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Catalunya Once Again.

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 Image result for catalonia demo close ups

Multi-racial Internationalists Say British Left. 

Catalunya, Cataluña, or as we refer normally to it in Occitan, Catalonha, is still in the news all this week.

Support for Catalan nationalism has grown significantly in recent years. It’s estimated that about half of those who supported separatist parties in 2015 did not back secession a decade earlier. In 2015, Catalans elected a pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament and a pro-independence president, Carles Puigdemont.

Like Scottish nationalism, the Catalan independence movement used to be dominated by middle class layers. On the Catalan national day (the Diada) in 2013, when protesters joined hands to form a human chain across Catalunya, “the parking lots were filled with BMWs and it really looked as if the Catalan bourgeoisie was having a fun day out,” observed one commentator, quoted in Raphael Minder’s recent book The Struggle for Catalonia (Hurst, 2017).

Yet the presence of conservative forces within Catalan nationalism should not overshadow the popularity of the cause among ordinary people – and not just Catalans. 2016’s Diada in the northern town of Salt,with its 40% migrant population made up of 70 nationalities, saw contingents participating from the town’s African, Latin American and Asian communities, with banners calling for independence in Arabic. There has also been growing involvement by poorer, working class young people, who see in the fight for independence an opportunity to escape the austerity policies of the Spanish state, much as similar sectors voted yes in Scotland’s 2014 indyref to opt out of Cameron’s Britain.

Tension mounts in Catalunya 

Mike Phipps.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Accusations of Catalan Nationalists Circulating Fake Images as Podemos Shows Positive Alternative.

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Parlem, hablemos!

Some light is beginning to appear on the Catalan issue,

Podemos’ Alternative for Catalonia. TXEMA GUIJARRO.

Amidst an increasingly-polarized climate, international press coverage has tended to overlook the position of En Comú Podem, the political alliance which has won the last two general elections in Catalonia. This grouping comprising Ada Colau’s Catalonia En Comú and Unidos Podemos has tried to carve out a middle road in the current confrontation.

It recognizes last Sunday’s vote as a legitimate political mobilization but doesn’t view it as a valid referendum. It also defends Catalonia’s right to decide but favors a plurinational, federal Spain. In this respect Colau, who is Barcelona’s mayor, voted in solidarity with those facing police repression but left her ballot blank.

We, as somebody who wishes the peoples of Spain well, can only endorse the conclusion of this interview,

At times I feel we are at the edge of an abyss. But we have to see the crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate to the Spanish people that there are alternatives. We are not condemned to this collision between Madrid and Catalonia. A key reference for me is Barcelona mayor Ada Colau whose handling of the crisis has been exemplary. She represents the only real point of intersection in the region between those in favor of independence and those opposed—bringing them together around a discourse defending civil rights and democratic freedoms. So yes, there is a positive way out of this conflict but it really depends on us being able to govern, to start changing things in this country from the executive.

But the forces of division and hatred continue to operate.

After the Catalan referendum El Pais published this report,

Fake images from the Catalan referendum shared on social media.

Some photos and videos that were widely circulated via social networks and appeared in the media were not taken on October 1.

Today there are many more accusations of fake images, after the far-right British Daily Mail and Julian Assange circulated claims of widespread Falangist participation in anti-Independence marches.

Le Monde has just published a break down of some of these these falsehoods:

Drapeau franquiste, salut nazi : les images trompeuses de la manifestation contre l’indépendance en Catalogne.

Des images anciennes et des tweets manipulés ont circulé sur les réseaux sociaux pour discréditer les rassemblements de dimanche, selon les médias espagnols.

According to the Spanish media old images and manipulated tweets have circulated on social media in order to discredit Sunday’s marches.

 

The examples start with the use of photos taken in 2015, one taken in September this year, far from Sunday’s march, the use of a – real – image of people giving a Fascist/Franco salute, in a small group of around 30, to suggest a mass far-right presence, and the image spread by the far-right Mail, taken of a tiny band of extreme-right hooligans coming out of bar as if they were representative of the massive march. .

‘Fexists’ is Catalan  for Fascists. This is particularly obvious fakery since the demonstrations took place during the day while this is taken during the night, and it turns out to come from a pro-Franco march, not authorised by the police, which occurred in Madrid during September 2015.

A Spanish Tweet account tries to distinguish the real from the ‘bulo’ false (fake, hoax).

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Against Spanish Nationalism and the Catalan Independence Movement.

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https://ep02.epimg.net/politica/imagenes/2017/09/08/actualidad/1504872254_629045_1507455934_noticia_fotograma.jpg

Left Should Not Pit One National Flag Against the Other.

Against Catalan Nationalism.

The “nation” should have the “right” to self-determination. But who is that “nation” and who has the authority and the “right” to speak for the “nation” and express its will? How can we find out what the “nation” actually wants?”

Rosa Luxemburg. The National Question.

The Catalan referendum has burst on the European scene without, apparent, warning. That this is not in fact true can be seen in an informative article in the Socialist Workers Party journal, International Socialism, which concludes by putting the issue of Catalonia centre stage ( Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155) That it has been at the heart of Catalan politics for some time is well known; that there is a long history failed negotiation over recognition of the Catalan nation, and, perhaps, more pressing, calls for greater financial and political powers for the Generalitat, failing to recognise the laws that they passed, has become common knowledge in the last week. That the Rajoy government was prepared to act, brutally, on its threats against voting on independence, has stirred deep emotions, far beyond the Iberian Peninsula.

But perhaps a sign of the lack of urgency the issue recently evoked in Spain itself can be seen in the exchange between a leading figure in Podemos, Iñigo Errejón and member of the country’s right-wing government, José María Lassalle on the latter’s Contra el populismo (2017) in El País (9.9.17 and 16.9.17) at the beginning of September.

In this erudite discussion, the Minister of State cites Laclau, Gramsci and Stuart Hall in support of his view that the affective and political “people” has not been broken, and that the “institucionalidad democrática” remains open to the “admirado Errejón”. In Lassalle’s recognition of democratic dysfunctions, alongside a eulogy of European social peace, there is no mention of Catalonia, or of any method of dealing with those his boss considers less “admirable”.

National Popular.

It takes, nevertheless, little imagination to see how many of the ideas circulating in Podemos, of the People, of the National Popular, taken from Laclau, and used, as Lassalle suggests, as a kind of political “cartography”, would become important during the Catalan crisis. Within Podemos the current, Anticapitalistas, “Podemos en Movimiento” (13% at the February 2017 Congress), have long criticised the “populism” of its leadership, which seeks to ‘federate the people” of Spain against the ruling political ‘Casta”. A central charge it that they, both the Errejón tendency (Recuperar la Illusion, bring back the Hope), 34%) and the leader Pablo Iglesias’ grouping, (Podemos para Todas, 51%), have failed to recognise that there are effectively many “peoples” in Spain. (1)

In dialogue with Chantal Mouffe Errejón, has called for a “new democratic national-popular identity”. ”The issue in Spain is whether it’s possible to build a national narrative at the service of subaltern majorities that is also respectful of pluri-nationality and the right to decide.” (2) Translated into the present, this has involved the, entirely reasonable, attempt to open dialogue between the pro-independence forces in the Assemblea Nacional de Catalunya (ANC) and the central government. What this clearly does not do is encourage people to separate, to form a distinct “us” in Catalonia, aside from the wider struggle for an “emancipatory and radically democratic project” and “popular sovereignty”.

It would be interesting to trace how supporters of Catalan’s own path to “popular sovereignty”, or as it would better be described, ‘sovereigntistism’ the belief that the major political social and economic problems of the day be solved by getting one’s hands on the sovereign powers of a state, could perhaps defend some of the original axioms of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s ‘post-Marxism’. That is, the idea that the working class is not the dominant political subject of emancipatory politics, but only one element in the “plurality of agents” brought together by “relations of equivalence” constituting democratic movements and demands, making up the figure of these Peoples pitted against the Spanish State. Some may radicalise the later Mouffe. That the Catalan partisan collective will has overflowed the boundaries of one state, created its own “relations of exclusion” against the institutions of ‘Madrid’. It would be free to create its own agonistic site where, it can create its own “agonistic democracy”, and let the fight against neo-liberalism begin on a new terrain (3)

Collective Will.

But in fact we now have a free for all for those wishing to build a “collective will” against the said administrative structure. Appealing for international support for their cause some Catalan enthusiasts have not hesitated to describe the Spanish state as ‘fascist’ ‘Francoist’, full of loathing for ‘Madrid’, no doubt hinting that one of George Orwell’s most celebrated books was Homage to Catalonian Independence. Perhaps they trust to at least some of their audience’s ignorance of the Siege of Madrid, which fell some months after Barcelona.

Others, apparently more reasonable, have wheeled out the view that Catalan nationalism is welcoming, “Catalan national feeling is like Scottish in that it is “civic”, non-violent, opening impatiently to the new global world. It’s unlike Scotland – and more “ethnic” – in its passionate emphasis on Catalan language, history and culture.” It will not be source of exclusion, but will find its way back to “intimate” ties with Spain. (Neil Ascherson. Catalans are not alone. Across the world, people yearn to govern themselves .Observer. 24.9.17)

Laclau’s study On Populist Reason (2005) deals with the “nature and logics “ of collective identities. He envisaged the possibility of a People out of a plurality of ‘ethnic identities’, as well as its opposite, “ethno nationalism”. Podemos would not be untrue to this way of thinking to attempt the former. (4)

But those on the left pushing the Catalan separatists have other fish to fry. The SWP argues first and foremost for the dissolution of the Spanish state, as a potential springboard for a wider anti-capitalist struggle.

The damage to the Spanish ruling class that the loss of Catalonia would cause is unimaginable; Catalonia makes a large contribution to the state’s revenues, with 18.8 percent of national GDP. The centrality of national unity to the dominant ideology of the ruling class would also turn the event into a political earthquake. A victory for independence would thus precipitate a crisis of unforeseeable consequences, throwing into chaos not only the PP but Spanish capitalism as a whole.

Socialism can only be achieved internationally, but by opening new prospects for the left in Catalonia and by breaking the consensus imposed by fascism in the transition to democracy, Catalan independence would advance the cause of the entire working class. And, if a triumph of the Catalan left would be a positive development for workers in the rest of the state, what would the consequences of its defeat be?

Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155

The Fourth Intentional, reproducing an argument familiar to those who have heard the radical Scottish nationalist refrain of the Break up of Britain are vaguer though equally optimistic for the future of the left, and keen for, as they put it, “the democratic rupture throughout the State”.

In a lyrical vein the FI states,

It is more than a mere historical anecdote that the Catalan independence flag is directly inspired by the flag of the Cuban revolutionaries who defeated the Spanish colonial army on the island in the late 19th century, a defeat that would decisively contribute to the ruin of the first Bourbon restoration. The struggle in Catalonia has certainly hurt the second and a republican victory would allow us to imagine a new rise of the popular movement and an update of the anti-capitalist and eco-socialist perspective in Catalonia, the Spanish state and throughout Europe.

Let us support the struggle of the Catalan people

These aspirations are no doubt of comfort to those who, after what El Periodico commentators have repeatedly called a new May 68 – complete with vote – now confront potential economic chaos. Aware of these difficulties the nationalist bourgeois politicians who are running the independence show are divided on their immediate tasks, although the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, looks determined to press ahead with a declaration of independence. Sacrifices to achieve that end are to be made in the name of a possible, not yet visible, anti-capitalism, or more broadly the eternal right to self-determination or, in their own eyes, for Catalunya. What is more precious than national independence and sovereignty? 

Many will without hesitation support the wish for negotiations with these demands, hard though the first two may be to put into any specific form. We can be sceptical about Iglesias’ efforts to capture the ‘floating signifier’ of the Patria for the projects of Podemos, yet see in their stand some hopes for compromise. Equally, on some things on which no agreement can be reached: one should do more than just oppose Rajoy and his clampdown, one can moblise against it.

No Sleeping with the Enemy!

But nobody has yet to explain convincingly why the world in general, and the left-wingers in particular, should stand behind the cause of a prosperous region of Spain, led by a coalition of right and left, to ‘take control’ in the name of the People. Rosa Luxemburg reminds us that the ‘right’ to declare this a separate entity rests on the political parties who backed the referendum,  Junts pel Sí​, held together a coalition of right and left, while the Podemos inspired grouping Catalunya Sí que es Pot  abstained, and the other opposition parties opposed it. 

This, if carried through, will be an act that immediately divides the Spanish people, gives full rein to populist ressentiment on all sides, and obscures the issues of the different class and political interests behind the pro-independence bloc (not to mention the ingrained corruption of some of its elements). To put it simply, no left worthy of its name enters into systematic long-term coalitions with right wing nationalists. They are, to use a term often cited by Chantal Mouffe, taken from Carl Schmitt, the enemy.  (5)

******

(1) A useful account of Podemos, which underlines that Laclau and Mouffe are far from the only intellectual influences on the party is in Chapter 10 La Gauche du 21e Siècle, Christophe Aguiton. La Découverte. 2017.

(2) Page 148 –9. Podemos in the Name of the People. Iñigo Errejón and Chantal Mouffe. Lawrence and Wishart. 2016.

(3) See Agonistics. Chantal Mouffe. Verso 2013.

(4) Page 198. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau Verso. 2005.

(5) For all our sympathy for the Podemos attempt at rational dialogue, the concepts of the People, and the National Popular function in this crisis as signs that confuse debate. See. Debating Catalonia Izquierda Unida MP Alberto Garzón debates the Catalan independence referendum with the CUPs Pau Llonch. This is a concrete example of how ‘left wing populism’ sliding around on the Catalan national issue obscures a left strategy that gives priority to building a left. Which leads us to reject the strategy of ‘people’ versus “oligarchy”, the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ and the Mouffe-Laclau problematic: See: Populisme le grand ressentiment. Éric Fassin. Textuel. 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Calls to Expel “Labour Party Marxists” for Leaflet alleging “Zionist-Nazi connection” and “collaboration”.

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anti-Semitism large

 

The Times,

Jeremy Corbyn has been called on to investigate a left-wing group accused of producing and circulating antisemitic literature on the fringes of Labour’s conference.

Labour MPs and the Holocaust Educational Trust demanded a personal intervention by the Labour leader to identify and discipline members of the Labour Party Marxists group, which disseminated a leaflet quoting a prominent Nazi.

The organisation is not affiliated with Labour officially, but James Marshall, a senior figure in the group, said that all of its supporters, including himself, were card-carrying members.

The leaflet handed out in Brighton discussed the “commonality between Zionists and Nazis”. It quoted Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi architect of the Final Solution, saying in 1935: “National Socialists had no intention of attacking Jewish people.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “I don’t understand how it is acceptable to be handing out such disgusting literature outside Labour’s conference quoting one of the 20th century’s most notorious antisemites and architects of the Final Solution, Reinhard Heydrich.”

She added: “The Labour Party Marxists’ guide to motions at the conference suggests that at least some of their supporters are party members — Labour needs to identify who is linked to this group.”

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, said: “The Labour Party Marxists should all be thrown out of the party, every single one of them. We want them investigated and then thrown out. Their scurrilous publication, which contains antisemitic material, is good only for the recycling bin.”

As the row threatened to overshadow the party’s four-day gathering, the Labour leader of Brighton & Hove council warned that it could be the last time the party hosts its conference in the seaside town unless it gets a grip on the problem. Warren Morgan said he was very concerned at “the antisemitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”.

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, also joined the row, telling TalkRadio: “Some people have made offensive comments, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently antisemitic and hate Jews. They just go over the top when they criticise Israel.”

Mr Livingstone, 72, has been disciplined by the party for comments he made about Hitler last year and is banned from holding office in Labour until next April, but is still a member of his local party.

A heated debate took place in the conference hall on a rule change on antisemitism. Mike Katz, a delegate from the Jewish Labour Movement, welcomed Mr Corbyn’s backing for the new rule, which strengthens the party’s disciplinary process for dealing with antisemitic and other forms of prejudicial views and behaviour.

During the debate one delegate, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, accused the party of policing “thought crime”, saying: “Obviously if you express hateful opinions you’ve got to be disciplined, or at least educated — but holding them? We can’t be having it.”

Yesterday the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said Labour needed to do more to prove it was not a racist party.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, said: “Anyone who says Labour doesn’t have a problem with antisemitism is in cloud cuckoo land.”

Mr Corbyn rejected accusations that Labour had become the new “nasty party”. “Nobody should be abused, whoever they are,” he said. “We have just passed a motion on racism and antisemitism which is comprehensive and inclusive and is supported by all wings of the party and unanimously agreed by our national executive.

“Anyone using antisemitic language, anyone using any form of racist language, is completely at odds with the beliefs of this party.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, last night claimed the row was “mood music created by people trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”.

Mr Marshall, of the Labour Party Marxists, said: “The idea the Labour Party Marxists article in question is antisemitic is risible. It was written by Moshé Machover, a Jewish Israeli. They [the critics] are equating antisemitism with antizionism.”

Jewish Labour Movement
The only Jewish community socialist society officially affiliated to Labour. The pro-Zionist organisation boasts MPs and councillors among its supporters. The JLM helped to devise the rule change that Labour backed yesterday strengthening the party’s disciplinary process. Some Labour members, including Jewish party backers, have complained the JLM does not represent their views.

Free Speech on Israel
The independent group says it “was founded as a predominantly Jewish campaign group in Spring 2016 to counter the manufactured moral panic over a supposed epidemic of antisemitism in the UK. Criticism of Israel and of its founding ideology, Zionism, has been misrepresented as antisemitic.”

Labour Party Marxists (1)
The independent group has published many articles about Israel. It was accused of producing literature quoting Reinhard Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution, that was antisemitic — an allegation it rejected — and handing it out on the conference’s fringes.

And here the article by Moshé Machover, a lifelong anti-Zionist Jewish Israeli campaigner.

Most of the article is Moshé’s well known views on the topic of Israel and Zionism.

But this breaks, dare one say it, new ground, in its explicit linking of Zionism with Nazism.

Nazi collaboration

Let us turn now to the Zionist-Nazi connection. In fact it sounds more shocking than it is, because we are talking about the early days of the Nazi regime. Today the holocaust is taught in schools, so people may know when the policy of extermination of Jews actually started officially – in January 1942, when a Nazi conference was convened in Wannsee under the chairmanship of Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was second in command to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS.

The minutes of this conference are actually online and in them a change in policy towards the Jews, ratified by the Führer, was declared. Although it is phrased euphemistically, it is clear that what was being talked about was both deportation to the east and extermination.

This change occurred following the attack on the Soviet Union, when the Nazis felt they had to find different ways of dealing with the ‘Jewish problem’. Until that time the official policy was for the exclusion of the Jews from political and civic life, for separation and for emigration. Quite naturally the Zionist leadership thought this set of policies was similar to those of other anti-Semitic regimes – which it was – and the Zionist approach was not peculiar to the Nazi regime. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted to rid them of the Jews. That was the common interest.

In 1934 the German rabbi, Joachim Prinz, published a book entitled Wir Juden (‘We, the Jews’), in which he welcomed the Nazi regime. That regime wanted to separate Jews from non-Jews and prevent assimilation – as did the Zionists. Philip Roth’s novel, The plot against America, is based on actual people, including Prinz, who emigrated to America and became a leader of the US Jewish community – the fact that he was a Zionist is not mentioned.

Anyway, the Zionists made overtures to the Nazi regime, so how did the Nazis respond? Here are two relevant quotations. The first is from the introduction to the Nuremberg laws, the racist legislation introduced in Nazi Germany in 1935. This extract was still present in the 1939 edition, from which I am quoting:

If the Jews had a state of their own, in which the bulk of their people were at home, the Jewish question could already be considered solved today … The ardent Zionists of all people have objected least of all to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg laws, because they know that these laws are the only correct solution for the Jewish people too …4)

Heydrich himself wrote the following in an article for the SS house journal Das Schwarze Korps in September 1935:

National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.5)

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Of course, looking back at all this, it seems all the more sinister, since we know that the story ended with the gas chambers a few years later. This overlap is an indictment of Zionism, but the actual collaboration between the two was not such an exceptional thing, when you accept that the Zionists were faced with the reality of an anti-Semitic regime.

By the way, half of what Ken Livingstone said is not very far from the caricature uttered by Netanyahu in 2016 during an address to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. According to Netanyahu, “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews” until he met the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941. Netanyahu claimed that “Al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here’.”

Of course, the allegation that the idea of extermination originated with the grand mufti has been rejected with contempt by serious historians, but Netanyahu was at least correct in saying that emigration, not extermination, was indeed Nazi policy until the winter of 1941-42.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism. Don’t apologise for saying this. If you throw the sharks bloodied meat, they will only come back for more. At the moment the left is apologising too much, in the hope that the right will let up. They never will.

I will just say a few words to Moshé’ in response to this farrago: the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. (2)

I am not alone is being deeply saddened by this.

To those who deny that anti-semitism is a problem in labour and that this has contributed to it, read the following:

Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place

The evidence was there in Brighton if you were willing to see it. There were the Labour party Marxistshanding out a paper that repeated Livingstone’s toxic claim of ideological solidarity between the Nazis and those German Jews who sought a Jewish homeland.

There’s the testimony of John Cryer MP, who sits on Labour’s disputes panel. He says some of the anti-Jewish tweets and Facebook posts he has seen from Labour members are “redolent of the 1930s”.

There were loud calls for the expulsion of Jewish groups, one of which has been part of the Labour movement for a century. Hardly a surprise that some Jewish activists turned away from the conference, describing an atmosphere that felt too hostile to endure.

But no – for Len and the Kens and their allies, it’s all made up. Perhaps they don’t realise that that itself is a tired anti-Jewish trope: that Jews invent stories of suffering to drive a secret political agenda. Or, to put it more simply, that there is a Jewish conspiracy.

(1) Labour Party Marxists was set up by supporters of The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Committee), notably Stan Keable. It is an offshoot of what it better known as the Weekly Worker. Their membership is generously estimated at 20. The Weekly Worker has been a small faction within every left regroupment going, from the Socialist Alliance, Respect, Left Unity to the LRC. The paper publishes, apart from Moshé Lewin, who until now was respected on the left, numerous articles on ‘Zionism’ by Tony Greenstein.

 

 

(2)Wikipedia.

“Two Jewish underground organisations fought in the Warsaw Uprising: the left wing Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (ŻOB) founded in July 1942 by Zionist Jewish youth groups within the Warsaw Ghetto;[16] and the right wing Żydowski Związek Wojskowy (ŻZW), or Jewish Military Union, a national organization founded in 1939 by former Polish military officers of Jewish background which had strong ties to the Polish Home Army, and cells in almost every major town across Poland.[17][18] However both organisations were officially incorporated into the Polish Home Army and its command structure in exchange for weapons and training.[19]

Marek Edelman, who was the only surviving uprising commander from the left-wing ŻOB, stated that the ŻOB had 220 fighters and each was armed with a handgun, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. His organization had three rifles in each area, as well as two land mines and one submachine gun.[20][21][22][23] Due to its socialist leanings, the Soviets promoted the actions of ŻOB as the dominant or only party in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a view often adopted by secondary sources in the West.[18]

The right-wing faction ŻZW which was founded by former Polish officers, was larger, more established and had closer ties with the Polish resistance, making it better equipped.[24][25] Zimmerman describes the arm supplies for the uprising as “limited but real”.[26] Specifically, Jewish fighters of the ŻZW received from the Polish Home Army: 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 21 submachine guns, 30 rifles, 50 pistols, and over 400 grenades for the uprising.[27] During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, ŻZW is reported to have had about 400 well-armed fighters grouped in 11 units, with 4 units including fighters from the Polish Home Army. Due to the ŻZW’s anti-socialist stand and close ties with the Polish Home Army (which was subsequently outlawed by the Soviets), the Soviets suppressed publication of books and articles on ŻZW after the war and downplayed its role in the uprising, in favour of the more socialist ŻOB.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

German Elections and the AfD.

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Police blocks demonstrators protesting against the nationalist 'Alternative for Germany', AfD, party in Berlin

Turn left: Smash Nationalism!

Der Spiegel Editorial 

Democracy at Stake: Germany’s Slide to the Right

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost massive support in Sunday’s parliamentary election while the right-wing populist performed better than expected. What happens now?

This year’s general election in Germany has been heralded as an epochal shift. Merkel’s “grand coalition,” pairing her conservatives with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was voted out of office and the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) became Germany’s third-strongest party. In the search for reasons for the shift, the language of politics is a good place to start. The AfD professed to be clear and decisive, their language was explicit — and voters rewarded them for it. The chancellor, by contrast, sought to avoid discussions and to completely ignore major issues focused on by the populists: foreign migrants and German uneasiness. Merkel’s political style, which is characterized by avoiding clashes, was punished to the greatest possible degree.

And the center-left Social Democrats were unable to settle on a strategy early on — or at least they were unable to stick to the tactics they found late in the campaign. It was only after the election, at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday evening, that the disappointed SPD, no longer bound by the discipline of the campaign, finally managed to define what differentiates it from Merkel’s Christian Democrats — which was touchingly awkward. Because in democracies, after the election is too late.

 It seems clear what will now happen: a coalition matching Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party — almost certainly under the leadership of a Merkel who suddenly seems shrunk and fainthearted, and whose days as her party’s leader no longer seem infinite. The only alternative would be new elections or — in a few weeks — a reversal on the part of the SPD. The party pledged on Sunday night that it would not be part of a coalition with Merkel going forward, and an about-face would be extremely damaging.

How should we look at this from the rest of Europe?

The success of the Alternative für Deutschland, (AfD) is the most immediately striking result.

International Viewpoint summarises this.

The AfD reached 12.6% of the votes compared to 4.7% in 2013 and becomes the 3rd force in the Bundestag with 94 deputies. Moreover, the AfD becomes the 1st party in Saxony with 27% of the votes against the CDU with 26.9%, and in general 1st force in the male electorate of the new Länder of East Germany. In Bavaria, the AfD comes in second place behind the CSU in many constituencies.

The AfD was able to take more than one million votes in the CDU / CSU, almost half a million in the SPD and almost 400,000 in the party Die Linke party, and mobilize more than one million of those who were not to go to the polls in 2013, in the framework of a participation of 76.2% of the electorate compared to 71.5% in 2013. Despite the great electoral success, the conflict reigns at the summit of the AfD after these elections: Frauke Petry, who obtained a direct mandate in Saxony, co-chair of the party with a more “moderate” profile than the first candidates of the party, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, has just announced that it will not be part of the parliamentary fraction of the AfD to the new Bundestag. The words of Alexander Gauland announcing “to open the hunt against Merkel” and its fascistoid verbal provocations displeased her.

Many people will be wary of taring Germany with the far-right brush, particularly in view of the as large (UKIP) far-right vote recently in the UK, not to mention the Front National vote in the second round of the Presidential elections (Marine Le Pen, 10, 638, 475, 33,9%) this year. Not to mention a series of other countries’ far-right votes, from the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie,  in Belgium, 2014, , 1,366, o73, 20,3% to the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, , 2013  958.29520,51 %40.

But Taz puts its finger on a major problem racism which it observes, the inherits and Afd is playing with. synthesise the ideas of the New Right and the Identity movement, the latter which has echoes across Europe.  Die Erben des Rassismus. This is something all of us have to confront, from the fall-out in the UK from Brexit, and the ambiguous response of some on the left to freedom of movement, to the problems with confronting right-wing ‘populism’ elsewhere, the AfD does concern us.

We are not going to fight racism and extreme nationalism by playing another form of ‘identity politics’ against the AfD’s identity politics but only through  movements based on universal emancipatory principles.

Bang on cue we hear this:

Germany’s new far-right party AfD says it will fight an ‘invasion of foreigners’ (Independent)

“One million people – foreigners – being brought into this country are taking away a piece of this country and we as AfD don’t want that,” Mr Gauland told the press conference.

“We say we don’t want to lose Germany to an invasion of foreigners from a different culture. Very simple.”

It is some consolation that the AfD is as rent with personality clashes and factionalism as UKIP.

Frauke Petry ‘drops bomb’ on rightwing nationalist party by announcing she will instead serve as independent MP.
The entry of the AfD into the Bundestag is already provoking protests.
 https://twitter.com/chefreporterNRW/status/912011834026336261
Yesterday:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Split in French Far Right, as Marine Le Pen’s Number 2, Florian Philippot, Leaves Front National.

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rien ne va plus entre les deux dirigeants du Front National.

Best Mates Fall out.

This was on the French radio this morning, as it happened.

Good start to the day….

It has even got on the BBC site:

Florian Philippot: Le Pen’s top aide quits National Front.

The war began some time back but reached a pic a few days ago when Philippot was found in a Couscousserie .

His one-time comrades in the FN accused him of “collaboration” (espèce de collabo... ) for eating the Arab dish (this one is beyond me, I have eaten Couscous in a restaurant run by Pieds-noirs).

 

Philippot, apart from being the major player behind the move to make Marine le Pen acceptable, playing down anti-Semitism and racism generally, and being liberal on gay issues (he is gay), s best known as a virulent ‘sovereigntist’ who has applied to the ‘left’ nationalist strain of the same name. On the radio this morning the name of former Socialist Minister and arch sovereigntist, JeanPierre Chevènement  got mentioned in this context.

Philippot already has his own ‘micro-party’,  “Les Patriotes“, to fall back on.

Split looms in French far right as Marine Le Pen’s key aide quits.

France 24.

Florian Philippot, for many years the closest aide of French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, said on Thursday he was quitting the National Front party, opening up a likely split in the country’s far-right ranks.

Philippot, whose responsibilities for strategy and communications were earlier removed by Le Pen, told France 2 television that he did not like being “ridiculed”.

“They told me that I was vice-president of nothing,” he said. “Listen, I don’t have a desire to be ridiculed. I have never had the desire to do nothing, so of course I am quitting the National Front.”

Philippot’s departure is a big blow for the far-right as it struggles to portray itself as the main opposition to President Emmanuel Macron.

 After Philippot’s announcement Thursday, the leader of the National Front said she was ‘sad’ about his decision.

“It’s sad to witness such a waste, but unfortunately, since this is how he wanted things, it can’t be stopped,” Le Pen told Le Figaro. “There were many attempts to reason with him, but they were always rejected.”

“The National Front is in a period of crisis,” RFI’s political editor Philip Turle told FRANCE 24. “Marine Le Pen’s tenure is no longer assured.”

Cracks have been appearing ever since the party’s election defeat earlier this year. After the National Front lost to centrist president Emmanuel Macron, Philippot started his own group ‘The Patriots’. His movement fast became a source of tension but when Marine Le Pen asked Philippot to leave it, he refused.

Philippot wanted to steer the party away from its traditional anti-immigration focus towards economic nationalism. His rivals in the National Front blame him for turning off many voters by pushing France to quit the European Union and leave the eurozone.

But Marine Le Pen appears not to want to soften her party’s stance on the issue.

“National sovereignty is a mainstay of our struggle,” she told LCP television on Thursday morning. “We will continue to fight the European Union with all our soul because it is an instrument for the elimination and impoverishment of our people.”

The firing earlier this month of regional official Sophie Montel, a close friend of Philippot, set off more sparks. Montel was a vice president of Philippot’s association. Shortly before she was fired, Montel said that the party was “re-toxifying”.

Party officials believe the rift between leading party figures over policy has drawn supporters to other parties, including to the far-left party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is emerging as the main opposition.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

Catalan Crisis: Between Opposing Repression and Opposing Nationalist Separatism.

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Left-Wingers in Spain who Call for a Boycott of the Catalan Referendum.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police have detained 14 Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising a banned independence vote.

Tensions were already high before Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.

Thousands of Catalans took to the streets in protest and the regional leader complained of a power grab.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the state had been forced to act.

Catalonia’s separatist government is defying a Constitutional Court order to halt the planned 1 October vote, which has been condemned by the Madrid government as illegal.

BBC.

Some on the Spanish left wholeheartedly support Catalan Independence, others, the right the hold the referendum.

In reaction to this clamp down it is unlikely that we will hear in the left media much about those who, while disagreeing with the Spanish government’s tactics, refuse to participate in the vote or those who are simply opposed to the break away of one of the most prosperous parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Here is a link to the former group, which includes  figures on the left: ‘1-O Estafa antidemocrática. ¡No participes! ¡No votes!’.

El Periódico notes two names of interest, the anti-corruption investigator activist and  (see below) Carlos Jiménez Villarejo  and the former coordinator of the Izquierda Unida (United Left) Paco Frutos.

The around 1,000 people behind this statement describe themselves are left wing figures, or a variety of ideological, cultural and political backgrounds, who have fought for freedom against Francism, against terrorism and against war, for the rights of women and social minorities, and today against cuts and austerity, the corruption and who oppose the policies of the Rajoy governments. The signatories seek a common future, freely chosen, in a pluralist Spain in which all the different people’s identities are recognised.

.. personas de izquierdas, de variada adscripción ideológica y de distintas culturas políticas, que hemos luchado por las libertades contra el franquismo, contra el terrorismo y contra la guerra, por los derechos de las mujeres y de las minorías sociales, y ahora contra los recortes, la corrupción y que rechazamos las políticas del gobierno de Rajoy, y con el convencimiento de que es posible un futuro común, libremente elegido, en el marco de un España plural donde estén reconocidas todas las identidades de los pueblos que la integran:

They charge the Referendum process with a lack of democratic transparency, with no proper rules, such as a minimum level of participation, and with having been launched “unilaterally” without the agreement of the opposition forces in Catalonia – all of which are indeed true.

It is also more widely the case that forming a breakaway state, that is to oppose the Catalan ‘people’ against the diverse People of Spain, rather cuts against the Podemos Laclau-Mouffe inflected self-declared aim of ‘federating the people’. It could be said to be a case of what Chantal Mouffe calls the “constitutive Other”, making the rest of Spain, lined up behind the ‘State’, the Enemy in the constitution of this new sovereign ‘People’.

This is a different view: Solidaridad con Cataluña! Viento Sur.

Solidaritat amb Catalunya! Kataluniarekin bat! Solidariedade con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridá con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridad con Catalunya!

La suspensión del autogobierno de Catalunya y la escalada represiva que están emprendiendo el gobierno y el poder judicial suponen la instauración de un estado de excepción permanente frente a la voluntad mayoritaria del pueblo catalán de decidir su futuro a través del referéndum el 1 de octubre.

In English from the Fourth International.

 

It is of interest to those Trotskyists in the UK now supporting the alliance between the right of centre Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, the representative of  regional capitalist interests, and various left nationalists, including apparently some on the ‘far left’  in their fight for a breakaway from Spain to read Trotsky himself on the past of the issue. 

In the 1930s Trotsky did not back the creation of another bourgeois state in Catalonia.

Leon Trotsky The National Question in Catalonia

(July 1931)

  • Maurín, the “leader” of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, shares the point of view of separatism. After certain hesitation, he has resolved himself with the left wing of petty bourgeois nationalism. I have already written that Catalan petty bourgeois nationalism at the present stage is progressive. But on one condition: that it develops its activity outside the ranks of Communism and that it is always under the blows of communist criticism. To permit petty-bourgeois nationalism to manifest itself under the Communist mask means at the same time to deliver a perfidious blow to the proletarian vanguard and to kill the progressive significance of petty bourgeois nationalism.
  • What does the program of separatism mean? The economic and political dismemberment of Spain, or in other words, the transformation of the Iberian Peninsula into a sort of Balkanic Peninsula, with independent states, divided by, customs barriers, and with independent armies conducting independent Hispanic wars. Of course, the sage Maurin will say that he does not want this. But programs have their own logic, something Maurin hasn’t got.
  • Are the workers and peasants of the various parties of Spain interested in the economic dismemberment of Spain? In no case. That is why, to identify the decisive struggle for the right to self-determination with propaganda for separatism, means to accomplish a fatal work. Our program is for Hispanic Federation with the indispensable maintenance of economic unity. We have no intention of imposing this program upon the oppressed nationalities of the peninsula with the aid of the arms of the bourgeoisie. In this sense, we are sincerely for the right to self-determination. If Catalonia separates, the Communist minority of Catalonia, as well as of Spain, will have to conduct a struggle for Federation.

Background,

During the first part of the 20th century, the main nationalist party was the conservative Lliga Regionalista, headed by Francesc Cambó. For the nationalists, the main achievement in this period was the Commonwealth of Catalonia a grouping of the four Catalan provinces, with limited administrative power. The Commonwealth developed an important infraestructure (like roads and phones) and promoted the culture (professional education, libraries, regulation of Catalan language, study of sciences) in order to modernize Catalonia. The failure in being granted an Estatute of autonomy in 1919 within the Restoration regime, led to radicalisation of the moderate nationalist parties in Catalonia, leading in turn to the creation of Acció Catalana (Catalan Action) and also Estat Català (Catalan State),[12] drifting apart from the Lliga. Among the leaders of Acció Catalana founded in 1922 and chiefly supportive of liberal-democratic catalanism and a catalanisation process were Jaume Bofill, Antoni Rovira i Virgili and Lluís Nicolau d’Olwer.[13] It also featured an internal elitist faction, moved by the thinking of Charles Maurras and Action française of which Josep Vicenç Foix and Josep Carbonell were representatives,[14] while Jaume Bofill was ambivalent to the extreme right French thinker.[15] Estat Català, somewhat more attached to the idea of downright independence, was founded right after the creation of Acció Catalana by Francesc Macià.

Currently, the main political parties which define themselves as being Catalan nationalists are Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya. The Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although deriving from nationalism, refuses the term “nationalism” and prefers to describe itself as pro-independence; so does Soldaritat Catalana

The most prominent figure in the Catalan politics in  the post-Franco years was Jordi Pujol President of the Generalitat de Catalunya from 1980 to 2003.

Pujol, and Catalan nationalism, have been associated with the massive corruption scandals he was involved with.

In July 2014, Jordi Pujol released a note explaining that for 34 years, including 23 as the President of Catalonia, he had maintained secret foreign bank accounts inherited from his father. The note apologized for his actions and explained that the millions had been declared and taxes paid. The scandal erupted in the Spanish media as it involves allegations against many family members, including trafficking of influence, bribery, money laundering and public corruption. At this time, his sons Jordi and Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola are being investigated by tax authorities. Another son Oriol Pujol resigned from his leadership position in CiU earlier in the month to face charges of public corruption as well. As a direct result of Pujol’s admission on 29 July, Judge Pablo Ruz issued an indictment against Jordi Pujol Ferrusola and his wife for money laundering and tax evasion. [10][11][12][13][14]

On 29 July Catalan president Mas, after a meeting with Pujol i Soley, announced that Pujol renounced both his salary and the office that he had been assigned as ex-president, as well as the honorary title of founding chairman of CDC and CiU.[15] The opposition parties from both left and right, nationalist and non-nationalist, have demanded he testify before the parliament. The main government allies in the Catalan parliament, Esquerra Republicana, have declared that they support stripping Pujol of all his honors.[16] The Catalan government has declared this a “private matter” that will have no impact on the movement for Catalan independence and the referendum scheduled for 9 November 2014.[17] In announcing his resignation from all party offices, President Mas initially stated that Pujol would keep the right to be called “The Right Honorable” as a former president of Catalonia.[18] Hours later the party spokesperson Francesc Homs stated that Pujol must “forfeit everything,” including the Medalla de Oro of Catalunya and all honorifics previously awarded to him.[19] Indicative of the conflicted reaction of many Catalan nationalists, his personal friend Xavier Trias, the Mayor of Barcelona, lamented on Catalonia Radio “He must disappear…He failed us. It is a disaster that has taken place and the shadowy times of Pujol are finished while a new era begins.”[20] Perhaps no one is more deeply conflicted than current President Mas who has acknowledged that Pujol is his “political father” and has stated that “he does not know the details and he is not interested in them either.” [21] The impact of the Pujol family scandals on the Catalan independence movement, the CIU party and Mas’ political future remain to be seen.[22]

Pujol and his family have been suspected for many years of cashing in on the political power he amassed as a 23-year president of Catalonia. In 1984 his family’s bank went bankrupt and was taken over by the Spanish government. His children have amassed a fortune in private businesses that frequently did business and received contracts from the Catalan government. Pujol’s wife and children have investments in the tens of millions of dollars in Mexico, Panama and Argentina. Financial records show the movement of money between foreign banks in Andorra, Switzerland, Jersey, Cayman Islands and other tax havens in excess of €100 million. Critics, including Jordi Pujol Ferrusola’s former girlfriend, charge that this family wealth could not be accumulated from a family inheritance or successful business practices.[23][24] Ever since the 1984 bankruptcy of Banca Catalana, as well as in subsequent years, whenever corruption allegations were made against Pujol, his supporters claimed that the charges were politically motivated against Catalonia.[25][26]

The matter is still under Investigation in 2017.[27][28]

While parts of the left in Spain support Catalan Independence, others charge them with wishing to free the wealthiest part of the country from the ‘burden’ of the poor South and compare them to the Italian  Lega Nord.

The Socialist Party, the PSOE, itself not stranger to corruption and other scandals, sides with the government against the Referendum.

Ahead of planned Catalan poll, main opposition Socialist Party sides with government. El País

SOE leader Pedro Sánchez shows support for PP’s attempts to deal with secessionist challenge.

In these conditions to reject the heavy-handed approach of Rajoy, and to call for a return to democratic norms, should not be confused with backing for the middle class separatist aspirations of Catalan nationalism.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm