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Nahed Hattar, Killed for Sharing Cartoon ‘Insulting Islam’.

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In paradise… Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

Translation from here.

Jordanian writer shot dead as he arrives at trial for insulting Islam. Guardian.

A prominent Jordanian writer, who was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, has been shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was due to appear.

Nahed Hattar, 56, was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam after posting the cartoon on Facebook this year.

The cartoon, entitled The God of Daesh (Isis), depicted an Isis militant sitting next to two women and asking God to bring him a drink.

killed outside court in Amman where he was being tried for sharing an Isis-themed cartoon on Facebook.

A prominent Jordanian writer, who was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, has been shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was due to appear.

Nahed Hattar, 56, was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam after posting the cartoon on Facebook this year.

The cartoon, entitled The God of Daesh (Isis), depicted an Isis militant sitting next to two women and asking God to bring him a drink.

Hattar was arrested in August and released on bail early this month. On Sunday, he was shot in the head three times as he arrived for a hearing.

Jordanians both celebrate and mourn assassination of writer Nahed Hattar (Al-Babwaba)

Hattar was on trial for defacing religion, a charge placed against him after he shared a picture of a controversial cartoon lampooning Daesh (ISIS) and depicting God. Though Hattar said in a statement that the cartoon was anti-Daesh and not anti-religion, and deleted the post shortly afterwards, it was enough to see him face charges against him.

While details are still murky, Hattar’s killing has created a massive stir on social media as Jordanian society reacts to the news. While many are appalled by the news, a large segment of social media users actively celebrated Hattar’s death – in the eyes of many, it’s a fit punishment for his alleged crimes.

Political parties condemn Hattar killing (Ammon).

The Ifta Department condemned Sunday morning’s death shooting of Jordanian columnist Nahed Hattar outside the Palace of Justice, and said Islam is innocent of “this heinous crime”.

In a statement, the department, which issues fatwas (religious edicts), urged all Jordanians across the social spectrum, regardless their religion, to stand united behind the Hashemite leadership against terrorism and “those trying to foment sedition”.

It said Islam, the religion of mercy, justice and tolerance, prohibits assault against a human being or “anyone who tries to instate himself as a ruler or judge to hold people to account (for their deeds), which would lead to chaos and social corruption and spread strife among members of the one society”.

The government, political parties and Jordanians across the country condemned the fatal shooting of Hattar and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The Jordan Times reports,

Social media users to be sued over hate speech in reaction to Hattar shooting’

The government on Sunday said it has identified 10 social media users to be referred to the concerned authorities for reportedly spreading hate speech in reaction to the killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar.

“We monitor social media in general and today we noticed that 10 people were expressing hate speech and inciting hatred and sectarianism through social media and we decided to question them,” a senior government official said.

The government official told The Jordan Times that “the government will continue to monitor social media, and anyone found to be inciting hate speech or sectarianism will be referred to the concerned authorities for further legal prosecution”.

The Criminal Court prosecutor on Sunday charged the man suspected of  killing Hattar with premeditated murder, and decided to refer him to the State Security Court.

At the same time, the official added, “the government will remain committed to safeguarding the right to freedom of expression as long as it does not lead to the spreading of hate speech or sectarianism”.

Authorities have identified the shooter, who allegedly shot and killed Hattar on the steps of the Palace of Justice in Abdali earlier in the day, as Riad Abdullah, 49, a resident of east Amman.

Hattar, facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs, was apparently on his way to attend a court hearing.

The Independent reports,

Alleged killer who shot atheist Jordanian writer identified

Controversial writer Nahed Hatter’s arrest was ordered by Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki for posting a cartoon depicting the image of God on social media.

A man who shot a Jordanian writer dead outside the Supreme Court in Amman has been identified as a local imam in his late 40s.

Jordanian media reported the alleged shooter’s name and picture on Sunday, which was supplied to them by a police officer under condition of anonymity. The reports said Riad Abdullah is from Hashi, a poor neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital, and had recently returned from a trip abroad. No further details were given.

Nahed Hattar, a prominent atheist Jordanian writer, turned himself into the authorities after a police investigation was launched into a cartoon he shared on Facebook. It depicted God in paradise, being treated as a servant by a bearded Arab man, who is smoking in bed with two women and calling for wine.

…..

Hattar’s family criticised the government’s response. “The prime minister was the first one who incited against Nahed when he ordered his arrest and put him on trial for sharing the cartoon, and that ignited the public against him and led to his killing,“ said Saad Hattar, a cousin of the writer. “Many fanatics wrote on social media calling for his killing and lynching, and the government did nothing against them,” a family statement said.

Hattar has long been a controversial figure in Jordan.

While born a Christian, he considered himself an atheist. He was a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad and an outspoken critic of Isis and Al-Qaeda.

His shooting was the latest in a string of deadly security lapses in Jordan.

Libération reports Ammon News saying of the killer, (Amman : jugé pour «insulte» à l’islam, l’écrivain Nahed Hattar tué le jour de son procèsPar Isabelle Hanne et Hala Kodmani)

il s’agirait d’un fonctionnaire jordanien, ancien imam écarté pour ses idées extrémistes et des problèmes avec les fidèles.

It is said that that murderer was a Jordanian civil servant, a former Imam sacked for his extremist views and problems with his  congregation.

The article describes Hatter as a left-wing Arab nationalist, a ferocious supporter of Bashir Assad, with very limited influence in Jordan. The paper cites a specialist in the politics of the region, Hana Jaber, who says that this execution will enable the country’s authorities to crack down both on pro-Syrian forces and Salafists. As an ultra-nationalist and backer of the Baathists, he was, she concludes, “no hero”. (1)

That said, it was still another horrific murder of a human being for “insulting” Islam.

***

(1)   Hanah Jaber Chercheure associée à la chaire d’histoire du monde contemporain au Collège de France, elle a été secrétaire scientifique des études contemporaines de l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo) et coordinatrice scientifique de l’Institut du monde contemporain au Collège de France. Spécialiste de la Jordanie, de la question des réfugiés palestiniens et des migrations dans la région, elle est co-auteure de Mondes en mouvement, Migrants et migrations au Moyen-Orient au tournant du XXIe siècle, éditions IFPO, 2005 et de Terrorismes : Histoire et droit, éditions CNRS, 2009. Elle collabore avec Le Monde diplomatique.  is the author of Mondes en mouvement, Migrants et migrations au Moyen-Orient au tournant du XXIe siècle, éditions IFPO, 2005 et de Terrorismes : Histoire et droit, éditions CNRS, 2009. Elle collabore avec Le Monde diplomatique.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Podemos in Crisis: Some Background.

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Having failed to turn grassroots support into seats at June’s general election, the anti-austerity party faces a struggle over its response to the country’s power vacuum.

Sam Jones (Observer. Today.)

The party’s poor performance led to weeks of introspection that have further revealed the ideological tensions at its core. Most visible has been the rivalry between Iglesias and Podemos’s policy chief and number two, Iñigo Errejón. If Errejón has pushed for a more pragmatic approach to the PSOE, with a view to sharing power after December’s election, then Iglesias has gone out of his way to antagonise the Socialists, once memorably reminding parliament of the anti-Eta death squads that operated under the government of former PSOE leader Felipe González.

Now the growing tensions are coming to a head in Madrid, where competing factions are vying for control of Podemos’s birthplace and its future. On one side is Tania Sánchez, a former IU MP (Note: that is not from Podemos, but from the Communist-Green left bloc, Izquierda Unida) , who, along with Madrid councillor Rita Maestre, hopes to make the local party a more “friendly, female and decentralised” outfit.

Opposite them are the Iglesias loyalists, such as the party’s general secretary in the capital, Luis Alegre, who has long had a troubled relationship with the Errejónista faction.

To complicate things further, Sánchez, who is standing to be the party’s new leader in Madrid, is a former girlfriend of Iglesias, while Maestre used to go out with Errejón. In an attempt to head off the inevitable innuendo, both women put out a statement: “We are not girlfriends or ex-girlfriends, we are human beings who make our own decisions. We don’t need a man to help us or lead us … We’re protagonists who defend a Podemos for everyone.”

The Madrid story broke on the 15th of September in El País.

Anticapitalistas y activistas se suman a la disputa para liderar Podemos Madrid

El eurodiputado Miguel Urbán y 300 firmantes impulsan una alternativa a las de Mestre y Espinar.

En la disputa por el liderazgo de Podemos en la Comunidad de Madrid se perfilan al menos tres grandes opciones. El eurodiputado de la formación Miguel Urbán, que fue uno de los dirigentes determinantes en los inicios de Podemos, y 300 firmantes de la organización Anticapitalistas, activistas y militantes del partido quieren lanzar una candidatura para competir con las iniciativas promovidas por la portavoz del Ayuntamiento, Rita Maestre, y el del Senado, Ramón Espinar. Entre los impulsores de este proyecto, que llama a repensar Podemos, reconstruirlo desde las bases y reconectar con las calles se encuentran la abogada y diputada autonómica Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, el actor Alberto San Juan, los concejales de Ahora Madrid Pablo Carmona y Rommy Arce, Isabel Serra, que también es diputada regional y formó parte de la dirección autonómica ahora disuelta.

The essential is to know that the 300 signatories in the Madrid region, are led by the ‘anticapitalistas’, that is the group (linked with the Fourth International, and groups such as the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA)  and Ensemble in France and which has long criticised Podemos for its “vertical” hierarchy. They are challenging the Madrid leadership on the basis that the party structure needs reforming in order to connect with the ‘street’ (las calles) in place of  “marketing, de los políticos profesionales y de las estructuras orgánicas del partido.”

More details on the anticapitalista supporting site Viento Sur: Un Podemos para las y los que faltan. (The Podemos we need). Isabel Serra – Miguel Urbán

Long-standing criticisms such as this: Podemos: A Monolithic, Vertical, and Hierarchical Party? Tendance Coatesy. (December 2014)

Reply from a supporter:

What do you think of the criticisms from the Left saying that even though Podemos has repositioned itself on the Left by hitching itself to Izquierda Unida, it remains too vertical and centralised?

I think these criticisms are unfair, particularly because they are often based on local experiences in Barcelona and Madrid, and you can’t just map the local terrain onto a national scale. Podemos has had to face four elections, and electoral campaigns don’t lend themselves to internal discussions. But they are very conscious that the “circles” must preserve their important role in the party’s functioning, and they are trying to reinvigorate them. That was notable during the recent campaign. And I am still struck by their extraordinary creativity. In presenting their programme in the form of an Ikea catalogue they not only achieved a media coup but managed to get the electorate who didn’t read party manifestos any more to pick them up again.

A salutary shock?: Chantal Mouffe on Brexit and the Spanish elections. By Chantal Mouffe / 27 June 2016.

These are issues specific to Podemos though this is probably a very particular interpretation of their prospects, as is this (from left critics).

The latest is not the first internal dispute in the party.

Earlier this year Podemos’ leaders summarily removed their Number 3, Sergio Pascual.

Madrid had been the focus of disputes for some time – La crisis interna de Podemos en Madrid obliga a convocar un congreso regional.  (El País. 14th of June)

Following the always readable El País we find a more widespread judgement on Spain’s political crisis: that the country’s politicians are unable to share power with other parties or to make compromises beyond their immediate short-term interests.

Or, to put it more simply, like the UK, the country has no tradition of coalitions (the issue in dispute: agreement with the PSOE by Podemos).

The merits of this are, naturally, for the Spanish left to judge.

Meanwhile there is also this:  prosperous  Catalonia wishes to break with Spain’s poorer regions. (11th of September)

Catalan separatists rally to push for break from Spain

Tens of thousands of Catalans gathered to demand their region speed up its drive to break away from Spain

 See also: Podemos site (latest stories).

On the anticapitalista tendency:  Les anticapitalistes au sein de Podemos (August 2016).

This is a review of Coll, Andreu; Brais Fernández & Joseba Fernández (ed.) (2016), Anticapitalistasen Podemos, Construyendo poder popular. Barcelona, Sylone, 153 pag.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Nuit Debout: “It did not take off”, Frédéric Lordon.

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Nuit Debout: A Spark that did not Light a Prairie Fire.

Nuit debout was a French movement that began on 31 March 2016, arising out of protests against proposed labour reforms known as the El Khomri law or Loi travail. The movement was organised around a broad aim of “overthrowing the El Khomri bill and the world it represents”. It was compared to the Occupy movement in the United States and to Spain’s anti-austerity 15-M or Indignados movement. Occupy, and its much smaller imitation in the UK, Like the former, and unlike the latter, it failed to make any lasting connection with wider political forces. 

Nuit Debout was best known for its months long 2016 occupation of the Place de la République in Paris.

Organisers refused to set out a specific list of political demands in advance, although they did denounce the government’s proposed reforms as regressive, and they called for the construction of a new political project that would be “ambitious, progressive, and emancipatory”.

Lordon played an instrumental role in the rise of the Nuit debout movement. He wrote a piece in the February 2016 issue of Le Monde diplomatique on François Ruffin‘s film, Merci patron!, describing the film as a clarion call for a potential mass uprising. This prompted Ruffin to organise a public meeting which led to the organisation of the public occupation of Paris’s Place de la République on 31 March 2016. Lordon delivered a speech at the 31 March protest, highlighting the goal of uniting disparate protest movements. He subsequently refused to talk to national media about his role in the movement, explaining that he did not wish to be seen as the leader of a leaderless movement. More Frédéric Lordon, Nuit Debout ‘Leader’: Diamond Geezer, or….Not?.

Lordon has also been criticised for his ‘soverigentist’ tendencies: that is a belief that French democracy must first be transformed,  however grass-roots led – on a national scale. This means he is against the pooling of sovereignty in the European Union, attacking its ne-libeal and amrket inflection but   offers no concept of how internationalist democracy may be built. (1)

A more radical critique is offered of this type of politics in the latest Red Pepper,

Occupations, assemblies and direct action – a critique of ‘body politics’ Joseph A Todd .

Todd argues that the demand for “presence” at such assemblies (Occupy Wall Street, London, the small camp at St Paul’s, the  Place de la République), is questionable.

Inclusion in the polis was premised on physical presence – both in that decision making was conducted in general assemblies for extended periods of time, but also in that non-participation in the general assembly constituted a symbolic exclusion from the performative spectacle that became the symbol of the movement. And while the lack of demands was partly rooted in a distrust of existing institutions, we can also trace it back to body politics, the belief that bodies together is enough to create change, that bodies in space could prefigure the revolution.

Others have criticised the “consensus” ideal of these movements, which excludes serious debate, and represses minorities, while allowing for a fictitious agreement to be manipulated by an unacknowledged and unaccountable  leadership – the “tyranny of structurelessness”.  Or, more simply, the offputting rules that govern these assemblies, including strange signs to signify intervention in discussions, agreement, or disagreement. Nuit Debout did not enforce consensus – voting was by majority – but adopted many of these alienating procedures.

Nuit Debout existed for some months, brought important issues about the effects of markets, and the failings of democracy in French society and Europe  to the fore, had some interesting debates about democratic structures and the remoteness of official French politics, and inspired some to continue to seek an alternative to liberal pro-market politics.

It never touched the core of the labour movement or the banlieue.

Now we learn that Lordon, still one of the leading voices in the movement, acknowledges it has failed to take hold.

Frédéric Lordon fait le bilan de Nuit Debout : “On ne va pas se raconter d’histoire, le feu n’a pas pris”

la puissance de la multitude” – the might of the multitude has not taken off.

The Bondy Blog interview is in a typical, highly abstract and philosophical vein,  complete with references to Spinoza (one hears echoes of Toni Negri here, as the term multitude suggests already), and La Boétie.

It is heavy going, even for those used to Lordonese.

Fortunately Les Inrocks summarises the key points in which Lordon assesses the successes and the – very evident – petering out of the movement:

Tous les mouvements insurrectionnels commencent à très petite échelle. Le problème pour le pouvoir c’est quand ‘ça gagne’, quand la plaine entière vient à s’embraser. On ne va pas se raconter d’histoire, le feu n’a pas (ou pas encore) pris. Je crois cependant que beaucoup de gens qui étaient loin de l’événement l’ont regardé avec intérêt, et qu’il s’est peut être passé quelque chose dans les têtes dont nous ne pouvons pas encore mesurer tous les effets.”

All insurrectional movements begin small scale. The problem for those in power is when this “takes off”, when the social terrain is swept up in their heat. I am not going to hide the fact that in this case the spark has not (or has not yet) caught fire. I consider nevertheless that many people who were distant from the event watched it keenly, and what took place inside our heads has had effects which we have not really come to grips with yet.

Lordon talks of the “violence des “gardiens de l’ordre” which radicalised the participants in Nuit Debout. But he denied that there was any link between the movement and the ‘casseurs’ (hooligans) who led attacks on the Police and property to demonstrations in France earlier this year, and who provoked a strong counter-reaction.

 The Inrocks also cites Nuit debout, l’instant d’après. Pour un bilan qui n’en soit pas un by .

This is a more intelligible and serious balance-sheet (bilan) of the movement.

Marzel celebrates Nuit Debout’s existence in an “oligarchic regime” and presence in the ” imaginaire politique alternatif”, its democratic experiments, and – apparently – resistance to “narcissism”  as victories in themselves. It did not, however, help stop the new Labour law. And, “Nuit debout s’est rapidement élargie à une contestation de toute la politique du gouvernement et à un rejet global du capitalisme mondialisé.” – it quickly expanded to challenge all the government’s policies, and a complete rejection of globalised capitalism.”

Manzel does not hide that there problems with sexism, intoxication, internal disputes, inside Nuit Debout. Yet he considers that core message of  of the protests was part of the “Miracle” of politics in the sense celebrated by Hannah Arendt.  That is, we might comments,  creative action and reflection by equal citizens that breaks  governmental routine and helps create free public realm.

While some may hope that a new wave of protests may arise in France this autumn Nuit Debout has reached some kind of terminus.

*****

 (1) “Frédéric Lordon offers a radical critique of the construction of Europe. We can only agree when he interprets ‘the oddity of building Europe as a gigantic operation of the political elimination … of popular sovereignty itself’. The Enchanted World of Common Currency – On the Article by Frédéric Lordon).

Death of Georges Séguy, Resistant, Leader of the CGT, and Communist.

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Georges Séguy: From  the Resistance, Manthausen Camp, to May 68.

Georges Séguy who led the CGT, the largest French trade union federation, close to the French Communist Party,  from 1967 to 1982, died on Saturday at the age of 89 years at the hospital Montargis (Loiret).

 He passed away early yesterday afternoon,” said Elyane Bressol, President the Institute of social history (IHS) of the CGT, which Georges Seguy was honorary president. He was hospitalised for several days to Montargis Hospital, in Loiret.

Hommage à Georges Séguy (CGT)

Communiqué de la CGT.

C’est avec beaucoup de tristesse et d’émotion que nous avons appris le samedi 13 août 2016, le décès de Georges Séguy, à 89 ans, ancien Secrétaire Général de la CGT de 1967 à 1982.

More dignified tributes in the pages of l’Humanité.

As an apprentice printer, a member of the young Communists,  and part of the resistance group Francs-tireurs et partisans français (FTPF) Séguy was arrested at the age of 17 by the Gestapo  and deported to  Mauthausen.

France 24 outlines Séguy’s trade union career. His health affected by the deportation he became an electrician and worked for the French national rail service, the SNCF. He was both active in the French Communist Party  (Parti communiste français, PCF) and the CGT (Confédération générale du travail).

Georges Séguy devient en 1961 secrétaire général de la fédération des cheminots, l’une des plus importantes avec celles de la métallurgie et de l’EGF (électricité et gaz). Entré en 1965 au bureau confédéral de la CGT, il succède en 1967 à Benoît Frachon au poste de secrétaire général. Il vient de fêter son quarantième anniversaire.

Georges Séguy became General Secretary of the train-drivers and rail-workers’ federation, one of the most important wings of the CGT union federation, along with the engineers (roughly in the sense used by the  Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union AEEU), and the Gaz and Electricity  producers. AFter becoming part of the national committee of the CGT in 1967 he took over from Benoît Frachon the post of General Secretary. He had only  just celebrated his 40th birthday.

Un an plus tard, ce sont les événements de mai 68, les barricades, neuf millions d’ouvriers en grève, la révolte étudiante, De Gaulle ébranlé. Lors des difficiles négociations de Grenelle, Georges Séguy, au nom de la CGT, affronte Georges Pompidou, Premier ministre.

One year later and the May 68 ‘events’ took place, barricades, 9 million workers on strike, the student revolt, leaving President De Gaulle completely shaken. During the difficult negotiations with the gvoernment that took place at Rue Grenelle, Georges Séguy confronted the Prime Minister Georges Pompidou.

Sous les présidences de Georges Pompidou et de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, la CGT, alors au faîte de sa puissance, mènera sous sa houlette une lutte permanente contre la politique contractuelle lancée au début des années 1970 par Jacques Delors, alors conseiller social du Premier ministre Jacques Chaban-Delmas.

Under the Presidencies of Georges Pompidou and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing the CGT, at the height of its power, waged a permanent war against labour reforms (part of the ‘nouvelle société’ project which drew Delors, from a left Christian democratic tradition into the right-wing government’s orbit) launched by Jacques Delors, at the time a top adviser on social affairs to the Prime Minister  Jacques Chaban-Delmas.

In 1968 Georges Séguy was central to the Grenelle Agreements which negotiated an end to official union backing for the strikes in return for substantial government concessions of workers pay and rights.

The Grenelle Agreements (French: Accords de Grenelle) or Grenelle Reports were negotiated 25 and 26 May, during the crisis of May 1968 in France by the representative of the Pompidou government, the trade unions, and the Organisation patronale. Among the negotiators were Jacques Chirac, then the young Secretary of State of Local Affairs, and Georges Séguy, representative of the Confédération générale du travail.

The Grenelle Agreements, concluded 27 May 1968—but not signed—led to a 35% increase in the minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessionnel garanti) and 10% increase in average real wages.[1] It also provided for the establishment of the trade union section of business (Section syndicale d’entreprise), through the act of 27 December 1968.

Georges Séguy and the CGT’s role in May 68 remains a matter of great controversy on the French left, if not internationally. There are those who would dismiss the Grenelle accords, others would personally attack  Séguy.

There are serious critical points to be made, above all by French leftists and trade unionists.

By contrast, it is to be expected that a section of the British left, notably the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party in England and Wales, will savage comrade Séguy. Some will note the irony of those who have recently been cheer-leaders for the reactionary nationalist Brexit campaign  attacking a leader of a mass trade union who obtained  substantial concessions from the French government in 1968  for ‘reformism’.

In Séguy’s own account of the events of May 68 he states,  that, while freely admitting that his union and party had been overtaken by events, and that a  gulf between the students and the CGT had opened up (noting in passing that their anti-Stalinism was, for him, identical to anti-Marxism and anti-Communism) , the CGT and the unions had still achieved a major step forward in terms of social reform within the world of work.

Some obituaries have noted that Séguy tried to democratise the CGT during the late 1970s, and to return it to independent spirit of the Charte d’Amien (1906)  a struggle which led to his eventual resignation as General Secretary (1982).

Quel bilan faites-vous des avancées sociales issues des négociations de Grenelle?

Elles ont été supérieures à celles de 1936! Avec 8 ou 9 millions de grévistes, la pression sur le gouvernement et le patronat était telle que le pouvoir a dû faire des concessions importantes. Ainsi, nous réclamions un salaire minimum à 600 francs par mois, soit une augmentation de 37%: cette revendication, qui avait toujours été repoussée, a été résolue dans les dix premières minutes des négociations de Grenelle! En dehors des augmentations de salaire, nous avons principalement obtenu la liberté des activités syndicales dans les entreprises et la réduction du temps de travail, avec le retour de la semaine de travail de 40 heurs.

The social advances were greater than those of 1936. With 8 to 9 million strikes the pressure on the government and the employer was such that they had to make important concessions. The minimum wage of 600 francs a month, a rise of 37%, a demand which had always been turned down, was accepted within the first ten minutes of the negotiations! Apart from wage rises we gained the freedom to organise unions in all enterprises, and a reduction in working time, back to 40 hours a week.

These are other interesting observations.

Georges Séguy: “Sarkozy wants to kill off the spirit of rebellion”

Translated Sunday 13 May 2007, by Emma Paulay

The ex-General Secretary of the CGT retorts to the right-wing candidate’s speech about May 1968 (1).

As he watched Nicolas Sarkozy demonise May 1968 on television, Georges Séguy saw red. The ex general secretary of the CGT, the leading trade union, and leader of the workers strike at the time, knows what he’s talking about…

Huma: What was your spur-of-the-moment reaction?

Georges Séguy: It gave me a start. I understand that the events of May 1968 left the reactionaries and especially the employers, with painful memories. But it’s the first time I’ve heard a politician like Nicolas Sarkozy condemn a memorable moment in our national social history in such retrograde terms. The main historical importance of May 1968, is neither the police violence in the Latin quarter, nor the legitimate controversies of different philosophical currents of the time, it is the general strike of ten million workers who took over their companies.

Huma: Not everyone remembers the outcome. Can you remind us what it was?

Georges Séguy: The workers were infuriated by years of governmental and employers’ opposition to any social progress. The general strike had one aim: to overcome this blockage, to obtain the opening of negotiation procedures. A huge majority of factories which had been occupied by their workers, many for the first time, signed the commitment of 25th May 1968 at the Ministry of Employment, boulevard Grenelle. It didn’t take long. Within a few hours, many demands, which it would take too long to list, were taken into account. The most extraordinary of which was a 30% raise of the minimum wage. When you see all the commotion about the minimum wage at 1500 euros, gross or net, it is worth remembering that this raise in the minimum wage and low salaries in the provinces, in Brittany for example, boosted domestic consumption to such a point that economic growth was increased more than at any other time during the period known as the “Trente Glorieuses”.

Huma: But you are talking about the workers, and of their strikes, and it is precisely this aspect that Nicolas Sarkozy did not talk about. Is there some misunderstanding?

Georges Séguy: No. Sarkozy knew exactly what he was doing. He censored the workers strike in his speech because it contradicts his attack on May 1968. He cannot proclaim his love for the workers and at the same time revile them when they accomplish a leap forward in their conditions and in society. The worker he respects is the one who gets up early and works flat out for his boss, even if the same boss might sack him one day. It’s not the one who stays up late preparing action that will help others defend their interests and have better lives. His slogan “work more to earn more” is misleading. To earn more, you have to fight more. I challenge anyone to look back at history and prove the contrary.

Huma: What was the point of this diatribe?

Georges Séguy: This malevolent condemnation, comparing militants, trade unionists and dissatisfied workers to hooligans, aims to discredit a movement where the famous work value that Sarkozy brandishes won a spectacular victory over those whose only thought is of over exploiting it to their advantage. The scale of this movement remains and will remain, at a much higher level than a politician’s ambitions, one of the most significant examples of French workers’ attachment to the social model resulting from the National Council of the Résistance.

Huma: Nicolas Sarkozy has no qualms about referring to the Résistance himself, from Général de Gaulle to Jean Moulin, to Guy Môquet. What is your reaction to that, as a résistant who was deported at a very young age?

Georges Séguy: He certainly had the gall to quote such glorious names. But it’s precisely the great social conquests imposed by the Résistance that he wants to destroy: a social security system based on solidarity between generations, a right to retirement, freedom of action for trade unions, nationalisations, large public services etc. His programme is the opposite to that of the National Council of the Résistance. In subjecting the historical social progress of May 1968, to public obloquy, and at the same time drumming out his love for workers, Sarkozy shows that, if he is elected, the French social model will not outlive his all-consuming fervour for work.

Huma: It’s a well-know fact that workers and students in 1968 did not have exactly the same point of view. Maybe Sarkozy thinks that he can speculate on that difference. However, the slogan for the march on 13th May 1968 was “student-worker solidarity”. What finally reunited everyone was a sort of uprising against a social order to which people were subjected in different ways…

Georges Séguy: As I see it, in what the UMP leader is saying, his overall attitude towards May 1968 is of great importance. Apart from the leftist diversions of a few groups, May 1968 was also a wonderful young people’s revolt against the advocates of the doctrinaire approach and totalitarian-minded political powers which had a tendency to stiffen the democracy. This brought about a huge juvenile movement towards a society freed of old fashioned mentalities, of unfairness and of the shackles of all sorts of bans and taboos. We were spectators to a strong push for social, political, and cultural emancipation. For women, that meant rejection of inequality and discrimination, the new force of feminism was women’s rights. In short, May 1968 was a great social movement and an extraordinary request for morals, habits, and society to be modernised. I am a witness to the fact that the workers movement did not necessarily realise that at the time. By proclaiming his loathing for this call for emancipation, Nicolas Sarkozy shows us whose side he is on: on the side of the big bosses, of an out-of-date monarchial system.


Translator’s note:

(1) Nicolas Sarkozy, at the largest rally of his campaign (at the Bercy arena in Paris), declared: “In this election, it is a question of whether the heritage of May ’68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all.” May ‘68 “weakened the idea of citizenship by denigrating the law, the state and the nation … See how the belief in short-term profit and speculation, how the values of financial capitalism grew out of May ’68, because there are no more rules, no more norms, no morality, no more respect, no authority … ”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 15, 2016 at 4:24 pm

The Labour Party: Holed up and Isolated on Collis Aventinus.

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Labour’s Forerunners The Secession of the People.

In early, half-legendary, Roman history at around 495 BCE the conflict between the Patrician Senate and the Plebeians reached such a point that the common people seceded. After time three miles away on Mons Sacer, they sat, the story goes, on Collis Esquilinus and Collis Aventinus, within the City walls. There they remained, it is proverbially (in a simplified version of the story) in splendid isolation, until their demands for debt relief were met.

The tale came to symbolise how political minorities can defiantly proclaim their independence. We might say that the Labour Party is in danger not only of tearing itself apart, but of ending up, however large its membership may swell , separate from the rest of the country. Opinion polls indicate that it remains very far from commanding the votes needed for an electoral majority. It risks far greater isolation than the Roman plebs.

In La social-démocratie européenne dans l’impasseLe Monde yesterday covered the crises affecting the European left. Of those politicians heading potential governing parties, it noted that Jeremy Corbyn, Robert Fico (Slovakia), and Pedro Sanchez (head of the Spanish socialists, the PSOE) confronted the same dilemma: how to win power and to keep their parties going.

The article cites the startling case of the Slovakians: Fico formed a ‘red-brown’ coalition with nationalist-far-right parties between 2006 and 2010. Again allied with the extreme-right his populism extends to virulent anti-migrant rhetoric. At the bottom of the page is another striking case. France’s ruling Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS) has declined to between 60,000 and 80,000 members (some put the figure still lower). The PS, and other left candidates, less or more radical, look unlikely to make it to the second round of next year’s Presidential election.

Spain’s PSOE – still, at 22,06 % of the vote, the largest electoral force on the Spanish left – looks about to accept another right-wing government; the ‘populist’ Podemos’s vote declined in the June elections, creating its own internal difficulties. The German SPD is withering on the vine, its leader, Sigmar Gabriel, barely registering internationally. Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Rizni, nominally on the centre-left, faces a challenge in a referendum about reforming the country’s’ Senate. Only in Portugal, with a coalition led by Socialist Antonio Costa and supported by the Communists and the radical Bloco de Esquerda remains clearly on the left.

Are the fortunes of the rest of the European left important for the British Labour Party? With no participation in the Euro, and now Brexit it would appear that .the country is free from the prospect of a Continental federation ruled by free-market bureaucrats. The ‘democratic deficit’ ended, the House of Commons can return to making its own laws. What happens elsewhere, happens elsewhere.

Sovereigntism.

The ideology that animated the pro-Brexit left is sovereigntism. This is the idea that popular sovereignty is the goal of the “people” against the elites, Brussels, globalisation, finance capital. The ‘general will’ can be expressed in extra-Parliamentary forms, from the Spanish Indignados, the Occupy Wall Street movement, to the more recent Nuit Debout protests in France. The view is growing that the Labour Party can, as a ‘social movement’ take on a similar role: a direct link between the will of the grass roots and politics. With the end of ties to the EU what is to stop this force, a battering ram, from conquering power and exercising the sovereignty of the people? Or, as the British left tends to dub it, will the ‘the working class’ be able to “take power”?

Yanis Varoufakis observes, by contrast, that the sovereignty that British political forces want to preserve, of ”their cherished House of Commons”, “is put under pressure by its most powerful social groups: trader, manufacturers, and of course the City of London, for whom Brexit is fraught with dangers”. The “tug of war between sovereignty and financialised capital” has not evaporated after Brexit. (Page 123. And The Weak Suffer What They Must? Yanis Varoufakis 2016) Popular sovereignty, a General Will whose supporters regularly (as in the radical protest movements cited above) contrast with the compromises, not to say corruption, of Parliamentary democracy, is an intangible force faced with the class realities of power. The social movement talked about in recent months, whether largely apparent only in public meetings, or with deeper roots, is unlikely to stand much of a chance faced with these structural constraints.

The Conservative government is negotiating trading and other agreements, including new versions of TIPP. Continued access to the single market will come at a price. The TUC’s has little power behind its efforts to secure “jobs and right at work.” (Working people must not pay the price for the vote to Leave. TUC June 2016) The results will not vanish if a Labour government comes to power. Prime Minister Teresa May is on record as hostile to trade unions and the rights embodied in EU law. International trade agreements will doubtless favour the rights of what Varoufakis calls “financialised capital”.

Conquering Power.

How can this be changed? Labour governments have been charged with merely exercising power, rather than conquering it, that is, winning a serious battle in the state and society as a whole and not just in the ballot box. Governing may involve making many important choices, but the intense life of Cabinets tends to downplay the wider social basis of change that socialists wish to introduce.

Many people are impressed by illustrations from very recent history. The Blair-Brown years could be seen as winning elections, with a careful strategy to assemble different constituencies (middle class, aspirational working class, left labour voters with ‘nowhere else to go’). Until the banking-financial crisis of 2007 -8 this was a period of expanded social spending. But these Labour governments operated within institutions of the privatising state created by Margaret Thatcher. Following John Major they extended this to privatising public services, including, for example, back-to-work schemes for several million of the unemployed. As the well-paid private appointments of many former New Labour Ministers and their supporters indicate, the state was not just unconquered; the privatisers conquered New Labour.

With this perspective in view, the acceleration of Conservative free-market ‘reforms’ to the economy, the development of the private company hold on the state, we should not be inward looking. We should embrace both democratic socialist calls for public ownership, and the social democratic impulse for equality. In place of rhetoric about ‘sovereignty’ the powerful Labour tradition of practical reforms should be our concern. A revival of the Fabian tradition of public service and detailed social policy, melded with Marxist scepticism about the class nature of the state and the critique of capitalism, might – I am being, to say the least, optimistic – bring us together. Matched with concern for universal human rights, this could be part of what one of the greatest leaders of European socialism Jean Jaurès (1859 – 1914) called the “synthesis” between left-wing traditions.

In early Rome the Avernis episode ended, it is said, in compromise. The Plebeians won on the issue of debt and, eventually, some political representation. But they did not overturn Patrician rule. Whatever the causes, which we can discuss for days, the last thing Labour needs is infighting, standing alone, laughed at by the Governing Right, cheered on by sectarian forces who wish to split the Party, and standing alone, on a modern political Collis Avernis. If this continues we look unlikely to  get even the measure of satisfaction our commoner forerunners obtained. We are not separate from the crisis of European social democracy described in Le Monde: we are part of it.

HDP and Party of European Socialists and Party of the European Left Declarations on Turkish Situation as Amnesty Raises Torture Evidence.

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Erdoğan  Regime Faces Torture Charges after Failed Coup.  

Amnesty International:

Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organisation is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan) statements: 

The Way Out of This Crisis is not Declaring State of Emergency, but Democracy

HDP Imrali Delegation’s Press Release on Ocalan’s condition.

The concerns and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, kept in solitary confinement in Imrali Island since April 5th 2015, increasingly continue, particularly after the coup attempt on July 15th.  Both the analysis made by Mr Ocalan regarding how Imrali Island might be affected by a likely coup attempt, and news and information taking place in Turkish media, as well as, inadequate and careless attitude of government officials, towards the requests concerning worries and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan increase mistrust between the public and the state.

Our committee contacted government and state officials right after the coup attempt and delivered these concerns. We have stated the need for Ocalan’s family and lawyers, as well as, an unbiased committee’s visit to remove these concerns. As a matter of fact, the information gathered from these talks with officials was announced to the public, and we repeated our warnings applying their historical significance. While our concerns remain without response, Mr. Ocalan and other prisoners kept in Imrali Island, hindered from their rights to write and receive letters, receive phone calls and visits from family members and lawyers long before the coup attempt, are once again aggrieved by the declaration of state of emergency and its consequences by local court order.

This court order creates a more vicious solitary confinement. It is a provocative order targetting the common future of peoples seeking a way out of the civil and military coup vortex. It is an illegal and unlawful move against law, justice and democratic resolution. Withdrawal of this order carries a great importance. We also would like to stress the urgent need and importance of direct contact with Mr Ocalan to eliminate concerns and prevent increases in social tensions. Turkey’s only and main way out of this crisis is the resolution of the Kurdish question and other accumulated,long-standing problems. What needs to be done for this resolution is not imposing  solitary confinement, but providing conditions for a democratic negotiation. It’s essential to provide equal and free negotiation conditions for Mr. Ocalan, who foresaw the coup mechanics which are recorded in official reports, and he had warned state officials long before the attempt. A contrary move will serve the benefit of coup-plotters and risk bringing  our people into darker days.  This concerns not only the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, but also all peoples of the Middle East and the world without a doubt.

Within this context, we urge the attention of particularly the United Nations, the European Parliament, institutions of the European Union, CPT, Amnesty International, and national and international institutions, as well as, our people and public who stand with democracy and peace….

 

Wikipedia. “The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan[12]), or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, minority rights, and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.”

 

Party of European Socialists:

REINTRODUCING DEATH PENALTY IN TURKEY COULD HARM COUNTRY’S RELATIONS WITH THE EU

The Party of European Socialists would like to express its concern about the thousands of suspensions in the military, in the police, in the justice system following the attempted coup in Turkey. The PES is worried the most about the debate on the re-introduction of the death penalty, initiated by the Turkish Government.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said: “Death penalty is brutal and fundamentally unjust. We are deeply worried that the Turkish leadership is promoting the idea of re-introducing it. We call on the government for maximum restraint and caution in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Any step in the direction of reintroducing the death penalty could harm the relations between Turkey and the EU. Rejecting the death penalty is a specific request to all the countries which apply for EU membership.”

As it was made clear in the initial statement of the PES from the 16th of July in support of democracy in Turkey, the coup, should not be used as a pretext to undermine human rights.

Stanishev said: “Any attempt of a power grab through major constitutional changes will push Turkey farther away from the EU and will jeopardize a much needed reconciliation in Turkey”.

 

European left (alliance of left European parties)  declaration.

 

No military coup in Turkey and no civilian coup either

The European Left sharply condemns the attempt of a military coup d’etat in Turkey. This is no way to establish democracy and no way to secure human rights.

At the same time we are very clear in our condemnation of the current arbitrary reprisals against real or presumed enemies of the Erdogan government. The perpetrators of the military coup have to face the judicial consequences of their deeds but the imprisonment of thousands of people on the flimsiest of pretexts is in contravention of the rule of law and creates new divisions in an already fragmented society.

We strongly warn against the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey and we are appalled about the way Erdogan and his AKP government are using the current situation as a chance to reinforce the authoritarian presidential regime.

The Party of the European Left supports a real democratic perspective for Turkey. We therefore request the European Union to cancel the dirty refugee-deal with Erdogan and to apply pressure towards an end of curfews in Kurdish cities, of hostilities and massacres in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and the re-establishing of parliamentary immunity for the HDP parliamentarians. Our solidarity belongs to the progressive and democratic forces in Turkey and offer our solidarity in their fight against repression.

More statements:

French Communist Party (PCF):

 

Turquie : “La France doit cesser son soutien au régime sanguinaire d’Erdogan” (PCF)

Turkey:  France must end its backing to the bloodstained Erdogan regime.

 

We have witnessed a coup process second by second on 15th July evening with all its uncertainties, hesitations, countermoves of opposing sides and ferocities. This bloody night, which will be remembered with the clashes between the soldiers and the police, occupations in the media channels, images of massacred civilians and lynched soldiers and bombing of the National Assembly as a peak point, appear as one of the last scenes of the power struggle between the old partners inside the state that AKP and Gülen congregation built in cooperation. Based on the fact that Erdoğan regime does not hesitate to have resort to chaos and civil war atmosphere in order to maintain his hegemony since the elections on 7th June 2015, following the push down of the coup attempt in a very short time and reappearances of the government members on the media channels with refreshed images, many conspirative evaluations, that this attempt was designed for Erdoğan’s dictatorial lust to be actualized, had broad repercussion. Under the circumstances where the regime was consolidated with almost 50 percent of the votes in the last elections, a more reasonable interpretation is that Gülen supporters, who faced a huge discharge operation, and some sections in the army they are in cooperation with, have drawn the coup plan forth in a hurry.

Support our Turkish and Kurdish sisters and bothers against this Islamist despot!

An important article on the background to the present crisis.

Review of Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Verso: London and New York 2016,

CE TEMELKURAN  GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? Latest New Left Review – just out.

Extract:

 

The ‘fall of the Turkish model’ announced by Tuğal in his book’s title could have multiple, overlapping meanings. Has the model failed because it could not be exported to the rest of the Middle East—Egypt and Tunisia in particular? Was that because of its inherent flaws, or because social and political conditions were very different in those countries, as Tuğal demonstrates? However tarnished it may now be, we should not assume that the AKP’s political model has ‘fallen’, in the sense of being incapable of retaining power or mass support. Its followers have been encouraged to believe that social rights are a form of political charity that should only be available to those who vote AKP. They are mobilized by a gigantic propaganda machine which promotes a visceral hatred of the party’s adversaries; Erdoğan can break his promises whenever he sees fit, and anyone who dares to raise the matter will find themselves branded as the enemy. It is considered perfectly acceptable for AKP leaders to incite crowds to boo the family of a fifteen-year-old, Berkin Elvan, who was killed by a police bullet during the Gezi uprising. Turkey’s Constitutional Court was also anathematized when it ordered the release of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. Between August 2015 and February 2016, sixty people were charged with insulting Erdoğan and prosecuted, with each ‘criminal’ facing a year or two in prison. Recently, a woman in the process of divorcing her husband accused him of insulting the President, hoping to get the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Business owners of all kinds are kept in line, with the AKP’s sword hanging over their heads.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

The Allies of Brexit ‘Left’: Bleak Racist ‘Lamberistists.’

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Anti-Eu Scabs Toast Victory.

The Scab left has not been slow to react to the Referendum result.

“The referendum result may well go down in history as the pitchfork moment“, declared the Financial Times (FT), wailing the anger and despair of Britain’s elite at the decision by the majority of voters in Britain to leave the European Union.

In fact, the revolt took place despite the complete failure of the majority of leaders of the trade union movement and, unfortunately, also Jeremy Corbyn to put an independent working class position in the referendum by leading a socialist, internationalist campaign for exit completely independent from and in opposition to the ‘Little Englanders’ of UKIP and Co.

But while the capitalist class are in chaos, it is urgent that the working class finds its own political voice. The referendum result shows the enormous potential for a mass fight back against austerity in Britain. The task is to create a mass political party capable of leading such a fight back, politically armed with socialist policies.

So says the apparently ‘socialist’ the Socialist.

Campaigning against ‘cheeep migrant labour is not enough for this group.

If there is one thing that has come to the fore in recent weeks it is the alliance of the Socialist Party, Lexit, leaders of the RMT, and the Morning Star, with the ‘European’ (French) groupuscle, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID).

This is how the group heralded the referendum result.

Une victoire pour la classe ouvrière britannique, une victoire pour les travailleurs et les peuples de toute l’Europe.

This body, if one can call a living corpse, though it has a former French PM, Lional Jospin and a present Parti  Socialiste General  Secretary as it s former members,  has a long history.

Beginning with their historic founder, Pierre Lambert (Pierre Boussel).

Accused of having given the names of other Resistance figures to the Germans, Lambert’s  much more established legacy is his collaboration with the American secret service during the creation of the anti-Communist Force ouvrière. In 68 his group, the OCI physicality attacked ‘petty bourgeois’ students. Their violence and hatred is notorious on the French left.

I have personally seen them in action.

Switch to now: Gérard Schivardi, part of the faction which organised the  infamous Paris meting for Brexit.

He predicts “l’inévitable guerre des religions”, the inevitable  war of religions  and accuses Marine Le Pen of having nicked his ideas, “piquer toutes mes idées de 2007.

What allies, what politics.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2016 at 10:05 am