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New Left Review Tackles Brexit, from ‘anti-systemic’ parties to Corbyn.

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From Brexit Knocks to Corbyn.

Writing after the EU Referendum New Left Review editor Susan Watkins found time to pontificate on the “solipsistic and civilizational” reactions of those who regretted the victory of the Leave camp. She observed, with a cooled head, in tones echoing the French self-appointed speaker for La France périphérique,  Christophe Guilluy, ” the ressentiment of globalization’s losers.” ” Leave voters were markedly more pessimistic about their prospects and those of their children “

Watkins continued, “nearly 70 per cent thought Brexit couldn’t make things any worse.” And yet, she wistfully noted, ” the victory of British (read: English) nationalism has revealed the emptiness of its symbols: Rule Britannia, Mother of Parliaments, Royal Navy, Going It Alone, Dunkirk Spirit—all that has gone. “

Looking to the future, and echoing the words of her partner Tariq Ali, who used the vehicle of Venezuela state media, Telesur to explain that he was ‘Pleased’ Brexit Has Given EU ‘Big Kick’ up ‘Backside'” she concluded,

The Brexit vote doesn’t mean state break-up, yet. Still less the downfall of Brussels. For now, though, it is plain that Blairized Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianized eu. Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment—Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Juncker to Xi—has inveighed. Which will ultimately prove more important, and what the side-effects of each will be, remains to be seen.

From the Intergalactic Senate Perry Anderson opined in 2017 that,

No other European country has been so dramatically polarised by region, between a bubble-enclosed, high-income metropolis in London and the southeast, and an impoverished, deindustrialised north and northeast where voters felt they had little to lose in voting for Leave (crucially, a more abstract prospect than ditching the euro), whatever happened to the City and foreign investment. Fear counted for less than despair.

…suddenly granted, for once, a real choice in a national referendum, they returned in force to deliver their verdict on the desolations of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

The welcome knocks against the EU were the result of this:

Issues of identity could more readily trump issues of interest than in the rest of the EU. So the normal formula — fear of economic retribution outweighs fear of alien immigration — failed to function, bent out of shape by a combination of economic despair and national amour-propre.

Britain’s example should be followed,

For anti-systemic movements of the left in Europe, the lesson of recent years is clear. If they are not to go on being outpaced by movements of the right, they cannot afford to be less radical in attacking the system, and must be more coherent in their opposition to it. That means facing the probability the EU is now so path-dependent as a neoliberal construction that reform of it is no longer seriously conceivable. It would have to be undone before anything better could be built, either by breaking out of the current EU, or by reconstructing Europe on another foundation, committing Maastricht to the flames. Unless there is a further, deeper economic crisis, there is little likelihood of either.

Yet, as the title of the broad brush indicates, “Why the system will still win.”, so one can be confident that Anderson does not see the prospect of the ‘dual power’ of his 1970s flirtation with the left returning.

In the latest New Left Review a less abstract note is struck by the Deputy Editor of the journal,  Daniel Finn,

Brexit has thrown the whole political field into confusion, and Labour will struggle to achieve a majority in parliament after the next election, even if it emerges as the largest party. The conditions of its likely coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, could include the extinction of any distinctive Corbyn project.

Corbyn, Labour and the Brexit Crisis

Daniel Finn Labour in the Brexit Vice

Finn continues, “All factors seem to point towards ultimate defeat, except one: the fact that Corbynism has already survived against the odds to reach its current position.”

There is an account of the Labour Party’s post-Corbyn successes and difficulties.

Brexit, the Vice in which Labour is squeezed, is introduced:

“While rational fears of what Brexit could mean under Tory leadership fuelled the wider Remain constituency” writes Finn” it was Blairite holdovers like Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell who dominated the leadership of the People’s Vote (pv) campaign, skewing its political orientation.

In the sketch this also stands out, ” Expecting the Remain side to win comfortably, the Labour right thought it safe to use the referendum campaign as a factional weapon, telling sympathetic journalists that Corbyn’s line was really an argument to leave the eu altogether.”

Many would note this detail: New Left Review Editorial Board member Tariq Ali, “Jeremy Corbyn ‘would be campaigning for Brexit if he was not Labour leader’, says long-time ally Tariq Ali.” May 2016).

Finn finally settles down to the famous clasp in which Labour is clamped.

Having admitted its importance he admits that the Labour left has its own internal differences.

…. Corbyn allies like John McDonnell and Diane Abbott favoured a change of strategy as well, along with some of the younger left mps (Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Kate Osamor). Divisions over Brexit cut across the left/right cleavage in the plp: Labour front-benchers such as the party chair Ian Lavery were strongly opposed to a second referendum, and McCluskey argued against a sudden shift towards the hard-Remain camp, but a group of mps that included staunch opponents of Corbyn like Stephen Kinnock and Ruth Smeeth also composed an open letter, denouncing the ‘toxic’ idea of a second referendum as a gift to the nationalist right.

The NLR writer – accurately – summarises a real dilemma,

 In any case, securing a referendum is one thing, winning it is quite another. The Labour leadership is being urged by friend and foe alike to adopt a goal that is neither more desirable nor even more achievable than its previous stance, in the name of avoiding electoral meltdown.

This is differently phrased to his comments in  ‘Jacobin‘ a few months ago (which combines the following with the all too familiar ranting tone of the US’s ‘leading ‘ left voice, this time about Paul Mason’s, ” shop-soiled reactionary agenda .”)

One of the main advantages of a “soft Brexit” deal — whatever its precise details — would be avoiding the need for a second referendum. Most advocates of such a vote have been shockingly complacent about their chances of victory, brushing aside opinion polls that suggest a rerun of the first vote would be too close to call.

Even if Remain won, the campaign would be even more rancorous than the first, and only a landslide result could truly settle the issue.

We may now be drifting towards a second referendum in any case. But Corbyn and Labour were right to try and avoid that outcome.

There has often been a tendency to defend Labour’s position in terms of electoral pragmatism — the need to balance between Remain- and Leave-voting sections of its base. This is perfectly legitimate in its own right: a left-wing government, implementing Labour’s 2017 manifesto or going beyond it, would make far more of a difference to people’s lives than staying in the EU.

But there was a wider political logic behind the party’s stand. The accusations of “sitting on the fence” leveled at the Labour leadership are misguided at best, malicious at worst. The best elements in the party, including Corbyn, recognized it would be a disaster if Leave vs Remain became entrenched as the main dividing line in British politics.

Electing a Labour Government Matters More Than Brexit

The entrenchment is real and has not been wished away by Corbyn or anybody else.

What of his Jacobin claim that, “if the Labour leadership does now pivot towards the second-referendum camp, it should be seen in a realistic light, as a major setback for the Corbyn project…

Finn – rewriting lightly this judgement – concludes this section,

Corbyn’s latest move fell some way short of the unqualified pro-Remain commitment his opponents were seeking. In July 2019, he announced that Labour would campaign to stay in the eu if that was the only alternative to no deal or ‘a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs’; on the other hand, if Labour formed a government before the Brexit deadline and had time to negotiate its own package, it would put that agreement to a popular vote, with Remain as the alternative choice. The new line could be made to work—but whether Corbyn’s inner-party opponents will allow that to happen is a very different question.

‘Falling far short’ may satisfy New Left Review, but not many others, perhaps he means “falling far short” of a major setback…

“Could be made to work”, pure Andersonese, is as clear as mud.

All three of Finn’s possible scenarios for a Labour government,  headlong retreat by conservative resistance”, a “reformist party that actually carries out reforms”, and (the improbable), ” return to the ideas that animated left-wing forces in the 1960s and 70s when they recognized the limitations of social-democratic rule” depend on a response to the issue of Brexit.

But few can escape the observation that the days of feeling satisfied at the “knocks” delivered by the Brexit vote, or calling for “undoing” the EU have passed.

This is surely worth flagging up in the inconclusive concluding sentence,

If Corbyn succeeds in taking power after the next election, he will have made his way past many formidable obstacles, but his greatest challenges will still lie ahead.

From a different part of the left one can outline some of the deeper difficulties that Labour and the left face:

  • This is not a trivial “culture war”. The days when the category of  ‘anti-systemic’ parties had any use obscures the change. The Brexit vote has been followed by the development of national populist current in British politics. From the Johnson-led Tory Party to the Party PLC, of Nigel Farage (following the example of a number of European ‘parties’ from Macron’s  La République En Marche, Italy’s Movimento 5 Stelle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Rally –   lieu de rassemblement – la France insoumise , a business run from the top), embody currents which call for national sovereignty, free-market economics, and antagonism to the “anti-nation”. The “empty symbols” of Rule Britannia, national “amour propre” not only moblised the Leave vote, they have become the foundations of this politics. A far-right fringe is now actively targeting the “collaborators” who wish to Remain.
  • WIthin the Corbyn camp the continuing influence of a pro-Brexit constituency.  But radical hostility to the “hayekised” EU, and calls to represent the “impoverished” deindustrialised  regions, the ‘left behind’, has not been the basis of a serious economic and social programme. They cannot recreate the labour movement of the 1970s. As the Accelerationist Manifesto pointed out in 2013  ” There can be no return to Fordism. The capitalist “golden era” was premised on the production paradigm of the orderly factory environment, where (male) workers received security and a basic standard of living in return for a lifetime of stultifying boredom and social repression. Such a system relied upon an international hierarchy of colonies, empires, and an underdeveloped periphery; a national hierarchy of racism and sexism; and a rigid family hierarchy of female subjugation. For all the nostalgia many may feel, this regime is both undesirable and practically impossible to return to.”
  • The lingering influence of  ‘sovereigntist’ politics on the British left, one of the principal poles of the pro-Brexit, Lexit, current, creates deeper difficulties. Many of their figures have followed that of its European counterparts.In the absence of a real prospect of “striking real blows at the roots of capitalist power, provoking a crisis within the state machine, and relying upon mass movement” (cited by Finn as the “least likely” of the results of a possible Labour government) they has turned inward. It cannot rely only on the “folk politics of localism” and memory of the “real” working class. Parts of this left has drifted towards a “red brown” cocktail of hostility towards “rootless cosmopolitans”. The leader of probably the biggest post-war left coalition, Respect, George Galloway, is now an open ally of Nigel Farage. Far from being at antipodes to National Populism the Sovereigntist left is in danger of becoming its twin.
  • A left based on transformative democracy has also emerged. As Another Europe is Possible says,”A British exit from the EU would have a seriously detrimental impact on the free movement of people; trade union and human rights; environmental protection; international cooperation; and a host of other vital issues. While, at the very least, the EU is in desperate need of a democratic overhaul, an exit at the current time would boost right wing movements and parties and hurt ordinary people in the UK. European politics has been dominated by neoliberal thinking for far too long – as recent events in Greece brutally demonstrate. But changing this means working to strengthen anti-austerity movements across all of Europe – not walking away. Another Europe is Possible is a campaign for a radical “in” vote. Our campaign will put the case for staying in the EU independently of Cameron and big business, opposing any part of a “renegotiation” that attacks workers’, migrants’ or human rights. We will combine campaigning for an in vote with arguing for an alternative economic model, maintaining European citizens’ rights to live and work across the EU, and for far-reaching democratic reforms of European institutions.
  • This position stands, and is a better guideline for left politics than delight at the EU being given a “kick up the backside” or celebration of ‘anti-systemetic’ parties without any positive emancipatory politics.

Finn is a specialist in Irish politics.

Perhaps he would care to develop – the present article does not –  the theme of how  EU demands for “no room for unilateral exit from the ‘backstop’ designed to prevent a hard border on Irish soil.” have become the centre of the Brexit wars…

Or this:

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2019 at 1:26 pm

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

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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

After Portland, Trump Bows to Far-Right Demands to Consider ANTIFA “Organisation of Terror”.

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Proud Boys Deem Portland A Success Because Trump Sided With Right-Wing Extremists

Huff Post.

“Look at Trump’s Twitter … he’s watching antifa. That’s all we wanted,” boasts former Infowars staffer and protest organizer Joe Biggs

A former Infowars staffer who organized the Proud Boys protest in Portland Saturday deemed the “mission” a success Saturday because President Donald Trump sided with the right-wing extremist group against the anti-fascist “antifa.”

“Go look at President Trump’s Twitter,” Joe Biggs told the Oregonian (see the video above). “He talked about Portland, said he’s watching antifa. That’s all we wanted. We wanted national attention, and we got it. Mission success.”

Biggs said he was pleased with the relatively peaceful day between the Proud Boys — which describes its members as “western chauvinists” — and counter-protesters, who included antifa activists. Portland police reported that at least 13 people were arrested and six were injured.

The Proud Boys who organised the racist march:

The Proud Boys is a far-right neo-fascist[9][10] organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence.[2][11][12][13] It is based in the United States and has a presence in CanadaAustralia, and the United Kingdom.[14][15] The group was started in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder and former commentator Gavin McInnes, taking its name from the song “Proud of Your Boy” from the Disney film Aladdin.[16][17] Proud Boys emerged as part of the alt-right, but in early 2017, McInnes began distancing himself from the alt-right, saying the alt-right’s focus is race while his focus is what he defines as “Western values”. This re-branding effort intensified after the Unite the Right Rally.[18][19]

This their presentation:

The Proud Boys are a men’s organization founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. McInnes has described the Proud Boys as a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.

Proud Boys‘ values center on the following tenets:

Minimal Government
Maximum Freedom
Anti-Political Correctness
Anti-Drug War
Closed Borders
Anti-Racial Guilt
Anti-Racism
Pro-Free Speech (1st Amendment)
Pro-Gun Rights (2nd Amendment)
Glorifying the Entrepreneur
Venerating the Housewife
Reinstating a Spirit of Western Chauvinism

This caught my attention, “the Proud Boys organization was launched in September 2016, on the website of Taki’s Magazine, a far-right publication for which Richard Spencer was executive editor.”

There is a whole chapter on Richard B.Spencer in Key Thinkers of the Radical Right . Behind the New Threat to Liberal Democracy .(Edited by Mark Sedgwick 2019. Oxford.), Richard B. Spencer and the Alt Right by Tamir Bar-On. 

The Proud Boys say they are “not alt right”.

But their ideas seem to echo many of alt right Spencer’s themes.

He is absolutely barking,

Leftists (who sometimes understand us better than we understand ourselves) have always sensed this; they know that when we talk about immigration, we’re not really talking about immigration.

For us “immigration” is a proxy for race. In that way, immigration can be good or bad: it can be a conquest (as it seems now) . . . or a European in-gathering, something like White Zionism. It all depends on the immigrants. And we should open our minds to the positive possibilities of mass immigration from the White world.

And when White men talks about “restoring the Constitution”—or, more so, “Taking Our Country Back”— leftists and non-Whites are right to view this as threatening and racialist: it implies a return to origins and that the White man once owned America.

Today, in the public imagination, “ethnic-cleansing” has been associated with civil war and mass murder (understandably so). But this need not be the case. 1919 is a real example of successful ethnic redistribution—done by fiat, we should remember, but done peacefully.
The ideal I advocate is the creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent.

We must give up the false dreams of equality and democracy—not so that we could “wake up” to reality; reality is boring—but so that we can take up the new dreams of channelling our energies and labor towards the exploration of our universe, towards the fostering of a new people, who are healthier, stronger, more intelligent, more beautiful, more athletic.

And,

Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”

That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday, gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of  people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe the movement he leads. Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

He thinks the march was “too weak”.

 

That the US President bows to their pressure is beneath contempt.

Spencer is said to be the person who created the term “alt right”, and is aligned with European Identitarians., although his call for a “white racial empire” is not widely, or publicly, shared on our continent.

Comrade Spencer Sunshine says,

SPENCER SUNSHINE: PROUD BOYS & THE RISE OF FAR RIGHT VIOLENCE

 

In this segment, I speak with Spencer Sunshine — researcher, journalist, activist, and political consultant regarding Far Right movements. Spencer discusses of the recent controversy surrounding Gavin McInnis, founder of the Proud Boys, and his invitation to speak at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City, in which a group of Proud Boys openly attacked protesters after the event. We discuss the lack of police interference in the beatings, and the overall trend in policing and law enforcement’s attitude toward Far Right movements in the US. We also discuss the differences and similarities between what has been defined as the “Alt-Right” and the “Alt-Lite,” and what these two camps of Far Right ideology have accomplished in the past year in the expansion and normalization of Far Right rhetoric and violence. We also discuss other strains of Far Right organization and ideology, including Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer, as well the Left’s altogether lack of preparedness in addressing the looming threat posed by these groups.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 18, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Italy: Five Star Movement – once critically admired by New Left Review – on the Ropes.

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Italy: Two Populisms Fall out.

The dramatic move on Thursday came after months of fighting between the League and its coalition partners, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

The cavernous differences between the parties were clearly exposed on Wednesday when parliament rejected a motion by M5S to block a high-speed rail project linking Italy and France. M5S has built most of its popularity on vehemently opposing the long-stalled project but was outvoted by the League and opposition parties.

….

Salvini has been threatening new elections for weeks as the League reached 39% in opinion polls. Meanwhile, support for M5S has more than halved to 15% over the last year.

The League also triumphed in May’s European elections, winning 24% of the vote. The M5S only managed 17%, putting it in third place behind the centre-left Democratic party, which took 23%.

The Italian 5 Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle), it is often forgotten today, was at one time considered by some on the anglophone left to be ‘wing-left’ as well as populist.

Counterfire – who run what’s left of the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly, also called them, once upon a time,a “sort of coalition of resistance” (Beppe Grillo has wiped the smile off the face of the European elite argues Jo Franks. 2013)

Toby Abse, whose articles on Italy this Blog often relies upon, and are highly regarded by all, published this book review in 2016,

What sort of populism?

Toby Abse reviews: Filippo Tronconi (ed) ‘Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement: organisation, communication and ideology’, Ashgate Publishing, 2015.

This, which is long standing theme of comrade Abse, caught many people’s eyes,

Regrettably, Grillo’s most ardent British fans outside Ukip circles – where Arron Banks has actually suggested Ukip needs to copy M5S – have been the staunch Brexiteers of the New Left Review, a journal that in happier days popularised continental Marxism, and once even published an entire issue devoted to Tom Nairn’s challenge to the Europhobic anti-European Economic Community consensus of the British left in the 1970s.

This is no exaggeration.

While some call the movement “eclectic” and “anti-elitist”  – a way of avoiding saying right-wing red-browners –  New Left Review rated the movement for its opposition the system.

The thriving through Chaos, pro-Brexit, and publisher of a variety of sovereigntists such as Wolfgang Steek (that’s enough Coatesy) Editor of New Left Review editor Susan Watkins, was impressed enough to devote a section of one of the journal’s ponderous Editorials to the movement.

This are her assessments of the builders of the Red Brown Front in Italy:

SUSAN WATKINS. OPPOSITIONS March 2016. NLR 98.

This starts, “…only in the last few years have left oppositions started to produce national political projects with an impact at state level—flanked, and sometimes outflanked, by the radical right.”  Watkins continues looking at Corbyn, Syriza, Bernie Sanders, and (remember him, jean Luc-Mélenchon),  and, then, pausing, “Many on the Italian left would deny that Beppe Grillo (at the time 5 Star leader, the Jiminy Cricket founder of the movement now run by Luigi Di Maio) deserves a place in their ranks; not without reason”.

And yet….

The social profile of M5S’s 109 deputies and 54 senators was a marked departure from Italian norms (as with Podemos deputies in Spain): they were it workers, students, housewives and the unemployed, mostly in their twenties and thirties—rather than lawyers, professors and party officials. The M5S deputies pointedly took only half their allotted salaries, donating the rest to local projects; they disdain the formalities of the Palazzo Montecitorio, addressing their fellow deputies as ‘Citizen’ rather than ‘Honourable’—unlike the Corbynistas or Podemos. Uniquely, Five Star parliamentarians were obliged to vote according to their mandates, determined by online plebiscites in which at most 30,000 took part. Ignoring the mandate brought immediate expulsion; around a quarter of the parliamentary caucus has been ejected to date.

She continued,

 ..proponents of online direct democracy, the Five Stars take a position of radical iconoclasm towards Italy’s existing system: they aim to ‘open it up’ to the public by livestreaming back-room negotiations; with the rest of the left and the Northern League, they have assailed Renzi’s new constitution, but went farther in calling for pd President Napolitano’s impeachment over his illegal manoeuvrings to install Monti as prime minister in 2011.

And,

Grillo targets Renzi’s grand-coalition government, rather than ‘the rich’, for ‘destroying the welfare state, the rights of workers and the education system and selling off strategic Italian assets’ to pay down the debt.

This was the key point for the NLR national sovereigntists,

Grillo, who had given full support to the Syriza referendum, derided the capitulation—‘It would have been hard to defend the interests of the Greek people worse than Tsipras did’—and went on to formulate a Plan B for monetary sovereignty within the eu.

This is her conclusion – bizarre as it looks today,

Italy’s Five Star Movement, which can’t properly be categorized as social-democratic—although the policy overlaps are remarkable: M5S shares Sanders’s views on immigration, Mélenchon’s on the euro, Corbyn’s on Western military intervention. One difference is Grillo’s stress on helping small and medium-sized manufacturers: although they all say this, he really seems to mean it—this is his own social background, after all, and an sme orientation also speaks to M5S’s new, ex-Lega supporters.

Another lies in the distinctive social demographics of the Five Stars’ base: they do well among students, the unemployed, unskilled workers, retailers and craftsmen, but less well among white-collar workers and badly among teachers—sectors that are far more supportive of Sanders, Corbyn, the Front de gauche and Podemos.footnote19 The reasons for that may lie in scepticism about the Five Stars’ version of online direct democracy—which can seem whimsical and, indeed, undemocratic—or dislike of Grillo’s coarseness: encouraging his audiences to shout ‘Vaffanculo!’ at images of politicians with criminal convictions, for example. But however poor Grillo’s taste, or repellent his jokes, M5S should be judged, like any political movement, by its actions. Its voter base, despite an influx of Lega Nord and ex-Berlusconi supporters, is still predominantly on the left.

A clearer analysis of the 5 Star Movement was hardly hiding in the broad daylight of left political journals.

Back in 2013 this appeared in Red Pepper,

How Beppe Grillo stole the left’s clothes. Lorenzo Fe 

Let us make clear that this is no victory for the left. M5S is an extremely ambiguous phenomenon. As Giuliano Santoro points out, Grillo and the co-founder of his movement, marketer Gianroberto Casaleggio, are both millionaires with a proprietorial conception of their organisation.

M5S’s constitution, written by Grillo and Casaleggio, states: ‘The name of the Five Star Movement is attached to a trademark registered under the name of Beppe Grillo, the sole holder of rights on its use.’ These rights have been consistently used to expel anyone who has tried to make the movement more autonomous from Grillo’s personal style of leadership.

rillo claims that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are now useless categories. Accordingly, he mixes environmentalism, degrowth and anti-austerity with anti-immigration remarks typical of the far right (for example he rejects citizenship for the children of migrants). When talking to CasaPound, who are self-declared fascists, Grillo stated that ‘anti-fascism’ does not concern him and that everybody is welcome to join the movement.

As the leftist collective of authors Wu Ming noted, Grillo’s proposals are ‘a chaotic programme where neoliberal and anti-neoliberal, centralist and federalist, libertarian and authoritarian ideas coexist’. Wu Ming also accuse Grillo of having channelled popular discontent against austerity in a purely electoral and politically very ambivalent direction, suggesting that this is one of the reasons why there was no Occupy or Indignados movement in Italy.

On the real nature of the 5 Star movement Toby himself noted,

The authors acknowledge that populism is not always rightwing, since no Italian political scientist can ignore the rise and fall of the left-populist Italia dei Valori party led by Antonio Di Pietro. But they see most successful European populist parties of recent times as being on the right (often the extreme right), and marked by anti-immigrant and anti-EU stances in their programmes. The problem with M5S for political scientists is that it fits neither category particularly well. Its original programme – the Carta di Firenze of 2009 – claimed that the Five Stars of its title stood for “[public] water, environment, [public] transport, [sustainable] development and [renewable] energy”.

However, whilst the original 2009 programme has never been repudiated, the absolute centrality to the party of Grillo’s blog has meant that he has shifted M5S to the right by repeated ex cathedra pronouncements on that blog about such topics as immigration. As Vignati points out (p19), “In 2000, Grillo criticised the ‘natural racism’ of Italians”. Regardless of whether Grillo’s recent anti-immigrant stance – particularly his opposition to the granting of Italian citizenship to the children of immigrants born in Italy – is due to electoral considerations, as Lorenzo Mosca suggests on p159, or to the influence of Gianroberto Casaleggio, as Vignati seems to imply on p19, it does make it impossible to define M5S as ‘left-libertarian’ in programmatic terms.

Casaleggio’s assertion in a 2013 text – that “M5S sees the word ‘leader’ as belonging to the past; it is a dirty word, perverted” – is unceasingly belied by its practice, for, as Vignati rightly observes, “its ‘leaderist’ character prevails over the ‘leaderless’ rhetoric with which it is imbued” (p11). Given the emphasis on political families for classificatory purposes, it is rather surprising that none of the contributors comment on Grillo’s lash-up with Farage in the European parliament.

On whether the 5 Star Movement was ever ‘left’ he notes,

There is some disagreement amongst the contributors as to whether the M5S electorate could ever have been categorised as predominantly leftwing, although there seems to be broad agreement that its current constituency is very heterogeneous. Andrea Pedrazzani and Luca Pinto in chapter 4 – ‘The electoral base: the “political revolution” in evolution’ (pp76-98) – see the 2012 local elections as a watershed. Before then, “more than half of Five Star voters expressed preferences ranging from extreme left to centre left (52%) and the rest were divided between respondents who refused to be placed along the left-right dimension (21.6%), centre voters (13%) and rightwing voters (13.4%)” (p94). After the 2013 general election, “the percentage of leftwing voters in the M5S was just 38.4%; rightwing voters almost doubled, increasing to 22.3%; and people who refused to be placed along the left-right divide reached 27.7%” (p95). Or, to quote the same authors’ less statistical summary, “In its early days, the M5S was quite similar to those supporting the left-libertarian parties that formed across Europe in the 80s” (p95), but “Grillo’s anti-system stance has led to a relevant change in the composition of the Five Star electorate, which has gradually become more heterogeneous” (p96).

Also worth looking at:

More articles by comrade Toby: from 2018 to early 2019.

Italy’s government provoking a clash with EU

Against the background of attempts to form a new rightwing coalition across Europe, Toby Abse looks at the manoeuvrings of the rival Italian populists.

Recession and xenophobia

Toby Abse reports on the latest shenanigans of the right-populist government – and the stirrings of organised working class opposition

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Spiked Lays Responsibility for El Paso “Eco-Terrorism” on Extinction Rebellion.

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Madness, They Call it Madness: Spiked.

Top Brexit Party supporters, the Spiked/RCP Network have their own unique line on the EL Paso horror.

The chief of Britain’s National Populist Red-Brown Front, Brendan O’Neill, is in a questing frame of mind, and the quest has found its target.

Is Extinction Rebellion to blame for the El Paso massacre? Maybe Greta Thunberg is? Or any one of the commentators who spends their every waking hour bemoaning mankind’s ‘carbon footprint’ and insisting we need to rein in people’s rapacious consumerist behaviour.

After all, these misanthropic ideas, this green miserabilism, this anti-modern guff about humanity being a plague on poor Mother Earth, is a central feature of the El Paso killer’s manifesto. And if Trump can be held responsible for the shootings on the basis that the manifesto echoes his Mexican-bashing, why shouldn’t greens, who pollute public debate with the kind of anti-humanist ideology that clearly moved and enraged the El Paso murderer, shoulder some responsibility, too?

..

As with green ideology in general, there is a strong streak of anti-humanism in his eco-obsessions.

O’Neill defends the Christchurch murder from the accusation of neo-Nazism

 The Christchurch killer explicitly said he is not a Nazi but an ‘eco-fascist’.

And the modern far-right,

And yet somehow in recent years, this backward, anti-modern obsession with cleansing nature of foul mankind’s uncaring, destructive behaviour has morphed into a supposedly progressive, leftish outlook.

So really it was a left-wing killing….

Er not exactly, .

No green-leaning writer or activist bears even the remotest responsibility for the horrific acts of eco-fascism in Christchurch and El Paso.

Yet there’s, a ‘however’,

However, what is clear is that, in their search for ideological justifications for their loathing of their fellow human beings, both of these killers landed very firmly upon the environmentalist ideology. They clearly spied in it a moral-sounding, pretend-scientific justification for their belief that human beings are scum, a plague, who deserve to be punished. When your belief system so readily lends itself to violent misanthropy, it is time, surely, to rethink that belief system. The fashionable misanthropy of green thinking is in dire need of public questioning and public challenge.

So the leftist green ideology “lends itself to violent misanthropy” – and to violence.

Some people might describe O’Neill and his minions as “scum”, but we will not…

This is where the line comes from, straight from Trump:

DOWNPLAYING THE THREAT OF WHITE SUPREMACY, TRUMP ADMIN CRIES “ECO-TERRORISM”

The Trump administration tried to downplay the New Zealand terrorist’s white supremacist views and the global threat of the radical right. That’s dangerous.

Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, echoed Conway, claiming that the accused terrorist’s 74-page manifesto had “eco-terrorist passages.” He angrily rejected any attempt to link Trump’s rhetoric to the New Zealand massacre, despite Trump’s long history of denouncing Muslims as potential terrorists.

..

The claim that the killer was really an “eco-terrorist” comes from a superficial and historically ignorant reading of his manifesto. In fact, his manifesto does touch on “hedonistic, nihilistic individuals” who are destroying the environment. He says he is an “eco-fascist by nature.” But what Conway, Trump, Mulvaney and much of the right-wing press apparently don’t realize is that Adolf Hitler and the original Nazis saw themselves very much as environmentalists. Among other things, they thought Jews despoiled the landscape, just as the New Zealand killer believes Muslims are doing.

To illustrate the confusionist politics at work here the terrorism smear does not stop the Spiked National Populists from casting doubt on the radicalism of the climate activists;

By contrast, environmentalist campaigns like Extinction Rebellion are, by their very nature, against freedom. They seek to place new limits on human activity: on industry, on economic growth, on our travel, on our diets, and on childbirth.

climate change presents the establishment with an opportunity to manage the little people’s habits, tastes and aspirations.

Extinction Rebellion merely provides a faux-radical gloss to this depressing and stultifying prospect.

Fraser Myers. Spiked (Today An establishment rebellion|: why the elite loves the eco-warriors.)

For a real analysis see this – highly recommended:

Morning Star Warns Labour Against, “joining the hysteria over a no-deal Brexit.”

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Last Stand: Hard Brexiters Moblise inside the Labour Party – as advertised by the Full Brexit Red-Brown Front.

An academic as SOAS who has dabbled in politics, Lapavitsas  is a backer of the red-brown Full Brexit, which brings together ‘left’ anti-EU intellectuals with Brexit Party candidates.

In Spiked he has declared that, “The left must fight for a real Brexit” and in the pro-Brexit US magazine Jacobin the Professor has advised this year the Labour Party to adopt this line, “We Need a Labour Brexit“.

The national sovereigntist is also published in French in this text, Pour un Brexit de gauche  something that takes a claim to be on the ‘left’ at face value.

Lapavitsas spends much of his time attacking left wing internationalists opposed to Brexit.

He regrets, drawing no doubt on his reading of the ancient British Constitution, how things have deteriorated since the European Union medled with its ancient rights and liberties  embodied in the Crown, and passed the  Maastricht Treaty in 1992, .

To begin with, there is now, with the workings of

The dramatic loss of popular sovereignty (which)  underpins the mounting frustration of workers and the poor in the United Kingdom.

He claims that socialist politics are only possible within the sovereignty of nation states,

For Britain to adopt policies of this kind, it would be necessary to have popular control of the national levers of power, that is, genuine popular sovereignty.

There is no European demos, only national peoples, and nations and “popular will”. The ‘social liberalism’ he detects amongst the European young, is a purely national phenomenon, apparently.

The eminent scholar warned against anti-Brexit internationalists trying  to subvert the popular will and deny national sovereignty,

For the broader European left, open adoption of a Remain position by the Labour Party would deliver a body blow to the prospect of developing a radical socialist stance toward the European Union. It would be a triumph for the dominant neoliberal forces on the continent, and a tremendous boost for the authoritarian right, further removing the Left from grassroots opposition to the status quo of Europe.

“Command over national space” – a claim made without any reference to the international nature of markets, of production, of distribution, and of political decision-making – is the goal.

From this dominating position a left Brexit – led by a Labour that has rejected the majority opinion of its own members opposed to Leave  – will enable a socialist government to negotiate its own treaties,. From a position of strength, under the light touch of WTO rules, with the US and the EU, and create a true socialist nation state built on the solid rock of “popular control over the levers of power”.

Whatever they might be, and whatever this “control” might be, and whatever the new institutions to be designed to take over from the existing bourgeois state and capitalist economy.

Our ancient freedoms restored what limits could there be to accelerated socialism across the land?

Costas Lapavitsas has a lot of valuable experience on how to create this new order. Having briefly been an elected member of Syriza in the Greek parliament in January 2015 broke with them a few months later and became a supporter of this splinter group in Greece: Popular Unity.

He appears to have ended this important political intervention in August of that year (Hellenic Parliament).

Greeks seem not to think highly of Popular Unity.

This year it received in the July General Election this vote: 15,930 or 0,28% of the poll.

Here are more hard-line Brexiter tweets from the Morning Star/CPB.

This is a personal favourite.

The Morning Star Warns, (Editorial).

MPs’ votes against no-deal played a political role in laying the groundwork to justify further parliamentary action designed to stop such a departure — including by remaining in the EU if possible.

A no-confidence motion is not enough, since even after losing it Johnson could squat in No 10 while MPs tried to cobble together a new government that could command the confidence of the Commons.

If they cannot do this quickly enough he would be able to call an election, setting a date after October 31 so that Britain’s membership is already expired. If Johnson could keep hold of the leadership of his own party, having delivered Leave in the teeth of parliamentary opposition would give him a narrative that could sweep him back into office.

Labour has unfortunately helped pave the way for such arguments by joining the hysteria over a no-deal Brexit, giving the impression that it is a calamity worth preventing at all costs.

In other words, opposing a hard Brexit would be a bad idea for Labour.

The real calamity would be the defeat of the socialist left and of a Labour Party leadership whose programme represents the only serious attempt in British politics to grapple with the profound economic, social, environmental and democratic crises that have engulfed the Western world.

That would be achieved by any surrender of control of the Labour Party to the right.

The left ought to have no part in any “national government” stitch-up and be ready to take action against any MPs who connive at it.

Even a major break with a significant number of MPs leaving the party would do less damage than meek participation in such a government.

The EU and Brexit

First they say, ” forecasts of a catastrophe are wide of the mark”, then,

 

Britain is the world’s fifth biggest economic power. Most economic activity in Britain—around 80-85%—takes place independently of relations with the EU. Temporary and emergency arrangements could be negotiated, some in areas already covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and economic relations can always be conducted in line with World Trade Organisation rules. These insist upon extensive market access between member countries and, except in very limited circumstances, forbid discrimination against any particular country. Tariffs on each other’s products would be inconvenient—but Britain’s trade deficit with the EU means that the Treasury could reimburse exporters in full from the tariffs on EU imports and still make a profit.

In the absence of the Withdrawal Agreement or an agreed alternative, UK-EU trade relations would be conducted under general WTO rules which (1) guarantee market access between WTO member states in most circumstances; (2) disallow discrimination by one member state against another, unless a preferential trade agreement exists between them; (3) set universal limits on tariff or quota levels that can be imposed on imports; and (4) outlaw ‘dumping’ of under-priced exports on foreign markets.

Trading with the EU on WTO rules would free British governments to reduce tariffs with other countries and trading blocs which account for 55% (and rising) of Britain’s trade.

Outside the EU, Britain would nevertheless remain a full participant in more than 70 international organisations including the UN and its affiliated bodies, the World Trade Organisation, the G8, the IMF, the International Labour Organisation, the International Panel on Climate Change, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, Interpol and NATO.

Lapavitsas: No Deal should have been the default position from the outset. It is an outrage that the government has not prepared the country for it. What have they been doing for two years?”

Brexit Party: James Heartfield, (former..) Revolutionary Communist Party Cadre is Red-Brown Candidate Against Jeremy Corbyn.

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Red-Brown James Heartfield Amongst Many Brexit Party Candidates. 

 

Proud of being publicised in Breitbart Hearty links to this:

Brexit Party Ramps up the Pressure on Boris Johnson, Announces New Parliament Candidates

A Brexit Party MEP has reacted with anger to the suggestion that now Boris Johnson is Prime Minister the party should stand aside, insisting that the British people still need to hold politicians to account over the promised withdrawal from the European Union which still hasn’t happened.

Claire Fox, a new member of the European Parliament and, as a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party a key example of the broad political coalition for Brexit Nigel Farage has built, reacted to the suggestion that the Brexit Party could now be merely dismissed by the government as the party announced 50 new candidates ready for a snap election……

 

……

The irony won’t be lost on Mr Corbyn himself, who has been a long-standing critic of the European Union but was apparently forced to drop his views after becoming the leader of the Labour Party. James Heartfield will stand for the Brexit Party in Corbyn’s constituency and said of being selected: “I’ve lived in Islington since the 1980s, working in the Council and now as a history teacher… Seeing the way the EU forced vicious austerity policies on Greece and Portugal convinced me we had to get out.

“Free from the EU Britain can make its own decisions about what kind of country it wants to be. I’ve been a Brexit Party supporter since it launched and urge anyone who believes in freedom and in democracy to join us.”

Comment.

Heartfield, a former RCP full-timer and self-styled ‘Marxist’ backer of sovereigntism, is one of those who have welded the Revolutionary Communist Party/Spiked network into the far-right national populist camp. There is debate pm whether he is attracted by the rewards of the Koch brothers or the glory of defending free-market Trump Toady Nigel Farage. Informed commentators agree that the bombastic academic, often called a ponce amongst ponces, represents the lowest form of political life. A true swine.

Updates from the Red-Front to follow….

At least four individuals standing for the Brexit Party are connected with the RCP/LM/Spiked network. James Heartfield (born James Hughes) was a RCP organiser who spent much of the ’80s and ’90s at the heart of the operation. He is standing in Islington North. Heartfield ran as an MEP in May and won’t have paid the £100.

His friend and one time colleague at Living Marxism, Stuart Waiton, also stood as an MEP and is now contesting Dundee West.

Another Spiked/LM writer, Canadian born Kevin Yuill, is hoping to be elected in Houghton and Sunderland South. Mr Yuill is a keen advocate of gun rights and has written tirelessly about how laws prohibiting the sale of weapons don’t stop gun massacres.

Then there’s comedian, performer and financial expert Dominic Frisby, a friend of Lesley Katon via the Comedy Unleashed circuit, who has contributed to Spiked podcasts when not writing ‘comical songs’ about the Brexit betrayal. Mr Frisby told me he applied to be an MEP but was too late and insisted that he did so through the online process like everyone else. But, as a Facebook friend of Ms Katon, it’s not impossible that his distinctive name will have leapt out from the thousands of other applicants.

That may also have been the case with Alaric Bamping, antiquarian bookseller and husband of writer Julia Hobsbawm OBE, who is another member of Claire Fox’s circle. Mr Alaric is hoping to become the MP for Dartford