Archive for the ‘Left’ Category
Opportunism, loud-mouths, and more than distasteful allegations have marked the anti-semitism controversy embroiling the British left, and the Labour Party in particular, in recent days.
Some say, with justification, that the issue is being used as a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn.
In our view Corbyn has responded with measured dignity, and John McDonnell has expressed the wishes of many.
For those – and there are great numbers of us – who follow what’s happening in Syria and Iraq, there’s a lot happening which is causing us burning concern.
It’s hard not to feel that with millions of refugees in the Middle East, many of whom are desperately trying to enter Europe, with Islamists from ISIS committing real genocide, with mass killings by the Assad regime, with murders by the Shariah enforcing A-Nusra Front, religious sectarian hatred involving the wholesale religious cleansing of the region, that this British row is irrelevant in the face of events that really matter.
There are, nevertheless some deeply thought-out reflections on the controversy.
Ross Wolfe’s Reflections on Left antisemitism, towers over many analyses.
Bob makes the point about the famous ‘Brenner’ book: Lenni Brenner says Ken’s wrong. He links to an interview (IB Times) with David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists’ Group who states, “”badly written and with poor scholarship – a piece of tabloid journalism glued together with selective facts and lots of conjecture”.
This is worth – critically – thinking about: The Livingstone Formulation – David Hirsh April 29, 2016 .
Significantly for left as a whole Jon Lansman has just published an important piece on Left Futures which is headed, Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’
I would argue that it is time for the Left to start talking in a new language – one that expresses our views about Israel, about the policies and actions of its government and about the rights of Palestinians without alienating any of those who might agree with us. It is not necessary to abandon any non-racist criticisms of Israel, however robust they may be, in order to do so.
Clearly if need there were this is a case in point: “Normal service to be resumed as the UKs Zionist political class push the country towards the 19th century.“
But it is not just language but politics which are at stake.
A serious argument is that, as John Rees argues, there is a case for a “secular, democratic state across historic Palestine (which) has nothing in common with anti-semitism.” (Counterfire)
What the revolutionaries wanted was a democratic, free, non-oppressive and non-exploitative society. The Palestinian revolution is no different. It does not want to ‘drive the Jews into the sea’. In the founding statutes of the Palestine Liberation Organisation demanded a democratic, secular state in which Jews and Arabs could live in peace in the historic land of Palestine, as they did before the forcible exclusion of the Arab population that was the necessary precondition of the establishment of a religiously exclusivist state in 1948. The exclusivity of that state is nowhere more obvious than in the fundamental ‘law of return’ in which a Jew from any part of the globe, no matter if they have never had the remotest contact with the Middle East in their lives, can migrate to Israel and become a citizen, but no Palestinian refugee forced from their home can exercise a legal right to return.
That state, its extensions and colonial conquests, its racist laws, checkpoints, walls and settlements will have to be completely overthrown before that vision of a homeland for both Palestinians and Jews can be realised.
The often toted alternative, a two state solution now sadly and disastrously accepted by the PLO leaders, is actually a retreat in the face of the argument that Arabs and Jews must have racially exclusive states because they cannot live together. That is wrong, and so unworkable. It would, indeed it has, perpetuated war in the region, and will not abolish it.
It would be important, for this to be more widely accepted, for those who accept Ress’ view to clarify how they see the role of Hamas and Hizbollah in this overthrow. and the creation of a democratic secular state.
Socialist Worker published this, August the 5th 2014 which puts forward one position.
(This is an edited version of an article by Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist Mostafa Omar. Read the full version at global.revsoc.me/2014/07/towards-a-revolutionary-perspective-on-hamas)
We consider Islamist movements such as Isis in Syria and Iraq as reactionary to the core. Its racism wipes out the idea that the unity of the oppressed is fundamental to resisting dictatorship and colonialism.
We differentiate between such utterly reactionary Islamist movements, and Islamist movements such as Hamas and Hizbollah. The latter two movements came into existence to resist imperialism.
We consider Hamas to be a resistance movement against Zionism and imperialism.
From this perspective we unconditionally support Hamas when it is engaged in military or non-military struggles against Israel. This is because it weakens the Zionist state and terrifies the Arab regimes and the US.
It therefore strengthens the potential for class struggle in the Arab states against this imperialist system.
Our unconditional support for Hamas is not uncritical. Hamas’ strategy is to associate itself with regimes which are reactionary and conspire constantly to repress their people and suppress the Palestinian struggle.
Secondly Hamas adopts an elitist approach to dealing with the Palestinian masses. This weakens the capacities of mass resistance in the long term.
Like all colonised peoples, the Palestinians alone have the right to decide their destiny.
But our support is critical because the fate of revolutionary change in the Arab world and the fate of the Palestinian Resistance are organically connected to each other.
This is the rub: very very few people have the slightest confidence, let alone belief, that Hamas (a key actor on the ground in any future settlement, rather than the Lebanese Hezbollah), are committed to a “secular, democratic state”.
To say the least.
Yet those who use the language of a “resistance” have locked Hamas into a fight with “Zionism” and “Imperialism” with their “unconditional” but not “uncritical” support.
Perhaps one of the many reasons why people look to the Two State position is that they cannot possibly see any democratic way out of the conflict which involves Hamas playing the determining role that Mostafa Omar supports.
Murdered Bangladeshi gay activist Xulhaz Mannan (From Paul C).
Homage to the Martyrs!
The Hindu reports,
Two people were hacked to death Monday at an apartment in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, police said, with a local television channel identifying one of them as a leading gay rights activist.
“Unidentified attackers entered an apartment at Kalabagan and hacked two people to death. Another person was injured,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Maruf Hossain Sorder told AFP.
He did not identify the dead, but private television Channel 24 said one of them was the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s only magazine for the LGBT community.
The BBC continues.
A leading gay rights activist and editor at Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine has been hacked to death, media reports and officials say.
Another person was also killed and one person injured when attackers entered an apartment in Dhaka, police said.
Julhas Mannan was an editor at LGBT magazine Roopbaan and previously worked at the US embassy, friends said.
The killing comes two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.
Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist writers and members of religious minority groups.
BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, which had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.
Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.
Meanwhile Bangladesh’s best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday.
Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed “very soon”.
Earlier this month, a Bangladeshi law student who had expressed secular views online died when he was hacked with machetes and then shot in Dhaka.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were also killed with machetes.
The four bloggers had all appeared on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.
There have also been attacks on members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
One-Man Carnival of Reaction.
Scenes from British Political Confusionism.
“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”
Counterfire. April 2016.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)
Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”, notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.
The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire, the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?
Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.
If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.
Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..
George Galloway is currently polling at 0 per cent in the London mayoral race
Fans of George Galloway, look away now – that said, there’s not many of you.
The Respect candidate is currently polling at 0 per cent, according to the latest YouGov/Evening Standard poll of 1,000 Londoners on the Mayoral race.
Clearly this did not work:
All out for one last effort!
In case this doesn’t work there is this:
Mayoral candidate George Galloway is already planning to take Sadiq Khan’s Tooting seat if the Labour candidate beats him to City Hall next month. SW Londoner.
Mr Galloway has thrown his hat into the mayoral race and will be representing the Respect Party in May’s election but is eyeing up his post-Mayoral race career.
With swipes at Zac Goldsmith ‘I respect him but no one should vote for him’ and ‘boring robot’ Sadiq Khan aside, he agrees with the other candidates that the housing crisis is the biggest issue plaguing London.
He said: “We need hundreds of thousands of council houses. It is the only democratic form of renting because you can evict your landlord and elect a new one.
“That would drive rent down in the private sector. We have the highest rents and house prices in the entire world,” he added.
However when asked where he would build these homes, Mr Galloway admitted that London may have to sacrifice London’s open spaces in order to solve the crisis.
“We need to build on brownfield sites, NHS and TfL land. We won’t be able to solve it just by building on brownfield we need to build on select greenbelt lands.”
He felt that Boris Johnson’s efforts to create affordable housing was not good enough and determined that 50% of London’s new housing should be affordable.
Mr Galloway also argued that Sadiq Khan’s promise to be the most ‘pro-business mayor’ is the wrong tactic.
He said: “Big business doesn’t need a mayor, it is the people who work for businesses that do. I will be the most pro-worker, the most pro-tenant.”
In regards to transport, he acknowledged that his plans to give all students free travel are radical.
He said: “All students will travel for free because of the theft of the EMA and the crippling tuition fees – these people need a break.”
When asked how he would pay for this he noted that seats are empty on buses already so the government are already paying for it.
On London congestion and air quality he said: “All delivery trucks would be banned from London in the daylight hours so they would have to deliver during the night.
“If your vehicle is highly polluting you will have to pay very dearly indeed.”
Mr Galloway believes that the Mayor of London need to have both a strong personality and strong policies in order to succeed, which is where he feels the frontrunners are lacking.
He said: “Both of the main candidates are above all else boring.
“Both of the previous mayors have been big figures. They were nobody’s robot. Sadiq Khan in particular even speaks like a robot.
“Zac Goldsmith looks the part until he speaks. I know him well, I like him and admire him. He is a principled and honourable guy but he is a Tory so nobody should vote for him.”
Mr Galloway did announce that should Sadiq Khan win the election, he would look to take his seat as Tooting MP in the by-election.
He said: “I think a by-election in Tooting would be very swift.
“It is easier to win a by-election than a general election, as you don’t have a national tide of feeling to compete with.”
However he is not giving up the top job without a fight, expressing his long-held desire for the position.
He said: “I have always wanted it. When Ken Livingston first ran I remember thinking ‘I wish I could have done that’.
“I watched his victory as an independent over Labour and that got me. It is a great and big job in every sense of the word.”
Frédéric Lordon: Diamond Geezer of Nuit Debout?
In the March’s Le Monde Diplomatique Frédéric Lordon’s Pour la république sociale discussed the end of social democracy and its surrender to the “empire du capital”. He called for the “socical republic”, a slogan with deep resonance on the French left, going back to the 1848 Revolution, and to the writings of Jean Jaurès.
The goal of this republic should be expanded ‘total’ democracy but equally,
…l’abolition de la propriété lucrative — non pas bien sûr par la collectivisation étatiste (dont le bilan historique est suffisamment bien connu…), mais par l’affirmation locale de la propriété d’usage (6), à l’image de tout le mouvement des sociétés coopératives et participatives (SCOP), des entreprises autogérées d’Espagne ou d’Argentine, etc. : les moyens de production n’« appartiennent » qu’à ceux qui s’en servent.
The abolition of profit-making property – not by state collectivisation (whose historical balance-sheets is sufficiently well known…) but through the local assertion of the right to use property, on the model of the broad co-operative and participative movement, self-managed enterprises in n Spain and Argentina, etc; the means of production belong only to those who make use of them.
Having read Lordon’s writings (see also his Blog), with respect if rarely complete agreement, for some years it was nevertheless a surprise to see his rise to national prominence in the wake of the Nuit Debout movement.
Lordon played an instrumental role in the rise of the Nuit debout movement. He wrote a piece in the February 2016 issue of Le Monde diplomatique on François Ruffin‘s film, Merci patron!, describing the film as a clarion call for a potential mass uprising. This prompted Ruffin to organise a public meeting which led to the organisation of the public occupation of Paris’s Place de la République on 31 March 2016. Lordon delivered a speech at the 31 March protest, highlighting the goal of uniting disparate protest movements. He subsequently refused to talk to national media about his role in the movement, explaining that he did not wish to be seen as the leader of a leaderless movement.
Verso has just published (amongst other Lordon material) a translated an interview with the radical economist and social theorist which carries some important observations about the Nuit Debout movement, and more widely, about the crisis of the European left.
Apart from an illuminating account of the origins of the protests (which have spread to scores of French cities and towns, though drawing predominantly educated crowds rather than people from the banlieues) and the role of François Ruffin’s film Merci patron! this section is of great interest to those tending to emphasise the convergences between Nuit Debout and the political expression, Podemos, of the Indignados movement:
Podemos in Spain has repeatedly said that we should no longer speak of Left and Right, but rather of top and bottom, the 1 percent against the 99 percent. Do you agree ?
I completely disagree with this stance of Podemos. In France the denials of the Left-Right split have had very bad echoes. We hear this in the mouths of both what I would call the general Right — namely, the classical Right and the new Right that is the Parti Socialiste; if you will, the general Right is the undifferentiated party of managing neoliberal globalisation — and the far Right. Someone in France who says he is “neither Left or Right” is unfailingly right-wing, or will end up being so. Similarly, I don’t think that monetary inequality — on which basis Podemos converts the Left-Right split into the split between the 99 percent and the 1 percent — is a very incisive political theme. The topic of inequalities is, in any case, becoming a kind of flabby consensus — we even find the OECD or a liberal magazine like The Economist talking about it…
The true question is not the inequality of incomes or wealth, but the question of the fundamental political inequality that capitalism itself establishes: that wage-earners live under relations of subordination and obedience. The wage-relation is less a principle of monetary inequalities than a relation of domination, and this is the principle of a fundamental inequality — a political inequality.
There remain issues about Lordon’s outlook.
New Left Review recently published this overview of his writing:
L’État général prend de nos jours la forme de l’État-nation ; et l’affect commun correspondant est l’appartenance nationale. Ces deux affirmations (peu fondées théoriquement) conduisent FL à minorer l’importance des clivages et des rapports de forces sociaux à l’intérieur des frontières « statonationales ». Mais on voit bien le lien avec la vision des institutions proposée par Imperium : l’État capte la puissance de la multitude, et produit un corps politique qui tient sur la base du sentiment d’appartenance nationale. Les institutions découlent de l’État. Dans ce cadre, le conflit social est complètement neutralisé — l’affect « commun » est majoritaire, la construction institutionnelle est cohérente et le corps politique viable —, ou alors producteur de chaos : l’affect « commun » ne permet plus la viabilité d’un corps politique destiné à mourir (et à renaître sous d’autres formes : mais la forme même de l’État-nation sera alors destinée à disparaître). Cohérence institutionnelle et reproduction sociale, ou bien explosion du conflit, chaos et bouleversement complet des structures sociales. Il n’y a pas de place, dans ce cadre théorique, pour le conflit et le compromis comme sources des changements institutionnels qui accompagnent la vie d’une société et le développement d’un État. Nous avons aussi signalé que FL a le plus grand mal à analyser les rapports entre État et capital sans faire violence à son propre cadre théorique. Et on comprend pourquoi : le capital a bien impulsé des changements majeurs non seulement dans l’architecture institutionnelle mais dans les formes mêmes de l’intervention étatique, sans besoin de rendre socialement minoritaire l’affect commun de l’appartenance nationale, et sans produire le chaos qui accompagnerait la mort des corps politiques « statonationaux ».
Mais les changements institutionnels qui caractérisent la réalité concrète dans laquelle nous vivons ne sont pas l’objet central d’Imperium, qui s’intéresse bien davantage au contenu d’une perspective « révolutionnaire » bien particulière. Celle qui consisterait non pas à renverser les rapports de domination sociale existants, mais à marcher (difficilement et éternellement) vers le règne de la raison, dans lequel les hommes « règlent leurs désirs et leurs comportements sur ce qui ne peut rien produire d’autre que leur concorde ». Idéalement donc, plus de pouvoir ni d’institutions. Cet idéal — nous dit FL — est inatteignable, mais on peut s’en rapprocher en choisissant les « bonnes » institutions. De façon là encore assez étonnante, FL indique dans les « institutions de la science qui contraignent les scientifiques à la vertu scientifique, au moins autant que leur désir propre de la vérité scientifique » un modèle à imiter : « la vertu devient l’objet d’une politique des institutions bien agencées » (p. 306). Il ne s’agit donc pas de lutter pour des institutions correspondant à des rapports de forces différents, à une modification de la frontière dominants/dominés, mais de sélectionner les institutions sur la base de leur teneur d’universalité, de leur capacité à créer un environnement favorable au développement de la raison : les « bonnes » institutions sont celles qui nous déterminent à la « vertu ».
Former ‘Maoist’ Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Joins Farage, UKIP and Galloway in Grassroots Out Campaign.
‘Communists’ Against Mass Migration.
The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (CPB(M-L)) is an example of the development, post-Mao, of ‘Marxist-Leninist’ groups towards nationalism.
The party was formed in 1968 by Reg Birch as a split from the Communist Party of Great Britain, siding with the Communist Party of China. The party published The Worker from 1969 until 2000, when it became Workers. The CPB(M-L) sided with Enver Hoxha in theSino-Albanian split, and came to support the Soviet Union for a period in the 1980s, before dropping this line over Mikhail Gorbachev‘s reforms.
A key part of the CPB (M-L)‘s case against the European Union is that weakened national sovereignty and borders has let in too many migrants into Britain.
The role of mass migration and “free” movement of labour in undermining wages and union organisation was contrasted with the assertions (or lies) that EU legislation protects workers.
They backed this recent meeting,
7 April 2016, 7 pm
Hunter Halls, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G128 QQ
With speakers Nigel Farage MEP, Dr Liam Fox, Peter Bone MP, Eddie McGuire (trade unionist), Mike Gold (CAEF), David Coburn and Brendan Chilton with more to be announced.
The way this group works is easy to trace: Eddie McGuire, ‘Trade Unionist’ turns out also to be:
And (CPB- ML site): Composing British unity
Draw your own conclusions about which political party he backs….
The New Communist Party (a member of the Labour Representation Committee) has, according to Wikipedia, also signed up.
The NCP has endorsed in March 2016 Grassroots Out the cross party movement launched to campaign to leave the EU.
If this is not the case we will be happy to post a correction.
Another one of the anti-EU alliances has just formed:
A new left-wing anti-EU campaign group dubbed Lexit has been set up following a meeting in London.
The new alliance formed on Monday night from rail union RMT, Trade Unionists Against the EU, the Communist Party of Britain, the Indian Workers Association (GB), the Bangladeshi Workers Council of Britain, Scottish Left Leave, Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party.
Other trade union, socialist and workers’ groups are expected to join Lexit in coming weeks.
Lexit will hold a series of rallies across Britain in the coming weeks and produce films and other publications to promote what it calls the “working class, left-wing and internationalist case” for voting to leave the European Union in the referendum on June 23. Some Labour MPs and prominent trade unionists have also indicated a willingness to appear on the group’s platforms.
Lexit chairman Robert Griffiths said that the EU debate until now had been “dominated by pro-big business and anti-foreigner arguments” on both sides.
“It’s high time that the interests of working people, their public services and their common aspirations regardless of race, religion and nationality were heard,” he said.
“The reality is that from Ireland and Portugal to Cyprus and Greece, the EU has been spearheading the drive for ruthless austerity and wholesale privatisation, dividing people and creating the conditions in which racist and fascist groups can thrive.”
Mr Griffiths said it was no surprise that most of the City banks and big companies that fund the Tory Party wanted Britain to stay in the EU.
These groups are on on the fringes of the labour movement.
Far from being left-wing or working class their actions help those who wish to build a “bonfire of rights”, as Jeremy Corbyn has put it.
And please, let’s have less of these phony words about “Internationalism”.
With the CPB-ML we can at least see the real direction where this stand leads them.