first women’s liberation conference in this country and, guess what, women’s oppression remains a major factor in our society.

Here is Starmer’s reaction to the calls for a witch-hunt on the issue of trans rights.

Instead he backs this democratic pledge: