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Counterfire to Spearhead Fightback Against Labour’s Keir Starmer.

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Fighting “Starmer’s rightward shift” “in the workplaces, the communities and on the streets”.

Last week the Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), Lindsey German, asserted,

…there is no road to success for the left inside Labour.

The battle is on: and the left can’t win in Labour – weekly briefing

She observes,

Perhaps the most important reason for the failure of Corbynism was that there was none of the ruthlessness towards the right that we now see being used against the left.

We are informed that

Many Labour lefts backed Starmer despite the fairly obvious writing on the wall. This was for a variety of reasons: the shock and demoralisation of defeat and the call for ‘electability’; the continuing Brexit debate (where the People’s Vote campaign did real damage to the Corbyn left); the promises of Starmer that he would unite the party; the continuing rows over antisemitism.

These look pretty convincing reasons to have backed Starmer.

Most socialist internationalists (unlike Counterfire) opposed Brexit and saw no reason to go along with the pro-Brexit supporters around Corbyn.

Is anti-semitism within Labour, a hysterical ‘anti-Zionism’ with plenty of complotism around it that shades and indeed is, full of prejudice, an imaginary problem?

Most people think it is neither manufactured nor dreamt up.

The issue remains open as to what role the left can find within the Labour Party

But those who intend to make a hobby of “fighting” in the party have lost before starting.

Few wish to listen to them and their loud-mouthed insults.

So perhaps German is right to say that,

the fight is going to be outside of Labour, and organising inside will be an extremely pale shadow of that, with very high likelihood of failure on every major front.

The future is to go back to the left strategies of the early years of the new millenium,

We desperately need a mass socialist party in Britain, but Labour is not going to be it. At present there is no such party on the horizon, however there are hundreds of thousands who would identify with it. There are also major struggles ahead as we face unemployment, pandemic and attacks on workers. The building of such a party will most likely come from working in those campaigns and perhaps with an organised split from Labour (although this is unlikely to contain MPs). It has to be centred on those struggles and not on electoralism.

German has learnt a lesson from the massive electoral failures of previous efforts to create a “mass socialist party” outside of Labour: its inability to do well through “electoralism” – the ballot box.

Her comrades have plenty of experience in this area, one thinks of  the prominent role Lindsey German and John Rees played in George Galloway’s Respect Party….

The piece ends, “whether you stay or go, the key thing is to fight.”

How many battalions do these people have?

Counterfire runs what remains of the People’s Assembly, and has an influential position within the Stop the War Coalition, now comments on the actuality of the Revolution.

It has now launched an appeal on the lines sketched by German.

Starmer takes Labour right: It’s time for an extra-parliamentary left

In a statement the groupuscule (around 100 members) states,

Counterfire energetically supported the Corbyn project while always pointing out the pitfalls and the limitations of a purely parliamentary strategy for change. It’s very important now that we are clear about the new situation. Starmer’s witch-hunting of the left, his positioning as a reasonable and loyal opponent of this calamitous government shows that the attempt to transform Labour has been defeated. But this doesn’t mean that the phase of popular opposition is over.

Pausing to note the Tories’ “arrogance and incompetence” and the Black Lives Matter protests, they state,

..the fight is on. But it’s not going to be fought in the Labour Party, it is going to take place in the workplaces, the communities and on the streets.

This leads them to assert,

We urge everyone who is sickened by Starmer’s rightward shift to get involved in this kind of mass politics – building workplace organisation, supporting the People’s Assembly, fighting every cutback and closure on the ground.

Counterfire urges the creation of  working class movement.

Counterfire has been at the heart of the resistance since we launched just ten years ago. Our online support is growing daily, our website is read by tens of thousands every week, but we need active, participatory socialist organisation everywhere to create the kind of working-class movement that can win.

Counterfire is now committed to organising  “a dynamic extra-parliamentary left in every part of the country.”

Extra-Parliamentary, that is, as an alternative to the Parliamentary Road to Socialism, the Labour Party.

Some might suggest that a major factor in this turn is that Lindsey German and John Rees – and their ex-(and present) Communist Party of Britain mates – no longer have the ear of a friendly Labour leader who put up with their enthusiasms, rages, and belief that politics is decided by street theatre.

 

Spiked Network’s New Front: “Don’t Divide us” Exposing, “racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism. “

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Spiked, Brexit Party ex-MEPs, Learned Pundits, Minstrels and Wordsmiths, try to heal divisions over Race.

Some might say it’s odd, a new front set up on the issue of race, that says “don’t divide us” whose three main initiators are: a former Brexit Party MEP and ex-Revolutionary Communist Party stalwart, Claire Fox of the ‘Academy of Ideas’, a one-time Brexit Party candidate and author at Brexit Central, and Spiked, Inaya Folarin Iman, and “anti-woke” glee and mirth-man, and – do we need to say? – Spiked contributor Andrew Doyle.

But it is so…

The Spiked Network (for more on this group see SPIKED FOOTNOTES) has geared into action…

The Spectator.

Racial division is being sown in the name of anti-racism

….activists, corporations and institutions seem to have seized the opportunity to exploit Floyd’s death to promote an ideological agenda that threatens to undermine British race relations.

The power of this ideology lies in the fear it inspires in those who would otherwise speak out, whatever their ethnicity. But speak out we must. We must oppose and expose the racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism.

The consequences of this toxic, racialised agenda are counter-productive and serious.

  • Under soulless acronyms such as BAME and POC, all ethnic minorities are robbed of individual agency, and assumed to be victims of injustice.
  • Free speech is being eroded by a McCarthyite culture of conformity in which to question the new dogma means to risk one’s livelihood and reputation.
  • Calls for the wholesale destruction of historical statues, symbols and works of art are fuelling an unhealthy war against the past and stirring up culture wars in the present.
  • An obsessive focus on the impact of colonialism threatens to turn history into a morality tale, rather than a complex, three-dimensional understanding of the past.

People will instantly agree that what we need on the issues of race and colonialism, slavery and ethnicity and nationalism, is the kind of complex nuanced debate that this little lot promoted as members of the Brexit Party, united behind the calm, anti-racist, leadership of Nigel Farage.

Or indeed by their on-line magazine Spiked:

Or: ‘The left is turning into a Woke Taliban’

They are surely right to conclude that “We will not be divided – by reactionary racists or culture warriors – who refuse to see us as individuals beyond our skin colour.”

Our ace-reporters are working on this right now, but look at some these tasty anti-division names that have backed this new Spiked Front:

William Clouston, party leader, The Social Democratic Party.

Recent healing Tweet:

Ben Habib, businessman; co-founder, Unlocked; former MEP (Brexit Party, modestly not mentioned…).

Christina Jordan, former MEP, South West England (Also Brexit Party, unmentioned).

Mercy Moroki:

Ed Husain, author The House of Islam: A Global History

Helen Pluckrose, specialist in the appealing sounding “Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship”.

Courtney Hamilton, Writer, (not mentioned: Author at spiked).

Another gleeman Simon Evans – he sounds a right laugh!

This all looks more like a Blue and Bluer Front than the previous Spiked initiative, The Full Brexit, which drew support from the Communist Party of Britain to the Brexit Party….
Perhaps closeness to Number 10 is altering the line…

 

Frank Furedi draws “Boundaries” to defend the “civilisational accomplishments of humanity.”

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Why Borders Matter: book launch with Frank Furedi and Timandra ...

The “war to uphold the precious gains of civilisation is being lost.”

Critics of Spiked magazine, and its offshoots, The Academy of Ideas and its work in founding the red-brown Front, the Full Brexit, do not often discuss the work of its founding pundit, Frank Furedi.

A  sheave of references, in the duller corners of publications on social policy, crime, and psychology, indicates that the former revolutionary Marxist has some kind of academic standing. The assistance of Google reveals, for example, a citation in this work which begins, “In this article I examine the attractions and shortcomings of the “positive” neohumanisitic turn in organizational theorizing and how positivity might be developed. “

One can see why he enjoys the heady moments  when he can escape from this to the Spiked/ex-Living Marxism network’s annual beanfeast.

Events reported in 2010, and surely on the next occasion more convivial after their alliance with the Brexit Party and the success of Spiked contributor Munira Mirza, as Cabinet Head of Policy.

The fifth annual Battle of Ideas was held over a weekend last October at the Royal College of Art in West London. There was a route you could do, a circuit, up the stairs at one end of the windowless basement and down them again at the other, and I did it many times, bag dragging at my back. Each day was divided into five time-slots, each slot into ‘strands’: the Battle for Energy, Battle for Work, Battle for Reproductive Choice; or Breakfast Banter, Café Controversies, Bookshop Barnie.

The talks themselves had titles like ‘Working for the State: Public Service or Gravy Train?’, ‘India’s Future: Slumdogs or Millionaires?’ So much stuff, so much Horrible Histories alliteration, so many dispiritingly either-or questions: out of 74 talks, I spotted just one whose take-home message I couldn’t immediately guess. It was on ‘football, greed and the recession’, it was called ‘Who Ate All the Pies?’, and I’m afraid I don’t know the answer, because I went to ‘Rethinking Freedom in an Illiberal Age: Securing Rights or Celebrating Liberty?’ instead.

Jenny Turner reports from the Battle of Ideas

Furedi’s latest work, puffed in Spiked (Why Borders Matter: Why Humanity Must Relearn the Art of Drawing Boundaries. 2020.), he explores the idea that “The rejection of borders between nations and communities runs in parallel with the unbounding of cultural norms in all dimensions of social life.”

Just in case you hadn’t got this he today offers a summary of the work,

As I note in my new book Why Borders Matter, the ability to ‘tell right from wrong’ has been compromised by the cultural devaluation of boundaries, such as those between good and evil; adult and child; man and woman; human and animal; and private and public. All of these symbolic boundaries have been called into question in recent decades.

The identitarians are winning the culture wars

Readers of Spiked will have guessed that the (two part) article is a lengthy rave against “Identitarians”, identity politics, political correctness, and the “culture war” being waged by the new “counter-cultural establishment”.

(it) has successfully marginalised conservative and classical-liberal ideas, be they tolerance or democracy, within institutions of socialisation, such as schools and universities. And it has turned many cultural institutions, from the arts to the media, against humanist sentiments and ideals associated with the Western tradition that runs from Classical Greek philosophy through the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Even classical socialist ideals of solidarity and internationalism have been torn asunder by the politicisation of culture and identity.

Furedi asserts that, “These developments take the form of a one-sided war against the past in general, and the legacy of the West in particular.”

In a passage that bears the most royal of purple he writes,

Having gained hegemony, members of this countercultural establishment are now less and less afraid to impose their own values on the rest of society. From their standpoint, Boris Johnson is an elite outlier, and his defence of Churchill offers them a reminder that there are still obstacles to the realisation of the project of detaching society from the legacy of its past. They now constitute the cultural establishment, and people who wish to defend the statues of Churchill or Abraham Lincoln are their countercultural adversaries.

The birth of the culture wars

It would be facile to dismiss this (who in fact is in Government?).

But within Why Borders Matter (or as far as Goggle Books unearths) are a number of substantial claims that go to the heart of political philosophy and political practice:

  • That human beings need limits in order to grow, that political rights (in the tradition of Edmund Burke) are not only national constructions, but should remain circumscribed by these boundaries.
  • That national sovereignty and the border security it establishes  helps one of these needs, a “sense of belonging”
  • That attempts to deterritorialise sovereignty and citizenship rights reduces people to “their most abstract individual qualities”, depriving them of “the cultural qualities which give their lives meaning”.

How those who argue, against these views, that human rights are universal, that there are no national frontiers or limits on the right (for example) not to be tortured, murdered, oppressed, starved or beaten, are linked to attacks on a “principled commitment to the civilisational accomplishments of humanity.” is not explained.

In Spiked Furedi cites Hannah Arendt’s conservative reaction to mid-1960s student radicals questioning established values of right and wrong.  Arendt’s also famously argued that human rights without national legal systems to back them up are meaningless. In despair at the way people were left stateless and without rights in the 1930s and in the aftermath of the Second World War) the political philosopher  talked of the “right to have rights”.

This is a deeply felt and pondered claim, and one that can only be answered by political action to make sure that the rightless are given protection. And rights, unless, and we hope this is not the case, Ferudi is arguing that boundaries once drawn mean that they are permanently excluded.

The liberty to grow and flourish in our own freely determined conditions, of the kind outlined by John Stuart Mill and by Marx’s ideal of a society in which the liberty of all is a  condition of each person’s  development, is a better goal for the foundation for “belonging” than a host of customs controls and the ownership of a passport.

Nevertheless this is not an abstract question of an intellectual conversation about human  “qualities” but of the mechanisms that might make such potentials, that is substantial, rights real.

But, one of the facts about globalisation, the world wide exchange of news and direct communication, is: How we ignore what is happening outside our “borders”?

Do we have any responsibility to act on one of the most basic moral impulses, human sympathy?

Leaving issues of war, oppression and rights to national states, run by political parties who may be hostile to rights – the national populists or straightforward dictatorships – is a real concern, from Poland, the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, Brazil, Turkey, not to mention Syria.

Furedi would leave us trapped in a bubble, without any answers to the demands that solidarity make on people.

And what ‘cultural meaning” does Assad’s Syria give to people slaughtered in a civil, not “culture” war?

It is precisely the sovereigntist, Spiked, quarter that has argued. not just against armed humanitarian intervention in these conflicts, but against anything more than gestual solidarity with the millions whose lives are at risk.

La Terre et Les Morts.

It’s as plain as a pikestaff that if there is a culture war in the West Furedi is an “identitarian” on one side, that of the  rights of tradition, the Land and the Dead (la terre et les morts – as a founding figure of the French far-right, Maurice Barrès , put it ) He stands for the cemetery of the past against the universalism of the future…

Spiked’s claim to stand for the “the so-called “traditional ideals”, or, more bluntly evokes two sources.

The first is the most obvious. Furedi’s book seems, consciously or unconsciously, to base its title on this book, In Praise of Borders (Éloge des frontières. 2010)”. In this, the endlessly prolific writer and academic Régis Debray defined limits as needed to make sense of the world. “The border is what gives meaning to our world. It is the first response to the nothingness of space and existence. ” How can we bring order to chaos?” By drawing a line. By separating an outside from an inside . ” The deeper reason at work lies in the deep-laid, multifarious connection between borders and identities.”

Debray accused sans-frontiérisme of “économisme”, treating culture and polities – summed up in the goals of the international charities like Médecins Sans Frontières – as part of the “global marketplace”. It is the bearer of  “technicisme”, aligning the world to the same standard, of unbounded absolute values. At the heart of the wish for a borderless world is imperialism, through the call for universal Law and human rights is Western power imposed through NATO.

The second is that Spiked is, out of design or not (and few of its contributors seem to be French speakers), echoing themes peddled on the French sovereigntist thinkers, who have become increasingly right-wing and national populist.

The analysis of the “culture wars” by one of the best known far-right writers in France  the historian  Éric Zemmour, may lack the sociological guff about, “the corrosive influences” of the cultural contradictions of capitalism  generational conflict and the individualism of the post-war world.

But…..

In Le Suicide français (2014 – free to download hereis a long (534 pages in the French edition) Zemmour laments about French decline, at the hands of the post-68 cultural rebels, who have become the new establishment. In this Potemkin Republic the  watchwords of 68,: “Dérision, Déconstruction, Destruction”, have undermined the foundations of society, family, and work.

The French left has become a vehicle for metropolitan elites, a supporter of the mass immigration that is underlining France’s ancestral values, its cultural heritage and the Republic’s national economy. In its place it encourages a bohemian “cosmopolitanism”, cultural consumption and mixing. Trapped in its postmodernism and political correctness the left  despises the People, the victims of this New World Order. This Zemmour, Ferudi fashion, contrasts with true  Enlightenment cosmopolitan idealism,  which used to spread theories, ideals and civilisation.

Zemmour has been, liked Spiked, a supporter of the anti-elite protests by “Peripheral France’, the Gilets Jaunes. At present, nobody will be surprised to hear, he is frothing at the mouth at Black Lives Matter and the toppling of statues and getting rid of memorials to slave owners and colonialists (in fact I guessed the latter without reading, but a brief check shows pages of his latest rants on the topic).

No doubt his anti-immigration views would make Zemmour unacceptable – for how long? – to Spiked.

But there are others who would perhaps be more acceptable.

Zemmour is only one of a host of French writers obsessed with the themes of defending civilisation against multiculturalism, identity politics, political correctness, . they range from supporters of Marine Le Pen, such as Christian Bouchet,  France’s Melanie Phillips, Alain Finkielkraut,  to former leftists like Michel Onfray who has just launched his own ‘red-brown’ journal, Front Populaire, bringing together right (including the extreme right, Éléments pour la civilisation européenne) and left wing supporters of sovereigntism. There is name for this political current, national populism.

Is this the kind of search for meaning and cultural belonging Furedi has in mind?