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“My role is consubstantial with the movement.” Mélenchon on Left Populism in Crisis.

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Mon rôle, il est consubstantiel au mouvement.” Mélenchon réaffirme son autorité devant ses militants

Note: consubstantiel sounds as odd in French normal speech as it does consubstantial in English. *

The leader of La France insoumise spoke over the weekend at the “assemblée représentative ” of La France insoumise, chosen by lot, and by special delegates selected by the ‘Movement’, by some inner process,  which some have compared  to Momentum on a bad day.

  • Trinity. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas) holds that God is three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“My role is consubstantial to the movement.” Mélenchon reaffirms his authority in front of LFI activists

After the defeat of France rebellious in the European elections of May 26, Jean-Luc Mélenchon was slow to speak. Strongly criticized in his ranks, he held this Sunday a speech at the party’s National Convention to respond to his critics and remobilise the troops.

Mélenchon announced that the next local elections in France will be stage in the self-organisation of the People.

But lo!

This morning.

Nouveau coup dur pour Mélenchon, qui perd une cadre de La France insoumise

The former candidate for the European elections and head of the  party training school Manon Le Bretton has announced she is to leave the La France insoumise this Monday, June 24.

Comrade le Bretton denounced the “virulence” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  Sunday speech against critics of the internal workings of the movement.

So much for the predictions of left-populist admirers, the US Jacobin,

The movement’s most recognisable figure has proven adept at bridging internal divides and presenting La France Insoumise’s ideas to a mass audience. Following the European elections Mélenchon has said that he’s reflecting over his political future, fueling speculation that he could step back from the spotlight. “The question,” asks Guiraud, “is do we have someone else who’s able to do this?”

Rebuilding France Insoumise Cole Strangler.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Labour and National Populism After the Peterborough By-Election.

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Brexit Politics (Cold War Steve).

“When in a crisis” wrote Stuart Hall in 1979, “the traditional alignments are disrupted, it is possible, on the very ground of this break, to construct the people into a populist political subject with, not against the power bloc; in alliance with new political forces in a great national crusade to make Britain ‘Great’ once again.” (1)

In this,  The Great Moving Right Show, Hall foresaw the way in which the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher was able to bring together voters behind an “authoritarian populism” that played in the difficulties of Labour’s social democratic collectivist heritage. The details of radical free-market policies mattered less than law and order; the “nation” and “our people” appealed to the large racist constituency that had been given a voice by Enoch Powell and was visible in the street marches of the National Front; ‘popular morality” embraced her call for hard work and getting the state “off our backs”.

The Peterborough by-election was marked by the presence of a new army in that Holy War for British Greatness, the Brexit Party. As Alan Wager says, “for the first time since the introduction of universal suffrage, Peterborough is no longer a Labour or Conservative contest. Instead, an insurgent party just eight weeks old – the Brexit Party – came a close second, campaigning ostensibly on the single-issue basis they will “bring democracy back”. Farage, he continues, fills a vacuum. His defeat, acknowledged, if at all, with ill-grace, was not a decisive blow. The new start-up business/Party, “mixing together democracy and leaving the EU without any withdrawal agreement, clearly hits the electoral sweet-spot of the current moment “ Their impact on the Conservative Party leadership contest, and the potential boost to the No Deal Boris Johnson, is considerable. (2)

Farage’s own stunt – clearly planned in anticipation of victory – still went ahead:

 

This indicates, those inspired by one side of Hall’s articles argue, the left needs its own “national popular” language to counter the national populists of the Brexit Party and the Tory European Reform Group. Calls for class struggle, or mass protests, the “real struggle”, have been launched, largely to deaf ears. There were a couple of thousand People’s Assembly demonstrators in January. They might have sparked some sympathy if they had not finished the day with pointless fisticuffs between their high vis clothed supporters and far rightists in yellow jackets over who were the “real” Gilets Jaunes. The “floating signifier” of the People against the “elite”, the “power bloc” could be harnessed by the left and filled with democratic content. National Sovereignty could be the key to fighting ‘neoliberalism’, largely, it appears, an enemy located in the European Union.

National Therapy Culture.

“The Language of emotionalism pervades popular culture, the world of politics, the workplace, schools and universities and everyday life” began Frank Furedi in Therapy Culture. (2004) Today the ‘red-brown’ Brexit Party supporter is one of many who celebrate the national “Self”. Far from a bold assertion of self-affirmation and independence the Brexit crusaders wallow in victimhood and narcissism. Identity politics, of the ‘real’ working class, the ‘real’ British, the English has flourished. The quiet decency of love for people, culture and things dear has been replaced by cries of Treason, and Betrayal. (3)

The Brexit Party is an Encounter Group for this constituency. Perhaps it’s to ease their pain with palliatives like turning against the hard Brexit free market pain pain by proposing “John Lewis-style” – boss run – social ownership by companies part-owned by the workers in British Steel.

Socialist Resistance predicted a Carnival of Reaction after a Referendum Leave vote. It is still taking place. This time the moving right show is leading a simulacrum of Greatness, subordinate to a new American assertion of autonomous, unilateral, action. Those who pinned their hopes on a popular pro-Brexit revolt “from below”, paralleling the French Gilets Jaunes. But such signs of the vanquished standing up in the line of a “democratic and social revolution” seen in the rose tinted spectacles of the French journalist Edwy Plenel, has not appeared. They will not appear. (4)

Left Brexiters at an Impasse.

The disillusion of left Brexit supporters has yet to unfold. Larry Elliott, is a supporter of the ‘red brown’ Full Brexit grouping, which brings together Brexit Party backers the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Leave, some Counterfire supporters, and the anti-cosmopolitan Blue Labour. Elliott defends Jeremy Corbyn’s “Euroscepticism”, and places anti-EU politics on the left, ignoring long-standing radical socialists who have had a more favourable “transform and remain” stand for some decades. Those who recoil from National Populism and advocate this view turn a blind eye to Europe with a “a currency that doesn’t work, an economy that doesn’t work and a political process that doesn’t work.” Elliot is reluctant to describe in detail the socialist potential offered by a Brexit Britain, one carried out by the only available vehicle the Conservative government, negotiating with the WTO and Donald Trump,.

That the Labour leader has done a good job in keeping Leavers and Remainers under the same tent – a “marriage counsellor” – seems to be the “line” in some quarters. The idea that Labour needs its “herbivores” – middle class liberals – as well as is sturdy working class supporters may well be true. Stuart Hall talked of Thatcherism speaking out for those with negative experience of the corporate institutions of the social democratic consensus. Labour, it hardly needs saying, can draw on the lived experience of neoliberalism, austerity and the coercive bureaucracy of the shrunken welfare state.

But Brexit remains at the centre of everything. There is indeed a “significant minority”, with or without the romance of labour movement history, of Labour supporters who backed Brexit. But this claim covers something that needs thinking about. Efforts by Left populists to “federate” the “people” against the “oligarchy” have been set back in the European elections as Podemos and La France insoumise lost a lot of votes. It is even less likely that Labour can win support as an “insurgent” party against Europe and against those opposing National Populism and Brexit. 

This may help clarify Labour’s position,

It is commonly assumed that Leave supporters want to leave the EU — regardless of the type of Brexit — more than Remain supporters want to remain. But a new YouGov survey of over 1,600 British citizens carried out by academic researchers shows it is wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. 

While 33 per cent of the country now want a no-deal Brexit, 42 per cent say it is their least-favourite outcome. Our survey also shows that support for the Brexit Party is higher among financially comfortable voters — adding to previous research showing that support for no-deal is also higher in that group.

The gap between Remainers’ attitude to leaving and leavers’ attitude to Remaining holds true across supporters of all the political parties. Even Brexit Party voters are not all vehemently attached to leaving at any cost. Only 50 per cent prefer their lowest-ranked Leave option to Remaining.

Meanwhile, among people who voted Labour in 2017, 72 per cent of Remainers would mind “a lot” about leaving the EU, whereas only 25 per cent of Labour Leavers mind “a lot” about Remaining.

Everything you think you know about Leavers and Remainers is wrong.  Christabel Copper and Christina Pagel.

Not that these considerations will affect the Boycott Labour in the European Elections editors of the Communist Party of Britain’s Morning star.

They are still rattling out the same old tune,

 Labour’s chances of forming the next government rest on finding a principled basis for uniting the labour movement with and within the party that best represents its diversity.

The only credible basis for such unity lies in convincing a decisive majority of voters, most particularly Labour’s core constituency of skilled and lesser skilled workers, that Corbyn meant it when he said Labour would respect the referendum result.

That is….back the part of that diversity which alone, and against everything, supports Brexit….

There is only one Brexit on offer and this is the Man who would like to carry it out:

Matthew Parris.

*********

  1. Page 49. The Hard Road to Renewal Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left, Stuart Hall. Verso. 1988.
  2. Peterborough: Labours squeaky victory and the vacuum on the right. Alan Wager.
  3. Therapy Culture. Routledge 2004. The Minimal Self. Christopher Lasch. Picador. 1984.
  4. La Victoire des vaincus. À Proposes des gilets jaunes. Edwy Plenel. La Découverte. 2019.
  5. Jeremy Corbyn is right: Labour needs both its leavers and its remainers. 

Enoch Powell, Europe, Farage, the Working Class and the Brexit Party.

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Image result for paul foot enoch powell

Founder of British National Populism.

Enoch Powell was the first post-war politician in Britain to take an openly racist political position.

He, above all amongst Conservatives, is still recognised as a key political figure of the late 20th century.

What is is his legacy?

This is a helpful summary:

The ‘ultimate impact’ of Powell on the discourse on immigration and ‘race relations’ in Britain was ‘to shift it further to the right’.[7] Also taken up by Margaret Thatcher in her 1978 statements on immigration on Granada TV’s World in Action, Powell’s remarks have provided a rudimentary framework for attacks on immigration and multiculturalism ever since.

The Legacy of Enoch Powell. Hatful of History.

Paul Foot wrote his obituary in 1998.

Everyone who wrote about him was certain of one thing: Enoch Powell was not a racist. He ‘said things we didn’t agree with’ (Tony Blair). He was ‘an extreme nationalist, but not a racialist’ (Denis Healey). He inspired racialists ‘but was not a racialist himself’ (Tony Benn). The Tory papers which revered him and called for parliament to be prorogued in his memory would not contemplate the possibility that he was a racialist. The unanimity was complete. Which is all very odd because the most important thing by far about Enoch Powell was that he was a racist pig of the most despicable variety.

The point is easily proved. In a private speech to lobby correspondents some years before he started speaking in public on immigration, he said, ‘Often when I am kneeling down in church I think to myself how much we should thank god, the holy ghost, for the gift of capitalism.’ Powell believed in capitalism just as a religious nut believes in the holy ghost. When fighting elections in Wolverhampton he would spell out the ‘simple choice’ between ‘free enterprise and a planned society’. He gloried in what he called the symmetry of capitalism. Ponderously, with a deliberate form of speech which many mistook for careful thought, he explained how the market drove and inspired the capitalist economy to ever higher summits of perfection. There was only one condition: that capital should be left to find its own place and its own direction.

Beyond the Powell

Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech, in 1968,  issued dire warnings about the impact of immigration, was followed by these working class actions,

After the “Rivers of Blood” speech, Powell was transformed into a national public figure and won huge support across the UK. Three days after the speech, on 23 April, as the Race Relations Bill was being debated in the House of Commons 1,000 dockers marched on Westminster protesting against the “victimisation” of Powell, with slogans such as “we want Enoch Powell!” and “Enoch here, Enoch there, we want Enoch everywhere”. The next day, 400 meat porters from Smithfield market handed in a 92-page petition in support of Powell, amidst other mass demonstrations of working-class support, much of it from trade unionists, in London and Wolverhampton.

This was only the tip of the iceberg. At the end of April showed that 74% of those asked agreed with his speech and only 15% disagreed, with 11% unsure. The controversy divided the country, with many working class people backing Powell. One of my father’s brothers, a shop-steward in a car-plant in the Midlands, agreed with the Tory Toff. For over a decade my Dad refused to speak to him. In my North London secondary school some of the cockneys (often skinheads) and my friends had fights over ‘Good ol’ Enoch’.

Powell was also an ardent opponent of British membership of the European Union, or Common Market/European Economic Community, was it was known in the 1970s.

This was his view. on what was at stake over British membership of this alliance of states based on pooled sovereignty.

The House of Commons is at this moment being asked to agree to the renunciation of its own independence and supreme authority—but not the House of Commons by itself. The House of Commons is the personification of the people of Britain: its independence is synonymous with their independence; its supremacy is synonymous with their self-government and freedom. Through the centuries Britain has created the House of Commons and the House of Commons has moulded Britain, until the history of the one and the life of the one cannot be separated from the history and life of the other.

 Do not be deceived. With other weapons and in other ways the contention is as surely about the future of Britain’s nationhood as were the combats which raged in the skies over southern England in the autumn of 1940. The gladiators are few; their weapons are but words; and yet the fight is everyman’s.

Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out

It does not take much to see these views echoed in the present Brexit debate, from the European Research Group to Spiked and the Full Brexit.

Powell as a National Populist, with race, nation, People., Sovereignty, all welded together by a demagogue.

In 1974  Powell took this line:

Powell described British membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) as “if there be a conflict between the call of country and that of party, the call of country must come first” and went on to say: Curiously, it so happens that the question ‘Who governs Britain?’ which at the moment is being frivolously posed, might be taken, in real earnest, as the title of what I have to say. This is the first and last election at which the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether their country is to remain a democratic nation, governed by the will of its own electorate expressed in its own Parliament, or whether it will become one province in a new European superstate under institutions which know nothing of the political rights and liberties that we have so long taken for granted.

Speech to an audience of around 1,500 people on 23 February 1974 about British membership of the EEC. 

If the electoral system had been different, if ‘start up’ virtual parties, funded by right-wing millionaires and far right US allies had existed, who knows if Powell would have done. He could have led a political force, like the Brexit Party., As it was Powell’s only direct political intervention of any electoral significance was perhaps his call in 1974 to vote Labour, in the belief that they would oppose British membership of the EU.In the 1975 Referendum over EEC membership.

During the 1975 contest  Michel Foot and other left figures of the Labour Party, such as Peter Shore, Barbara Castle, and the right-winger Eric Varley  opposed to EEC membership notoriously appeared on platforms with Powell. Tony Benn would also campaign against the Common Market. The Communist Party of Great Britain clung onto the ‘No’s shirt tails.

Powell ended his political career as an Ulster Unionist, a group whose presence is a key to present Tory turmoil over Brexit

For reasons rooted in their own support for a Sovereign Britain free to make deals with the un-elected WTO, the remains of this patriotic left are keen to underline working class support for Brexit.

The Brexit Bolsheviks even have a direct line to  how the working class thinks.

During the week the daily of the Labour boycotting Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star had this editorial during the week.

Labour must recapture the anger of working-class Leave voters

The rising index of voters signifying their intention to vote for Farage’s Brexit business entity is the direct consequence of the failure of our deeply unrepresentative parliamentary system to give effect to the Brexit vote and, more directly, it is the product of a deepening reservoir of contempt for mainstream politicians.

The Labour Party’s big losses are among people where the Leave vote signified working-class anger.

This is not a healthy situation. Labour needs to recapture its insurgent spirit and find a shared language with the millions of people it needs if it is to form a government.

These are among the millions who seem unprepared to vote for its candidates in next week’s election.

Yet what exactly is the electoral basis of this ‘anger’?

Yesterday Peter Kellner demolished some myths about the working class anti-Brexit vote.

The polls are clear – Labour’s Brexit tactics are failing spectacularly. Peter Kellner

The party is haemorrhaging votes in the mistaken belief that the leave tendency is driven by its working-class base

“A YouGov analysis of more than 25,000 voters suggests the following division of leave voters in the referendum, linked to the 2017 election result.

• Middle-class leave voters: Conservative 5.6 million; Labour 1.6 million.

• Working-class leave voters: Conservative 4.4 million; Labour 2.2 million. (A few of the remaining 3.6 million leave voters supported smaller parties; most did not vote in 2017.)”

“So the largest block of leave voters were middle-class Conservatives, followed by working-class Conservatives. Just one in eight leave voters was a working-class Labour supporter. To be sure, had even half of these 2.2 million voters backed remain, the result of the referendum would be different. But to suggest that the referendum’s 17.4 million leave voters were dominated by working-class Labour supporters is simply wrong.”

Kellner concludes,

None of this addresses the wisdom of Labour’s policy towards Brexit and a new referendum. All it does is indicate that its policy is specifically haemorrhaging remain votes without enhancing its appeal to leave voters. If the party’s aim was to maximise support next week by appealing to both remain and leave Britain, it is failing spectacularly.

This is obviously far from the last word on the electoral sociology of this election.

As this indicates.

But the issue of those working class Brexit backers is above all a political one.

There are still Lexiters (left supporters of Brexit) who believe that the anger of what Kellner indicates is in a majority the rage of  conservative (both small and Big ‘C’) sections of the working class  and their counterparts in the Middle Class Tory voters,  contains within it the seeds of a genuine People’s Brexit, a fight against EU ‘neo-liberalism’.

The kind of “insurgent spirit” of the Smithfield Porters…

They are unlikely to be convinced by Kellner since they have a hotline to what the ‘real’ workers think.

In case others, fed up with the whole show, think this is a battle between two nationalisms, this should concentrate their minds.

The Brexit Party combines exactly the same extreme nationalism, hard line free-market policies as Powell.

Enoch Powell would not doubt have been happy to get this kind of support:

 

Case for Brexit Boosted as Defence Secretary says it “can enhance UK’s lethality”.

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Defence Secretary” Makes Strong Case of Brexit Benefits.

With all that talk about Dunkirk and valiant little Britain Battling Brussels Bullies it’s a wonder the military side of Brexit has not gotmuch of an airing.

Today that’s all changed.

Brexit ‘can enhance UK’s lethality’, says defence secretary

Brexit represents an opportunity for Britain to boost its global military standing and “enhance our lethality” in response to the threats posed by Russia and China, the defence secretary will say in a notably combative address at a defence thinktank.

Gavin Williamson intends to argue in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday that a post-Brexit UK should redefine its role as a global power prepared to intervene against countries that “flout international law”, backed up by new military technologies and capabilities.

The cabinet minister, who is increasingly keen to talk up Brexit at a time when a deal is elusive, is expected to say leaving the EU will allow the UK “to consider how we not only project but maximise our influence around the world in the months and years to come”.

Williamson is expected to conclude: “Brexit has brought us to a great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass.”

Without challenging the premise of this rabid rant this was Labour response:

Labour’s Nia Griffith, the shadow defence secretary, said Williamson’s rhetoric was undermined by cuts to the defence budget of £9bn in real terms since 2010.

“Instead of simply engaging in yet more sabre-rattling, Gavin Williamson should get to grips with the crisis in defence funding that is happening on his watch,” she said.

It is hard to deny that the concerns of the Leave voting, ‘left-behind’, ‘people-from-somewhere’, and their wish to “enhance our lethality” have to taken seriously.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry calls for “timely and effective” new elections in Venezuela and “targeted sanctions”.

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Left needs to say more than this, and Thornberry has said it.

This was posted today on John McDonnell – The People’s Chancellor.

Shadow foreign secretary will make clear rebuke to record of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.

Labour government would not indulge human rights abuses by Britain’s allies or by regimes that “call themselves ‘socialist’ but … betray every socialist ideal”, the shadow foreign secretary will say on Wednesday.

The reference by Emily Thornberry, when she sets out her proposed policy under a Labour government, is intended as a clear rebuke to the record of the Venezuelan government led by Nicolás Maduro.

JeremyCorbyn has so far opposed the decision made by a majority of European Union states, including the UK, to recognise the rival Venezuelan leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, but Thornberry is eager to ensure that Labour’s opposition to interference is not misconstrued as support for the Maduro regime. Guaidó’s party is a member of the Socialist International, with which Labour is affiliated.

The key themes of Thornberry’s speech at the Institute for Government setting out her vision of a Labour foreign policy will inevitably draw parallels with the ethical foreign policy set out by Robin Cook as the first foreign secretary of Tony Blair’s 1997 government.

This is an extremely welcome move.

Unlike many, who have suddenly become experts on Venezuela, this Blog has been reluctant to comment on the crisis in the country.

This numpty for example, thinks he knows it all:

It would seem that the only thing keeping Maduro supporters going in Britain is the fact that Trump and most of the EU (with exceptions like Italy’s far-right/populist government, “Italy has vetoed an EU statement on the Venezuela crisis amid political confusion in Rome“.)  is against him.

It  is as plain as a pikestaff that the Maduro regime is not just on the skids, but that 3 million people have fled  Venezuela, and that the corrupt Chavista government has remained in power through the use of force – including the torture of opponents.

There is a steady drip drip of stories such as this: how pro-regime millionaires have been salting their stolen cash away in foreign banks.

And this:

It is not necessary to go further to agree that Emily Thornberry has the right approach, from first principles, on how to deal with this issue.

Here is what she has just said, (Belfast Telegraph).

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called for timely elections but declined to recognise Venezuela’s opposition leader as interim president.

…in a break with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Thornberry backed the use of targeted sanctions and “whatever means necessary” short of a military invasion to bring about change.

….

Ms Thornberry told an event at the Institute for Government in London on Wednesday: “What I am saying is that we begin with dialogue.

“That offer has been made, internally and externally we need to ensure that happens.”

She added: “That’s the best way to proceed rather than somebody saying ‘that’s it, we’ve had enough, we recognise X, we don’t recognise Y any more’.

“That’s not the way to treat another country, even a country in as desperate a situation as Venezuela.”

Ms Thornberry said she was a “great believer in sanctions” as a way of using foreign policy muscle “that doesn’t involve killing people”.

She said there should be “timely and effective” new elections in Venezuela but “there should be no invasion, there should be proper discussion and negotiation”.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Taking a Stand on Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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Left Should Stand with our Sisters and Brothers.

Recently Pablo Iglesias the leader of Podemos said after denying any financial links with Venezuela of his former admiration for  the President Hugo Chávez that,

I don’t agree with some of the things I said in the past. The current political and economic situation of Venezuela right now is dire. To rectify in politics is a good thing. (Creo que rectificar en política está bien)

13th of December. Podemos chief grilled in Senate over Venezuela financing links

Reuters today reports, The Venezuelan regime is gearing up to the end game: Maduro says Venezuela’s civil militia grows to 1.6 million members.

“We will arm the Bolivarian militia to the teeth,” Maduro said, without detailing how many of the militia members were actually armed. “An invading imperialist force may enter a part of our fatherland, but the imperialists should know that they will not leave here alive.”

Maduro is cosying up to the Turkish far-right President:

The Turkey-Venezuela mutual admiration society

Latin American country is increasingly isolated, but Ankara’s not joining in. 

The FT reports on the background:

The economy is shrinking but the country has so far refused to produce economic data on gross domestic product or inflation despite repeated requests and potentially a major default on Venezuela’s sovereign debt. The country’s inability to pay bondholders could lead to it losing over the next few months of one its main assets — the international trading company Citgo.

What should be one of the richest countries in Latin America, given its extensive oil and mineral resources from gold to bauxite and diamonds, is now one of the poorest.

Basic supplies and food are scarce and, as well as an exodus of talent, there is a growing refugee crisis as people try to escape to neighbouring countries such as Colombia and Brazil.

According to a recent paper from Brookings, there are already more than 3m Venezuelans living outside the country, including a million in Colombia. The exodus includes the desperately poor but also skilled workers and technicians on whom the economy depends. Within that group are many of those who built the state oil company PDVSA but are fleeing the corruption and mismanagement that now dominates the company.

What is left of the economy only keeps going as a result of loans from Russia, in return for which Moscow is being allowed to establish a military base in the country and cash-for-oil deals with the Chinese.

Human Rights Watch states,

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and punish its critics. Severe shortages of medicines, medical supplies, and food have intensified since 2014, and weak government responses have undermined Venezuelans’ rights to health and food. Security forces have arbitrarily detained and tortured protesters, and raids in low-income communities have led to widespread allegations of abuse. Other persistent concerns include poor prison conditions and impunity for human rights abuses.

Another regime is also in crisis, and using repression to crush dissent, Nicaragua.

Harassment and persecution of the voices denouncing repression in Nicaragua

There is a pressing need for the international community to recognize the right to defend rights and to provide a safe space for defenders to do their work.

On Wednesday December 12 the National Assembly of Nicaragua voted to cancel the legal registration of Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH). After the announcement Vilma Nuñez, 80 years old, the president of CENIDH and one of the most recognized human rights defenders in the region declared “We have done our work with conviction and we will continue doing it until Nicaragua is really free”.

Just a week earlier I met Doña Vilma, as she is known, in Washington DC when she came with a delegation of human rights organizations from Nicaragua to participate in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and present their testimony about the continuous repression in the country.

Her strength and commitment to the protection of civic freedoms in her country are remarkable. However, her voice had a sadness tint when talking on how the situation continues to deteriorate in Nicaragua.

During the hearing the activists from Nicaragua provided updated information to the Commission on how the human rights crisis in Nicaragua has evolved and the serious consequences for people in the country.

The organizations denounced how the State of Nicaragua continues to discourage and punish social protest and political dissent, despite the incessant calls to terminate the violence.

The threats to civic space in Nicaragua are not new. Civil society in the country has been facing growing restrictions as political power has increasingly concentrated in recent years and civic space has become completely repressed.

However, the situation has worsened since April 2018 when proposed regressive changes to the social security system sparked widespread, mass protests across the country. The government violently repressed the demonstrations. Since that more than 300 people have been killed and more than 600 remain in detention.

Abuses and violations to civic space in Nicaragua vary from violent repression of social protest, violence against journalists and censorship of the media, and arrest and criminalization of activists to the introduction of restrictions to civic space through the legislative framework.

Despite these developments, as clear as a pikestaff, many on the British left continue to support these regimes.

Protests at a recent conference in solidarity with Latin America were not welcome

Watch this and weep.

It is time for solidarity with those oppressed by the regimes of Venezuela and Nicaragua.

It is also time for some senior Labour figures  to follow Pablo Iglesias and say, “To rectify in politics is a good thing.”

The magazine Labour Briefing has just carried this article on its web site:

The civil unrest and police violence that swept across Nicaragua earlier this year leaving over 300 people dead have been followed by a wave of state repression against human rights organisations and media outlets. Most shocking among these are the police raids on CENIDH, the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, whose director is Vilma Núñez.

……

According to Amnesty International, most of the victims in the recent unrest were killed “at the hands of state agents.” Yet what happened is talked about in Nicaragua Solidarity circles abroad as if it were an internationally orchestrated coup against Ortega, thus justifying the brutality of the regime‘s response. The irony is that, as the Trump Administration ratchets up the rhetoric against Nicaragua, it is the self-serving actions of Ortega himself that leave the Nicaraguan Revolution less able to defend itself.

Some on the left understand this. Noam Chomsky has called for early elections. Pablo Iglesias of Podemos in Spain, and former Uruguayan President José Mujica have also been sharply critical of Ortega. None of these individuals are in the business of promoting US government interests. Rather, they understand that defending the gains of the Nicaraguan Revolution requires the orderly exit of the corrupt dynasty that has betrayed it. Others on the left should now speak up for the basic rights of Nicaraguans as a matter or urgency.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Patriotism and Nationalism, from Orwell to Trump Mocking France’s War Dead.

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Nice One Trumpy!

Comrade George Orwell wrote,

 “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

NOTES ON NATIONALISM  Polemic, GB – London, 1945

People have debated these lines and the article for many years.

But Trump has just clarified the meaning of these sentences.

Trump Mocks France for World War Losses

First thing in the U.S. morning, the U.S. president took another — even more pointed — crack at the French leader. After a fractious visit to Paris over the weekend, Trump returned to the theme of a European army to defend the continent’s interests and took renewed offence. In a particularly sharp jab, Trump implied that the French needed the U.S. to rescue them from the Germans in both world wars.

 

The tweet comes after Trump spent a weekend in Paris with other world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. In an earlier tweet, the American president had called Macron’s suggestion “very insulting.” Trump’s latest broad-side was ill-timed, falling on the third anniversary of Paris terror attacks that killed more than 130 people and left hundreds more injured.

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Scroll down to this:

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in an address to world leaders gathered for Armistice commemorations, with Trump sitting nearby.

His office later tweeted this part of the speech, which went on to say ‘by putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.”

It was seen as a direct rebuke of Trump’s ‘America First’ policies. Indeed, Macron has used social media to mock the U.S. leader in the past. When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, Macron launched an initiative to recruit U.S. scientists with the tag line “Make Our Planet Great Again” — a play on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.”

 

The President persists and signs:

 

French Army response to Trump’s fear of a dose of drizzle:

Trump is still at it:

 

For the moment this is the official French response, no comment: 

L’Elysée se refuse pour l’heure à tout commentaire après cette série de tweets, indique l’AFP.

However much one may normally disagree with Marcon, we are in in solidarity with the French President against this draft-dodging flatulent flaccid fraud US President.

Here is Plantu rendering a loving homage to the other side of America:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm