Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Imperialism’ Category

Say No To Blackmail: Oppose Bombing Syria.

leave a comment »


Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.

“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”

The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.

John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)

The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.

We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.

Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.

The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.

Anti-War Movement.

But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.

The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them. Although the entirely justified US support for the Kurds, including air-strikes, which saved them in their hour of need,  does not get mentioned.

The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?

Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene of the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?


France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left-wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.

In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.

Oppose Bombing.

What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secretary) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. President Hollande’s Defence Minister is open in advocating putting troops on the ground – how and which troops is not announced. (Le Monde. 22.11. 15) Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. Nobody has any solid plans, for all the welcome US air support for the Democratic Forces of Syria, to help one of the few forces in the maelstrom the left can support, the Kurds of Northern Syria in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), above all faced with Turkey. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no immediate legitimate solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects.  We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.


Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MP’s:

…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.

Labour List.

Galloway: Corbyn Wants me for a Sunbeam as George Promises, “Every terrorist will be shot down dead.”

with 2 comments

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

Our old friend George Galloway is a busy fellow these days.

He’s full of lightness and sweet to boot.

Guardian article by   reports on the man living the dream.

As the only serious contender in the race for the Mayor of London, is good to hear of his,

expressions of pleasure in Corbyn’s triumph and accompanying disclosures about his closeness to Corbyn and members of his team. These claims of intimacy scaled a new peak over the weekend when the Sunday Times reported him describing Seumas Milne, my fellow Guardian writer who’s taken leave to become Corbyn’s executive director of strategy and communications, as his “closest friend” with whom he has “spoken almost daily for 30 years.”

Only one shadow, no bigger than a man’s endorsement by the Labour Party, stands in his way.

Sadiq Kahn.

Khan, who is, of course, Labour’s mayoral candidate. He’s called him a “very boring man”, a “flip-flop merchant”, a “product of the Blairite machine”, an accomplice in Blair/Brown “crimes and blunders” and an “unprincipled speak-your-weight machine” who “went into what can only be described as a swoon over kissing the queen’s hand.”

Galloway also appears to consider Khan, a Muslim, an inadequate practitioner of his faith, telling the Evening Standard that the Labour man erred by holding the Koran “in his left hand” when he met the monarch and that this “wasn’t missed by people who care about these things”.

The Guardian’s newshound interviewed the dapper gent hot on the campaign trail.

Such was the backdrop to my question, which I put to Galloway during a public meeting held on Tuesday evening at the Orford House Social Club in Walthamstow, E17. His answer began with a metaphor he often favours. “Sadiq Khan supports Jeremy Corbyn like the rope supports the hanging man,” he said, winning a ripple of laughter among the 100-plus people present.

One can see that Galloway has lost none of the touch that has made him a hit with audiences from Spring Road Allotment shed to the Dean Street telephone box.

Nor his surefire political acumen,

“I have no doubt whatsover that Sadiq Khan is part of the cabal which is seeking to bring Jeremy Corbyn down.”

“If you’re looking for a Corbyn in this election, it’s me. It’s not Sadiq Khan. I support all of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. I might put them a little differently. If you don’t mind me saying so, I might put them a little better. But I support them.”

Galloway is also the coppers’ best mate, reports a different Guardian (local paper for Waltham Forest amongst others),

Galloway also promised to support the police and security services in the fight against terrorism.

“The police will find a friend in me,” he added.

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

“I say to the police officer in the room, when it comes to your wages, your resources and your strengthening, you can count on me.”

The word – unconfirmed – is that Galloway also supports our gallant Russian ally’s bombing in Syria.

He’s got another Best Friend these days.

Galloway has just re-tweeted, John Ross, former leader of the International Marxist Group, and now best-known for his article, How China made the World’s Greatest Contribution to Human Rights.


Galloway is soon appearing in a US ‘theater’.


Book Now!


Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm

ISIS (Daesh) Must be Eliminated: Kurdish Worker-Communists’ Declaration.

with 7 comments

ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

ISIS (Daesh) must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement

Address by Dashty Jamal, of the Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan to the AGM of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. November the 22nd.

Published by the, highly recommended,  libertarian Marxist site La Battaile Socialiste.

Dear Comrades,

I am glad to be here with you on behalf of Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan and Worker-communist Party of Iraq- Abroad Organisation I express our gratitude at being invited to your conference. We hope that this conference steps forward towards radical changes for workers. The AWL and our party have always had joint points in our struggle for gaining a better life for working people regardless of where they come from. The cooperation between us has ever helped us be keen to fight for our goals. At the same time we adopted necessary constructive criticism about any political stance we thought we needed to change for the benefit of our class struggle.

Today you are holding your conference at a chaotic time when working people are put under the military boots of the world bourgeoisie. Just look at what happens from the very heart of Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. There are many who think that we are experiencing a third world war. The warmongering policies of the American, European and Russian bourgeois governments directly led to military and political intervention in counties in the Middle East and North Africa. This policy has caused carnage; death of hundreds of thousands; havoc; displacement and devastating any trace of modern and urban society in those countries.

The world bourgeoisie supported the reactionary states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, it has helped many Islamic groups under the name of “moderate Islamists” rise in America and Europe. These groups get massive financial supports either from the reactionary Islamic countries or American and European countries. These governments build mosques and other religious foundations under the name of multiculturalism and “respecting tolerance”? The paradox is clearly visible when we see that some of these foundations recruit for IS and other terrorist groups or nurture many suicide bombers in Europe itself. As we see this also revives racism in European countries in a very extreme level.

All this is the outcome of the aims of the world bourgeoisie and the imperialistic blocs, the USA and its allies in Europe and Russia and its allies. Their race is all about having control over the world, and divides the world between themselves. They compete on having their hegemony over other countries and expand their capital markets. They don’t care about the death of hundreds of thousands and destroying many parts of the world. It is not important for them to plunge the whole world in blood. As Marx put it this system is a like a vampire which sucks the life out of the working class.. But we have to do something. They must be stopped. They don’t fight IS; this vicious Islamic force is a project and they use it as a justification to achieve their goal. IS must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement.

We need a socialist platform to end the chaotic humanity lives in. We have to have a clear stance against imperialistic policy of the bourgeoisie and their state allies in the world and in the area. It is our duty to defend freedom, safety and stability of these societies. The working class and deprived mass must restore the political will to decide about their future and the political system, which can guarantee a dignified life. The freedom-loving people and the civilised humanity have the intention to put an end to this savage stage we are in. But the communists and the socialists must be in fore front of this struggle.

As far as Britain is concerned, we are overtly witnessing two different poles in our society. The Conservatives, who merged themselves into the imperialist pole and are a part of what happens in the Middle East, want to drive the British society into more dismal conditions. See how they cut the budget; follow austerity policies; cut social and housing benefits; increase tuition fees and so on. They are definitely supporting political Islam in Britain. We should undoubtedly stand against the Conservatives’ policy.

This is a chance to turn to the other pole, the working class, the left, and the socialists in Britain. Let me honestly say something about Labour Party. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a turning point for the party and the whole society. His policy, for instance against cutting budget, refusing nuclear weapons, suggesting national education service, better health service, and so on, is good for the society. We have to support these and any other suggestions, which can lead to the betterment of people’s life. But we still need to ask ourselves: is the Labour Party socialist? Does it work for abolishing wage labour and thus gaining full equality between all humans? We are now talking about reformism and socialism. Is what is going on inthe Labour Party enough? To have a better life conditions is good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to essential changes if we don’t have a strategy to do that. Reform can pave the way to socialism, but itself is not socialism. This is the boundary between us, as socialists, and the reformists. We need a worker revolution to end all what we have seen and experienced, a revolution leading to socialism.

We need now, more than ever, to polarise British society into capitalism and socialism. We need more than what is suggested till now. A socialist platform needs to be put before society: higher wages; lower work hours; better housing, free education and health services; stopping imperialist agenda; stopping support to the reactionary governments in the Middle East…. can be among many other demands. If we don’t have such a party that carries out such a strategic agenda, we might try to make the Labour Party a tribune for an independent socialist platform and strengthening a political and theoretical struggle to prevent that Labour Party goes towards right wing moreover.

We hope that your conference would insist on such a socialist strategy and platform. Good luck!

Long live socialism.

Comrade Jamal has also written this in June 2015 (Workers’ Liberty)

Where did ISIS come from?

His conclusions are important.

Some points worth fighting for

1. Mass resistance against ISIS, follow the example of Kobani people.

2. Establishing a secular and progressive government to guarantee the influence of the mass of people.

3. Changing the laws, all over the world, in favour of freedom and prosperity for all the humanity (wherever they are)

4. The universal support for freedom, secularism and mass resistance in the Middle East.

5. Immediately help all who have been displaced disregard from their religion or race. Any country which supported ISIS and especially Turkey must not only be condemned; but also  be interrogated.

6. To ask the France and European countries to grant asylum to Yazidis, Christians and every one forced to flee from ISIS.

7. Any activities and demonstrations by ISIS supporters must be opposed by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing.

Tolerating these groups may give justification to other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.

8. As a part of maximum combat against ISIS, and its ideology, any financial support to the Islamic organisations and centers who work under the name of Islamic community must be cut. Their activities must be put under control. The religious schools must be shut down and mosques must not be allowed to be used as centres for nurturing terrorists.

After last night’s Channel Four, ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled  point 7 has particular resonance.

Tomorrow night, Channel 4 will broadcast an undercover investigation which has uncovered some of the key British women who are supporting Isis – right here in the UK. Led by young British Muslim reporters, the production team managed, over 12-months, to infiltrate an inner circle of British women glorifying jihadis and promoting extreme Isis ideology both online and directly to women and young impressionable girls – often in the presence of very young children.

Captured before the deadly attacks in Paris, the undercover footage shows female Islamic State sympathisers in Britain who, in weekly two-hour lectures in London, are: using racially abusive language to describe Jews and Israelis, telling young Muslim women Britain is waging a war against them and urging them to abandon democracy and travel to Syria to join ISIS.

One of the women the programme identifies is the former leader of the female wing of the banned terror group once known as al Muhajiroun whilst another is known to have resided with an extremist preacher, also a former member of Al Muhajiroun.

The three women, identify themselves as Umm Saalihah, Umm L and Umm Usmaan on Twitter. Two operate in positions of authority within their circles and lecture women in secretive study sessions.

They are first identified in the investigation after promoting pro-Isis ideology on social media platforms. After extensive direct messaging on Twitter and making key contacts at a demonstration outside Regents Park Mosque, the undercover reporter is able to meet them face-to-face at an Islamic roadshow on Lewisham High Street, London. Gaining their trust, she is able to join them at their closely-guarded women-only study sessions which are strictly by invitation only.

The investigation was brought to a close four weeks before the attacks on Paris when the women – who were all established close contacts – became suspicious of the undercover reporter. The leader of the study circles Umm L challenged the reporter, preventing her from leaving unless they can look through her possessions. Eventually the reporter was able to leave but was banned from future contact and attending future sessions.

You can Watch the Documentary Here.

This is also extremely important: Les attentats du 13 novembre à Paris : la terreur de l’Etat islamique, l’état d’urgence en France, nos responsabilités 22 novembre 2015, par ROUSSET Pierre, SABADO François – the authors of some of the best writing and thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher massacres.  The present analysis is simply brilliant., working with the premises of solidarity with the victims and “ Quel que soit le rôle de l’impérialisme, l’Etat islamique est responsable de ses actes”.

UN resolution: George Galloway to Back United Bombing Campaign Against Da’esh?

with 2 comments


Gun’em George?

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a France-sponsored resolution Friday sending a unified message from the world powers to the international community “to redouble and coordinate” programs to suppress terrorist acts by “all necessary measures.”

The resolution singles out the territory under the control of the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, but also points to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the Al-Nusrah Front, while it condemns the “horrifying terrorist attacks” in Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, France and over Sinai. The text condemns hostage taking and killing as well as terror attacks, calling them “a threat to peace and security.”

CBS news.

Our old friend George Galloway has been having a bit of a change of heart recently,

George Galloway on shoot-to-kill

20 November 2015 Last updated at 00:47 GMT

Former Respect MP George Galloway says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should be clear in his backing for shoot-to-kill powers for police officers in the event of a terror attack.

Speaking on the BBC’s This Week, he says it is important officers are backed to “gun them down if necessary”.

He adds: “I would gun them down myself if necessary.”


These are some of his most recent retweets which reflect Galloway’s interest in getting this kind of UN resolution.


We understand that a full Galloway public statement supporting the UN resolution, and “programmes to suppress terrorist acts by ‘all necessary measures.’, including bombing and other uses of military forces, by countries, including Russia and France, may well be in the pipeline.

Meanwhile his former comrades in the Stop the War Coalition are sticking to the limits of this position:

Defeating ISIS means firstly cutting its support from some of the most reactionary regimes in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Secondly it means not creating further grievances which help to fuel its support. That means rejecting the idea that bombing and intervention can make things better. We are told that we need to be ‘doing something’ in the face of these attacks. It is precisely because what we have been doing in the region that we face this threat.

Stop the War works for a world without terrorism and imperialism, and will continue to campaign for a peaceful solution to the crises in the Middle East.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Remembers Victims of Terrorism.

with one comment

Rassemblement pour la paix à Molenbeek

Le Soir.

Molenbeek : Entre 2.000 et 2.500 personnes au rassemblement en mémoire des victimes de Paris

Up to 2,500 people assembled in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, yesterday, in memory of the victims of terrorism and political violence, in Paris, and throughout the world.” le Vif.

Videos and report on RTBF: Un rassemblement en hommage aux victimes des attentats de Paris à Molenbeek

Paris attacks: Is Molenbeek a haven for Belgian jihadis? BBC.

There has been great deal of discussion about French secularism in recent days.

Little has been favourable.

Some people have tried to implicate  French  Laïcité for the attacks in Paris – asserting that it is one means by which Islam and Muslims are excluded from France’s republic. .

This is the position in Belgium – where the members of the  jihadist Einsatzgruppen planned their killings, and where some of the murderers come from.

Belgian law: Currently, section 181 of the Belgian Constitution provides as follows:

  • “§ 1st. Salaries and pensions of ministers of religion are the responsibility of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget.
  • § 2. Salaries and pensions to representatives of organizations recognized by law as providing moral assistance according to a philosophical non-religious charge of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget. “

Under § 1st, recognized the Catholic religion, the Protestant, the Anglican, Orthodox worship, Jewish worship and the Muslim faith.

Under § 2, “Act of June 21, 2002 on the Central Council of Philosophical non-denominational Communities of Belgium, delegates and institutions responsible for the management of financial and material interests of recognized non-confessional philosophical communities” recognizes a “non-philosophical confessional community” by province and at national level a “Central Secular Council“, composed of the “Secular Action Center” on the French side and the “United Liberal Associations” on the Dutch side.”


Put simply the country is not at all laïc on the French model, let alone a republic.

Belgian has a minority population from Central Africa, or descent, notably the former Belgian Congo.

As a colonial power – de facto ruled by Leopold lll – the Belgian state was responsible for forced labour and acts of mass murder that are generally described as genocide. (see: Congo Free State)

A terrorist group from a Congolese background that slaughters people in Europe has yet to appear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

with 8 comments


 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).


André Glucksmann, former Leftist, Nouveau Philosophe, Sarkozy Backer, Dies.

with 2 comments

Mort d’André Glucksmann, le philosophe en colère

Glucksmann’s death was the first item on France Inter this morning.

Agence France Presse states,

Paris, France:  French philosopher Andre Glucksmann, who rose to fame in the 1970s after supporting the Vietnamese boat people, has died at the age of 78, his son said today.

Coming to prominence in the glory days of French intellectual thought in the 1960s, Glucksmann, who died late Monday, famously broke with his Marxist peers and became increasingly right-wing in later years.

In 1979, he rallied the support of fellow philosophers including Jean-Paul Sartre to the cause of the Vietnamese who were fleeing the war in that country.

He later supported US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lobbied on behalf of Chechen Muslims during their civil war with the Russian government in the 1990s.

“My first and best friend is no more,” wrote Raphael Glucksmann on Facebook.

“I had the incredible chance to know, laugh, debate, travel, play, do everything and nothing with such a good and excellent man.”

This is an excellent, short but important, written, aural, and video, dossier on my favourite Radio Station, France Culture: Mort du philosophe André Glucksmann.

And here: Réécoutez André Glucksmann dans “A voix nue”.

In his student and academic youth André Glucksmann was associated with the left.His Discours de la guerre, théorie et stratégie (1967) and Stratégie et Révolution en France (1968) were translated into English and published in New Left Review.The first was an extended look at, amongst other aspects, classical military strategists, the second was a revolutionary Marxist call and skeleton programme for the French left to take power.

Not an orthodox ‘Marxist-Leninist’ Glucksmann was an active ‘general’ in the, Mao-Spontex’  Gauche Prolétarienne. After a dispute, in which he took the view that their campaign for “popular justice” in the  Affaire de Bruay-en-Artoi (1972-3) was degenerating towards calls for a public lynching. He and other critics were dismissed as “vipers”. Glucksman distanced himself from the group, which dissolved in 1973.

For most people he will be remembered for the two books he published shortly afterwards,  La Cuisinière et le Mangeur d’Hommes – Réflexions sur l’État, le marxisme et les camps de concentration (1975), and Les Maîtres penseurs (1977).

They expressed a fierce critique of Marxism, strongly influenced by the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It asserted that Marx has always despised the peasantry and the “plèbe” – the popular masses. The Gulag was a vast disciplinary machine to punish and reform, to break down the people.

The second, taking up a theme from the La Cuisinière, claimed that Lenin’s wish that every Cook could run the State was a disguise for a Marxist will to take control over all aspects of people’s lives. This drive for Mastery, Glucksmann alleged, was the real message of Marxism – not a desire for freedom, but a Will to control. Marx’s categories tried to encompass the world in their “general illumination” and ended up deforming it, Marx, he asserted, loathed the anarchy of the market not because it was wrapped in exploitation, but because it was “anarchy”. All Marxist regimes, he considered, had and would become nationalist, exclusive, intolerant, and murderous, in order to dominate the lives of the masses.

With these publications Glucksmann, as a critic of Marxism,  became, along with Bernard-Henri Lévy, an ubiquitous public figure as one of the late 1970s group of ‘anti-totalitarian’ publicists, promoted as the Nouveaux philosophes.  They extended their attacks from the Gulag to French politics. Nouveaux philosophes were active, as part of a wider “anti-totalitarian front”. They warned of the threat of the French Communist Party (Parti communiste français (PCF)),  coming to power as part of the left coalition,  the Union de la gauche – 1972 – 1977.  Glucksmann’s anti-left fervour did not quickly die down. In 1981 he still feared a possible Communist influence on the Parti Socialiste and backed the independent liberal rightist candidate  Marie-France Garaud against François Mitterrand in the 1981 Presidential election. She received 1,33 % of the vote. Mitterrand’s first government (1981 – 1984), headed by Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, drew on 4 Communist Ministers. Not many noticed the first signs of the Gulag.

Subsequent books failed to have the same resonance.  They include Descartes c’est la France (1987), an essay on the Cartesian influence on French thought and culture,  Cynisme et passion (1999), a free-ranging discussion of political feeling in democratic politics,  Le Discours de la haine (2004), which took up, war, terrorism, religion, and ethnic conflict. More books, collections of journalism, and polemics, and earnest appeals to those in the Élysée followed.

In 1986 Guy Hocquenghen placed Glucksmann amongst a list of “renegades” from the left, above all ex-Maoists..He noted, Ma génération n’a connu qu’un seul type d’intello : l’intello flatteur du Prince.” My generation has known only one type of intellectual: the Price’s toady.” (Lettre ouverte à ceux qui sont passés du col Mao au Rotary)

Glucksmann was indeed better known as a media-intellectual aspiring to political influence than a writer or a philosopher.

Perhaps one of Glucksman’s best known moments was in 1979, when with Jean-Paul Sartre et Raymond Aron he helped organised support for refugees,  the boat-people from Communist Vietnam. Known as  ‘Un bateau pour le Vietnam’ the centre-right president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing received their requests and acted upon them. 

By the 1980s Glucksmann became one of the best-known figures in the drive for “humanitarian interventions”.

Glucksmann supported military action by the West in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was highly critical of Russian foreign policy, supporting for example Chechen independence.

He, however, was against the Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence from Georgia, arguing that Georgia is essential to maintaining European Union “energy independence,” vis-a-vis Russia, through access to oil and gas reserves in the former Soviet republics: “If Tbilisi falls, there will be no way to get around Gazprom and guarantee autonomous access to the gas and petroleum wealth of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan” . As proof of Russia’s plans to use energy blackmail, Glucksmann referenced a biting anti-Gazprom satirical song performed at the annual satirical award show “Silver Rubber Boot”, which made jokes like: If the Eurovision Song Contest denies victory to Russia again, we are going to drive to their concert and block their gas with our bodies!. Glucksmann described this song as proof that the Russian people want to cut off gas to Ukraine and Europe. He wrote: Consider a popular song performed by a military choir in Moscow. Its chorus depicts the “radiant future” that Gazprom is preparing: “Europe has a problem with us? We will cut off its gas… The Russian public loves the song.”


Glucksmann’s son, Raphaël Glucksmann is married to Eka Zguladze, is a Georgian and Ukrainian government official, currently serving as First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the position she assumed on 17 December 2014. She had served as Georgia’s First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs from 2006 to 2012 and Acting Minister of Internal Affairs in 2012.

In 2007 Glucksman supported Nicolas Sarkozy’s Presidential candidature. In Pourquoi je choisis Nicolas Sarkozy (2007), he cited the candidate’s backing for the Chechens and declared that Sarkozy represented the France of the “heart” (cœur).

He fell out with Sarkozy over the President’s apparently insufficient opposition to Russia’s President Poutin.

We dedicate this video to the memory of André Glucksmann.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm