Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

International Russian Conservative Forum at St Petersburg: Far Right to ‘Unite’ Nationalist Forces.

with 21 comments

Parties represented at International Russian Conservative Forum.

ST. PETERSBURG — High-ranking members of some of Europe’s most controversial parties descended on St. Petersburg on Sunday to participate in the first International Russian Conservative Forum, an ultranationalist convention glorifying Russia as a refuge for the world’s most marginalized far-right political forces.

The forum’s speakers collectively ticked off all the boxes of intolerance and anti-Western sentiment, egged on by the enthusiasm of the audience filling a conference room at the St. Petersburg Holiday Inn. Through the course of the day, U.S. President Barack Obama was called a Nazi, white Christians were urged to reproduce, gays were referred to as perverts and murdered Russian opposition activists were said to be resting in hell.

Reports the Moscow Times (March 22nd).

United in their contempt for all things EU and their yearning for a socially conservative society, Russia and the extremes of the European political spectrum have forged a tacit alliance. Far-right leaders’ periodic visits to Moscow, combined with Russian banks’ magnanimity toward political entities that European creditors have shunned, have suggested that these parties’ gains in popularity could shift EU policy in Russia’s favor and undermine the union’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine.

Ties between Europe’s far-right and Russia became a little more concrete on Sunday, when radical right-wing party Rodina (“Motherland”), the organizer of the forum, adopted a resolution on the creation of a permanent committee to coordinate Russia’s and Europe’s conservative political forces.

The resolution was the culmination of a full day of 10-minute speeches by more than 30 ultranationalist commentators and the leaders of radical right-wing parties from seven European Union countries, including Greece, Italy, Germany and Britain. They blamed the United States for the Ukraine crisis, deplored the erosion of traditional values in the West and praised President Vladimir Putin’s peacemaking skills.

“The American way of life is not at the center of our politics, nor are gays and lesbians,” said Udo Voigt, a member of the European Parliament and the former head of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party. “Our focus is on our families and our children.”

The parties rushed to sign the resolution after the Holiday Inn received a bomb threat some 20 minutes before the scheduled end of the speeches. Organizers, who announced the evacuation order, claimed that their “enemies” had called police to sabotage the event. The origin of the bomb threat remains unknown.

A police van stood idle in the hotel’s front parking lot throughout the course of the International Russian Conservative Forum. Security personnel and bodyguards with dangling earpieces scrutinized participants. A handful of Cossacks equipped with leather whips, members of a quasi-militant group presented as guardians of traditional values, secured the entrance to the conference room.

The event’s organizers — members of the St. Petersburg branch of far-right party Rodina, a party founded in the early 2000s by current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin — claimed that it represented the “first forum of the national-oriented political forces of Europe and Russia in world history.”

Organizers were up-front about the objectives of the event, claiming it was meant to unite European and Russian conservative forces “in the context of European sanctions against Russia and the United States’ pressure on European countries and Russia.”

The Kremlin has neither formally endorsed the event, nor spoken out against it. In an apparent bid to draw parallels between their own views and those of the federal authorities, forum organizers included in their press kit and on their website an excerpt of Putin’s speech at the 2013 Valdai International Discussion Club.

“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization.” Putin said at the time. “I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.”

There were no Russian lawmakers or high-ranking officials among the speakers, though State Duma Deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov, who also heads Rodina, was present. Russian Senator Igor Morozov did not speak, despite initially having been scheduled to do so.

The forum’s speakers echoed the Russian state narrative on the pervasiveness of an ill-defined “fascism” in Europe.

More on Moscow Times site.

Ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin tells right-wing conference Russia will save Europe

Undeterred by his waning power over the extremist right-wing in the UK, Nick Griffin has kept with his cause by declaring that Russia will save “Christendom”.

The former BNP leader was expelled from the organisation last year, after members accused him of attempting to “destabilise” it and of “harassing” its membership.

Griffin responded by accusing the party leadership of playing “plastic gangster games”.

At the International Russian Conservative Forum in St Petersbury over the weekend, which was organised by a pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party, Griffin warned the audience that Christendom would succumb to “a terrible civil war”, become and Islamist caliphate “or perhaps both”, BuzzFeed reported.

He added that “the survival of Christendom” is “absolutely impossible without the rise of the Third Rome: Moscow.”

Roberto Fiore of Italy’s Forza Nuova, mirrored Griffin’s comments at the event, and claimed that Moscow is currently the only nation guarding what he regards to be Western values in the way Rome once did.

“It’s not me saying this—it’s God saying it,” he said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with the US newspaper, Griffin said Russia is “more free” than the West as a similar event would be banned in the US or the UK.

 

More: Independent.

International Russian Conservative  Forum.

We – community of political and public organizations, not indifferent to destiny of our Homeland – Russia, and all civilized mankind. We urge to unite for the sake of continuation of life on Earth, for the sake of conscientious and good-neighbourhood partnership between the nations of Europe. We decided to hold the first in world history Forum of the national focused political forces of Europe and Russia and to lay the foundation of sensible partnership in fight for preservation of traditional values of modern society: families, for spirituality and moral also we wait from each political and public organization of constructive proposals. We – Organizing committee of the International congress “International Russian Conservative Forum”:

“The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” – public organization which purpose is revival of traditional values and development of the Russian culture. “The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” combines efforts of people of all nationalities concerned by destiny of the Russian culture. It involves writers, musicians, artists, journalists, publishers, theater-goers, public figures in participation in business for return to the Russian culture of its worthy place in souls of people.

“People’s house” has to become a home for creators of the Russian culture. It helps all creators of the Russian World, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and civil origin. “… Our advance isn’t not impossible without spiritual, cultural, national self-determination, differently we will be able to resist to external and internal calls, we will be able to achieve success in conditions of the global competition” V. Putin’s performance at a meeting of the international debating club “Valdai”, the Novgorod region, 19.09.2013

French Left: Parti de Gauche Refuses to Back Problematic Meeting against “Islamophobia”

with 23 comments

https://i2.wp.com/www.lejdc.fr/photoSRC/W1ZTJ1FdUTgIBhVOGwYSHgYNQDUVGFdfVV9FWkM-/un-meeting-contre-l-islamophobie-fait-salle-comble-a-saint-d_1979110.jpeg

Rally against Islamophobia divides the left.

On Friday at the Bourse du Travail Saint-Denis a rally “against Islamophobia” was held with the backing of some left organisations, notably the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and the French Communist Party.

Muslim and Islamist associations were prominent amongst its supporters. These included the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF, close to the Muslim Brotherhood), le Parti des Indigènes de la République, (often described as the militant wing of post-colonial studies and associated with homophobia)  les Indivisibles, Présence musulmane (close to Islamist Tariq Ramadan) and  le Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi de 2004 (CEAL) – that is the group which wants to abolish the secular rules on ostentatious religious signs in schools).

 Other groups, above all from the human rights and anti-racist movements, refused to take part.

 These were notably, the main French anti-racist body, the Mrap, la LDH (The League for the Rights of Man, France’s oldest anti-racist human rights group), SOS Racisme and  the Licra (The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).

The Left Party (Parti de Gauche) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon also  refused to join. Its general coordinator, Eric Coquerel said. “The term Islamophobia has posed a problem for us for several years. It makes it difficult to distinguish between  freedom to criticise religion and racism  The text also does not cite any other form of racism. In the present context – after the terrorist atrocities – it should have had a broader appeal”.  “At the same time”, he  continued “we have problems with those signing this document. They include communitarian groups and bodies that represent Political Islam. “

Inside the same bloc, the Front de Gauche, the grouping Ensemble backed the appeal and meeting, while the Parti Communist Français maintained its support for the declaration by sent nobody to the meeting.

At the rally itself Ismahane Chouder denounced the fact that people always ask Muslims to be irreproachable on ‘antisemitism’ ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia”. She called this demand for anti-sexism, opposition to hatred of Jews and of gays,  “Islamophobic”.

Alexander Sulzer L’Express.

For a defence of this meeting see: Grand succès du meeting contre l’islamophobie et les dérives sécuritaires (Laurent Lévy.  Ensemble).

Laurent Lévy ignores the main point of the Parti de Gauche: the questionable term “Islamophobia”. Indeed he continues with the dangerous reactionary confusion between racism and dislike/criticism of a religion.

In Libération today the radical left atheist Michel Onfray comments favourably on the Parti de Gauche’s decision and clarifies this point,

What a joy it is, finally, on the left, and in particular on the anti-liberal (economics) left, my own political side, we have begun to fight this ‘amalgam”. That is, is to lump together criticism of religion with Islamophobia” when it’s a matter of Islam, Christianophobia,  when it’s Christianity, anti-Semitism when it concerns Judaism, to the point where atheism itself becomes blasphemous. “

The writer wishes that this approach will continue, and that it will clarify the debate about religion.

“It  would distinguish those who oppose religion in the name of reason, not racism (in my case, and that of many people who do not even adopt the ‘catechism’ of the left), and those who hide their racism and xenophobia behind the rejection of religion.  One could imagine that once this distinction in the realm of ideas is made, those who do not want religion to govern our law, will be able to clearly distinguish those who dislike the Muslim religion and those who dislike those who practice it. “

Exactly.

Oppose racism against Muslims.

Criticise Islam as a religion.

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

with 6 comments

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)

“Jihadism” is it a form of fascism? Debate on French Left.

with 13 comments

“These remarks follow the text of Laurent Lévy on this site entitled “Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism”. This is not an answer but a few notes which aim to stimulate debate.

1 The term “jihadism” is probably the most suitable, it is in any case much better that “Islamo-fascist”, which does not in itself  exclude discussion on these two terms.

2 Has Jihadism nothing to do with Islam? Lawrence said we do not have to take the self-definitions of those principally involved. Some caution is indeed required. Not so long ago there were countries that defined themselves  as People’s Democracies – a term which was very questionable  in the least. Which leave us with the question – one that I do not find it so easy to solve – who is the judge in these matters?

The attacks in Paris were condemned by currents unlikely to be held to represent a “moderate Islam” – the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which called the murderers the worst enemies of the Prophet. It is not up to non-Muslims to contradict them, says Lawrence. The end of the sentence seems common sense: non-Muslims are not the best position to judge what is  Islam or what is not. The beginning of the same sentence is rather more questionable. We are not obliged, or to take as given, what Hamas or Hezbollah say,  on the grounds that they are not representatives of “moderate Islam.” After all, there are within Sunni Islam many currents that deny that the  Alevis or the Shias even  belong to Islam. Why should we believe them? On the grounds that we are not Muslims (which is true) and that they are not moderate (also true)? In a climate of hysteria and a climate of heightened national security we clearly have an interest in avoiding putting all Muslims in the same category. But, to return to the “people’s democracies”, could it be said so easily that they  had nothing to do with the communist movement?

3- On the question of fascism, I am to be relatively cautious, without being satisfied with the approach developed by Lawrence. For words to make sense we should not use them indiscriminately.  A military dictatorship, for example, does not need to be a fascist to be abominable and to be fought (and calling the French riot police, the  CRS the SS is probably not the acme of political analysis). We must therefore be wary of using ready-made categories that can easily become stale and fixed.

There is no doubt that the emergence of fascism in the interwar period in Europe was a way to break the working class. That class, influenced by the creation and the breath of the October Revolution had become a legitimate player in the conquest of political power. But if we limited fascism to this, the issue would not be restricted to  a debate for historians about the 1920s and the 1930s. Today the impact of  October (or the Chinese Revolution in Asia) is minimal, and instead of a rising working class, the labour movement, which we witness, is  in a poor state. Can we say that the issue of fascism no longer exists. The counter-revolutionary AND totalitarian dimensions of the  “jihadist” groups  is such that we cannot dismiss the term ‘fascism’ so easily. When Pierre Rousset speaks of “religious fascism” because these organisations occupy the same niches as fascism, there is no lack of argument. An article by Farooq Tariq, leader of the LPP (Pakistan) states: “The fanatical religious groups are being constituted as forms of fascism. ” ( ttp://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33933 ).

These views can of course be criticised I do not think these can be dismissed out of hand.

In short this is an ongoing debate.”

A reply to  Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism” Laurent Lévy. 

Lévy  notes that the ‘syntagma’ (syntactic arrangement) Islamic-fascism has been used by the nominally ‘socialist’ Prime Minister, Manuel Valls (that is, be wary of the words!!!).

He asserts that is not up to the non-Muslims to decide on what is Islamic or not, and that most consider that the Islamic state is not Islamic.  Lévy  argues that in terms of class analysis one cannot talk of Islamic-Fascism. “..sectarian, violent and totalitarian movements claiming Islam does not fall within this analysis ” That they cannot be compared with movements helped by the “bourgeoisie to break the labour movement and to take over certain sectors of the capital to help solve its internal contradictions.” in the 1920s and 1930s.

But that, Jihadism, is the word that designates, “these currents that claim Islam in the attempt to impose by mass violence a totalitarian society.”

Comment.

It is interesting that the relation between Islamist ‘counter-revolution’ and classical European fascism is raised.

What would seem a better way to approach this is to look at one form of actually existing Islamism: the Islamic State, Daesh (1). Not just its international actions, but the structure of the state they have created in Syria and Iraq: a  racist, repressive, genocidal regime, based on slavery and the oppression of women, with a highly developed system of ‘law’ (the Sharia, as they see it).

Whether we call this Jihadism or fascism it is clear that it is a ‘totalitarian’ political entity.

A murderous one to boot.

(1) ‘Actually existing’ – an expression I take from the pro-Soviet left in the 1970s which talked of ‘actually existing socialism’.

‘Oscars’ for the Most Barking Mad Left Writing.

with 10 comments

The ‘Barking': Top Award for Left Writing.

The Oscars tonight will be overshadowed by the new ceremonies for the ‘Most Barking Left Writing’ (Hat-Tip: Dave Osland).

The principal coveted trophy, (pictured), will be awarded this evening in the Spring Road Allotment Shed – former Telephone Box.

The past year has seen some strong contenders for the prize.

We have had John Tummon, of Left Unity, and his ‘Calpihate motion

To show solidarity with the people of the Middle  East by supporting the end of the  structure of the  divided nation states imposed by the Versailles  settlement and their replacement by a Caliphate type polity in which diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority’. Left Unity distances itself specifically from the use of intemperate, inaccurate and moralist language such as ‘terrorism’, ‘evil’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘viciously reactionary’, ‘murderous’, genocidal’, etc in discussion about the Middle East; these terms are deployed by people and forces seeking not to understand or analyse, but to demonise in order to dominate, and they have no place within socialist discourse.”

We have had Socialist Worker publishing Hassan Mahamdallie who compared the outsiders fighting for the genociders of the Islamic State (Da’esh) and the foreign  volunteers who backed Spanish democracy (“in the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army”).

He added this sentence, “It has been disheartening to watch establishment Muslim leaders apologetically rushing out with condemnations. They have pointlessly distanced themselves from “John the Jihadi”—who is alleged to have killed Foley—and declared that Isis is “un-Islamic”.

The tonnes and tonnes of material written about the Ukraine has been ruled worthy of a special award – to follow.

The slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and the Hyper-Cacher, has brought a fine crop in.

Tariq Ali set the bar high by announcing after the attack (this is a version from the 28th of January),

How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?

France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.

Only yesterday he tried to keep in the running by saying (Guardian), of Charlie.

In the 80s it had become a stale magazine, and people have told me that one reason for attacking the Muslims and reprinting the Danish cartoons was to boost circulation.” He argues that Je suis Charlie stickers express something other than support for freedom of expression and condemnation of those who murdered in the name of Islam – a loathing for Muslims.

Note: Charlie Hebdo stopped publication from 1981 t0 1992 except for a special issue in 1982.

The Socialist Workers Party Central Committee gave Tariq his angle on the 8th of January,

Racists and right wingers are trying to use Wednesday’s horrific killings in Paris to divide working people, justify imperialist intervention and whip up Islamophobia.

Almost everyone will recognise that the attacks are wrong and completely unacceptable. We must not let them be exploited to generate racism, justify more wars, or to give a boost to the far right.

The media present Charlie Hebdo as simply a “satirical magazine”. But it is not the French equivalent of Private Eye as some commentators have suggested. It may have been once, but it has become a specialist in presenting provocative and racist attacks on Islam. That does not justify the killings, but it is essential background.

Let’s unite against racism and Islamophobia.

The ever-reliable John Wight on Socialist Unity said this (8th January)  as the dead still lay unburied,

The free speech ‘merchants’, those who were so up in arms over matters related to the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, who use free speech as a sword rather than a shield, would like nothing more than to silence one of the only voices in the country’s national life who dares challenge the demonisation of Muslims and the Muslim community, establishment support for the apartheid state of Israel, and a political status of quo of military intervention overseas and social and economic injustice at home.

But it’s the Economic & Philosophic Science Review that stands out,

Fake-”left” line-up once more with imperialism to “condemn terror” over the Paris attacks, proving even further their craven capitulation to the warmongering demonisation being used to whip up World War Three. Attacking the Islamists as “reactionary” is opportunist sophistry, as is writing them off as “isolated individual terrorists” . Such pretend “Marxism” is just a cover for petty bourgeois moralising and “free speech and democracy” reformist humbug that solves nothing but helps feed the “kill them all” fascist revenge mentality stirred up by capitalist cynicism.

Further afield Ramzay Baroud‘s efforts post-Charlie in the Morning Star to pin the blame for hatred of Muslims and the crimes of Imperialism on the New Atheists merits an honourable mention.

Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Graham Durham of the Crickelwood People’s Republic (twinned with the Donbass),  is outstanding.

Ian Donovan is also one to to watch, “in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel.” (Weekly Worker).

Donovan’s recommendation, Support George Galloway MP for Bradford West, is surely in line with these views

The Weekly Worker’s Letter Page yields a rich harvest notably this which is clearly the front runner:

Sounds absurd?

Phil Kent has accused me of holding positions I never held in relation to Stalin, the issue of peak oil and reptilians (Letters, January 15). He also claims I am an elitist, because I believe in leadership.

Firstly, I never argued that Stalin’s victims “deserved to die” – I challenge Kent to prove otherwise. In passing, it’s interesting to note that following the demise of the Soviet Union, when Boris Yeltsin released the figures for individuals in Soviet prisons, these were lower than the USA. The capitalist media went silent.

Secondly, I never argued that rising oil prices would “soon” mean the end of capitalism. What I argued is that rising oil prices in the period of declining oil production, following the global peak, would lead to the collapse of capitalism, if no viable substitute for cheap oil was found. World oil production goes through three stages: rising production, peak and decline. We are still at the peak stage, when oil supply is at its maximum.

Thirdly, I never claimed that the future of humanity “may rest on the beneficence of extra-terrestrial reptiles”. I replied to Andrew Northall’s letter of December 18 and referred to the reptilian control theory, which argues that for thousands of years humanity has been controlled by a reptilian race, using their mixed reptile-human genetic bloodlines, who have oppressed and exploited humans, while claiming descent from the ‘gods’ and the divine right to rule by bloodline. Ancient and modern society is obsessed with reptilian, serpent and dragon themes, possibly due to this heritage. Even the flag of Wales has a dragon on it.

Most people have closed minds, depending on the issues. Mention the possibility of aliens secretly manipulating humanity behind the scenes and the shutters come down. Perhaps Kent should contemplate Einstein’s words: “If at first an idea does not sound absurd, there is no hope for it.

Tony Clark Weekly Worker.

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

leave a comment »

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.

Richard Seymour Scums out on our beloved Charlie martyrs.

with 69 comments

Not content with wanking off on Race Play Seymour now tosses off on our martyrs.

This is the vilest thing I have read in a long time.

No not the Seymour semen in the above.

But his comments on the massacre at Charlie.

However, there is a wider narrative that is emerging in the rush to judgment, as news media attempt to stitch together details — at first entirely circumstantial— into an explanatory story. The assumption is that the killers are members of some sort of Islamist group, possibly linked to Islamic State, and are exacting political retribution for the publication’s regular satirical attacks on Islam by executing its journalists. And about that, I do have something beyond the obvious to say, just as a starting point.

The second is that there is already an enormous pressure, in this context, to defend Charlie Hebdo as a forceful exponent of “Western values,” or in some cases even as a brilliantly radical bastion of left-wing anti-clericalism.

Now, I think there’s a critical difference between solidarity with the journalists who were attacked, refusing to concede anything to the idea that journalists are somehow “legitimate targets,” and solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication.

To my knowledge Seymour is not a Francophone so how he is suddenly an expert on Charlie  is beyond explanation.

He is barely an anglophone.

As this ‘sentence’ indicates.

But no, we also shouldn’t line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized “secularism,” or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.

You will pay dearly for these  comments  Seymour, very dearly.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2015 at 10:56 am