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Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

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Image result for trump brexit cartoon

“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But Orbán, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

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Football: a Lament for the Two Englands.

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "baudrillard sur le football"

Pseudo-Cosmopolitan Sneers Get Robust Answer From Spiked online.

 

“England for him was no longer a real place, but a consecrated isle in the lake of forgetting, where the God of the English still strode through an imaginary Eden, admiring His works.”
― Roger ScrutonEngland: An Elegy

THE TWO ENGLANDS.

Brendan O’Neill

There’s the England where we gathered in pubs and parks to go wild for the team, and in the process made new friends, hugged strangers, helped inebriated people into Ubers, and there’s the England that frets that this heaving mass of fans will turn violent and harm women and girls.

“Human beings, in their settled condition, are animated by oikophilia: the love of the oikos, which means not only the home but the people contained in it, and the surrounding settlements that endow that home with lasting contours and an enduring smile.”
― Roger ScrutonHow to Be a Conservative

And,

There’s the England that pursues of the promise of nationhood, and the England that views the nation as outdated. There is the England that feels national pride and sometimes even waves the English flag, and there is the England repulsed by such ‘jingoistic’ behaviour. Even in London itself, you can have a working-class estate adorned in England flags not far from Corbynista-inhabited parts of London where the only flag you’re likely to see is the EU one. Two Londons. The England that sees itself as a nation, and the England that sees itself as a small cog in the pseudo-cosmopolitan machine of Brussels whose wise counsel is apparently preferable to the opinions of ordinary Brits. Especially the ones who wave that bloody flag and beat their wives when England lose.

“When the chips are down, Orwell argued, our workers do not defend their class but their country, and they associate their country with a gentle way of life in which unusual and eccentric habits – such as not killing one another – are accepted as the way things are. In these respects, Orwell also thought, the leftist intellectuals will always misunderstand the workers, who want nothing to do with a self-vaunting disloyalty that only intellectuals can afford.”
― Roger ScrutonHow to Be a Conservative

I know which of the two Englands I prefer. Like millions of others, I experienced it many times over these past few weeks, and I know it is not the foul, prejudiced, violent land of the new technocratic elite’s nightmares, but rather is a place where people value collectivity over individual identity, talent over race, and pulling together rather than waiting to be enlightened by those who presume to know more than us. En-ger-land – it’s not so shabby.

Brendan O’Neill

For further information on the new politics of Spiked see:

Brexit: A Requiem.

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Image result for turds

Did Magna Carta Die in Vain for this?

“The Brexit dream is dying” Boris Johnson.

As “we are truly headed for the status of colony” spare a thought for those who dared to dream.

There is a thorpe in England, Bell End, Bertywoostershire.

Nay but a hamlet, but full, in every nook and herne, with  platoons, little and large.

In the ale-house, on the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frock’d boors sigh heavily o’er their loss.

The day is weary but they recall the merry match when Lord Tariq, wi’ sturdy northern folk from Counterfire, played the cricket team, and took a Beamer from Sir Arron, while wrinkled Vicar Giles smiled gently on.

The Squire, Sir Farrage, and his valet, Mr Galloway, would have many a cream tea at the neighbouring Big Boris Mansion.

Once a mouser was stuck high in the oldest Oak tree, the Lord of the ancient holt, and Yeoman Embery came a-runnin’ to save the feline.

The innocent of the village, Brendan O’Neill, made a tasty stew with that moggie….

The Very Honourable Ress Mogg with his Morris Players…. a sight to behold!

Alas.

Now gone.

Brussels ad portas.

Venezuela Hyperinflation at the One Million Mark as Maduro Regime Faces Breakdown. 

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Image result for venezuela hyperinflation

Venezuela Hyperinflation Index Reaches the One Million Mark

…just two years ago, when we launched the Bloomberg Cafe Con Leche Index, a coffee cost 450 bolivars. Or that today’s price is the equivalent of almost one-fifth of the monthly minimum wage. Or that to buy a cup with the most common bill in circulation — the 100-bolivar note — you’d need to gather up a stack of 10,000 of them.

Libération 22nd of June, François-Xavier Gomez.

In Venezuela, the minimum wage has now been raised  to 1 dollar.

For the fourth time this year, President Nicolás Maduro has raised the minimum wage for Venezuelans. On the 1 st July it will pass to  million bolivars, against 1 million since 1 st May To this sum is added a monthly food voucher for a value of 2.2 million bolivars. On 1 st January, the minimum wage stood at 250,000 bolivares. The inflationary spiral that is devastating the country’s economy renders any attempt at conversion useless. The government keeps the figures of the price rises hidden from its own public, while external sources (World Bank or International Monetary Fund) put them  at 2,700% for 2017, with a forecast at 13,800% for this year.

These incredible  figures mean that a month’s minimum salary will buy you, ” deux bouteilles d’huile, ou un kilo de poulet, ou une douzaine d’œufs” two bottles of cooking oil, a kilo of chicken and a dozen eggs.

More than 120,000 Venezuelans have formerly asked for asylum in Peru alone – outnumbering those fleeing to the USA,  which is overwhelmed by the flood of refugees who total more than  353.000 of whom 16.000 are children. They have added to a country’s difficulties where already 60% work in the ‘informal’ economy.

The Maduro ‘Bolivarian revolutionaries’ – once the best known example of ‘populism’ claiming to be on the left and a central  inspiration for some European left leaders, such as the Spanish speaking Jean-luc Melechon (MÉLENCHON : “CHAVEZ, C’EST L’IDÉAL INÉPUISABLE DE L’ESPÉRANCE HUMANISTE, DE LA RÉVOLUTION“) – are trying to hold onto power through repression.

El estado de derecho está “virtualmente ausente” en Venezuela.(Noticias ONU).

Rule of law ‘virtually absent’ in Venezuela, UN report says. Government forces carry out killings with impunity.

Guardian 22nd of June,

Government security forces in Venezuela carry out unjustified killings without any apparent consequences, as the rule of law is “virtually absent” in the country, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The UN human rights office called on the government to bring perpetrators to justice and said it was sending its report to the international criminal court (ICC), whose prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation in February.

The report published on Friday cited “credible, shocking” accounts of extrajudicial killings of young men during crime-fighting operations in poor neighbourhoods conducted without arrest warrants. Security forces would tamper with the scene so that there appeared to have been an exchange of fire, it said.

“The failure to hold security forces accountable for such serious human rights violations suggests that the rule of law is virtually absent in Venezuela,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “The impunity must end.”

Perú, desbordado por la migración venezolana

El País 29th of June.

Más de 120.000 venezolanos han pedido asilo en el país andino, que ahora supera a Estados Unidos en número de solicitudes

In the left-leaning Vice Tommy Walters reported last week  on those who seek to deny these realities.

Why Are People on the UK Left Supporting Venezuela’s Authoritarian Regime?

Prominent Labour figures held a gathering in London to show their solidarity with a human-rights abusing government.

The obvious irony of denouncing other countries’ human rights records while simultaneously ignoring the Venezuelan government’s own crimes seemed to be lost on many. It would only have taken Williamson a second to find the numerous videos and reports from international human rights organisations documenting unlawful detentions and the repression of protesters in Venezuela. As the VSC builds closer links with UK trade unions, such as Unite and the Transport Workers Federation, the Venezuelan government continues to imprison its own union leaders.

Walters summarises,

Today, any remnants of the optimism of the deep social reforms of Maduro’s revolutionary predecessor Hugo Chávez are long gone, replaced by a successor who turns to violence and coercion to keep his citizens in line. Emblematic of this is the perpetual imprisonment of Leopoldo López, an opposition leader who is currently under house arrest, and has been described by Amnesty Internationalas “deprived of his freedom” in a “politically motivated attempt to silence dissent”. At the meeting, Amnesty International was widely discarded as being funded by “neo-liberals”, while the single mention of López dismissed him as an illegal provocateur “rightly convicted of fermenting street violence”.

To explain the dismal economic performance, the VSC blamed US imperialism, while ignoring the role of Chavez’s years of high borrowing and over-reliance on oil revenues. The Venezuelan economy had been contracting for four years before Trump imposed sanctions last year.

True to form the last few days have seen the Morning Star has rushed to defend the predatory clique running Venezuela in the name of ‘socialism’.

OLIVER VARGASresponds to an article by liberal hipsters Vice and its misrepresentation a recent Venezuela Solidarity Campaign event.”

Calling the above an “episode in red-baiting” the author flays around trying to find the cause of the economic difficulties of the country in the policies and actions of the comprador clique that’s taken over the mantle of left populism.

Nothing to do with them: it’s about:

The fact that the price of oil crashed almost overnight in the first year of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency is ignored.

The crippling sanctions are ignored. The siphoning of essential goods across the border by Colombian paramilitaries is ignored.

The distorting effects of currency speculation by international finance are ignored.

The economic impact of the wave of opposition riots, vandalism and blockades is ignored.

Maduro must have the healing powers of a living saint to keep people in monthly eggs and cooking oil, with a bit of poultry, in these conditions and after all these attacks!

With an airy wave of the calloused toiler’s hand Vargas dismisses reports (by the UN amongst others) about repression.

“Intimidation”, you’re having a laugh, “After all, Chavistas have been putting up with personal insults for much longer.”

The real problem is “pernicious terrorism that citizens have suffered at the hands of the opposition.”

With a call to order Vargas thunders:

Chavez represented the first successful defeat of the “end of history” and US triumphalism.

In those times of defeat for the left, Chavez built an economy that provided both significant GDP growth together with equality. He combined that with a thoroughly internationalist outlook that encouraged social movements around the world.

The huge changes in the country together with popular mobilisation mean that those who had been excluded from politics for 500 years were finally able to take leadership of their own country for the first time.

Maduro is the continuation of that legacy, though with an incredibly difficult external situation as the key factor separating them.

For all these reasons, I expect Chavez will pass into popular folklore as Che Guevara has done. Western writers may oppose that and the movement he represents but if they’re to write on it then it is incumbent on them to at least try to objectively understand why Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution still have the energetic support of the poor majority in Venezuela.

Human Rights Watch will disagree:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 29, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Labour Should Back Legalising Cannabis.

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Canada Plans to Legalize Marijuana, Nationwide, in 2017

UK Should Follow Canada’s Lead.

Canada legalises recreational cannabis use.

BBC.

Canada’s parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.

The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold.

Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September.

The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug’s recreational use.

Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013, while a number of US states have also voted to permit it.

War on cannabis ‘comprehensively and irreversibly lost’, William Hague says.

Independent.

Current policy is ‘revealed to be inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date’.

William Hague has urged Theresa May to consider legalising cannabis as he claims the war on the drug has been “comprehensively and irreversibly lost”.

The remarks from the former foreign secretary heap political pressure on the prime minister amid an escalating row in the cabinet over the government’s approach to medical cannabis and growing outrage over a 12-year-old epileptic boy’s use of the drug.

The intervention from Mr Hague – Tory leader between 1997 and 2001 – also comes after Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, suggested a “different way” was required after cannabis oil was confiscated from Charlotte Caldwell.

The government has rejected a call from Lord Hague to consider legalising the recreational use of cannabis.

BBC

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the former Tory leader said the war on cannabis had been “irreversibly lost” and a change of policy was needed.

His call was prompted by the case of a boy with epilepsy who was given a special licence to use cannabis oil.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs there will be a review of the medical use of cannabis in the UK.

The Home Office has set up an expert panel to review the rules on the therapeutic use of the drug, but a spokesman stressed that the existing laws on the recreational use of cannabis would not be changed.

“Any debate within government about the efficacy and therapeutic use of cannabis-based medicines emphatically does not extend to any review regarding the classification of cannabis and the penalties for the illicit possession, cultivation and trafficking of cannabis will remain the same.”

There are too many arguments in favour of legalising cannabis to list them all.

But the essential ones are:

  • Cannabis smoking is a matter of personal choice and its alleged dangers are open to debate.
  • The fact that it is illegal helps create a vast criminal industry.
  • Those who fall foul of the law risk substantial penalties despite the de facto relaxation of the law, “Between 2010 and 2017, the number of cannabis possession offences has decreased by 48 per cent – from 160,733 to 83,591 as officers turn a blind eye to focus on other priorities.”
  • Yet tolerance is itself a matter of where you live, “the realities of policing in 21st Century Britain, means in some areas of the country possession of cannabis has already effectively been decriminalised.” “Plenty of people smoke cannabis openly. You just have to look around you. The police aren’t interested in cracking down on it. For them it’s not a priority. They know that Class A drugs and alcohol are a far bigger issue in terms of anti-social behaviour and crime.” “Around the country users have also started to gather together at impromptu ‘cannabis cafes’, where they can buy they can either buy the drug or bring their own and enjoy it in the company of others.” (Telegraph).
  • Past statistics, which are unlikely to have substantially changed, indicate that prosecution for possession of cannabis hits heaviest on black people (Ethnic Disparities In The Policing And Prosecution Of Drug Offences In England And Wales. 2013.)

Until recently statements from Labour by shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott failed to deal with this issue.

She said (March 2018).

“It is not Labour’s policy to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes. We would not be discussing the legalising of cannabis for recreational purposes.”

However, she said Labour would expand drug treatment facilities as a better way to cut the numbers of addicts than the criminal justice system.

But now (Politics Home) there is a chink in the Labour prudish armour emerging.

The Shadow Home Secretary, who just three months ago opposed relaxing laws around cannabis, called on ministers to drop the “heavy-handed and bureaucratic approach” to health-related drug use.

It comes amid the controversy surrounding a severe epilepsy sufferer’s mother having cannabis oil confiscated at Heathrow airport after flying in from Canada last week.

In the spirit of peace and love for which this Blog is celebrated we hail the position of Socialist Worker this week on the topic,

As Tories split over spliffs – we say legalise cannabis.

Former Conservative leader William Hague is the latest high profile Tory to call for cannabis law reform.

The Tories are split on the issue following the case of a 12 year old whose medicinal cannabis oil was confiscated at Heathrow Airport.

The Home Office returned some of the medicine to Billy Caldwell after medics confirmed he needed it to deal with severe epileptic seizures.

Hague called for a “decisive change” in the law. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the law wasn’t working properly. Yet Theresa May has played down the prospect of change.

Labour is divided too. Jeremy Corbyn said he backs legalisation of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. But the party said last year that it remains opposed to wider legalisation.

Now Labour says it may have a review.

Cannabis is a Class B drug— after being reclassified by Labour from Class C in 2009. That means possession can lead to five years in jail. Police in England and Wales recorded over 83,000 offences for cannabis possession in 2016-17.

Yet it’s generally safer than legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. And many people use it to alleviate chronic pain and anxiety.

Socialist Worker believes that cannabis should be legalised for recreational and medicinal purposes. The “war on drugs” has failed and is a mechanism for hounding and harassing working class, poor and black people.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm

General Strike In Nicaragua. Left Condemns Ortega who “Puts Down Protests Violently”.

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General Strike in NIcaragua: Demonstrator in Burnt-out Bus in Tipitapa.

Nicaragua protesters stage national strike as clashes persist.

A 24-hour general strike has brought much of Nicaragua to a standstill, as anti-government campaigners demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega.

Streets have been deserted and businesses closed in the capital, Managua, but violent protests have broken out in other cities.

Reports say at least three people died on Thursday, bringing the total killed in eight weeks of clashes to about 160.

Fresh talks aimed at ending the stand-off are due to take place on Friday.

The protests began on 19 April after the government imposed cuts to pension and social security programmes.

The cuts were later scrapped but the protests evolved into a rejection of the Ortega government and thousands of people have since taken to the streets.

Nicaragua se paraliza mientras Ortega mantiene la represión

El País

A detailed report on the strike, which has already resulted in deaths,  has just appeared:

Paro total y varios muertos: la huelga general en Nicaragua pone aún más contra las cuerdas a Daniel Ortega

Nicaragua paralysed as Ortega continues the repression.

Despite the report in the Sun today on British apologists for the repression (“Top Corbyn allies ‘help spread propaganda for murderous dictator who’s killed dozens of protesters in Nicaragua”)  there have been strong left criticisms of the Ortega regime from the left.

A massive violation of human rights” Mike Phipps

From the latest Labour Briefing.

In late April, civil unrest swept across Nicaragua. Over 40 people were killed, ostensibly over social security reforms proposed by Daniel Ortega‘s government. Many more were injured at the hands of the police who used live rounds, or in beatings by pro-government groups, western media reported.

One local blogger reported: “Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government proposed a rise in employer contributions, a smaller one in employee contributions and a 5% cut in pensions (offset by stronger health care entitlements). The employers’ federation, which is opposed to paying more and would prefer more drastic cuts, called for protests. University students obliged. The government dispatched anti-riot police who – having never done so before – fired live rounds.”

Pitched battles followed in several cities and the army was deployed amid widespread looting. Independent media were censored and Nicaraguan state news outlets blamed the protesters. The unpopular social security overhaul was suspended and the violence subsided.

For some. President Ortega continues to enjoy huge legitimacy as a  key figure in the 1979 popular revolution that overthrew the decades-long Somoza dictatorship. Through the 1980s, Nicaragua pursued policies popular with most ordinary Nicaraguans – in the teeth of armed subversion by the USA. The Sandinistas lost power in 1990, but bounced back in 2007, with Nicaragua receiving economic help from Venezuela, but facing renewed pressure from the US.

Last year, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, which would cut the loans Nicaragua receives from international financial institutions. This legislation is currently stalled in the Senate. Nicaragua’s uncharacteristic violence comes at a convenient time for US policymakers seeking to tighten the screws on the country.

Additionally, the US National Endowment for Democracy has been channelling money – over a million dollars last year – to student and civil society groups opposed to the Nicaraguan government. For some, the recent violence resembles unrest in Venezuela, both in its choice of weapons – homemade mortars and rockets – and in the prominent role played by students, who are not directly affected by the social security reform.

But for others, the involvement of many young people, often from Sandinista families, underlines their anger at the corruption of revolutionary values by the Ortegas. Ortega’s latest term in office has seen power centralised, with presidential term limits scrapped and the unpopular first lady, Rosario Murillo, made vice president – potentially the successor.

The Ortegas dominate Nicaragua’s Congress and judiciary. Their children run the family’s considerable business empire and the government’s radicalism has been superseded by an alliance with conservative sections of the catholic church, exemplified by harsh anti-abortion legislation. The government’s latest target appears to be social media and the internet.

The Economist accuses Ortega of “establishing a family dynasty reminiscent of the dictatorship he overthrew in 1979,” comparing him to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, “re-elected last year in a vote widely believed to have been fraudulent.” This is cynical obfuscation: Honduras, remember, saw its elected government overthrown in a US-backed coup in 2009. It quickly became one of the most dangerous countries in the world for political activists and its current president is a US placeman.

But this longstanding hostility in the mainstream media  to Nicaragua’s government makes the left wary of criticising it. Activists in Nicaragua allege violence on both sides, saying some protesters had highly hostile political agendas. One reported significant vandalism, for example of mobile health clinics. A Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign statement confirms this analysis with considerable detail.

But other reliable local sources alarmingly report that the Ortegas now hire thugs from the poorest neighbourhoods to put down protests violently. Videos show goon squads in pickup trucks, driving up and beating protesters with pipes and clubs despite the presence of the police. A leading member of the country’s Human Rights Commission was herself injured in such an attack while observing a peaceful protest.

The Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, whose director is Vilma Núñez, a woman of great stature who was imprisoned and tortured under Somoza and served on Nicaragua’s Supreme Court following the 1979 Revolution, has produced a scathing report. It lays the blame for the “massive violation of human rights” that it documents squarely on the Ortegas. As for the Truth Commission set up to investigate the bloodshed, the Report concludes, “ Nicaraguans can in no way accept the manoeuvre of setting up a Truth Commission by the President of the National Assembly, who has not the moral authority or credibility to initiate something of this nature.”

This view is widely shared: critics see a whitewash in preparation. Ortega’s time in office may well have been shortened by recent events, but what follows is uncertain – especially as violence flared up again in mid-May.

There is from Paul Canning.

For Sandinistas, who aren’t Danielistas, it’s Time to Serve your Country.

The hour for our nation has come, for a new republic, with new thinking that has been incubating in the new generation of Nicaraguans.

The civic struggle, headed by the university students, stands out for their refusal to use the methods of war to confront the State repression against Nicaraguan society. The densely populated citizen marches and the roadblocks are their principal instruments of struggle. The civic struggle has reached the heart of the people and shown itself to be an effective tool for awakening political conscience. The organized repression of the National Police, the paramilitaries and the so-called “Sandinista mobs,” all respond to political orders from a unified command.

Everything seems to indicate that the capability of the Police to order and repress was outflanked in the first days of the civic insurrection. Ortega’s paramilitary bodies, the mobs who identify themselves as Sandinista Youth, and the incorporation of the so-called nostalgic Sandinista combatants and retired military officers into reserve squadrons, became, and continue to be, the reconstructed forces for repression.  It’s this new conglomerate that the masses of people have been facing, and they’ll continue doing so peacefully and civically with a great cost in lives. Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan Army maintains its political commitment to remain in their barracks.

The massacre of young people from all social classes and religious creeds, students and workers from all trades, is a wound that won’t close nor should it ever close in our people’s memory.

More than anyone else, it was Sandino who taught us the importance of national sovereignty in constructing the foundation for a republic. Sandino pointed us to the specific import of this fundamental value.

The confiscations permitted under Law #840 (the canal law), have offered up our national sovereignty to a Chinese magnate in exchange for the promise to construct an inter-oceanic canal across our national territory. Where does that situate Ortega’s government and those who organized this so-called public-private model? We should recall that the leadership of Danielismo, plus the Private Enterprise Council (COSEP) and its spokespeople greeted the handing over of our National Sovereignty as an inevitable trade-off for Nicaragua’s economic and social progress.

How far did that model get us? What should we recognize as good and what should we censure and correct in it? The rural residents who have fought against Law #840 in favor of sovereignty and against the canal are now part of the current struggle against the tyrant and his dictatorship. How do the spokespeople of large capital see them and weigh their actions?

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, his wife, fed on that stew of our political history. They abandoned the ideas inherited from the peoples’ revolutionary struggles against colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and those of our own history as exemplified by Sandino. They abandoned the patriotic education of their early political days for the unholy practice of forging pacts with the lowest elements if such alliances brought them closer to the political power they desired.

As architects of evil, they elaborated a mixture of strange and hybrid ideas that allowed them to pact with large capital, preach a socialism with no genuine substance and a Christianity with esoteric practices of dolls and pins. Daniel and Rosario filled the vacuum left by the ideological emptying of Sandino’s thought, and skillfully embraced cynicism, the art of deceit, “banditry” as cunning and practice.  Internationalists abandoned him for his empty praises, false discourses and undisclosed agreements.

The activists who hold Sandino in their hearts but are naïve enough to maintain that in Nicaragua Danielism is developing a new stage of the FSLN’s revolutionary project are either fools or acting the fool for convenience.  On the other hand, those citizens who are FSLN militants but who consider themselves Sandinistas but not Danielistas, are called upon to reflect profoundly about their political militancy in this dark hour. Because the hour has come to defend our nation, and we should only see light emerging from it. To act the fool or ignore the murderous repression that Ortega and Murillo are leading is to become an accomplice of the entire tragedy we’re living through.

Justice and democratic institutions are the themes of the dialogue that simultaneously opened and closed the people’s expectations. From the guts of the youth who head the civic rebellion, the slogan was born: “Ortega Out!” The couple have equaled Somoza in many things and they’ve outdone him in others, because as they say out there, history repeats itself either as a comedy or a tragedy. Nicaraguans today are going back through the tragedy of yesterday. The popular struggle comes at an opportune moment, and opens a historic window on a new Nicaragua, with clear rules for democratic coexistence, the legal Rule of Law, with transparency and accountability before the eyes of Nicaraguans of all territorial and social sectors.

The condition that the young students and representatives of the farmers’ movement have imposed for continuing the Dialogue is correct and healthy for assuring a response and stopping the tyrant from spilling so much young blood. With the pair of dictators out of the national territory, other architects the public knows and believes in will be able to create the new figure of the Republic that we’ve dreamed about.

Students and farmers are the crucible of our struggle: the different strata of our society are headed towards developing a potent force capable of finishing off the resistance of the tyrant and his woman.

There are many indications that Ortega is militarily shoring up his residence in El Carmen. He’s equipping himself to resist and improve his negotiating position – not before the kids and the anti-canal farmers, but with large capitalists. “If they want to screw just me, well then we’ll all get screwed.” He doesn’t care about the political verdict on his proven murders, just as he cares little about the conclusive preliminary report of the IACHR.  Or about the upcoming documenting of the experts from the IACHR, because in his desperate clutching to sick, brute force, he prefers to think that like Hitler, he’ll die in his bunker before he’ll be made accountable for his crimes.

The figureheads of large capital, in particular Pellas, have proposed Ortega’s exit by the institutional route, that is, by moving up the date for elections. Some of his spokespeople have called that initiative “the soft landing.” This isn’t a possible solution. Force is what can and will move Ortega. The Ortega Murillo family and those close to them also understand the interests of large capital. There will come a moment in the people’s fight in which his family members and close circle reflect on the exit from power. It will involve an arrangement, and in such an arrangement the young people and the rural residents can’t be erased.  Large capital has a part in this scenario. Pontius Pilate has nowhere to wash his hands in this game; and Judas shouldn’t be at the table either.

If we need to count on strength and the Constitution, the elections should take place in October at the latest, with the necessary structures in place, even if they’re transitory ones to be perfected later. The Episcopal Conference should continue facilitating the solution, but good faith isn’t enough in this commotion.  The Catholic temples like the University halls should be ready for the final battle. The National Army must be pressured; there shouldn’t be any room for conjecturing whether the snipers, an active contingent in the savage repression of the protesting masses of citizens, are coming from their ranks. The presence of Dragonov weapons has been uncovered, and this type of rifle is principally the property of the National Army. The communiques from the National Army urge the citizenry to believe hook line and sinker in their declarations, but the proof in these situations can be deceiving.

Ortega Out! Murillo Out! Long live the April Mothers! Eternal memory for the immolated youth!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies.

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Oddly Absent from Aaron Bastani’s pick of five books to understand Marxism (Guardian. May 2018)

I had hoped that by ignoring Bastani he would go away.

Apparently not.

Respected commentators, or sages as we call them, such as Hegemony describe him in terms of a “huckster and half baked ideas” and the below as “essentially what you get if you filter the Utopianism of the hard left through Iain M Banks’ Culture science fiction novels, and then have the result narrated to you by a gym-bunny.”

Then,

Very redolent of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of hucksters and grifters pushing half-baked ideas on the populace, mystics and futurologists competing in the marketplace of ideas and actually being taken seriously.

So here is some background.

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.

“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labour, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

Guardian.

Many people will have thought he was a bleeding idiot on this basis alone.

And,

In the run-up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Bastani initially campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. Bastani went on to change his position on pragmatic grounds two weeks before the referendum.

 

But Bastani keeps popping up , including on the paradigm of luxury communism, the Venezuelan media TeleSUR,

 

 

Bastrani has his eye on the future,

Interplanetary Gold Rush  

As outlandish as it sounds, space exploration, like AI and renewables, is an important terrain on which a rising left must fight. The technology is changing, as are the legal frameworks; we need a politics which understands the possibilities of the future and puts them at the service of social justice and abundance – the province of us all – rather than private profit and scarcity.

Not everybody likes the idea,

Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique  mcm_cmc

Fully automated luxury communism thus rests on a highly optimistic vision of the potential of technology to meet our desires with a minimum of human labour. But is this a practical vision? One point that challenges the luxury communist notion is the way in which conceptions of goods as luxurious are often tied up with exclusivity. For example, a Cartier watch isn’t valued for its superior timekeeping abilities as compared to other watches or for its staggering beauty (they are often quite ugly) so much as that they are known for being expensive and thus owning one confers the status of being able to buy something other people cannot afford. ‘Cartier for everyone’ would thus make it meaningless as a status symbol and destroy the very reason it was viewed as a luxury in the first place.

Beyond this, the well established problems of limited natural resources and the damage done to the environment by production raises questions about the possibilities for the growth in production that luxury communism must be predicated upon. Our reliance on maintaining the earth’s environment for our very survival means that sustainability is a key concern to any future vision whilst the new technologies of late capitalism, including technologies such as the internet that rely on vast banks of mainframes consuming large quantities of electricity, have a major impact on the environment, the effects of which we are already seeing. There may well be technological developments that can attenuate or even go some way to reversing these effects, however it would be foolhardy to assume that technology will pull through and avert disaster in the end.

In addition, the limited quantities of materials available for production must inevitably act as a limitation on productive expansion. Thus environmental concerns must limit this promise of ‘luxury for all.’ Older limitations of scarcity may have been overcome, but the problem of environmental scarcity is more pressing than ever before.

Finally, by focusing on work as the production of goods, fully automated luxury communism risks overlooking other forms of labour such as those involved in social reproduction and care. Care work, such as the raising of children, looking after the sick, disabled and the elderly and the everyday tasks required for staying alive remains a large (and proportionately growing) burden of labour time, one for there seems no easy technological fix. Sure, care robots and other forms of automation have been suggested and implemented in part, but these are ill suited to accommodate the complex needs, requirement for human interaction and demands for dignity and agency which must surely be a key part of the provision of care in any future communist society.

As Sylvia Federici argues ‘while production has been restructured through a technological leap in key areas of the world economy, no technological leap has occurred in the sphere of domestic work significantly reducing the labour socially necessary for the reproduction of the workforce.’5

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If production isn’t infinitely expandable and the scope for the technological replacement of labour power is limited then we will need to rethink what we mean by ‘luxury’, and indeed what we mean by ‘communism’. Here it is necessary to think more generally of a transformation of social relations and relations between humanity and nature, looking towards the creation of a ‘public affluence’ rather than the ‘private luxury’ of capitalist desires.

Luxury communism focuses on the fulfilment of privatised, materialistic desires as they exist now through technologically created plenty. This approach has the benefit of clearly resonating with popular demands without telling people what they ‘should’ want, however if this plenty is limited then we need to look more carefully at the transformation of social relations and how desires are constructed.

For example, the promise of a work free society resonates with people’s unhappiness in work; work is something we do to survive and given the choice we would prefer to not do it. However, if it isn’t possible to replace all these tasks with machines what should the alternative be? Aaron Bastani touches on this with the promise of a 10 hour week, and certainly this would be preferable to working 40+ hours. However, this would still mean 10 hours a week in the same miserable, unsatisfying labour.

Readers of this Blog will hardly need reminding of James Bloodworth’s book Hired which describes the use of new technology to make people’s lives a misery of surveillance and hard labour. Not to mention the fate of those ‘freed’ from work relying on benefits. Or the fact that the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle , now in power, has, faced with the obvious difficulties of implementing the idea in a large country, quietly shelved the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

We can “demand” full automation and full common ownership as much as we like, but without agencies organising people with an interest in socialisation, and without real plans to divest the present owners of their power, this has much likelihood of any effect as Richard Neville’s Oz era advocacy of the ‘alternative society’ replacing the old world with playful “heads”.

For a more in-depth analysis of some these ideas on the end of work in the form advocated by André Gorz, see, André Gorz. Une Vie. Willy Gianinazzi. Review.