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Grand Hotel Abyss. The Lives of the Frankfurt School. Stuart Jeffries. A Review, Grand Theory.

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“Terrific” Book.

From the latest – July/August – Chartist Magazine (For Democratic Socialism).

“The Frankfurt School combined Marxist thought with psychoanalytical theory as believed people were socially and economically as well as sexually repressed. Religion, the family, marriage, heterosexuality and gender hierarchies, were all viewed as part of the problem,” explains the Stop RSE campaign. Supporters of the vociferous  protests against “compulsory sex education” promoting ‘gay’ issues in Birmingham primary schools are far from the only ones to seize on the writings of Jürgen Habermas, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer. Stuart Jeffries writes “..a conspiracy theory” alleges that the Frankfurt school “developed something that overturned traditional values”, by promoting “multiculturalism, political correctness, homosexuality and collectivist economic ideas.”

“It would be Marxist,” its first director Carl Grünberg announced, “in that it adhered to Marxism as a scientific methodology”. The Swiss architect Sascha Roessler called the building in an “austere cube” that housed the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research) that opened in 1924 ” a “symbolism of retreat”.

The believer in the ‘actuality of the Revolution’, György Lukács, remarked that in the Grand Hotel Abysses, you looked at the world wrapped up in comfort. They were Mandarins. Even an admirer, Gillian Rose would say “instead of politicising academia, it academised politics.” After Stalinism and the Nazi regime, the Frankfurt theorists would come, for writers like Perry Anderson, to embody the pessimism born out of Western Marxism’s divorce between theory and political practice.

The Frankfurt thinkers did not become famous for Grünberg’s programme of investigation into the history of socialism and economic theory. A growing scepticism was not just affected by the defeat of the post Great War German Revolution. They questioned Marxist ideas about humans defining and liberating themselves through work. Modern capitalism took labour in its grip. It equally took over leisure through the ‘culture industry’. Walter Benjamin saw the Paris arcades, as spaces in which a ‘new social world’, ‘temples of capitalism’ took shape. This picture of a few – now out of the way – enclosed shopping passages, has inspired many later writers. Benjamin aimed to “recast Marxisms for a new consumerist era in which we were in thrall to commodities.” As Jeffries points out, the Frankfurters are remembered largely for the importance they gave to analysing culture as an ‘instruments of capitalism’.

Grand Theory.

If you want Grand Theory the Frankfurt School offered it in plenty. The Grand Hotel Abyss deftly weaves through Benjamin’s celebrated efforts to undermine Marxist, more properly Second International, and belief in its leading role in the inevitable progress of History. This could be said to extend Georges Sorel’s attack on the bourgeois Illusions of Progress (les illusions du progrès. 1908). ‘Negative thinking’ in the writings of Adorno and Marcuse was not just a break with the optimistic positivism that the French writer attacked. It was a reaction to the failures of socialism; the Nazi victories and the Soviet show trials and gulags. What is, “the forces that were to bring about the transformation are suppressed and appear to be defeated?”

Jeffries does not stand back from probing this aspect of the Frankfurt school. That reason has turned out to be a new form of domination, when they tried to demolish it “with its own tools.” The Grand Hotel steps into the murky waters of the Hegelian inspired dialectics employed to demolish the claims of ‘the Enlightenment’. A famous episode, when Adorno confronted Karl Popper, saw their pretensions challenged. The defender of the Open Society, who for all his faults as a political thinker had a deep knowledge of scientific method, maths and formal logic, which was not the case for the Marxist Hegelian, ended up talking across each other. The writer whose work was an attack on positivism was charged with…positivism.

Snobs.

The Frankfurt School are often described as terrific snobs who regretted the loss of traditional high art and intellectual modernism and scorned mass culture. Jeffries calls some of their writings on this “incredibly patronising”. Marcuse also talked in Freudian terms of the manipulation of sexuality and need: Eros was controlled and subordinated. His search for a new revolutionary subject to replace the working class in the “one dimensional society” saw his books being taken up by New Left movements which, if often transient, were at the forefront of calls for sexual and social liberation. More detached Adorno and Horkheimer reacted with hostility to the protests of the 1960s, and attacked student activists who disrupted the, their, universities.

The Grand Hotel Abyss is full of memorable detail. One is a meeting between Sartre and Marcuse. The existentialist turned New Leftist managed to give the author of One Dimensional Man the impression he had read his works in depth, without ever having opened a page. This was just as well. Marcuse managed to cite favourably in that book, at length, Roland Barthes’ Le Degré zero de l’écriture without twigging that, amongst many other topics, Barthes was attacking Sartre’s idea of ‘committed’ writing.

Jeffries achieves that hard task of making abstract ideas accessible. It interweaves biographical material on the thinkers’ Jewish background, their fraught relationship with Marxism and the socialist movement, and the shadows of Nazism and Stalinism. Jeffries suggests that, after a period of neglect in their writings, a revival of interest in the potentially emancipatory side is underway. That may well be true. In the meantime this is a terrific book to get them going.

Andrew Coates.

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 4, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Solidarity with the Hong Kong Protests!

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Protesters demand democratic rights: Solidarity! 

 

Police firing tear gas have evicted protesters who stormed and vandalised Hong Kong’s parliament.

Activists had occupied the Legislative Council (LegCo) building for hours after breaking away from a protest on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China from Britain.

After midnight (16:00 GMT), hundreds of police secured the building following a warning to protesters to clear it.

BBC

The 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong and other cities around the world against the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposed by the Hong Kong government.

Background:

Hong Kong extradition: How radical youth forced the government’s hand

 Helier Cheung

In just one week Hong Kong has witnessed two of its largest ever protests, as well its most violent protest in decades. At the forefront of these demonstrations are young people, many barely out of their teens. Why did they get involved – and how did they manage to force the government’s hand?

..

No longer certain the system will protect them, they are modifying their protest techniques and learning the art of sophisticated dissent.

Every single protester I interviewed who had taken part in Wednesday’s unauthorised protests asked me to protect their identities – fearing arrest.

“We kept face masks on at all times during the protest, and afterwards we tried to delete our records on our iPhones and Google Maps,” says Dan, an 18-year-old student who helped protesters build a barricade with fences.

Some have taken to buying paper train tickets, rather than using their prepaid travel cards – on the basis this could make it harder for the authorities to trace their whereabouts.

Meanwhile, many have become cautious about what they say on public social media – and are only willing to communicate on secure apps with self-destruct functions, such as Telegram.

A new kind of Hong Kong activism emerges as protesters mobilize without any leaders

Alice Su, Los Angeles Times.

An outsider might assume there must be some administrative genius at the core, directing the tens of thousands of protesters who surrounded the legislative building to prevent discussion of an extradition bill that — if approved — would send people to China at its request.

But Hong Kong activism has evolved.

Five years after the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement of 2014, in which high-profile individuals led mass occupation of the city center, only to be arrested or exiled in the aftermath, Hong Kong’s youth have decentralized their protests. They are impeccably organized, yet no one is in charge.

This is a new model of Hong Kong protests,” said Baggio Leung, 32, convener of Youngspiration, a local political group formed after the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Leung was elected to the legislative council in 2016, but disqualified for deliberately mispronouncing “China” in his swearing-in oath.

Several other pro-democratic legislators have also been disqualified from serving in the council, some imprisoned along with civil society and student leaders after having participated in the Umbrella Movement.

This time around, protesters are deliberately leaderless, Leung said.

“It looks quite organized and well-disciplined. But I’m quite sure you cannot find anyone managing the whole thing,” Leung said, adding that the protesters’ logistical practices — bringing supplies, setting up medical stations, rapid mass communication — were “in-built” from the last few years of practice.

“It’s just like a machine or a self-learning AI that can run by themselves,” he said.

Many groups are participating in a growing wave of grassroots dissent. Unions, student associations, churches and activist organizations like Demosisto, a nonviolent resistance group led by Joshua Wong, the now-imprisoned face of the Umbrella Movement, have all called on members to participate in marches, rallies, and other forms of direct action.

See this comprehensive Wikipedia page: 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
Further resources:

In French (Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières):

 

Chaos à Hongkong après la mise à sac du Parlement

Mobilisations du 1er juillet à Hong Kong

A Hongkong, la désobéissance civile s’installe dans la durée

Solidarity with those fighting for democracy against the totalitarian state capitalists!

The obstacles they face are enormous:

A new burst of Hong Kong protests offers a stunning challenge to Beijing, and brings a swirl of conspiracy theories

Joseph Yu-shek Cheng

 

State sovereignty, national security and the combat of advocacy for independence have been justifications for political crackdown, and the rampage in the legislative council building has provided an excuse for arrests and prosecutions of protesters.

As the Chinese leadership has chosen to support Carrie Lam, and is concerned about the morale of the local police force, a crackdown in the name of law and order can now be justified.

Chinese leaders have, in my view, been keen to learn the lessons of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the colour revolutions in eastern Europe and the Arab Spring. And one of the key lessons has been crushing the source of trouble in the very beginning.

There is zero appetite to yield to a mass movement, and there is an ingrained instinct to minimise any wider effects from the Hong Kong demonstrations. The Hong Kong people’s desire to hold on to the principles of democracy is not likely to meet a conciliatory response from Beijing.

Hong Kong people understand that the situation is grim. Emigration sometimes feels like the only sensible option. But most of them have not abandoned hope. A moment of angry vandalism might be a dent to the image of a benign “umbrella” revolution, but their political struggle should still take succour from the sympathy and support of the international community.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Left Media Review, Labour, Brexit, Tories and the aftermath of the Peterborough By-Election.

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front page of the guardian

Brexit Can’t Be Wished Away by Calls for Labour ‘Unity’ around pro-Brexit Policy.

The Morning Star was one of the first off the block to respond to the Peterborough result.

Labour unity around their pro-Brexit policy was, their Editorial on Saturday asserted,  the only basis for electoral victory.

Tory disunity is Labour’s opportunity. But it must take it

Jeremy Corbyn’s determination that the party must stand for working-class unity and move beyond the referendum’s divisions stands vindicated.

….

… Labour’s chances of forming the next government rest on finding a principled basis for uniting the labour movement with and within the party that best represents its diversity.

The only credible basis for such unity lies in convincing a decisive majority of voters, most particularly Labour’s core constituency of skilled and lesser skilled workers, that Corbyn meant it when he said Labour would respect the referendum result.

A wide spectrum of opinion in the party understands this simple truth. It needs to become a decisive majority.

Socialist Appeal , which now poses as a leading voice on the Labour left,  told everybody who dissented to shut up:

Labour victory in Peterborough silences the cynics

The began with the spotlight on the ‘Blairites’ and the Jewish Labour Movement’s “plan”.

The plan was that Corbyn was to take the blame for allowing a hard-right, hard-Brexiteer MP to enter Westminster, having already overseen a tepid performance in the recent local elections and a poor one in the Euros.

Yet,

The Blairites, for their part, were more bitterly disappointed than anyone. Labour’s temerity to win in Peterborough represented a major setback for all their hard work to sabotage the party and finally get rid of Corbyn.

They went onto say this,

Brexit was supposed to be the ultimate expression of this cultural divide, with people culturally identifying with their stance on the EU to a far greater degree than any social class. The Euro elections were seen to confirm this, with the Brexit Party and strongly-remain Lib Dems gaining at the Tories’ and Labour’s expense.

Many on the left of the Labour Party (including so-called socialists like Owen Jones and Paul Mason) bought into this propaganda.

Despairing at the rise of the Brexit Party, which had apparently lulled the working class under the spell of racism and nationalism, these pessimists and sceptics concluded that Leave constituencies like Peterborough were a lost cause, and that Corbyn had to embrace a second referendum to at least hold onto his middle-class Remainers.

Who cares what the “middle class” think and vote, surely the sturdy working class would see the wool being pulled over their eyes.

As apparently they could

However, the 2017 general election and the Peterborough by-election both show that class-based demands can bridge the Brexit gulf. The by-election also proves that the European election results are not a good measure of Labour’s potential for success in a general election. The party’s vote share in the by-election was up 14 percent compared to the EU elections last month.

That is, when Labour came behind the Liberal Democrats…

This demonstrates that plenty of people who voted for other parties over Europe would return to Labour in a general election – as long as it runs on a bold, anti-austerity programme.

Apparently,

It has also vindicated Corbyn’s refusal to back a second referendum. It is very possible the result might have been different had the party gone down this route. Between this victory, Corbyn’s address at the Trump demo, and the newly launched tour of public rallies (‘Labour Roots’), there is the potential to take the initiative back to the grassroots.

After the Peterborough result, Corbyn challenged the Tories to “bring on” a general election. “We’re ready”, he said.

It is imperative this is accomplished as soon as possible, taking full advantage of the Tories’ internal crisis, and in order to avoid being bogged in the Brexit myre.

John Rees from the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is less sure.

He observes that, “concerns about a new coup” against Corbyn, “have persisted”

Writing yesterday the leader of a successful, several thousand strong march to demand a general election earlier this year he says,

 the issue of remaining in the European Union and of a second referendum which may prove even more consequential.

He has this stark warning against plotters,

the danger in this comes less from increasingly discredited figures like Tom Watson and those who support him in this argument such as former revolutionary socialist Paul Mason, who now calls for the sacking of Seamus Milne, Corbyn’s trusted head of communications and strategy.

It comes rather from members of the shadow cabinet who, although they were not part of the original Corbyn left, and although they share little of Corbyn’s radicalism, have been seen as loyal to Corbyn because they have observed the discipline of being Shadow Cabinet members.

Rees wants Labour to demand a People’s Brexit,

It would be better if Labour did not break faith with working-class Leave voters, and returned to the policy of a People’s Brexit, silently and stupidly retired before it had the chance to pull together both those who voted Remain but respected the referendum result and those who voted Leave.

How the left can take the initiative

A contrasting approach is taken by Socialist Resistance.

Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry are correct on Brexit

The article, which is important and should be read in full, begins,

The Corbyn project is in crisis, writes Alan Davies. The EU elections results were a disaster for Labour, brought about by a major failure by the Corbyn leadership. It was an election that Labour could have won and within the terms of the policy agreed by conference last year, but this policy was repeatedly watered down by the front bench.

This is a crisis that is a direct threat to the most important development ever on the left in Britain in modern times; the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party, which has opened up a real prospect of a left anti-austerity government at a time when world politics is moving to the right. That prospect is still there but the Labour leadership’s stance on Brexit, the issue that defines politics in Britain at the present time, is going to have to change.

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Had Labour placed itself at the head of the growing anti-Brexit movement the result could have been very different. Overall, the European election vote was pro-remain with pro-remain at 40.3%. and hard Brexit at 34.9%. The Brexit party result was no surprise. It is not a new party as Farage claims but UKIP mark 2. UKIP polled 28%in the last EU election and this transferred to Brexit with some additional votes mostly from the Tories.

Although Labour went on to win the Peterborough by-election – which was important in that it denied momentum to the Brexit Party at this point – it did so on a reduced vote and because the Brexit vote was split (equally according to John Curtice) between the Brexit party and the Tories and reflected the same underlying situation. The Labour candidate, Lisa Forbes, who beat the Brexit party by just 683 votes, argued that her campaign had been successful because it had ignored Brexit and concentrated on local issues. This is a seriously wrong analysis that has been widely accepted on the Labour left and in particular by Momentum.

Davis continues,

The danger with this fence sitting is that it is based on avoiding crucial issues. On the one hand, the further away we get from what was already an undemocratic referendum – in that EU citizens and under 18’s were denied a vote – and as material circumstances changed, the less legitimacy the 2016 result has. This has never been challenged by the Labour leadership. Even worse was the idea that it would be possible to leave the EU without reducing the living standards of the vast majority in the process, or that there could be a Brexit that protected jobs. Ironically those areas where the majority voted leave which may well suffer most if Brexit goes ahead.

There is another very important reason as well to have a second referendum, and actually the most important, that is because it has become a democratic right at this stage of the Brexit shambles to have another vote. A second vote is itself a democratic right as circumstances change. Democracy can’t be a once off event that must be imposed despite the consequences and impact on peoples’ lives. The government has failed to implement what was promised in the referendum and crashing out without a deal cannot be remotely seen as what people voted for then the natural process must be to go back to the voters.

In the Clarion Martin Thomas is equally direct on the Peterborough result.

Labour won essentially because the Tory vote held up better than in the 23 May Euro-elections. Enough Tory voters thought that they will soon have Boris Johnson or another hard-Brexiter as leader, and so no longer have to protest by voting Farage.

Labour still lost many votes to Lib-Dems and to abstention.

The easing of pressure to oust the 3 Ms, the Milne-Murray-Murphy group who run the Leader’s Office, is not good. Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray are longstanding Stalinists, and responsible for shaping Labour’s shameful evasions on Brexit and antisemitism.

Those evasions affront most members, and demoralise and lose members. They affront most Labour voters, and lose votes.

They have ruined Jeremy Corbyn’s personal standing with the broad electorate. The latest poll (YouGov, 5-6 June) had Theresa May, at 29%, scoring much better as “best prime minister” than Corbyn, at 17% – even after May had resigned!

To all appearances, Corbyn is demoralised.

Labour after Peterborough

There is another aspect to take up , the depth of the fight against National Populism, something which the internationalist left and this Blog, have had underlined.

Mike Phipps puts this clearly in Labour Hub

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

In Europe and beyond, the rise of rightwing economic and political nationalism is producing a polarisation into two distinct camps. On the one hand, there are those that support rational, tolerant, liberal, humanitarian, internationalist values and on the other, those that support irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values. We must be the most consistent part of the first camp.

Internationalism should guide our approach to Brexit too. If leaving the EU were right for Britain, it would presumably be right for all member states, and logically we should call for the destruction of the EU and all its institutions. In practice, few argue for this. Internationally, all other significant socialist currents want to Reform the EU, which implies Remaining.

..

It’s time for a change of strategy. We are not economic nationalists, but nor are we content with the neoliberal European order. Above all, Labour is more credible when it is clearly advocating what it believes in, putting forward real solutions to problems, rather than trying to tack between different interests within the movement. Let’s press the  reset button and commit to a distinctive socialist policy towards Europe – radically overhauling its institutions to make them work in the interests of the many, not the elites.

Comrade Mike may well be right in stating the following, but we have to do everything we can to promote the following stand,

In the unlikely event of a new referendum, we should seek to break out of the binary choice of Leave or Remain and focus on Reform, which obviously entails Remaining. But it separates us from the passive Remain camp of the Lib Dems and Change UK. Our message is radically different: the EU is not fit for purpose and must be radically restructured.

The polarisation of poltiics, the evidence of those who support “irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values.” could be seen in the previous post on this Blog, from the identity politics of Spiked.

For all their bombast about ‘Blairites’ the Lexit left are remarkably complacent about their allies in the Brexit camp.

The intellectual centre of this camp is the Full Brexit.

Its “mission” is  “to reshape Britain for the better” – with Brexit. The “left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential”

This brings together  supporters of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and Counterfire (such as Feyzi Ismail),   Blue Labour ( Lord Maurice Glasman, ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ Paul Embery) , prominent New Left Review contributor, Wolfgang Streeck, the Somewhere versus Nowhere People David Goodhart, Edouard Husson (for a French right-wing for everybody, “. Une droite de la France pour tous),  Labour Leave, the self-identifying ‘left-wing’ national sovereigntist, Thomas Fazi, and Spiked supporters and other Brexit Party members and supporters.

It published this piece in the run up to the European Elections,

“A signatory of The Full Brexit’s founding statement explains his decision to stand for The Brexit Party. All of Britain’s major political parties are committed to a feeble Brexit in name only, or cancelling Brexit altogether. TBP is the only major force fighting to defend democracy by carrying through the referendum result, and deserves the support of everyone committed to a Full Brexit.”

As good as The Full Brexit has been at marking out the left-wing case for Brexit, it has not been able to give those ideas a clear organisational expression. There is no Full Brexit Party in a shape to challenge Tory and Labour Parties at the election.

I have joined with the Brexit Party to put myself forward as candidate in Yorkshire and the Humber. I am working with some great people, like Lucy Harris who organised the Leavers of Britain Group, and the libertarian Andrew Allison.

To say we disagree on many things is putting it mildly. But every one of the Brexit Party candidates is committed to Leaving the EU and to democracy. No other party with any prospect of a hearing is even standing on a Leave platform.

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

 

This should focus people’s minds when thinking about why fighting Brexit is part of a wider battle against National Populism and our own Red-Brown Front.

Perhaps this is a good sign..

Far Right to Get Involved with Islamists in Birmingham School Protests against LGBT Equality?

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Brag or True?

Farrow is involved with CitizensGo,

CitizenGO is an advocacy group founded in MadridSpain, in 2013 by HazteOir.

The foundation promotes petitions in 50 countries, including petitions defending Christian and Catholic causes, and those opposing same-sex marriage, abortion,and euthanasia.

There is a precedent for a link between far-right anti-gender equality ideology  and the protests in Birmingham.

There have been alliances of Traditionalist (far-right) Catholics and Conservative (far-Right) Muslims in France on the issue of Gender Equality teaching.

La “théorie du genre” à l’école: vers un front uni entre musulmans conservateurs et extrême droite?

In 2014 France saw a wave of pupils being withdrawn from school where a new programme of gender equality was taught.

One of the linchpins of the movement was Farida Belghoul, close to the essayist Alain Soral (a convicted Holocaust denier) and his organisation Equality and Reconciliation. This brought into clear view an alliance, which was known for some time ago, between a part of the extreme right in the broad sense, Catholic fundamentalist or not, and some very conservative Muslims, generally on the periphery of the Muslim Brotherhood.

These are the kind of rumours propagated (and still are).

dispensé dans le premier degré, cet enseignement favoriserait la légalisation de la pédophilie, impliquerait l’apprentissage de la masturbation et de ‘l’amour anal’ dès l’école maternelle.

how to  sex education from the first years at primary school, this teaching that would promote the legalisation of paedophilia, imply learning how to masturbate and ‘anal love’ from kindergarten.

Looking at the campaigning site Stop RSE, (Stop RSE was set up in 2018 as a resource for parents and carers in the UK to inform and support families concerned about the mandatory introduction of Relationship Education and Relationship & Sex Education into all schools across England from September 2020) we find this, articles  based on long-standing alt-right/conservative conspiracy theories about the “sexual revolution”  ‘cultural Marxism’ and ‘feminism’

History of the Sexual Revolution

“If you want to destroy any nation without war, make adultery or nudity common in the young generation.”

Salahuddin Ayyubi (12th Century )

Quotes from articles in this section:

 “The philosophy behind this new compulsory sex education agenda can be traced back to the sexual revolution, which had its heyday in the 1960s, and is influenced by various social and political movements. Ideologies from Marxism, radical feminism and gender theory have all contributed to this new sexual ideology. They have intertwined with the thought of various protagonists, the most notable being Alfred Kinsey, who is seen as the master architect of sexuality education as it is now being taught.”

“The Frankfurt School combined Marxist thought with psychoanalytical theory as believed people were socially and economically as well as sexually repressed. Religion, the family, marriage, heterosexuality and gender hierarchies, were all viewed as part of the problem. Key members include Max Horkheimer, Theodor, Adorno, Erich Froerber. ”

Marcuse was a German-American philosopher, sociologist and political theorist. He was a key member of the Frankfurt School and had the most direct influence on the sexual revolution. He was nicknamed the “Father of the New Left.” And for many young radicals of the time, Marcuse’s ‘Eros and Civilisation,’ published in 1955, formed the cornerstone of the sexual revolution.

He wrote excessively on sexual liberation and based his ideas on Freud’s theory of ‘polymorphous perversity’, which asserted that children were sexual from birth and receive sexual pleasure from all parts of their body until society represses them. However, whilst Freud believed sexual urges needed to be suppressed for the function of society, Marcuse thought that due to the level of affluence and civilization that society had reached, it could withstand the release of sexual passion. He espoused a sexual utopia based on sexual freedom and promoted individuals to fulfil their perverse sexual fantasies on the basis that such fantasies were grounded in childlike innocence.”

Then this:

And this,

Birmingham LGBT row parents vow to continue school protests

Protesters against LGBT teaching at a Birmingham primary school have vowed to continue their opposition despite being banned from gathering outside the gates.

Birmingham City Council pursued the legal action after months of demonstrations outside Anderton Park Primary School.

The school shut early before half-term due to escalating action.

The council said it sought the urgent injunction after the risk to children became “too serious to tolerate”.

It said the behaviour of demonstrators was “increasingly unacceptable”.

On Monday, parent Rosie Afsar, speaking on behalf of the protesters, said: “We will challenge the injunction in court. We will not be silenced.”

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Brexit and Trump are “two sides of the same coin” which no protest can ignore.

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Protest Against Trump’s Vision of a Brexit Britain.

 

Viewers of Channel Four last night know that apart from the free entry of US  business chancers into the NHS Trump is also demanding that this should be in the supermarkets.

   

The Truth About Chlorinated Chicken review – an instant appetite-ruiner

Just in time for Trump’s UK visit, Channel 4’s Dispatches looked at the food standard implications of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. It wasn’t a pretty sight

Chlorine washing may prevent the detection of contaminants through ordinary testing, because it partially masks the problem. Quilton had no trouble finding a Texas restaurant owner who will swear there is nothing wrong with American chicken – “Not a thing. Superior quality and flavour”. But the numbers speak for themselves: US rates of campylobacter infection are 10 times higher than in the UK. The US records hundreds of salmonella deaths a year; the UK has in recent years recorded none.

Central to the programme was footage shot inside a giant processing plant by an undercover employee. Looking at it, a former EU meat inspector was able to identify several flagrant violations of good hygiene practice and even the plant’s own policies, but there was more sickening stuff on display: a supervisor is overheard talking about “a trend of adulterated product”, by which she means glass in the chicken, and also making reference to a recent “amputation”. To me, the word amputation brings to mind an operation performed by a professional for the good of a patient, and not, as in this instance, some poultry worker losing three fingers in a machine.

One study found 95 such “amputations” over a single year in American poultry processing, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in the US. Debbie Berkowitz, a former chief of staff at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), who now campaigns for employment rights, maintains that the industry is also exploitative: employees, her office found, were routinely denied basic rights, including toilet breaks. “Workers did not want to have to soil themselves,” she said. “So they wore diapers (nappies)  on the line.

Who we are: Stop Trump Coalition.

 

We will make it clear to the British government that it’s not OK to normalise Trump’s agenda and the hate and fear it has sparked.

Trumpism directly threatens steps towards tackling:
Inequality
Peace and disarmament
Climate change
Fighting discrimination, particularly against already marginalised groups like migrants and Muslims
Corporate greed
Antisemitism

And – this is not mentioned – Brexit!

It was not mentioned, at least I did not hear it, in the interviews with the Stop Trump demo on the telly this morning.

Yet this is the core of Trump’s agenda, as his support for Farage and Boris Johnson and present touting of “trade deals”  makes clear.

One can only imagine the squirming that’s going on amongst the Brexit  left who cannot bring themselves to admit that there is a link, a tight bond, between the carnival of reaction that is the Brexit Party and the Tory No Deal Right and Trump’s agenda.

Will they see that the demand for a Sovereign nation battling it out with Trade Deals with Trump, and  – who knows since he’s iffy about it, the WTO, would be a burden for a  left government.

Will they continue to indulge that section of the left, as yet only a section,  that by its talk of the “real” people who back Brexit, and loathing of “rootless cosmopolitans”  has become the the fellow travellers of National Populism?

Like this chap, who’s something of hero o the red-brown front?

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Another Europe certainly does not think so.

Even the Liberals are getting in on the act.

 

Trump’s response so far.

 

 

 

 

National Populist Farage’s “Real target is Britain’s ‘failed’ democracy, not Brexit.”

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National Populist Egocrat. 

Sky reporter Lewis Goodall has been one of the most perceptive writers about Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.

His article in the Observer today is a must-read.

Nigel Farage’s real target is Britain’s ‘failed’ democracy, not Brexit

Ukip was deeply and recognisably British. The half-colonels; the angry golf-playing uncles; the rankling over “elf and safety” and political correctness. Its pound-sign logo was almost quaint: It was a Britain Orwell would have recognised. Ideologically, too, its Euroscepticism mined a deep vein in British politics, tracing back to our entry in 1973, if not before.

But,

Politics has moved on – and so has Farage.

Brexit now isn’t even his principal concern, its failure the mere embodiment of a wider malaise. Instead, the collapse of the Brexit process is proof of his new analysis: that British democracy does not work and does not even exist. Worse, that every organ of the state and political life, be it the parties, the media, the courts – parliamentary democracy itself – are malign and work against the interests of “the people”. Never before have we had a major political force that operates with that basic reflex.

Goodhall concludes,

For Brexit party success will surely change the alchemy of the Tory makeup. Indeed, it already has, setting the seal on the end of Theresa May’s premiership and ensuring the all-but-certain election of a no-dealer in her stead. Far from a Conservative turn to the kind of broad, centrist Christian democracy to which Theresa May once aspired, her party may follow the Republicans in becoming a hard-edged populist movement. In an age where “one-nation” seems impossible and where we are at least two, Farage and his success will force them to choose. Out of fear, they will choose him

 

Goodhall clearly has his finger on one essential aspect of National Populism.

With a belief that the “elite” is working against the “people” it splits the world into the camp of implacable  enemies and the real “folks” (as Farage, speaking American says).

This is anti-pluralism.

The Sky journalist notes,

Being at those rallies, it struck me how many of my friends would listen to what they heard on the stage and the sentiment of those in the crowd and feel complete loathing and fear, at the same time as those around me cheered with joy and expectation. We no longer just disagree with each other, we don’t even begin to understand how our fellow citizens think.

This chimes with the analysis offered by Jan-Werner Müller in What Is Populism? (2016).

He argued that “only some of the people are really the people” and at populism’s core is a rejection of pluralism. Populists will always claim that they and they alone represent the people and their true interests. 

Not only liberals should be concerned.

Democratic socialism is the expression of a plurality of interests, against different forms of oppression and exploitation, brought together in a common purpose for socialist objectives.

Its origins lie in institutions, like the labour movement, which were built by people themselves. In this century left wing and radical campaigns and trade unions are also the created  and runby the membership democratically. The political parties of the democratic socialist left, unlike Stalinist parties, and despite a tendency to their own “oligarchical” structures, are in principle based on member-wide democracy. A wide spectrum of views, social democratic, ‘revisionism’, types of democratic socialism, various forms of democratic Marxism, are part of this movement.

The democratic basis of politics lies on different versions of this belief, put forward his later writings by the Socialisme ou Barbarie  thinker, Claude Lefort,

For Lefort democracy is the system characterized by the institutionalization of conflict within society, the division of social body; it recognizes and even considers legitimate the existence of divergent interests, conflicting opinions, visions of the world that are opposed and even incompatible. Lefort’s vision makes the disappearance of the leader as a political body – the putting to death of the king, as Kantorowicz calls it – the founding moment of democracy because it makes the seat of power, hitherto occupied by an eternal substance transcending the mere physical existence of monarchs, into an “empty space” where groups with shared interests and opinions can succeed each other, but only for a time and at the will of elections. Power is no longer tied to any specific programme, goal, or proposal; it is nothing but a collection of instruments put temporarily at the disposal of those who win a majority. “In Lefort’s invented and inventive democracy,” writes Dominique Colas, “power comes from the people and belongs to no one.

Farage and the National Populists  wish to monopolise the political space and make this “power” belong to their “people”.

They, the embodiment of the ‘real’ people, that is those who voted for Brexit, the “somewhere” people, the genuine salt of the earth types with roots, in the land and memory of the country and the ancestors of the nation.

Above all the National Populists equally deny the ” uncertainty” of politics and wish to impose their, ‘real’ majority views on the state and the inhabitants of a country.

Many of the present day populist parties, using as David Runciman (How Democracy Ends. 2018)  and many others note, new communication technology, have formed ‘parties’ and movements as business start-ups, run by the leadership, and typically one ‘charismatic’ figure.

They claim to stand for the real People against the Oligarchy –  the elites – and “globalism”.

In some respects Farage resembles what Lefort called an “egocrat” in the totalitarian mould (Un Homme en trop. Essai sur l’archipel du goulag de Soljénitsyne. New Edition. 2015).

His wishes run through the party organs.

Clearly the age of Stalinist, Fascist and Nazi “total” terror is ended and it would be seriously wrong to compare the Brexit Party to these “conspiracies in broad daylight” with their Gulag, Camps and mass murder.

Müller predicted that “..with their basic commitment to the idea that only they represented the people”. Once installed in office, “they will engage in occupying the state mass clientelism and corruption, and the suppression of anything like a critical civil society. (What Is Populism? Page 102)

The Brexit Party is, above all, a vehicle for the demand to end the complexity of politics and to impose the figure of its leader in the “empty space”, the seat of power than anybody and nobody can occupy in democratic institutions – the Sovereign. It wishes to make social life ‘transparent’ contest between itself and its targets, the EU and the non-people.

Nothing can be gained by ‘listening’ to the demands of the political forces of the Brexit Party.

The attempt by ‘left populists’ to speak to this audience in the hope that they can give a voice to some of the ‘democratic’ aspects of their demands in unable to grapple with the way that the thrust of National Populism is against democratic pluralism.

In many respects they are more of a danger than the ‘dark enlightenment‘  of the far right that seeks a new form of openly anti-democratic politics.

National Populists are, to cite Chantal Mouffe in her use of Carl Schmitt , “the enemy” (The Return of the Political. Chantal Mouffe. 2005). 

This has already been Farage’s impact in the UK this month.

Brexit Party’s rise forced dithering Tory MPs to ditch Theresa May.

One expects more when the European election results are announced this evening.

From Jean-Luc  Mélenchon’s Left Populism, Andréa Kotarac Defects to far-Right Populism.

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Image result for Andréa Kotarac parti de gauche

From Populist Left to Populist Far-Right.

Many on the French left have long been wary of La France insoumise, the self-styled Left Populist Movement, “point de ralliement (rally) of Jean-Luc  Mélenchon.

One issue has been its ‘sovereigntism’.

That is, putting the demand of popular sovereignty – against the ‘oligarchy’, domestic and European – at the centre of its politics.

A couple of days ago this type, Andréa Kotarac, decided that the far-right rally of Marine Le Pen, the  Rassemblement national, was a better bet for this nation-centred strategy.

French far-left candidate slammed as ‘stink bomb’ for defecting to far right

France 24.

High drama in the French campaign as a far-left candidate calls for voters to back the far right – earning the would-be MEP some choice insults from French far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Andréa Kotarac, a former regional adviser to Mélenchon’s far-left France Unbowed party (La France Insoumise), announced Tuesday that he was leaving the party and would instead back the far right in European Parliament elections in order “to block” President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move (La République en marche) party. Mélenchon responded by calling Kotarac a “stink bomb” and a “traitor”.

In fact there is already a legal process to stop Marine Le Pen’s Party using this support in their election publicity.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2019 at 5:39 pm