Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category
Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for our Left.
This article expresses the views of many of us on the democratic socialist left.
A Corbyn premiership would reverse damaging, cruel welfare cuts and the privatisation of vital public services. He’d tackle climate destruction, rocketing rents and house prices. Trident renewal, foreign wars and the sinister Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership would be nixed. His administration would bring rail and energy companies back into decentralised public ownership. All sensible, compassionate policies. Good for him.
In my book, he is head and shoulders above all the other Labour leadership candidates, both in terms of his past political record and his political agenda for the future. But the single most important over-arching reason for supporting Jeremy is that Britain needs to turn away from the flawed and failed policies of business as usual. He is shaking up the establishment and breaking with the cosy political consensus that has been shared by Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP. The mainstream, middle-of-the-road policies of the last decade are not the answer. All they offer is more of the same, which is what got us into the current mess.
Comrade Peter’s article is lengthy and merits a full read.
Those will long-memories will recall that Peter has been important contributor to Labour Briefing – a significant part of the Labour left backing Jeremy Corbyn. He has also been on the Socialist Society’s Steering Committee. He is well-known to “our” left.
That is apart from all the other campaigns and issues he has fought for so bravely.
Peter Tatchell is one of the most respected and genuine people many of us know.
After having given due weight to his merits, and the immense hope Jeremy Corbyn represents, he sums up our reservations.
Since Jeremy has his heart in the right place and is not an Islamist, Holocaust denier or anti-Semite, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, he has been careless in not checking out who he shares platforms with and been too willing to associate uncritically with the Islamist far right.
While I’m certain that Jeremy doesn’t share their extremist views, he does need to explain in more detail why he has attended and spoken at meetings alongside some pretty unsavoury bigots who advocate human rights abuses – and especially why he did so without publicly criticising their totalitarian politics.
He also notes problems with the stand taken on Hamas, Hezbollah, Russia and Ukraine.
There is much to say on these issues, and others – but read the article.
I will concentrate on those who are crowing that Corbyn’s opposition to direct Western intervention in Syria is another reason why he is unfit to lead the Labour Party.
One of the more distasteful claims now being made is that full-throttled backing of the Syrian opposition would have stopped the present refugee crisis.
What exactly that mean became clear as the conflict escalated in 2012- 2013 and voices became louder and louder that there should have been armed intervention, helped by aerial bombardments.
Those leading the charges against Corbyn were amongst the forces putting pressure for the British government to support military action in Syria.
Parliament voted in August 2013 against this. “David Cameron said he would respect the defeat of a government motion by 285-272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.”
They, above the ‘Eustonites’ and the Labour right-wing, including Blogs such as Harry’s Place, have not forgiven Jeremy Corbyn for helping in the defeat of this move.
It is clearer nevertheless, by the day, that the “opposition” in Syria, that is armed groups, that would have been aided by these measures were the very Islamist genociders (in ‘moderate’ killer or ‘extremist’ killer guise) who now create mass misery.
The result would probably have been, as Phil states, the premises are skewed.
The injection of large numbers of US and UK troops might have brought about an Afghanistan/Iraq-style “solution” with all the anti-insurgency actions and casualties that would have entailed, but IS would have been locked out. However, as we know neither the public nor for that matter the political and military elites were taken with such a scenario. Perhaps timing could have made a difference. Had the bombs fallen on Damascus earlier today’s crisis might have been avoided. Possibly, but as the last foray into Libya showed early intervention is no guarantee of success. If the bombs had landed in support of the 2011 uprisings, what has befallen Tripoli, Benghazi, etc. could be a window into the road not taken in Syria. That, however, was never on the table.
This was, and remains, no democratic alternative to the Assad tyranny with the force to replace it.
What can we do?
Peter’s statement on the present state of the Syrian civil war is important.
On Syria, Jeremy seems to have no policies, apart from “Don’t bomb Syria”. I concur. We don’t want escalation and war. But surely 250,000 dead, 1.5 million wounded and 10 million refugees merits some action? Total inaction aids the survival of Assad and Isis (IS).
A good start might be a UN General Assembly-authorised no-fly zone, arms embargo, peacekeepers and civilian safe havens – plus cutting funding to the IS and Assad armies by a UN blockade of oil sales.
Such measures – enforced by non-Western states such as Argentina, India, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa – would help de-escalate the conflict and reduce casualties. Jeremy’s wariness of intervention is understandable. I share it. But surely a UN mandate designed to limit war fighting is reasonable and legitimate for a left-wing candidate?
Peter also speaks on a subject dear to our heart: the Tendance has supported movements of solidarity with the Iranian people, such as Hands off the People of Iran * – which is both anti-Theocracy and for human rights in Iran, and against Western Military intervention.
Like Jeremy, I don’t want war with Iran. I opposed the indiscriminate, blanket Western sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians. But I’ve struggled to find examples of where he has spoken out against Iran’s mass jailing and torture of trade unionists, students, journalists, lawyers, feminists, human rights defenders and sexual, religious and ethnic minorities (such as the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baluchs). Why the silence? He often and loudly criticises Saudi Arabia. Why not Iran?
It is very distressing to see Jeremy appear on the Iranian regime’s propaganda channel Press TV, especially after it defamed peaceful protesters and covered up state violence at the time of the rigged presidential elections in 2009. Moreover, how can Jeremy (and George Galloway) appear on Press TV, despite it broadcasting forced confessions by democrats and human-rights defenders who’ve been tortured into admitting false charges, and who are later executed?
Based on these serious lapses, Jeremy’s critics say his foreign policies make him unfit to be Labour leader and prime minister. I understand some of their reservations, but they ignore all the international issues where Jeremy has a superb record, including support for serious action against global poverty and the arms trade, and his opposition to the Saudi Arabian and Bahraini dictatorships (two tyrannies that most other MPs ignore and which Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have actively colluded with). Moreover, Jeremy’s been a long-time champion of the dispossessed Chagos Islanders, Kurds, Palestinians and Western Sahrawis. Few other MPs have shown similar concern about the fate of most of these peoples.
We are immensely glad that Peter has spoken out.
- The initiative for Hands Off the People of Iran came from a number of Iranian exile organisations in 2005. On March 16, 2006, Workers Left Unity – Iran wrote an open letter to the British anti-war movement, calling for genuine solidarity with the Iranian people. By 2007 HOPI was fully established, consisting predominantly of Iranian exiles who campaign for regime change in Iran but are against external military intervention, believing military occupation to be the worst condition under which liberation can be achieved. HOPI’s founding conference was held in December 2007. At the Founding Conference, a National Steering Committee was established consisting of seventeen members from a range of different political organisations and political traditions. These include members of the Green Party of England and Wales, Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Socialist Group, Permanent Revolution, Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements at the University of Glasgow, Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), Workers Left Unity – Iran, Revolutionary Workers of Iran, Anarchist Federation (pc) and Women’s Campaign Against All Misogynist Laws in Iran. An Irish branch of HOPI, chaired by Anne McShane, organised a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Dublin in June 2009
Liz Kendall: Only Serious Resistance to Jeremy Corbyn.
Thursday August 20.8.15. The Corbynistas are advancing on all fronts. The entire population is leaving Knightsbridge; we are living in an atmosphere of panic.
The passengers on the Tube this morning looked ugly and deformed.
A cat near my office was scavenging for tit-bits.
I thought of how it’s always the animals who suffer first.
Friday August 21.8.15. Corbyn’s policy programme looks backwards and had been rejected by Labour in the 1930s.
My heart is filled with the scenes of savagery I have witnessed at his Tottenham meeting.
Chuka says that is it just him just him or is there a serious lack of cool places to go in London at the weekends.
“Most of the North London haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe.”
Saturday August 22.8.15. We must champion the power of human beings to shape their own lives, and oppose the tyranny of the bureaucratic state.
Corbyn’s plans to bring back the old Labour Badge made me think of the Stalin’s Pioneer camps.
Tristram thinks that Jeremy’s message is sweet and simple: we must end austerity now, bring back steam railways, scrap Trident, replace it with catapults, and nationalise kebab production.
People are different.
They have acquired a secretive, furtive air when I ask them if they’ve voted for me.
Sunday August 23rd. It’s the little things that bring home the depth of our isolation: this morning our cleaner announced that she has joined the ‘militia’ of the Labour Party Marxists.
I could have wept into my latte.
Monday August 24th. Liberty should be reclaimed as a defining ideal.
We must be doing the best for kids, particularly in white-working class communities.
The editorial committee for the newspaper we are planning is settled. The name of our organ? Résistance.
Tuesday August 25th. News from the Suffolk Maquis in encouraging.
A brave band of supporters has set up a ‘free zone’ in Rendelsham forest.
They sent us a Selfie of their base:
Yvette Cooper: Labour Should not be run by White Men.
Yvette Cooper launched a scathing attack on Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn yesterday and claimed the party should no longer be run by ‘white men’.
The Shadow Home Secretary insisted she was the ‘real radical’ and made the case to be Labour’s first woman leader – saying the party needed a ‘feminist approach to our economy and society’.
She hit out at the prospect of ‘a Labour Party after a century of championing equality and diversity which turns the clock back to be led again by a leader and deputy leader, both white men. Who’s the real radical? Jeremy or me
On Newsnight yesterday Cooper, married to Ed Balls, said that all the talk on transport, cars and trains, was about “toys for the Boys”.
What was needed was child care.
She is obviously proud of the expression “boys’ toys” : it was made in Manchester the same day:
Universal free childcare should be as much the infrastructure of the modern economy as trains, planes and boys toys.
Cooper has never used boys’ toys transport.
In Manchester she also said, on Clause Four, and Corbyn’s proposals for greater public ownership,
“Bringing back clause IV? Spending billions of pounds we haven’t got switching control of some power stations from a group of white middle aged men in an energy company to a group of white middle aged men in Whitehall?”
Too right: the worst thing is that these men are white and middle aged.
Cooper was born in 1969 and is white.
She was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010.
Her new concern with welfare issues contrasts with the fact that she did nothing to reform the ‘controversial’ Work Capability Assessments and the company, ATOS, from this programme, during her term of office.
The Welfare Reform Act 2007 introduced Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) to determine who should receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Decisions were taken by officials at the DWP using evidence from the assessments, carried out by the Atos subsidiary Atos Healthcare.
During her post she the Labour government operated its latest version of the New Deal programmes (the ‘Flexible New deal’) which paved the way for Workfare and a crack down on claimants.
It was hived out to companies run by…..white and middle aged men.
With one big exception: Emma Harrison and the notorious A4E .
A4e was a company started by Emma Harrison‘s father. It was originally a Sheffield based training company, putting unemployed steel workers through a getting-back-to-work course. Emma Harrison joined the company after graduating in engineering.
After the Labour Party came to power in 1997, they introduced the back to work New Deal service for those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, requiring claimants to attend vocational training or risk losing their benefit. In the mid 2000s the government withdrew funding from Jobcentre Plus’ vocational training programmes and redirected the funds to “back to work” agencies, such as the Sheffield based company A4e. A4e quickly became the largest provider of New Deal services in the UK, and had contracts for the New Deal worth £80 million. When the New Deal was wound down in 2010, A4e was paid a share of £63 million in “termination fees”.
A4e was awarded a contract for the Pathways to Work scheme in 2008,[with a target to get 30 per cent of participants into employment. In February 2012 the Public Accounts Committee heard the success rate was 9 per cent. Committee Chair Margaret Hodge questioned why A4e had been awarded new contracts to deliver the Work Programme despite this “abysmal” performance. Conservative Committee memberRichard Bacon expressed similar concerns, asking why A4e’s “dreadful performance in one of the immediate predecessor programmes” had not been taken into account during tendering.
David Blunkett, a pillar of New Labour, was closely involved with A4E.
David Blunkett, the former secretary of state for work and pensions, has amended his entry in the House of Commons register of interests to include a trip to South Africa paid for and organised by a private training company for which he is an adviser, the Observer can reveal.
The MP for Sheffield Brightside, who resigned from the cabinet for a second time in late 2005 after breaking the ministerial code over a separate business interest, amended his entry with the House of Commons authorities last week after discussions with the Observer.
He had travelled with another person last September, on behalf of A4e, a leading employment and training firm that is bidding for multi-million pound contracts in the UK from Blunkett’s former department and is expanding its interests around the world. Blunkett consulted the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and was told: “The registrar suggests that for the avoidance of doubt it would be advisable to amend your entry to make clear that you do travel on behalf of the company.”
Blunkett is also an opponent of Jeremy Corbyn.
Writing in the Mirror at the end of July he said,
The language used by Jeremy Corbyn about combating austerity will be out of date.
The arguments about who will protect the poor from George Osborne will have passed.
Jeremy is the candidate of the Old Left, and they will have few answers for new challenges facing the Labour Party and the country in 2020.
Rugby Tackle by Tony Blair Not Guaranteed!
The apocalyptic mood that seems to have seized the right-wing of the Labour Party and their Eustonite friends reached a frenzy this morning:
Tony Blair: Even if you hate me, please don’t take Labour over the cliff edge.
The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes “disunity”. It is a moment for a rugby tackle if that were possible.
Even more so today, they do not think their challenges can be met by old-fashioned state control as the way to personal or social empowerment; they do not think breaking up Nato unilaterally is sensible; and they realise that a party without a serious deficit-reduction plan is not in these times a serious contender to govern them.
If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation. If he wins the leadership, the public will at first be amused, bemused and even intrigued. But as the years roll on, as Tory policies bite and the need for an effective opposition mounts – and oppositions are only effective if they stand a hope of winning – the public mood will turn to anger. They will seek to punish us. They will see themselves as victims not only of the Tory government but of our self-indulgence.
Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t offer anything new. This is literally the most laughable of all the propositions advanced by his camp. Those of us who lived through the turmoil of the 80s know every line of this script. These are policies from the past that were rejected not because they were too principled, but because a majority of the British people thought they didn’t work. And by the way, they were rejected by electorates round the world for the same reasons.
I also recall the 1980s – if you were there you would remember it.
The expression “old fashioned” was around then too.
It was used against those who wanted public influence and – yes – ownership (you can’t control what you don’t own – democratic socialist axiom), back in the ….1950s.
But at least the leading “revisionist” of that time, Tony Crossland, aimed for “social equality” and sought means to that goal ( The Future of Socialism. 1956).
In the 1980s faced with Thatcher there was a profound re-thinking on the left.
A high-point came with the Socialist Conferences (also known as the Chesterfield Conferences after the founding one) in the latter part of the decade.
They involved the left Labour Campaign group, notably Tony Benn, union and Labour Party activists, the Socialist Society (a ‘new Left’ group), left and pressure groups of all hues.
Over 2,000 people attended each of these events.
They debated topics, Hilary Wainwright noted (in a reply to the SWP’s dismissal of the Labour left) such as, Left perspectives on winning the next election or Campaigning for the leadership: prospects and possibilities, the papers and workshops were on Democracy and state power, International finance, The fight for local government, The politics of race, The working class and socialism. Other events discussed feminism and socialism, green politics and constitutional reform (including Proportional Representation).
Documents emerged that offered a radical green democratic socialism based on participation and expanded rights.
Apart from that mouthful they put forward some clear ideas about workers’ rights, feminism, welfare, and constitutional change.
All this, as things boiled down in the 1990s – not forgetting the Fall of Official Communism – to a choice between Blair and an effort to stand by the gains of social democratic public control, union rights, and welfare.
There is also nothing new about our opponents’ rhetoric: all of this was shouted down as the foibles of the ‘hard left’ dinosaurs.
It seemed that a “multiplicity of democratic forces” in the ‘New Times’ would best be served through bolting down to the new free-market environment, and hope to add a little reform through the ‘Third Way’ (one idea that’s now so past its sell-by date that even its authors have forgotten about it).
The “modernisers” of the Labour Party, Blair and then Brown’s Cabinets, were even more electorally focused: they proposed a strategy based on an appeal the “aspirational ” middle and working class that was indifferent to anything but their own personal interests and conservative (small and big ‘C’) values, what happened to them?
For the left the principal point about these Labour governments was that they opened up the remains of the social democratic state to new markets (the NHS’ internal market) financing by PFI and turned over the unemployed to private profiteers, ‘providers’ of the various schemes like the New Deal.
Some of the Blair and Brown crew, and many of their immediate followers, went in for pretty old fashioned personal benefit.
One only has to look at those now benefiting in outsourcing companies like Capita to get a glimpse of that picture.
They did not bolster the position of unions – the grass-roots participatory foundation of many social rights.
On welfare they did not expand rights, or protect the “safe home” of the welfare state, but tried to reform the personal behaviour of the poor, the “socially excluded.”
They did not up for the public goods that are needed for social equality, the universal services, the cash we have to have pumped into welfare run on a democratic basis , or freed the state from the grip of private exploiters – outsourcers – living off the general purse.
The money they pumped into public services went as quickly as it had appeared, at the first signs of an economic crisis.
What have they done since?
In a sentence: they have not fought austerity.
Corbyn, by starting from this position opens up the possibility of re-opening the left’s imagination for those debates of the 1980s – ones which, it’s easy to see, have a great deal of present-day relevance, in new and changed forms.
One big idea that’s come back is public ownership of public provision.
This needs a pan-European approach, as developed by the Party of the European Left.
In the meantime…..
Today’s Guardian attack on Corbyn carries all the moral and principled authority that Blair can draw upon:
John Stevens 22 January 2015.
Tony Blair has amassed a personal fortune since standing down as prime minister – often acting as an adviser to controversial businesses and regimes.
But yesterday the hefty fees he charges to act as a go-between were revealed.
A previously secret contract with a Saudi oil company headed by a member of the country’s royal family has been leaked showing Mr Blair charging £41,000 a month and 2 per cent commission on any of the multi-million-pound deals he helped broker.
The emergence of the Saudi deal led to new criticism of Mr Blair’s role as a Middle East envoy, but he strongly denied there is a conflict of interest.
The contract between Tony Blair Associates (TBA) and PetroSaudi signed in November 2010, said Mr Blair would personally arrange introductions to his contacts in China, such as senior politicians.
He had already attracted scathing criticism after it emerged that he had given Kazakhstan’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, advice on how to manage his image after the slaughter of 14 unarmed civilians.
Mr Blair has said claims that he is worth £100million are ‘greatly exaggerated’. But the Saudi contract shows how much he has been able to charge for his services.
Since leaving Downing Street in 2007, he has amassed a fortune including a property portfolio of 31 homes worth at least £25million.
He is one of the world’s best paid speakers – earning up to £150,000 a speech – and has secured advisory roles with US investment bank JP Morgan and Swiss insurer Zurich International.
The Saudi contract stated that TBA would help find potential sources of new investment and added that Mr Blair would make ‘introductions to the senior political leadership, industrial policymakers, corporate entities and other persons in China identified and deemed by us and you to be relevant to PetroSaudi’s international strategy’.
The firm agreed it would not divulge his role without permission.
Meanwhile we learn that Ipswich Top Tory Kevin Algar has joined the Eustonite attack on Corbyn:
The backbencher – who looks set to be voted Labour leader next month – signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in 2004 called ‘Pigeon Bombs’ that criticised the way the birds were treated by, er, British spies
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn once declared his support for an asteroid killing every human on the planet – because of PIGEONS.
The backbencher – who looks set to be voted Labour leader next month – signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in 2004 called ‘Pigeon Bombs’ that criticised the way the birds were treated by, er, British spies.
Adding his name to the motion alongside fellow Labour MPs John McDonnell and Tony Banks, Corbyn felt it was right to highlight the issue – and wanted an asteroid to obliterate every human on the planet for being “cruel and uncivilised”.
Maajid Nawaz writes, in the Daily Beast,
The desire to impose religion over society is otherwise known as theocracy. Being veterans of the struggle to push back against fundamentalist Christians, American liberals are well acquainted with the pitfalls of the neoconservative flirtation with the religious-right. How ironic, then, that in Europe it is those on the left—led by the Guardian—who flirt with religious theocrats. For in the UK, our theocrats are brown, from minority communities, and are overwhelmingly Muslim.
Stop: if Nawaz considers that the Guardian is representative of the ‘left’ then there is a problem here. The paper officially backed the Liberal Democrats an election ago, – his party – not even going far enough to the left to support Labour.
True there are plenty of columnists for the Guardian (and exceptions, does he ever read Polly Toynbee?) like Reverend Giles Fraser, who have a soft spot for Islamism and spend their time wittering away about “shared identities” and linking Islamist “radicalism” with a fight against injustice.. Some, like Seumas Milne (who has stronger claims to be on the left), think that the struggle for progressive principles runs so far ‘within’ Islamism that he could back the right-wing Ennahda party in Tunisia for its apparent calls for ‘social justice’ against left-wing secularist parties.
The Guardian also opened its pages to writers who loathed Charlie Hebdo, and French secularism, at the time of the Islamist attack on the Weekly, and the murder of Jewish customers at Hyper- Casher.
Seumas Milne denounced Charlie for “repeated pornographic humiliation.” of the Prophet. Fraser felt the pain of “a beleaguered, economically fragile Muslim community”.
While condemning the killings with a sentence or two, they immediately went out of their way to understand the ‘anger’ of people at seeing rude cartoons about their religion.
These people, and they include would apparently set up a list of rules and regulation to govern what is satire and what is not. It should, we heard endlessly, only attack the ‘powerful’. That, according to Will Self, we should drop the “sexual fetish” of defending the right of people to express themselves freely.
It was no doubt no coincidence that Respect’s MP, George Galloway was particularly keen on a set of regulations to keep in check people’s tendency to make fun of others.
For those who came up with their hare-brained idea we can only guess that at their public schools they had read Juvenal’s line
…difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquaetam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se
It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself.
Yup, injustice, that’s all satire should be about.
But one doubts if their ‘rules’ can fit Viz magazine’s idea of satire:
On the left there were others who stood with those who would regulate free speech to suit the demands of ‘Muslims’, and some (like a former supporter of your party Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat voting, Tariq Ali, as well as more obvious sources, like the Socialist Workers Party) who essentially claimed that Charlie “had it coming”.
But there were plenty of left-wing people, and organisations who stood with the martyrs of Charlie.
Groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the paper, the Weekly Worker, and, more importantly countless Facebook friends, democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals and believers in human rights – hundreds of thousands of left-wing and liberal people in this country wept at the murders of our beloved comrades at Charlie and the Jewish victims of the anti-Semite killers and stood up against Islamist violence when it counted.
There is a natural fear among Europe’s left, that challenging Islamist extremism can only aid Europe’s far-right. But the alternative to this fear must not be to instead empower theocratic fascism. There is a way to both challenge those who want to impose islam, and those who wish to ban Islam. It has not escaped me, nor other liberal Muslims, that while challenging Islamist extremism we must remain attentive to protecting our civil liberties. We are born of this struggle, after all.
Some of us are born of this struggle as it echoed in the United Kingdom. and across the world:
Secularism, in the form of laïcité, was the product of the 19th, not the 18th century. As Georges Weill explained (Histoire de l’idée laïque en France au XXe siècle. 1929, new edition, 2004) it was during the 1840s that the idea that administration and government of the country should be free from any religious power, emerged. Edgar Quinet ( 1803 – 1875) was one of the first to advocate a “une séparation complète radicale” of religious institutions from the State (Page 147 – 149)
Quinet’s emphasis on the idea of secular education, “l’école laïque ” was to be at the centre of all the subsequent fights for laïcité. Jules Ferry, who created the basis for a republican education system liberated from the –Catholic Church –, was only able to begin to realise this ideal after the Second Empire, under clerical domination, had fallen. The Third Republic (founded 1875) was rocked by divisions on the issue. It was only in 1905 that France saw a real separation of Church and State (with numerous exceptions, notably concerning private Catholic education, which continued, with subsidies).
Weill indicates that far from being the result of a violent hostility to religion French secularism originates in four sources. The first came from ‘Galician’ Catholics who opposed the ultramontagne power of the Pope over their own affairs, and, as the century progressed from Catholics who became attached to republican ideals. The second was amongst liberal Protestants, who had obvious (and blood-stained) reasons to distrust the power of the official Church. A third were desists, who wanted religion, illuminated by science, to be free from the doctrinal control of Papal Curia.
Only in the fourth category, the “libres penseurs”, can we find those with some debt to Hébert. The early workers’ movement owed a debt to Christian belief, particularly to Lamenais’ Paroles d’un croyant (1834), which rooted Christianity in democracy and social causes (in many respects more advanced than British ‘Christian socialism’ and still worth reading). But as the century progressed anti-clericalism spread amongst the socialists as well as amongst those who would become the so-called ‘Radical Socialist’ party (the word ‘radical’ comes from the British ‘radicals’ like John Stuart Mill). Many of the popular classes simply abandoned religion.
For myself this is one part of the socialist heritage: the ‘synthesis’ between democratic Marxism and universal human rights for which one of our greatest martyrs, Jean Jaurès, was assassinated.
Note that many secularists are ‘believers’.
Secularism is freedom to believe….
At a time when our comrades are again being slaughtered in Bangladesh for the crime of criticising Islam and Islamists in the shape of the genocidal Daesh movement are attacking minorities, enslaving, and as you say…..
Will you join with this movement?
Back the Kurdish fighters, and the brace voices for secularism and freedom in every country – in many cases people deeply rooted in the Left?
The choice is for everybody.
Jeremy Corbyn opens up MASSIVE 20-point lead in the Labour leadership election race
Jeremy Corbyn has opened up an astonishing 20-point lead over his rivals in the race for the Labour leadership.
Private polling seen by the Daily Mirror shows Mr Corbyn set to top the ballot with 42%, way ahead of Yvette Cooper on 22.6%, Andy Burnham on 20% and Liz Kendall on 14%.
But once second preferences have been taken into account the veteran leftwinger is ahead by just two points on 51% to Ms Cooper’s 49%.
Some Labour MPs are now urging supporters of Mr Burnham and Ms Kendall to either back Ms Cooper or at least ensure she gets their second preference votes as the only way of stopping the Corbyn bandwagon.
Ballot papers for the contest are sent out on August 14, with the result announced on September 12.
Unison has announced it will be backing the anti-austerity candidate Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership.
And in a blow for Andy Burnham, who emerged early on in the leadership race as a union favourite and frontrunner, the trade union has tipped Yvette Cooper as its second choice.
It comes after a second poll suggested a significant lead for the veteran Islington North MP, putting him 20 points ahead of Ms Cooper.
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s message has resonated with public sector workers who have suffered years of pay freezes, redundancies with too many having to work more for less.
“They have been penalised for too long by a Government that keeps on taking more and more from them. Their choice shows a clear need for change towards a fairer society where work is fairly rewarded, and where those living and working in poverty supported.”
I was not going to Blog on this, after receiving threats from some very odd quarters.
But is too important to confine to the world of Twitter and Facebook.
One can only praise the authors of this critique of “confusionnisme politique”, the translator’s excellent work, and the Charnel House for publishing this important work. There is a very disingenuous reply full of the tropes of cl assical Europen rhetoric, and little substance (‘essentially’ repeating, it’s an Indigenes thing, you wouldn’t understand), here: http://indigenes-republique.fr/vacarme-critique-les-indigenes-la-faillite-du-materialisme-abstrait-2/
Originally posted on The Charnel-House:
The Charnel-House introduction
A few months ago, I wrote up a critique of the “decolonial dead end” arrived at by groups like the Indigènes de la République. Despite being welcomed in some quarters of the Left, wearied by the controversy stirred up after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, it was not well received by others. Last month, however, a French comrade alerted me to the publication of a similar, but much more detailed and carefully argued, piece criticizing Bouteldja & co. in Vacarne. I even asked a friend to translate it for the new left communist publication Ritual. But before he could complete it, someone describing himself as “a long-time reader/appreciator of The Charnel-House” contacted me to let me know he’d just finished rendering it into English.
The authors of the original piece — Malika Amaouche, Yasmine Kateb, and Léa Nicolas-Teboul — all belong to the French…
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