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Brexit Party’s Red-Brown Claire Fox, “Fascist scum…you should be driven off the estate”?

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Claire Fox with Clenched Fist at the Red Brown Front.

“Si la signification d’un ‘nous;’ ainsi maintenu ou reconstitué se transforma au point de désigner ‘les Français’ opposés aux ‘étrangers’, plutôt que les ‘ouvriers; opposes aux bourgeois…. si l’opposition entre ‘ouvriers aux ‘bourgeois’ perdurant sous la forme d’une opposition entre ‘gens d’en bas’ et ’gens d’en haut…”

If the meaning of a “we” is kept in this way, or transformed to the degree to put the “French” against the “foreigners”, rather than the workers against the bourgeoisie, if the opposition between workers and bourgeois is still there, it’s between those at the “top” and those “down below”….

Didier Eribon. Retour à Reims. (1)

Claire Fox is unhappy. The former Revolutionary Communist Party activist now a Spiked stalwart and MEP for the Brexit Party, has suffered from name-calling. She is a “fascist”. She a” neo Nazi fascist apologist”. She merits threats. She is under the menace of potential physical violence. These claims look real and should be considered as such.

Returning home to my flat in Haringey recently, after a long trip back from Strasbourg, I was approached by a self-proclaimed Corbyn supporter I’ve never met, who screamed a torrent of abuse at me. “Fascist scum…you should be driven off the estate”. He kept on and on, screaming at the top of his voice, that I was a racist. (Just in case of any doubt – I’m not). He was on a bike, it was late at night in the dark and he cycled directly at me twice, to ensure his message was delivered close-up and personal. Eventually he cycled off yelling my name and inviting neighbours to get me kicked out of my house. I admit I was shaken and scared, but also frustrated and indignant at being accused of holding the type of political ideas I have spent a lifetime opposing.

An invitation to carry on insulting me and my fellow Brexiteers

The Moral Maze radio programme regular, and frequent television contributor has defended herself in other ways. Fox says that she is not only far from the extreme right but a  “lifelong anti-racist and anti-fascist.” Fox has even been known to self-identify as a “lefty”, however much she  recoils from “social justice warriors.”

The life-long anti-fascist is, as we’ve seen,  a MEP for the Brexit Party. Its  leader, Nigel Farage addressed in 2017 the far-right German AFD party and got a standing ovation. While he has other allies in Europe, and has backed a variety of causes, including the centre-right Catalan nationalists call to break up Spain, Farage’s best-known loyalty is to Donald Trump. Fox’s BP comrades include Anne Widdecombe, not widely regarded as on the left, and a host of more dubious characters. The party is the personal property of Farage, not a democratic organisation. His latest interventions include a defence of British Public Schools, which he sees as a private business success.

Fox’s defence of the rights of those who voted to leave the European Union knows few bounds, particularly against Parliament. She has cited Shelly’s Masque of Anarchy, comparing them to the Peterloo Martyrs. 

There is an ideology behind this. The former leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi wrote in 2014,

Until the ideals of popular democracy are reconstituted, the way ahead will be strewn with the casualties of the symbolic struggles of the dominant classes. More often the Culture Wars will not have direct physical and material consequences. Their main accomplishment is to exacerbate the fragmentation of social experience through the consolation of segmented lifestyles. (2)

Furedi and his comrades now claim that Brexit is demand for popular democracy.

Hoe can we understand this? In Didier Eribon’s Retour à Reims the biographer of Foucault talked of how class struggles had faded. The left had abandoned the workers in favour of diverse causes launched around the “sujet autonome” – which we may freely translate as a basis for the clashing demands of the Culture Wars. The socially liberal left even preferred indirect political participation and the professionalisation of politics rather than direct democratic control.

Erbion asserted that this turn of the left has opened the way for those “from below” to revolt through the ballot box. The tool a section of former left-wing voters from the working class sized on was to back a party, the Front National that stood for an “us” against the foreigners. This was the assertion of themselves as the legitimate inhabitants of the land, rooted in the “somewhere” where they lived rather than where they worked. It has resulted in a political – votes cast – convergence between the former industrial heartlands of the French Communist Party and Socialists, and the long-standing reactionary, Catholic traditionalist and fascist, constituencies.

It is not difficult to see a parallel with the Brexit Party vote, bringing together traditional middle Tories concentrated in the South and East of England, the patriotic working class and some of the Northern ‘left behind’.

In France the Front National, now rebranded as the Rassemblement National, gets the support of a majority of those defined as working class. This vote is not stable; it is not the result of any serious transfer of ex-Communist activists to the far right. The RN has a small  formal membership around 25,000), and nothing like the paramilitary strength of the pre-War extreme right. . The act of voting – in protest and in voicing an identity against those at the “top” and the foreigners” for the far right created a new “historical bloc” behind the RN. It is far from stable. The process of disengagement from formal democratic participation forms the backdrop to the Gilets Jaunes. This movement expressing popular discontent, led by figures from all over the place, from the Rassemblement National, some of the left, with a violent fringe spearheaded by post-autonomist black blocs and the hard-right arose in the political void – the collapse of the French left –  to confront Macron’s ‘progressivism’  

Erbion, unlike many who pontificate about the ‘left behind’ does not just outline a decline in traditional class struggle. He identified dismantling the welfare state, as a major cause. Taking apart legislation for social protection (hiring and firing) and the redistributive function of taxation weakened the social solidarity that held workers to the left. Macron, like Blair and Brown, is a proponent of welfare ‘reform’ to make France globally competitive.

Furedi, by contrast, has already (2014) accepted that social security was a drag on society. The left had been confronted with the “realisation that an ever-expanding public sector deficit was a burden that could not be indefinitely ignored.” Spiked, which we can safely treat as a political tendency, is in favour of lifting this ‘burden’ still further, to foster the virtues of courage and experimentation, not welfare. The “risk-taking” that they promote is transparent code for the entrepreneurs of the self that Nigel Farage finds in Trump’s America. The string of their bow, from which they shoot out attacks on young environmentalists, is made from the same pro-business cord. (3)

Claire Fox, and her friends publicly indulge in the identity politics of Blue Labour, mourning the erosion of working class community. But they rail against ‘intersectionality’ which tries to create a community of movements for the rights of oppressed groups. There is, it seems, an exception, 

So-called anti-Brexit anti-racists are creating a moral distance between those who they proclaim to be righteous and those stereotyped as inferior creatures. They are legitimising the perception of other types of people as less than human.

There is only one communal focus which they really favour, nations, “National sovereignty is not simply about waving the flag, it’s about understanding that only through the institutions of a nation state can you have a sense of control over your destiny and hold your leaders and politicians to account. It is only in this terrain that democracy has any real meaning.” (4)

Spiked go further. This is the ground of national populism – the belief that the people, in a nation – stand ready to seize control over politics, against the “elite”, which frustrates sovereignty through ‘globalism’. Fox is prominent amongst those who mobilise what Eribon calls the “negative passions” of those who find in the Brexit Party’s anti-EU politics against the “oligarchs” which deny democracy. But as Retour à Reims discovered, at the author’s place of birth and inside his former Communist voting family, the xenophobic hatred that lights their fervour, is never far away. NObody could possibly ignore the hatred of foreigners, from the Top (‘Brussels’) to migrants,  that stood behind a big slice of the Brexit vote. Nobody can ignore that the Brexit Party’s plans to ;take back control’ meant taking something from ‘them’ and giving it to us, the crew of rich business people and their mob followers, as well as the “folks” that Farage talks of. 

In its alliance with the Brexit Party and its other vehicles, such as the Full Brexit, Spiked is a Red-Brown Front, a bloc that draws on left-wing sounding rhetoric (borrowed in part from their own Marxist past) about the privileged elite and class, only to bring their audience to the fold of extreme right national populism. The cure for everything is sovereignty, an abstraction floating in the air, captured by demagogues. Fox has no cause to complain if people dislike her prominent role in this manoeuvre. We accept her invitation, ” you have my permission: carry on insulting me and my fellow Brexiteers. It is an ugly, necessary reality, but it is preferable to censorship.”

We will.

 

****

  1. Page 135. Retour à Reims. Didier Eribon. Champs. 2009/2018 Edition.
  2. Page 243. First World War. Still no End in Sight. Frank Furedi. Bloomsbury 2014. . First World War
  3. Pages 169 – 70
  4. Sovereignty post Brexit: an interview with Frank Furedi  ANDY SHAW & FRANK FERUDI   /  7 SEPTEMBER 2017

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2019 at 12:07 pm

The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Review “in the spirit of popular frontism against Brexit.”

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Image result for The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Jonathan Cape. 2019.

 

The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Jonathan Cape. 2019.

“Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature.” There is no need to scuttle to the reviews of Ian McEwan’s Brexit fable to get the tribute to Metamorphosis. The affecting shape-change of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa is transposed into a pamphlet on beetling Boris Johnson and the project of the ‘Reversalists’ to bring back cash from the European Union.

The Cabinet are fellow bugs. They “eerily resembled humans” despite their “shimmering blattodean core”. This courageous group, with their obsequious (cowed) Spads, would set “the country free from a loathsome servitude”. Has the moment come to squash the lot underfoot, or at least skip these overwrought pages?

Happily the tale shifts. Reveralism, that is, the Brexit project, was a favourite of People with One Idea, “Let the money flow be reversed and the entire economic system, even the nation itself, will be purified, purged of absurdities, waste and injustice.” People should be paid for consuming and a “counter-flow” of money away from the European Union was behind the cause of Reveralism in One Country. The fate of the opposing Clockwise cause was sealed by the promise of “national revival and purification”.

Samuel Butler in Erewhon (1872) imagined, a land in which, amongst other things, the sick are punished for being ill. Reveralism is not such an outrider. McEwan could take the unsatirical panacea, popular on some parts of the anti-EU left, of a solution to austerity through limitless money issues by a sovereign state, in his stride.

A bloody battle with France over fishing rights is equally less than unthinkable. Wetherspoons chief, Tim Martin, manager of pro-Brexit Beer Halls across the country, cannot heat a fish finger without a peroration on the plight of fisher folk under the EU. He weathers, with the backing of US president Archie Tupper, diplomatic crises, and, against the Gallic enemy, the Royal Navy is at the ready. There is a final push for the Reversalist completion Bill. The Royal Assent comes through. You can hear the thump of pint glasses of stale beer even now.

The Cabinet cockroaches celebrate,  “There will be hardship. It might be punishing in the extreme. I don’t doubt that enduring it will harden the people in this great country”. Continuing in pheromone “You have put a human shoulder to the wheel of populism”…..

The Cockroach is not a familiar insect. Some people in Britain may have only rarely seen one. Older readers might recall sentient cockroach creatures in the film of William Burroughs Naked Lunch (1991). Hutu extremists used the word to label Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. One can already see podgy hands at Spiked about to claw into the allegory.

The Cockroach can be read in the spirit of popular frontism against Brexit. It will annoy Brexit supporters. But it would be generous to say that this is better than a squib. It falls short of the ambition flagged up by reference to Kafka’s story. Sams has more of the diatribes against the “inconveniencies of trade” and love of the militia, of Joseph Addison’s Tory Foxhunter, than the words expressing the plight of Samsa and his family. Though this too is far from exact: ancient squires had a certain sincere conviction and more decency than Boris Johnson. Even cockroaches have.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Corbyn’s Plan for “compromise” on Brexit welcomed by Momentum; “Step Forwards” says pro-Brexit, Morning Star Front, Leave Fight Transform (LeFT).

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Paul Mason’s Guide to the Fight Between Internationalists and pro-Brexit Forces in the Labour Party.

JEREMY CORBYN’s plan to offer a “compromise” to Leave and Remain voters in a new Brexit referendum was warmly received today by Momentum and acknowledged as a step forwards by Lexit campaign group Leave Fight Transform (LeFT).

Mixed reaction to Corbyn’s proposed party neutrality in second Brexit referendum

The only criticism the Morning Star cites comes from the Liberal Democrats.

The rest is plain sailing…

Grassroots Labour group Momentum said that the tricky issue of Britain leaving the EU should be “handled delicately.”

A spokesperson said: “Labour is offering another referendum with Remain as an option.

“Simply revoking Article 50 creates more problems than it solves.”

LeFT’s Sarah Cundy told the Star that the campaign group was “glad” to welcome Labour moving on from its “backwards position of campaigning for Remain over their own deal.”

“Labour is hopefully finally realising the necessity to respect Leave voters by not forcibly campaigning for Remain in a second referendum,” she added.

“But if Labour are to retain working-class support Labour MPs need to respect not only the will of the people but also the mandate to respect the result of the referendum on which they were all elected in 2017.

This is the field on which Paul Mason’s scenarios are set to play out.

On the one side, those who are in favour of Brexit, allied, for the moment, with those prepared to shore up Corbyn’s ‘Harold Wilson’ moment, and go along with the idea that there may be, possible, well there might be, a People’s Brexit, in any case it should be up to Labour to leave it open for people to negotiate one.

On the other are those willing to begin a campaign against National neoliberalism by fighting against Brexit.

Left of Europe By 

From an interview with Neil Davidson published in the Summer 2019 issue of New Politics. Davidson teaches at the University of Glasgow.

(unmentioned:  – Neil Davidson is a member of Revolutionary socialism in the 21st century.

Given the illusions many on the left have about the E.U., it’s ironic that its structure corresponds quite closely to the model of “interstate federalism” devised by the economist Friedrich A. Hayek in 1939. Hayek, in many ways the intellectual forerunner of neoliberalism, proposed that economic activity in a federal Europe should be governed by a set of nonnegotiable rules presided over by a group of unelected bureaucrats, without any elected members of government and irrational voters getting in the way.

That’s how the E.U. is structured. Its least democratic institutions—such as the European Commission, the European Council, the European Global Central Bank, and the European Court of Justice—have the most power, while those that are at least nomi­nally democratic—like the European Parliament—have the least. It’s a totally undemocratic institution. It’s more undemocratic than any of the nation-states that compose it, including Britain. It was designed to prevent social democrats from infringing on the logic of capital in Europe.”

Like a Panoptican the EU enforces its rule over the grid of couturiers.

It’s a wonder they ever changed the “non-negotiable rules” to limit working hours and guarantee minimum workers’ right.

Why do the Tories now not like it?

The Tory Party is not acting in the interests of British capital in pushing through Brexit. This dereliction of its duty is the result of how ruling-class parties have evolved in the neoliberal era.

Bad show chaps one might say.

The ‘stupid party’ argument has its limits.

Davidson believes that the Tories have got “distorted”. After Thatcher, its relation with financial capital—became ever closer, and that began to distort the capacity of the party to represent British capital as a whole.”.

Yet, two breaths later, the academic thinks that, “Brexit is a sign that neoliberalism is weakening or possibly coming to an end, not just in Europe but around the world. Protectionism is beginning to revive. Some of this is just rhetorical, but the conflict between the United States and China is a harbinger of things to come.”

So, finance capital’s power heralds the weakening of neoliberalism in the Tory Party.

The real capitalists  are behind Remain – the ERG, Rees Mogg and the rest are only ‘appearances’.

 The main backers of Remain and a new vote on Brexit are the big capitalists, the professional middle class, and sections of the well-paid working class. Each has different visions of the E.U. The bourgeoisie wants to stay in the E.U. or secure a soft Brexit for their class interests and neoliberal project. They have drawn behind them sections of middle- and working-class people who have illusions of the E.U. as a progressive and anti­racist institution.

Davidson is prepared to admit that,

Opinion on the left is divided about a new referendum on whether to stay in the E.U.

But..

Most people on the radical left think this would be disastrous. It would simply consolidate divisions and open the whole situation to charges from the right of betrayal of the original vote. The left liberal press, like the Guardian, support a new vote and claim that there’s a majority for Remain. That may be true, but if there is, it is only a small majority. If another referendum manages only a narrow reversal, it would be catastrophic. It would not resolve anything and would only deepen the polarization and harden it on each side.

This response to the following is only intelligible if one accepts that the “radical left” is pro-Brexit and agree with his mind-reading assessment of our opinions.

This is not the case:

See Chartist: LOVE SOCIALISM, HATE BREXIT

Davidson thinks that there is a new regime of accumulation emerging.

I think we are probably in a transition to a new phase of capitalism. This transition is going to last a long time. Think about the crisis of 1929. It took until after World War II for state capitalism and embedded social democracy to emerge out of the Great Depression. Or think about the transition to neoliberalism itself. The ruling class first articulated this strategy in the late 1970s, but it took a decade or two for it to be consolidated throughout the world system. So it will take some time for a new strategy to replace neoliberalism.

Paul Mason says that there is indeed one, national neo-liberalism, spearheaded by Trump and Brexit. It’s political strategy is a populist one, an appeal to the ‘people’ over the heads of representative democracy, grounded in national feeling.

It may seem, therefore, that the perfect neo-liberalism of the EU is an obstacle to this line of march.

In fact the EU’s mechanisms offer potential ways of thwarting national populism, once we engage in the institutions with the left across Europe.

Despite the bravado of the Morning Star backed pro-Brexit campaign, Leave Fight Transform (LeFT), they have lost support inside Labour, from the left, John McDonnell, to the centre-left – away from the marginalised remnants of Blairism.

This is the real combat

More brave words cannot hide this.

Socialism After the United Kingdom

NEIL DAVIDSON

Corbyn’s balancing act has opened the door in the party for the neoliberals to shift the party in favor of Remain. Labour now seems prepared to call for a new referendum and, in the event of that, support a vote for remaining in the EU.

He rregetfully claims that his lot (which he ptentiously calls “the” radical left, have been sidelined

To be honest we’re in a very difficult situation. Unlike in the Scottish independence referendum, the radical left failed to hegemonize the argument for Leave. Consequently, the center left immediately associate you with Farage and the right. It becomes even impossible to talk about the EU and its actual nature because all opposition to it is wrongly identified with that of the populist right.

I don’t think a general election is a solution of any of our problems in a broader sense, but it might make it possible to break out of the sense that Brexit is the only issue of our time. Even crashing out would obviously cause huge problems, but at least then Brexit is over, and we can start saying, “You put us into this mess, these are the demands — above all, protection of jobs — we want met as trade unionists and working-class people.”

Like many confusionists – from the Morning Star, Momentum, the CLDP and all – Davidson ends by looking for a way out through a folk left politics based on Climate Strikes and ‘anti-imperialism’.

Comrade Chessum puts that one in its place.

Whatever Corbyn decides to replay a Harold Wilson and remain “neutral” or not, its the machine that matter,

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2019 at 11:46 am

Still Facing Rape Accusations, Tariq Ramadan Resurfaces: Compares Himself to Dreyfus and Retweets Assad Propaganda.

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Ramadan, ” Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, St Antony’s College” Goes Full Conspi.

Tariq Ramadan has been the news in France

He has written a book whose publication has been authorised.

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Much of the book is, apparently, full of the usual pretentious intellectual drivel with which he has made his mark.

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That is the least of it…..

Tariq Ramadan compares himself with Captain Dreyfus

Le Monde.

The Islamologist, indicted for rape, has come out of his media silence by publishing “Duty of Truth” (Devoir de Vérité) , in which he attacks the complainants, justice and the media.

In nearly 300 pages, the book alternates between mystical-spiritual considerations, phrases with Nietzschean accents to speak about his ordeal in prison and, especially, it is contains repeated attacks against an evil triptych: the plaintiffs, the justice and the media. “On the road, we must of course overcome resentment and resentment,” says the theologian from the first pages. A bit of advice  forgotten  when he comes to mention those he considers responsible for his troubles.

The accusers?  “Women who were jealous or who felt cheated and who looked settle scores after the facts. “ All liars, he says. As the “Innocent” party, he has no softer words for them. The judges ? Tariq Ramadan immediately feels “their deep hostility” their “voluntary blindness” , when it is not the “shifty look” of the liberty and custody judge responsible for his case.  The media? “They want me guilty” , and indulged in a “lynching” , “with their vulture instincts”.

Now we learn that the latest antics of the dapper Oxford Don (on “leave of absence”, as a Professor at Oxford, that is still with his post)has reached the English speaking world.

The Middle East site The National publishes this:

Tariq Ramadan book to be published despite pleas of rape accuser

Jamie Prentis

The scholar faces a number of sexual assault accusations.

French authorities have allowed the publication of a book by Tariq Ramadan despite it outing a woman, known in the media under the pseudonym Christelle, who has accused the scholar of rape.

A court in Paris ruled that the woman’s identity was already known to the public. But it also accepted that damage would be done to Christelle if her real name was revealed and ruled Mr Ramadan must pay her a symbolic single euro.

He initially denied any sexual encounter with Christelle but later admitted to a consensual relationship in 2009.

“The release of this book as it stands has to be banned as it reveals the identity of my client in 84 instances,” said her lawyer Eric Morain.

“All media have respected the law. Tariq Ramadan must respect it as well.

Mr Ramadan’s book, Duty of Truth, rejects a number of rape accusations levied against him and portrays the academic as a victim. He compares himself to Alfred Dreyfus, a French officer of Jewish heritage unfairly convicted of leaking military information to Germany in the late 19th century.

Mr Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been indicted on two rape charges and faces similar accusation from at least two other women.

The Federation of Muslims in France said felt “betrayed” by Mr Ramadan’s behaviour, in reference to the affairs he has admitted.

“We feel betrayed by the behaviour revealed by Mr. Ramadan, a behaviour that totally contradicts the ethical and moral principles expected of a man who preaches Islam, calls for his spirituality and his values, and answers questions of a mostly young audience and looking for models,” it said.

Mr Ramadan has taken an agreed leave of absence from his post as a professor at the University of Oxford while under investigation. His appearances on French TV to promote the book have sparked outrage in some corners of France.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions said Mr Ramadan’s words are “an insult to the memory of Alfred Dreyfus and an offence to all who worked towards his rehabilitation”.

He was detained in February last year and held for nine months before being granted bail and denies all the charges.

Last month, Mr Ramadan faced a new accusation of raping of a woman in May 2014 in Lyon, France.

The bit about Dreyfus is not a joke, rather it’s a very poor taste one:

The  plea of total innocence – of rape – recognises his adultery, and, does not mention (that is, does not explicitly deny) his sado-masochistic tastes,

Il nie tout, ignore les accusations de séquestration et de domination, de sodomie forcée, de coups violents et d’humiliations – comme l’ont décrit les plaignantes, dont il livre au public toutes les identités, alors qu’elles avaient témoigné sous X. Son récit n’évoque même pas la contradiction avec son puritanisme affiché.

He denies everything, ignores the accusations of forcible confinement, forced sodomy, violent beatings and humiliation – as the Complainants, whose identities he gave to the public, testified under X. His story does not even evoke the contradiction with his claims to puritanism.

Marianne: Tartuffe. Avec “Devoir de vérité”, Tariq Ramadan fait sa charia

Ramadan’s bluster has not gone well with his old mates.

Le retour de Tariq Ramadan fâche dans les milieux musulmans

Libération.

Tariq n’a fait aucune amende honorable», regrette l’un de ses anciens proches. «Il a un culot monstre, de tenter de revenir sur scène», commente Abdelaziz Chaambi, un ancien compagnon de route lyonnais, en froid avec le théologien depuis une dizaine d’années. «Qu’il se taise» réclament les milieux musulmans, selon le sociologue spécialiste de l’islam Vincent Geisser, au fait de l’ambiance de la base.

“Tariq has not made an honourable amend  regrets one of his former relatives. ” He has a bleeding cheek,  to try to come back on the public stage, ” said Abdelaziz Chaambi, a former fellow traveller from Lyon, who has fallen out with the theologian the last twelve years. “He should shut up”  demand Muslim circles, according to the sociologist, specialising in Islam, Vincent Geisser, reflecting on the atmosphere at the grassroots.

Fat chance.

Here some of his true friends:

Ramadan continues with his new dada’

We hear that a book attacking the pious Oxford Don is in the pipeline for publication soon.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2019 at 11:05 am

Campaigner against “rootless cosmopolitans”, Paul Embery, gets Sky News Platform.

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Image result for rootless cosmopolitan Paul embery

No bad Tweets go unrewarded, Embery Now on Sky News.

The ex-Revolutionary Communist Party member, today,  pillar of the Red-Brown Front, Spiked, and Brexit Party MEP is right.

You can watch the Press Preview on Sky News every evening at 10.30pm and 11.30pm.

Sunday night’s reviewers will be writer and columnist Christina Patterson and trade unionist Paul Embery.

Sniffer out of metropolitan elites Embery is unrepentant:

Down at the Dog and Duck, where they speak, politely,  of nothing but a “genuinely-held belief” in the existence of ‘rootless cosmopolitans” Embery has another mucker.

 

Another regular on Sky is in full froth.

There is a twisted route by which these people have followed to get to National Populism, with as many bends than the French red-brown soveriegntists who rail at the legacy of May 68,  the culture of narcissism and identity politics.

But none is as bent as Brendan.

Here is a sample of the great man on the Sky Press Review

“Boris has been confronted time and again over his niqab comments. His critics say ‘words have consequences’. But censorship has consequences too. Silencing criticism or mockery of Islam would have awful consequences — it would kill freedom of speech.”

Brendan O’Neill on Sky

Written by Andrew Coates

September 10, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Notre histoire intellectuelle et politique. 1968 – 2018. Pierre Rosanvallon. Review.

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Image result for Notre histoire intellectuelle et politique. 1968 – 2018. Pierre Rosanvallon.

Notre histoire intellectuelle et politique. 1968 – 2018. Pierre Rosanvallon. Les Livres du Nouveau Monde. 2019.

History, writes Pierre Rosanvallon, has meted out a long series of disappointments, and still bites at our neck. One of France’s leading public intellectuals, who began his career working in the secularised, once Catholic, trade union, the CFDT, developing their radical approach to autogestion, self-management, Notre Histoire starts with reflections on the ordeals of politics today.

The shades of the defeat and marginalisation of the French left, with Macron wiping the floor of the left in the Presidential contest of 2017, the once-governing Socialists down to just above 6% in the 2019 European elections, and the populist left of Jean Luc-Mélenchon at 6,3%, hover for the reader of a book originally published last year, at the start, the middle, and the end of these pages. Yet, the author, asserts, despite the widespread feeling of powerlessness, the left should not wallow in pessimism, however lucid. Beyond sterile political managerialism, and posturing Rosanvallon aims to offer a renewed effort towards a “perspective émancipatrice”

The present volume is a balance-sheet of decades of public intervention, above all, post 1981, in the French governing left, and more books and articles than one cares to count. Rosanvallon “combines positions in the power in the academy, prominence in the media, patronage in publishing; enjoys close connections with the worlds of business and politics” Perry Anderson continued in 2009, a social liberal “embellishing the new”, and engaged in a “work in progress” towards a “liberal future”. (1)

One of the many merits of Notre Histoire is to put that angle firmly in its place. Rosanvallon lays claim to the influence of Cornelius Castoriadis on his 1970s work for the CFDT and development of ideas about autogestion, and close relations with the Socialisme ou Barbarie (SouB) thinkers. His approach to labour history was influenced by E.P.Thompson and Gareth Stedman Jones and History Workshop. He was informed by Michel Foucault’s ideas on liberalism as a “une technologie politique”, and the writings of Jacques Rancière, André Gorz and Marcel Gauchet. Rosanvallon, fortified with these influences, could he be conveniently classed amongst the hysterical anti-Marxist nouveaux philosophes. Not does Rosanvallon refuse to called an ‘anti-Marxiist, but for him totalitarianism was a wider phenomenon of modernity, marked by the abolition of politics as an autonomous realm, and a disregard for democratic processes.

The critique of totalitarianism, began by another SouB writer, Claude Lefort, did not imply a sense of self-satisfaction with liberal democracy The liberalism which he began to defend could be better seen in terms of the image of sovereignty as an “empty place”, which all can compete to occupy. There is a permanent revolution in democratic invention, ‘indeterminate” (that is, never fixed) propelled by movements and demands for rights and recognition. Rosanvallon’s writings, on “counter-democracy” far from waddling off into ever more complex sovereignties, are intended to offer this radical supplement. This is far from the “anti-political” liberalism of the unfettered free-market.

Second Left.

The Second Left (deuxième gauche), with which Rosanvallon was identified with in the 1970s – an “organic intellectual” – had a more immediate target, the “social-étatism” of the French Communist Party (PCF), and sections of the French Socialist Party, (PS). Yet, as he recounts, in the 1980s, during François Mitterrand’s Presidency, neither the statists nor his own side, from the CFDT to Michel Rocard, succeeded in imposing their ideas. Rocard took stock of economic reality and backed the turn to “rigour” in the 1983 turn from the PS’s plans for a Keynesian national relaunch. Yet this “realism” became a kind of “religion” for this current, at the expense of any plans to change to society (Page 207). As Prime Minister from 1988 to 1981, Rocard began France’s ambitious decentralisation programme, and made steps toward an inclusive universal social security system. But the Second Left itself, in the wake of the CFDT’s dropping of autogestion and socialism, no longer existed as a coherent political force to confront the challenges of neoliberalism. Following others he paints a picture of the PS clinging to Europe as the theatre for their ambitions, a – flawed – construction that compensated for the lack of national ambition. This limited their approach to democratic and social issues. (Pages 217 – 219).

Notre Histoire would no doubt be the cause for some cackling in pro-Brexit New Left Review circles if it remained fixed at this point. But Rosanvallon has another narrative, of wider importance, the rise of sovereigntism. From leader of the PS’s marxisant CERES to government Minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement developed a “republicanism” from 1986 onwards in Socialisme et République which gradually obliterated all reference to socialism. This went with a return to the Nation, and the ponderings of Régis Debray on the soul of France and the manes of Gaullism.

Notre Histoire observes that the rediscovery of republicanism could also be found visions of “civic republicanism” described by the historians of ideas such as John Pocock and Quentin Skinner – reprised more recently by Chantal Mouffe. Yet this was not an academic detour. Identifying globalisation (with a heavy accent on ‘Americanisation’) and the European Union, this current has developed a defensive and restrictive concept of secularism (‘Laïcité’), a conservative vision of education, and a fundamentalist stand on sovereignty. (Page 256) Chevènement now is part of a small movement, Le Mouvement républicain et citoyen, (MRC), whittled down to The Republic defended against all.

The ‘anti-68’.

Rosanvallon outlines the “pensée anti-68” which parallels the retreat of this part of the left (including his old comrade, Marcel Gauchet) to ideas that seem closer to the anti-cosmopolitan right than to an emancipatory left. The writings of Christopher Lasch on the “culture of narcissism”, influential in France, and Lipovetsky’s critique of hypermodernism and individualism (a coupling, some would say, ignores that writer’s more optimistic moments), writers on the breakdown of community and traditional solidarity, the left-behind in La France périphérique, and the critique of the “rights culture” are cited to indicate an anti-68 “populism”. Perhaps it is in this nébuleuse that one can see some of the most significant “passerelles” (bridges) between the left and national populism. It does not take long to see parallels amongst the British ‘left’ supporters of the Full Brexit and their Brexit Party members.

Others will no doubt go through Rosanvallon’s approach to neoliberalism, informed by a reading of Foucault on ‘governmentality’. The concept that emerges at the end, of an “individualisme de singularité” casts some light on a key aspect of modern politics, the decline of mass class based parties and trade unionism. The weakening of collective negotiation goes in hand with patterns of work, making inequalities both more resented (directly experienced), and less easy to see in terms of people as groups. He writes, “le peuple”, the people, is henceforth the plural of a vast collection of different “minorities”. (Page 410)

Anderson, we have already noted, dismissed Rosanvallon. Apart from his pretensions, so distant from those of the one-time Editor of New Left Review, to international stature, he writes, apparently, is “somewhat priestly”. This is not a trait this reviewer has noticed, and he has at least seven of the author’s books. They are fluent, thought-provoking, aware of debates rarely taken up in France (such as British post-war discussion on equality and socialism) and a mine of information. One would like to follow his lectures he now gives as a member of the Collège de France. Anderson is not alone in scorning all reference to ‘liberalism’. Claude Michéa, accused of reneging on his SouB roots, now the manufacturer of grumpy populist books on common decency and the left-behind, calls the alliance between liberalism, internationalism, and socialism, one of the founding faults of French socialism. Others, who have learnt much from Rosanvallon’s writings on democracy,  for all their, at time, sweeping history, would disagree. The present work, studded with a marked degree of intellectual honesty,  indicates many reasons why. (2)

Facing up to National Populism.

How these insights enable us to face up to national populism is far from clear. Solidarity and national protectionism may look appealing to fragmented minorities. Rosanvallon only announces a possible “conceptualism” of populism, not a new emancipatory project. By contrast though, the “democratic revolution” outlined by Claude Lefort and developed in different ways by writers such as Étienne Balibar as “unlimited democracy” may offer the basis of an alternative. Not shutting down, not borders, not the sovereignty of referendums and chiefs – or PMs – but the popular ‘counter-democracy’ movements like Another Europe is Possible try to embody, indicate that nationalism can be fought. How successfully, we have yet to see. Democracy, as Lefort said, is “indeterminate”. On the horizon we see that Thomas Piketty has just published a new tome, Capital et Idéologiewhich includes proposals for reform and transform the European Union. The fight continues…..

*****

(1) Pages 208-9. The New Old World. Perry Anderson. Verso. 2009.

(2) La Gauche et le Peuple : lettres croisées. Flammarion 

 

See:  Une aventure intellectuelle par Jean-Yves Potel

and, amongst many other  reviews,  Pierre Rosanvallon : bilan d’étapes Jean BASTIEN

The Red-Brown Front – Spiked – Ramps Up Culture of Intolerance Towards Owen Jones.

with 11 comments

Image result for owen jones attack

Spiked, “swift and opportunistic use of the attack to demonise certain sections of the media.”

Spiked is the leading voice of the Red-Brown Front, the arm that helps fight the culture wars for the national populist Brexit Party.

They stand for an identity united around National Sovereignty for the “real” people who back Brexit against the elites.

Spiked aims to create a society, in which risk is taken by science-driven entrepreneurs, every country is fiercely independent,  business and culture thrive democratically, and trade is willingly  negotiated with free-spirit Donald Trump.

The virtues and the heritage of European civilisation, culture, and the Enlightenment are behind them.

A “war against ‘No Deal Brexit’, ” really just means a war against Brexit”

Spiked battles for the heroic “ordinary people” the “disenfranchised” like Nigel Farage and Anne Widdecombe against “offence culture” and wokeness.

It’s no surprise that to create a segmented society, excluding their opponents,  they target “Patsy” Greta Thunberg  and Owen Jones, “mouthpiece of middle class moralism”.

Brendan, for it is he, has today chosen Owen for “using” the assault he was a victim of over the weekend.

Not just using, but taking the case of people fired up by bigotry to implicate the bigots in the media.

Who’s really demonising journalists?

There is a grim irony in the response to the assault on Guardian columnist Owen Jones. Which is that this attack on a journalist is being used by woke leftists, including by Mr Jones himself, to attack journalists.

He continues,

the swift and opportunistic use of the attack to demonise certain sections of the media could prove to be the greater threat to press freedom.

Brendan pauses, to sip his own breath,

It goes without saying, I hope, that the attack on Jones was horrible and outrageous. Especially if it is true that he was targeted for his leftish beliefs. That would make it not just a punch-up outside a pub, but also an act of political intolerance. That is out of order in an open, civilised society.

But that makes it all the more depressing that this alleged act of intolerance has been weaponised to a different cause of intolerance – the left’s intolerance towards free-wheeling, rabble-rousing press outlets. Or as Jones referred to them yesterday, when he was outrageously implying that they bear some responsibility for what happened to him, the ‘hate preachers’ of the media.

The man himself sniffs his armpits,

He claims his attackers were far-right activists. And he says such far-right activists have been emboldened by ‘people in the mainstream media who deliberately stoke tensions, who demonise minorities and who demonise the left’.

His target was clearly the tabloid press (NOTE, which O’Neill writes for).  He said: ‘We should just be honest about it. We live in a society where on the front pages of newspapers you have things like “enemies of the people”, “traitors”, “saboteurs” – that’s how people are discussed in politics.’

Reaching for his Voltaire and loudly passing wind, O’Neill, bellows,

Prejudice against certain newspapers, and more importantly prejudice against the people who read them, who are presumed to be so fickle, so easily warped by words, that a few spicy headlines can convince them to wallop a Guardian columnist outside a pub.

Lowering to his warmed over theme he continues,

…who is responsible for the attack on Andy Ngo in Portland? The so-called antifa forces who assaulted him, very violently, notably used milkshakes. They were clearly inspired by the middle-class milkshaking phenomenon in the UK and possibly by pro-milkshaking journalists at newspapers like the Guardian, one of whom said milkshaking is a valiant effort to ‘reduce men of pomp to figures of ridicule’. If the Express bears responsibility for right-wing violence, does the Guardian bear responsibility for left-wing violence?

The conclusion,

The problem is a broader culture of intolerance towards different opinions – and that ugly culture comes more from the PC establishment itself than it does from a few saucy front-page headlines.

As in, “The green movement has become hysterical” Spiked 16th of August.

Meanwhile:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 19, 2019 at 1:13 pm