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Socialist Worker and Novara Media Attack Anti-Fascist Anti-Brexit Demo Against Tommy Robinson Great Brexit Betrayal Rally.

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Pro-Brexit Rally Calls for Anti-Brexit Response.

The Another Europe is Possible protest “No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit” continues to create controversy.

Leave or Remain, We All Hate Tommy

Callum Cant and Benjamin Walters write,

Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is an ultra-remain campaign group that positions itself as the left wing of the ‘Stop Brexit’ movement. Its support base varies from Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members to Guardian columnist Zoe Williams. AEIP have called for a People’s Vote/Stop Brexit counter-protest to the far right march.

They argue that it’s not enough to simply oppose racism and fascism – we have to specifically oppose Brexit. For them, Brexit is not just a recruiting ground for the far right, it is actually a far right project in its entirety. So, the anti-fascist response has to be to try and stop Brexit.

After having carefully established that AEIP is “ultra”, AWL backed, no less, and, apparently has a view (which is not referenced) on the Brexit basis of the “far right project in its entirety” they outline an alternative.

Cant and Walters argument appears to be that the left needs to talk to  Brexit supporters, to weed them away from Robinson and UKIP leadership.

Whereas the Momentum-backed counter-protest is using the slogan ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain’ without taking a line on Brexit, AEIP are linking together an ultra-remain position with an anti-fascist position. This is a very bad mistake.

It is a mistake because it maps the political division of the Brexit debate (48% Remain, 52% Leave) onto the political division between fascists and anti-fascists (90% anti-fascist, 10% fascist). It gives Robinson exactly what he wants: leadership.

Instead of challenging his attempt to lead Leave voters and splitting the hard core of the far right away from the 52%, it consolidates his position from the other side of a police line. Robinson is a general looking for an army. AEIP’s line, if pursued, will do much to form his battalions for him.

Yes, we “all hate Tommy”.

But, one might ask how, as they suggest,  is the left going to lead Leave voters?

By arguing for a People’s Brexit?

By saying that a Brexit Britain with a “socialist economy” will be (as a Counterfire contributor put it recently) a “Beacon” off the shores of Europe?

Brexit is not a “floating signifier” that you can moor to the left’s politics.

It is a reactionary project through and through.

Trying another tack the authors assert,

…..anti-fascist fronts should only express the limited politics necessary to defeat the fascists on the day. They should appeal to as many people as possible (regardless of what they think about Brexit). They should recognise that the goal of the front is only to prevent the fascists from taking leadership.

Just how limited?

They argue that the demonstration called by the SWP Fronts Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism is against ‘Fortress Europe” is such a step

It is against Europe, that’s for sure.

Here is the SWP:

Unite and stop the racists and fascists on 9 December

Tomáš Tengely-Evans writes,

The Another Europe Is Possible campaign has called a separate mobilisation under the dangerous slogan of “No to Tommy Robinson—no to Brexit”. The organisers link opposition to Robinson to demands for a “People’s Vote” to stop Brexit.

Racism against migrants pushed by both Tory Brexiteers and Labour ­“centrists” who want to block Brexit has added to the racist atmosphere.

So the ‘limited’ united front is also against “Labour ‘centrists'”.

The SWP view on “anti-fascists” who “send volunteers to the Middle East to fight Isis” is not known.

In the meantime back in the real world of Brexit:

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Patriotism and Nationalism, from Orwell to Trump Mocking France’s War Dead.

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Nice One Trumpy!

Comrade George Orwell wrote,

 “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

NOTES ON NATIONALISM  Polemic, GB – London, 1945

People have debated these lines and the article for many years.

But Trump has just clarified the meaning of these sentences.

Trump Mocks France for World War Losses

First thing in the U.S. morning, the U.S. president took another — even more pointed — crack at the French leader. After a fractious visit to Paris over the weekend, Trump returned to the theme of a European army to defend the continent’s interests and took renewed offence. In a particularly sharp jab, Trump implied that the French needed the U.S. to rescue them from the Germans in both world wars.

 

The tweet comes after Trump spent a weekend in Paris with other world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. In an earlier tweet, the American president had called Macron’s suggestion “very insulting.” Trump’s latest broad-side was ill-timed, falling on the third anniversary of Paris terror attacks that killed more than 130 people and left hundreds more injured.

…..

Scroll down to this:

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in an address to world leaders gathered for Armistice commemorations, with Trump sitting nearby.

His office later tweeted this part of the speech, which went on to say ‘by putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.”

It was seen as a direct rebuke of Trump’s ‘America First’ policies. Indeed, Macron has used social media to mock the U.S. leader in the past. When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, Macron launched an initiative to recruit U.S. scientists with the tag line “Make Our Planet Great Again” — a play on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.”

 

The President persists and signs:

 

French Army response to Trump’s fear of a dose of drizzle:

Trump is still at it:

 

For the moment this is the official French response, no comment: 

L’Elysée se refuse pour l’heure à tout commentaire après cette série de tweets, indique l’AFP.

However much one may normally disagree with Marcon, we are in in solidarity with the French President against this draft-dodging flatulent flaccid fraud US President.

Here is Plantu rendering a loving homage to the other side of America:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Varoufakis and DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit.

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DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit!

Yanis Varoufakis condemns ‘toxic’ campaign for a second EU referendum.

The Sovereigntist and ‘progressive’ Pro-Brexit Morning Star reports.

FORMER Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis condemned the “toxic” public campaign for a second referendum on British membership of the European Union today.

The economist, who served under the left-wing Syriza government in 2015 when it confronted the EU over enforced austerity politics, accused anti-Brexit campaigners of dumping left politics.

In an interview for Jacobin magazine, he said he had campaigned on the Remain side during the 2016 referendum, but he explained: “I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote.

“I really despise the way that [second referendum campaigners] talk about a ‘People’s Vote’ as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote.

“This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.”

Mr Varoufakis said he backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for a fresh general election and added that the “silver lining” to Britain leaving the EU was that a Labour government could nationalise industry “more easily.”

Is his interview to the ‘progressive’ Jacobin magazine the former firebrand, speaking “as progressives” he rejected the Left Against Brexit call for a Second referendum, said,

.. let’s not re-run the referendum debate: I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote. I really despise the way that they [campaigners for another referendum] talk about [the need for] a “People’s Vote” as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote. This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.

To me what is now essential is for Britain — and this is possibly something Jeremy and I don’t agree on — to maintain freedom of movement. The Left should always fight to keep borders away and not to create new borders among people. So, for me a “Norway plus” solution would be ideal for Britain and even if that doesn’t happen, our New Deal for Europe, proposed by DieM 25, details how even after a hard Brexit [the UK breaking from all EU-related structures] British institutions and European institutions could coordinate in such a way as to simulate a European Union in which Britain is an integral and progressive part.

DiEM25 members now have the option of choosing between two versions of the “Progressive” acceptance of Brexit.

For DiEM25 to support this important initiative, its members must be consulted and the call must be made compatible with DiEM25’s long standing position in favour of a Norway Plus agreement, as per our all-member vote in the autumn of 2016. The two versions that members are now being asked to endorse differ in the following main way:

Option 1.
Take A Break From Brexit to Give Democracy the Time it Deserves
Proposed and defended by Andrea Pisauro of the thematic DSC justifies the one-year extension of Article 50 by calling not just for a general election, but also to permit the UK’s participation in the European Parliament elections of May 2019, participation to which this extension opens the doors.

Andrea Pisauro’s Call to Take a BREAK FROM BREXIT to give democracy the time it deserves.pdf

Option 2.

Take A Break From Brexit for a General Election
Proposed by Yanis Varoufakis, aims at a campaign for extending by one-year the Article 50 negotiations solely in order to enable a general election to take place so that a new government, with a real mandate, can complete the UK-EU negotiations.

Yanis Varoufakis’ Call to TAKE A BREAK FROM BREXIT for a general election.pdf

As an alliance with the ambition to reshape European politics, in (you guessed it) a “Progressive” direction  DiEM25 is busy building a Europe-wide front for the 2018 elections to the European Parliament.

DiRM25’s latest catch is the French ‘party’ Nouvelle Donne.

Led by  Pierre Larrouturou this new hand of old cards originated in a centre-left current in the French Parti Socialiste, expressing its admriation for the ‘progressive’ US left under the name of the Collectif Roosevelt,. It managed to score 11.5% of the internal congress vote in 2012.

Nouvelle Donne  has laid (optimistic) claims to 11,000 members.

In the European elections of 2014 it won 2,90% of the vote. They backed, after failing to secure support for their own candidate, the sovereigntist  Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2017. Standing 20 candidates in the Parliamentary elections that followed some are said to have won more than 1% of the ballots cast!

The ideology of Nouvelle Donne, is inspired by the American New Deal, progressisme, l’écologie politiquehumanisme, participatory democracy, and, some say, an element of democratic socialism.

They are also kind to flowers and animals (I just made that bit up.

It has had  two elected figures: David Derrouet, Mayor of the small town, Fleury-Mérogis until 2017, and Fabienne Grébert,a regional councillor in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Onwards and upwards DiRM25!

Sanders and Varoufakis to launch ‘Progressive International’ “Green, Radical Left and……..Liberal”?

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Nobody could accuse them of lacking ambition!

Sanders and Varoufakis to Launch Progressive International

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are teaming up to launch a new initiative for common international action by progressives.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is teaming up with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to formally launch a new “Progressives International” in Vermont on Nov. 30, Varoufakis said in Rome on Friday.

Varoufakis, who made the announcement during a Friday press conference in Rome, told BuzzFeed News they were also inviting incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to join the new movement. (López Obrador spokesperson Jesús Ramírez told BuzzFeed News he had received no “formal invitation” to “join a “progressive international” front.)

Varoufakis described the initiative in part as an attempt to counter the work that Steve Bannon, who also made an appearance in Rome last month, has been doing to help nationalists forge a united front in elections for the European Union’s parliament next spring. Varoufakis also accused immigration critics like Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of being part of an extremist alliance.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists — like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini — they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.

Sanders and Varoufakis Announce Alliance to Craft ‘Common Blueprint for an International New Deal’

The pair hopes to promote a “progressive, ecological, feminist, humanist, rational program” for not only Europe, but the entire world

After arguing in a pair of Guardian op-eds last month that a worldwide progressive movement is needed to counter the unifying rightwing “that sprang out of the cesspool of financialized capitalism,” former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced in Rome on Friday that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plan to officially launch “Progressives International” in the senator’s state on Nov. 30.

Varoufakis told BuzzFeed News that the movement aims to challenge an emerging extremist alliance of nationalist political figures—from immigration critics such as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to President Donald Trump’s ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is working to garner voter support for rightwing parties ahead of the May 2019 European Parliament elections.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists—like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini—they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.”

As Sanders wrote in the Guardian, “At a time of massive global wealth and income inequality, oligarchy, rising authoritarianism, and militarism, we need a Progressive International movement to counter these threats.” Warning that “the fate of the world is at stake,” the senator called for “an international progressive agenda that brings working people together around a vision of shared prosperity, security, and dignity for all people.”

Varoufakis, denouncing the global “brotherhood” of financiers and “xenophobic rightwing zealots” who foment divisiveness to control wealth and politics, said in the Guardian that those who join the movement “need to do more than campaign together,” and proposed the formation of “a common council that draws out a common blueprint for an International New Deal, a progressive New Bretton Woods.”

In addition to the forthcoming progressive alliance—which incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, will reportedly be invited to join—Varoufakis is leading the campaign efforts of European Spring, a new progressive political party, for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

As a European Democratic Socialist – and leftist – it is hard to know what the  term “progressive” means.

In our Continent, the word still has associations with the old Communist Parties and their fellow travellers, often called ‘progressives’. Or, to put it simply, progressive was used to embrace a broad swathe of potential allies. For very obvious reasons this usage is not just out of fashion today, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

More recently. the right-wing of Labour (Progress) , and Emmanuel Macron, are fond  of calling themselves ‘progressives’ .

Both of these usages would put off many left-wingers for a start!

The word reeks.

Yet, apparently in the US ‘progressive’ is  linked to the most liberal wing of the Democrat Party.

I believe that in its origins in US political thought  progressive refers to a broad stream of thinkers, from Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, to advanced liberals like John Dewey and, more recently Barack Obama.

If it has any meaning the word appears to signify,  “support for or advocacy of improvement of society by reform””, which does not get us very fa.Not when just about privatising fiddle in the UK is called a “reform” for the better.

Still, ‘reform’ could, at a pinch, be extended with more hopeful connotations, to the left, including Sander’s wing of the Democrats.

The Democratic Socialists of America use the word, “the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.”

The European Spring alliance promoted by the Greek former Finance Minister certainly is “progressive” in this sense.That is, if one talks up ‘movement’enough to include self-important commissions and top-heavy public events.

This ‘alliance’ was built originally by DiEM25:

DiEM25 is a pan-European, cross-border movement of democrats.

We believe that the European Union is disintegrating. Europeans are losing their faith in the possibility of European solutions to European problems. At the same time as faith in the EU is waning, we see a rise of misanthropy, xenophobia and toxic nationalism.

If this development is not stopped, we fear a return to the 1930s. That is why we have come together despite our diverse political traditions – Green, radical left, liberal – in order to repair the EU. The EU needs to become a realm of shared prosperity, peace and solidarity for all Europeans. We must act quickly, before the EU disintegrates.

But how many on the left, who  identify with the various strands of democratic socialism, would wish to be in an alliance with liberals? Or indeed, for all the fact that there is  larger constituency who identify with the US Sanders left, or are at least encourage by the fact that it exists, at all, how many  would wish to drop their allegiances to parties like the British Labour Party, and the very long list of European left parties, to join up with a movement headed by these  two individuals on the strength of a few articles in the Guardian?

Assuming that they have read them…..a brief trawl in the French language reveals no trace of this ‘international’ to begin with.

The European Spring Alliance, of “democrats of all political persuasions” does not seem to have much of a basis either.

Their support, such as they are, include (indeed is limited to) for France  Nouvelle Donne.

We are informed the party was named after the US ‘new Deal’ (which is not how I would translate a term normally referring to a ‘new fact*), an experience far from the forefront of the French Left’s collective memory.

Nouvelle Donne is  a classic French political ‘club’, around Pierre Larrouturou. He and his friends have  spent a couple of decades on the fringes of the Parti Socialiste (unsuccessfully bidding for influence  as a ‘current’) and the French Greens, to mention only a few. It has had two elected figures, David Derouet,  who was the Mayor of Fleury-Mérogis until 2017 and Fabienne Grébert, a regional councillor in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

A more serious force, Génération.s, (which claims, optimistically, 60,000 members), one MP, three MEPs and one Senator, was founded by former French Socialist Presidential candidate  Benoît Hamon (6.36% of the vote in the first round), also forms part of the  DiEM25 sponsored European Spring.
That is, after trying for an alliance with the French Greens (EREV) and,  and various leftist  strands described as “« altereuropéennnes »..At one point Mélenchon offered him negotiations .

Two days ago we learnt that Hamon has called his own list of “citizen candidates” outside of the old party machines. He is now  negotiating with the centre-left intellectual Raphaël Glucksmann in the tradition of Michel Rocard (he is also the son of the New Philosopher André Glucksman).

Le mouvement Générations fondé par Benoît Hamon a lancé lundi un appel à candidatures citoyennes pour une liste aux élections européennes située “en dehors des vieux appareils partisans”, une initiative compatible avec la création de “Place publique” par Raphaël Glucksmann

Européennes : Générations de Benoît Hamon lance un appel à candidatures citoyennes

Génération-s may maintain links with The European Spring (though it is unlikely the presence of Nouvelle Donne is welcome).

Facing at least 5 (f not more)  other left-wing or green lists in next year’s European elections, very few people give Hamon’s group and allies much of chance of winning seats.

Experienced commentators (that is, my good self) predict Hamon is going nowhere.

The forces that could be brought together by this new international could include the European Spring. This, at least according to Wikipedia involves  such strange bedfellows as the substantial  Czech Pirate Party the Danish Green splinter party, Alternativet and a Spanish initiative Actúa which seems largely a discussion and networking group (“un espacio de reflexión, debate cívico e intervención política”) outside  the main force of the left, Podemos. Not to mention others…. I’d lay a hefty wager they are not part of the central core of the European left….

Any residual sympathy one might have for this lot evaporates at the sight of this list of supporters behind DiEM25:

Nor is this just a matter of a few signatures:

The more I find out about this, the less I like it:

Tue 10, 2018, 
Update: * Nouvelle Donne according to my trusty Petit Robert, means the, snappy, ” new hand of cards “.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Jair Bolsonaro: Where Populism Meets Fascism.

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Fascist Wins Brazil Election.

Jair Bolsonaro declared Brazil’s next president

Guardian.

A far-right, pro-gun, pro-torture populist has been elected as Brazil’s next president after a drama-filled and deeply divisive election that looks set to radically reforge the future of the world’s fourth biggest democracy.

Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper who built his campaign around pledges to crush corruption, crime and a supposed communist threat, secured 55.1% of the votes after 99.9% were counted and was therefore elected Brazil’s next president, electoral authorities said on Sunday.

Bolsonaro’s leftist rival, Fernando Haddad, secured 44.8% of votes.

In a video broadcast from his home in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro thanked God and vowed to stamp out corruption in the country.

“We cannot continue flirting with communism … We are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” he said.

This result concerns the left across the world.

These are some notes.

For in-depth analysis of the background see:

The most important presidential race in Brazilian history (plus statements from MST & PSOL). James N. Green. Links  – International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

Brazil: will fake news win the election?

As Brazil’s presidential election reaches its second round, support for rabid, homophobic extremist Jair Bolsonaro is being whipped up by an unprecedented tide of ‘fake news’, distributed on social media, particularly WhatsApp,  Red Pepper. Sue Branford.

Brazilian socialist Andressa Alegre spoke to Solidarity about the experience with the governments led by the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) between 2003 and 2016.

More broadly:

Brazil goes back to an oligarch past

 Anne Vigna. le Monde Diplomatique. May 2018.

Post Lula, post Dilma Rousseff, power has shifted to powerful landowners aggressively asserting their rights over land they don’t use but don’t want to lose, and politically motivated violence is up.

Jair Bolsonaro and the threat to democracy in Brazil

Yesterday Brazil voted for a fascist. Jair Bolsonaro is now the President of Brazil.  He comfortably outpolled his nearest rival, Fernando Haddad, a former Mayor of Saõ Paulo and Minister for Education in the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by 55 to 45 per cent.  Although his lead appears to have narrowed in the final days before polling, it was still a decisive victory. The fourth largest country in the world could now slide from democracy to dictatorship.

Here are some pressing issues.

Brazil’s presidential election: fearful LGBT community prepares for a ‘proud homophobe’.

Tom Phillips. Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières

Activists say that while violence and discrimination against the LGBT community have long existed, Bolsonaro’s brazen bigotry has helped launch a new era of brutality and threats.

“It’s as if the gates of hell have been opened – as if hunting season had been declared,” said Beto de Jesus, a veteran LGBT activist and founder of São Paulo’s huge annual gay pride parade. “It’s barbarism.”

James Green, an American academic with longstanding ties to Brazil’s gay movement, said Bolsonaro’s “repulsive” discourse had left some gay and lesbian couples wondering if it was even still safe to hold hands in public: “He has unleashed all the demons in Brazilian society and they are out there now: unmasked and vicious and violent.”

Renan Quinalha, a São Paulo-based lawyer and LGBT activist, said recent weeks had seen a “frightening” spike in reports of physical or verbal abuse carried out by Bolsonaro supporters. He described a mood of fear and trepidation, both at the violence and the prospect that, as president, Bolsonaro might try to roll back hard-fought gains such as the 2011 legalisation of same-sex unions.

The Rise of the Brazilian Evangelicals

Au Brésil, les évangéliques ont voté Jair Bolsonaro.

The Evangelicals have voted for Bolsonaro – who is himself a Catholic.

There is a good case, given the intolerance, cult of violence, apologies for dictatorship and trumpeting of the most reactionary elements of free-market capitalism, religious bigotry  with themes of law and order,  and threats to withdraw from all international treaties and organisations, to  suggest that Brazil’s President is a figure in which  fascism meets populism.  

But this is far from the end of the story,

Brazilian presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro has flaunted a macho distaste for gays. He’s recommended that parents beat effeminate boys. He’s said he would prefer a dead son to a homosexual one.

And he has the vote of Tiago Pavinatto, a gay lawyer and columnist for O Estado de S. Paulo, one of the nation’s largest newspapers.

Bolsonaro has “flirted with homophobia because he’s an ordinary, rude man and he knows that,” said Pavinatto, 34. “He will be surrounded by people who will ensure gay rights be respected.”

This is no random, one-off case. Pavinatto is part of a surprisingly large segment of the gay community — 29 percent, according to a Datafolha survey this week — who intends to vote for the former Army captain. And it underscores just how strong the desire is among many Brazilians to prevent the party of Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad, from returning to power

Disgust with corruption during the 14-year rule of the Workers’ Party runs so deep that some gay voters have been willing to bet that Bolsonaro’s hostility is a mere ploy. Others support Haddad with great reluctance or are refusing to vote entirely.

Brazil’s gay groups, flourishing in its cosmopolitan cities, have been made a scapegoat in Bolsonaro’s grievance-fueled campaign. The candidate has pointed to homosexuals as evidence of moral decay as he preaches a return to conservative values.

Strong rejection of the Workers’ Party and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva drive Bolsonaro’s backers, and that isn’t different in the gay community. But gays find themselves torn between disapproval of corruption associated with Lula’s legacy and resistance to a candidate who has repeatedly antagonized them.

Why Many of Brazil’s Gay Voters Will Overlook Bolsonaro’s Homophobic Rants  

Apart from the problems with the Partido dos Trabalhadores, Workers Party, the disaster that is ‘Bolivarian’ Venezuela under their eyes- 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2014,-and clashes as some Brazilians have rioted against the presence of over 100,000 refugees – the Brazilian left has lost another potential source of inspiration.  (September. Brazil calls in army after mob attacks on Venezuelan migrants )

In a Video produced by the Left of centre French weekly l’Obs, violent scenes have already taken place in Post-election Brazil.

 

The French Daily Libération underlines the disappointment of the 44.9% who voted for his opponent Fernando Haddad, and the dangers of this result: “You are worth more than Bolsonaro.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Novra Media’s James Butler Laments British Labour’s Failure to Read Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn.

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Image result for anderson nairn for socialism

Latest Woke Book for Corbynistas. 

Top Jeremy Corbyn supporter: Britain’s problem is failure to execute the rich

Speaking on Monday for a video on the pro-Jeremy Corbyn media site Novara Media, a Novara founder explained why socialism hasn’t found a natural base in British society.

According to James Butler, “the great problem of British politics is that we never had a successful bourgeois revolution so we never executed all of these people. And therefore they remain in this kind of continual alliance that is extremely powerful between land wealth and a nascent bourgeois. It means that the structure of British politics is weirdly deformed as opposed to the standard European political model.”

Not only this but this!

(Last year…)

On #NovaraFM, Nina Power joins James Butler to talk about ‘decapitalism’ – from severed heads to sovereignty to contemporary anticapitalism and more.

Comrades were not slow to point to the errors in Cde Butler’s analysis.

We, notably Kylie and George, have delved into the depths of the Nairn-Anderson thesis, that Britain “never had a successful bourgeois revolution”.

This are some modest fruits of our research.

There is, about them, the air of an inverted Podsnappery.

“We Englishmen are Very Proud of our Constitution, Sir,” Mr. Podsnap explained with a sense of meritorious proprietorship: “It was Bestowed Upon Us By Providence. No Other Country is so Favoured as This Country …”

“And other countries,” said the foreign gentleman. “They do how?”

“They do, Sir,” returned Mr. Podsnap, gravely shaking his head; “they do – I am sorry to be obliged to say it – as they do.”

But now the rôles are reversed. Mr. Podsnap (who has swelled to engross all British culture over the past 400 years) is being arraigned in his turn.

“And other countries,” said Mr. Podsnap remorsefully. “They do how?”

“They do,” returned Messrs. Anderson and Nairn severely: “They do – we are sorry to be obliged to say it – in Every Respect Better. Their Bourgeois Revolutions have been Mature. Their Class Struggles have been Sanguinary and Unequivocal. Their Intelligentsia has been Autonomous and Integrated Vertically. Their Morphology has been Typologically Concrete. Their Proletariat has been Hegemonic.”

E.P. Thompson

The Peculiarities of the English  (1965)

Since that time many people have been influenced by the debates arising from François Furet’s Penser la Révolution Française (1978).

Many in New Left Review have taken the view that by criticism the paranoiac ultra-nationalist Terror during the French Revolution, and finding some parallels with the Terror in the Bolshevik Revolution, was a key marker in the French intelligentsia’s’ turn against Marxism in the 1970s

Others, who have read the book (really a collection of essays) for themselves,  see a critique of the ‘stage’ theory of bourgeois revolutions. That is the view that only a “proper” political Revolution,with some bloodshed (see Butler) on the model of 1789 can clear the way for a bourgeois society with its appropriate state.

For Marxists the most striking aspect of his essays  is that they pointed out, like Thompson, that there was not one model for the bourgeois revolution, or for the coming of bourgeois society.

There is little doubt that Furet was inclined to hint that the Jacobins foreshadowed, in some way, the Bolsheviks. That the belief that they incarnated “popular sovereignty” and the ‘General Will’ (an object which has never been sighted in the flesh) and convinced of their own Virtue, had something in common with the belief that Lenin’s party embodied the progress of history and the will of the Proletariat. More broadly he signalled how the Jacobin version of direct democracy – restricted to ‘active citizens’ – facilitated their ‘machine’ open to the evocation of this General Will against dissent.

Furet  central point is that the terror and the hysterical fear of ‘aristocratic plots’ cannot be explained away by adverse ‘circumstances’, the need to defend France against foreign intervention, and domestic armed opposition.

Whether the explanation for the repression, the Guillotine, and the ferocity of the revolutionaries,  lies in proto-totalitarianism or in the historically far from unique paranoia of a state of siege, remains an issue for historians.

Jacobin rule, the power of the original Commune de Paris, was overthrow with only token resistance. With a broken jaw a screaming and whimpering Robespierre was guillotined on 10 Thermidor (28th of July 1794).

But to return to Anderson and Nairn.

Nicos Poulantzas commented,

The characteristic conclusions of Anderson and Nairn follow from this short passage, which must seem strange to anyone who has been concerned with British political problems. For in their analysis, what Marx called ‘the most bourgeois of nations’ presents the paradoxical situation of a capitalist formation ‘typical’ in its origin and evolution, within which, however, the bourgeois class has almost never taken the ‘pure’ role of the hegemonic or dominant class. Because of its ‘aborted’ revolution between the 15th and 18th centuries, the bourgeois class did not succeed in changing the objective structures of the feudal state, and remained in practice a class politically dominated until its ‘absorption’ within a ‘power bloc’ belatedly formed by the landed aristocracy.

This aristocracy, by imposing its cultural and ideological hegemony on the British social formation as a whole, remained permanently the determinant class within the structures of political domination of this capitalist society. [6]

The bourgeois class, having missed its vocation as the hegemonic class, did not succeed, as in France, in structuring a ‘coherent’ ideology of its own which could be the dominant ideology in this formation: the ruling ideology of English society as a whole was the ‘aristocratic’ ideology.

MARXIST POLITICAL THEORY IN BRITAIN

More critiques of this false route:

 The Pristine Culture of Capitalism 

Ellen Meiksins Wood on the Nairn-Anderson thesis and the Bourgeois paradigm

The Nairn-Anderson theses, which sparked a wide-ranging and fruitful debate in particular with the historian E. P. Thompson, were elaborated in the 1960s and 1970s in the pages of the New Left Review. Their principal object was to explain the ‘origins of the present crisis’, at a time when Britain appeared to be unique among capitalist countries in its pattern of industrial decline. Some twenty years later, that debate was revived in a context of international crisis and restructuring of capital, which tended to mask any particularly British disorder. This was also a time when the dominant capitalist economy of the earlier period – the United States – began to reproduce the pattern of decline that once seemed peculiarly British. The powerful and influential Nairn-Anderson theses, constructed in the sixties to explain the British decline by tracing it to its historical roots, were called upon to defend not only their explanation of a specifically British disease but also the very notion of its specificity. At the same time, there has emerged a movement for constitutional reform in Britain, whose leading proponents (especially those associated with ‘Charter 88’) subscribe to something very much like the Nairn-Anderson thesis about the incompleteness of Britain’s bourgeois revolution and the immaturity of its bourgeois democracy.

The original Nairn-Anderson theses rested on two principal assumptions: that the British decline was special and unique, and that these specific disorders were traceable to the priority, and consequent incompleteness, of capitalist development in Britain, where a fundamentally unchallenged early capitalism emerged under the auspices of a landed aristocracy instead of a triumphant urban bourgeoisie, lacking the complete sequence of bourgeois revolutions which on the Continent produced more ‘rational’, bourgeois states. This still agrarian and aristocratic capitalist class experienced no need completely to transform the social order and its cultural supports, while the immature bourgeoisie never seized hegemony over the process of ‘modernization’, leaving British industrial capital permanently dwarfed by more primitive commercial and financial forms of capital. An essential corollary of this thesis was that other, late-developing capitalist countries were not subject to the same disorders because they were more ‘modern’ and their bourgeois revolutions more complete.

These major assumptions were later modified in various ways by each of the original authors. Perry Anderson argued in ‘The Figures of Descent’ that the British case may have prefigured a more universal pattern, already replicated in the United States and show­ing signs of ‘its ultimate generalization throughout the advanced capitalist world’. At the same time, he accepted the view, most boldly expressed by Arno Mayer, that the ‘ancien regime’persisted throughout Europe well into the twentieth century, implying that the ‘backwardness’ of Britain is not in itself so exceptional.  Tom Nairn went even further than Anderson or Mayer in his claims for the persistence of the ancien regime in Europe. We may, he suggested in his remarkable book on the British monarchy, only now be ‘living in the first decades of true capitalist ascendancy’ – which he identifies with the triumph of an industrial bourgeoisie and the formation of a state to match.

So Britain is apparently unique neither in its ‘backwardness’ nor even, perhaps, in the pattern of its crisis. Indeed, if Nairn in particular is right in postponing the definitive triumph of capitalism to the 1970s, his theses seem to be in need of substantial adjust­ments: the decade which, according to Nairn, saw the decisive victory of capitalism was also marked by the replication elsewhere of precisely those patterns that supposedly signal a peculiarly British disease – most notably in a capitalist country with none of Britain’s archaic residues.

Perry Anderson’s ‘The Figures of Descent’ concludes by pointing to the signs that the British pattern may become universal through­out the advanced capitalist world. At the same time, he still regards the British instance as specific, in the nature, timing and scale of its decline as well as in the poverty of the instrumentalities available to British capitalism for reversing its industrial decadence. The question for him must be whether the original historical explanation can withstand the generalization of British ‘backwardness’ to include all the capitalist countries of Europe.

The simple option of generalizing his British explanation, so that the universal ‘backwardness’ and uneven development of Europe is invoked to account for the general crisis, is clearly unacceptable to Anderson, not just because it leaves unexplained the American case, which so far has shown the most pronounced inclination to follow the British example, but also because there really are significant specificities in the British case which remain to be explained. Anderson stresses, for instance, the particular scale of British industry, the inclination to favour small-scale production of consumer goods over heavy industry, the resistance to the concentration and centralization of capital and production, and the disproportionate weight of Britain’s investment abroad. There remains, too, a particular cultural configuration which, as Ander­son has argued in the past, sets Britain apart from the general culture and intellectual life of Wes tern Europe, and which, accord­ing to Tom Nairn, has left Britain with a national identity defined by the archaic forms of the monarchy and pre-capitalist ideologies of class.

If other capitalist economies are destined eventually to suffer a similar fate, and if the archaic remnants of Britain’s past must be situated in a larger context of European backwardness, Anderson seems to be suggesting, the particularities of the British decline can still be explained by the peculiarities of its ancien regime. While the Nairn-Anderson theses must be further specified to provide an explanation ‘at a lower level of individuation’ which spells out the specificities of the British ancien regime in contrast to other persis­tent antiquities, the original theses remain fundamentally intact, argues Anderson, vindicated in the court of history.

Yet, these modifications aside, it is possible that two distinct theses have from the beginning competed for primacy in Anderson’s account of British history. Because the two theses tend to be interwoven in his work, the distinctions are not immediately evident; but it is possible to separate out the principal strands.

Thesis 1 (which, on the whole, appears to be dominant) depicts a precocious capitalism and a ‘mediated’ bourgeois revolution, a capitalism stunted by its aristocratic and agrarian origins, the absence of a clear antagonism between bourgeoisie and aristocracy and the failure of the bourgeoisie to escape its subaltern position or to transform the state and the dominant culture. In contrast, Continental capitalisms benefited from more complete and unme­diated bourgeois revolutions, and from clear contradictions between bourgeoisie and aristocracy which issued in a decisive triumph of the bourgeoisie and its thorough transformation of archaic political and cultural superstructures. The relative failures of Britain and the successes of other capitalisms have to do with the premature and incomplete development of the former and the greater maturity of the latter.

Thesis 2 (which could be, though it is not, detached from the dominant thesis and made to stand on its own, with some extrapolation) again begins with a precocious capitalism, but this time the critical factor is not the persistence of the ancien regime so much as the absence of obstacles to the development of this early and unchallenged capitalism. Here, the defects of contemporary British capitalism are ascribed to the advantages it derived from its head­start. It is not simply a matter of first to rise, first to decline, nor even a question of antiquated material infrastructures. The argument is rather that Britain’s early and unrivalled evolution as a capitalist power left it bereft of the means to reverse the decline once set in train, while other European capitalisms were, at least for a time, better equipped. Early English capitalism never faced the need to establish institutions and practices to enhance or accelerate development – for example, certain kinds of state intervention or administrative skills; and its slow and ‘natural’ industrial revolu­tion, unlike, say, the later German process of industrialization, generated no need for ‘the “bureaucratic” creation of a widespread, efficient system of technical education’. So have ‘the triumphs of the past become the bane of the present’.

These two theses do, of course, overlap and are not entirely incompatible; but there are significant differences, not all of which can be reconciled. Thesis 2 (early leadership) can more easily accommodate the persistence of the ancien regime throughout Europe, but Thesis 1 (incomplete bourgeois revolution) could in principle survive the postponement or prolongation of Continental bourgeois revolutions. Thesis 2, however, can explain the replication of British patterns elsewhere, which Thesis 1 cannot. For example, in Thesis 2, although Britain would remain unique because of its early and unchallenged origins, other capitalisms, emerging later and attaining dominance in a more competitive setting, might still reproduce the effects of leadership, ‘trapped and burdened by its past successes’.  The recent history of American capitalism illustrates how a period of dominance can eventually produce its own competitive disadvantages, not least because leaders can for a time make profits without developing productive forces. According to Thesis 2, the priority of British capitalism, its very early leadership, would still account for relatively greater disadvantages, and no later leadership could exactly reproduce the effects of earlier dominance; but in this version, the successes and failures of any capitalist economy have more to do with the conditions of competition than with the persistence of, or ruptures with, a pre-capitalist past.

She continues,

In other words, Thesis 2 could accept, as Thesis 1 cannot, that archaic forms are not necessarily incompatible with a dynamic capitalism -as the examples of Germany and Japan have so vividly demonstrated. The second thesis could even entertain the possi­bility that there may be circumstances in which the survival of archaic forms can promote, rather than impede, capitalist develop­ment -for instance, the availability of bureaucratic state-forms whose interventions can override the inherent contradictions of ‘pure’ capitalism, or the persistence of cultural forms that under­write the deference of workers. Indeed, the first successors of early English capitalism may more exactly fit the case of capitalist development conducted under ‘pre-modern’ auspices, as post­absolutist states responded to the competitive challenge and the example of English capitalism (sometimes also benefiting from the availability of English capital and technology). It was precisely in such cases more than in Britain that a dynamic capitalism could develop prematurely, in advance of fully ripe indigenous conditions and even adapting pre-capitalist relics to the needs of capitalist development.

The two theses, to put it another way, differ in their underlying conceptions of capitalism: the first is predicated on an unambiguously progressive capitalism which, left to its natural logic, will always promote industrial advance and a ‘rational’ state; the other acknowledges the contradictions inherent in the system. The first must attribute failures to the incompleteness of capitalist development; the second can ascribe them to the inherent weaknesses of capitalism itself. It is worth adding that Thesis 2, the early-leadership thesis, is more compatible with arguments put forward by E.P. Thompson in the original debate, and less subject to his persuasive charge that Nairn-Anderson operated with an abstractly idealized model of a ‘Bourgeois Revolution’ drawn – somewhat tautologically – from the experience of Other Countries.

Much of the discussion that follows here will be conducted against the background of the Nairn-Anderson theses, though not always in direct debate with them, sharing their basic premise that the priority of British capitalism provides a key to its current condition, and drawing on their insights about British history and culture, but not necessarily arriving at the same conclusions.

One major point remains indisputable. Britain – or rather England – was the world’s first capitalist society, and its priority profoundly affected its future development. There can be little doubt that its specific course of development left British capitalism singularly ill-endowed to undertake the kind of restructuring, notably the concentration of capital and production, required in the later conditions of international competition. But these facts are susceptible to more than one interpretation. If English capitalism was the first, and hence also the only one to emerge, as it were, spontaneously and not in response to external competitive press­ures from more ‘modern’ states, it is undoubtedly true that this ‘organic’ evolution left archaic forms in place instead of sweeping them away in a series of revolutionary onslaughts. But it may also be true, and for the same reason, that capitalism was more deeply rooted and its laws of motion more firmly established here than elsewhere, transforming the substance while preserving old forms -new wine in old bottles.

This is the decisive point:

Is Britain, then, a peculiar capitalism or is it peculiarly capitalist? That question is no less significant for an understanding of capita­lism in general than for an interpretation of British history in particular. It makes a very great difference whether the flaws in the world’s first capitalism and its pattern of industrial decline are the weaknesses of immaturity and incompleteness, specific to a peculiar case of arrested development, or the inherent contradictions of the system itself.

It may turn out that many of the qualities attributed to the incomplete development of British capitalism belong rather to capitalism as such, while the apparently more complete bourgeois revolutions elsewhere represent deeper continuities with a pre­capitalist past, and even that those continuities have sometimes benefited other European capitalisms. We may also find that, while Britain is indeed remarkable for its attachment to archaic forms and its tendency to revive – or even to invent- obsolete antiquities, and while these forms undoubtedly play an important ideological role, continuities with a pre-capitalist past are here more formal and symbolic than the structural continuities that connect other European states (without the symbolic trappings) to their ‘pre-modern’ antecedents.

There are certain conventional hallmarks of modernity, associated with the bourgeois paradigm, which have been absent in Britain and present in its principal historic rivals – in particular the so-called ‘rational’ or ‘modem’ state, with corresponding traditions of political discourse and cultural forms. It will be argued here that the emergence of these hallmarks in Continental Europe did not signal the maturity of ‘bourgeois’ or capitalist forces but on the contrary reflected the continuing strength of pre-capitalist social property relations. In fact, the appearance of ideas commonly associated with the advent of the modern state – certain conceptions of indivisible sovereignty and nationhood, for instance – testify as much to the absence of ‘modernity’, and indeed the absence of a unified sovereignty and nationhood, as to their presence in reality. The principal case is France, which has given the world its domi­nant model of ‘bourgeois revolution’ and the birth of modernity.

Conversely, what are taken to be the conventional signs of a ‘modern’ state and political culture were absent in England not because the English state was backward or because English capita­lism was deviant and immature. On the contrary, these absences signalled the presence of a well-developed capitalism and a state that was evolving in tandem with the capitalist economy. What England lacked in political discourse it possessed in historical reality. In Britain, then, there has been no fatal disjuncture between a capitalist economy and a political-cultural ancien regime suspended in time somewhere around 1688. On the contrary, the formation of state and dominant culture has been inextricably bound up with the development of capitalism, conforming all too well to its economic logic and internal contradictions. Britain may even be the most thoroughly capitalist culture in Europe.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2018 at 12:54 pm

People’s Vote March for “neoliberal, racist EU” (Socialist Worker), backed by “neoliberal media” (Morning Star).

with 11 comments

Big Business Agenda, says Socialist Worker.

Socialist Worker leads with,

Huge march for a ‘People’s Vote’ boosts the big business agenda Sarah Bates.

The People’s Vote is a cross party alliance with warmongering spin doctor Alastair Campbellgiving leadership. Many people have pointed out that as director of communications and spokesperson for Tony Blair’s Labour Party he ignored a march against the invasion of Iraq which was three times the size of Saturday’s.

The organised left were largely absent on the march although there was a number of Labour Party banners. There was virtually no trade union presence.

Whatever the individual motivation of marchers, it is a vehicle to deliver the big business agenda of defending the single market and the neoliberal, racist EU.

..

…the People’s Vote campaign is a desperate bid by sections of the ruling class to maintain the status quo.

The Morning Star carries on in the same vein,

Their patronising demand for a “People’s” Vote, with its implication that extraterrestrials or farm animals voted to leave first time round, oozes New Labour marketing style.

Whereas obstacles were placed in the way of the Stop the War Coalition in 2003, from media misrepresentation or censorship to Blair government attempts to prevent marchers gathering in Hyde Park for fear of “damaging the grass,” the neoliberal media, including the BBC, has been wholeheartedly behind the People’s Vote project.

Neither of these two accounts mention the Left Bloc on the March, organised by Another Europe is Possible.

Walsall Wadical Giles Fraser takes another approach,

The pious Padre’s answer for the Walsall un-Washed?

Giles Fraser on People’s Vote:

If you are not religious, you may not like the following parallel. But the core appeal of Christianity is that it imagines a God that is not distant, but that has made himself close to ordinary lived experience by being born as a human in a shed, and has lived among us. This is a God that seeks closeness to people in their concrete reality, so much so that they call Him “Abba”, an intimate term that is better translated “Daddy” than the stern Victorian-sounding “Father”. Today’s global capitalism is a very different sort of religion. In theological terms, it is a form of Deism: a distant god that creates everything but does not intervene in the world. It is a god with whom there is no interaction.

The emotional core of Brexit, and the reason I remain a passionate Brexiter, despite all its problems, is that it seeks to collapse the distance between power and ordinary people.

For some proper reports see:

Workers’ Liberty went on the People’s Vote demonstration on 20 October with placards (see below), red flags, banners, stalls, and chant sheets.

Ours was the only organised left-wing presence on the demonstration. The full count is not yet in, but we must have sold about 300 copies of Solidarity on the demonstration, as well as books, pamphlets, etc., and collected contact details from many people who want to keep in touch.

We distributed the “Left Against Brexit” leaflet produced by the Nottingham and Sheffield Left Against Brexit groups.

We distributed chant sheets. We joined the “Left Bloc” organised by “Another Europe is Possible”, and most of the bloc took up our chants. They were the only chants anywhere on the demo to go beyond “we want a people’s vote” and “bollocks to Brexit”, as far as we could tell.

The demonstration numbers are reported as 700,000, and it was certainly huge. The speakers at the end were more on a Lib-Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru wavelength than left-wing: the middle-of-the-road Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was probably the most left-wing.

There was hardly any Labour Party presence as such. We came across many Labour voters and Labour members on the march. Like the majority of Labour supporters and members, according to many polls, they oppose Brexit, and are unhappy with the Labour leaders’ fence-sitting on the issue.

There were very few banners from Labour Parties or union branches, or indeed from any organisations, on the huge march. The marchers were on average a more prosperous, more Lib-Dem-ish crowd than those who join other leftish protest marches, and non-white marchers were a smaller minority than they are in London’s general population; but given the huge overall size of the march, it was also a big turnout of non-white marchers.

Our aim now is to expand and step up the activity of the network of local “Left Against Brexit” groups.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2018 at 11:46 am