Archive for the ‘Stalinism’ Category
Badiou, Shanghai “la plus mémorable mobilisation démocratique que le monde ait jamais connue.” Badiou: Deleuze,
Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.
Alain Badiou’s political philosophy is, apparently, grounded on singular situated truths and potential revolutions. Fidelity to the invariant truth is a matter of procedure. What he calls an ‘Idea’’ has three basic elements, “a truth procedure, a belonging to history and individual subjectivation”. Authenticity, we might say were we admirers of Sartre’s philosophy, hangs in there.
This has a range (to put it as its most modest) of applications. But Badiou is best known for his politics (which are not renowned for their modesty).
On the Chinese ‘Cultural Revolution’, the professor has aroused controversy time and time again by giving a positive, glowing, account (“at any rate from 1965 to 1968” although he does not give the exact day of the week in this time-span) of this “political truth”. (1) These have had local, indeed spatial, moorings, no doubt, for example, in Maoist re-education camps as well as some time in Shanghai. There is the also the possibility of becoming a “militant for the truth”, perhaps, one might hazard, exemplified in the acts of the Union des communistes de France (marxiste-léninistes), the UJM (M-L) founded in 1969 by Alain Badiou and others whose names, sadly or not, few can recall or care about.
On the issue of Communism the professor has declaimed that the “Idea of communism, subjectivation constituted the link between the local belonging to a political procedure and the huge forward march towards its collective emancipation. To give out a flyer in a marketplace was also to mount the stage of History” (2) In the light of, er, recent and not so recent events, Badiou is not enthusiastic about the State’s ability to deliver Communism. A True Communist Event occurs only when it is “subtracted from the power of the State. “ Yet he notes with pleasure that Mao “had begun” to deal with this issue, incarnated by Stalin, “in a number of his writings” – which Badiou has commented on “guided by the eternity of the True.” (3)
Alain Badiou is perhaps reticent, for reasons which will become apparent, to mention that he too has mounted History’s stage. He too has experience of the “vigorous subjective existence of the communist hypothesis.” Indeed as Francis Dosse’s biography Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée (2009) illustrates in a fascinating snapshot, it was indeed “vigorous”.
In the journal of the UJM (M-L) Cahier Yénan (No 4. 1977) Badiou attacked the celebrated joint work of Deleuze and Guattari, L’anti-Œdipe as “vulgar moralisers”, and for ignoring the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism. The second piece under the pseudonym of Georges Peyrol, was titled, Le fascime de la pomme de terre. Badiou observed that the pair were “pre-fascists”. Badiou frothed at the metaphor of the “rhizome”, to grasp the tentacles of multiple being, the proliferation of social shoots (most celebrated in their Mille plateaux 1980). The Ontologist detected a parallel with Lin Biao’s revisionism, the One that dived into Two, had subtly become the One that symbolised the Tyrant. (4)
Revisionists! Pre-Fascists! During the 1970s these words did not just hang in the air in the Vincennes campus where both Badiou and Deleuze taught. Tendance Coatesy has already recorded the history of the oh-so-sage Professor’s Maoist troops during that period. Their efforts to imitate the Shanghai Commune included their assaults on another ‘revisionist’, Maria Antonitta Macciocchi. In this instance a colleague ran the intimidation from the same department of philosophy.
At the beginning the hostile M-L claque’s presence ensured that the lectures ended early. Later they would try to disrupt Deleuze’s lectures by claiming that a student union meeting to back a workers’ struggle was being held; other times the more erudite mentioned the bogey-name of Nietzsche (Deleuze’s 1963 study on whom no doubt proving by its title alone proof of serious pre-fascism). The admirers of the Little Red Book also assailed others, Jean-François Lyotard, and François Châtelet.
The stunts of the little band of Badiou’s Marxist-Leninists petered out as the decade proceeded. That has its own history, one which awaits Badiou to tell with anything resembling the truth.
When Deleuze passed away in 1995, Badiou, Dosse recounts, gave him a “vibrant homage.” He considered himself a “worthy successor” of Deleuze in his present Chair, on condition that one read him in the light of the “bonne philosophie” (the right philosophy). According to Dosse Badiou revealed that in 1991 he had proposed to Delueze to hold a public exchange of views (at the time when one of the Deleuze’s best-known works, What is Philosophy, was published). This was refused but as the resulting correspondence, giving reasons for this refusal, was apparently important. He equally refused to let this be published, which left Badiou with material he could not render public.
The book which did get to the printers, is Badiou’s, Delueze. La Clameur de l’Être (1997). It no doubt interests those fascinated by the obscurity of a (until very recent) apologist for the Khmer Rouge, and a conformed admirer of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. What rankles Dosse is that Badiou baldly repeats a much earlier idea: that Deleuze’s philosophy centres on the ONE, “C’est la venue de l’Un, renommé par Delueze l’Un-tout, que se consacre, dans sa plus haute destination, la pensée.” (5) In other words, he repeated, at the core of this ‘study’ the ridiculous claims he made back in the days of Cahier Yénan dressed up in more elliptical and pretentious language. He further – we note ourselves – charged that Deleuze was something of a Stoic – which to many people has more than w whiff of his old ‘cultural revolution’ or more exactly Gang of Four thinking about attacking ‘Confucius’.
Still, at least he didn’t call him once more a ‘pre-fascist’.
That’s Badiou for fidelity, hein?
(1) Page 2. The Idea of Communism. Alain Badiou. In The Idea of Communism. Edited Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Žižek. Verso. 2010. (2) Page 4. Badiou. Op cit. (3) Page 10. Badiou. Op cit. (4) Pages 432 – 434. Francis Dosse Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée La Découverte. 2009 (5) Page 435. Dosse Op cit.
Donestk Anti-Austerity Activists Says Communist Party of Britain.
The People’s Assembly has launched a Manifesto Against Austerity.
“The manifesto makes a compelling and powerful case for an alternative to austerity based on the needs of ordinary people — “A people’s Britain, not a bankers’ Britain.” It calls for a the building of a sustained mass movement to bring that alternative about, rather than simply calling for general election votes.”
The Communist Party of Britain has taken upon itself to add these comments to this – admirable – document (Communist Party. For Peace and Socialism. Date: 2nd of March).
Bill Greenshields, CP representative on national committee of the People’s Assembly, says,
Challenging the pro-austerity and pro-privatisation media and political consensus is a dangerous thing to do. That’s the increasingly strident message from big business and the bankers through their representatives in national governments, the EU and Washington.
British special services “advisers” have arrived in Ukraine to strengthen the armed forces and fascist paramilitaries of the Poroshenko government.
This is part of a war against those who resisted the Western-backed coup against President Yanukovych.
He had committed the crime of rejecting austerity economics and politics, therefore saying “No” to closer ties with the EU.
As EU and US sanctions are ratcheted up against Russia for daring to give political support to the antifascists, Britain says it will “not yet provide lethal equipment” to the “Euromaiden” coup leaders now in control of the Ukrainian state. For how long? The threat of escalating war and foreign intervention to consolidate their pro-EU austerity “reforms” becomes greater.
Brother Bill recommends to the People’s Assembly this wisdom,
The movement needs to reflect the democratic structures that have grown among the anti-austerity antifascists in Ukraine…
We hesitate to make a comment.
Or perhaps one is not needed.
(Initially discovered here)
Hate-Filled Philosophy Inspired Killer Craig Hicks.
The Morning Star today (Hat-tip Jim D).
Somebody called Ramzay Baroud writes,
The murder of three US Muslims at a University of North Carolina condominium last week was no ordinary murder, nor is the criminal who killed them an ordinary thug.
The Daily explains,
Hicks, the terrorist who killed the three young Muslims, subscribes to a school of thought known as New Atheism — what (sic) religious scholar Reza Aslan refers to as the school of “anti-theism.”
It is, in part, another hate-filled platform, and despite its supposed disdain for all religions, its malicious energy mostly targets Muslims.
New Atheists are of course different from the majority of atheists, who don’t use that designation to foment hate against a specific religious group.
The anti-theist idols include the likes of Richard Dawkins and US author Sam Harris, who, according to Aslan, respond “to religion with the same venomous ire with which religious fundamentalists respond to atheism.”
Hicks too hated the three Muslim kids based on that same foolish, murderous logic.
But hating Muslims is not your everyday racism and prejudice, which has been “as American as apple pie and napalm” (a funny, sad line from the US comedy, M*A*S*H).
(Note: very funny, ha, ha.)
It is a readily available fodder for the ongoing war and future war in Muslim countries. It is the required amount of dehumanisation needed to wage war.
The ‘author’ then splurges in another direction,
Hicks is of the Fox News demographic, a gun-toting, unreasonably and immeasurably angry white US citizen. Self-proclaimed atheist or otherwise, it matters little (sic).
So Hicks, we are told, killed the students “execution-style” because of a dispute over parking spaces.
The same way that Chris Kyle — “the American Sniper” — made 164 confirmed “kills” in Iraq, targeting “savages” because that’s what national heroes do.
(Note ‘in the same way’….)
He concludes, spluttering,
It is time for Muslims to demand that Obama issue more than a statement but call the US government and hate-filled media to account. These outrageous double standards must end, before more innocent lives are taken.
And why not call the ‘New Atheists’ to account?
Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins beware: be afraid, be very afraid..
Further notes on Baroud’s politics (from here, January 8th 2015)
He thinks this: “Islam has set in motion a system to abolish slavery over 1,200 years before the slave trade reached its peak in the western world. ” (no Arab slave trade…..), “gender equality in Islam has been enshrined in the language of the Koran and the legacy of the Prophet Mohammed.”
I can’t be bothered with most of this history-as-fairy-story but I notice this in the same article
Baroud rails at the “the pornographic satire of Charlie Hebdo and its targeting of Prophet Mohammed…” and then remarks of those condemning the attack:
Did any of these “intellectuals” pause to think that maybe, just maybe, the violent responses to demeaning Islamic symbols reflect a real political sentiment, say for example, a collective feeling of humiliation, hurt, pain and racism that extend to every corner of the globe?
Charlie had it coming to them…
As no doubt did the Jewish customers at the Porte de Vincennes Hyper Cacher.
Abridged Version Available on Verso Blogs.
There is a debate about a translation of Alain Badiou’s Le Rouge et le Tricolore on the Verso Blog (New Left Review).
“Alain Badiou analyses the events of the Charlie Hebdo attack in their global and national contexts, making the case for the incompatibility of the red flag of communism with the Tricolore of French national identity.”
Badiou considered the attack on Charlie and the Kosher supermarket to be fascist.
He made these observations to back up the assertion.
Le Monde version.
D’abord, il est ciblé, et non pas aveugle, parce que sa motivation est idéologique, de caractère fascisant, ce qui veut dire strictement identitaire : nationale, raciale, communautaire, coutumière, religieuse… En la circonstance, les tueurs sont antisémites. Souvent le crime fasciste vise des publicistes, des journalistes, des intellectuels ou des écrivains que les tueurs estiment représentatifs du bord opposé.
Verso (Dave Broder translation),
A fascist-type crime, in my view, has three characteristics.
Firstly, it is not blind, but targeted: its motivation is an ideological one, of a fascistic character, which means a narrowly identitarian one: national, racial, communal, folk, religious… In this case, the murderers visibly targeted three identities that classical fascism often attacked: journalists considered to represent the enemy camp, policemen defending the hated parliamentary order, and Jews…
Read rest on Verso site.
Tendance Coatesy’s gloss on this section of the article (from Alain Badiou on Charlie Hebdo, Le Rouge et le Tricolore. A Critical Appraisal.) arguing why the slaughter was fascist, “It was first of all targeted, and not random, next the motivation was of a fascist nature, from an identity, in this case anti-Semitic.“
Why is the word “anti-Semitic” (as in les tueurs sont antisémites, the killers are antisemites) left out?
Apparently, the translation is not of the Le Monde article linked at the end, but supposedly some earlier, longer version, which is for some reason not available online.”
This is the Mediapart version:
D’abord, il est ciblé, et non pas aveugle, parce que sa motivation est idéologique, de caractère fascisant, ce qui veut dire : stupidement identitaire, nationale, raciale, communautaire, coutumière, religieuse… En la circonstance, les assassins avaient visiblement comme cibles trois identités souvent visées par le fascisme classique : les publicistes considérés comme du bord opposé, les policiers défendant l’ordre parlementaire haï, et les Juifs.
Certainly it does not mention anti-Semitism.
But as this is close to the crux of Badiou’s rhetoric (I was going to say argument, but the whole article is more a sustained exercise in rhetorical fireworks than a calmly laid out set of reasons).
Badiou has himself been accused of anti-Semitism (for calling Sarkozy – mother’s father, Jewish – ‘l’homme aux rats’).
It is therefore of more than causal importance.
Why, then, was the term absent in the Verso piece?
The audience for the Le Monde article is, on any definition, greater than that of Medipart’s.
So why not go for the stuff people have actually read in France?
Another comment, “It is interesting to note what the Le Monde chose to leave out”
To coin a phrase, if Le Monde ‘abridged’ then, here, in the case of this translation, we have Vice Verso.
Perhaps there is a wider background.
This is what New Left Review veteran Tariq Ali thought about the murders at Charlie (no mention of the Kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vinceness, or anti-Semitism at all).
How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?
France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.
It may well this is the message which New Left Review and Verso intends to broadcast, above any other.
There is plenty of self-indulgent cack on the Verso site to endorse this judgement on their ‘angle’ about Charlie Hebdo.
Sunday’s marches above all saw the educated bourgeoisie contemplating its own strength and giving in to its self-enchantment. It’s not certain, however, that this makes for a ‘country’ or even a ‘people’, as we may well soon have good reason to remind ourselves.
One can see Ali rubbing his hands at many of Badiou’s own comments on Charlie Hebdo’s humour, such as these,
It may be amusing for the comfortably-off, but it is an indulgent ‘Western’ provocation against not only vast popular masses in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but also a very large section of the working population in France itself
These are all points where lurid cultural racism fuses with blind hostility, crass ignorance and the fear that the vast mass of Africans or banlieue residents – the wretched of the earth – inspires in the hearts of our self-satisfied petty-bourgeois.
Badiou mentions ‘anti-Semitism’.
Well – it’s not important?
Tim Sanders * in Socialist Review tells satirists how they should do satire….
“The savage killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists by terrorists in Paris is utterly contemptible, but not inexplicable.”
There’s been a vocal campaign extolling the “western values” of free speech and the right to offend, claiming that satire should be free from constraints and able to offend indiscriminately. This is where I part company with the satirists of Charlie Hebdo. The point of satire is to attack the powerful, to expose their hypocrisy and absurdity, and of course to be funny. If satire is directed downwards it is not satire, it’s bullying.
And, on Charlie (which he suddenly on expert on),
Sadly Charlie Hebdo had been drifting away from its roots in the revolutionary events of France 1968 for some time. In the aftermath of 9/11 its output became blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist. They carried cartoons which were vile racist caricatures of the sort I haven’t seen since the National Front and BNP published such stuff in the 1970s and 1980s. Worse, some of the anti-Arab cartoons are so stereotypical that the addition of a Star of David would immediately turn them into the sort of anti-Semitic filth produced by the Nazi Third Reich. These are images designed to offend and humiliate a marginalised and persecuted minority. Yet they went largely unchallenged.
Ach…Zionist – what would racism be like without ‘Zionism’?
Not that there is any evidence of this, or the rest – gleaned no doubt from Sander’s quick Google of the Front Pages of (16 page long) Charlie Hebdo.
But there are rules of satire – which is seems have to be followed.
Expliquez-nous les règles cher Maître de conférences…..
“Satire should spear the powerful.”
They get a magic card, if they are ‘Muslims’ (as if all people from an Islamic background remain ‘Muslims’ for ever) showing that they are not “rich and powerful”.
Many might indicate that the Islamists and other religious bigots have both of these qualities.
‘The Mosque’, like ‘The Church’ (all exceptions counted), has wealth, whatever the believers’ money.
Back to the “rules”:
Satire: Do not do anything that might help ‘the state’.
Satire: do not laugh at Muslims,
This is worse than bullying; it is satire in the ideological service of the state (and Charlie Hebdo receives a hefty subsidy from the French government). Islamophobia is not satire. Laughing at Muslims is like sharing a joke with the Nazis of the Front National. And I don’t think any cartoonist worth their salt would relish the idea of their deaths being mourned by the likes of Netanyahu, Hollande, Merkel and the other world leaders who headed up the march in Paris after the killings.
There are some things – religious figures (Charlie only attached gods, prophets, religious dignitaries, and fanatical activists, from Catholic ‘ultras’ to Islamist ‘barbus’ ) – which are too sacred for SWP supporters to satirise….
Any laughter is…bullying – from a small circulation weekly which nobody is obliged to read.
Charlie is apparently proved guilty by the character of those who (officially) mourned the deaths….
Oh, and Charlie received money from the French state after the atrocity.
But Tim Sanders can’t be bothered to mention this fact.
The sight of these champions of free speech (the same ones who have banned Muslim women from wearing the veil and outlawed pro-Palestine demonstrations) marching in the name of free expression seems almost beyond parody. Fortunately many cartoonists and satirists have already proved this fear wrong with merciless exposure of these hypocrites. I have a radical, non-satirical idea to prevent further atrocities like this: How about not invading other people’s countries?
No mention of the Jewish victims in the Kosher supermarket: Yoav Hattab, 21, the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis, Philippe Braham, in his 40s, Yohan Cohen, 22 and Francois-Michel Saada, in his 60s.
Perhaps they were also “Zionists”.
One assumes that they should have stopped invading ‘other people’s countries’ as well.
In any case, Charlie was ridiculing a “a marginalised and persecuted minority” (what is the evidence for the persecution by the way – are Muslims as Muslims prevented from following their religion in France?).
The slaughter was not “inexplicable”.
For the SWP it is eminently explicable.
They had it coming to them.
No doubt following this, and in line with the policy of “unconditional support for Muslim communities”, the SWP will back the prosecution of Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy in Ireland,
The sale of the Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the Paris atrocity is threatening to become the first major test of the Irish Republic’s blasphemy law, Muslim representatives and secularists have warned.
Ireland’s Islamic Cultural Centre has said the presence of a depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the front page of the satirical publication, on sale now in Irish shops, is a clear breach of the country’s blasphemy legislation.
The Irish Republic is the only nation in Europe to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century. Secular and atheist groups in Ireland have been campaigning for its abolition since it came into being in 2010 – the last year of the Fianna Fáil-Green government.
The advocacy group Atheist Ireland is to meet the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, in Dublin next Tuesday, to urge the taoiseach to hold a referendum on abolishing the law before the general election in 2016.
Ahmed Hasain, the executive secretary of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin, said: “In our view, the sale of this magazine is a breach in Irish law. It is blasphemous and it is illegal under the legislation. It’s against the law here in Ireland, that is quite clear.”
Hasain said that while the centre has not decided whether or not to lodge a complaint to the Irish authorities, individuals or groups have the right under Irish law to use the legislation to prosecute those distributing the magazine since last week.
He described the law introduced by the former Fianna Fáil justice minister, Dermot Ahern, as very helpful. “It’s good that the law is in place as it protects every faith,” he said.
Michael Nugent, writer and co-founder of Atheist Ireland, agreed with Hasain that technically speaking the sale of around 1,500 copies of the Charlie Hebdo edition in the state had breached the blasphemy law.
He said: “The Charlie Hebdo cartoons seem to meet the first test of the Irish law, that is that it is ‘grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion’. The next test in the law is ‘thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion’.
“So if anyone wants to try to have a prosecution brought, [cases must be brought by the state ] what they would have to do is demonstrate that outrage has been caused. But it would be irresponsible to encourage or show outrage at a time like this. People who are offended should respond more proportionately than by showing outrage. That is a major flaw in the Irish law – it encourages outrage.”
Ahead of its meeting with the taoiseach, Atheist Ireland announced a new international campaign against blasphemy laws. The organisation has joined forces with secular groups from Britain, Canada, Iceland, the US and New Zealand. They are organising an online global petition against laws which they say “legitimise mob violence, vigilantism, and persecution of minorities”.
Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, has advised Atheist Ireland to keep up the pressure in the republic to repeal the law.
“Of course you are right that the major damage done by this legislation is the international one,” he told the organisation. “I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask western hypocrisy.”
Blasphemy in Ireland is a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£19,000).
Tim Sanders was born on 8 October 1957 in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire. He attended the King Edward VI School in Lichfield from 1970 to 1976, and studied at the Harrow School of Art from 1976 to 1979, specialising in illustration and leaving with “a perfect ability to draw fire extinguishers”.
Sanders draws pocket cartoons and political cartoons, using the signature “Tim”. He was cartoonist for the Socialist Worker, and in 1995 a collection of his cartoons was published as “In the Heat of the Scribble.” In 1999 Sanders began working as pocket cartoonist for the Independent, replacing Chris Priestley.
As well as working for The Independent and Independent on Sunday, Sanders has drawn cartoons and illustrations for a range of publications, including The Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday You Magazine, Nursing Times, Broadcast, and Red Pepper. Sanders is also a Spanish speaker and a scholar of Hispanic art.
Sanders is not cited, I note, as a fluent French speaker.
Syriza’s victory was inspiring.
Their electoral triumph has sent a message about the extension of what is politically possible on the left.
The anti-austerity campaign of the People’s Assembly should, rightly, get a powerful boost.
It is no longer possible to say that a political force rejecting austerity can never win.
Is there such a movement in Britain?
The People’s Assembly has brought together the left and trade unions on a programme against government cuts and privatisations which in many respects resembles Syriza’s.
Paul MacNay, from Athens, writes on the People’s Assembly Facebook Page that,
We need a radical programme for a new Europe which will benefit the whole world – (in which currently where 85 families hold half of the wealth).
If the Greek election result is a catalyst, Syriza (with its a formative alliance of more than a dozen groups) provides a model for the non-social democratic left. We need to give ourselves a good talking to. It’s time to sink the differences based on minor shibboleths of distinction. We need to abandon redundant organisational models, Bolshevik pretensions based on distorted perceptions of how people organised in a very different world one hundred years ago. We may even grow to like each other if we renounce those traditions … even if, initially it merely involves the suppression of mutual-loathing in pursuit of a better world!
If we take the painful and awkward steps necessary to shake off the bad habits of the past; if we can outgrow the trivia of quibbling over who has precisely the correct line; if we embrace the experience of the Greek people; we should be able to build a People’s Coalition that shakes the financial citadels and brings back joy and purpose to the people of Britain too.
Bad habits do, however, persist.
Despite having backed Syriza’s miniscule left opponents in the ANTARSYA bloc (a gaggle of groupuscules who arguably helped to deprive them of an outright majority) Socialist Worker states,
THE VICTORY of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, in parliamentary elections is a long-awaited breakthrough against the ruling class agenda of austerity and repression that has inflicted suffering across Europe and plunged Greece into an economic and social crisis unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
We can expect that having tried to snaffle as much of Syriza’s reflected glory as they can the SWP will soon be hurling accusations against Syriza as it enters in a coalition with the hard-right Independent Greeks, ANEL, (a choice dictated by Greek Parliamentary structures, not by politics). There is a need for some real – balanced – analysis. In this respect there is an excellent article by comrade Harry Blackwell on the Socialist Resistance site, from which we publish extracts.
New period for the left in Europe.
The central focus facing the government will be the economic crisis and the negotiations on debt with the Troika. However it is to be hoped that the new government will also raise the centrality of the ecological crisis and give official backing to the protests around the climate summit in Paris in December 2015 by for example providing state trains and paid time off for public employees to travel there. But for Europe’s only left government at present, it should also be able to put forward governmental level solutions to the climate crisis and stimulate the need for global action on the crisis facing ours and all the other species of the world.
And so we enter a new period in Europe. We must redouble our efforts to build anti-austerity action and new left parties across Europe. Social Democracy must be confronted for its complicity in the impoverishment of working people. There will be some who will sit on the sidelines and watch for any ‘backtracking’ by the Tsipras government and rush to say ‘I told you so …’. But the real task is to build the movement of solidarity, anti austerity and new left parties. In Britain that means redoubling efforts to build Left Unity and making 2015 the year that we can begin to turn the corner.
The vast majority of the left and working class in Greece endorsed Syriza, whose central message put forward a programme for government rather than mere vocal opposition to austerity. The highly sectarian Greek Communist Party (KKE) is still an important part of the anti-austerity movement and its vote increased slightly on its vote in 2012 as it gained one percent to win 5.5% of the vote and increase its seats from 12 to 15. However this is still a long way from its electoral high point in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s when it regularly won around 10% of the vote.
The KKE embraces what used to be called ‘Third Period Stalinism’ (after the period in the late 1920 when communist parties described social democratic parties as worse than fascists) and refuses to countenance deals with Syriza. It puts forward a programme of nationalism, calling for immediate exit from the Euro and EU and reinstatement of the Drachma as Greece’s currency. So sectarian is the KKE that their MEPs refuse to sit in the United European Left group in the European Parliament, alongside Syriza (and their ‘sister’ Communist Parties of France, Portugal and Cyprus), and instead sit with the far right French National Front in the so-called ‘Non-Attached’ group.
The left wing grouping within Syriza, the ‘Left Platform’, have repeatedly called upon the KKE to support Syriza in Government to no avail. The KKE has a short memory of course, as it has previously served in a Greek government led by New Democracy with four ministers. This is creating turbulence within CPs across the world, not least within Britain’s Morning Star daily newspaper where old-time Stalinists continually invoke support for the KKE alongside the more obvious enthusiasm of its readership for Syriza.
Sadly Harry is right about the Morning Star.
They stated yesterday (Editorial),
The Greek Communist Party (KKE) had already made clear its position not to enter into any coalition which does not seek to put the country on the path to socialism from the outset, based on a programme of transformational policies that would entail withdrawal from the EU and Nato.
Syriza once claimed to share a similar perspective, but the prospect of electoral success has seen it jettisoned over the past three months.
The article concludes with sectarian sourness,
But even before negotiations with the troika begin, Syriza economists are making it clear they intend to govern within the constraints of a balanced budget, membership of the eurozone and the commitments implied by continuing Nato membership.
Insofar as they can still propose measures which benefit Greek workers and their families while doing so, they should receive support from the left across Europe.
In the unlikely event of Syriza ending up on a collision course with the troika, they will need all the solidarity that socialists, communists, democrats and the trade unions everywhere can muster.
However, should a Syriza-led government dash the hopes raised by its own rhetoric, the main beneficiaries in Greece could well be the New Democracy conservatives and the Golden Dawn fascists.
The Tendance agrees with the most important point in comrade Harry Blackwell’s argument: we will not sit “on the sidelines”.
If there is not a political organisation in Britain that can play the same role, there are forces in the labour movement, inside the Labour Party and outside of it, that can push for politics that reject austerity and stand for hope and a better Europe.
SYRIZA and the bleedin’ obvious
“If SYRIZA has come to power on a programme of public beheadings, banning women from driving and torturing its critics, it may have received a slightly warmer welcome from the governments of Europe writes Liam Mac Uaid. Instead, its proposals to roll back austerity and drag the people of Greece from poverty and misery have been explained away as harbingers of potential economic catastrophe across Europe. Ed Miliband was no more enthusiastic about the result than Cameron or Merkel, restricting himself to a begrudging “just like our elections are a matter for the people of this country, so who the Greek people elect is a decision for them.”
And this is important (first hand reportage) by Matthew: Greece shakes Europe. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.
“Syriza is not an establishment social-democratic party but a party with roots in Greece’s left tradition, with no previous ties to the deeply corrupt state and its political elite. Its presence in the corridors of power will shake the centres of capital across Europe and beyond.”