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The Weekly Worker and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: A Forgotten Love Affair.

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Spooky but True: the Untold Tale of Weekly Worker AWL Unity.

Followers of the minutiae of the left,  and there are them, will know that no bitterer enemies exist than the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC). and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Both publish papers, which it has to be said, many on the left read, the former’s Weekly Worker for its articles on theory, socialist history its reports on Italy, Iran,  and some other European countries, curious letters, and serious book reviews. The AWL’s Solidarity has valuable – accurate – reports on trade union and welfare issues, the Labour Party, and covers the history of the left, and international topics. It  also carries good coverage of books.

The two groups are now locked in a never-ending battle.

“Social-imperialism” and  comparisons with ‘Stasi busybodies” are some of the milder terms used by the Weekly Worker to describe their foes in the AWL. The AWL dismisses the, admittedly groupusculaire  WW, and its key ally, the Monster Raving Geenstein Party.

Yet things were not always so….

It was in the year 2000.

Spring was coming. The world was full of daffodils and gamboling hares. And love.

Report of a partisan observer John Bridge and other Weekly Worker writers discuss the AWL 09.03.2000

Five observers from the Communist Party of Great Britain attended the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s 7th conference over the weekend of March 4-5. In general we met with a friendly reception. There was certainly a keen interest in our ideas, as witnessed by a sale of over 40 copies of the Weekly Worker. An impressive figure and much to the credit of the AWL – especially given that there were no more than around 80 of their comrades in attendance.

..

The AWL is a small organisation of serious revolutionaries – it has 110 full and a handful of candidate members – with a relatively long history in Britain’s Trotskyite milieu. Once they existed as a faction in Tony Cliff’s International Socialism organisation. That is, until they were bureaucratically expelled. Since then, led by Sean Matgamna, they have been through a labyrinthine series of name changes, primeval unities and fragile partnerships. However, what distinguishes the AWL from that which often falsely passes itself off as Trotskyism is its culture of comparative openness and a willingness to think.

..

We in the CPGB share and defend exactly that approach.

Love blossomed,

Rapprochement begins

Two representatives of the CPGB’s Provisional Central Committee and two representatives of the AWL’s National Committee met on Friday March 3.

Discussion began with Mark Fischer outlining the history of the PCC’s struggle for a reforged CPGB and why we put Partyism at the centre of our work. It was explained to the comrades from the AWL that we have no CPGB golden age. Our project is about the future, not the past.

We also discussed the importance of trade union bulletins and trade union work. CPGB comrades assured the AWL representatives that we had no objections to trade union work nor trade union bulletins. There was, however, the matter of priorities.

Blair’s constitutional revolution was raised, along with the national question in Wales and Scotland. One AWL comrade did not see why we were so concerned with such issues. This led on to what the CPGB’s PCC understands by economism.

The entry work the CPGB carried out in the SLP was praised and criticised by the AWL comrades. We replied that it was easy to criticise from the outside.

The commitment of the CPGB to a minimum-maximum programme was touched upon. CPGB comrades questioned the AWL about their project of a new Labour Representation Committee. We were told that this was for propaganda purposes and at the moment was of no particular importance.

The principles of democratic centralism were emphasised by the CPGB comrades, as was the need for a polemical communist press in the conditions of today. We stressed the necessity of engaging with advanced workers – ie, those susceptible to theory.

Both sides agreed to hold a further meeting in mid-March and to have a joint day school in early April on the Party question. The three headings of debate will be: economism; organising the class; party and programme.

Halcyon days!

CPGB-AWL rapprochement. 27.7.2000.

Representatives of the CPGB and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have been meeting to explore areas of difference and agreement between us. Over the coming weeks, we will feature edited minutes, starting here with those of the March 3 meeting. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

Agreed in conclusion: to put economism; organising the revolutionaries to revolutionise the labour movement; and Party and programme – minimum-maximum and transitional – on the agenda for a day school (date to be fixed). Next four-hander discussion: Friday March 17, to cover minimum-maximum and transitional programmes, and the nature of the ‘official communist’.

CPGB-AWL cooperation. 15.11.2001.

The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Alliance for Workers? Liberty are continuing to explore areas of theoretical difference and agreement, and are looking at the possibility of joint work. Representatives of the executive committee of the AWL and the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met recently to discuss a number of issues of current practical concern and issues of ongoing debate between the two organisations.

Alas.

The dalliance did not last, as this document (January 2003) indicates.

Followed by,

By Paul Hampton
The CPGB, those pretentious squirrels of left-wing tittle-tattle, outdid themselves by chickening out of a debate with the AWL over Iraq.

They have sought in vain to manufacture mischief with some AWL comrades who disagree with the group’s position on Iraq. After a series of private e-mails demanding that the AWL minority agitate to “clear out the leadership of the scabs”, the CPGB invited David Broder to debate with them at their overinflated “communist university”, under the title: troops out – but when? David referred the matter to the AWL office, which generously put up Sean Matgamna to speak for our politics.

The Weekly Worker responded in the shape of a piece by a certain Ian Donovan.

Workers’ Liberty: Descent into cultism

Ian Donovan assesses the current trajectory of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Being “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” Donovan one can imagine the angle he took on the Palestine Israel issue which divided the two groups.

Yet the vicarious-Zionist AWL has issued not one word of criticism or analysis of this ultra-reactionary phenomenon, which is one of the key, concrete manifestations of Zionism today.

He defended George Galloway,

the matter in hand is to defend Galloway against the bourgeois witch-hunt.

And,

Whether over Galloway, the question of the Iraq war, Israel-Palestine, the Socialist Alliance (where it has squandered an enormous opportunity to be joint initiators of a genuinely broad paper of a pro-party minority), the AWL is retreating headlong back into the most bizarre and unsavoury forms of sectarianism.

Our interest in this tale is waning, so I will end there, yet it remains etched on many a broken heart.

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Leftist Trainspotting Fun from Labour Party Marxists, from “bewildered” LRC, “silent Corbyn”, to AWL Stasi “busybodies”.

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Labour Party Marxist in the Thick of the Class Struggle.

The Irish Socialist Workers Party has dissolved itself into a “network”. “The change in name to Socialist Workers Network reflects a decision to focus on building People Before Profit, and within that to win and educate as many members as possible in revolutionary socialist politics.” (SW Ireland)

Now while the SWN is honest about what it is doing, and has good reasons to do so given that People Before Profit has some, limited, political presence, we cannot say the same for Labour Party Marxists.

This is from its mission statement,

  1. The central aim of Labour Party Marxists is to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the party.

No doubt about that  which it trumpets – if that’s the right word for declarations that practically nobody ever reads.

But  there’s nothing about LPM’s inks with the Weekly Worker and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC).

The Weekly Worker is a paper which produces some interesting material, some indeed very useful articles, but whose owners, said CPGB-PCC, have taste for political stunts not to mention an alliance with cascadeur  in chief, Tony ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein Party. 

Not much closest possible unity with the rest of the left from that quarter!

They have just issued a spate of articles on the site of Labour Party Marxists  which may perhaps indicate this….

Cde Stan Keable (today, 15th of February)  sums up last week’s Labour Representation Committee Meeting, 

Labour Representation Committee: Reduced to a think tank?

Around 120 Labour Representation Committee members gathered in London’s Conway Hall on February 10 for yet another angst-ridden ‘special’ general meeting (SGM), in which a bewildered leadership shared with its rank and file its own failure – like most of the left – to draw into membership or engage with the ‘radicalised’ mass intake of Corbyn supporters into the Labour Party.

Perhaps they ought to have debated this  other 15th of February recent article?

Clause 4: Why revive a stinking corpse?

Jack Conrad (Chamberlain) questions the worth of the ‘Labour4Clause4’ campaign being promoted by Socialist Appeal. Instead of fostering illusions in Fabian socialism, surely the task of Marxists is to win the Labour Party to Marxist socialism.

But the prize must go to this chef d’oeuvre by Carla Roberts, also on the 15th of February (a busy day for LPM indeed!)

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Roberts begins by citing the case of  “Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement” now embroiled in a corruption case after his swindles came to light. A particular gripe is that the Jewish Chronicle reported the affair in depth, “The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking”.

That over we get attacks on the real enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

 Jon Lansman ” who literally owns Momentum”. Selecting candidates for the Momentum list for Labour’s NEC, “Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear.”

And,

Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’.

At the conclusion there is the inevitable: The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, (AWL),

the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV.

Oddly some people in the Labour Party, including the left, are not fond of Labour Party Marxists or their antics.

But their drive to make the Labour Party into a Marxist Party, guided by their own interpretation of Lenin, proceeds apace.

Red-Brown Alliances: Russia, Ukraine, Syria, And The Western Left.

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Heroes of a certain far-right. 

 

The growth of political “confusionism”, the mixture of “conspi” (conspiratorial), nationalist, far-right and apparently ‘left-wing’  has been one of the features of the last years. This is one of the factors that has made overt anti-semitism an issue today.

Paul has indeed just retweeted this.

Tendance Coatesy has been amongst the Blogs which have covered this issue but this latest article is a landmark in setting both the context and the details (thanks to Jim for signaling this).

An Investigation Into Red-Brown Alliances: Third Positionism, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, And The Western Left.

ARoamingVagabond

Extracts,

On Some Obscure Strains Of Fascism

I will first provide some historical context by exploring the history of some lesser known forms of fascism which, unlike the majority of Western fascists who supported the United States’ anti-Communism during the Cold War, instead actively supported and rallied around the Soviet Union.

The European New Right

Yockey would become the ideological predecessorof the Third Position and the European New Right, among whose prominent members are Jean-Francois Thiriart, Alain de Benoist and Aleksandr Dugin. A main feature of the European New Right is its criticism of American imperialism and of the “economism” of liberalism and its attempt to form alliances or infiltrate far-left opponents of Western imperialism and globalization.

Third Positionist Fascism

Among the movements close to the European New Right is Third Positionism, a strand of fascism which stands in opposition to both capitalism and communism and has its origins in “classical” fascism and in the Strasser brothers.

Red-Browns in Russia

Russian National Bolshevism.

The LaRouche Movement

The LaRouchite Cult And Its Ideology

While LaRouche and his movement are easily dismissed as being a ludicrous group of weird conspiracy theorists and cranks, researchers Chip BerletMatthew Lyons and Matthew Feldmansaythis outward image acts as a smokescreen for the real nature of this organization: a violent fascistic cult which is an inciter of hate against Jewish and British people as well as presently the prime worldwide distributor coded anti-Jewish literature based on the anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Rodina and the Russian Imperial Movement, another Russian far-right party, organized the founding conference of the World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM), which Alexander Reid Ross calls an attempt at creating a fascist internationale [archive] (Ross should know better than publishing this on the red-brown cesspool that CounterPunch is though). The chairman of the WNCM was Yuriy Lyubomirskiy, a member of Rodina.

While Ross suggests the WCNM grew out of the conference organized by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia in 2014 (which I explore below in the post), Anton Shekhovtsov seems to be more accurate by asserting the WNCM as an outgrowth of the IRCF which had also been organized by Rodina that same year.

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party

Which thus leads to, obviously, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a fascist organisation founded in 1932 by Antun Saadeh, an admirer of Hitler who was well-acquainted in Nazism, and is described as a “Levantine clone of the Nazi party in almost every aspect”, being extremely anti-Semitic from its onset (which was about a decade before the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the creation of the colonial Israeli state), adopting a reversed swastika as party symbol and singing the party’s anthem to the tune ofDeutschland über Alles, the national anthem by the Nazi regime. Saadeh would later however come to openly deny his organisation was fascist following an attempt by the SSNP to obtain assistance in the form of military training from Nazi Germany was rejected by the then German consul to Syria, though his party never ceased to be a fascist organization in practice, as evidenced by a reactionary diatribe on the Facebook page of its Iraqi branch in 2017 railing against “Cultural Marxism”, political correctness and feminism [archive]

 

The SSNP, Fascists And Syria

Before the outbreak of the Syrian Revolution, the SSNP and the Lebanese branch of the Baath Party appear to have contributed interviews to an edition of Geopolitica in 2007 to which Claudio Mutti, Tiberio Graziani and Webster Tarpley also contributed to [archive]. The unsurprising result was that since the people’s uprising started in Syria, Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah media consistently ran a number of conspiracy theorists more or less close to the fascist network including William Engdahl[archive], Webster Tarpley [archive] (who was in Syria in 2011 [archive]), Chossudovsky [archive], Thierry Meyssan [archive] and Kevin Barrett [archive] who immediately branded the uprising as a Western plot.

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan started as a leftist in the 90s as a member of the French left-wing Parti Radical de Gauche, and founded the Voltaire Network as a source of investigations into the far-right and in support of secularism before moving into the milieu of conspiracy theories in the 2000s by publishing 9/11: The Big Lie and Pentagate, two conspiracist books alleging the 9/11 attacks had been done by the US military-industrial complex to find a pretext for a supposedly long-planned war on Afghanistan, and which were among the prime vehicles for 9/11 conspiracy theories worldwide.

The following years were marked by increasing anti-Semitism on the Voltaire Network, with former members testifying administrators were speaking of “Jewish lobbies” and branded Jewish members of the Network involved in Palestinian solidarity as “Zionists” due to the influence of red-brown militants advocating for querfronts against Western imperialism, and Meyssan seeking to obtain financing from various authoritarian states. In 2005, Meyssan admitted Claude Karnoouh, a Holocaust denier, to the administrative council of the Voltaire Network during a general assembly where an anti-Semitic movie by Dieudonné Mbala Mbala was played.

[Note: Dieudonné Mbala Mbala, more commonly known as simply Dieudonné, started as a left-wing anti-racist activist opposed to the French National Front in the 90s before moving to the far-right in the 2000s, associating with neo-fascist Alain Soral and allying to Jean-Marie le Pen (who became the godfather of Dieudonné’s daughter), platformingHolocaust denier Robert Faurisson and disparaging Holocaust memorial in 2008, and wishing atrocities committed during the Holocaust on a Jewish celebrity in 2013, following which his shows were banned.]

People really should read the article for the details.

These are some other elements:

Some Strange American Stalinist Parties

The Workers World Party (WWP)

The Workers World Party is a small Stalinist party formed out of a faction led by Sam Marcy which split in 1958 from the Socialist Workers Party, a US Trotskyist party, due to disagreements between Marcy’s faction’s support for the Chinese revolution and the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolution, which was at odds with the positions of the SWP.

Cynthia McKinney

The WWP has worked with Cynthia McKinney, a former US Congressperson for the Democratic Party with a history of 9/11 conspiracism and outright anti-Semitism. McKinney has been close to the vice-president of the LaRouche Movement’s Schiller Institute [archive] Amelia Boynton Robinson[archive] since 2005, and in 2009 she wrote an article blaming George Soros of plotting to install a “one-world government” [archive] (another form of far-right “New World Order” conspiracy theories) before later blaming the “Zionists” for her electoral failure after she ran for the 2008 US Presidential elections as candidate for the US Green Party (which was endorsed by the WWP [archive]).

We see a familiar figure pop up here:

The Strange Case Of Sputnik Radio

Brian Becker, the aforementioned co-founder and co-leader of the PSL and National Coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition happens to have a show, called Loud & Clear on Sputnik (whose French branch openly collaborates with far-right members in the orbit of the National Front and GRECE), which premiered in December 2015. Becker’s fellow PSL member Walter Smolarek is a producer for the show..

George Galloway, former MP of the British Labour Party and staunch supporter of Saddam Hussein…..

This is the conclusion,

In a report for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Martin A. Lee warns of the possibility of a resurgence of fascism under hidden forms, especially in the context where fascist critiques overlap with genuine left-wing radical critiques of globalization, and unfortunately the PSL and the WWP have knowingly worked to enable this.

As radical leftist anti-fascists, anti-racists, anti-colonialists, anti-Zionists and anti-capitalists struggling for liberation, we can fight against imperialism, against racism, against fascism at the same time, and we can oppose the American war machine and oppose colonialism without siding with reactionary and oppressive entities. We can support liberation in Palestine, Bahrain, India, Venezuela and everywhere else where people are struggling against oppression without allying to fascists or allowing them to try co-opting our movements. Unfortunately sections of the radical movement have failed or have been purposely misled by crypto-fascists.

Having started writing this post on the centenary of the Russian Revolution and published it today, exactly 99 years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht by counter-revolutionary forces within the so-called “Left”, even as protests are rocking Tunisia on the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the Arab Spring, I have only one thing to say: we badly need to do better, comrades.

Comment.

There is doubtless a lot of detail to be added about the European left, from the backing for the sovereigntist side in the EU Referendum, the ‘left’ groups in the UK who backed Putin over Ukraine,   to the sympathies of some for the Assad regime.

On the Russian link see (a rather exaggerated account but with some truth): Don’t ignore the left! Connections between Europe’s radical left and Russia. PÉTER KREKÓ and LÓRÁNT GYŐRI. 

More specifically there is this episode:  Trotskyism’ in Wonderland: ‘Workers Power’ and Ukraine.

On Syria see one contribution in French,  Syrie – Légitimité de l’action de Poutine et d’Assad : une narration du conflit syrien à l’épreuve des faits .

There is equally this on the Nationalist Arab Brigades fighting for Assad, la Garde nationaliste arabe (GNA),  La garde panarabe de Bachar Al-Assad  Quatre brigades aux noms symboliques. Nicolas Dot-Pouillard. Le Monde Diplomatique January 2018. The author notes how the volunteers from across the Arab world are now in groups which miux arab nationalism, a degree of ‘socialism’, with Islamic identity. 

A valuable overview from a Francophone perspective  is available here from our friends at Mondialisme:  Extrême gauche/Extrême droite. Inventaire de la confusion (6) Convergences inattendues and the articles here: 36-37 : Extrême droite, extrême gauche : Inventaire de la confusion.

Not to mention here:   Liste non exhaustive des sites conspirationnistes et confusionnistes.

You can start with, Alan Soral and  the site  Égalité et Réconciliation. 

Read the post…..

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2018 at 12:41 pm

The British Communist Party and the Soviet Union. An Introduction.

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“Stalin, whose great work tends to undervalued today, was a great creative statesman, however much he may have blundered in his later years. It is doubtful whether any less determined leadership would have laid the foundations of socialism.”

John Lewis. Socialism and the Individual. Lawrence and Wishart. 1961.

“The achievements of socialism, once a distant dream, are now a reality for all to see, in many countries of the world.”

The British Road To Socialism. Communist Party Programme. 1968.

Nick Cohen recently wrote of “Corbyn surrounding himself with aides from the Communist Party of Britain and the fragments of the Socialist Workers Party. (9.12.17. Observer). We can largely dismiss the histrionic overtones of the columnist’s polemic. But what is he talking about? Many on the left are familiar with the SWP, or at least its placards. Even the Taafites, who have taken to imitating the hand-held-poster-road-to-socialism have a degree of public recognition, as “formerly the Militant.”

Yet apart from an awareness that the organisation exists, about 1,000 strong, and that it dominates the small circulation but widely read in the labour movement, Morning Star, the views of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) are not widely known even on the left.

The fate of the unpublished letters to the Guardian by one of the CPB’s leading representatives, Nick Wright, further indicates a lack of interest in the left of centre MSM (Last month’s unpublished letters to the Guardian).

This short introduction hopes to remedy the gap.

To begin any discussion of the Party (usually capitalised in their documents) one has to start with….Communism. As Evan Smith has underlined, “The Communist Party of Britain was, and remains, probably the most significant party that was sympathetic to the Soviet Union and Soviet-styled Marxism-Leninism.” (1)

John Lewis and the 1960s editions of the British Road to Socialism indicate that strong support for the Soviet Union was long dominant in the party the CPB came out of, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). This continued right up till the 1970s, with party members (I am citing personal experience) reading Soviet Weekly and Sputnik. This is not the place to describe the clashes which ended in the dissolution of the Party in 1991 and the processes that led to the CPB foundation in 1988. The strand we concentrate is their position, post refoundation, on the USSR.

In a section of the present edition of the (CPB) British Road to Socialism – devoted to the reasons for the end of the Soviet Union – it is asserted that,

Russia and the other countries of the Soviet Union were transformed from semi-feudal, semi-capitalist monarchist dictatorships into modern societies with near-full employment, universally free education and healthcare, affordable housing for all, extensive and cheap public transport, impressive scientific and cultural facilities, rights for women and degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities. This was achieved through a world historic break with capitalist ownership and social relations, on the basis of social ownership of industry and centralised economic planning.This was achieved through a world historic break with capitalist ownership and social relations, on the basis of social ownership of industry and centralised economic planning. (2)

The CPB’s account of how they came to consider flaws in this praiseworthy society, (from “full employment” “social ownership”, to “degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities”) is set out in The Communist Party 1920–2010 (Robert Griffiths, the present Party General Secretary, and Ben Stevenson). It is as follows,

“the downfall of the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe compelled Britain’s Communists – and serious Marxists everywhere – to analyse the reasons for counter-revolution.”

“The reconvened 41st Congress of the CP in November 1992 made its assessment; ‘The root cause if the collapse lay in the particular forms of economic and political structure which developed in the Soviet Union. Specifically, the great mass of working people came to be progressively excluded from any direct control over their economic and social destiny. This erosion of the very essence of socialism increasingly affected all aspects of Soviet society’.” (3)

The build up to this statement is outlined in the Hateful of History article already cited. The Morning Star had begun to lay out this view during the collapse of the Soviet Union. They flagged up the,

….authoritarian straitjacket’ that was ‘suffocating’ the Soviet Union was a theme returned to repeatedly in the Morning Star’s reporting on the final days of the Soviet Bloc. While the paper and the CPB commended the Soviet Union for transforming Russia ‘from its state of backwardness in 1917’ into ‘a highly industrialised state with enormous potential’ and defeated the Nazis in the Second World War, it criticised the ‘inertia of the bureaucratic-command system that it created’ and argued that during the Cold War, this centralised command economy ‘ultimately stultified social development and limited the democratic participation of the people.’ (4)

Stalin.

What did they have to say about Stalin’s rule? The Communist Party 1920 – 2010 states, that for its admirers, it had its good side, “For much of the 1930s, the Soviet Union had appeared a bastion of peace and stability amid a world of mass unemployment, fascist aggression and colonial exploitation, Communists everywhere helped publicise its enormous economic, scientific and cultural achievements.” (5)

On the Terror and the Gulag they wrote principally about the Moscow Trials, “When respected lawyers, politicians and diplomats attended the Moscow Show trials and confirmed that the defendants had indeed confessed to being members of a ‘Trotsky-fascist;’ campaign of espionage and subversion, Britain’s Communists were not alone in believing that such plots had indeed existed.” (6)

It was only after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had taken place, and Khrushchev revealed the extent of the horrors, many Communists around the world were shocked to learnt that violations of socialist democracy and human rights had taken place on such a scale.”(7) Despite this, and the armed Soviet intervention in Hungary to “protect the socialist state”, “For many Party members, the class struggle at home provided reason enough to stay” (Ibid).

The section following the favourable account of the Soviet Union’s achievements, in the British Road to Socialism (reprised and modified by the CPB) ,  makes this side of their analysis of the Soviet Union clear “‘a bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule became entrenched. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working class and popular democracy. Marxism-Leninism was used dogmatically to justify the status quo rather than make objective assessments of it.At times, and in the late 1930s in particular, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred. Large numbers of people innocent of subversion or sabotage were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the world-wide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism. (8)

Most readers will have seen that the statement avoids saying why the predecessors of the CPB, the CPGB, and its fellow travellers, avoided a global critique of the USSR, from the pre-war period up to the 1980s. The reason is perhaps too obvious to state: they supported the Soviet system. That was the reason why the Communist Party existed. While the CPGB (at least after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968) allowed partial criticisms of Moscow policy, the current that became the CPB was founded on the idea that it was part of a ‘world historic break’ with capitalism. When it comes down to it, it claim that, however much it may have lacked “popular democracy”, the actually existing form of the “concept” of ‘Socialism’ had to be defended against “lies and distortions”.

Marxism-Leninists’ own History.

The ‘science’ of Marxism-Leninism is a poor guide to the thinking of the CPB. A sceptic would remark that the history Griffiths and Stevenson present, is a projection backwards into the minds of those who in the 1930s gloried in the Socialist Sixth of the World and would not recognise that they had been wrong. But to conjure up, today, the hopes raise by the defeat of Nazi Germany with the USSR’s decisive contribution, and the spread of the ‘socialist’ social system in Eastern Europe and the victory of the People’s Liberation Army in China is not a help to understanding the history of the Soviet Union. This is an account by those willing to put blinkers over their eyes faced with the evidence of Soviet repression that came out in the post war years trying to retrospectively justify their forebears.

There are reasons not to off hand dismiss the account.  If we take this imaginative step further we can see that our resurrected Communist activist of the past would have had other reasons for not listening to those opposed to Stalinism. As Paul Flewers has pointed out, during the 1930s, that to admit faults in the homeland of socialism would have been to agree with the Right, even the far-right which they could see only too well in Nazi Germany and Italy. In Britain, he writes, it was largely from the “many “traditional anti-Communists” who pointed to the mass murder and “extreme authoritarian rule” in the USSR. While there were reservations about Stalin by social democratic and Labour figures there were only isolated critics from the left. Indeed, “the idea that the “Soviet regime under Stalin was essentially a conservative counter-revolutionary force – was seldom is ever publicly broached in the political mainstream, and only occasionally elsewhere.”(9)

After the Second World War this tendency was reinforced. Even with evidence and acknowledgement of mass repression there were earnest debates amongst French intellectuals like Merleau- Ponty (Humanisme et terreur. 1947) and in the following decade around Jean Paul Sartre’s  Les communistes et la paix (1952)  over whether Stalinist terror was justified in the name of building a communist future. Flewers points out that the Communist defence of the Soviet Union continued during the Cold War, when polarisation of opinion meant that many on the left continued to feel that they had to “take sides”. It was in this context that John Lewis offered a defence of the “justified” use of “compulsion by a “constitutionally elected Socialist government” and qualified but “globally positive” picture of Stalin in laying the ‘foundations’ of socialism. (10)

It was not just on the Communist Party that people believed that some kind of ‘jump’ into a different social system, socialism, had taken place in the years following the October Revolution. The existence of the USSR, followed by China and other ‘socialist states’ was considered part of the progressive development of history. This held even for those who considered that the Soviet regime was “deformed” or “degenerated”. This thinking continues to inform many in the orthodox Trotskyist movement, which has had almost as may difficulties coming to terms with the collapse of Official Communism as its Stalinist opponents.

The Linear History that the USSR Failed to Follow.

One interpretation of Marxism, which goes back to Engels, is that modes of production exist in a “linear” schema”. In this view the USSR was a society in “transition” through forms of collective ownership, and a socialist transformation of social relations, towards a new mode of production, communism. This was accepted even by many of those who criticised the way this change was enforced by a party bureaucracy. By the revolutionary advance to power by a proletarian party, the Bolsheviks began the transformation of the relations of production and distribution by the exercise of workers’ power.

From a variety of standpoints a “detour” back towards capitalism could only happen by a “counter-revolution”, that is in terms not far off the CPB’s broad analysis. Marcel Van der Linden’s Western Marxists and the Soviet Union (2007) describes this as the “unilinear” approach: once you began this “world historic break”, a new social trajectory (social ownership of the means of production you were embarked on a voyage. How it fared was up to those in control of the helm. But the trip had started.

Outside of this consensus a miniature galaxy of critical left wing theories on the nature of the Soviet Union which was built, including those who challenged the premise of this assertion, that Lenin’s Bolsheviks ever embodied the interests or the views or the working class.

However, as der Linden describes, the unilinear approach faded away for other reasons. Gradually the ‘sequence”, or proceeding along a line, picture of the USSR as undergoing a ‘stage’ in world history, not least “towards” anything at all, had been eroded. And study after study shed light on the social and economic reality of the state and its satellites were written, as literary and historical studies of the Gulag appeared, the magic of a new world had evaporated. The determination in the last instance was economic, “Increasingly dominant in all currents of thought became the idea that the Soviet Union had embodied a model of economic growth which, although it had initially been successful using extensive methods of industrialisation and extra-economic coercion, could not maintain its economic and military position in the competition with ‘globalising’ world capitalism, because of growing inefficiencies and the absence of a transition to intensive growth.” (11) Eric Hobsbawm expressed a similar thought more directly, “The tragedy of the October revolution was that it could only produce its kind of ruthless, brutal, command socialism. (12)

Labour Totalitarians?

One can criticise the CPB for its failure to come to terms with more than the surface difficulties which were, by the time the Soviet Union collapse, no secret. One can attack their inability to see that there was more at stake than “errors” and authoritarian rule that is commands on the basis of the science of Marxism-Leninism or arbitrary legal producers. It is right to deny them the comfort of believing that they were serving the cause of the future, a location in which communism is to come. But one thing they cannot be accused of it is complete blindness.

Andrew Murray, until recently a member of the CPB, and now, it is said, a key Labour actor, is one of those, one can assume targeted by Cohen. But is he culpable of endorsing the Soviet Union’s totalitarian terror? This is not the case. Murray written of the Stalinist period, “The killing of former oppositionists is now known to have been a small part of a very much larger and more horrifying operation.” And, “Stalin was both greater and more terrible than Trotsky knew. He is long since indicted with vast crimes” (13).

The difficulty is, and remains there, is that Murray, reflecting a view expressed many times elsewhere, also observes, “The USSR won the war and Stalin emerged stronger than ever, with socialism spreading to half of Europe and much of Asia, perhaps the most significant of the many circumstances which left Trotskyism without Trotsky stillborn as a major political movement.” (Ibid) It is not Trotskyism to comment that until the CPB and those still wrapped in its way of thinking that calls such states ‘socialist’. You can indeed can them anything you like, you can invent, he suggests a “new political vocabulary”. But but very few are going to want to admire, still less emulate, these ‘socialist’ regimes or their legacy, today. (14)

********

(1) The Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star and the legacy of the Soviet Union. Dr Evan Smith.  Hatful of History.
(2) Britain’s Road to Socialism. 8th Edition. 2011.
(3) Page 41.The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Robert Griffiths and Ben Stevenson. Communist Party History Group. 2010.
(4) The Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star and the legacy of the Soviet Union.
(5) Page 15. The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op Cit.
(6) Page 16. The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op cit.
(7) Page 26.The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op cit.
(8) Britain’s Road to Socialism. 8th Edition. 2011.
(9) Page 221 The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union 1929 – 1941. Paul Flewers. Francis Boule. 2008. To illustrate this point further a key text from an early Menshevik critic of Lenin, Fedor Il’ich Dan’s Two years of Wandering, (1922) has only recently appeared in English (translated by Francis King. 2016). Some other important works, such as the first hand account of the rise of the Stalinist system, published in French by the dissident leftist circle round Boris Souvarine, notably Vers l”autre flamme après seize mois dans l”U.R.S.S., Panaït Istrati.(1929) remain largely unknown in the English speaking world
(10) Page 79. Socialism and the Individual. Lawrence and Wishart. 1961.
(11) Page 303. Marcel Van der Linden. Western Marxism and the Soviet Union. Brill. 2007.
(12) Page 498. Eric Hobsbawm. Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century 1914 – 1991. Abacus 1994.
(13) Trotsky on Stalin. Andrew Murray. October 2016.

(14) For some of the many reasons, the tragic wrecked lives in the former Soviet Union given voice in Second-hand time : the last of the Soviets. Aleksievich, Svetlana. (Translated by Shayevich, Bela). Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2016.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

The Morning Star and the Left. “Why I will no longer write for the Morning Sta. Rabbil Sikdar.”

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The Morning Star Newspaper by Party9999999

Paper of a Faction of the left?

Some people on the left, more than a few at any rate, read the Morning Star.

It has good labour movement, that is trade union, reports. There are useful articles about social issues, like Universal Credit. There is proper reporting on the goings on of  those privateers trying to milk profit from second rate public services and those demanding rent for providing utilities.

The daily is accessible, and has a human side, even if not everybody would wish to follow the recipes of hard-line vegetarian Commie Chef (typical: take 200 grams of brown organic rice. Boil. Serve with grated turnip).

Following Andrew Murray’s use of the paper to launch a factional bid to readmit George Galloway to the Labour Party questions are being asked about the paper’s  ‘broad’ remit.

The Star is clear about where it is coming from – if your read the fine print,

Since 1945 the paper has been owned by a broad-based readers’ co-operative, the People’s Press Printing Society (PPPS). The paper’s editorial line remains anchored in the political programme of the Communist Party of Britain but it offers a broad left perspective on political, industrial and international issues.”

More ambitiously it describes itself as the People’s Daily and, often, as the paper of The Left.

To critics the daily is in fact the paper of a small section of the left, the pro-Brexit, pro-Assad Left with more than a few bees in its bonnet about Israel and a tolerant (though not uncritical) attitude towards Russia’s President Putin.

Rabbil Sikdar launched a relevant attack on this left a few months ago in the Huffington Post.

The Left Are Losing Their Internationalism

It’s the left that backs Brexit and the left that can witness a massacre take place and deny its existence if the west wasn’t responsible for it. It’s the left who will criticise the USA and Saudi Arabia but ignore Russia and Iran. To them, it’s futile to criticise others and more useful instead to focus on one’s own government and allies. Theresa May and the Tories are rightly criticised for indulging Saudi Arabia despite their treatment of women yet Jeremy Corbyn has never been criticised for taking money from Press TV, the state channel for Iran – a country that violently represses gays and women. When it comes to ethical consistency in foreign policy and relations, the left are dangerously wayward. Oz Katerji, a journalist, explained this to me as “hypocrisy based on outdated ideological assumptions about the world where discussing our international responsibility to protect civilians from harm, a fundamental precept of international law, is gas-lighted as British imperialism.”

He concldued,

Genocide happens and parts of the left simply erase it on a consistent basis. I dialled down my criticisms of Corbyn after 8th June but it’s immoral to remain silent over something as important as this. The Labour Party is becoming a political home for awful genocide apologists and it runs right through to the leader himself.

It is far from the case that the Labour Party, and the Corbyn leadership can be so brutally accused.

What might be true is that the Labour leader, like everybody else, has no easy answer to the problems of violence across the world.

It is equally the case that this left is not the left.

There are many, from radical left groups to left-wing defenders of human rights who would not recognise themselves in Sikdar’s broadside.

But there is a section of the left, which has a stand about a key area that matters a great deal at present – Syria – which is at odds with basic human rights politics.

Sikdar focused last year on Syria in an  attack the embodiment of this left, the Morning Star.

His views had all the more force in that it is a paper he had written for.

Why I will no longer write for the Morning Star Rabbil Sikdar

I wear my socialism on my sleeves and will never shy away from that. Every Political Compass test has me basically nailed down as a ‘hard left’ person. The things I believe in, radical to some, sensible to others define my sense of socialism: fair wages, fair taxes, strong public sector, social housing and a compassionate welfare system.

He announced,

 I no longer write for the Star and for a while had been winding down my contribution. By the end it was just sport content because of my respect for the sports editor. For the other part, I have a lot of things to be angry about with the Star.

For a newspaper that subscribes to left wing values, that should include free speech and right to criticise politicians. Unfortunately this never extended to criticism of Corbyn’s failing leadership, or Diane Abbott; it didn’t include the ‘Lexit’ vote — and where it mattered most crucially, it did not include Russia and Assad.

The paper has never criticised the Assad regime or Putin. Lines that go along with “we’re no fans of the Assad regime but…” are poor condemnations. In fact, they’re not condemnations at all. Someone recently described it quite well as imagining defenders of the British Empire dismissing the Amritsar Massacre. Likewise, saying “we condemn all bombings” gravely misunderstands who is doing the bombing and draws a false equivalence between aggressive actors and those responding to the violence. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported in 2015 that the Assad regime was responsible for more than 10,000 deaths. ISIS, for all their barbarism, had killed just over a thousand. Since then, those statistics have continued in underlining the basic fact that Assad — backed up by Russia — has been responsible for the brutal carnage.

And this,

One of their long-time contributors John Wight, a staunch unwavering supporter of Assad and Russia, called me a “liberal apologist for murder” (paraphrasing here) in a heated Facebook row. It led to one of the editors apologising to me, but it was then I began noticing something.

Wight is known to this Blog as a former author at Socialist Unity, until he fell out with Andy Newman.

Always a bit of an amateur military strategist Wight now produces material for Putin’s Sputnik.

It is a relief to find him anti-Brexit, but as for the rest, well,

The launch of the military operation to liberate Idlib province in northwestern Syria brings with it the prospect of a final military victory over Salafi-jihadi terror groups in the country, which congregated there upon the liberation of Aleppo back in January.

Together with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the country, it is evidence that the conflict has entered its last stage.

Sputnik.

That aside, the chief, and most significant complaint, is what Sikdar “began noticing” – the following,

Whenever I wrote articles that were critical of Assad and Putin, they were never published. I never even got responses on them. Other times articles had lines critical of Assad tweaked, removed entirely often. I wrote a football article about the Middle East, talking about Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and also Syria. The point about Syria was enough to get the entire article pulled. What was the point? “In Syria, the Civil War saw the football destroyed. Players and coaches took sides, willingly or reluctantly, Assad or the pro-democracy rebels. There were more who were neutral. Others left the country, compelled by intimidation or fear for safety. Some players such as Musab Balhous were imprisoned for supposedly helping rebels. More left because they came to regard the Syrian national team as associated with Assad…Incidentally, though the league system has been resuscitated, the power has shifted, tilting towards clubs in Damascus who are free from Assad’s ruthless bombing. Since the league was restarted, the last two titles have gone to Al-Shorta and Al-Jaish, clubs from the capital. Those from rebel-based cities have suffered immensely.” Again, this paper failed to acknowledge even the slightest of criticisms of Assad. Why?

Sikhar concludes,

My anti-imperialism is consistent and just as with my socialism, it’s not something I’ll ever apologise for. It applies to America and Russia. Saudi Arabia and Iran. Assad’s Syria and Netanyahu’s Israel. It doesn’t excuse and apologise for a genocidal fascist simply because USA are on the opposite side and because he’s a secularist. We measure the barbarism and cruelty of ISIS by the thousands they have killed. Well, Assad has killed hundreds of thousands. But the Star would have us believe this man is a “liberator”. And they would silence internal criticisms within the paper.

Perhaps they will answer.

For us we would also ask: is the Morning Star the paper of the Left or a faction of the left?

If it has tried to open its pages to a wider range of writers is it, on Syria (and we can be sure, on Brexit) it has, on this evidence, begun to narrow their selection down.

A much more recent example was their indulgence of Andrew Murray and his cracked call for George Galloway to be admitted into the Labour Party.

No doubt they do not fit with the “political programme of the CPB” “people’s sovereignty” and all  the stale remains of the British Road to Socialism…..

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm

The Origins of Reformism: Les Hommes Révoltés. Les origins intellectuelles du réformisme en France (1871 – 1917). Emmanuel Jousse.

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Les Hommes Révoltés. Les origins intellectuelles du réformisme en France (1871 – 1917). Emmanuel Jousse. Fayard. 2017.

Reforms, reformism, and socialism, are words so familiar on the left that few pause to unpick their meaning. In the wake of the Russian Revolution the critique of ‘reformism’ in the name of that conquest of power was adopted by Western Communist Parties and more widely adopted by other sections of the radical left. In France, Jousse begins Les Hommes révoltés, the “passion révolutionnaire” of the left could be considered an overwhelming force, in opposition to “raison réformatrice”. Reasoned reforms, government acts to improve social conditions onwards, were considered second best, or worse, in comparison to the total transformation of society.

Revolutionary ardour, at its peak in the identification of the Bolsheviks and Jacobins formed the “architecture” of the 20th century French left. It may have faded; its ‘moral primacy’ tainted by Stalinism. Yet, as Marc Lazar, who introduces the present work, has remarked, the imprint of the “culture communiste” remains. (1) Some of this residual scepticism towards promised reforms is not, one might consider, always a bad thing. One of the consequences of the defeat of the Presidency of François Hollande, and his avowedly reformist Socialist team, by Emmanuel Macron and his movement En marche! is to throw – the previous and the incoming President’s record justifies, the term ‘reform’ again into discredit.

Reformist Origins.

Les Hommes révoltés is about the roots of socialist reformism. That is, it gives the term meaning by showing the development of reformisms on the French left before the Leninist scission took place.. It is an historical reconstruction of the early years of French socialism when the movement took shape in a recognisably modern form, when themes of sexual equality, workers’ rights social protection and welfare were first advanced. It is also about the politics very un-modern Third Republic in which women had no vote, workers’ could not freely organise, and there was nothing resembling social security. A ‘notable’ dominated Republicanism dominated the political culture and a Right that could trace their symbols and culture back to the 18th century.

The study, developed from a doctorate, offers a richly documented account of key moments in the development of the French left. It is “contextualist”, inspired by the methods of Quentin Skinner, to recreate the conventions in which these figures developed their ideas, and carried out their political acts. Against a backdrop of dominant republicanism on the left, the 1870s saw more radical forces, socialists, coalesce around ‘collectivism’, and then torn apart by the fall-out from disputes in the First International, and their own ideological differences. Marx’s name sometimes appeared as something of a battle cry, or hissing-and-by word, rather than a serious doctrinal dividing line. Jousse indicates, though has no need to set out at length, that French socialism, like its counterparts in British radicalism and the labour movement, had its socialist and republican writers and no pressing need to refer to Marxism,

In this lucidly set out framework Jousse introduces portraits of figures, some unfamiliar to many on the left today, such as the ‘possibilist’, Paul Brousse, Benoît Malon, editor of La Revue Socialiste, and one of Marx’s first translators but also the advocate of a non-Marxist “socialisme intégrale”. In later parts of the book there is a sustained account of the first, controversial French Socialist Minister Alexandre Millerand. There are many appearances from Jean Jaurès. Towards the end the Minister of Armaments in the War-time Union Sacrée, Albert Thomas, whose connections with the educated elite and proto- ‘think-tanks’ marks him out, in Jousse’s eyes, as not too distant to contemporary reformist politicians.

For those already partly familiar with the disputes that pre-existed and followed the creation of the Parti Ouvrier français (POF) in 1879, any detailed account may seem daunting. That, for its brief united life (3 years), it was not a party in the modern sense but a federation of different currents and local groups adds to the potential for getting lost. (2)

But Jousse is adept in separating the wheat from the chaff. Some description of the 5 tendencies that emerged in the initial stages of French socialism is on any judgement inevitable. While the centre of gravity is Brousse’s reformist and non-Marxist Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France (FTSF), other actors appear, Guesdists (after Jules Guesde, the leader of the ‘orthodox’ Marxists)) the Allemanists (after Jean Allemane, federalist working class revolutionaries), the supporters of Éduouard Vaillant (who owed something to the last representative of the pure ‘insurrectionist’ tradition, Auguste Blanqui) and the ‘independents’ whose best known figure was Jean Jaurès. Their history is followed up to and after the creation of the unified socialist party the SFIO, in 1905.

Les Hommes Révoltés is also a guide to the potentials these politicians, activists and thinkers offered, within the supple contours of French socialism. The importance of “public services”, which the ‘reformist’ wing began to create wherever they could, offers a thread which connects to democratic socialists today. Not so appealing perhaps are the writings of from the period, as shown in the rarity of enduring texts beyond the articles that appeared in the Revue Socialiste. Malon’s books may indicate why. A British writer at the time described, not inaccurately to one who has ploughed through it, the Histoire du socialisme (1882), as “a crude heap of undigested theories”. (3)

While, as the author underlines, the prospect of a French Labour Party emerging from the organised workers’ movement never got off the ground, the various socialist parties has close links with trade unions. These included affiliations with the multiplicity of trade and craft associations, as well as less warm relations with ‘mutualists’ and the cooperative movement who were often, in the tradition of Proudhon, hostile to political parties as such. Despite their splits the French left had by the following decades succeeded in winning council seats wider social influence, and it had entered the National Assembly.

Le Cas Millerand.

Another is the account of the Alexandre Millerand controversy, the entry of a self-proclaimed reformist socialist into a government of Republican Defence during the fall-out from the Dreyfus Affair. That the same Cabinet contained, Gaston de Galliffet, the butcher of elderly Communards in 1871, was far from a “légende noire”. It was a living memory for many French socialists, including survivors of the Commune such as Vaillant. A large part of the socialist movement recoiled from this appointment.

Jousse traces a whole series of differences that underlay the row. These involved opposing stands on how to defend republican legality – Dreyfus – against the anti-Semitic right, to the necessity of compulsory ‘mandating’ of socialist MPs At the same time this point of principle tended, Jousse emphasises, to be confounded with wider questions within the international socialist movement. Was Millerand a French Bernstein, a “revisionist”? The fact that pure Marxist economics, rather than a general vision of class struggle, played a marginal, if any, part in French socialist politics, still less the Bernstein controversy over capitalist “break-down” and the capacity of capitalism to adapt and continue developing the productive forces, and should have ruled the comparison doubtful.

By contrast there is little doubt that the reformists, Millerand at the fore, did have something in common with the German revisionists. They preferred improvements in the here and now to promises about the future. Jousse manages to establish Millerand’s work in his post as Minister of Commerce and Industry, labour reforms within the limited competence of a “non-Régalian”, that is, without independent powers and budgets post. He set up a network of committed advisers and operated closely with trade unions and co-operative associations. As such his work was not seen by all the socialist grass roots as “treason” (Page 250) On the evidence presented, the wide social basis of this support, cannot be dismissed, as Leninists used to do, as the “aristocracy of labour”.

This, is we are to believe Les Hommes Révoltés was perhaps a first effort at establishing a socialism capable of putting ideas into practice. It used the tools of solid research and the ability to listen to voices on the ground. Lacking the practitioners’ own words – he notes that Millerand’s text Le Socialisme réformiste francais (1903) barely measures up to the British Fabian’s own self-consciousness of this role, he constructs on himself. That is, that an “open socialism”, found in this reformist past,  needs something of Jürgen Habermas’ programme of agreement and rational discussion. That debate can be the ground for advancing the common good in a socialist direction through government – local and national – action.

A more sceptical reader might point to the way that key figures in French reformist socialism, from Millerand to the Minister for Armaments, Albert Thomas, were not known for impassioned rationality during the patriotic hysteria of the Great War. One might add that there is a short distance from technical help to technocrat, and that a public domain free of the operation of constraints on rationality of private profit and irreconcilable passions still has to be created.

Landmark.

Les Hommes Révoltés is a landmark in studies of socialist history. It is elegantly written with the clarity that shows the French language at its best. In his opening words and conclusion Jousse also attempts to establish the moral credentials of socialist reformism, in the tradition of Albert Camus’ l’homme révolté (1951) from which his present study draws its name. That is, the stand (“la pensée du midi”, the anti-authoritarian thought of the South)) that revolt against existing conditions, for a better world, has to be wedded to respect for others, the central value of individual autonomy and choice, and above all a refusal to sacrifice lives in the name of History or in a civil war. Whatever else, these are inspiring, thoughtful, goals.

****

(1) Conclusion. Le communisme une passion française. Marc Lazar. Perrin. 2005. For the clearest identification between the most radical moment of the French Revolution and Bolshevism see: Bolchévisme et Jacobinisme. Albert Mathiez. 1920.

(2) On the formulation of the famous programme of that party, generally ascribed to the dominant influence of Marx and Engels, he suggests that the pair may have served only as one inspiration amongst others (Pages 97 – 99) It could be that some further details on the troubled past between Brousse and Marx – including the reformist’s anti-authoritarian anarchist original dislike of Marxism – would help clarify the stakes at hand. . The importance of this research can be seen in that the Penguin Edition of Marx’s Writings, The First International and After. Political Writings Volume 3. 1974, asserts Marx’s authorship Page 376. The programme which contains key references to democratic liberties in its ‘minimum’ section, has long represented a thread is often cited by Marxists who defend human rights.

(3) Page 403. The Choice of Books. Frederic Harrison  1886.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Catalan Elections: Far-Left (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), CUP, loses half of its support in Latest Poll.

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Far-Left CUP Slumps.

Nothing is settled about the result of the Catalan regional vote on the 21st of December.

In the last poll intentions to participate in the vote ( 82%) the Catalan nationalists (ERC, Jx Cat and CUP) have largely retained support and would have I seat over the absolute majority needed to control the Parliament (69 just over 68). La Vanguardia.

Rising support for the Catalan Socialists (up from 16 seats to 22), and above all the centre party Ciutadans/Ciudadanos(25 to 30 t0 31) remain important trends.

Podemos allies,Catalunya en Comú–Podem, are down from 11 to 8.

But the most dramatic shift is the halving of  support for the ‘left nationalists’ of CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), from 10 to 5.

CUP likes to claim that it was a key player in the declaration of independence by Spain’s most prosperous reasons, tired of paying for poorer areas and anxious to assert its cultural identity.

It also claims to represent radical leftist economic views, ecological policies, feminism, and part of social movements. As such is regarded by some in the rest of Europe as  part of the “rise of new left and progressive forces” .

Those unsympathetic  have described it as follows, “La CUP es una amalgama de siglas de pequeños grupos que están en continua ebullición y permanentemente en tensión” – an amalgam of acronyms for small groups which are at a non-stop boiling point, and permanently in friction with each other.” (The liberal digital newspaper, El Confidential).

The alliance indeed includes many different factions,  some of whom it describes as Trotskyist. The International Marxist Tendency (Grantists) promote “Endavant, calls himself a Marxist and fights for a Catalan Socialist Republic” others which have been listed include Poble Lliure and, in an earlier Blog post here, En Lucha (tied to the British SWP), Corriente Roja (section of the IWL,  Morenoist), Lucha internacionalista (La Unidad Internacional de los Trabajadores (UIT-CIand Revolta Global-Esquerra anticapitalist which has links with the Izquierda anticapitalista and the Mandelite Fourth International,various activist campaigning groups, the original and important Occupy Movement in Spain, the Indignados, (not the US counterpart), the peasant  Pagesos per la Dignitat Rural Catalana. Okupas (Occupy, on housing and land issues),  self-managed social centres, (CSOA).

The impression one gets, apart from the fact that their policies are nationalist, is that this is a fine collection of odd balls.

The CUP participated at last week’s demonstration in Brussels in favour of Catalan nationalist demands (La CUP serà demà a Brussel·les per denunciar la repressió de l’Estat espanyol contra els catalans i les catalanes)

Le Monde noted, that in the 45,000 strong march, that aprt from Cataln flags Belgian supporters also brought along their own nationalist ones, of the Flemish Lion,

Le défilé est porteur de beaucoup de slogans et de pas mal de contradictions. Des militants flamands d’extrême droite saluent leurs « frères » catalans, tandis qu’un peu plus loin un militant trotskiste belge explique que « c’est la question sociale qui a réveillé la question nationale et, en tant que marxiste, on ne peut donc que soutenir la volonté populaire ». La Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, le parti indépendantiste flamand qui a remisé son programme institutionnel et privilégie désormais la participation au pouvoir fédéral belge, assure également une présence, somme toute assez discrète.

The march saw many slogans and not a few contradictions. Flemish activists of the extreme right saluted their Catalan ‘brothers;, which not far away a Belgian Trotskyist explained, hat “it’s the social issue which has awakened about the national issue, and, as a Marxist one can only support the popular will”. The (hard right) Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, the party for Flemish independence, though at present putting its place in Belgian federal politics first, had a presence, if discreet.

The CUP is strongly anti-European Union….

COP publishes a few articles in what is claims is English.

This is the most recent.

“And wanting to be a republic, we have learned to be a people”, by David Fernández

10/10/2017“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” Blade Runner.

That our ‘hackers of the impossible’ – my thanks, once again – won the difficult technological battle, always unequal, in order to keep alive the single census during the whole day, under free software schemes and encryption, gives food for thought. Plenty of it. Neither in analog (sic) or in digital: the Big Brother State did not get away with i, (sic)

Some on the pro-nationalist  left, which includes the equally odd Platypus,  believe various versions of the following, from Jorge Martin (International Marxist Tendency)

Struggle for self-determination as a revolutionary task

In a nut-shell, this summarises the position in Catalonia. Against the Spanish 1978 regime, the exercise of the right of self-determination is a task which can only be accomplished by revolutionary means. The Catalan bourgeois and petty-bourgeois politicians are not prepared to use revolutionary means. Some of them are not even committed to a Catalan Republic, other than as a threat with which to extract concessions from Madrid. The only way forward in the struggle for a Catalan Republic is a battle to remove the current leadership of the movement and replace it with one firmly based on the workers at the head of the petty-bourgeois masses: a leadership prepared to use revolutionary means to face and bring down the 1978 regime.

We await the “revolutionaries'” actions.

What “means” they propose to carry out their revolt,  based as they would be on not a single workers’ council – to start with – remain open to speculation.

Still the Vlaams Belang, Counterfire, the SNP, The International Marxist Tendency, Platypus and the  Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie will fight to the last Catalan to secure their national freedom.

By contrast Podemos, while not gaining support has not suffered the dramatic decline – if polls are confirmed – of the CUP and continues to speak sense,

In Podemos we have always said that the only solution is through the ballot box, offering Catalans the choice in a negotiated referendum to either remain as part of a new plurinational Spanish state or to pursue an independent Catalan republic.

..

Podemos sees Spain as a project to be constructed, we aim for a new country where nobody wants to leave because nobody is forced to stay. This federalised Spain would require the reordering of the states’s institutional and constitutional architecture so that there is no conflict between being Spanish and belonging to another national community existing in the state. It would be a polycentric Spain where not everything passes through Madrid, and where Madrid is converted into a federal district along the path to a less unitary state. Ultimately a plurinational Spain has to do with reinventing Spain’s own identity so that it ceases to be a weapon used to attack other Spaniards.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm