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Ken Livingstone “really sorry” for “upsetting people” – but defends remarks about Hitler and Zionism. as a “statement of fact”.

with 16 comments

Always Pleased with Himself.

 

Asked if he was sorry, Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party,” but followed it up with saying, “It wasn’t me that started this.”

Asked if he regretted his comments, he said: “How can I regret stating the truth.”

Offering a rather qualified apology for his remarks, he said: “I’m sorry that I’ve said that because I’ve wasted all this time.” He says he wants the focus to be on the upcoming elections.

Yesterday.

Ken Livingstone uses a RAPE comparison when asked about Labour suspension

Ken Livingstone remained defiant over the Labour anti-Semitism row he fuelled – and used a rape comparison when asked about his suspension from the party.

He said: “If a woman turns up at a police station and says, ‘I’ve been raped’, the police have to investigate that.

“And as I’m on the national executive that oversees those investigations, you understand that person should be suspended.

“Given a lot of Labour MPs are accusing me of being anti-Semitic, that’s really something the party has to investigate.”

Livingstone’s narcissistic ‘politics’ have now reached their terminus.

Anybody wishing to go further into this topic – there is also a rebuttal of Livingstone’s source Brenner on Facebook by Jewish Socialist leaders – should read begin with these contributions:

Timothy Snyder, Yale University history professor and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015)  BBC.

It is inconceivable that Hitler could have wanted to move Jews to Israel, because there was no such place in 1932.

Using the word “Israel” when what is meant was “the British mandate of Palestine” has the unfortunate consequence of stripping away the actual historical context and putting the words “Hitler” and “Israel” in the same sentence.

Hitler was not a supporter of Zionism.

He believed, on the contrary, that Zionism was one of many deliberately deceptive labels that Jews placed upon what he believed to be their endless striving for global power and the extermination of the human species.

‘Categorically false’

From Hitler’s point of view, Jews were precisely not normal human beings because they did not care about territory, but cared only about global domination.

“He was supporting Zionism” is categorically false and reveals a total and fundamental misunderstanding of what Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all about.

Tens of thousands of German Jews did emigrate to Palestine before British policy made this all but impossible. And some German officials did take an interest in Zionism. But there was never a German policy to support Zionism or a future Israel.

On the contrary, the German orientation in the Middle East was to support Arab nationalism. The official German policy, enunciated clearly in 1937, was to oppose the creation of a State of Israel.

‘Logically inconceivable’

Before, during and after 1932, Hitler referred to the Jews as a problem for the entire world, not simply for Germany.

When the Holocaust took place, the vast majority of Jews killed were people who lived beyond Germany.

Both in theory and in practice, Hitler’s extermination of Jews was international, applied to millions of people. For this reason as well, it is logically inconceivable that his ideas could ever have been limited to sending German Jews to Palestine.

Well before 1932, in his book Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear that the Jews were, in his view, a “spiritual pestilence” that had to be removed from the face of the earth in order to rescue the human species, the natural order of the planet, and God’s creation.

It was not clear just how this could be carried out; but there is no sense in which the idea of deporting Jews to Palestine is sufficient to this vision.

And,

Ken Livingstone, Lenni Brenner, and Historical Distortions: A Case Study Paul Bogdanor.

Just to cite one passage:

The picture painted by Brenner is one of reactionary Ukrainian pogromists gaining the full collaboration of the Zionists. But the facts are as follows: the Ukrainian nationalists came to power on a socialist and inclusive platform; but the Zionists anticipated pogroms and tried to prevent them, while boycotting the government blamed for the subsequent atrocities. Brenner’s brief treatment of these events is a tissue of distortions and falsehoods.

Brenner is a propagandist, not a historian, and only a fool or a knave would rely on his books.

Labour antisemitism row: there was nothing Zionist about Hitler’s plans for the Jews  Professor of Modern European History; General Editor “The Holocaust in History and Memory”, University of Essex.

Again to quote some passages,

The Nazis’ plans for “concentrating” Jews in specific territories, be they Palestine or Madagascar, had nothing whatsoever to do with self-determination. These were expressions of the complete opposite: the use of force to strip Jews of all their rights, property and dignity.

As was proved by the establishment of the General Government in central Poland in October 1939, the Nazis were not in the least concerned that the territories where they intended to “concentrate” Jews were in a position to help their populations sustain themselves. They were looking for dumping grounds for Jews and other “undesirables”. These people were at best treated as ‘assets’ to exploit or, later, a stock of slave labour, and at worst simply expected to die of disease and starvation.

Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.

We wonder how Livingstone – not to mention others, such as George Galloway,  square up to this (Wikipedia):

From late 1944, Joseph Stalin adopted a pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would speed the decline of British influence in the Middle East. Accordingly, in November 1947, the Soviet Union, together with the other Soviet bloc countries voted in favour of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine,[which paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. On May 17, 1948, three days after Israel declared its independence, the Soviet Union officially granted de jure recognition of Israel, becoming only the second country to recognise the Jewish state (preceded only by the United States’ de facto recognition) and the first country to grant Israel de jure recognition.

Golda Meir was appointed Israel’s minister plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union, with her term beginning on 2 September 1948 and ending in March, 1949. During her brief stint in the USSR, Meir attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue.

In addition to the diplomatic support, arms from Czechoslovakia, part of the Soviet bloc, were crucial to Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. During the war, the Soviet Union supported Israel when it was attacked by Arab countries that opposed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly resolution for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

Detailed articlesThe forgotten alliance. The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state. Michel Réal.  (Quand l’Union soviétique parrainait Israël. Michel Réal . Le Monde Diplomatique September 2014.)  Aux origines du soutien soviétique à Israël. Gabriel Gorodetsky. le Monde Diplomatique February 2016.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2016 at 11:39 am

The Left and anti-Semitism, Livingstone Drags the Debate to the Gutter.

with 27 comments

Livingstone: “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

27 April 2016

Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:

“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”

Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended.  Jeremy Newmark commented:

“The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out.”

Jewish Labour Movement.

Jim comments on Shiraz Socialist.

It was right and also inevitable that Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party following the revelation of anti-Semitic Facebook posts suggesting that Israel should be “relocated to the US” and likening Zionism to al-Qaida (made, incidentally, before she was an MP).

In her defence it should be noted that (1) she made an immediate and unequivocal apology, with no attempt to claim that this was just “anti-Zionism” and (2) she has been brought up in a political culture in which saying offensive things about Jews, Israel and Zionism is considered acceptable and in which many people don’t even recognise that anti-Semitism is much of a problem: check out Ken Livingstone’s reaction, for instance.

(More on site…)

I note in passing that the Facebook post – which Shah did not create –  was shared by many people, that it was one of many virulent posts circulating during the Israeli military actions against Gaza.

I, like many, opposed these armed repressive actions, and said so.

If some people got caught up in their emotions and have since, as Shah has, thought through her politics on a democratic basis then all credit to them, and to her.

This response does not help (Politics Home).

Speaking to BBC Radio London, Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear its critics as anti-Semites, after Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended for sharing a post calling for Israel to be relocated to the United States.

“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.

“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…

“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.

“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”

He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.

“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.

“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”

There are many aspects to this controversy, which has been envenomed by Livingstone’s comments.

One is the claim that some people are deliberately making wild claims about antisemitism on the left which may, as Livingstone alleges, be connected to a broader attack on the socialist left.

This indeed happens and could be seen on Newsnight yesterday.

Lady Neuberger claimed the issue in Labour was “attached to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader”, and “an issue within the hard left”.

A measure of how wide Neuberger was prepared to extend her net was that she included ‘Militant’, that is the Socialist Party in the charge.

This is a good illustration of just twisted the debate has become.

The Socialist Party has been both an opponent of boycotting Israel and a supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own state (Boycotts of Israel: Will they help the Palestinians?)

Boycott:

Israeli Jewish workers are also inevitably alarmed when some of the staunchest advocates of boycott action in Britain and elsewhere, such as the SWP, have a record of opposing the right of the Jewish people to their own state. Whereas in the case of South Africa, a majority of black workers there supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel.

A boycott under these conditions is a mistake, and a gift to the Israeli right.

State:

The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states. But achieving such states, with lasting, peaceful co-existence and decent living standards, will be unviable on a capitalist basis.

The only way that will be possible, will be on the basis of Israeli workers building the workers’ movement in Israel to challenge the power, profit and prestige of the Israeli capitalist class, and of Palestinian workers also building their own united movement.

I would say that the Socialist Party reflects what is in fact the mainstream left position of the issue, although one can be, to say the least,  sceptical about the possibility of socialist states in the region.

If many of us are opposed to the policies of the Israeli government, if we are critical and the structures it is built on, we continue to hold to this two-state position. Equally we have every sympathy for the Palestinians, their plight, and efforts to create their own independent state and society.

Another is the fact that in some quarters of the left, notably those influenced by the ‘anti imperialism of fools’, there is a strain of hatred against ‘Zionism’ which shades into antisemitism.

Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler’s support for Zionism indicates that his claim about never hearing anti-Semitic remarks in the Labour Party disproves the widely-held view that he loves the sound of his own voice.

But everybody else heard him.

In response all I can say is that if that if anybody thinks for one fucking minute that the majority of the left, and the part of it the Tendance belongs to, will ever stop fighting antisemitism and will cease from defending the right of the Jewish people to determine their own future and state, and that they have any sympathy for would-be genociders, they are fucking joking.

*******

Statement on “Labour’s problem with antisemitism”

from the Jewish Socialists’ Group

Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.

Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy beyond the Pale.

Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.

A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.

The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:

• The Conservative Party

• Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources

• Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community

• Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.

We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.

Comment.

While some of the Jewish Socialists’ points about the origins of the present furore are borne out by the facts there remain problems about this statement.

Apart from underestimating the growth of overt antisemitism, not just from stray comments but from full-blown Ant-Semites of the type described by Sartre in Réflexions sur la question juive, this downplays the extent to which by denying the right of Israel to exist at all – and thus of the Jewish people where large numbers wish to – has a coherence within the framework of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.

Support for the view that Socialist Fight’s claims about a ‘pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie’ at the heart of world-wide Zionism, may seem a lunatic fringe affair.

But backing, sometimes unconditional,  for the Islamist Hamas – which makes no secret about its hatred of the Jewish population in the Middle East –  on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds is much more widespread.

We note that  within the Labour Party and the wider left there are strong critics of these positions, and that John McDonell  has been sufficiently concerned to issue a declaration calling for there to be no place for antisemitism in the movement.

 This careful and lucid examination of the media-famous incidents ignores the points raised in the previous two paragraphs: Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do. Jamie Stern-Weiner 27 April 2016

 

Socialist Worker Attacks “dull and uninspiring” Jeremy Corbyn over Europe Referendum.

with one comment

SWP Predicts End of Tories if Brexit Comes. 

In Socialist Worker today Charles Kimber lays into Jeremy Corbyn,

It’s probably hard to make a good speech when you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re communicating.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn made such a dull and uninspiring presentation launching Labour’s pro-European Union (EU) campaign last week.

The SWP National Secretary has his own unique theory as to why Corbyn calls for a Remain Vote:

It turned out the way to make Corbyn back the EU was to elect him Labour leader. He compromised to keep at least some of the right vaguely on side.

The reappointment of Pat McFadden as shadow minister for Europe was seen as the first victory for Labour’s right under Corbyn’s leadership. The announcement that the party would campaign to stay in the EU followed.

McFadden eventually resigned, but was replaced with another strongly pro-EU figure.

Kimber accuses Corbyn of being pivotal in moblising the ‘Remain’ vote.

If Corbyn backed Leave, it is highly likely that the vote would be to break from the EU. Polls suggest that Corbyn is far more trusted on the issue than Tories on either side.

His support would banish completely the myth that only the right wants to exit. He would particularly appeal to young people who presently see the EU as a left wing project.

In place of any argument about workers’ rights, social Europe, or internationalism, or whatever the SWP used to dredge up as ‘principled’ reasons to stand for Little Britain,  Kimber places this centre stage

Corbyn insists a Leave vote would boost the right. But with the political feeling in Britain at the moment it is more likely it would see Cameron’s resignation, turmoil in the Tory party, the loss of their parliamentary majority and an early election. This offers the hope of the end of the Tories before 2020, surely something to be grasped.

In other words, don’t vote just against Europe, but to get rid of the Tories….by replacing Cameron by a more right-wing anti-European Tory.

One can imagine the SWP National Committee…..

The comrades are respectfully silent.

Kimber is gazing into the dialectical  crystal ball.

The Leave side has won!

The Organiser sees movement, a hideous Tory party, a gnashing of teeth, resignations, fights,  disarray, messages of international support to Socialist Worker.

A new regime, perhaps of the hardest of hard rights.

Outrage, strikes, divisions: the regime falls.

Kimber continues his divination.  An election, which will….. – here the prophecy grows dark: only the shifting shapes of masses of workers and protesters can be seen.

There’s a glimmer….

2,000, perhaps 200,000 thousand copies of Socialist Worker sold!

Lowestoft recruits ten new members!

The comrades smile: the Seer of Socialism has Seen!

In French this is known as la politique du pire: the worse the better.

After the exalted visions the SWP cannot resist a sharp, but more mundane,  attack on Barack Obama.

Chief SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos finely analyses the speech of the Monarch of the global Empire,

Obama’s intervention stops anyone pretending any longer that they haven’t noticed where global capitalist interests are lining up. The Emperor himself has told them in words of one syllable that Brexit will harm his empire.

Meanwhile the Carnival of Reaction from the Leave camp continues:

‘We want our country back’ Farage rallies troops ahead of ‘Independence Day’ Brexit vote

NIGEL Farage has given his most rousing speech to date by declaring that a vote for Brexit will become Britain’s Independence Day.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

European Referendum: A Carnival of Reaction.

with 21 comments

One-Man Carnival of Reaction.

Scenes from British Political Confusionism.

“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”

Counterfire. April 2016.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)

Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”,  notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.

The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire,  the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?

Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.

If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.

Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..

Does Galloway Blaze Trail for ‘Left’ Shift to Align with Nationalist Right?

with 10 comments

Galloway Evokes Battle of Britain Spirit in London Mayor Bid.

 

This nationalistic posturing  reminds me of what’s been happening in France.

While there are admirable protests about the projet de loi Travail (El Khomri) and the interesting Nuit Debout movement anti-Europe nationalism.

They call it “souverainisme“, demands for  national sovereignty, migration, border controls, security, the constitution and cultural identity.

Most of those associated with this trend are clearly on the right, if not the extreme right.

But some on the French left have also been attracted by these themes.

This article from last year describes how some have passed over to the French nationalist right:

PARIS — When the newspaper Libération last month accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and best-selling author Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.

Onfray, who declined a request for comment for this article, went on to accuse France’s successive governments of “being contemptuous of the people” — what he calls, using the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners. As for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as much as I resent those who made her possible.”

The first is the fate of France’s poor and working class – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the right and the left alike. In that vision, the governing left’s policies favor the globalized elite and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.

The second theme is the visceral hostility towards Europe and the euro, seen as constraining economic and social policy and a fatal blow to the infamous “exception française,” a large and costly welfare state that’s supposed to shield the French from the turmoils of the global economy.

The drama is being played daily in the court of public opinion. Think of it as “the people vs. the euro.”

Onfray is well known for this vein of rhetoric.

This is what he said of the attitude of those who backed – ostensibly pro-European Constitution referedum (2005) towards those who would vote No to this agreement (the Non won).

They despised the common folk:

Les gens qui vont voter Non à la constitution européenne sont des crétins, des abrutis, des imbéciles, des incultes. Petit pouvoir d’achat, petit cerveau, petite pensée, petits sentiments. Pas de diplômes, pas de livres chez eux, pas de culture, pas d’intelligence. Ils habitent en campagne, en province. Des paysans, des pécores, des péquenots, des ploucs.

The people will will vote to the European Constitution are cretins, morons, imbeciles, uncultivated. They are hard up, small-brained, narrow mined and inward looking. They have no qualifications, no books at home, no culture, no brains. They live in the country, in the provinces. They are peasants, rustics, bumpkins, yokels.

Clearly Onfray hopes to repeat the result of the referendum on the European Constitution.

He however faces a nebulous target.

But British nouveaux réactionnaires have a unique opportunity: the UK Referendum on the European Union.

takes up the Onfray challenge:

Railing against those “a Byzantine system of governance largely beyond the reach of Euro-plebs” the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and writer for Living Marxism muses, for the anti-elitist Spectator magazine, on The strange death of left-wing Euroscepticism

The further removed the left becomes from everyday people, the more it views the public as an obese, probably racist blob to be re-educated rather than as political citizens to be engaged. The left’s turn from hating the EU to at least wanting to stick with it is directly proportionate to its loss of faith in the masses. Democracy is no longer seen as a tool of progressive change. Lefties now trust EU suits more than they do the loud, odd locals of their own towns.

This comment from Briançon’s article sums up the empty nature of this stand,

““Europe here serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of “adding fuel to the fire.” “I call it the defeatist wing of French intellectual life: There’s no chance we’ll be able to make it, so let’s retract and retreat.”

Will others, hostile to ‘capitalist’ EU but more specifically to the free movement of labour, a substantial group  inside the so-called Lexit camp, follow their French counterparts and align, like Galloway, with the hard right?

Allied with UKIP for the European Referendum Galloway looks a trail-blazer.

In Defence of George Galloway.

with 7 comments

From John Rogan.

This heartfelt letter has been circulating on the left.

In the interests of free-speech and pluralism we reproduce it without editing.

Comrades!

A couple of weeks ago our study group, The Left Against Europe, was working flat out for our campaign to vote No in the coming European referendum.

We have rescued unjustly neglected masterpieces from the workers’ movement: Henry Hyndman on The German Menace, and the need for a powerful Navy to defend “political liberty as against German regimentation”, Blatchford’s Britain for the British, Belford Bax on Prussian Militarism as well as his path-breaking exposé of the “shibboleth” and Fraud of Feminism, Charles Péguy on the internationalist “infection jaurésiste“,  Engels on ‘non-historic nations’, and Karl Radek’s Leo Schlageter: The Wanderer into the Void.

With our researches into the archives we were prepared for anything to defend the interests of the British working class against the cosmopolitan capitalism of Brussels.

But now comrade George Galloway has aligned with Nigel Farage .

Everything is in turmoil.

We stood shoulder to shoulder with George as he built a powerful liberation movement, Respect. It united the left, Muslims, anti-imperialists, and anti-Zionists.

It was the best of times.

We saw comrade George cold-shouldered in Bradford in the General Election.

It seemed it was the worst of times.

Now George is under attack.

George Galloway has announced that Respect will join the Grassroots Out campaign to leave the European Union.

The Respect leader appeared as a ‘special guest’ alongside speakers from a number of political parties on Friday at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster to put forward the ‘Lexit’ case for voting in favour of leaving in the June 23rd Referendum.

Evoking the memory of Tony Benn, Galloway pressed home the need for Britain to regain its democratic power.”

Is Respect alone?

Will we come to George’s side in this hour of need for our nation?

Stand up for the British working class and the Commonwealth against the Brussels Bullies!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

Elder Statesman George Galloway compares relationship with Nigel Farage to Stalin and Churchill.

with 3 comments

Historical Precedent for Galloway/Farage Pact.

Or?

From: John Rogan to the Tendance and to Shiraz. 

George Galloway compares relationship with Nigel Farage to Churchill and Stalin.

Reports the Independent.

‘We are not pals. We are allies in one cause. Like Churchill and Stalin…’

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Farage said: “On that night, yes, the Respect Party was on the platform, so was the Conservative Party, so was Ruth Lea, the economist, so was a London taxi driver, so was [Tory MP] Sir William Cash, so was [Labour former minister] Kate Hoey.

“The point about Grassroots Out is, we’re bringing people together from across the spectrum.”

galloway farage

The New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush continues in this vein,

“If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons,” Winston Churchill remarked shortly after the Nazis’ fateful decision to open a second front against Soviet Russia.

It’s tempting to see that as the justification behind George Galloway appearing as the “very special guest” at Grassroots Out’s rally on Friday.

The appearance of the Respect leader and former MP attracted derision from the commentariat and prompted walk-outs from the hall. But signing up Galloway is an astute move on the part of Grassroots Out that could have big implications for the coming referendum.

Why? Grassroots Out is currently in a fight to the death with Vote Leave, another pro-Brexit grouping, for the status of “lead campaign”. The designation brings with it a spending limit of £7m during the referendum’s “regulated period” – all other registered campaigns will be able to spend just £70,000. Effectively, whichever campaign doesn’t get the designation will have to shut down.

Although Stronger In has no official line on which of the two campaigns it would rather face, it is an open secret that they regard Vote Leave as the deadlier opponent.

Matthew Elliot, formerly of the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the successful campaign against the Alternative Vote, has been the victim of a whispering campaign from his own side but is feared and respected in equal measure by his opponents. Many either have pleasant memories of campaigning against the Alternative Vote alongside him or bad ones of the two-to-one defeat that was handed to the Yes side. Dominic Cummings, formerly of Michael Gove’s office and the successful architect of the defeat of the North-East Assembly, is held in similar esteem.

“If it’s [Grassroots Out], then it will be a very narrow campaign with a ceiling of 40 per cent of the vote,” one senior staffer predicts,  “If it’s Elliott it will be a vicious campaign of smear and fear – and I’d put our chances at 50/50.”

Many people on the left have another historical comparison for Galloway and Hoey’s alliance with Farage.

Oddly the Morning Star has yet to comment on this alliance.

On the left, let’s look at how some greeted Galloway’s past triumphs,

March 2012. Socialist Worker.

George Galloway storms to victory in Bradford West by-election

While there were specific factors in Bradford that propelled Galloway to victory, his win is a boost for the left in Britain and underlines the potential for building grassroots opposition to Tory austerity.

The Socialist, April 2012.

George Galloway’s stunning Bradford victory shows the potential for anti-cuts election challenges.

Counterfire: Galloway victory: a landslide against war and austerity March 30, 2012  James Meadway.

The scale of Galloway’s win, turning a safe Labour seat into a 10,000 vote majority, is without precedent in modern British politics. All those who oppose austerity and war should be walking a little taller this morning.

We are waiting for some comment from these quarters on Galloway’s recent turn, not least from Meadway somebody, we believe, who has something to do with John McDonnell.

This is all we have from the leadership of the SWP:

We now learn that this all comes as a complete surprise to Galloway’s supporters, as Kimber says for the SWP,

It was nauseating to see George Galloway appearing at the Grassroots Out rally last night and campaigning against the EU alongside the racist Ukip’s Nigel Farage.

Many people have been nauseated by Galloway for years…..

Galloway has yet to pronounce on whether he will share a platform with Zac Goldsmith on the same issue.

Boris Johnson has already spurned the idea,

During the admission Johnson stressed that he would not share a platform with Nigel Farage or George Galloway and would not take part in any TV debates opposing any fellow Conservatives.

Update: this is how the real left is reacting.

Yanis Varoufakis: “The UK should stay in the EU to fight tooth and nail against the EU’s anti-democratic institutions”

Following David Cameron’s renegotiation, the UK has set the date for its referendum on EU membership as the 23rd of June. How should British voters who are dissatisfied with the EU view the referendum?

We should reject wholeheartedly the fudge that David Cameron came back from Brussels with. He is asking the public to support staying within a reformed Europe, but he has deformed Europe in the process of creating this fudge.

Yet at the same time we should also reject the Eurosceptic view that Britain should leave the EU, but stay within the single market. I have a lot of respect for Tory Eurosceptics with a Burkean view of the sovereignty of national parliaments. The problem is that they also support staying in the single market. This is an incoherent proposition: it’s impossible to stay in the single market and keep your sovereignty.

Neither withdrawing into the safe cocoon of the nation state, nor giving in to the disintegrating and anti-democratic EU, represent good options for Britain. So instead of seeing the referendum as a vote between these two options, and these two options alone, the UK needs a third option: to vote to stay in the European Union so that it can fight tooth and nail against the EU’s anti-democratic institutions.

The Tendance is internationalist and does not agree with the ‘sovereigntist’ argument about Parliaments, but the point now is to argue against Brexit.

We can discuss radical democracy – a project to transform Europe into a potential cosmopolitan democracy compared with the merits of  sovereigntism later. ….