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Communist Party of Britain Backs Former Ukraine President’s “anti-Austerity” policies.

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Donestk Anti-Austerity Activists Says Communist Party of Britain.

The People’s Assembly has launched a Manifesto Against Austerity.

“The manifesto makes a compelling and powerful case for an alternative to austerity based on the needs of ordinary people — “A people’s Britain, not a bankers’ Britain.” It calls for a the building of a sustained mass movement to bring that alternative about, rather than simply calling for general election votes.”

The Communist Party of Britain has taken upon itself to add these comments to this – admirable –  document (Communist Party. For Peace and Socialism. Date: 2nd of March).

Bill Greenshields, CP representative on national committee of the People’s Assembly, says,

Challenging the pro-austerity and pro-privatisation media and political consensus is a dangerous thing to do. That’s the increasingly strident message from big business and the bankers through their representatives in national governments, the EU and Washington.

British special services “advisers” have arrived in Ukraine to strengthen the armed forces and fascist paramilitaries of the Poroshenko government.

This is part of a war against those who resisted the Western-backed coup against President Yanukovych.

He had committed the crime of rejecting austerity economics and politics, therefore saying “No” to closer ties with the EU.

As EU and US sanctions are ratcheted up against Russia for daring to give political support to the antifascists, Britain says it will “not yet provide lethal equipment” to the “Euromaiden” coup leaders now in control of the Ukrainian state. For how long? The threat of escalating war and foreign intervention to consolidate their pro-EU austerity “reforms” becomes greater.

Brother Bill recommends to the People’s Assembly this wisdom,

The movement needs to reflect the democratic structures that have grown among the anti-austerity antifascists in Ukraine…

We hesitate to make a comment.

Or perhaps one is not needed.

(Initially discovered here)

In the Memory of our Beloved Comrade Avijit Roy, Murdered by Islamists.

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Memorial Protest for a Beloved Fighter for Freedom.

Avijit Roy, who has been killed in an attack in Dhaka at the age of 42, was a Bangladeshi-American blogger, published author, and prominent defender of the free-thought movement in Bangladesh.

Mr Roy rose to prominence though his prolific writing on his self-founded site, Mukto-Mona – an internet gathering of mostly South Asia free-thinkers, ratio­nalists, sceptics and humanists founded in 2000.

He was a passionate atheist and an adherent of metaphys­ical naturalism – the school of thought that rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

He was the author of numerous books, and had many articles published in magazines and journals.

In a conservative country like Bangladesh, his subject matter was often contentious, covering sensitive issues such as homosexuality – which he argued was inherent in nature – religious unbelief and cosmology.

Mr Roy’s followers argue that many of his secular ideas are in the tradition of the great Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, who died in 1941 and is often referred to as “Bengal’s Shakespeare”.

Some of the last books Mr Roy wrote, Obisshahser Dorshon (The Philosophy of Disbelief) and Biswasher Virus (The Virus of Faith), were critically well received around the world.

In the Virus of Faith he argues that “faith-based terrorism will wreak havoc on society in epidemic proportions”.

In one of his last published articles in the Free Inquiry magazine, Mr Roy wrote: “To me, religious extremism is like a highly contagious virus. My own recent experiences in this regard verify the horrific reality that such religious extremism is a virus of faith.”

He said in the article that a book he published last year “hit the cranial nerve of Islamic fundamentalists” and led to him being targeted by militant Islamists and terrorists.

It also led, he said, to a man openly issuing death threats against him on Facebook.

“Avijit Roy lives in America and so it is not possible to kill him right now,” Mr Roy quoted one threat against him as saying, “but he will be murdered when he gets back.”

BBC.

The Independent reports,

Avijit Roy and his wife were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University on Thursday evening when they were attacked.

Witnesses told local media their bicycle rickshaw was stopped by two men who dragged them on to the pavement but police chief Sirajul Islam said the couple were ambushed as they walked towards a roadside tea stall.

Both accounts said at least two men with machetes started hacking at the couple as they lay on the ground.

The attackers then ran away, disappearing into crowds.

Mr Roy, believed to be in his 40s, was pronounced dead during emergency surgery at the Dhaka Medical College hospital and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, lost a finger and is being treated for serious injuries.

Police found her severed finger alongside two machetes and a bag possibly belonging to the attackers at the scene

In Commemoration: Avijit Roy.

News From Bangladesh:

BD News 24.

Avijit’s killing stirs world media Mohammad Abu Bakar Siddique

The brutal killing of writer, blogger Avijit Roy in hand of machete-wielding assailants has created a shockwave in the global media.

The leading news organisations from around the world including BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, The New York Times, NDTV etc condemned the barbarous killing, bringing out detail of the attack.

BBC placed the news on the attack that left the Bangladesh-born US citizen dead and his wife also a blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, critically injured, as its lead on the following day, with the headline suggesting “US-Bangladesh blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death.”

The contributions of Avijit, a naturalised US citizen, particularly his activism for scientific knowledge and secularism through online and publications, his receiving threats from militants groups, the attack by the widespread protest against the killing and for arrest of the attackers, and the country’s context were mentioned in the BBC’s report.

The killing of the son of the country’s one of the most prominent professors Ajay Roy was covered Reuters, as “American blogger killed in Bangladesh machete attack,” the New York Times reported “Avijit Roy, Bangladeshi-American Writer, Is Killed by Machete-Wielding Assailants,” besides several other versions with updates.

Roy came to Dhaka for publication of his new books in the book fair around mid-February with his wife, and on the evening they fell under the attack in the TSC area in Dhaka University on the way back from the fair.

Avijit wrote a number of books on mainly philosophy, rationalism and science, in line with his activism, also in online, for secularism and freedom of expression, for which he had been receiving death threats since long, including the recent one when social media fanatics openly declared to kill him on coming home, family told media.

The UK-based the Guardian reported “American atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh” mentioning the previously happened similar attacks on the free thinkers.

“American-Bangladeshi atheist blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death by suspected Islamist extremists,” wrote the UK based the Independent.

The Telegraph wrote: “Atheist US blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh,” while The Times headlined “Atheist US blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh”

CNN titled “Prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy killed” where it detailed with the facts related to the killing and the shocks emerged from it.

It reported on the very attack in two more stories with title “American writer hacked to death in Bangladesh spoke out against extremists”, and “Blogger’s brutal death for speaking his mind.”

From the murder to the UN condemnation, the media all around the world are coming up with the follow ups as well.

The attack was widely covered in the media of neighboring India and Pakistan.

India’s NDTV and Pakistan’s Dawn among the prominent news media covered the story, his contributions, threats were mentioned.

These news media are also following the developments in Bangladesh and the world, in response to the attack, protest and condemnation that began in Dhaka.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2015 at 5:12 pm

After Kobane, Where Now for the Kurdish Liberation Movement?

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  Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Kurdish forces advance miles outside Kobane, retake 100 villages

 By Omar Kalo (Rudaw)

KOBANE—Kurdish forces continue to push Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of the Kobane area and have retaken more than 100 villages from the extremist group in the past two weeks.

Fighters of the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) have now reached the village of Karamox, 20 kilometers east of Kobane.

In their advance against ISIS, the YPG fighters are supported by Peshmerga artillery and coalition airstrikes.

Since they drove out ISIS militants from the city last month after 133 days of fighting, the Kurdish forces have advanced against the Islamist group in all directions and reclaimed many of the villages that fell to the group in September.

Last week, the YPG fighters took back the village of Kofi, 25 kilometers south of Kobane as well as the village of Rovi on the main road between Kobane and Aleppo.

On the western front, the Kurdish forces are now positioned 20 kilometers away at Karako village.

YPG commanders inside the city told Rudaw that 15 ISIS militants fled the Kurdish advance west of Kobane on Friday and crossed the border into Turkey.

Autonomy in Kurdistan  Matt Petersen & Joen Vedel

From the Kurdish Question.

After driving ISIS from Kobane, the Kurdish liberation movement considers their successes and looks forward toward the continuing struggle for autonomy.

Last week, we met with Hilmi Aydoğdu, Presidency Council member of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK)* at DTK offices in Amed, Kurdistan.

This was just days after the YPG (People’s Defense Units) won a months long battle with ISIS, liberating the city of Kobane. Since our interview, the YPG and other Kurdish fighters have continued to retake surrounding villages in the Kobane Canton, which is one of three autonomous communes in Rojava, the majority Kurdish area of northern Syria.

Earlier this fall, as images of the women warriors of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) circulated widely in Western news and social media, radical movements worldwide began to take a renewed interest in the Kurdish freedom movement. This led many to closely study the DTK’s July 2011 declaration of “democratic autonomy” within Turkey. We visited Amed (Diyarbakir), in southeastern Anatolia, which is the political capital of the Kurdish movement, and the headquarters of many of its political organizations, to meet with participants in the movement and learn more about the current Kurdish struggle.

We asked Hilmi what the recent liberation of Kobane meant for the Kurdish movement; about the implementation of democratic autonomy and confederalism within both Rojava and Turkey; and the role of the Kurdish movement as a secular force in the Middle East.

• • •

The main purpose of the Kurdish struggle is the freedom of Kurdish people in all of Kurdistan. What we understand by freedom includes self-rule and independence in terms of using our own economic and natural resources. This is what we call democratic autonomy.

In the Middle East there are many different ethnic communities, many religions and belief systems. It is possible that these people can live together and share their riches with each other, by abolishing the oppression and exploitation in the Middle East. What we call confederalism is the system that includes all these communities and peoples. And to achieve this, we first have to struggle for the democratic autonomy of Kurdistan, and then to spread it to the rest of the region.

This democratic autonomy entails a restructuring of society. We have a struggle that took 40 years, and within this process all the social values and norms in Kurdistan have been drastically transformed. The clearest sign of this social transformation is the women’s struggle. In Kurdistan women were experiencing a double slavery; they were slaves of the system and the slaves of men as well. Our struggle has contributed to the participation of women in all of social life. What we see in Kobane represents this transformation. We believe that a free society is not possible without the freedom and participation of women, demonstrated by the presence of women in every field of life and work.

Our 40 years of struggle revitalized an almost annihilated people. In this 40 year struggle the labor and creative power of women has played a key role. In Kobane, women were fighting shoulder to shoulder with men. The success of Kobane comes from this. The true power behind this success is the actualization of the highest level of creativity, power, and spirit of women. This is the only way for the liberation of our people. The role of women was decisive in Kobane.

The model of democratic autonomy has been realized in Rojava. The building of this model is experienced now in three cantons. Our people, together with other communities living in Rojava, have gained an initiative over their lives within the form of equal representation. Now these people together try to share social prosperity in an equal manner.

For the question of how Syria is going to be liberated, the replacement of Assad with another dictator is not a solution. Rojava proposes a solution to exploitative capitalist modernity in the Middle East. This proposition has disturbed both the reactionaries and imperial powers. They were afraid that Rojava could be an exemplary model, and so they organized ISIS and unleashed them to attack Rojava.

The cantons of Rojava are totally democratic. Whole religious sections are able to represent themselves thanks to the model of democratic autonomy in Rojava, and its spirit of social solidarity. The factor that expelled ISIS is this model of governance, because this model actualizes the dynamics, energy, and potential in people. When we totally expel ISIS, Rojava will achieve further political, economic, social and cultural improvements.

What we express as democratic autonomy/confederalism is a model against capitalist modernity. The primary dynamic of this model is the Kurdish freedom movement. The fascist military coup in 1980 totally crushed the revolutionary opposition in Turkey and it created an intimidated society. The Kurdish movement from the very beginning ceaselessly resisted this fascism. They organized vast resistance in the prisons and began armed struggle on August 15th, 1984. The ceaseless resistance of this movement relied on its power of organizing a philosophy of life, and acted solely by relying on its own power. This movement exposed a vital social power.

The paradigm of the Kurdish movement includes the transformation of not only the Kurds, but also all the oppressed sectors in Turkish society. Therefore the gains of the Kurdish movement have direct impact on the other social sectors in Turkey. However, the role that the Kurds play on the transformation of other oppressed sectors of Turkey could have been larger. The 1980 military coup waged a psychological war, especially through the media, which created a perception in the society that those in the Kurdish freedom movement were monsters. This is an ongoing process. Our struggle has damaged this perception to some extent, but it is still present in Turkish society. The damage of the military coup on the Turkish Left also restrains the impact of the Kurdish freedom movement on Turkish society. If the Turkish Left was not fragmented and dispersed as they are now, the opportunities that the Kurdish movement creates could have been better realized in Turkish society. This is an important disadvantage for the Kurdish struggle.

The Kurdish movement is the only movement that aims at creating a democratic social life in the Middle East. Moreover, the Kurdish movement is the only movement that sees the togetherness of different values of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and other belief systems as a strength and opportunity for developing a social system. There is no other movement in the Middle East that pursues such a democratic social model. I wish there was. If so, they could fight together in solidarity.

The Kurdish movement, especially following the path of leadership, changed the color of the whole Middle East. The reforms that took place in Europe in 14th and 15th centuries have been rapidly experienced in Kurdish society in the last 40 years, such as liberation in culture, art, gender relations, a new democratic perspective, organization of all sections of society on the basis of politics, civil society, and gender. We saw the invincibility of an organized society in Rojava and in Kobane particular. The Kurdish freedom movement is an alternative for both Turkey and the Middle East because it has organized itself in all fields–military, cultural, and beliefs–as an alternative system that is adaptive to contemporary needs.

* Hilmi Aydoğdu was formerly chair of the DTP (Democratic Society Party), a Kurdish political party that was banned by the Turkish government in 2009. The DTP was succeeded by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), which last year merged with the HDP (People’s Democratic Party). The HDP plans to run in the June 2015 general elections as a broad alliance party, including both the Kurdish movement and the Turkish Left opposition, where it hopes to reach the 10% threshold to join Turkey’s Grand National Assembly

* The DTK (Democratic Society Congress) is an umbrella organization for the Kurdish movement founded in 2005, as a confederation of civil society organizations, political parties, and individual members of diverse ethnic, political, and religious groups.

Originally published in The New Inquiry (http://thenewinquiry.com/features/autonomy-in-kurdistan/)

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

The SWP (Socialist Review) Instructs Charlie Hebdo on How to do Satire.

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Tim Sanders * in Socialist Review tells satirists how they should do satire….

“The savage killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists by terrorists in Paris is utterly contemptible, but not inexplicable.”

And,

There’s been a vocal campaign extolling the “western values” of free speech and the right to offend, claiming that satire should be free from constraints and able to offend indiscriminately. This is where I part company with the satirists of Charlie Hebdo. The point of satire is to attack the powerful, to expose their hypocrisy and absurdity, and of course to be funny. If satire is directed downwards it is not satire, it’s bullying.

And, on Charlie (which he suddenly on expert on),

Sadly Charlie Hebdo had been drifting away from its roots in the revolutionary events of France 1968 for some time. In the aftermath of 9/11 its output became blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist. They carried cartoons which were vile racist caricatures of the sort I haven’t seen since the National Front and BNP published such stuff in the 1970s and 1980s. Worse, some of the anti-Arab cartoons are so stereotypical that the addition of a Star of David would immediately turn them into the sort of anti-Semitic filth produced by the Nazi Third Reich. These are images designed to offend and humiliate a marginalised and persecuted minority. Yet they went largely unchallenged.

Ach…Zionist – what would racism be like without ‘Zionism’?

Not that there is any evidence of this, or the rest – gleaned no doubt from Sander’s quick Google of the Front Pages of (16 page long) Charlie Hebdo.

But there are rules of satire – which is seems have to be followed.

Expliquez-nous les règles cher Maître de conférences…..

“Satire should spear the powerful.”

 But printing nasty and bad taste cartoons, attacking religious authority,  is beyond the pale.

They get a magic card, if they are ‘Muslims’ (as if all people from an Islamic background remain ‘Muslims’ for ever) showing that they are not “rich and powerful”.

Many might indicate that the Islamists and other religious bigots have both of these qualities.

The Mosque’, like ‘The Church’ (all exceptions counted), has wealth, whatever the believers’ money.

Back to the “rules”:

Satire: Do not do anything that might help ‘the state’.

Satire: do not laugh at Muslims,

This is worse than bullying; it is satire in the ideological service of the state (and Charlie Hebdo receives a hefty subsidy from the French government). Islamophobia is not satire. Laughing at Muslims is like sharing a joke with the Nazis of the Front National. And I don’t think any cartoonist worth their salt would relish the idea of their deaths being mourned by the likes of Netanyahu, Hollande, Merkel and the other world leaders who headed up the march in Paris after the killings.

There are some things – religious figures (Charlie only attached gods, prophets, religious dignitaries, and fanatical activists, from Catholic ‘ultras’ to  Islamist ‘barbus’ ) – which are too sacred for SWP supporters to satirise….

Any laughter is…bullying – from a small circulation weekly which nobody is obliged to read.

Charlie is apparently proved guilty by the character of those who (officially) mourned the deaths….

Oh, and Charlie received money from the French state after the atrocity.

But Tim Sanders can’t be bothered to mention this fact.

The sight of these champions of free speech (the same ones who have banned Muslim women from wearing the veil and outlawed pro-Palestine demonstrations) marching in the name of free expression seems almost beyond parody. Fortunately many cartoonists and satirists have already proved this fear wrong with merciless exposure of these hypocrites. I have a radical, non-satirical idea to prevent further atrocities like this: How about not invading other people’s countries?

No mention of the Jewish victims in the Kosher supermarket: Yoav Hattab, 21, the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis, Philippe Braham, in his 40s, Yohan Cohen, 22 and Francois-Michel Saada, in his 60s.

Perhaps they were also “Zionists”.

One assumes that they should have stopped invading ‘other people’s countries’ as well.

In any case, Charlie was ridiculing a “a marginalised and persecuted minority” (what is the evidence for the persecution by the way – are Muslims as Muslims prevented from following their religion in France?).

The slaughter was not “inexplicable”.

For the SWP it is eminently explicable.

They had it coming to them.

*****

No doubt following this, and in line with the policy of “unconditional support for Muslim communities”, the SWP will back the prosecution of Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy in Ireland,

The sale of the Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the Paris atrocity is threatening to become the first major test of the Irish Republic’s blasphemy law, Muslim representatives and secularists have warned.

Ireland’s Islamic Cultural Centre has said the presence of a depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the front page of the satirical publication, on sale now in Irish shops, is a clear breach of the country’s blasphemy legislation.

The Irish Republic is the only nation in Europe to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century. Secular and atheist groups in Ireland have been campaigning for its abolition since it came into being in 2010 – the last year of the Fianna Fáil-Green government.

The advocacy group Atheist Ireland is to meet the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, in Dublin next Tuesday, to urge the taoiseach to hold a referendum on abolishing the law before the general election in 2016.

Ahmed Hasain, the executive secretary of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin, said: “In our view, the sale of this magazine is a breach in Irish law. It is blasphemous and it is illegal under the legislation. It’s against the law here in Ireland, that is quite clear.”

Hasain said that while the centre has not decided whether or not to lodge a complaint to the Irish authorities, individuals or groups have the right under Irish law to use the legislation to prosecute those distributing the magazine since last week.

He described the law introduced by the former Fianna Fáil justice minister, Dermot Ahern, as very helpful. “It’s good that the law is in place as it protects every faith,” he said.

Michael Nugent, writer and co-founder of Atheist Ireland, agreed with Hasain that technically speaking the sale of around 1,500 copies of the Charlie Hebdo edition in the state had breached the blasphemy law.
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He said: “The Charlie Hebdo cartoons seem to meet the first test of the Irish law, that is that it is ‘grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion’. The next test in the law is ‘thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion’.

“So if anyone wants to try to have a prosecution brought, [cases must be brought by the state ] what they would have to do is demonstrate that outrage has been caused. But it would be irresponsible to encourage or show outrage at a time like this. People who are offended should respond more proportionately than by showing outrage. That is a major flaw in the Irish law – it encourages outrage.”

Ahead of its meeting with the taoiseach, Atheist Ireland announced a new international campaign against blasphemy laws. The organisation has joined forces with secular groups from Britain, Canada, Iceland, the US and New Zealand. They are organising an online global petition against laws which they say “legitimise mob violence, vigilantism, and persecution of minorities”.

Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, has advised Atheist Ireland to keep up the pressure in the republic to repeal the law.

“Of course you are right that the major damage done by this legislation is the international one,” he told the organisation. “I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask western hypocrisy.”

Blasphemy in Ireland is a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£19,000).

Guardian.

* Background:

Tim Sanders was born on 8 October 1957 in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire. He attended the King Edward VI School in Lichfield from 1970 to 1976, and studied at the Harrow School of Art from 1976 to 1979, specialising in illustration and leaving with “a perfect ability to draw fire extinguishers”.

Sanders draws pocket cartoons and political cartoons, using the signature “Tim”. He was cartoonist for the Socialist Worker, and in 1995 a collection of his cartoons was published as “In the Heat of the Scribble.” In 1999 Sanders began working as pocket cartoonist for the Independent, replacing Chris Priestley.

As well as working for The Independent and Independent on Sunday, Sanders has drawn cartoons and illustrations for a range of publications, including The Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday You Magazine, Nursing Times, Broadcast, and Red Pepper. Sanders is also a Spanish speaker and a scholar of Hispanic art.

Sanders is not cited, I note, as a fluent French speaker.

Greece Must Not Stand Alone.

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GREECE MUST NOT STAND ALONE

Chartist (More excellent articles on Greece on this site).

Mike Davis on why support for the new Greek government is vital and in Labour’s interests

(This Blog has been asked to publicise this important article – all are more than welcome to do so).

Hope, dignity, bread could summarise the slogans of the newly elected Syriza party in Greece. It has been an historic victory, the first radical left party to be democratically elected in Europe since the Second World war. Expectations of the people will be high for the new government. So too will be opposition from banks , corporate capital and neoliberal politicians. Elected on a landslide vote, gaining 149 seats—two short of an absolute majority and 36% of the poll Syriza, led by the 40 year old Alexis Tsipras, has grown from small beginnings ten years ago to replacing the discredited socialist party Pasok as the hope and champion of the Greek people for an end to five years of crippling austerity.

Spain 1936 & Chile 1970

Parallels with the newly elected Spanish popular front republican government of 1936 or the Chilean government of Salvadore Allende in 1970 are not fanciful. The commitments of these two earlier governments to radically redistribute wealth and power, to nationalise the banks and secure a new deal for workers and peasants are not dissimilar to the radical commitments of Syriza to end the debt burden and poverty of a beleaguered people resulting from the harsh conditions of the bailout, to build a ‘bottom-up’ social transformation, and to end corruption and tax avoidance of the corporate and political elites.

The Spanish republic was rapidly immersed in conflict as anti-democratic forces allied with the monarchy and landed gentry took the form of a military insurrection led by General Franco. After a three year civil war the Republic ended in defeat. Salvadore Allende’s radical ‘Marxist’ government was upended in a bloody coup supported by the US CIA. Both reactions led to the deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of workers, socialists, communists and democrats.

There are two striking differences with republican Spain and Greece in 2015. There is no Hitler or Mussolini to aid Greece’s home grown fascists in Golden Dawn and the deep state military which has been licking its wounds since the overthrow of the Colonel’s junta in 1974. Secondly, globalisation. This means a Syriza-led Greece faces a more complex corporate financial opposition in the shape of the neoliberal dominated IMF, European Central Bank and EU. These powerful forces that have already wreaked huge damage on the Greek economy through its compliant governments are now positioning to overturn the democratic will of the Greek people. The forces ranged against the Greek government today are the unaccountable vested interests of global capital, currently in the shape of the Troika. Syriza minister are refusing to negotiate with unelected officials and want only to engage with elected European governments.

Syriza have accommodated. No longer debt cancellation but debt relief is the policy aim. Nationalisation of the banks remains party policy but was not prominent in the recent Thessaloniki programme. The case for ending austerity is compelling. Public services and welfare cuts, privatisation and 30% reduction in wages and pensions has not rebooted the Greek economy. The debt as a proportion of GDP has almost doubled in six years (108 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 176 per cent of GDP in 2015). The E240 billion euro bailout has simply gone to banks and back in interest payments while unemployment has grown to over one in four adults and two out of every three young people. This is no basis for economic recovery let alone paying off a debt or increasing state tax revenues. Austerity only works for the rich and even enlightened capitalists see the inhumanity of such a programme.

Secondly, the people have had enough. This is not just the working class who have seen wages eroded and collective bargaining rights removed but also Greece’s sizeable middle class and small business people many of whom turned to Syriza in the election.

Third, a movement against austerity is gathering force across Europe. Podemos (We Can) the recently formed radical party in Spain came from nowhere to win seats in the European parliament in May. There are similar radical movements in Italy, while in Germany Die Linke and the Green party are growing forces to be reckoned with. Within the traditional social democratic and Labour Parties that have sustained links to the trades unions as in Britain, France and Scandinavia an anti-austerity pro growth sentiment is gathering pace. The Greek result could help swell that opinion. Labour leaders will ignore it at their peril as we approach the May general election.

Labour should see writing on wall

Labour leader Ed Miliband should see the writing on the wall. People are sick of austerity policies. Huge cuts in living standards, privatisation and light touch tax and regulation of corporate capital were never going to restart a sustainable economy working for the many not the few. Unfortunately unless Labour move away from the current austerity-lite agenda its own fate could soon resemble that of other discredited European social democratic parties.

The stakes are high. The populist right also talks anti austerity. In fact Syriza has agreed coalition terms with a right-wing party (Independent Greeks) to secure its parliamentary majority. Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale in France welcomed the Syriza victory., (as did Socialist President Hollande). Britain’s home-grown right-wing populists in the form of UKIP also talk anti-austerity. So the socialist and democratic left must be quick and determined in getting the message of Greece.  The left has the initiative with Syriza’s victory. It must capitalise on it. An Early Day motion in the British House of Commons (EDM 729) welcoming the Syriza victory and its economic and social plans should be endorsed by the whole parliamentary Labour party.

The arguments for a debt amnesty and renegotiation have precedents. Germany, the main bulwark for fiscal discipline itself enjoyed a debt pardon in 1953 when a London conference of Western world leaders agreed to write off a crippling debt burden that opened the doors to the German ‘economic miracle’. Having undergone Italian fascist and Nazi occupation Greece emerged from the Second World War into a civil war. By the end its economy was shattered. No reparations have been paid by Germany to Greece. War losses at the hands of the Nazis included: demolition of a quarter of all buildings; annihilation of 2,000 villages; destruction of 66% of motor transport, 75% of the merchant fleet, 90% of railway rolling stock and all main road bridges; and deportation, slaughter or starvation of around 700,000 people, including the murder of 60,000 Jews.

Further the Greek people have endured six years of military dictatorship (1967-74) followed by over 40 years of rule that has largely only benefitted the corrupt political elites, corporate and shipping oligarchs who enjoyed a tax free regime.

With a 50% debt cancellation and restructuring of the remainder the government will be able to restart the economy on a sustainable growth course, with new jobs and a clean progressive tax system.

Athina-20150125-00637

In Britain the Greece Solidarity Campaign has coordinated activity in support of the anti-austerity movement in Greece and sought to raise awareness. WE recognise thestruggle of the Greek people is our fight. It has established Medical Aid for Greece, organised fact finding delegations to Athens with Labour MPs and MEPs, trade union leaders and local activists, organised local publicity initiatives, the latest being at the British Museum to lobby Angela Merkel on her recent visit.

Australian trade unionists have campaigned to ‘Let Greece Breathe’. TUC leader Frances O’Grady has put out a powerful call for Solidarity with Syriza. Letters to the press and an Early Day Motion signed by a cross –party group of MPs have called for active support. For Labour and trade union activists there are basic forms of solidarity: Pass a resolution through your union, political party, faith or community group (see below). Lobby your MP or MEP to support debt relief and the democratic mandate of the Greek government in Europe and Westminster. The Campaign aims to extend its activities into establishing a cross-party parliamentary support group. GSC is not a charity and recognises that the best way to support the Greek people is to end austerity policies in our own countries. That would be the best gift we could exchange with our Greek compatriots.

Mike Davis is CHARTIST‘s Editor and Press Office for the Greek Solidarity Campaign.

Greece solidarity model resolution

We welcome the formation of the new Syriza government in Greece that places people at the heart of its programme of change.

We note the crippling bail-out package imposed through the EU/IMF Memorandum has created enormous hardship. As well as damaging society these policies have failed to reboot the Greek economy. The public debt in relation to GDP is now far greater than it was before the programme started in 2010.

Greek people have chosen a new path. They have chosen a government committed to ending the austerity programme. They have voted for immediate debt repudiation and renegotiation. They have voted for the humanitarian crisis to be addressed as the top priority. The government are taking immediate steps to support those suffering the most under the austerity measures and to restore basic rights.

The Greek election results have implications for the UK and the whole of Europe. Austerity policies have been a choice by those in power, and they have failed. Greece reminds us that different economics and politics are possible.

Undoubtedly there will be pressure on the new Syriza Government from the EU, the banks and their friends not to deliver their promises

Solidarity with Greece at this time is an imperative for Greeks and for all European working people.

We applaud the courage of the people of Greece in choosing hope and a new direction in policy that can start to rebuild a sustainable Greek economy and faith in politics.

We resolve to

  • Defend the right for Greece to end austerity
  • Support the action on debt being called for by the new government of Greece
  • Call on our political representatives to exercise their vote within official sector finance agencies, within the European Parliament and pursue other diplomatic activities that will support debt reform
  • Sign the open letter of support to the Greek anti-austerity movement (GSC website)
  • Call on prospective parliamentary candidates standing in the coming Westminster elections to support the Greek’s anti-austerity policy
  • Affiliate to the Greek Solidarity Campaign (delete if already affiliated)
  • Contribute £X to the Medical Aid for Greece appeal. Every penny raised is sent to support the Solidarity Health Clinics (delete if already contributing)

Written by Andrew Coates

January 31, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Alain Badiou on Charlie Hebdo, Le Rouge et le Tricolore. A Critical Appraisal.

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Badiou: Wave the Red Flag not the Tricolore.

‘Le Rouge et le Tricolore’ Alain Badiou.

In le Monde (28.1.15) Alain Badiou has called for the “reactivation of the Communist idea” in place of the “totem” of the “République laïque” in order to stand up to “les crimes fascistes des terroristes”.

The philosopher and one-time prominent figure in the ‘post-Leninist’ and ‘post-Maoist’ L’Organisation politique (defunct 2007) begins by sketching a portrait of global capitalism, dominated by the “abstraction” of money, and run by an international oligarchy. He sees within this context a drama, opposing the “civilised” capitalist West to blood thirsty “Islamism”. Murderous gangs, trying, by force of arms, to impose obedience to the corpse of a God, are, in this scenario, opposed by those who, in the name of human rights, have launched savage military expeditions that have destroyed entire states (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan Congo, Mali and Central Africa). Western aggression, in support for these ‘rights’, has resulted in millions of victims. Every state, from the liberal West, to the authoritarian and nationalist Russia and China, and the theocracies of the Emirates, is now part of the same world, predatory capitalism.

Real universalism, Badiou asserts, that is, taking the destiny of humanity in hand, means a new historical and political incarnation of the communist “idea”. This would break with the universe dominated by money and the capitalist oligarchies. It would end the battles between identities and counter-identities, the West and the ‘Rest’.

In this war, France has its own special ‘totem’ the “République démocratique et laïque”. This is the ground of the  “republican pact” that seals France’s self-image. Its origins lie in the massacres of the Commune in 1871 (which was supported he asserts by Adolphe Thiers, Jules Ferry, and Jules Favre), which Badiou sees as the origin, the founding crime,  of the 3rd republic.

It is impossible not to notice a slight of hand at work here. All of these figures played an ignoble role during the Paris Commune. Thiers, a “monstrous gnome” in Marx’s words, collaborated with the Prussian occupiers, Ferry, the Mayor of Paris during the early days of the City’s siege, slipped away when the Communards took power, and Favre, enemy of the First International, were leading figures in the government that viciously crushed the insurgents. So far so much fidelity to the ‘truth’.

But,  their “republican” reign was initially not properly republican at all. It is famously described as “républican d’appelation et monarchiste de vocation” – republican in name but monarchist by calling. (1) Ruled by the Right the Republic soon became the focus of other forces – the left, republican and then ‘radical socialist’, not to mention the first French Marxist party Parti Ouvrier Français, the reformist socialist ‘Possibilistes’, the Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France, and other groups.

Why, then, in the years that followed, had the French left re-asserted its “republicanism”, a position which has endured to this day? This has a very long history, going back to the French Revolution. Perhaps the most crucial experience for the modern socialist movement was Jaurès and the left’s “Défense Républicaine” during the Dreyfus Affair. Jaurès defined this very clearly, he wanted to defend the Republic not only against nationalists and-Semites, which he called “la réaction royaliste et boulangiste” but also against the bourgeois republicans, who were ready to sacrifice justice out of fear of the Army Establishment. He argued for the “modesties garanties” of the rule of republican law, against an arbitrary legal system – for human rights – as the bedrock of the democratic workers’ movement. (2)

Now one can question Jaurès’ claim that national sovereignty is necessary for socialism, that “que la nation soit souveraine dans l’ordre économique pour briser les privileges du capitalisme osif comme elle est souveraine dans l’ordre politique” (that the nation should be sovereign in the economy as it is politically, to break the privileges of idle capitalism). (3) One can seriously question Jaurès claim that true patriotism leads to internationalism. But the modest defence of the simplest of human rights, the protection of individuals against arbitrary laws and punishments, is very far from being a “totem”. It is not from an admirer of the Chinese Cultural Revolution – something that Badiou had persisted in despite all his “posts” – that anybody is going to take criticisms of these foundations of French republicanism.

Badiou avoids history. He points his finger at the actually existing French republic, its prisons for the ill educated, its past (and present?) pretensions to carry a “mission civilisatrice”(Jules Ferry’s always cited phrase), and the failures of its education system. He speculates that wearing the veil, becoming a pious Muslim may be a sign of the spirit of revolt, faced with police repression and racism. He offers no evidence that Islamism is he result of these causes – which would require a global explanation, covering movements from Boko Harem, Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Islamic State, and countless other groups.

The philosopher strongly reprimands  Charlie Hebdo. Run by “ex-leftists”, it is “in a sense” the accomplice of police morality conveyed through doubtful sexual jokes looks strange coming from this author. Comparing Charlie to an “obscene” – and forgotten – piece by Voltaire on Joan of Arc, he tries to remind us of the bad taste of even the most celebrated of the Lumières for all his “authentic” fights for freedom. It’s hard to forget that the author of The Communist Hypothesis (English edition, 2010) defended the “extraordinary uprising” of the Chinese Cultural revolution. Its “freedom” in “the fight of the new against the old” was, he noted, nevertheless joined with “iconoclasm, the persecution of people for futile motives, a sort of assumed barbarism”. (4) Voltaire, as far as one is aware, did not burn religious books or demolish temples, make monks perform forced labour, or force Muslims to eat pork. Nor do Charlie propose to follow in the Red Guards’ footsteps.

And yet…Badiou cannot avert his eyes from the “réal”. Perhaps he is less a “post” than another “ex-leftist”? For him the three killers, young Frenchmen, committed “un crime de type fasciste”. It was first of all targeted, and not random, next the motivation was of a fascist nature, from an identity, in this case anti-Semitic. To impose this it used extreme violence, saying in effect “Viva le meutre!” (the cry of the Falangists in the Spanish Civil War). Finally, by the enormity of the crime itself it aimed to provoke a reaction of repression, which would then justify the act.

Has this fascist act, then, been successful? There were millions in the streets behind the “pacte républicain”, fearful and yet full of pride in the nation’s grandeur. Badiou thinks that the French state created an obligation to demonstrate behind the Tricolor, to the point where not to support the Je Suis Charlie march was itself a crime. Freedom of expression that is to dissent from this “union sacrée” was close to being abolished in the days following the murders. The Police were praised to the skies. Liberty became the right to applaud the Police. The banlieue and its Muslim inhabitants are scorned, closely monitored, and under permanent suspicion.

This may be true. But only 70% of the French public is said to believe that it was an affair of Islamist terrorism. Amongst those casting doubt on the ‘official version’ there are theories that other shadowy force were involved, from Mossad, the US to the French secret services. Jean-Marie Le Pen has expressed opinions in this vein, indicating perhaps complicity between a native and patriotic fascism and a more directly religious one. The problems raised by this rise in irrationalism from many quarters cannot be boiled down to the opposition between the “dangerous” Muslim classes and the French Imperial State.

Badiou concludes by calling for another way, a different future. One that it without country, and that prepares the way for an egalitarian identity for humanity itself. The choice should not be between small bands of fascists based on a sectarian Islamist identify, or for French and Western superiority. This can be found…..behind the Red Flag…..

Or not.

If people are following the Red Flag today it’s the banner of democratic socialists, like Syriza, not believers in the ‘communist invariant’ displayed in the Cultural Revolution.

Badiou offers no words of defence of Charlie or of freedom of speech, or indeed of democracy, capitalist, socialist,  or any other kind.  he appears to think that people are mostly dupes of the République démocratique et laïque. Only a savoury remnant – perhaps visible to the keen eyes of those able to see the Event that will bring communism back onto the political horizon – able to “name the indiscernible.”

While we await its coming, the impression that many people have is that the Je suis Charlie movement, and marches, expressed a deep and intimate sadness at the deaths of the cartoonists, at the fate of the Jewish victims, and the policeman – everybody killed in the slaughter. That it remains an open wound. That most do not care at all about union sacrées or flags: many of us are not even French!  That we loved the people murdered and continue to mourn them. And that we hold tight to the “modest guarantees” of law and freedom that should be there for all – for the Je ne suis pas Charlies, the Je suis Charlies and for all humanity.

(1) Page 362. Jacques Julliard. Les Gauches Françaises. Flammarion. 2012.

(2) Page 239. Jean Jaurès. Gilles Candar. Vincent Duclert. Fayard. 2014. Also see: Jaurès et le Reformisme Révolutonnaire. Jean-Paul Scot. Seuil. 2014. Notable Chapter 9 “Rattacher le Socialisme à la République.

(3) Page 122. République et Socialisme. Ansi Nous Parle Jean Jaurès. Pluriel 2014.

(4) Page 129 The Communist Hypothesis. Alain Badiou. Verso. 2012.

All our support for Syriza!

with 3 comments

Greece is the most striking example of what happens when political matters are being dealt with by economic powers. The fact that non democratic entities such as the European Central Bank or the IMF sort out problems which were created by those same economic powers in the first place, is a serious step back regarding the concept of democracy as a whole, which used to guarantee that the citizens’ decision was the most sacred contract within European societies.

On the contrary this country, which suffered the worst financial scam, is being punished a second time instead of the actual culprits being punished: those politicians who hope to give back what they lost in speculations by directly dispossessing their citizens.

Greece today is crumbling as a result: it has become a place where misery, hunger, necessity, unemployment and social, work and environmental need and insecurity are added to the total inability to supremely decide on economic or social policies. The elections of 2015 represent a historic opportunity to start giving the economy back to the Greek people, which should always have been the case. Unfortunately, we are worried to see that conditions are being put on the free decision of the Greek citizens to give a unique chance of victory to parties that are questioning the antidemocratic tendency imposed by international economic institutions and by the European Commission.

We, the signatories, civil servants from different backgrounds, demand for the Greek people to be free to choose. We cannot accept the intimidation campaigns which are currently conditioning the votes through the media or international institutions.

We urge the European institutions to make sure these elections remain trouble-free, and to prevent any attempt to limit and/or condition the decision made by the Greek people. We think that Syriza’s victory can be the starting point of what will stop the trend which, in the name of financial speculation, is destroying economies, the environment and the well-being of the people. They will ensure that, beyond the 25 January, the sovereign decisions of the Greek people will be respected.

 

Alberto Garzón – Deputy of Izquierda Unida at the Congress of Deputies (Spain)
Gabriele Zimmer - Deputy of Die Linke at the European Parliament and President of the GUE/NGL (Germany)
Sergio Coronado - Deputy of Europe Écologie Les Verts at National Assembly (Francia)
Maria Dolors Camat – Deputy of ICV-EUiA at the Catalonian Parliament and president of ICV (Catalonia, Spain)

Frances O’Grady,Trade Union Council (TUC) : Why the Greek Elections are so important – for the Greeks and Europe as a whole

This Sunday, the Greek people go to the polls in what must be one of the most important elections not just for Greece but for Europe as a whole. What is at stake is the future of democratic control of the economy, and the European establishment’s love affair with austerity.

Nowhere in Europe has suffered so much from the after-effects of the global financial crisis. The austerity programme imposed on the Greek people by the troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission has seen unemployment rocket to 25% (and more than 50% among young people), the minimum wage and pensions slashed, public services sold off and in some cases – eg Greece’s public service broadcaster – shut down. Many Greek people have been left destitute, homeless and fearing for their futures. Some have left the country or abandoned their hopes of starting a family.

Above all, these changes have undermined democratic control in the country known as the birthplace of democracy – something that has helped the neo-nazi thugs of Golden Dawn grow. Unelected forces from outside the country have dictated the terms on which the Greek government and economy can continue to function. Labour’s equivalent in Greece, PASOK, has all-but collapsed under the strain. Collective bargaining has been undermined, and the unions’ role reduced to fire-fighting, resisting closures, sell-offs and attacks on living standards.

For the rest of us in Europe, the elections on Sunday are important because they could see the rejection of austerity and renewed discussion of the sort of sustainable investment plans that the ETUC has advocated. The IMF has – astoundingly without showing any remorse – accepted that the levels of austerity they helped impose on Greece were based on flawed economic models. Every serious commentator I know acknowledges that, somehow, Greece’s debt needs to be reduced, and that continued austerity in Greece is not the answer. That means some form of rescheduling the debt, including debt forgiveness, must be arranged, and the infamous Memorandum under which Greek national sovereignty and economic sustainability was removed needs to be replaced.

The costs of the global economic crisis need to be shared more fairly, and of course, there are problems in Greece that exacerbated the crisis, and are not externally imposed. Public debt was too high before the crisis. But that wasn’t the fault of the people who are now paying for austerity: Greece needs to address the oligarchy that led it down the ruinous path it was already following before the global financial crisis hit, and whose members have so far not had to pay the price.

Although the Greek people have suffered most under austerity, if they reject it that will have repercussions in forthcoming elections across Europe – starting with Spain – because austerity is hitting everyone (arguably it already hit Germany in the last decade when pay growth stagnated and the sort of low paid jobs we are used to in the UK spread to Europe’s richest economy.) The UK’s working poor and middle classes have also suffered from the ideological craze for slashing the state back to the size it was in the 1930s, the spread of low-productivity and zero hours jobs, and stagnating wages.

Now every poll shows Syriza, the left party headed by Alexis Tsipras, who I met last year, in the lead. Some European politicians have, disgracefully, been threatening the Greek electorate with dire consequences, including expulsion from the Eurozone, if they dare to vote the wrong way! There are powerful forces mobilising against the interests of the Greek people. So if they choose an alternative path on Sunday, they will deserve and need our support and solidarity.

 Greece Solidarity Campaign.

See also:  Greece: the prospect of a Syriza victory (Shiraz Socialist).

Alexis Tsipras of Syriza is far from Greek orthodox: The Communist ‘Harry Potter’ who could implode the Eurozone (Independent).

Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2015 at 12:29 pm