Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

with 13 comments

Image result for trump brexit cartoon

“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But Orbán, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

Advertisements

Spare a Thought for the Pro-Trumpists.

with 4 comments

Ipswich Protest: C’est dur, dur, d’être bébé Trump.

Donald Trump visit: London protesters stage ‘one of UK’s biggest rallies in years’

Protesters young and old, from the UK and beyond, were united in their opposition to the US president, writes Sky’s Mark White.

Organisers claimed 250,000 people turned out for the huge demonstration in London.

While police have not given an official estimate, to my eyes this was one of the biggest rallies in recent years.

It was mass mobilisation by many disparate groups, all united in their belief that President Donald Trump should not have been afforded an official welcome to the UK.

It must be hard from the admirers of ‘Mr Brexit’ to put up with this:

And this:

Not to mention the latest spluttering about “fake news” – Trump’s recorded interview in the Current Bun.

So hard that they have spluttering into their Chlorinated Earl Grey and Texan Cornish pasties all day:

Portada de Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

DAYS OF MIDDLE-CLASS RAGE

Writes horney handed son of toil, TOM SLATER DEPUTY EDITOR

The Trump protests are more about therapy than politics.

..therapy, not politics. And if there’s anything truly striking about political life today, it’s not the illiberal blowhard that is Trump – it is how hysterical, disconnected and feeble the left has become.

Followed by even hornier Brendan O’Neill.

It is censorious to brand Trump a bigot for criticising the mayor.

Did you say censorship?

Reach for the genetically modified Bourbon!

World Cup: “Pure Patriotic Ecstasy” Spreads to Giles Fraser.

with 3 comments

 

Image result for giles fraser football

Cleric Giles Fraser: in “pure patriotic ecstasy”.

Some people read the future of today’s Cabinet meeting in taxi  phone numbers and train time-tables.

Others will pontificate on global warming at the opening of a tin of baked beans.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, brings out the worst in commentators than waffling about the political and cultural implications of the World Cup and the English team.

A whiff of victory and they’re all over the players’ aprons.

A couple of days ago Counterfire published this, sub specie eternal cultural studies bore,

Success for England will mean what we make it mean

Mark Perryman.

A popular Left politics must surely connect with such episodes as metaphor, to translate what we see on the pitch into the changes beyond the touchline we require to become a more equal society. So here’s my maxim for Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues. If Labour cannot explain the meaning of the World Cup why should I listen to what the party has to tell me on how they’re going to fix the mess the NHS is in? Not the flimsy populism of Blair when he adopted the ‘Labour’s Coming Home’ message after England’s last tournament semi, Euro ‘96, but a political practice rooted in popular culture because here, more than anywhere else, ideas are not only formed, but also changed.

Perryman has an  admirer in the highest ranks of the Clergy who picked up on this passage.

But the point is that a St George Cross draped in the colours of multiculturalism has at least the potential for the beginnings of a journey away from racism. It has a reach and symbolism like no other, touching the parts of a nation’s soul no anti-racist placard thrust in our faces is ever going to. This is the meaning of modern football and when England begin to scale the heights of 2018 World Cup ambition the reach of that message is amplified still further on a scale and in a manner that ’66 could never have done, and ’90 barely began.

It’s Prelate Pontificus Maximus Giles Fraser:

In that moment of pure patriotic ecstasy, the pub seemed united in an unusually intimate form of togetherness. After all that, Neil and I had a rather messy argument about Brexit. “If we win the World Cup, Theresa May will call an early election,” someone else suggested. Then we all drank up and staggered home.

What we think about patriotism positions us squarely on possibly the moral question of our day. From Brexit to Trump, from Hungary to Israel, the question of putting our country first has a divisive feel that enrages liberals and internationalists. Because when it comes to patriotism, what liberals understand to be a defining feature of proper moral reasoning, communitarians think of as a vice. And what communitarians think of as an essential aspect of a flourishing moral community, liberals think of as bigotry.

The Cannon adds is some stuff about (former International Socialist)  Alasdair MacIntyre, if anybody can be bothered to read his half digested reflections.

Let us end with this:

For communitarians, my hugging the fat English stranger (steady down Padre!) , my “Come on En-ger-land” at top volume, are crucial to our morality solidarity. And it’s just the same with my mate Emilliano shouting for Colombia over in the Elephant shopping centre.

And this,

The problem, of course, is that what MacIntyre and I (Note: on the basis of one essay written long ago),  consider moral solidarity, liberals think of as prejudice, even proto-fascism. And what liberals call morality, communitarians view as a dangerous dilution of moral solidarity. And there, in a nutshell, are the culture wars that presently divide us.

After Virtue me old cock!

Claude Lanzman director of the ‘Shoah’ dies aged 92: A Great Voice for the Just Passes.

with one comment

Image result for claude lanzmann france 24

Claude Lanzmann has died in Paris at the age of 92.

Esteemed French journalist, ‘Shoah’ director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92.

Agence France Press.

laude Lanzmann, the esteemed French journalist and director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, died at his Paris home on Thursday at the age of 92.

“Claude Lanzmann died at his home. He had been very, very weak for several days,” a spokeswoman for publishing house Gallimard told AFP.

Lanzmann was the chief editor of “Les Temps Modernes”, the ground-breaking literary review founded by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir after World War II.

Lanzmann was a friend of the philosophers, and famously became involved with De Beauvoir while working as Sartre’s secretary. He was 26 and De Beauvoir was 44.

The golden couple of French intellectual life had a famously open relationship, and enjoyed – and endured – a number of similar love triangles.

Lanzmann went on to make the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, the nine-and-a-half hour epic which is, for many, the most haunting film made about the murder of six million Jews during World War II.

The chronicle took Lanzmann 11 years to make and is his best-known work.

Lanzmann was born November 27, 1925 in the Bois-Colombes suburb north of Paris. His Jewish parents immigrated to France from Eastern Europe where they raised Claude, his sister Evelyne, and younger brother Jacques.

His first act of resistance as a Jewish schoolboy in wartime France was to refuse to write an essay in praise of its collaborationist leader Marshal Petain. He later took to the hills to join fighters in central France ambushing German patrols as part of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF), a political youth organization close to the French communist party.

Review, 2011.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. A Review, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Israel.

Andrew Coates.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. Gallimard 2009 (Paperback 2010)

Claude Lanzmann (born 1925) is the director of Shoah (1985), the landmark film on the Holocaust. Against the documentary’s theme of methodically organised death, his title, Le Lièvre de Patagonie, evokes the Hare, a symbol of fertility and renewed life (the original ‘Easter Bunny’). Lanzmann’s book, he states, was written with this animal constantly in mind.

In Shoah while Rudolf Vrba talks off-camera of his escape from the Birkenau extermination camp there is a shot of a hare sliding under the barbed wire. Lanzmann likes the creatures, he respects them as noble, and if there were transmigration of souls he would wish to be reincarnated as one. Glimpsing one of a legendary South American species in his car’s headlights in Patagonia signalled the moment that he felt fully in the land, vrais ensemble (truly together). The hare is a sign of a vital leap to freedom that infuses his own “joie sauvage” (wild happiness). It is this incarnation that constantly springs to Lanzmann’s mind as he unravels this account of his life.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie is a record of Lanzmann’s out-of-the-ordinary intellectual, political and creative career, infused with joy, and sadness. It passes from the youthful résistant, to the culture and commitments that led him to Jean-Paul Sartre, and a “quasi-maritale’ companionship with Simone de Beauvoir (from 1952 to 1959). A contributor from 1952 onwards to Les Temps Modernes (publisher’s site here) he provides an important first-hand account of this review’s active support for anti-colonialism during the Algerian war for independence.

The memories are much more than a record of events; they are an affirmation of his beliefs, and loyalties. Lanzmann’s commitment to Israel, expressed in the partisan documentary Pourquoi Israel (1970) remains at the heart of his being. In Le Monde last year Lanzmann was cited saying that, “Je suis d’autant propalestinien que je suis pro-israélian, et récroproquement” (I am as pro-Palestinian as I am pro-Israeli and the other way around). But there is little doubt that his empathy for the Jewish state marks his recollections the more, making the author a rare living defender of the left’s post-War support for Israel.

Lanzmann does not just feel an affinity, as somebody with a secular-Jewish cultural background, with Israeli people. He considers that he is, despite the intensity of his French culture (to the depths of his prose). He remains “Français de hazard, pas du tout ‘de souche’” – French by chance, not of French stock. (Page 330) The Jews are “mon peuple”.

Visiting the new state in 1948 Lanzmann found that compared to real Israelis, who had their country in their “os et le sang” (bone and blood) he was “un elfe” who weighed nothing. He has always, without Biblical faith, been astonished and full of “admiration” for the Jewish religion (Page 730). Such opinions (and his eulogy  of  Israel’s army in the film Tsahal, 1994), are in Lanzmann’s marrow. To this extent his praise of the Hebrew state’s military is  impossible to forgive or forget.  

La Guillotine.

Lanzmann begins with the words, “La guillotine – plus généralement la peine capitale et les différents modes d’administration de la mort – aura été la grande affaire de ma vie” – the Guillotine – and more widely capital punishment and the different forms of meeting out death – will be the main concern of my life. An adolescent trip to the cinema in the late ‘thirties to see L’affaire du courier de Lyon (under the post-Revolutionary ‘Directory’) was his introduction to the horror of watching an innocent executed. The view of the scaffolding around the  blade, and the fact that the sentence was carried out in public, preoccupied him for months.

Lanzmann is haunted by tortures, by Hitler and Stalin’s mass murders, Goya’s Fusilamentos del 3 de Mayo, and the hostages that Islamists put to death and record like “films pronographiques”. His life was dedicated to standing for right against repression. The national liberation struggle in Algeria was met by French repression, which included the death penalty. Lanzmann and de Beauvoir worked with the lawyer Jacques Vergès to defend the condemned under this threat. He campaigned for the Catalan anarchist, Salvador Puig Antich, condemned by the Caudillo to die by the garrotte in 1974.

This was not just the indignation of the righteous. It was bound to Lanzmann’s own past. Under the Occupation in 1943 while studying at the lycée Blaise-Pascal, at Clermont-Ferrand (in the Auverne) he decided to join the Resistance. He became involved with the Communist Party (PCF). The former school student was soon amongst maquisards in the Haute-Loire, and a member of the FTP (Communist, Francs-tireurs et partisans). For refusing to carry out a suicidal mission – transporting weapons through German controlled areas – the local PCF put him under sentence of death.

Escaping this fate Lanzmann resumed his education in post-war Paris, in the prestigious “hypokhâgne” at Louis-le-Grand (preparatory course for the elite French ‘Grandes écoles’). The PCF were active in the college. Undaunted he approached the secretary of the school’s Communist cell to ask that the “sentence de mort prononcée contre moi par le Parti” be carried out (Page 207) The official, later a well known left Socialist politician, Jean Poperen, did not, on this occasion, as the representative of the Party of the “75,000 shot”, add another number to the total.

There is so much rich detail, often supplied at a tangent with the unities of space, time and action, in Le Lièvre de Patagonie that the linear narrative of Lanzmann’s life is sometimes hard to keep steadily in mind.  There is his troubled family background. There is his period as a proto-academic, enraptured by Sartre’s trilogy, Les Chemins de la liberté (1945), studying Hegel, and so poor he stole books from the shop of the Presses Universitaires de France, to resell – until memorably caught and disgraced.

There is Lanzmannteaching in post-War Berlin at the Freie Universität, where he exposed much of the teaching staff’s unrepentant National Socialism. There is the moving story of his actress sister, Évelyne, who was Gilles Deleuze’s lover, and then, after acting in Sartre’s plays, became his lover, only to later commit suicide in 1966. And there is the meeting with De Beauvoir, le Castor, holidays across Europe, and their political activism.

Little emerges  in Le Lièvre on Les Temps Modernes’ relations with International Communism, or on Sartre’s judgement that a friendly stand towards the PCF was a “means of access” to the French working class. By contrast there are interesting accounts of Lanzmann’s role in the activities of the group around Sartre and de Beauvoir during the Algerian war, which came to dominate the country’s political life during the 1950s. By the end of that decade their alliance with the Algerian fighters for independence, led to what became known as ‘third worldism’. They stood up for anti-colonialism in the hardest conditions, risking their lives to defend Algerian prisoners, and the rights of North Africans. All who has signed the celebrated Manifeste de 121(1960) which called for those conscripted in the French army to refuse to serve in Algeria were under threat. Jobs were lost, and Sartre’s flat was attacked with plastic explosives.

In 1958, with 4 more years of the Algerian war to go, Lanzmann was a journalist (writing for France Dimanche as well as Les Temps Modernes). As a man of the left he, like Sartre and de Beauvoir, made his own pilgrimage to ‘socialist’ lands. He visited North Korea and China as part of an organised delegation (with Western Communist participation). In the land of Juche and “pression stalinienne…effrayante” (fearful Stalinist pressure) Lanzmann had a fleeting contact with a Korean woman, more a Brief Encounter (which he evokes to describe the fleeting tryst) than an affair. China, though more relaxed, offered the less compelling charms of an interview with French-speaking Chen Yi, Foreign Affairs Minister, on the country’s geopolitical strategy.

Third-Worldism.

The Sartre-Beauvoir circle embraced Third-Worldism (though the author of the Second Sex appears never to have been wholly convinced. This was most marked in their relations with the Algerian resistance. While Sartre and de Beauvoir replaced interest in the old Soviet bloc, for Cuba, and in 1960 they did some safe revolutionary tourism there, it was Lanzmann who got closest to its dangerous side.

A small number of people on the French left had worked closely enough with the Algerian revolutionaries, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) to become “porteurs de valises” (carrying arms for them). While far from engaged in the armed struggle Lanzmann met the FLN in person, in its Tunisian bases. It was there that he encountered Franz Fanon, the renowned theorist of anti-colonialism (and today largely, if remembered, largely appropriated by Anglophone ‘post-colonial’ studies).

Sartre would write the Preface, as Fanon requested, for The Wretched of the Earth (1964). He asserted that “The native cures himself of colonial neurosis by thrusting out the settler through force of arms” “For in the first days of the revolt you must kill; to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses with one stone”. That is, the, highly contestable, claim that the physical fight for freedom is the route to cathartic self-assertion.

Despite his unwavering anti-colonialism Fanon seemed equally aware of the FLN’s internal disputes, the occasion for a different kind of catharsis, a purging of emotions onto any human object to hand. These were, he alluded to Lanzmann, were ferocious, though “secret”. His interlocutor sensed that the Martinique himself “connaissait la peur” (knew fear) (Page 492). With good reason, Lanzmann observes. The FLN and its supporters, not to mention ordinary Algerians, were the victims of a terrifying level of repression, with 500,000 troops at under French command, and special units prepared to use torture, while the French Algerian ultras, in the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) rained down terror against all Maghrebin rebels (including those on the French left deemed supportive of them).

The Algerian National Liberation Front, (FLN) and its army’s (ALN) cadres were responsible for extreme acts of violence against their nationalist opponents (the Mouvement pour le triomph des libertés démocratiques, MTLD) and civilian critics. They suffered from vicious quarrels inside the apparatus, and readily resorted to force to settle disputes. On top of this were rivalries between clans, and ethnic groups, Arabs and Kabyles. The reality showed that violence was not a vehicle for liberation and therapy.

For Lanzmann, however, the need to back the struggle meant a self-imposed silence (with an eye to possible FLN reaction). He therefore kept information about the use of terror inside the liberation movement to himself. He wrote nothing, and said nothing (Page 501). One must say however that Simone de Beauvoir in 1963 did not hesitate to cite Fanon’s allusions to “les dissensions, les intrigues, les liquidations, les oppositions…” without seeming bound by a revolutionary omerta, even if she gave no details. (La force des choses. Vol ll.) An element of religious conservatism, including support for polygamy, was already manifesting itself.

After Independence in 1962 there were retributions against real and alleged collaborators with the French that exceeded France’s 1945 épurations. The socialist aspects of the Algerian revolution did not last long. The FLN’s military wing, under Boumediene, soon took charge of an independent nation and laid the foundations for an authoritarian state run for the benefit of its rulers and their clients.

Lanzmann barely touches on this: he is more concerned that early promises of friendship (by a certain Captain Bouteflika) with Israel were not kept. An Independent Algeria announced that it would send 100,000 men to liberate Palestine. As a sign of the times, Fanon’s widow had re-married, to a militant anti-Israeli, whose views she adopted to the extent of wanting Sartre’s famous Preface to The Wretched of the Earth suppressed, – after the philosopher had signed a 1967 petition, following the 6 Day War backing Israel. The balance-sheet was not positive, “Je croyais qu’on pouvait vouloir en même temps l’indepéndence de l’Algérie et l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Je m’étais trompé.”(Page 505) – I believed one could wish for an independent Algeria and the existence of the Israeli state at the same time. I was wrong.

Israel and 68.

For years Lanzmann was convinced, despite his own experience of the French Communist Party’s cynicism and treachery during the 2nd World War, and what he knew at the time (still less at present) about the dark-side of Stalinism, that the USSR was “le ciel sur ma tête” – the sky over my head (Page 546) That this gradually evaporated seems less significant, as we have just indicated, than what he saw massing against Israel. That was a real menace: to destroy the Jewish state.

It is forgotten today that many on the left shared Lanzmann’s views in the late sixties. In 1967 he edited a special issue of Les Temps Modernes where Arabs and Jews debated with relative good-will. Sartre, during the Six Day war, and the Yom Kipper war, backed Israel. Sartre naturally is better remembered for another standpoint. During his period of close association with the Mao-Spontex Gauche Prolétarienne (GP), he became pro-Palestinian. As Lanzmann notes, with regret, the ageing thinker wrote in La Cause du Peuple a strident defence of the Munich massacre, saying that “Dans cette guerre, la seule arme dont disposent les Palestiniens est le terrorisme.” – the only arm which the Palestinians have at their disposal is terrorism. (Page 573)

Lanzmann attempts to explain, and even to explain away, Sartre’s violent streak. He notes that Sartre’s Preface to The Wretched of the Earth, which outdid Fanon’s psychological justification of aggression, appears to have been an exercise in “philosophie concrète” (concrete philosophy) and conceptual clarity Which seems a roundabout way of saying he didn’t really mean to endorse mass killings and cruelty in any form. As evidence, Lanzmann claims that there were some concrete limits Sartre posed to European terrorism.

Lanzmann believes that it was largely Sartre’s influence that prevented the French far-left from passing to full-scale terrorism on the German or Italian model (Page 575), though in fact, a small group did travel in this direction, and became the 1980s band, Action Directe. It’s true, he indicates, that Algeria has seen a state and society long bathed in “le sang des innocents” (the blood of innocents). It’s also the case that post-Munich, nationalist Palestinian terrorism has been supplanted by Islamist mass murder. This, and the US-led armed interventions the world over, illustrate that violence is a spiral not a release.

One wonders how far one push responsibility for this acceleration of ferocity, or its dampening it down, onto any philosopher, however cretinous or emollient his rhetoric may be. Like Fanon’s assertion that FLN fighters were busy absorbing Sartre’s Critique de la raison dialectique (Page 493), to make such claims is to use arguments of an astonishing légèrté.

One will not find much in Le Lièvre on the controversy surrounding Sartre’s secretary, and one-time GP supporter, Benny Lévy. De Beauvoir had her say in La Cérémonie des Adieux (1981). Whether the future Talmudic student determined the utterances of the Universal Intellectual or not, without his influence it hard to see how Sartre moved from this ultra-revolutionary stance to his support for the 1979 ‘Boat for Vietnam’ campaign – to save people from Vietnamese Communism. It is hard perhaps to see Lanzmann seizing the spirit that drove the Gauche Prolétarienne, from strident ultra-leftism to the anti-communist (with a small ‘c’) apostasy of many of its leading figures, in the first place.

May 68, the French gauchistes’ genitor, Lanzmann witnessed from the “extérieur”. He was an outsider from another generation (Page 570). More than that he appears never to have seized the fact that Sartre’s philosophy, even in its Marxisante form in the Critique de la raison dialectique (written 1956 – 8) had been become not just unfashionable, but unintelligible to much of the post-68 left. While the novels, literary criticism and some of the plays (Les jeux sont faits, 1947 and Les mains sales, 1948)are as bright as new pennies, Sartre’s philosophy has not worn well. The focus of the memoirs shifts completely away from talking about disgreeable topics.

Lanzmann as the ‘sixties ended had begun to be more and more concerned with one thing: defending Israel. He recounts how he came to produce the film Pourquoi Israel (with no question mark). This work continues to cause controversy. Having never seen the picture it is impossible to judge the description in Le Lièvre. Yet, according to the author, it was the spring-board for one of the last century’s greatest documented oral history, Shoah.

Researching, filming and producing Shoah was exceptionally arduous. The film consists of interviews, people left to speak for themselves as participants and witnesses of the greatest genocide of the 20th century. It aims to indicate those who were slaughtered, to show their traces, to hear the echo of their voices. It would be no exaggeration to say that the screening of the nine and a half  hour long documentary mediation on the Holocaust, which took place on British television some years back, was a major political and ethical event. As a measure of its impact the Biblical and Rabbanic word Shoah, catastrophe, disaster, extermination, used to describe the Holocast, has passed into current usage in many languages. Given the enormity of what it refers to it would be better for the pages of Le Lièvre de Patagonie to speak for themselves than to be described here.

The shattering experience of producing Shoah gives an edge to what is already for many a defining moment in their understanding of the Endlösung. After De Beauvoir’s death Lanzmann finally became the Editor of Sartre’s old journal (1986) marking another significant moment in an exceptional biography.

A Major Biographical Memoir.

Claude Lanzmann’s classical prose provides a luminous structure to a complex biography. Le Lièvre de Patagonie is beautifully wrought, and offers a description of that part of the French left which gravitated around Les Temps Modernes. It sheds light on some of the key moments of modern French political and intellectual history, the ideas, relationships, culture and feelings of the circle around Sartre and de Beauvoir, above all their participation in the campaign in support of Algerian independence. For these reasons alone it is of outstanding importance.

Less compellingly the book tries to present a case for Israel. It is unlikely to convince those (like myself) who are, while reluctant to be ‘anti’ Israelis, see little admirable in a state with a confessional, ultimately ethnic, basis. Not everyone has a strong urge to feel a part of a national “souche” (stock). Lanzmann’s passionate beliefs and emotional tissue cannot cloud critical judgement. States are to be judged on political not affective grounds. On democratic, military and human rights criteria Israel is severely wanting. One is equally unmoved by its description of the politics of Les Temps Modernes. As with the declaration of love for Israel, it does not convert those unable to fall under an emotional spell.

For all the beauty of Le Lièvre de Patagonie, on this matter at least, one could say that the Lanzmann’s retrospective gaze casts little light on such heat.

A tribute, a bibliography and a filmography appears on the site of Lanzmann’s publisher, Éditions Gallimard.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann

Guardian:  Claude Lanzmann obituary

Director of Shoah, the epic film about the Holocaust presented through individual testimony

George Galloway and Ken Livingstone in Eagerly Awaited Beanfeast.

with one comment

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

Galloway is a busy bunny these days.

To  past glories such as,   Dusty Springfield, the musical (2010) and children’s books about an ‘ethical pirate’ (2017, we have this, the Show of the Century!

Image result for George Galloway children's pirate books Red Molucca the Good Pirate,

The masses are on tenterhooks…

To crown our joy we also have the following, a spectacle of spectacles:

Topple Galloway
Coming up from D-Day the 6th of June: a brand new show Topple Gallowaytopical gorgeousness, irreverence and lacerating commentary topped off with ribald repartee. George Galloway joins vocabulary forces with independent journalist and commentator Steve Topple of the canary.co. Tune in on Tuesdays for two of Britain’s top talkers in one show!

Here is the some Wit from noted Japester Steve Topple.

 

We look forward to Ken’s response to this Galloway tweet:

John Cleese Joins Brendan O’Neillism: Blasts “Lazy, Fat, Beer-Sodden Belgium Bastards.”

with 2 comments

Image result for biggus dickus

Biggus Dickus Rails at Lazy Fat Belgium Bastards.

The world is in the grip of Brendan O’Neillism.

After Paul Embery’s whinges about Left Wing Zealots, John Cleese, star of the occasionally funny Monty Python is replaying his old parts.

It all began with this (Telegraph)

John Cleese has accused the BBC of “social engineering” after its head of comedy said Monty Python’s white Oxbridge males were out of step with modern television.

Cleese joked that Python’s members met the BBC’s diversity targets because they included a “poof” and “no slave-owners”, and suggested his Ministry of Silly Walks sketch would now be considered “a slur on the handicapped”.

Shane Allen, who runs the BBC’s comedy output, said earlier this week that sketch shows should feature “a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world”, and that times have moved on from Python’s “six Oxbridge white blokes”.

The noted wit replied,

 

Shane Allen, who runs the BBC’s comedy output, said earlier this week that sketch shows should feature “a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world”, and that times have moved on from Python’s “six Oxbridge white blokes”.

Having got a taste for political controversy the leading Brexiteer (Artists 4 Brexit) has tweeted this.

Which provoked this reply,

Hasselt is Dutch-speaking (he later corrected his tweet to “pseudo-Dutch”, which is at least linguistically accurate).

Belgians are lazy, fat drunkards, John Cleese? Hold my beer

Cleese remains undaunted.

But nobody beats the O’Neill at this kind of thing…

Anti-Trump emotionalism has become a menace to reasoned debate.

…anti-Trumpism looks increasingly like a rash and elitist pseudo-movement in which signalling your sorrow and shame is far more important than putting forward a political critique or political ideas. ‘I fucking hate Trump’ – that’s all they have.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Toff Priyamvada Gopal Throws a Wobbly Over Uppity King’s College Porters.

with 6 comments

Image may contain: 3 people

‘Madam’ ne sied pas à son altesse, Dr Gopal.

Priyamvada Gopal is a person with a bit of a history.

Support for gender segregation in 2013, See, Gender Segregation and the Postmodern Politics of Despair.

Attack on Mary Beard earlier this year: Oxfam scandal sparks Twitter row between Cambridge academics.

Her latest escapade was not in long in getting into the media.

The Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal announced today that she will refuse to supervise any students at Kings’ College, due to what she described as “consistently racist profiling and aggression by Porters”.

The Cambridge Student.

This is apparently the substance of her charges.

She described one of her experiences at the college: “‘I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam.’”

Gopal apologised to students but pointed to similar testimonies from other members of the university from ethnic minorities. She said that a King’s student told her that “the issue of racial profiling and unconscious bias at the King’s gate is something we are aware of”.

The response from King’s College Visitor Service was described by the academic as a “classic nopology” – the head of the department stated “it has not been my experience”, according to Gopal.

The professor, who came to Cambridge in 2001, has been involved in several public controversies in recent months, including an argument with Mary Beard over the Oxfam scandal and a Daily Mail article depicting her as a “hate-filled don”.

She has also been an active user of Twitter as a platform for defending her beliefs, having 18,000 followers. In March, however, she announced she would tweet less as she feared “turning into an anti-troll”.

King’s College have said the following: “We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff.

“Every visitor was asked to show their card during the course of that day, as the College was closed to everyone except King’s members.

“Non-members such as Dr Gopal were asked to take alternatives routes, around the College.”

“This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination.

Some might observe that Madam Gopal is the embodiment of conservative upper-class entitlement masquerading as the fight against oppression.

Apparently she has taken the following action ” I have finally decided on my behalf & of other people of colour.”

 

Bless!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm