Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Protest and Power. The Battle for the Labour Party. David Kogan. A Review from the Left.

with one comment

Image result for Protest and Power book

 

Protest and Power. The Battle for the Labour Party. David Kogan.  Bloomsbury. 2019.

 

“In 2019” concludes The Battle for the Labour Party, will Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, “remain a party of protest or find a formula to defeat a government that is deeply vulnerable? Can Labour set aside the internal divisions to become a party of power again?” David Kogan offers a portrait of Labour’s “schisms” between “ideologues” and “pragmatists” since the 1970s. For the left, and one has little doubt where the author (awarded an OBE on the Diplomatic List in 2014) classes the Corybinista”sans culottes” in this division, Labour’s leadership offers an opportunity for a dynamic and radical party of the left in Britain” and a socialist “new style of politics.” Has the Party Leader, as Jon Lansman suggests, “risen to the occasion”? Divisions over anti-Semitism, the re-selection of MPs, and Brexit point to damaging schisms. Kogan offers his own “insight” into Corbyn’s character and his movement, which, he asserts, point to a failure of leadership.

The backcloth of The Battle is a picture of the – confusingly labelled – New Left in the Labour Party. Through the lens of the Campaign for Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), whose socialism, if defined, is traditional Clause Four nationalisation, this is not the New Left, as in New Left Review, and the movements with that name that began in the late 1950s. Led by the indomitable Vladimir Derer the CLDP focused, from 1973 onwards, on the “internal processes of the Labour Party.” Present day Party “fault lines” from the left’s high-water-mark in the early 1980s, isolation in the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium, to Jeremy Corbyn’s election in 2015 and the 2017 electoral “apotheosis” are traced through this history.

Kogan gives a prominent place to CLDP activist, Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum. The re-selection of Labour MPs, the Rank and File Mobilising Committee (RFMC), disputes on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), marked high-water points the early 1980s. There is little detail on issues like the Alternative Economic Strategy – although the left’s hostility of the Tribune and Bennite Left to the ‘Common Market’ walks in, redistributive taxation, or nuclear disarmament. There is nothing on those on the New Left who explored, in local government, and in the Greater London Council during the 1980s, ways of expanding popular democracy. The ‘loony’ ideologues who tried to use council resources to decentralise power, to fund and involve community groups in decision-making, and to stimulate co-operative and social enterprise are skirted over. Kogan’s character rich account is one of ferocious, exhausting, conflict with Labour’s leadership.  (1)

The left, from its NEC political fighters, to these practical radical reformers, were pushed to the margins during the 1980s. The force of electoral defeat, crushing in 1983, the failure of the miners’ strike, and abolition of the left-run Greater London Council, in which the New Left played a part, in 1986 stand out. The break up of traditional class structures, accelerated by the liberalisation of markets, and denationalisation, was signalled by intense debate on the left on the halting of the forward march of labour. Enter Neil Kinnock, followed by John Smith and the years of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s Premierships.

New Labour.

The Battle gives what may be a balanced account of New Labour in office. It “had a substantial role in reducing poverty and increasing public expenditure on key social services.” (Page 101) Yet, in introducing “public private partnerships” “private companies built up high numbers of contracts with the government to the benefit of their shareholders and executives” (Page 115). From the outset this policy, part of a wider programme of introducing the private sector into public services drained off resources, weakened staff pay and conditions, and established a policy lobby at odds with any equitable reform agenda, centre-left or radical.

For many on the left, and equality inspired social democrats, this was a bigger difference with Labour’s ruling circles than the shiny New Labour top-down organisation. It is to come to grips with the legacy of these policies, which failed to challenge Thatcher’s ‘new consensus’ that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s economic advisory team has developed its proposals for economic, financial and tax reform.

The Iraq War is another dividing line. The invasion of the Middle East continues to be a running sore. That Corbyn played a significant role in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) protests (2003) against it remains to his credit. After these demonstrations the StWC began to shrink down to what is a shell. Some of the reasons can be seen in the politics of the StWC. While largely united against the US-led Coalition’s occupation of Iraq, many on the left, including radical socialists, disagreed with the campaign’s blanket “anti-imperialist” stand. In Syria, where real genocides by the Islamists of Daesh and real state mass murder have and are taking place, that appears to mean abstention from solidarity with the US-supported Kurdish forces and standing aside from backing anti-Assad democrats. What was a plus point for the Labour Leader does not look entirely that way today.

With the Syrian hecatombs in full public view it might seem odd that some in the Labour Party give such attention to neighbouring Israel. The way in which at least some left-wingers have taken up the issue of ‘Zionism’ reflects the belief that the cause of the Palestinians is one in which they feel with absolute certainty that they are on the right side. They considered that they have a duty to raise this in the hardest ‘anti-imperialist’ terms possible. Corbyn’s own record of support for Palestine has included brushes, or worse with reactionary and anti-Jewish individuals and organised forces such as Hamas. Attracting an array of supporters, including those who indulge in abuse against ‘Zios’, they have been met with implacable opposition. Accusations of anti-Semitism swelled.

Wilder Shores of Left Politics.

Here Kogan enters a hard area. To take one case, he makes four references to obsessive ‘anti-Zionist’ Tony Greenstein, the Vice-Chair of Labour Against the Witch-hunt, largely run by the minuscule group around the Weekly Worker, and founded by them and their allies such as Jackie Walter – not MP Chris Williamson (Page 374) “Monster Raving” as some call him, is referred to, vaguely, as “pro-Corbyn”. The Brighton leftist has been a member of countless groupuscules, with endless squabbles to boot. He was not expelled for anti-semitism but under Rule 2.18 for prejudicial conduct, grossly detrimental to the party – some of the vitriolic language he habitually uses cited in the present volume. Voyaging to the further shores of politics the journalist calls the same Weekly Worker the “Communist Party of Great Britain” (real name – CPGB Provisional Central Committee) and to cite in all seriousness their front, the Labour Party Marxist, for an attack on Lansman and Corbyn. (Page 304) In the same vein Seumas Milne is described as the business manager of Straight Left, which was a factional organ and not “the house magazine of the Communist Party of Great Britain. (Page 262)

A charge, which many feel is justified, is that Labour’s leadership, and LOTO, (the Leader of the Opposition’s Office) did not face down these people. Many will agree that part of the problem is that Corbyn; “at the age of sixty-nine” was “not prepared to explain his past” or to admit disagreement with his views has any value (Page 366) The good sense of John Lansman is, by contrast there. “We have to own up to anti-Semitism, deal with it, wake up and recognise it. “(Page 368)   All is not lost. Other nuanced defenders of a critical stand on the present Israeli state and defenders of Palestinian rights exist. David Rosenberg of the long-standing Jewish Socialist Group is one. Having no truck with the conspiratorial ‘anti-Zios’ and plain anti-Jewish racism, he has pointed to the way some ‘anti-anti-Semites’ have tried to discredit the entire Labour left.

Fault Lines Over Europe.

The dividing line over Europe is more intractable. Corbyn, Kogan charges with effect, is not just anxious to appeal to Labour voters who backed leaving the EU in the referendum, but to have promoted a “Brexit that puts jobs, living standards and rights first.” (Page 381) Defenders of his stand say that the Labour Leadership does not just have to deal with pro-Brexit Labour constituencies. There are MPs who have swung in favour of the EU Withdrawal Agreement of 2018. But claims that Corbyn has at least kept the party together face the difficulty that the majority of members strongly oppose Brexit.

This is very far from relic of New Labour or confined to the ‘pragmatic’ wing of the party. If Seumas Milne and Corbyn could be said to be against the EU as a “capitalist conspiracy”, many on the radical left, including veterans of the democratic New Left, Greens and democratic Marxists with strong links to other European socialist and leftist parties, support Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) for a social transformed European Union. Its campaigns for a People’s Vote, a call with support across the Party, have so far, as AEIP worker Michael Chessum says, been outmanoeuvred by “traditional power politics”, and union block votes, at the Labour Party Conference. Despite the best efforts of figures like Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey this is unlikely to stifle debates at this autumn’s event.

Carnival of Reaction.

“A Tory-led exit for Europe would unleash a carnival of reaction,” wrote Seumas Milne (cited page 269 – source not given). There is little of the laughing people, the suspension of the “official system with all his prohibitions and hierarchic barriers” in the Brexit festival of the right, now led by the Queen’s Jester Boris Johnson. An orgy of accusations against the left, have seen the light of day, including a revival of the 1970s Institute for the Study of Conflict ‘reports’ on subversion, this time focused on domestic radical left “violence”.  We can face this down. But there is, as Kogan sadly recounts, an outpouring of “loyal” declarations by those who regard any criticism of Corbyn as treachery and the springboard for another “chicken coup”. (2)

There are no signs of an alternative ‘People’s Brexit’ to what Corbyn’s spokesperson described as the EU’s “failed neoliberal of capitalism” emerging. There is one Brexit, Johnson’s ERG Brexit. That, to adapt an old Stalinist phrase about the ‘socialist’ countries, is “actually existing Brexit”. The People’s Vote demonstrations are the biggest seen in Britain since the movement against the Invasion of Iraq, and have included a strong Left Bloc contingent. To govern is to choose. To prepare to rule is also to make choices. Shifts in the left over the last weeks indicate a will to take sides against Leave, and for a new popular vote on the issue.

Will Momentum, either as a traditional left Labour pressure group, or a new “social movement” survive these divisions? This is far from certain. Protest and Power gives reasons to be cautious about Labour’s prospects. But the emergence of a strong pro-Remain and Reform left indicates that bridges between the party wings exist. Whether Corbyn as a leader will bring victory remains in the balance.

*******

 

  1. See Pages 7 – 8 Reclaim the State. Experiments in Popular Democracy. Hilary Wainwright. 2003.
  2. The expression ‘Carnival of Reaction’ (which was used by the Irish Socialist James Connelly)  in the debate over the Europe is better known in the statements of the anti-Brexit Socialist Resistance). See: “It was clear, long before it was launched, that the EU referendum held serious dangers for the left as well as for multiculturalism and anti-racism in Britain. The campaign itself was always going to be a carnival of racism and xenophobia and an outcome in favour of Brexit would trigger a major shift to the right in British politics—both at the level of government and in terms of social attitudes. Racism and xenophobia would b e strengthened and the left thrown onto the defensive.” Alan Thornett. The UKIPisation of the Tory Party –The Brexit left in denial.  Also What position should the left take on the EU referendum?
  3. For Carnivals in the Marxist tradition, see: Rabelais and his World. Mikhail Bakhtin. Translated by Hélène Isolsky. Indian University Press. 1984.
Advertisements

Labour’s Education on Anti-Semitism: A Contribution – Bernard-Lazare and the Dreyfus Affair..

leave a comment »

Image may contain: text

 

Labour launches new antisemitism education material

 

“Over the coming months, the party will produce educational materials on a number of specific forms of racism and bigotry,” the email reads. “Our first materials are on antisemitism, recognising that anti-Jewish bigotry has reared its head in our movement.”

The email includes links to an ‘antisemitism minisite‘ and a new five-page documen that LabourList understands has been written up by party officials and particularly the leader’s office. Both are titled ‘No Place For Antisemitism’.

The website page is comprised of a video from the Labour leader released in August 2018, text from the document (on “understanding” antisemitism, its history, conspiracy theories and Zionism), “helpful links and resources” that include the International Holocaust Alliance definition, an article by Corbyn in the Evening Standard and a Birkbeck university course, plus videos by Momentum.

There is a massive amount to read and discuss, to say the very least, on this issue.

From this Blog, some contribution could perhaps something should be said about a topic we have covered for a long time, the French left, a key battle ground in past and present  fights against anti-Semitism.

This piece draws on events which form the intellectual furniture of many on the European left, and apart from the importance of the issues outlined, may help to indicate why for some of us this combat is important not just because of the tragedies of the Twentieth century but has roots which go back to the final years of the previous century.

One of the most important crises in the shaping of the modern left, both liberal in the American sense, and socialist and social democratic in the European one was the Dreyfus Affair. As somebody from a background, both through family and culture, this landmark in the history of the left was something I – like many others on the left, though clearly very far from all – learnt of as an adolescent. One of the first serious books I read was Anatole France’s Penguin Island (L’Île des Pingouins. 1908) best known thread is a memorable satirise of the Dreyfus Affair – including well aimed shafted at the dogmatic minority of socialists who hesitated to become embroiled in this ‘bourgeois’ –  and attacks anti-semitism, in the shape of a Royalist leader, the Prince des Boscénos who loathes Jews and modern democracy.

One way of looking at how the legacy of the Affaire is through the history of the actions of individuals. One person who  played a key role in defending Dreyfus,  was the French anarchist critic, socialist, and, towards the end of his life, Zionist, Bernard Lazare. His campaigning and ideas deserve studying today, not just for his own value, but because the issues Lazare confronted  and grappled to answer, continue to be relevant.

 

Image result for bernard lazare dreyfus

Bernard-Lazare (1865 – 1903).

 Je ferai le portrait de Bernard-Lazare. Il avait, indéniablement, des parties de saint, de sainteté. Et quand je parle de saint, je ne suis pas suspect de parler par métaphore.

I will draw the portrait of Bernard-Lazare. There is not denying that he that he had something of saint, of sainthood. And when I speak of saint there is no hint  of speaking metaphorically.

Charles Péguy  Notre Jeunesse 1910.

The wrongful conviction for spying on behalf of the German army of a Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus in 1894, brought to the fore the issue of anti-Semitism in France. The French left initially reacted without glory.

Jules Guesde, the leader of the self-proclaimed Marxist Parti ouvrier français (POF), and his supporters are often said to have been so keen to defend class independence that they downplayed human rights and was willing to see merit in any ‘anti-system’ force. While waiting for the socialist revolution he had refused to defend the republic against Boulangism. This, sometimes called one of the first ‘populist’ movements, led by a ultra-patriotic former General bent on restoring French national and military power,  and the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine from Germany. This heady mixture, centred on Revanchisme, – had offered an opportunity for anti-Jewish agitation. The germs of anti-Jewish leagues, although not formally endorsed by the 42 Parliamentary deputies elected in 1889 under the banner of Georges Boulanger began to appear in these decades.

The movement that had grown around Boulanger’s name was perhaps the first of its kind, a combination of royalists, Bonapartists, Republicans, socialists, and Blanquists. If it resembles any movement in this strange mix of followers it is Peronism, which was also able to attract followers from all ends of the political spectrum around the figure of a general. And like Peronism, Boulangism was able to do this because it can justly be said of the man at the heart of it that, like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there was no there there.

Like the Brexit Party it threw its net large. It would not be misleading to call Boulangism an early ‘red-brown front’ uniting extreme right traditionalists, sovereigntists, and ‘left-wingers’ against the Parliamentarian ‘elites’, Édouard Drumont baying for rule by plebiscite and national independence. One can see the stirrings of an anti ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ strand emerging, with an obvious target, La France juive, already signaled out by Europe’s leading anti-Semite, Édouard Drumont. It would not be too misleading to suggest that some on the Boulangist left took the view that they would stand “with” Boulanger against the oligarchs of the 3rd Republic,  while claiming to be “against” the General’s troops when it came down to the details of their economic and social programme.

It was able to do this, people of all political stripes were able to see Boulanger as one of their own, because the programme of General Boulanger, published as a broadsheet in 1888 was full of empty phrases: “Boulanger is work,” “Boulanger is honesty,” “Boulanger is the people” … He called for a revision of the constitution, yet never said in what that revision would consist. His slogan of “dissolution, revision, a constituent assembly” repeated slogans that had been in the air for years. And yet, the vast movement that rallied around him and attracted followers from all classes, all professions, and all political beliefs nearly put an end to the republic.

But more significantly, in the words of the historian Zeev Sternhell in his “La Droite Révolutionnaire” (The Revolutionary Right), “Boulangism… was, in France, the place where and a certain form of non-Marxist, anti-Marxist, or already even a post-Marxist socialism were stitched together.” But for Sternhell Boulangism goes even farther: The synthesis of the various currents that united behind the general included Blanquism, “which rose up against the bourgeois order , [and] the nationalists [who rose up] against the political order that is its expression.” This amalgamation was to result in something far more grav” e: “After the war this synthesis would bear the name fascism.”

General Boulanger and the Boulangist Movement

Mitchell Abidor

Sternhell’s account remains controversial – while some on the French left rallied to Boulanger, it was not long before a majority threw their weight against the movement. The revelations about the financial backing it received from the right in Les Coulisses du Boulangisme, by the leftist backer-turned critic ‘Mermeix’ (Gabriel Terrail), 1890, discredited it for many – a kind of Arron Banks moment. Reformists, anarchists, and democratic Marxists rallied against the new “césarisme” But the confusion left by Boulanger only served to retrench some forces into their own anti-Parliamentary anti bourgeois democratic  fortresses.

After initially hailing Emile Zola’s J’accuse in 1896, and making some declarations against anti-Semitism, Guesde again stumbled. He came to the conclusion that the innocence or guilt of Dreyfus was not a battle that “involved the working class”.

Nicknamed Torquemada in lorgnettes the arch-workerist was not alone.  Jean Jaurès in 1894 had talked of Dreyfus as part of “la caste des officiers de carrière”, who plight, though real, was not a matter for socialists to take up. His more liberal socialism had not yet evolved. The leading figure in the independent wing of the French socialist left had himself not been above attacking Jewish influence in finance, talking of the devastating effects of their “usury” on the country during a visit to French colonial Algeria in 1895.

Both Guesde and Jaurès were embedded in the anti-Semitic climate of the time. They took as an empirical ‘fact’  the exaggerated importance of “financiers juifs”; the “puissance juive” was significant part of capitalism. During the early years of organised French socialist parties (divided into at least 5 main currents), before Dreyfus marked out the rupture with nationalist anti-Semitism, there was little mention of working class Jewish migrants, their poverty, or of the persecutions Jews suffered.

If the capitalists of all background were the main problem, and there was no biological struggle between ‘Jews’ and ‘Aryans’, a fraction of capital was remained marked out as Jewish. They were part of an “elite”, the product of the capitalist system, but still active agents within it. The importance ‘Jews’ were given by at least some on the left a place established by pseudo-empirical ‘facts’ in books such as  Alphonse Toussenl’s Les Juifs, rois de l’époque : histoire de la féodalité financière (1847) was an early template. It is striking how some of the tropes in this literature, focusing on Jewish ‘dynasties’ such as the Rothschilds, remain in circulation.

Yet during the Dreyfus Affair the majority of the French left not only backed the unjustly imprisoned officer but came to oppose, strongly oppose,  anti-semitism.

The role in this by the anarchist socialist critic, of Jewish origin, Bernard Lazare and his circle, marked a political watershed.

Lazare’s l’antsiémitisme son histoire et ses causes (1894) had talked of the economic bases of anti-Judaism, competition between a “non-assimilated” group and those in charge of industrial and financial capitalism. The Jewish community was described as a  ‘state within a state’ and their “facility at trading”. Yet this loose language was in the context of an atheist attack on religious exclusivity. This angle also explains why the author, noting a lack of certainty in the afterlife, praised the Jewish willingness to “fight tyranny” in this world.

Such was the strength of Lazare’s contributions that the fighter for  Dreyfus been described as one of those who definitively classed anti-Semitism as an ideology of the extreme-right and aligned the largest part of the left, not only in France but internationally, against it. Ruth Harris’s The Man on Devil’s Island (2010) places his tireless efforts at the centre of the Dreyfusard movement.

Faced with the Dreyfus case Lazare had chosen his camp “They needed a Jewish traitor fit to replace the classic Judas” he  wrote, “a Jewish traitor that one could mention incessantly, every day, in order to rain his opprobrium on his entire race.” Working with Alfred’s brother, Mathieu Dreyfus, the critic badgered and cajoled every contact he could find to rally to the cause. Lucien Herr, the socialist librarian at the École normale supériere, became a notable ally and a bridge to the wider left.

One of the best known figures on the organised and Parliamentary left who took up the case was the socialist cited above,  Jean Jaurès.   He developed themes that echo right to the present day.

The first of these is that the cause of socialism, based on class struggle against capitalism, is linked to a broader moral humanism. In one of his most famous passages Jaurès said of Dreyfus, “I could answer that if Dreyfus was illegally condemned and if, as I will soon demonstrate, he is innocent, he is no longer either an officer or a bourgeois. Through the very excess of his misfortune he has been stripped of any class character. He is no longer anything but humanity itself, at the highest degree of misery and despair that can be imagined.”

The second is that Jaurès raised the banner of universal human rights. He saw the potential, despite obstacles, and class bias, in the legal system, “There are two parts to capitalist and bourgeois legality: There are a whole mass of laws aimed at protecting the fundamental iniquity of our society, and there are laws that consecrate the privileges of capitalist property, the exploitation of the wage earner by the owner. We want to smash these laws, and even by revolution if necessary abolish capitalist legality in order to bring forth a new order. But alongside these laws of privilege and rapine, made by a class and for it, there are others that sum up the pitiful progress of humanity, the modest guarantees that it has little by little conquered through a centuries-long effort and a long series of revolutions.”

These ideas remain pillars of democratic socialism.

In the years that followed the campaign against the imprisonment of Dreyfus, the re-trials, the work for his rehabilitiation, which saw the emergence of violent populist hatred of Jews, and the creation of the human rights body generally known as the Ligue des droits de l’homme (1898) generally known as the Bernard-Lazare became interested in Zionism.

Due to this experience with antisemitism, Lazare became engaged in the struggle for the emancipation of Jews, and was triumphally received at the First Zionist Congress.[1] He travelled with Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, the two men sharing a great respect for each other, but he fell out with Herzl after a disagreement over the project whose “tendencies, processes and actions” he disapproved. In 1899 he wrote to Herzl – and by extension to the Zionist Action Committee, “You are bourgeois in thoughts, bourgeois in your feelings, bourgeois in your ideas, bourgeois in your conception of society.” Lazare’s Zionism was not nationalist, nor advocated the creation of a state, but was rather an ideal of emancipation and of collective organization of the Jewish proletarians.

This is from one of his speeches on Jewish Nationalism (1898).

What does the word “nationalism” mean for a Jew, or rather, what should it mean? It should mean freedom. The Jew who today says: “I am a nationalist” is not saying in a special, precise and clear way that I am a man who wants to reconstitute a Jewish state in Palestine and dreams of re-conquering Jerusalem. He is saying: “I want to be a completely free man, I want to enjoy the sun; I want to have the right to my dignity as a man. I want to escape oppression, escape insults, escape the contempt that they want to bring to bear on me.” At certain moment in history, nationalism is for human groups the manifestation of the spirit of freedom.

Am I then in contradiction with internationalist ideas? Not in the least. How do I make them agree? Simply by not giving words a value and a meaning they don’t have. When socialists combat nationalism they are in reality combating protectionism and national exclusivism.

They are combating that patriotic, narrow, and absurd chauvinism that leads people to place themselves one against the other as rivals or adversaries, and who grant each other neither grace nor mercy. This is the egoism of nations; an egoism as odious as that of individuals, and every bit as contemptible. What then does internationalism suppose? It means establishing ties between nations, not of diplomatic friendship, but of human fraternity.

To be an internationalist means abolishing the current economic-political constitution of nations, for this constitution only exists for the defending of the private interests of peoples, or rather of their rulers, at the expense of neighboring peoples. Suppressing frontiers does not mean making an amalgamation of all the inhabitants of the globe. Is not one of the familiar concepts of internationalism socialism, and even of revolutionary anarchism, the federative concept, the concept of a fragmented humanity composed of a multitude of cellular organisms? It’s true that ideally this theory says that those cells that will group together will group together by virtue of affinities not caused by any ethnological, religious, or national tradition.

But this is of little importance, since it does admit of groups. In any event, we are here only concerned with the present, and the present commands us to seek the most appropriate means of assuring the liberty of man. Currently it is by virtue of traditional principles that men want to league together. For this they invoke identity of origin, their common past, similar ways of envisaging phenomena, beings, and things; a common history, a common philosophy. It is necessary to permit them to come together.

 

These ideas raise perhaps more difficulties than they resolve. How this internationalism be reconciled with any form of nationalism, however generous? Few examples , if any, exist to prove that it can. A better way of looking at the problem might be in terms of a common future, not a divided past, a world of fragmented common identities, and nation states.

This is one of Lazare’s statements on the issue of anti-Semitism,

To those who denounce the Jewish peril before you, respond by attacking capital, whatever kind it might be, Jewish or Christian. Capital without any qualifier. To those who enlist you to cry “Down with Israel!” answer “Down with Capital! Down with property!” and don’t go any further than that; don’t allow yourself to be distracted from your route by those who want to guide you into an impasse which will lead you to nothing. Finance, speculation, capital, property, in one word, all your enemies are not Jews, they are universal: they are Christian, Muslims, Buddhists.

Anti-Semitism and Revolution 1899.

In France writers have described the activist and writer as ‘Libertarian Zionist” sionisme libertaire, libertarian in French retaining its primary 19th left-wing sense. This Blog suggests that the contribution of Bernard-Lazare should form part of any education programme on anti-Semitism.

This is an admirable short account:

Bernard Lazare Mitch Abidor.

Bernard Lazare was born Lazare Marcus Manassé Bernard in Nîmes in 1865. Son a merchant family long-established in the South of France, he left his hometown for Paris at age 20, where he became closely involved in symbolist literary circles with an anarchist tinge.

He began his career as a militant writer in 1891, assuming the role of literary critic for La Nation, eventually writing for several reviews in which he attacked France for its friendship with the Kaiser; the world’s silence before the massacre of Armenians; and covering labor struggles and Socialist conferences (where he attacked Marxists as people who wanted “to construct a regimented society”). He collaborated on such anarchist reviews as L’EndehorsL’Action Sociale and La Revue Anarchiste.

In 1894 he published his first important work: L’Antisémitisme, son histoire et ses causes, (Anti-Semitism, Its History and Causes) which explored the Jewish Question from antiquity to modern times. His general toughness when dealing with Jewish exclusiveness and what he saw as the Jewish role in the fostering of anti-Semitism, as well as his solution — which called for total assimilation — led the notorious anti-Semite Edouard Drumont to approve of and recommend the book.

But the outbreak of the Dreyfus Affair in 1894 saw Lazare enter the fight as “the first of the Dreyfusards,” convinced from the beginning that the captain was innocent of the charges against him. Because of his tireless fight for Dreyfus the great poet Charles Péguy said of him that he was “technically a prophet, the last to date.”

His experience with the Dreyfus Affair, and time spent in Central and Eastern Europe, led to his involvement in the defense of oppressed Jews elsewhere and, after meeting the founder of modern Zionism Theodore Herzl, he founded the Zionist magazine Le Flambeau. But he never denied his anarchist and class struggle beliefs, and as a result he broke with the Zionists.

Worn out by his unceasing battles, he died at age 38, Péguy saying: “He died for it (Dreyfusism), and died thinking of it.”

 

Chris Williamson and Political Confusionism.

with 6 comments

Image result for labour against the witchhunt

After Reinstatement Williamson Supporters in Labour Against the Witch-hunt have “Handy list of saboteurs” to Remove from Labour Party.

This story comes today:

Jon Lansman says MP has not shown ‘one iota of contrition’ over antisemitism row

Man of integrity George Galloway was not slow to respond:

Background:

Why was Chris Williamson readmitted to Labour?

Patrick Maguire New Statesman.

In the month leading up to the withdrawal of the whip from Williamson at the end of February, he had, among other things: accused of Labour of being “too apologetic” about accusations of anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks, attacked critics of an activist suspended for anti-Semitism, and planned a parliamentary screening of a documentary championing the cause of Jackie Walker, another suspended Labour activist.

Incidents such as these – of which there are, frankly, too many to list – have long been a source of consternation not just for Williamson’s colleagues in the PLP but for some allies of Jeremy Corbyn too. But his often provocative behaviour when it came to Britain’s Jews was for a long time indulged by the leader’s office for the simple reason that he was, politically speaking, closer to Corbyn than almost any other Labour backbencher.

The incidents can still be listed:

Here is another one:

It is hard to say just how much many of us on the left loathe him for promoting Assad apologist Beely.

This was the story in the Huffington Post last year.

Labour’s Chris Williamson Praises Vanessa Beeley, Blogger Who Called Jo Cox A ‘Warmongering Blairite’

Bob continues,

Then there is this (December 2018)

Labour MP apologises for backing ‘antisemitic’ jazz musician

Chris Williamson promoted petition in support of Gilad Atzmon, who denounced ‘Holocaust religion’.

Bob from Brockley has a number of important posts on this background: here and here.

Patrick Maguire continues,

…The decision to overrule a recommendation by party staff that the case be referred to the National Constitutional Committee, Labour’s supreme disciplinary body, has been blamed on Williamson’s colleague Keith Vaz, who is said to have argued and voted for Williamson’s readmission on the grounds that he represents a marginal seat. He was joined by Huda Elmi, elected as part of the #JC9 slate of Corbyn-supporting membership representatives last summer, while George Howarth, who represents the PLP on the NEC, voted against his readmission.

The central issue is whether his actions have brought Labour into disrepute. 

The problem is wider than Labour’s internal difficulties.

Williamson, as his admiration for an Assad apologist who slandered Joe Cox, who promotes conspiracy theories (see Libcom Tweets above), his string of ambiguous statements on ‘Zionism’, his flip flop politics (once a supporter of PFI Blair style local government, now Corbyn’s would-be friend), is a political confusionist. That is he mixes ideas such as anti-imperialism, socialism and anti-Zionism, in a way that leads him to make dubious associations. This is not some random tweeter, it is a Labour MP who claims to be on the left. The pro-Baathist Beeley is, to put it mildly, the enemy  of the left.

“Often based on a conspiracy view of the world, political confusionism is also fostered by the development of conspiracy theories, while at the same time helping to relay them. “

Qu’est-ce que le confusionnisme politique ?

Williamson is very far from being alone in the field. But somebody whose politics are by definition unclear, clearly does not merit much respect.

Here is a more developed form:

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 28, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Labour Against the Witch-hunt – the Return of Monster Raving Greenstein.

with one comment

The Return of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt has a pubic face:

Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party.

LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Ken Livingstone
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist

The group is probably best known for its defence of Jackie Walker.

Apart from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), the CPGB-PCC, more widely known as the Weekly Worker, who run the show, its leading figure is one Tony Greenstein.

Nobody should be any doubt that very few people on the left will have any truck with that lot in any campaign that involves the words ‘Zionism’ and Israel.

Well there is this chap:

 

Since Greenstein has stopped his, reported,  visits to noted Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop the tweet (above, heading) promises to be the first of many in this vein…

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Galloway Sacked from Talk Radio for “blatent Anti-Semitism” as Red-Brown Front Cracks.

with 9 comments

Image may contain: 1 person

Image may contain: text

George Galloway ‘sacked’ from TalkRadio over Champion’s League comments

Evening Standard.

George Galloway has revealed he has been sacked from Talk Radio following a huge backlash to comments he made about Liverpool’s Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur.

The former Labour party member, who has hosted a TalkRadio show since 2016, faced criticism and was condemned by Spurs after he was accused of “blatant anti-Semitism” by the club.

In congratulating the Merseyside club, Mr Galloway tweeted: “Congratulations to the great people of Liverpool to the memory of socialist miner Bill Shankley, to the fallen #96, to those who fought for justice for them and to the Liverpool dockers.

“No Israel flags on the cup”.

On Monday morning, Mr Galloway said he had been given a “red card” from TalkRadio, and said: “I’ve just been sacked by TalkRadio. See you in court guys. #Palestine #Moats Long live Palestine”.

Note that Galloway always spells Israel with a tréma as in above, ‘Israël.

The reason is bleeding obvious, “Israël” is the French spelling. It’s not an umlaut but a tréma as in Noël, maïs, ambiguë. Galloway can thus make Israel sound ‘foreign’ in the language of a secular state he hates almost as much as Israel.

In the meantime another Brexit Party supporter, Ann Widdecombe finds herself in a spot of bother.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 3, 2019 at 11:54 am

Labour Against the Witch-hunt Faces New Crisis over “member’s support for Holocaust denier.”

with 9 comments

Image result for tony greenstein and Pete Gregson

The “procedure that Peter faced has been wholly unfair..” Tony Greenstein.  January 2019

Last November in the Weekly Worker, a leading force in Labour Against the Witch-hunt,  ‘Carla Robert’ of Labour Party Marxists wrote,

Similarly ridiculous is the case of Edinburgh Labour Party member Peter Gregson, who is currently “under investigation”. We will not be surprised if Gregson is also either told to undergo the JLM’s pro-Zionism training and/or referred to the NCC.

Anti-Zionism and self-censorship

By no coincidence whatsoever Labour Against the Witch-hunt publicly declared,

LAW Statement: Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation

Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.

But, spotters of LAW’s tortured inner workings will have noticed at the time,

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

LAW leading light Tony Greenstein wrote in January,

Although Labour Against the Witchhunt didn’t support Peter’s petition because of problems with its wording we recognise that it represents a significant opposition in the Labour Party to the attempt to curtail if not abolish freedom of speech.

Of course the corrupt and racist GMB has never had freedom of speech. The regional barons ruled without opposition. The union exists primarily for the benefit of its highly paid officials not its membership. However even Roache and co. will have difficulty defending this particularly iniquitous decision. If Peter’s expulsion is not revoked then GMB members should join another, genuine trade union.

Shop Steward Expelled for ‘anti-Semitism’ by a Racist and Corrupt Trade Union

In March Labour Party Marxists (another hat for LAW to wear) were saying:

Reinstate Peter Gregson 

 It goes without saying that, while Gregson is not anti-Semitic, he can certainly be criticised for his eccentric politics – in the words of Jewish Voice for Labour, he is a “loose cannon”. For example, he admits that his initiative can be described as a “death-wish” petition, in that it is “sticking two fingers up to the NEC” by “brazenly breaking the IHRA rule”. He adds: “It is important now for more of us to come out and openly breach the IHRA, whilst never being anti-Semitic in the true sense of the word.”

Such brazen defiance is a matter of tactics, of course, but it must be said that in current circumstances it is not exactly a wise move. Firstly, the forces opposing the witch-hunt are extremely weak and are hardly in a good position to mount a successful challenge of this sort. Secondly, the “death-wish” petition does the right’s work for it by identifying hundreds of Labour members as easy targets.

Gregson also makes himself a target through his inappropriate choice of words. For instance, he has claimed that “Jews” in Britain have “leverage” because of what he describes as a general feeling of guilt over the holocaust. When this clumsy phrasing was criticised by JVL – surely it is the Zionists, not undifferentiated “Jews”, who would try to turn any such sentiment to their advantage? – he was not prepared to admit his error or change his wording. His response is: “… we suffer in the UK from holocaust guilt. Thus, all Jews have leverage, whether they want it or not, because all Jews were victims.”

However, we must not let this hold us back from defending him.He is a victim of a rightwing witch-hunt, aimed at defeating the left and regaining control of the party for the Blairites.

web-Peter-gregson

Now…

Emails reveal row within Labour Against The Witchhunt over member’s support for Holocaust denier

Pete Gregson insisted denier Nick Kollerstrom was ‘Holocaust sceptic’, and was condemned by fellow LAW member Tony Greenstein

Labour Against The Witchhunt (LAW) – which was launched to defend Labour activists accused of antisemitism – has been rocked by a bitter rift over one of its member’s open support for a Holocaust denier.

Tony Greenstein, LAW’s vice-chair, who was himself expelled from Labour over his use of the word “Zio” and for mocking the phrase Final Solution, has clashed with another of the group’s supporters .

Peter Gregson – who has been backed by LAW since being expelled by the GMB union over alleged antisemitism – had urged Mr Greenstein and his allies to support a petition he started, which included links to an article by Ian Fantom of the conspiracy theory Keep Talking group.

In that article, Mr Fathom writes approvingly of Dr Nick Kollerstrom – author of The Auschwitz ‘Gas Chamber’ Illusion.

But in emails sent to LAW’s leading members – including expelled Labour activist Jackie Walker, her partner Graham Bash and Tina Werkman – Mr Greenstein initially attempts to persuade Mr Gregson to “cut links” with the Mr Fanthom and Mr Kollerstrom, saying the association “would be incredibly damaging” for LAW.

He writes: “I must ask you to remove all references to Ian Fantom’s article from your petition update which directs people to Kollerstrom’s holocaust denial article on the website of the well-known Holocaust denial site CODOH.”

In his March 22 email, Mr Greenstein also refers to wording in Mr Gregson’s petition saying: “It is bad enough that you yourself used the word ‘exaggerate’ in terms of the Holocaust.”

He writes on March 23 that Mr Greenstein is “exhibiting the kind of shrill neurosis for which the left is rightly famed. And is why of course so many in the left are doomed to obscurity, for they slam the door hard shut at every opportunity.”

Mr Fantom has previously shared conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11. But Mr Gregson writes of him: “I have spent time with Ian Fantom. I believe he is OK. I do not have a problem with his politics.”

In his own furious response, Mr Greenstein writes back at 2.54 am, setting out detailed evidence of Mr Fantom’s support for Mr Kollerstrom, noting that the article Mr Gregson links to says Mr Kollertrom “had been targeted in a witch-hunt”.

“You can call me whatever you want but I am not going to have holocaust denial being debated or legitimised under the guise of ‘free speech’,” Mr Greenstein writes.

“It’s like debating the rights and wrongs of murdering 50 Muslims in New Zealand last week, or perhaps that too didn’t happen?

“I am removing you from the LAW Facebook and will leave it to the LAW Steering Committee as to whether you are removed from LAW membership too.”

In a further message on April 3 – still copying in much of the LAW leadership – Mr Gregson writes: “Tony is stating he will seek to damage my reputation by making LAW shun me if I do not do as he asks. If that is not a threat, then I’m a chinaman.”

No response to this article has yet been seen.

Informed sources suggest that since he began, earlier this year, being published by the racist Islamic Qatar  dictatorship’s Al Jazeera Greenstein  has become more careful with his ‘robust’ language.

We still expect some broadside…

On the up, a couple of days ago Labour Against the Witchhunt, was celebrating Ken Livingstone’s decision to join their campaign.

“Former London mayor is announced as Labour Against The Witchhunt’s honorary president”

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Pro-Brexit Rallies, Political Confusionism, from Tory Right, National Populist Left, to Anti-Semites.

with 8 comments

Star of the Anti-Brexit Show (Thanks Martin)

Paul Embery, FBU and the Arron Banks Backed Trade Unionists Against the EU.

…this does not mean that communists line up with Nigel Farage’s march on London. Then again, we do not mock it either – by the time it arrives in the capital on the symbolically significant date of March 29 it could be around the same size as the PV event.”

Weekly Worker. March for a national government

Some more of the democratic  chaps around yesterday:

 

Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party:

Institute of Ideas, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party Clare Fox.

 

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing

 

Such a contrast with this event:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 30, 2019 at 12:24 pm