Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Left’ Category

Charlie Hebdo Has a Laugh at Catalan Nationalists.

with 3 comments

https://ep01.epimg.net/internacional/imagenes/2017/10/11/mundo_global/1507733539_710718_1507735493_noticia_normal.jpg

Catalans Bigger Bleeding Idiots than the Corsicans. “We Demand a Debate”.

This is all over the Spanish media today.

“¡Idiotez o muerte!” La feroz burla de Charlie Hebdo al ‘procés’ catalán

El Paìs.

The Catalonia based  El Periódico (which publishes in Spanish and Catalan)  is less enthusiastic, describing the cartoon and editorial with the word – who would have guessed it, “provocative” –  but takes it all in good stride.

‘Charlie Hebdo’ se burla del ‘procés’: “Los catalanes, más tontos que los corsos”

Some of the Tweets they publish take exception to the comparison with the violent FLNC, but in our view the journal comes out of this in a good light by indicating this one.

There are too many other reports to signal here, but ask Comrade Google.

The Riss Editorial (pictured on the left, above)  is sure to win Charlie new friends as well:

Stupidity or death !

The Catalan independence referendum has shaken Europe. If all the European regions with their own language, history and culture start claiming independence, the Old Continent will soon break up like pack ice under global warming. Given that there are 200 languages in Europe, why not create 200 new countries?
…..

“the worst dictatorship the world has ever known, the European Union.”

“Independence. A flamboyant word sometimes hiding less noble concerns.”

“We can almost hear the despicable Margaret Thatcher again: “I want my money back”.

“Besides these mercenary considerations… certain voices on the Left claim …a blow for cultural identity”.

“Why should the cultural identity claimed by Catalans be OK when the Christian identity claimed by European xenophobes isn’t?”

“Right wing nationalism and left wing nationalism have one thing in common: nationalism”

“When Catalonia has broken the shackles binding  it to the Spanish Monarchy and the Holy  European Empire what will happen?”

“Proud independentists will march through the streets to the sound of drums and fifes, taking themselves for the Durutti column, young girls will throw rose petals at the militants..”

“And when the evening comes everyone will go home and collapse in front of the telly to watch Wheel of Fortune and  Barça  in the quarter-final of the League. Catalonia will have really deserved that.

 

And so it goes….

Advertisements

Against Spanish Nationalism and the Catalan Independence Movement.

with 2 comments

https://ep02.epimg.net/politica/imagenes/2017/09/08/actualidad/1504872254_629045_1507455934_noticia_fotograma.jpg

Left Should Not Pit One National Flag Against the Other.

Against Catalan Nationalism.

The “nation” should have the “right” to self-determination. But who is that “nation” and who has the authority and the “right” to speak for the “nation” and express its will? How can we find out what the “nation” actually wants?”

Rosa Luxemburg. The National Question.

The Catalan referendum has burst on the European scene without, apparent, warning. That this is not in fact true can be seen in an informative article in the Socialist Workers Party journal, International Socialism, which concludes by putting the issue of Catalonia centre stage ( Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155) That it has been at the heart of Catalan politics for some time is well known; that there is a long history failed negotiation over recognition of the Catalan nation, and, perhaps, more pressing, calls for greater financial and political powers for the Generalitat, failing to recognise the laws that they passed, has become common knowledge in the last week. That the Rajoy government was prepared to act, brutally, on its threats against voting on independence, has stirred deep emotions, far beyond the Iberian Peninsula.

But perhaps a sign of the lack of urgency the issue recently evoked in Spain itself can be seen in the exchange between a leading figure in Podemos, Iñigo Errejón and member of the country’s right-wing government, José María Lassalle on the latter’s Contra el populismo (2017) in El País (9.9.17 and 16.9.17) at the beginning of September.

In this erudite discussion, the Minister of State cites Laclau, Gramsci and Stuart Hall in support of his view that the affective and political “people” has not been broken, and that the “institucionalidad democrática” remains open to the “admirado Errejón”. In Lassalle’s recognition of democratic dysfunctions, alongside a eulogy of European social peace, there is no mention of Catalonia, or of any method of dealing with those his boss considers less “admirable”.

National Popular.

It takes, nevertheless, little imagination to see how many of the ideas circulating in Podemos, of the People, of the National Popular, taken from Laclau, and used, as Lassalle suggests, as a kind of political “cartography”, would become important during the Catalan crisis. Within Podemos the current, Anticapitalistas, “Podemos en Movimiento” (13% at the February 2017 Congress), have long criticised the “populism” of its leadership, which seeks to ‘federate the people” of Spain against the ruling political ‘Casta”. A central charge it that they, both the Errejón tendency (Recuperar la Illusion, bring back the Hope), 34%) and the leader Pablo Iglesias’ grouping, (Podemos para Todas, 51%), have failed to recognise that there are effectively many “peoples” in Spain. (1)

In dialogue with Chantal Mouffe Errejón, has called for a “new democratic national-popular identity”. ”The issue in Spain is whether it’s possible to build a national narrative at the service of subaltern majorities that is also respectful of pluri-nationality and the right to decide.” (2) Translated into the present, this has involved the, entirely reasonable, attempt to open dialogue between the pro-independence forces in the Assemblea Nacional de Catalunya (ANC) and the central government. What this clearly does not do is encourage people to separate, to form a distinct “us” in Catalonia, aside from the wider struggle for an “emancipatory and radically democratic project” and “popular sovereignty”.

It would be interesting to trace how supporters of Catalan’s own path to “popular sovereignty”, or as it would better be described, ‘sovereigntistism’ the belief that the major political social and economic problems of the day be solved by getting one’s hands on the sovereign powers of a state, could perhaps defend some of the original axioms of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s ‘post-Marxism’. That is, the idea that the working class is not the dominant political subject of emancipatory politics, but only one element in the “plurality of agents” brought together by “relations of equivalence” constituting democratic movements and demands, making up the figure of these Peoples pitted against the Spanish State. Some may radicalise the later Mouffe. That the Catalan partisan collective will has overflowed the boundaries of one state, created its own “relations of exclusion” against the institutions of ‘Madrid’. It would be free to create its own agonistic site where, it can create its own “agonistic democracy”, and let the fight against neo-liberalism begin on a new terrain (3)

Collective Will.

But in fact we now have a free for all for those wishing to build a “collective will” against the said administrative structure. Appealing for international support for their cause some Catalan enthusiasts have not hesitated to describe the Spanish state as ‘fascist’ ‘Francoist’, full of loathing for ‘Madrid’, no doubt hinting that one of George Orwell’s most celebrated books was Homage to Catalonian Independence. Perhaps they trust to at least some of their audience’s ignorance of the Siege of Madrid, which fell some months after Barcelona.

Others, apparently more reasonable, have wheeled out the view that Catalan nationalism is welcoming, “Catalan national feeling is like Scottish in that it is “civic”, non-violent, opening impatiently to the new global world. It’s unlike Scotland – and more “ethnic” – in its passionate emphasis on Catalan language, history and culture.” It will not be source of exclusion, but will find its way back to “intimate” ties with Spain. (Neil Ascherson. Catalans are not alone. Across the world, people yearn to govern themselves .Observer. 24.9.17)

Laclau’s study On Populist Reason (2005) deals with the “nature and logics “ of collective identities. He envisaged the possibility of a People out of a plurality of ‘ethnic identities’, as well as its opposite, “ethno nationalism”. Podemos would not be untrue to this way of thinking to attempt the former. (4)

But those on the left pushing the Catalan separatists have other fish to fry. The SWP argues first and foremost for the dissolution of the Spanish state, as a potential springboard for a wider anti-capitalist struggle.

The damage to the Spanish ruling class that the loss of Catalonia would cause is unimaginable; Catalonia makes a large contribution to the state’s revenues, with 18.8 percent of national GDP. The centrality of national unity to the dominant ideology of the ruling class would also turn the event into a political earthquake. A victory for independence would thus precipitate a crisis of unforeseeable consequences, throwing into chaos not only the PP but Spanish capitalism as a whole.

Socialism can only be achieved internationally, but by opening new prospects for the left in Catalonia and by breaking the consensus imposed by fascism in the transition to democracy, Catalan independence would advance the cause of the entire working class. And, if a triumph of the Catalan left would be a positive development for workers in the rest of the state, what would the consequences of its defeat be?

Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155

The Fourth Intentional, reproducing an argument familiar to those who have heard the radical Scottish nationalist refrain of the Break up of Britain are vaguer though equally optimistic for the future of the left, and keen for, as they put it, “the democratic rupture throughout the State”.

In a lyrical vein the FI states,

It is more than a mere historical anecdote that the Catalan independence flag is directly inspired by the flag of the Cuban revolutionaries who defeated the Spanish colonial army on the island in the late 19th century, a defeat that would decisively contribute to the ruin of the first Bourbon restoration. The struggle in Catalonia has certainly hurt the second and a republican victory would allow us to imagine a new rise of the popular movement and an update of the anti-capitalist and eco-socialist perspective in Catalonia, the Spanish state and throughout Europe.

Let us support the struggle of the Catalan people

These aspirations are no doubt of comfort to those who, after what El Periodico commentators have repeatedly called a new May 68 – complete with vote – now confront potential economic chaos. Aware of these difficulties the nationalist bourgeois politicians who are running the independence show are divided on their immediate tasks, although the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, looks determined to press ahead with a declaration of independence. Sacrifices to achieve that end are to be made in the name of a possible, not yet visible, anti-capitalism, or more broadly the eternal right to self-determination or, in their own eyes, for Catalunya. What is more precious than national independence and sovereignty? 

Many will without hesitation support the wish for negotiations with these demands, hard though the first two may be to put into any specific form. We can be sceptical about Iglesias’ efforts to capture the ‘floating signifier’ of the Patria for the projects of Podemos, yet see in their stand some hopes for compromise. Equally, on some things on which no agreement can be reached: one should do more than just oppose Rajoy and his clampdown, one can moblise against it.

No Sleeping with the Enemy!

But nobody has yet to explain convincingly why the world in general, and the left-wingers in particular, should stand behind the cause of a prosperous region of Spain, led by a coalition of right and left, to ‘take control’ in the name of the People. Rosa Luxemburg reminds us that the ‘right’ to declare this a separate entity rests on the political parties who backed the referendum,  Junts pel Sí​, held together a coalition of right and left, while the Podemos inspired grouping Catalunya Sí que es Pot  abstained, and the other opposition parties opposed it. 

This, if carried through, will be an act that immediately divides the Spanish people, gives full rein to populist ressentiment on all sides, and obscures the issues of the different class and political interests behind the pro-independence bloc (not to mention the ingrained corruption of some of its elements). To put it simply, no left worthy of its name enters into systematic long-term coalitions with right wing nationalists. They are, to use a term often cited by Chantal Mouffe, taken from Carl Schmitt, the enemy.  (5)

******

(1) A useful account of Podemos, which underlines that Laclau and Mouffe are far from the only intellectual influences on the party is in Chapter 10 La Gauche du 21e Siècle, Christophe Aguiton. La Découverte. 2017.

(2) Page 148 –9. Podemos in the Name of the People. Iñigo Errejón and Chantal Mouffe. Lawrence and Wishart. 2016.

(3) See Agonistics. Chantal Mouffe. Verso 2013.

(4) Page 198. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau Verso. 2005.

(5) For all our sympathy for the Podemos attempt at rational dialogue, the concepts of the People, and the National Popular function in this crisis as signs that confuse debate. See. Debating Catalonia Izquierda Unida MP Alberto Garzón debates the Catalan independence referendum with the CUPs Pau Llonch. This is a concrete example of how ‘left wing populism’ sliding around on the Catalan national issue obscures a left strategy that gives priority to building a left. Which leads us to reject the strategy of ‘people’ versus “oligarchy”, the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ and the Mouffe-Laclau problematic: See: Populisme le grand ressentiment. Éric Fassin. Textuel. 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

On the Moshé Machover Labour Party Expulsion.

with 24 comments

Leaflet Handed Out at Labour Conference. 

Key Sentences  of Machover’s article,

Nazi collaboration

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism.

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement in support of Dr Moshe Machover

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party.

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party accused of writing “an apparently antisemitic article” and accused of “involvement and support for” two organisations, the Labour Party Marxists and the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The accusation regarding the “antisemitic” article references the controversial, flawed definition of antisemitism, which the JSG and many others on the left have challenged:http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/fight-antisemitism-and-defend-free-speech

Moshe Machover has been a friend of the Jewish Socialists’ Group for more than 30 years. He has spoken at JSG meetings, written for Jewish Socialist magazine, and participated in campaigns for social justice with us. We know him as an outstanding and sophisticated thinker and analyst, a fighter for human rights and social justice, and a consistent opponent of all reactionary ideologies and actions.

The JSG is not affiliated to the Labour Party but we have strongly criticised the right wing-led campaign to smear left wing activists as antisemiteshttp://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/statement-on-labours-problem-with-antisemitism-from-the-jewish-socialists-g

The Labour Party has a duty to take action against genuine examples of antisemitism and other forms of racism and bigotry. In line with the Chakrabarti Inquiry, however, we:
• favour education rather than heavy-handed disciplinary measures
• expect transparent, fair and just process with regard to complaints against members
• support Shami Chakrabarti’s desire to encourage respectful free speech within the Party.

The JSG chooses to support individuals suspended or expelled from the party on a case by case basis. In this case we fully support Moshe Machover and call for his expulsion to be rescinded and for his immediate reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party.

The JSG recognises the article by Moshe Machover, that has been cited, as a critique of the political ideology of Zionism, not of Jews. Indeed the article exposes antisemitic ideas.

The JSG rejects any McCarthyite-style attempt to expel members for alleged “involvement and support for” other left groups on the basis of writing articles and attending and participating in meetings. It is common practice for Labour members of all levels to speak and participate in events of other groups, and have articles published, representing their individual viewpoints, in a range of publications.

Solidarity with Moshe Machover!

The controversy began when the Times reported this leaflet being distributed outside Labour Party Conference.

The Weekly Worker asserts the following:

Expelled for saying the unsayable

Labour Party Marxists attracted much praise and support from delegates at the Labour Party conference, in particular because of the excellent ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ article written by Moshé Machover. Since then the right has taken its revenge. Around the country anyone who has expressed a liking for the LPM online or forwarded an article could well be on the receiving end of an expulsion letter. One of them is Moshé Machover. LPM’s Reg Kingston spoke to him.

The man himself blames Israel and the “useful fools” of Labour’s Right Wing for his loss of Party membership.

Frankly, I enjoyed your article, but I didn’t anticipate it would cause so much fuss. How do you explain the vehemence of the attacks? Why is this happening?

It’s the result of a conjunction of two things. I follow the Israeli press very closely and the wider political discussions in Israel in general. Quite some time ago – and I’m talking about before anyone imagined that Corbyn would be Labour Party leader (least of all himself!) – there was a feeling in Israeli establishment circles that they were losing the propaganda war. They responded with the Hasbara campaign.1

This was part of a decision to go onto the offensive: in a sense, it’s the last-ditch attempt to rescue the international reputation of this state. They are losing credibility in the arena of what could be called ‘international opinion’, but – more importantly – they are losing the Jewish public outside Israel, especially those under 30. There is a clear generational shift in opinion. These people are becoming very critical of Israel and its colonisation project.

You could see a sign of this at the Labour conference on September 27, in Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech. His call for Israel to stop the oppression of the Palestinians and to end their savage treatment won loud applause.2 This was a sign of the times. It’s an indicator of what the general public has come to feel – including a large percentage of Jewish people, especially the youth.

Remember, the Israeli establishment identified this quite some time before Corbyn’s breakthrough was on the agenda. They had already decided to go on the attack internationally, using this ‘dirty bomb’ tactic of labelling as ‘anti-Semitic’ any criticism of Zionism and its colonisation project.

In the UK, they found useful fools in the form of the Labour right wing. The Israeli state’s propaganda tactic of smearing all criticism of itself as anti-Jewish coincided with the Labour’s right’s need to discredit Corbyn and the left of the party.

Now Corbyn has plenty of enemies – both inside and outside the party! So this smear tactic was eagerly seized upon – including by people who care absolutely nothing about the issues of Israel-Palestine, the Jews, Zionism and all these important questions. They are totally cynical in their use of these issues. As Chris Williamson’s phrase goes, the Labour right ‘weaponised’ the sensitive and complex issue of anti-Semitism for the sake of narrow, factional advantage against a left in the Labour Party that was growing and threatening to overwhelm them.

It’s a dirty war.

  1. Hasbara is a Hebrew word for the public relations efforts of the Israeli state to disseminate abroad positive propaganda about itself and its actions. 

More information.

As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’

Comment:

The grounds for this expulsion appear weak, Manchover’s convoluted, most would say, twisted argument about the details of the relations between ‘Zionism’ and Nazism merit taking apart not being slammed down.
It is a well-known trope – that the Nazis wanted to be rid of the Jews, and the Zionists wanted Jews to settle in Israel, so they could negotiate for new people to populate Palestine. So they did deals. He provides few qualifications for this picture, as can be seen in this sentence, “its collusion and collaboration with anti-Semitism, including up to a point with Nazi Germany”.
He then ends in an extremely contentious, many would estimate, deeply insulting, claim, based on an extension of the phrase “up to a point” to the assertion of systematic “collusion with anti-Semitism.”

We see the flaws in this kind of argument by applying it elsewhere.

It would be interesting for those who claim to support Black Lives Matter to imagine what if people were to go on about the links between Marcus Garvay, considered a founding figure in the movement for black liberation,and the Klu Kkux Klan.

In 1919 Garvey formed the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company. With $10,000,000 invested by his supporters Garvey purchased two steamships, Shadyside and Kanawha, to take African Americans to Africa. At a UNIA conference in August, 1920, Garvey was elected provisional president of Africa. He also had talks with the Ku Klux Klan about his plans to repatriate African Americans and published the first volume of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

Now in point of fact Marcus Garvey was a figure of some courage and stature, who fought John Crow and Racism.

Nobody is going to base a whole critique of his politics on this incident.

Nobody with any honesty, who is not out to launch a stunt, is going to offer a serious set of alternative politics to the Israeli government and the politics of the different strands within the Zionist movement with the kind of tendentious stuff offered up here.

There is a better response to those seeking to pit themselves against the ‘Hashbarh’ with these rusty arms, it is to answer them, and not expel them.

Now we can see some of the results.

This is one recent comment on the expulsion.

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

European left in confusion faced with Catalan ‘Cross Class Unity’ for National Independence.

with 3 comments

Image result for catalan independence cartoon

El Paìs leads today with the story that the right-wing leader Puigdemot will go to the Catalan Parliament on Monday with a possible declaration of Independence.

Puigdemont irá el lunes al Parlament para la posible declaración de independencia

The Spanish daily cites the BBC’s report, Catalan referendum: Region’s independence ‘in matter of days’.

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Spain’s King Felipe VI on Tuesday accused Catalan secessionist leaders of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as thousands took to the streets to protest against a violent police crackdown against the banned independence referendum held on Sunday.

The televised speech, a rare intervention by the 49-year-old monarch who is normally silent on politics, was a sign of how deeply Spain has been shaken by the Catalan vote and a police crackdown that injured 900 people.

On Tuesday tens of thousands of Catalans demonstrated in the streets of the northeastern region against action by the police who tried to disrupt Sunday’s vote by firing rubber bullets and charging into crowds with truncheons.

Tuesday’s protests shut down road traffic, public transport and businesses.

Socialist Worker comments,

Some Catalan politicians and pro-independence organisations played down the role of workers and emphasised that the whole nation was out.

The support of small business certainly added to the strike’s impact in key sectors such as food and retail. Public sector bosses told workers that they wouldn’t even lose pay for striking.

But the main bosses’ organisation in Catalonia condemned the strike. It took workers’ organisation to enforce it.

The SWP appears to consider that ‘the workers’ should lead a campaign for independence.

This seems to ignore that the Catalan government which is said to be about to declare independence is led by the right wing, Carles Puigdemont of the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català, PDeCAT.

Andy Durgan has offered this analysis in

Spanish state out to smash Catalan independence referendum

…any decisive shift to the left would mean breaking completely with the neo liberal PDECat. The temptation to accept some form of “national” government is strong, not only inside the left nationalist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (which forms part of Junts pel Sí) but also among some sectors of the CUP.

Such a government would mean more austerity and cuts and this would also reinforce the rejection of independence that already exists among some sections of the working class in Catalonia; in particular workers of Spanish origin.

More specifically, revolutionary socialists should work to build the CUP, defending both its political independence and the need for practical unity with others on the left.

Whatever happens on 1 October, the political crisis that the Catalan movement has triggered in the Spanish state will only get deeper.

The crisis has indeed deepened.

But why should the left, and the Catalans are not shy in calling for support from the left in the rest of Europe, support the goal of independence.

For what end?

Some claim that the roots lie in the way the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal invalidated in 2010 the new autonomy statute (Estatut).

But what is a lot clearer is the demand to free the wealthy region from the ‘burden’ of Madrid.

Linguistic, cultural and a big degree of financial and administrative  autonomy, as the name Estatut d’Autonomia de Catalunya indicates,  are guaranteed already, even if they have stumbled faced with a hostile central government.

Does the fact that the right-wing PPR, in power in the Cortes, has, in the last few years, thwarted legitimate attempts to extend this make full independence justified?  Was the removal of the definition of Catalonia as a “nation” the tipping point?

What of the left?

To Durgan,

For most socialists support for the self determination of oppressed nations is accepted on principle. But in the case of a Catalonia, where the movement appears to be led by the right, providing such support may not seem so clear. For instance, the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont is a member of the bourgeois nationalist PDECat (European Democratic Party of Catalonia), which, has enforced cuts and austerity.

But the campaign for independence is far from being a mere tool of the Catalan bourgeoisie. While the immediate demand for independence came out of frustration with attempts to reform the Statute of Autonomy, the resulting movement was also shaped in the context of the economic crisis, the emergence of the Indignados movement in 2011 and the return of the PP to central government.

Indeed, but…..the movement’s unity was forged by blaming austerity on ‘Madrid’ and sought a solution in national sovereignty for Catalan which the following only seeks to hide.

The tone of its propaganda and its demonstrations is markedly progressive; talk of a republic that defends social justice and ethnic diversity is central to its propaganda. The main social base of the independence movement is among the Catalan speaking middle and working classes. In contrast, the main employers’ organisations, even those linked to the nationalist right, are opposed to independence.

Durgan does not consider in detail the Republican Left, the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, with 9 seats, Puigdemont’s junior allies in the Parlament de Catalunya. Their project for a Greater Catalonia, including parts of France and the neighbouring areas of Spain in Valencia, is above all cultural and  “regionalist” carried into a state-building project.

The Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP, with this vote 2015 336,375 8.20% and 10 out of the 135 seats in the Catalan parliament, are no doubt significant in holding the “balance of power” in the Parliament.

The CUP, which plays a central role in the movement, is undoubtedly the largest anti-capitalist grouping in Europe at present. Apart from its 10 MPs and 340,000 votes, it has some 370 local town councillors and around 30 mayors. Its militant anti-racism, feminism and internationalism, its opposition to the EU, set it apart from the rest of the left.

The first part of the assertion may well be contested, from the La France insoumise  (17 seats on the French National Assembly, nearly two and half million votes in those elections, over 7 million votes, 19,48% in the first round of this year’s Presidential ballot), onwards.

The second part apparently links internationalism with being anti-EU…..

One could naturally go for the maximum and start dreaming of this: Por una Catalunya independiente obrera y socialista, en la perspectiva de una Federación Libre de Repúblicas Socialistas Ibéricas

Back to the mundane real world: what of the actual left, notably Catalunya in Comύ, of Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona,? They have strongly denounced the repression, took part in yesterday’s protests, but hold the view that the October the 1st referendum was a “mobilisation” and call for a real referendum. Podemos, for all that one might criticise Pablo Iglesias’ ‘national popular’ strategy, and efforts to take the ’empty signifier’ of La Patria and shape it to the left, calls for negotiations and dialogue. 

Apparently this is confused, because they hesitate to weld together the demand for independence and sovereignty as the key aims for …the left. (L’instant de vérité pour le mouvement indépendantiste catalan).

Perhaps they should keep quiet about issues which oppose the left, root and branch, with the Catalan right, and wait until independence and national sovereignty are achieved.

Better in fact to oppose sovereignty and nationalism, Spanish and Catalan, from the word go.

More background.


The Catalan independence referendum is a smokescreen for other issues. Eleanor Rosenbach
Independent.

The ruling party in Catalonia, PDeCAT, has been plagued with allegations of corruption; debate around which has receded as demands for independence have increased. Spain’s governing party, the Partido Popular, for its part, has often sought conflict as a means of garnering public support.

Both sides in this debate are using the referendum to further their own political agendas. Spain’s governing party, the Partido Popular (PP), is a right-wing party housing a spectrum of thought from neoliberalists to the hard-line right. The ruling party in Catalonia, PDeCAT, is a centre right party of the Catalan bourgeois which has historically been the natural ally of PP and not a traditional supporter of independence. Interestingly, their move to advocate a referendum has stopped their support from dropping in recent months.

Alongside this, neither the national government nor the Catalan parliament are strangers to corruption in politics. PDeCAT has been plagued with allegations of corruption, debate around which has receded significantly as demands for independence have increased. PP, for its part, has often sought conflict as a means of garnering public support. Positioning this referendum and the spectre of independence as a threat to Spanish citizens and their economic future – as well as tugging on the strings of nationalist patriotism in demanding the continued unity of Spain – PP has engaged widespread support. In recent days, Spanish flags have poured from windows and balconies, and in towns throughout Spain people have cheered the Civil Guard – Spain’s law enforcement agency which operates on military lines – with football chants advocating the defeat of the opposition.

Of wider interest:

El Paìs reports,  There’s fake news in Catalonia too.

After a month of intense activity, primarily on Twitter, these pro-Russian profiles have managed to successfully place the secessionist challenge among the most relevant issues in international politics on internet forums. But the issue has not been presented as a dispute between the majority of Catalans who want to decide on their independence and the rest of the Spanish people, but rather as a crucial part of a crisis in the model of Western democracy and the European Union as an institution. Officially, the Kremlin has stated time and again that the referendum is an internal Spanish affair. However, the accounts that less diplomatically promote the Russian government’s interests on social media spoke yesterday of the EU’s imminent decomposition.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Nigel Farage: Catalonia Demonstrates EU Democratic Failure.

with 4 comments

Catalan officers stand in front of protesters as they gesture at Spanish police a day after the referendum.

Main unions’ statement, “CC OO and UGT are not calling the general strike for October 3,” said the country’s top two unions in a joint release. “Our organisations in Catalonia are encouraging participation in protests against the excesses committed on October 1. In no way are we going to support positions that provide backing for the unilateral declaration of independence”

“The regional government and Barcelona City Hall are allowing their employees to strike today without docking them the corresponding day’s pay, as would usually be the case for a stoppage.”

“All three production lines at the Seat carmaking plant in Martorell (Barcelona) are working at full speed. The factory has not been affected by the general strike and only a reduced number of employees have decided to stay home, said the works council.”

El Pais.

The  repression in Catalonia continues to have a wide international fall-out.

“Right-wing British politician Nigel Farage expressed support for the Catalan separatists’ cause inside the European Parliament, where he strongly criticized the Spanish government over the events of last Sunday. Esteban González Pons, leader of the Spanish delegation in the European People’s Party group, said that it is the far right that supports independence in Catalonia.”

In Catalonia we have seen how the EU does ‘democracy’. Why can’t Remainers see it too?

Telegraph.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2017 at 10:23 am

Against Madrid’s Repression, Against Middle-Class Catalan Breakaway State.

with 27 comments

 

Catalan Independence Supporters to Oversee Polling Booths in Break-away Election.

Grupos de activistas pro referéndum toman las escuelas para garantizar su apertura el domingo)

From the Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International (Northite).

Rarely do we agree with this group, but here they say some important truths which most of the English speaking left seems unable to articulate.

We would add that it is astonishing that anybody who claims to be socialist or left, in the case of the Catalan ERC  Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC; IPA:  and the smaller  pro-nationalist ‘radical’ left outside, can justify an alliance of the Catalan nationalist left with a corruption riddled (and much larger) pro-business party, the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català, PDeCAT), also known as the Catalan Democratic Party (CatalanPartit Demòcrata Català). It was founded in Barcelona on 10 July 2016, as the successor to  the now-defunct Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. Why the name change from its former incarnation, the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya   ? There is one family name that sums the reasons up, Jordi Pujol, a byword for sleaze and insider backhander, something that marks out modern Catalan nationalism.

The strategy of this alliance, which won 47% of the regional vote in 2015,and 71 out of 135 seats in the devolved parliament, has been to blame ‘Madrid’ – with overtones of the profligate, lazy ‘Southerners’- for all their economic and political problems.

Appararently this is ‘civic nationalism’.

But then there are people who can convince themselves that the SNP is ‘left-wing’.

 

30 September 2011

Oppose the state crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum!

For working class unity! No to separatism in Spain!

 

Catalonia is Spain’s richest region, representing a fifth of the country’s GDP. The separatist parties aim to create a new mini-state, through which they can claw back taxes presently paid to central government, while establishing direct relations with the global banks, transnational corporations and the European Union. They hope to transform Catalonia into a low tax, free trade area based on stepped-up exploitation of the working class.

The Catalan nationalists and their pseudo-left backers dress themselves up as progressives. However, nothing fundamental distinguishes Catalan separatism from similar separatist formations across Europe—the Scottish Nationalist Party in the UK, or those of an explicitly right-wing character such as Italy’s Northern League and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. In all these instances, separatism has emerged in regions enjoying some economic advantage over the rest of the country, which the local bourgeoisie seeks to exploit to its own benefit.

An “independent” Catalan republic, were it established, would be nothing of the sort. It would be even more dependent on the major powers, in Europe and internationally. In alliance with the EU, it would continue the policies the Catalan separatist parties pursued in their alliance with Madrid: brutal austerity, slashing funding for education, health care and other social needs and using police to smash strikes and protests. It would be a dead end for workers.

 

Against capitalist Spain and the creation of a capitalist Catalonia, the ICFI calls for building the United Socialist States of Europe!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2017 at 8:56 am

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

with 3 comments

Image result for labour conference

 

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

The 2017 Labour Party Conference was a success. Above all a series of policy decisions, on ending PFI, re-establishing public ownership of key sectors, rail and utilities, represents the first serious challenge to the regulative stand that has dominated European social democracy since the 1980s. It strikes at the neoliberal principle that as far as possible the functions of the national and local state should be hived off to private enterprise. Decisions in favour of union rights replace the idea that the workplace is a place of creative energy with only accidental conflict that can be sorted out with a minimum of legislation. Government intervention in the economy has been re-established as a principle. Taxation will be rebalanced in favour of the less-well off. The Health Service will be regenerated, free of the burden of hived-off services.

Labour has taken the first steps towards refounding social democracy and democratic socialism within a common framework. That is to bring together the aspiration for Crossland’s more just form of distribution (The Future of Socialism. 1956) with the long-standing socialist commitment to public ownership and an end to the “automatism of the competitive capitalist economy” that Aneurin Bevan advocated (In Place of Fear. 1952) One can only hope that new policies for social security, afflicted by the disaster that is Universal Credit, at present a site under construction, will receive the same attention.

The New Synthesis and its Limits.

Labour has not resolved its divisions on Europe, making claims about a new consensus – after a vote on the issue, including Free Movement – was avoided. Ideas that the EU would forbid public ownership, even that the presence of migrant workers – whether used by employers or not – is a problem were floated by the leadership.

The claim that competition regulations automatically rule out all forms of public ownership is clearly false, as this article indicates, Nationalisation Is Not Against EU Law. The associated theory, that a sovereign Parliament under Labour control will be freer to make its own economic policies under Brexit, remains. The view that ‘market forces”, in the shape of holders of government bonds, pounds, banks and financial institutions, will weaken in a country outside the EU is not widely held. It is unlikely that the “deep state” of international capitalism is kinder, or more open to influence, than the pooled sovereignty of the European Union.

The other element in Labour’s ‘synthesis’ between different strands of left thinking, human rights, is represented in the stand taken against anti-Semitism. Its persistence on the fringes has to be confronted. Controversy will continue on international issues, with a small, but entrenched, section of the party convinced of the merits of backing any enemy of the West.

The regeneration of the party has been accompanied by the growth of Momentum, a significant influence of Labour delegates. This has brought to the fore newer ideas, which some trace to the ‘alter-globalisation’ movements of the 21st century’s first decade. Perhaps some Momentum activists are influenced by “intersectionality” (drawing together a variety of fights against oppression) and a leading figure from that time, invited to their Conference event, Naomi Klein and her commitment to the Leap Manifesto, a  call for “energy democracy”, “Caring for the Earth”and restoration, in Canada, to the “original caretakers of this land” (No is not enough. 2017). Others on the European left make a more general point. For Christophe Aguiton the network has helped Labour regenerate, capturing within its own structures the kind of social discontent about austerity and radical politics associated with Podemos in Spain. (La Gauche du 21e Siècle .2017)

Labour’s mind will now turn to electoral strategy. Some will be concerned with gaining support amongst those, often Northern and working class, who backed Brexit. Influenced by David Goodhart’s distinction between “anywheres” and “somewheres” Labour should now concentrate on winning over the rooted, provincial electorate, disaffected with both austerity and cultural change, the ‘left behinds’ who reject the “metropolitan elite”. (The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 2017). To some left-wingers this tallies with a version of identity politics, in which working class culture, embodying virtue, resists cosmopolitan liberalism – the EU. This electorate is “more real” than, say, the Canterbury students who helped get a Labour MP into Parliament in a Tory safe seat. That layers of the Somewheres have cast their ballots for UKIP may perhaps explain the Conference declarations against migrant workers.

Left blocs. 

Bruno Amable and Stefano Palombarini deal with dilemmas for the French left many of which echo these issues, L’illusion du Bloc bourgeois (2017). Written in the run up this year’s Presidential election the authors race the steady erosion of the social ‘bloc’ which tied together the electorate of the French left, public sector workers and the working class.

Amable and Palombarini trace how the interests of this bloc, in workers’ rights, social protection, raising living standards, all enveloped in policies of state intervention, were eroded by successive ‘Socialist’ (that is, Parti Socialiste) led governments since the mid-1980s. The 1983-4 ‘turn’ to market driven policies, under the Mitterrand Presidency, was marked by the ideology “modernisation” which projected onto the construction of Europe the domestic priority for liberalising the economy. It weakened their base, undoing the assent for the party.

This modernising turn shook up workplace relations, gave priority to ‘flexibility’, greater power to financial markets, and has had a direct impact on people’s lives, their career paths, their job security, and sapped their ability to negotiate better terms and conditions. Rather than cultural shock at the ‘new’ – reactions to greater social liberalisation, and to immigration – has eaten away at left support. In other words, it’s not that the ‘Somewheres’ (known in French as ‘la France périphérique). are reactionary, they cannot recognise themselves in a political party – or electoral alliance – which does not meet their goals. The fate of the PS, reduced to dust in this year’s elections, is the result of a long process in which their leadership has failed to listen to their voice, and objective needs. 

Modernisers.

That British ‘modernisers’ around Tony Blair appealed to ‘globalisation’ rather than the European Project illustrates that the EU is not the convenient target for all the faults of neoliberalism that some suggest. Blair’s own strategists, less worried about left-wing competitors than the French PS, and keenly aware of Labour’s monopoly of the left-voting working class, found their own worker figure. This was the “aspirational” worker discussed by Philip Gould, as well as by Roger Liddle and Peter Mandelson (The Unfinished Revolution. 1998, The Blair Revolution. 1996).Labour could only secure of a majority for its own ‘left bloc’ by reaching beyond its traditionally organised workers, public and private, to this electoral pool. Seemingly unconcerned with the less attractive effects of flexibilisation and marketisation, these figure were to be equipped with new skills to compete on the “global market”. The welfare state was resigned to be a ‘launch pad’ for employment, not a ‘safe home’ for the causalities of capitalism, or for those in need, the basic right for all for a decent life. That we now see people in absolute poverty living on our streets shows the way this has turned out. 

Yet the result appears the same. After the 2008 Banking Crash the appeal of unfettered markets waned; the ‘bloc’ behind Third Way modernisation cracked. There was not enough money, apparently, around to shore up the remaining public and organised union base, while the ‘aspirational’ workers looked to those who embraced austerity wholeheartedly. Not surprisingly, as Amable and Palombarini, argue for France, a real problem is that the section of the base which has been shaped by the opportunities which better social protection, the welfare state, social security, abstains.

In France there have been efforts to rebuild the ‘left bloc’ around the ‘Sovereigntist’ (reasserting French national state power over the EU) or ‘Left Populist’ line of federating the People against the Oligarchs. The nature and the future of this attempt, around the figure of Jan-Luc Mélenchon, is not our concern here, except to note that half-hearted populist efforts by Labour leaders to evoke populist themes, which draw on “resentment” at oligarchical – business and financial – power have not been met with success.

Labour’s Path.

Labour’s strategy sets out a different path. It is already a movement, with trade union, large constituency parties, and deep roots in civil society. It is not an appeal to an abstract ‘construction’ the people, or heavily dependent on a Web network. It is policies that are developed for, and by these constituencies that Labour needs to win. Two themes stand out: social ownership and equality. They are shaping into a framework that could take them up. That is to expresses both the social democratic goal of “society protecting itself” (Karl Polanyi), and the radical aspiration for democratic ownership, and that the workplace becomes a place where people have rights and are not the objects of flexible markets. Both point, it hardly needs saying, to far more radical changes to come.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm