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On Louis Proyect’s The Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism and the European left.

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Idlib, Syria: Thousands protest peacefully against Assad’s war, Friday 14 September.

Louis Proyect has just published this article (in Counterpunch), of significance not only in the US but for the European left, and across the word.

On the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism.

Beginning with an overview  of “Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism” it extends to a wider series of reflections.

Project tunes into some of the key ethical and political problems, thrown up by a number of intense  conflicts across the world since 2011 and the response of various parts of the left to them.

In each of them the politics of an ‘anti-imperialism’, limited to opposing the ‘West’ (and de facto backing, amongst others, Assad’s regime, Putin and , though he mentions this to a much lesser degree, Iran) has been called into question.

Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism is an important contribution to the debate that has divided the left since 2011, the year that Syria became a litmus test. For some, support for Bashar al-Assad became tantamount to backing Franco in the Spanish Civil War while others saw my perspective as lending support to the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary states carrying out the same neoconservative foreign policy that turned Iraq into a failed state.

In other respects, he observes that on a range of social and economic issues the US left was united (“ranging from defending immigrant rights to opposing fracking),at the start of the decade.

But, “The polarization deepened in 2014 when the Euromaidan protest became litmus test number two.”

“As was the case with Syria, the overwhelming majority of the left sided with Yanukovych who was seen as a progressive leader ousted by a coup organized and funded by the CIA. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin-backed militias were freedom fighters while Kyiv became a tool of NATO and Western banks. Trying to avoid such geopolitical dualities became difficult, if not impossible.”

This could equally be seen here. The left (with at least some hope of a wider political influence than the US left, which was increasing after Ed Miliband began his Labour leadership)  has in general terms  been united on issues such as anti-austerity. This has parallels across Europe, although since that time the EU (UK) or sovereigntism has become  dividing lines.

It was during the Ukraine crisis that the same divisions over international issues, as in the US, became serious.

There was (lightly covered) with support for Putin and the Russian Federation’s claims  from the Morning Star, and the Stop the War Coalition (Counterfire-led) – a position not reflected so widely in the rest of Europe outside of the direct inheritors of the Stalinist parties – but also present.

Here is their activity in sharp focus,

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London Socialist Appeal. 2014

Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

Then there is the Middle East, where unity over opposition to the Invasion of Iraq began to crack, above all as the Arab Spring brought forth a movement for democracy against the Assad dictatorship.

Proyect talks of Syria, the cause of whose people he has been a consistent champion.

He cites US writers who have sided with Assad (and not, odd as it may seem, the worst of the red-brown Assad apologists….)

For Syrians, the notion put forward by Stephen Gowans et al that Syria was some sort of socialist utopia rivaling if not besting Kurdish Rojava was a cruel joke. Hensman writes:

Finally, it is an irony that people who see themselves as socialists fail to note the class dimension of the uprising. Janine di Giovanni provides a vivid description of the Damascus elite who support Assad: “[In June 2012,] for several weeks running, I watched the fevered hedonism of the Thursday afternoon pool parties at the Dama Rose Hotel … By lunchtime, women were rushing to hairdressers; the roads leading out of the city … were clogged with luxury cars … Restaurants such as Narenj, which … served traditional Arabic food to the elite, were still packed.” (di Giovanni 2016, 8). By contrast, in 2007 a third of Syrians were living beneath the poverty line, with nearly another third only slightly above this level. Swiss-Syrian socialist activist and scholar Joseph Daher (2016) writes that “even the regime-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions deplored in 2009 that “the rich have become richer and the poor poorer … (and) low income earners who make up 80 percent of the Syrian population are looking for additional work to support themselves”. He continues, “We must not forget that the popular revolution in Syria began as a result of social economic injustices and widespread poverty, in addition to political issues.”

This is the crucial, the crunch point: his summary of what’s facing people in Syria now:

We are now in the final hours of the seven-year ordeal in which attempts to restore the democratic values of Hourani’s government have been crushed by overwhelming air power and massive intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and Afghan mercenaries. The looming victory against “imperialism” leaves the country in shambles with dismal economic prospects and inescapable environmental disaster.

He continues, looking at the “campists” now backing, more or less openly, Assad.

A certain political myopia exists in such quarters. Despite their anti-fascist pretensions, they cannot fathom how Assad’s victory will strengthen reaction throughout the Middle East and Europe. In an interview on Portuguese television, General al-Sisi stated: “The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq.” When the interviewer followed up with “When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?”, the General replied: “Yes.”

In  Proyect’s conclusion he suggests that capitalists, and those states who wish for  Assad’s victory, have their own interests at heart.

Hardly a surprising claim but can this be extended to speculation that a bloc is being formed out of “With Assad, al-Sisi, Putin and Haftar” in a “new axis of resistance against Islamists” or, even more speculatively, “would anybody be surprised that Netanyahu would apply for membership?2

One can only note that Louis’s belief that Boris Johnson is still UK foreign Secretary is one, amongst many reasons to doubt the emergence of such an alliance. And there is a leap from a certain support for Libya’s Hafter to….Assad, and Putin, Israel, Macron….. which is hard to jump. (“In July, Haftar met with an Israeli intelligence officer in Amman, to “deepen security coordination between him and Israel”. Not only does Haftar have these considerable forces in his corner, he can also rely on the backing of France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as the United Arab Emirates.”).

The conclusion is, nevertheless, worth serious reflection:

 In all their heartfelt objection to imperialism, Assad’s supporters on the left seemed to have forgotten that Lenin wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. If you forget about the capitalism part of his analysis, you don’t get very far.

One cannot imagine that Iran (whose capitalist rather than geopolitical and religious-ideological interest, if there is one, which it far from sure,  goes unmentioned) and Putin’s Russian Federation, have backed Assad out of a wish to strengthen a multipolar world contesting American dominance purely out of hearty anti-imperialist good will. The extent to which religious ideology as a material force in the conflicts remains unclarified, but who can seriously doubt that it plays a substantial role in these wars.

While one is certain that much of the US left, anxious at all times to distance itself from any hint of support for its own imperialist military machine, has good reason to be wary of its state’s involvement.

But today this is of utmost urgence: 

Indefensible: Idlib and the left Leila Al-Shami

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Roshan Salih, Press TV and the Enfield Labour Vote of No-Confidence in Joan Ryan.

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Is it true that Salih is a member of the Labour Party?

I am not a member of Enfield Labour Party and am in no position to comment in depth on the events.

But it does appear that there was a broad coalition behind the vote of no-confidence in MP Joan Ryan.

In these conditions it is highly misleading to talk of “Trotksyists” “Communists” and “Stalinists” behind last night’s decision.

I hope that the result can be linked to her wider – right of the Labour Party – politics and not to the issue of ‘Zionism’.

Not to mention local concerns about her performance as an MP.

But this raises wider issues:

Press TV footage apparently filmed inside CLP vote of no confidence in MP Joan Ryan

Labour activists are calling for an inquiry after an Iranian state-backed TV station which is banned in the UK carried footage of a local party meeting passing a vote of no confidence in the Enfield North MP, Joan Ryan.

The Press TV footage, which appeared to have been filmed inside the meeting, was carried on the station’s Twitter feed and referred to Ryan, who is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, as a “pro-Israel MP”. It included the hashtag #WeAreEnfieldNorth.

Press TV had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked by the media regulator, Ofcom, in 2012, over claims that editorial decisions were being made in Tehran.

The chair of the Enfield North constituency Labour party (CLP) tweeted that he had informed Labour party headquarters about Press TV’s apparent access to the meeting, and an investigation would take place.

Press TV’s licence was taken after, amongst other things, for this (Independent 2010).

in an interview with Channel 4 News, to be broadcast tonight, Mr Bahari explains that Press TV betrayed those promises, by sending a journalist to cover his forced confession in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

‘I was somewhat surprised because I thought Press TV would at least pretend to have some credibility and wouldn’t come and interview a prisoner in an interrogation room when I was under duress.’

Mr Bahari says he was tortured and then forced to make his confession on television, under threat of execution. He describes how he sat inside a room in the prison, before three cameras, and responded to questions suggested by a government interrogator, who stood behind a red curtain. He says he kept his blindfold on his knee, in full view, so it should have been clear that he was under duress.

Press TV then broadcast the confession, as though it was a legitimate interview, and Mr Bahari a willing guest; the presenter even suggested Mr Bahari might have participated in the protests.

Is Salih a member of the Labour Party?

The Tweet on ‘Zionist Infiltration’ was preceded  by this:

Today this is one comment he retweeted:

This is his own reaction after his coverage appeared on Press TV

This was another of his scoops – earlier this year (January)

Ken Livingstone appeared on Iranian state television on Holocaust Memorial Day on a programme that asked whether the Shoa has “been exploited to oppress others.”

The former Mayor of London – currently suspended from the Labour Party over antisemitism claims – appeared on Press TV on Saturday with host Roshan Muhammed Salih.

Several callers phoned into the show – which suggested ‘Zionists’ had exploited the Holocaust – and repeated openly antisemitic tropes.

At one point the presenter says: “I don’t know whether 6 million, or 4 million died or 2 million died.”

One caller to the programme, Ali, said: ”If it wasn’t for Hitler there would be no Israel. So this idea that Hitler was a bad guy – he wasn’t so bad for Israel.”

Mr Livingstone disagreed saying the remarks were “deeply offensive” to Jewish communities around the world.

But later Mr Livingstone attempted to justify his own past comments on Hitler and Zionism.

He said: ”I mean Hitler wanted to eliminate every Jew who was living inside Germany and that’s what he did in the 1930s. He worked with the Zionist movement to move …to get 60000 to go. But it was about half a million and then he changed his policy and went for genocide. “

Host Mr Salih at one stage spoke of the “industry” that has built up around the Holocaust.

Salih is the Editor the pro-Iranian Islamist site, 5 Pillars.

Editor – Roshan Muhammed Salih

These are some of his views:

The two-state solution means Palestine’s destruction, so why does Jeremy Corbyn support it?

If Jeremy Corbyn really cares about Palestine why does he keep talking about a two-state solution, asks Roshan Muhammed Salih.

The article ends with a call for support for action, military if need be, against Israel.

With the advent of a multi-polar world and rising Muslim powers, will Palestinians finally get the financial, military and political backing they deserve?

None of us know the answers to these questions but I do know that time is against Israel and an argument can be made that they need a deal more than the Palestinians do.

But non-Palestinians should not tell Palestinians what to do; our role is to simply support them. Whatever the Palestinian consensuses is I’m fine with that. If the consensus is to fight Israel with arms I support that because an occupied people has the right to resist an occupation militarily. If they want to struggle by peaceful means through cultural boycotts or politics then I also support that. And if they want to do a combination of both then that’s great too.

But like the majority of Palestinians I do not support a two-state solution. And neither should Jeremy Corbyn.

Then there’s this:

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Note: Harry’s Place asserts this: Press TV’s Roshan Salih films no confidence vote against Joan Ryan

But

Update: There is some haziness over the precise circumstances around the filming, but it seems clear that it was in no way condoned by the CLP’s chair, Siddo Dwyer.”

 

Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism) Storms Newcastle Council Debate to Prevent Adoption of Anti-Semitism Guidelines.

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RCG Says, “Smash Zionism!”

Far-left protesters storm council chamber as anti-Semitism debate descends into chaos

The Chronicle (Newcastle)

A council meeting descended into chaos as protesters stormed the chamber during a debate on anti-Semitism.

“Frightened” councillors were forced out of the room and left in tears due to the angry protest from far-left campaigners, one of whom had to be dragged from the chamber by securit

The protest – led by the revolutionary communist Fight Racism Fight Imperialism group – was opposing Newcastle City Council’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which they claimed would “criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle”.

After Lib Dem opposition deputy leader Nick Cott raised the motion to adopt the definition, protesters in the public gallery above began chanting, unfurled Palestinian flags, and shouted abuse at councillors.

As councillors left the room, one man broke into the main council chamber and was dragged away by security as Lord Mayor David Down tried to calm the protesters down.

It was claimed that one member of the civic centre’s security staff was put into a headlock by the demonstrators, some of whom were led away by police.

Afterwards, council leader Nick Forbes labelled them “clowns” who “don’t do anything to further the cause of the Palestinians”.

The result?

“When councillors returned to the chamber after around 25 minutes, Coun Forbes seconded the motion – having agreed to drop an amendment he had proposed – and it was passed unanimously.

Coun Forbes told the chamber that adopting the IHRA motion would “show we understand the upset and hurt that many people in our Jewish communities feel”.

Flagged up here: Revolutionary Communist Group attack Anti-Semitism Debate.

And on their Facebook Page: “Fight Racism – Fight Imperialism – FRFI North East

We have won the right to address the council! Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. See you at the protest today. Fight the council motion – defend the right to defend Palestine!

 

This was the campaign mounted by the RCG/Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism!

Don’t criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle.

1. Vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. State that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

—————————————————————————–
This campaign is being run by a member of the public on the Campaigns by You website, not by 38 Degrees itself. 38 Degrees does not endorse all of the petitions on the website.

Why is this important?

On 5th September 2018, at its full council meeting, Newcastle City Council is due to vote on a motion as to whether the council should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The definition comes with examples of anti-Semitism, including: “”Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

We say: Israel is a racist state and saying so is not anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

Israel is a racist colonial settler state, based on the disposition of the Palestinian people, it must maintain itself by extending that dispossession through violent means, and has done so constantly since the 1993 Oslo Agreements.

We the undersigned call on Newcastle City Council to:

1. vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. state that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

Acts of anti-Semitism show hatred towards Jewish and other Semitic people. Our assertion that Israel is a racist state is not informed by hatred towards Jewish people but rather by solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle against occupation and colonisation. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. Non-Jewish Israeli’s and non-Jewish Palestinian’s are discriminated against on a vast scale. This discrimination and the collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel has been recognised by international humanitarian organisations, including Amnesty International.

There are many Jewish organisations who are opposed to Israel because of its Zionist and racist nature. For example, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network states:

“Zionism is racist. It demands political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures. Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic.” Non-white, non-European Jews, are treated as second-class citizens, and face racism and economic exploitation at the hands of the Israeli state.

There has also been a witch hunt in the Labour Party against any politicians who criticise Israel. This includes the suspension of Jackie Walker, who is both black and Jewish. Does the council support this suspension?

We oppose all forms of racism and oppression. That means we must defend the right to defend Palestine. We ask Newcastle City Council to do the same.

The RCG’s background (Wikipedia)

The RCG grew out of the “Revolutionary Opposition” faction of the International Socialists (IS), (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party), being strongly influenced by the politics of Roy Tearse. When the leading figures of the “Revolutionary Opposition”, the name itself only first appearing in print in their appeal document, were expelled from the IS its members met to decide on their course of action, and disagreements between Tearse’s allies and the majority of the faction around David Yaffe rapidly surfaced. The result was that Tearse’s supporters formed the Discussion Group which led a quiet life for a number of years inside the Labour Party before dissolving. Meanwhile, Yaffe and his comrades proceeded to found the Revolutionary Communist Group in 1974.[4]

In 1975, the RCG began publishing a theoretical journal called Revolutionary Communist in which it in part espoused a view of crisis theory, a theme they had already addressed in the IS when challenging the work of the theoreticians of that group.[5] They developed Karl MarxFriedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin‘s analysis of the labour aristocracy, and showed its relevance for politics in the period after the Second World War. Their conclusions led them to call for no vote for the Labour Party.

The early years of the RCG saw the group lose a large part of its initial membership. For example, in September 1975 the Birmingham branch decamped in order to join the Workers’ Socialist League.

Hungarian sociologist Frank Furediwas an early member of the RCG before being ejected in 1976, following which he founding the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. In later life he rejected socialism and became a libertarian.

A few years after the RCG’s foundation, disagreements emerged amongst its members regarding such topics as Stalinism and the South African government. One group, dominated by Frank Furedi (1947-), a sociologist at the University of Kent who used the pseudonym of “Frank Richards”, began to argue against the views put forward by David Yaffe and his supporters. Yaffe himself later remarked that Furedi had been “organising among a clique of middle-class members, and became their self-styled guru”.[6] In November 1976, Furedi and his followers were expelled from the RCG, following which they went on to form their own rival organisation, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency(RCT). Soon, the RCT itself splintered, with a group calling itself the Committee for a Communist Programme (CPP) being founded by several dissenting members.[7] Following this, the RCT went on to change its name to the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1981, and would publish the magazine Living Marxism from 1988 to 2000, in which their political position moved from Leninism to Libertarian Marxism.”

Fringe Warns, “Corbyn’s leadership in danger” after NEC reaches agreement on Anti-Semitism Issue.

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Tony Greenstein appears at a pro-Jeremy Corbyn protest outside Labour HQ

100 fringe Protesters failed to Stop NEC reaching agreement on the fight against Anti-Semitism.

The UK Labour Party’s ruling body has agreed to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, after months of rows.

It will incorporate all the 11 examples of anti-Semitism cited by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance into its code of conduct.

BBC.

There are some who are less than happy at this.

Corbyn’s leadership in danger

Written by John Rees. Counterfire.

The defeat for the Palestinian cause at the hands of the Labour Party’s NEC should not be underestimated

Who thought they would see the day when a left-led Labour Party would ignore the voices of Palestinian civil society, the highly respected former Palestinian ambassador to the UK, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, prominent figures in the anti-war movement, of Jewish socialist groups, and of 4,000 Labour Party members who lobbied the NEC online?

Who thought that this defeat would be delivered in part by mistakes made by Momentum’s national leaders, and the trade union leaders of Unison, Unite, GMB and Usdaw?

And there is the importance of this episode for the future. This reverse was the result of a divided left.

The leader of the Counterfire  revolutionary socialist groupuscule generously offers his advice to the Labour Party, the divided  left and the world at large:

Why were the left leaders either absent or actively working to get the IHRA examples adopted?

The short answer is that they imagine that they can buy off their enemies by surrendering to them. But that didn’t and won’t work. Not without getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

And there’s a danger that the argument will become, even from those who claim to support Corbyn, ‘oh, I support Jeremy, but he’s too much trouble’. This is dangerous nonsense. There is no candidate B and the very process of getting rid of Corbyn would demoralise and further split the left. It would, even if there were a period with another left leader, pave the way for the return of the right.

The full impact of the NEC decision is that they have set a pattern for compromise.

Socialist Worker is also going full froth.

Stand with Palestine after Labour Party accepts antisemitism definition Nick Clark

The Labour Party’s ruling body has adopted a definition of antisemitism that restricts criticism of Israel.

The decision by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday is a betrayal of the Palestinians. It is the result of relentless smearing by the right, and is a humiliating climb-down for Labour’s left wing leadership.

And Monster Raving, well what can you say?

“John McDonnell’s stupid and cowardly statement that Labour should adopt the IHRA in its entirety in order to put the false anti-Semitism campaign to bed beggars belief. “

Having talked about the decision with a number of people this looks a much more realistic assessment than these, and other, melodramatic attempts to stir up division.

The tussle over the IHRA shows neither Corbyn nor his opponents realise how secure he is

STEPHEN BUSH New Statesman.

The only thing that matters is that the NEC’s reccomendation means that IHRA, along with the Code of Conduct itself, will recieve an expedited passage through the rule-making institutions of Labour party conference and is essentially certain to pass unamended.

Bush continues with a carefully weighted analysis:

That’s provoked dismay among those within the Corbyn project who believe that IHRA has a chilling effect on free speech. Are they right to worry? Well, no. Ultimately both the NEC and the NCC are interpretative bodies: the NEC is not only the Labour party’s sovereign body but effectively its supreme court as well. Any ambiguities in the text are within the control of the NEC, which is dominated by Corbyn supporters and will be for the foreseeable future. Bluntly, should the Corbynsceptics retake control of the NEC – a near impossible prospect in my view – they will reshape the rules to expunge the party of some of Corbyn’s supporters anyway regardless of what a Corbynite majority NEC has done or not done. The only change to the day-to-day life of the Labour Party that would result from inserting caveats would be continuing the row over IHRA.

The Jewish Leadership Council and the European Jewish Congress have both welcomed the move, but both organisations have, as you’d expect, criticised the time it took Labour to get here. The European Jewish Congress have said it does Labour “no credit” that it took this long, while the JLC have said that “under a competent leader” the row would never have gone on so long. But while Corbyn won’t be framing either of those statements on his wall, the Labour leadership will be relieved at least that both organisations want to move on to the remaining five requests made of the Labour leadership when the JLC and the Board of Deputies met with Corbyn in April.

But Corbyn is also under fire for the 500 word statement he wanted the NEC to pass, which did apply caveats to the definition. Obtained by Robert Peston, who has posed it on his Twitter feed – this has been sharply criticised by the JLC.  While that row won’t help rebuild trust between Labour and the majority of Britain’s Jews, that Corbyn was rebuffed means that row isn’t going to rumble on. The correct outcome – as far as the bulk of community organisations and the party’s official Jewish affiliate, the Jewish Labour Movement are concerned – has been reached and no-one is going to litigate the last hours before Labour got there.

But what Corbyn’s attempt to insert an extra statement reveals is a strange point of unity between him and some of his vociferous opponents within Labour: an inability to recognise that he is the party’s hegemonic leader and therefore all his proposed statement would have brought was hassle. (It was that calculation that was decisive in persuading the left members of the NEC to defy Corbyn and speak against the statement, though the strength of feeling in the room was enough that it did not come to a vote.)

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Burston Rally 2018: a Report.

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Ipswich Trades Council’s New Banner on the Burston March.

The annual Burston Rally (“to commemorate the longest strike in history and to celebrate the people who continue to fight for Trade Union rights, working class education, democracy in the countryside and international solidarity” on Sunday was well attended (See: Eastern Daily Press. Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk.)

Eastern Daily Press.

Arriving on the full Ipswich/South East Suffolk Coach the Village Green was already full of stalls.

There were all the main trade unions and linked organisations – Norwich Trades Council had an impressive display – a long list of Norfolk and Suffolk Labour parties (although many IPswich Labour councillors were apparently filling out the sparse ranks of a local Temperance event in Alexandra Park), and campaigns (Amnesty, Palestinian Solidarity, Norfolk anti-fracking group) and fringe groups, such as the Communist Party of Britain,  the SWP the Socialist Party and the Jewish Voice for Labour.

In the morning we were entertained by bands and by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite.

Trade Unionists, such as Sean McGovern (UNITE) angrily attacked the anti-Labour media campaign, and concentrated on the injustices faced by the disabled, and the hard time imposed on workers and consumers by those in charge of the privatised public services.

There was comradely atmosphere, only occasionally spoilt by SWP activists attempting to gather support for their ‘Defend Jeremy Corbyn’ petition, and to raise backing for their autumn anti-racism demonstration.

It was noted that a Momentum group, calling itself  Norfolk Momentum, displayed material in support of a policy backed by other break-away bodies, such as Camden Momentum, against Labour’s National Executive taking a position on the 4 September, to oppose the adoption of the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism (IHRA definition) of antisemitism.

I bought the highly recommended  The Village in Revolt: The Story of the Longest Strike in History.  Shaun Jeffery.

Image result for village in revolt

I also got  the – very far from esteemed  – Britain in the World Front, Palme Dutt, (1942) from the CPB bookstall.

Image result for Palme dutt books

 

The march, around the village in the tracks as the original school strikers’ first protest, was enlivened by trade union bands.

In the heat of the early autumn sunshine we returned to hear the afternoon addresses to the crowd.

Mick Cash (RMT) followed earlier speakers was rightly angry at the way the media had run down Jeremy Corbyn, stirred up division in the Labour Party, and diverted attention from the disaster of privatised companies. Concentrating on the policies of his rail union he called for nationalisation and a the creation of a genuine public transport service.

It was unfortunate that a divisive speaker from Jewish Voice for Labour (recently founded – 2017)  was called.

He outlined his group’s position on the Israel Palestine conflict.

While people are dying in next-door Syria, amid mass murder and torture, and millions have been made refugees this appeared as if it were the sole issue in the Middle East.

Denouncing Israel, whose policies he compared to apartheid, he advocated opposition to  the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

There were other contributions, more in line with labour movement traditions of unity.

The best speaker of the day was, without a doubt, John McDonnell.

Beginning with references to the Middle East (though not Syria) he called for justice in the region.

But the heart of his talk was – and the words are weighed – a brilliant outline of Labour’s plans to bring serious change in the economy and public services, from education to local government.

McDonnell pitched his plans as an effort to transfer wealth and power to ordinary people. His plans for nationalisation, of the utilities and transport, did not include a return to old style Morrison-style administration, but democratic bodies under Parliamentary, consumer, worker and community control. Tackling ‘Magic Money tree’ – that is the money pumped out to tax shelters on the Paradise Islands – would provide some of the basis for the funds the project would need.

Finishing, the Labour Chancellor raised the issue of a People’s Vote on Brexit. After cries from the audience in support of the campaign against Brexit (there were campaigners for the Left Against Brexit present all day), McDonnell defended the Labour Line of attempting to defend the best possible deal that could be got at present. He added, that while the best People’s Vote would be a ballot  to remove Theresa May, he did not rule out a future referendum on EU membership.

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John McDonnell hears the Tendance Line.

To  the chagrin of those trying to divide the labour movement this has just been published,

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC will adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism after a crunch meeting.

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months.

He told BBC Radio Kent: “I think what will happen, I’m hoping what will happen is exactly what people are saying is an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples, that’s what people are pressing for.

“But also to ensure, exactly what Rabbi Sacks said yesterday, that there’s freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians but at the same time make sure it’s done in language that’s acceptable.

 

Tribune Bought by US pro-Brexit Magazine Jacobin that published anti-Semite Houria Bouteldja.

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Image result for Houria Bouteldja sioniste au gulag

“Freedom of expression” takes on the opposite meaning — and is being used instead to impose a reign of intimidation and fear.” Houria Bouteldja.

Tribune, the historic publication of the Labour left, will be revived next month by a US journalist who hopes to benefit from the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and run a financially sustainable leftwing print magazine.

Bhaskar Sunkara bought Tribune’s assets on behalf of his not-for-profit US news outlet Jacobin, which describes itself as “a leading voice of the American left”. He founded Jacobin at university in 2011 and the publication quickly rose to prominence, benefiting from the increased interest in socialist ideas which accompanied the rise of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary campaign.

Guardian

The Unity Trap

HOURIA BOUTELDJA MALIK TAHAR-CHAOUCH

Instead, the discussion becomes one about “the class struggle,” or even worse, vague humanist principles. While the “unity march” did indeed mobilize large numbers from among the country’s white population — and, unfortunately, from the entire organized left (unions and parties) save for the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste — it received little support and sparked hostile and mocking reactions among the people on the receiving end of structural racism and its social violence.

……..

They seek to suppress the struggle against their privilege, by invoking a freedom of expression that is in fact indentured to this same privilege. So “freedom of expression” thus becomes a pretext for silencing those who have the least access to it: as we already saw in summer 2014 with the repression of pro-Palestine demonstrations and, before that, with the ban on Dieudonné’s shows (this black comedian’s anti-semitic tendencies apparently can’t be indulged in the same way as Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia).

Understood in this context, “freedom of expression” takes on the opposite meaning — and is being used instead to impose a reign of intimidation and fear.

Not only is there is no sympathy for the murdered at Charlie the largely Jewish victims at the Hypercacher are not even mentioned…..

It is not hard to see why.

One further overriding problem is this:

Jacobin regularly publishes extreme Pro-Brexit material from people linked to the Spiked front, The Full Brexit.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Neither Norman Finkelstein nor Jonathan Sacks but Democratic Socialist Internationalism!

with 10 comments

Just when you thought Jonathan Sacks had scraped the bottom of the barrel.

There is hysteria, and there is hysterical foam-speckled raving.

British politics has seen the two merge over the last month as some people have made what can only be called – charitably – as the Media Madness of Crowds.

The most offensive delusions, that the a Labour Government, led by, Jeremy Corbyn, would pose an “existential threat” to British Jews, have been peddled.

The wildest seers, like Norman Finkelstein, have been given free reign to speculate on the site of the Flagship publishers of the New Left about whether Jewish wealth, “didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power” in Britain. Having found that, “Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin.”

At present Finkelstein feels armed from his American pulpit to intervene in the British debate on what kind of procedures the Labour Party should adopt on fighting anti-semitism FINKELSTEIN CRITIQUES IHRA ‘DEFINITION’ – AND REJECTS IT WHOLE.

The author of the Holocaust Industry uses all the moral authority of John Stuart Mill to defend the right to rant – something he so far not had much success with when lecturing his close friends in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Norman Finkelstein: Teaching John Stuart Mill in Iran  2014)

Then there is this.

Corbyn’s “Zionist” remarks were “most offensive” since Enoch Powell, says ex-chief rabbi

New Statesman.  GEORGE EATON

Whatever the Conservative former Chief Rabbi’s politics are today, this is what the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who gave Enoch Powell’s discipline Nigel Farage a platform in his paper, had to say after the Brexit vote:

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

It’s certainly a truism that when times are troubled, the Jews are often the first target. But the referendum demand from voters that we regain control over immigration isn’t an attack on immigrants, on foreigners – or on Jews. It’s an attack on people being denied any say on a core issue of politics.

Indeed, far from Brexit hurting minorities, the real problem for minorities comes when politics ignores such concerns – when the mainstream loses touch with people and the only vehicles left to make a point are extremists. Marine Le Pen is surging in France not because all the French are fascists but because the French governing class – Eurofanatical to the core – treats its voters with contempt.

That has been the EU’s fundamental flaw. It regards voters as uncouths who need to have what’s good for them imposed on them. Just look at Greece. That’s how and when extremists prosper – and that’s when the Jews suffer.

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

We will take no lessons on far-right extremism from Pollard – who looks even more of an empty vessel after we’ve seen the ‘Tommy Robinson’ campaign merge into a pro-Brexit, pro-Trump one.

Nor, as David Rosenberg writes, is Sacks in a strong position to attack Powell.

You were never my Chief Rabbi, bruv.

When asked last year what were his four favourite books of 2017, Sacks included Douglas Murray’s the Strange death of Europe, which the “respected rabbi” described as “unsettling” and “disturbing”. Sacks continued: “Murray weaves a tale of uncontrolled immigration, failed multiculturalism, systemic self-doubt, cultural suicide and disingenuous political leadership. Accurate, insightful and devastating.” (1) Lots of Powellite themes there which Sacks found strangely attractive. Needless to say Murray included an apologia for and re-interpretation of Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech.

But then again it wasn’t the likes of Rabbi Sacks, and the cushioned middle classes who experienced on the streets the fallout from Powell’s hate speech. It was predominantly the Asian communities facing vicious racial violence, including racial murders, and the anti-racist movements, abused and attacked by the far right forces Powell encouraged. Those Asian communities, the anti-racist movements, the refugee communities today, in the face of brutal attacks, have continued to resist. And through those years of resistance they have known they can rely on solidarity from allies beyond their own communities. One absolutely constant and ever-present ally, at their side then and now, is Jeremy Corbyn.

We do take seriously the threat posed by the racist far right.

If there are attacks on Jews in Europe, they are not alone.  Let’s begin with the events in Chemnitz where, “For two nights running, hundreds and then thousands of right-wing extremists and sympathisers have taken to the streets.” Their targets? “Far-right vigilantes ‘hunting down’ migrants in Germany after man’s death.” (Sky)

This Blog is not a supporter of the extreme ‘anti-Zionist’  politics presented as the core of ‘anti-imperialism’ which many consider one of the origins of this dispute. This approach has resulted in a failure to defend Syrian democrats, even the Kurds in their to-the-death-struggle against the ISIS genociders, and an obsessive concentration on Israel in a world rent with human rights abuses, from Myanmar to Central Africa. (1)

Nor do we wish to turn the Labour Party into a forum for people all-too-anxious to ‘debate’ playground motions expressing their hatred of ‘Zionism’.

But it is hard to argue that pro-imperialist, or pro-West politics are anything other than despicable faced with their equal inability to bring a solution to the Syrian civil war, the creation of a viable two-state solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict,  or the horrors taking place in Yemen.

The present frenzy looks less and less to do with such issues.

For the first time in many years this Blog agrees with  Lindsey German on what the relentless campaign means,

There can be no doubt about what this represents – the serious attempt to remove a twice-elected Labour leader who has left wing politics, who supports a range of causes and movements including those for the Palestinians, who is committed to redistribution of wealth and power, who wants more money spent on decent public services, and whose election as prime minister would inspire working people around the world.

When the lying has to stop – weekly briefing

It is as simple as that.

Common decency, as they say, ranges the left behind Labour.

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(1)  I have read the Murray book, which draws on somebody I am lot more familiar with, Renaud Camus, the theorist of the “great replacement” (the take-over of Europe by immigrants) and a pillar of the French far-right.

(2) For a thought-provoking introduction to different views read the latest at Shiraz: A history lesson for Corbyn on antisemitism, Zionism and Stalinist-influenced “anti-imperialism”