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Tommy Robinson Backs Gilets Jaunes as Far-Right Marches in London Against ‘Brexit Betrayal”

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Yellowjackets Movement UK Division  said to be Joining Far Right March.

Roads in central London are to be closed off for Sunday’s “Brexit betrayal” demonstration and counter-protests, and officers may ask bars and pubs to shut in the surrounding area.

Robinson, the English Defence League (EDL) founder who has been welcomed into the Ukip fold as an adviser to leader Gerard Batten, has praised rioters in Paris on social media.

Sharing footage of violence and vandalism to his more than one million Facebook followers, he characterised the movement as “anger at the corrupt political class”.

“Revolution is coming, prime minister May should take note,” Robinson wrote, while promoting the protest.

In a subsequent video, he appealed to supporters to be on “impeccable behaviour”, adding: “It’s not a day out for a drink.”

Some are planning to wear yellow vests themselves, and a group calling themselves the “Yellowjackets Movement UK Division (sic)” has formed.

Independent.

Update:

 

Second Picture at the bottom shows people wearing Gilets Jaunes on Brexit Betray March:

 

The French far-right already had the idea:

Image result for rassemblement national soutien gilets jaunes

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Gilets Jaunes and the Crisis in France, a Left Analysis.

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Image result for gilets jaunes

The Politics of the Barricades Reborn?

“Toutes les grandes crises que connaît le pays prendront la forme d’une tension entre ceux d’en bas et ceux d’en haut et d’un process des élites gouvernantes.”

All the big crises that the country has experienced have taken the form of tensions between those at the top and those at the bottom, in the shape of an attack on the governing elites.

Jacques Julliard  La faute aux élites. 1997.

On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils”.

Nothing is given so freely as advice.

La Rochefoucauld. Maxims. 

In France, between October and October 2018 the pump price of petrol rose by 15% and diesel (used by many motorists) 25%. Taxes make up 60% of cost of fuel. While presented as part of a “Green transition” plan most of the money goes to general public finances. In May an on-line petition calling for a reduction in these increases had attracted 220,00 signatures by October. On the 10th of October there was a call to block the country’s road system. Social Networks carried videos backing action. By the 17th of November there were 300,000 people across France protesting against the price rises.

Every account agrees that the Gilets Jaunes were initially self-organised through Face Book, Twitter, and self-made Videos. The demands of the movement, which have spiralled in all directions, began to focus on high taxes and the erosion of the purchasing power of ordinary power. To which have been added the decline in the public infrastructure of La France périphérique, precarious working conditions, and, above all, the call for the President Emmanuel Macron to resign. Demands for a special national conference, whether as an Assembly on Fiscal issues, or a ‘Grenelle’, that is a wide-ranging agreement on the pattern of the 1968 union-government negotiations, to resolve these difficulties, have emerged.

Neither the Web, nor efforts to designate spokespeople for the Gilets Jaunes, have enabled the movement to cohere around an agreed structure. There are groups out at roundabouts, tollbooths, and demonstrators. There is a far-right presence, and the “people from somewhere” often show support for the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen. There was a strong presence of ‘nationalists’ during Saturday’s violent demonstration on the Champs Élysées. 

The left has shown sympathy for the demands of the movement. Lundi Matin, linked to the comité invisible which believes in a coming insurrection, gave support. Their affinity mouvance is said to be have engaged in some of the street fighting. The widely respected group, Verité pour Adama (after the name of a young person killed by gendarmes in 2016), with wider backing, has attempted to waken the banlieue to the revolt. To join the main march they mobilised a few hundred people in central Paris. Across the country there are reports of left-wing activists joining Gilets Jaunes actions, either on their own initiative, as part of the strategy of La France insoumise to “federate the people” around their own movement, or from other, much smaller, left wing organisations.

Protest Spread.

Following the government’s climb-down Lycéens and students have protested against Macron’s education ‘reforms’, often amid violence. As with Saturday’s protests the forces of order have reacted with a heavy hand. Farmers are also out on the streets. Many groups, though not, as yet, people in the workplaces, have seen in Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe’s announcement of an end to the fuel price hike an opportunity to press their case. The CGT has announced a national days of action and demonstration with a list of demands, on the 14th of December.

The French left has suddenly discovered a long history of popular uprisings that began with protests against taxation. The burden of the 17th century paiement de la dîme’ has nevertheless little in common with today’s tax regimes.

As Alexis Spire points out in the latest le Monde Diplomatique, outsourcing means that large numbers of workers are nominally self-employed (as in the UK), and have to pay for themselves. Reliant on their own transport they would find it hard to see why their means of getting to work should be a source of state revenue. A ‘far-away’ government, which seems to offer little in the way of public services across large swathes of the country, imposes charges on people who see little in return. To add to this tax offices are less and less accessible. One asks how people in France would react to the virtual disappearance of physical contact with HMRC. (2)

Before tax revolts become the left’s favourite new social movement it is nevertheless important to see some difficulties here. To begin with in 1953 Poujadisme started with small businesses revolting against tax inspectors verifying their accounts. Jean-Marie Pen began his political career as a Parliamentary deputy for this movement which won 52 seats on 11,6% of the vote in 1956. Echoes of the less than progressive aspect of this early ‘populism’ can be seen in Gilets Jaunes demands for less frequent strict MOT tests, raising rural speed limits, the – to their admirers marginal – racist incidents which have come to wider attention, and the enthusiastic backing from le Pen’s daughter Marine le Pen.

As the quote from Julliard reminds us, complaints about French governing elites are far from new. Today we have those who talk of “post-democracy” the detachment of polities from the masses reinforced by Macron’s neoliberalism. In the era of Donald Trump’s broadsides against globalism it is hard to imagine that opponents of the liberal ‘progressive’ (Macron’s self-description) centre are invariably to be welcomed.

The real problem is that Emmanuel Macron came to power after a political earthquake in 2017 marginalised all the traditional political parties. His own movement-party, la République en Marche (LREM), ”  centrist, liberal and social-liberal” was only founded in April 2016. It is made up of politicians from the centre right, the  right wing of the Parti Socialiste, a dash of ‘personalities’ and a lot of newcomers. It has definite campaigning experience in the grass-roots, but little experience of long-term local political implantation.

On the left opposition la France insoumise )FI) is a body linked together, like the Gilets Jaunes, by the web (I received an electronic appeal to ‘vote’ on their European programme a few days ago). It, like LREM, is a movement around a Leader, not a democratic party. Both the President’s effort to negotiate with the thousands of visible Gilets Jaunes factions, and FI’s efforts to speak on behalf of le Peuple, start from a position of outsiders trying to direct the political theatre.

Unity Against Macron’s Arrogance is not a Strategy.

Some of the best, and realistic, accounts of the present crisis have come from those with little stake in the state system or on the bigger parties of the left. They have indicated that, perhaps in a more acute form than in the UK trade unions, where activity is at low ebb, syndicates have been weakened in recent years, as the failure to push back Macron’s labour reforms and his liberalising plans for the rail system illustrates. The violent acts on Gilets Jaunes marches were no doubt made worse by the absence of traditional union or left stewarding. There is little coherence on a left which may well end up presenting over 7 different lists for next year’s European elections.

The way in which the present movement has tossed aside what local campaigns have been built going to help those trying to push them in a left direction. With the demands of the Gilets Jaunes moving like a buoy tossed by the sea in all directions, it is hard to see that either following them (suivisme) or trying to channel them, is going to work.

More fundamentally, how can any the left’s fight against austerity meet demands meet the call for fewer taxes? 

In these conditions who can be surprised to hear calls for the tax burden to be relieved by cuts in state spending, that is real neo-liberalism, from former Prime Minister and right-wing politician Édouard Balladur  – this morning, on Europe 1.

*****

(1) Page 52. Jacques Julliard La faute aux élites. Folio. 1997.

(2) Aux sources de la colère contre l’impôt. Alexis Spire.  December 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique. 

(3) Histoire de l’extrême droite en France. Michel Winock Seuil 2015

Written by Andrew Coates

December 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

The Gilets Jaunes: some details on the political composition of Saturday’s events in Paris.

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Au pied de l’Arc de triomphe, des manifestants arborent un drapeau avec le blason de Jeanne d'Arc.

 

Quel mythe! dit Hussonnet. Voilà le peuple souverain!

Sarpolotte! Comme il chaloupe! Le vaisseau de l’État est ballotté sur une mer orageuse!”

L’Éducation sentimentale. Gustave Flaubert. 

Who hasn’t taken an active part in a political riot?

I have a friend, a close friend, who recalls chucking bricks at fascists, and bank windows. He tells me that back in the day he got caught up in some protests in the Quartier Latin that ended with a luxury shop being pillaged. He still dislikes the taste of fruit flavoured tea bags.

Last Saturday saw a much more serious series of confrontations across France.

Eyes turned to those that took place in Paris.

Le Monde offers what, by all accounts, is an accurate report on the events around the ChampsÉlysées.

The article says that at the start, at the Place de l’Étoile, there were 2,000 to 3,000 militants prepared for a fight. Amongst them was a strong contingent from the far-right, including Bastion social (ex-GUD), and Action française. They called themselves ‘nationalists’. Harder to find were those responding to the call of the site Lundi Matin, the latest incarnation of the Comité invisible. At another rallying point, there were also a people from the anti-fascist Comité Adama (Le comité antiraciste appelle les quartiers populaires à manifester samedi aux côtés des gilets jaunes.)The latter groups were involved with a few clashes with far right, one of whose leaders, the anti-semite, Yvan Benedetti was hurt. The vandalism at the Arc de Triomphe involved Gilets Jaunes. Many ordinary Gilets Jaunes were caught up by their anger and enthusiasm in the violence. The first rioters likely to be arrested were the less experienced, that is neither from the far right nor the fringes of the left. A third group, involved in the pillage of shops, had young people from the banlieue taking advantage of the opportunity.

Violences de samedi à Paris : quel a été le rôle des ultras ?

Lundi Matin has a theory to justify their involvement: that this kind of action is a challenge to the infrastructure  of society, and a step on the way to destabilising  the state. This idea can be traced to the text  Introduction à la guerre civileThe epigraph, which calls for a permanent effort to conjure up stasis, unrest, is their loadstone. They celebrate the violence over the weekend and blame the CRS and Police (Contrairement à tout ce que l’on peut entendre, le mystère, ce n’est pas que nous nous révoltions, mais que nous ne l’ayons pas fait avant.)

The strategic geniuses published a text recently  saying that the victory of the extreme right in Brazil was not too bad at all, it’s the occasion to get rid of illusions in democracy, the left, and to prepare better things in future: “En réalité, l’arrivée du fascisme n’est jamais aussi mauvaise qu’elle ne paraît à première vue. Au moins est-elle l’occasion de déchanter, de mûrir et de faire un peu mieux à l’avenir.”   LE PROLÉTARIAT BRÉSILIEN N’A PAS ÉTÉ VAINCU PAR LA DICTATURE MAIS PAR LA DÉMOCRATIE

By contrast, les quartiers en gilets jaunes, that is, the initiative of the Comité Adama, attracted several hundred people. It ended caught up in the chaos of the main march (Reportage à la manifestation des “quartiers en gilets jaunes” à Paris). It was and is a democratic and open initiative. These are good people who should be supported. How far they come from the banlieue is not clear.

Image result for quartiers en gilets jaunes a paris

 

In the meantime one of the – all too representative – figures of French conspiracy thinking, who is very active in the Gilets Jaunes, has a secret hoard pf documents  which involve  the imminent start of the Third World War:

(1) “La politique fut une de ces évidences, une invention grecque qui se condensait en une équation : tenir une position, c’est prendre parti, et prendre parti, c’est déclencher la guerre civile. Guerre civile, position, parti, c’était un seul mot en grec, stasis. Et la politique, c’était l’art de conjurer la stasis.”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm

“Confusion in politics internationally is great.” Lindsey German, Counterfire.

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Image result for lindsey german press tv

“Great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.”

The Convener of the Stop the War Coalition and leading member of the groupusucle Counterfire, writes a Weekly Briefing.

It always  brings a kind smile weary activist’s’ lips.

Today her latest has a click-bait title:  The Brexit blizzard is there to blind us; it’s time to take out the Tories and that means a general election, argues Lindsey German

She begins by talking about the  ‘Britain is Broken, We can’t afford the Tories’ campaign which the People’s Assembly (largely Counterfire’s enterprises these days) organised.

After this stirring moment the she shifts to an emollient  mood.

The partner of John, ‘actuality of the revolution’ Rees, brought back some happy memories to this reader,

When I first became politically active nearly 50 years ago, there was a sense of working class power in Britain.”

Followed by a swift turn back to the stony realism for which those who who only during the last election were calling for mass action in the streets against the threat of a Tory “coup” can bring to a debate.

Today, while the majority of people still see themselves as working class, there is not that sense of working class power.

Being a kindly gent myself I can only agree with this comment,

The danger is the combination of Labour adopting a second referendum position, while at the same time doing far too little to support and spread the resistance to Tory austerity policies. That would be an unpopular retreat on the one hand, but also a failure to mobilise working class organisation over issues affecting everyone’s lives. In places like Doncaster or Sunderland, where Labour councils are implementing the austerity policies, that could be a very serious failure indeed.

There is much to learn about “neo-liberals” assembled at the G20 summit. One can only applaud that German keeps us on our toes with this bold  analysis:

It is hard for anyone to see anything but further crises and conflict coming out of the summit.

After, wisely, avoiding details about the Gilets Jaunes the august leader observes,

The confusion in politics internationally is great – there is bitter resentment of governments but no clear path forward. It’s a big task for the left, but one we have to take on.

How true, how very true.

German claims that,

We can make a start by demonstrating against the fascist Tommy Robinson next Sunday 9 December who is using the Brexit issue to spread his hate. I’m very glad that this looks like being one united demo now – well done to those making that happen.

In a spirit of unity I hope to present her with this seasonal gift:

 

Related image

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Left Loses Majority in Andalucia as far-right Vox Enters Regional Parliament in Force.

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La izquierda ha perdido la mayoría en el Parlamento andaluz y Vox ha entrado con fuerza.

Socialists lose ground in Andalusia, extreme right party takes 12 seats

Vox becomes the first such group to win a major success since Spain returned to democracy, and holds the key to forming a government with Ciudadanos, Popular Party

The southern Spanish region of Andalusia, which has been dominated by the Socialist Party (PSOE) for the last 36 years, saw a historic shift in its political map on Sunday at regional elections. The country’s most-populated region took a step toward the right with never-before-seen support for the extreme party Vox.

While the PSOE technically won the election, their loss of 14 seats compared to the 2015 polls means a bitter victory for the party’s regional chief, Susana Díaz, who is almost certain to be unable to return to power. Her 33 seats, combined with the 17 of Adelanta Andalucía (an alliance of left-wing parties Podemos and United Left (IU)), or the 21 seats of center-right group Ciudadanos, are all far from the absolute majority of 55 seats.

In what was probably the saddest night of her political career, last night Díaz recognized the waning support for the left and for her party, but called on the opposition parties to not pact with the far right. “I’m calling on the pro-Constitution parties: let’s show that we are such by stopping the far right in Andalusia. I, at least, am going to try it,” she said.

But the plans of the PP and Ciudadanos appear to be headed in the other direction, and their respective candidates were already positioning themselves last night to govern the Junta, as the regional government is known. The PP took their second-worst result in their history in terms of percentage of vote, and have fallen in four years from 33 to 26 seats.

Juan Marín, the Ciudadanos candidate, who went from nine to 21 seats, let slip last night that he would seek to join forces with the PP and the far right. “Change has arrived in Andalusia,” he said. “There are enough deputies to force a change.” These words were echoed later by the party’s national leader, Albert Rivera: “We are going to throw the PSOE out of the Junta.”

Vox: Wikipedia.

Vox: the new face of the far right in the Spanish State FERNANDEZ Brais

Vox: The Return of the Spanish Far Right. Tendance Coatesy. October the 27th 2018 .

Vox has a hatred of ‘gender theory’ that extends to opposition to laws against sexual harassment and violence.

They propose to create a Ministry of the Family to protect the “natural family” and a ban on feminist organisations spreading false accusations.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Galloway’s Former Bagman, Kevin Ovenden, Gives Advice on Fighting Tommy Robinson to Another Europe is Possible.

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Image result for Kevin Ovenden and george galloway

Ovenden in Previous Unity Offensive with Labour.

Equating fascism with Brexit is disastrous, irresponsible and gives a hand up to Tommy Robinson

Kevin Ovenden is George Galloway’s former Bagman in Respect.

His most recent experience of fighting fascism was his call to fight to the last French person against Marine Le Pen, but not to vote against the Front National in the second round of the French Presidential elections.

This is actually the moment of the fighting left. The agency for rupturing into a half century political settlement has been someone whose politics are actually closer to the patriotic social democratic left than they are to anti-capitalist revolutionaries.

(Here one suspects Ovendon does not actually speak the language)

But the rupture is made, in any case – égal (sic) And that poses a challenge for those of us who are of the anti-capitalist left. Our politics – in a practical, and therefore real sense – were formed out of 1968. In the intervening years it has been easy for them to become buried under sedimentations of formulae and reflexes built up in decades of relative social peace, punctuated by minor eruptions. And with each subsiding of an eruption, so the sediment thickened.

It does mean breaking once and for all with a satellite status orbiting the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. They are dying stars. Out of their orbit is the only way to avoid going down with them.

France: an historic moment for the left

Today Ovenden is all in favour of unity with interstellar social democracy, the “left leadership of the Labour Party”.

What he is against (a mild way of describing an incontinent rant) is Michael Chessum and Another Europe is Possible .

Arguments tying opposition to fascism with opposition to Brexit makes out half the country as Tommy Robinson supporters. This is idiotic in the extreme, argues Kevin Ovenden

His charge?

The demo against Brexit and Fascism, called in opposition to Tommy Robinson’s rally Against the ‘Brexit Betrayal’ is wrong to link Brexit and Robinson.

(it) lumps together fascism with Leave – a stupid and dangerous thing to do – and it talks of mobilising only “Remainers”. Most people on the left want to unite the labour movement and working class. This AEIP operation wants to continue to divide it – in just the way that its paymasters in the second referendum campaign want to: weakening left-led Labour.

One assumes that the Labour Party Conference decision to leave a Second Referendum as a possible ‘option’ was a sign of Labour members, and John McDonnell’s  interest in the possibility is also weakening Labour.

This “transparently anti-left intervention out of the Blair-Campbell stable” ” suicidal sectarianism” is no doubt unwelcome for Counterfire, which pushes the doomed ‘People’s Brexit”, something few are interested in, even if they have heard of it.

According to the former leading figure of Respect, after having been a long-standing activist in the Socialist Workers Party, Another Europe is saying, “Brexit equals fascism and today’s Labour leaders are “social Brexiters”.

“One of the critical mistakes of the left in the early 1930s was not to recognise the specific danger of fascism and to refer to social democratic leaders as “social fascists”.”

For those not as familiar with the history of Stalinism he is accusing Another Europe of adopting the tactic of the Comintern during the late 1920s, during the ‘Third Period”. This, the Communists asserted, was a time of intensified class against class clashes – following the second period of relative capitalist stablisation, following the first period of the upheaval unleashed by the October Revolution,

“We are witnessing Third Period Liberalism.”

Apparently.

The idea that UKIP adviser Robinson’s Rally needs to be confronted by those who are opposed to his calls against ‘Brexit Betrayal” would seem a reasonable one to most people.

But not to Ovenden of the “fighting left” and his pro-Brexit mates in the revolutionary socialist Counterfire.

He (and he is far from the first from this lot to use the allegation) refers to the Other Europe is Possible “paymasters” and alleges that we are on “the Blairite dime”, that is we are paid for to mount a ” transparently anti-left intervention out of the Blair-Campbell stable.”

He claims that that we should go into the Robinson base and argue.

How can we argue if we are saddled with having to say, “We agree with you lot about leaving the EU, but please we want a nice anti-racist Brexit.”

Socialist Worker and Novara Media Attack Anti-Fascist Anti-Brexit Demo Against Tommy Robinson Great Brexit Betrayal Rally.

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Pro-Brexit Rally Calls for Anti-Brexit Response.

The Another Europe is Possible protest “No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit” continues to create controversy.

Leave or Remain, We All Hate Tommy

Callum Cant and Benjamin Walters write,

Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is an ultra-remain campaign group that positions itself as the left wing of the ‘Stop Brexit’ movement. Its support base varies from Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members to Guardian columnist Zoe Williams. AEIP have called for a People’s Vote/Stop Brexit counter-protest to the far right march.

They argue that it’s not enough to simply oppose racism and fascism – we have to specifically oppose Brexit. For them, Brexit is not just a recruiting ground for the far right, it is actually a far right project in its entirety. So, the anti-fascist response has to be to try and stop Brexit.

After having carefully established that AEIP is “ultra”, AWL backed, no less, and, apparently has a view (which is not referenced) on the Brexit basis of the “far right project in its entirety” they outline an alternative.

Cant and Walters argument appears to be that the left needs to talk to  Brexit supporters, to weed them away from Robinson and UKIP leadership.

Whereas the Momentum-backed counter-protest is using the slogan ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain’ without taking a line on Brexit, AEIP are linking together an ultra-remain position with an anti-fascist position. This is a very bad mistake.

It is a mistake because it maps the political division of the Brexit debate (48% Remain, 52% Leave) onto the political division between fascists and anti-fascists (90% anti-fascist, 10% fascist). It gives Robinson exactly what he wants: leadership.

Instead of challenging his attempt to lead Leave voters and splitting the hard core of the far right away from the 52%, it consolidates his position from the other side of a police line. Robinson is a general looking for an army. AEIP’s line, if pursued, will do much to form his battalions for him.

Yes, we “all hate Tommy”.

But, one might ask how, as they suggest,  is the left going to lead Leave voters?

By arguing for a People’s Brexit?

By saying that a Brexit Britain with a “socialist economy” will be (as a Counterfire contributor put it recently) a “Beacon” off the shores of Europe?

Brexit is not a “floating signifier” that you can moor to the left’s politics.

It is a reactionary project through and through.

Trying another tack the authors assert,

…..anti-fascist fronts should only express the limited politics necessary to defeat the fascists on the day. They should appeal to as many people as possible (regardless of what they think about Brexit). They should recognise that the goal of the front is only to prevent the fascists from taking leadership.

Just how limited?

They argue that the demonstration called by the SWP Fronts Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism is against ‘Fortress Europe” is such a step

It is against Europe, that’s for sure.

Here is the SWP:

Unite and stop the racists and fascists on 9 December

Tomáš Tengely-Evans writes,

The Another Europe Is Possible campaign has called a separate mobilisation under the dangerous slogan of “No to Tommy Robinson—no to Brexit”. The organisers link opposition to Robinson to demands for a “People’s Vote” to stop Brexit.

Racism against migrants pushed by both Tory Brexiteers and Labour ­“centrists” who want to block Brexit has added to the racist atmosphere.

So the ‘limited’ united front is also against “Labour ‘centrists'”.

The SWP view on “anti-fascists” who “send volunteers to the Middle East to fight Isis” is not known.

In the meantime back in the real world of Brexit:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm