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From French Trotskyism to Social Democracy. “68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora” Review.

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Image result for 68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

The present wave of strikes and student protests in France have drawn comparisons with the stoppages and protests against the 1995 ‘Plan Juppé”. This reform of state health and retirement insurance, including the railway workers’ pensions, struck at the heart of the French welfare state. There is a strong resemblance between this social movement and the opposition of public sector workers and undergraduates to President Macron’s efforts to ‘modernise’ the French rail system and Universities, (Le Monde 28.3.18).

Others, notably in the English-speaking left, have evoked the spirit of ’68. Some on the French ultra-left, who might be considered to inherit a fragment of the soul of that year’s revolts, state in Lundimatin, that they “do not give a toss” (on s’en fout) about the anniversary of the May events. (Nicolas Truong. Le Monde 15.3.18) Rather than commemorate, or organising Occupy or Nuit Debout style alternatives, they will be busy tearing into Macron, speaking truth for the Coming Insurrection. (1)

That section of the far-left is, of course embroiled in the continuation of the Tarnac trial. Others from a close milieu are involved in resisting the clearing of the last self-organised squats at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Benjamin Stora’s 68, et Après is written from a standpoint both familiar internationally, the fall out from the crushing defeat of the French left in last year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections, and one far less well-known, the history of a section of Gallic Trotskyism, the ‘Lambertists’.

It is also an autobiography, from his origins in as a North African Jews, his education, his many years of activism, and university career. Stora  has produced important studies of French Algeria, the war of liberation, and post-independence Algerian history, including the exile of its Jewish population. There is a finely handled account of the tragic death of his daughter in 1992. Stora’s commitment to study the Maghreb did not wholly override political commitment. Opposition to the Jihadists – and be it said, the Military – during the 1990s civil war in Algeria – led to Islamist intimidation. After a small coffin inscribed with words from the Qur’an, and a death threat addressed to Unbelievers, Jews and Communists arrived at his home the historian was forced to leave France and spend time in Vietnam, the occasion for further fruitful reflection on post-colonial societies.

Generation 68

Stora argues that the notion of a 68 ‘generation’ (popularised in Hervé Hamon and Patrick Rotman’s landmark 1987 book of the same name) is misleading. He notes the two volumes lack of attention to his own tradition. A full-time activist in the 1970s the former Lambertist suggests, notably, that his own tendency, whose internal regime and (to put in terms this reviewer, whose background is amongst its left-wing rivals) stifling narrow-minded morality (up to hostility towards feminism and gays), was also part of the post-68 radical movement. This is indeed the case, although not many beyond their circles had a taste for denunciations of “petty bourgeois deviations” and ritual revolutionary socialism. (Page 31) Those familiar with the history will suspect the reason for their absence (one Index reference to Lambert) in Génération. That is, the Lambertists’ call during one of the most celebrated moments of 68, for students to disperse from the Boulevard Saint-Michel rendered, “Non aux barricades” and to go to the workers at Renault, Michel (Night of 10-11th of May). (2)

The history of this highly disciplined current, around the figure of Pierre Lambert (real name Boussel) in 68 known as the Organisation communiste internationaliste (OCI) is long and, to say the least controversial. But their imprint is not confined to the fringes. Lambertists have played an important part in the recently governing Parti Socialiste (PS). Amongst one-time members are the former Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, and the ex-Socialist  leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Stora, like PS General Secretary until last year, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, was part of a several hundred strong Lambertist faction which joined the PS in 1986. Cambadélis, in his most recent book, Chronique d’une débâcle (2017) makes passing reference to a Trotskyist past (his ability to spot sectarian manoeuvres is undiminished). L’après 68 gives an extensive account of the organisation, from weekly cell meetings, whose minutes were rigorously kept and transmitted to the party HQ, to their exploits in the student unions and ‘mutuals’, friendly societies which play an important part in assuring student health and other forms of insurance.

Stora’s La Dernière Génération d’Octobre (2003) covers, he remarks, the post-68 culture and politics of his time in the OCI. The present volume gives probably more attention to the way in which his faction from this generation moved from full-time Lambertist activism, often paid for by one of the fractured French student unions, the UNEF-ID, in some cases by Teachers’ unions) into the late 1980s Parti Socialiste. Going from a clandestine fraction, led principally by Cambadélis, suspicious of surveillance by a group whose way of dealing with dissidence was not too far off the British WRP’s, they broke with Leninism. This was not just in opposition to the vertical internal regime, and the reliance on the “transitional programme” but, as they saw it, to establish a left-wing force within the democratic socialist spectrum represented in the post Epinay PS.  

A deal reached with Boussel, to avoid the violence and rancour traditionally associated with splits, was soon behind them. Despite the author’s best efforts it fails to disperse the suspicion, which those of us who are, let’s just say, not greatly fond of their tradition, had that some kind of arrangement also took place between Lambert and the PS itself over their entry into the party. (3) 

Inside the Parti Socialiste.

An organised PS current, Convergences socialistes, with all the self-importance that afflicts parts of the French left and academics, they numbered around 400 members. Of these a few moved into open professional politics. As a coherent body it is hard to find much trace of them in the shifting alliances within the PS, although one may find some remaining allies of Cambadélis as he clambered  up the party hierarchy. 

Just how adept former Lambertists could be in the PS game is registered by Stora’s portrait of an individual who had joined the PS some years before, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The present chief of La France insoumise, with a seat in the senate’s august halls, shared a wish create a new vanguard with his own tendency, the ‘Gauche socialiste’. He was equally  marked by burgeoning admiration for François Mitterrand. This did not go down well. Stora recalled the President’s role in the repression of Algerian insurgents…(Page 49 – 50). In a critique of Mélenchon’s present politics, Stora draws comparisons with the old Communist Party’s wish to impose its hegemony on the left, and keep its activists preoccupied by frenetic activism (Pages 150 – 153).

The root cause of the present  débâcle is  Parliamentary left lost touch with the people, part of an autonomous political sphere. The history of how a section of the radical left made the transfer from revolutionary full-timers to PS MPs and functionaries (and a galaxy of dependent positions) is not unique. It could be paralleled on a smaller scale by the career of the UK Socialist Action in Ken Livingstone’s London Mayor administration. The insulated, amply rewarded, lives of politicians, is, it is often said, one of the causes of the break down of the traditional French parties of right and left. Stora does not neglect his own current’s involvement in the student mutual, MNEF, corruption scandals, (Page 129). Whatever remains of the difference between ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘reformists’ fades into the distance faced with a managerial-bureaucratisation enveloping the current. The same processes, born of their reliance on union positions and opaque funding are not without effects on the remaining loyal Lamberists in the le Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) , and their split,  the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID).

After 68?

Après 68 is above all is a rousing condemnation of the “neo-nationalism” grounded on French “identity” and fear of “decline”. This, from the 2005 European Constitution Referendum (which divided the French left including, Stora notes, some on his section of the radical left)  dominates French politics, left and right, up to its presence in the ‘synthesis’ offered by President Macron. French political space, he observes, no longer dominated by the Parti Socialiste, is open. From 1968, writes both the historian and left winger he keeps two passions, for History (the source of his productive career) and the internationalist defence of those without rights, the desire for a common human civilisation. Staying hopeful that hopes for a new world have not been extinguished, L’après 68 is full of important messages from an old one.

*****

(1) See: A nos Amis. 2014. Le Comité Invisible 2014. Page 64. “Voilà ce qu’il faut opposer à la « souveraineté » des assemblées générales, aux bavardages des Parlements : la redécouverte de la charge affective liée à la parole, à la parole vraie. Le contraire de la démocratie, ce n’est pas la dictature, c’est la vérité. C’est justement parce qu’elles sont des moments de vérité, où le pouvoir est nu, que les insurrections ne sont jamais démocratiques.”

(2) Pages 467– 469. Les Trotskyistes, Christophe Nick. Fayard. 2002.

(3)See for example, the series in le Monde by Nathaniel Herzberg in 1999 on the subject commented on here:  De la « génération » comme argument de vente… A propos d’une série d’articles sur la « génération MNEF ».

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Now Supporting Tony Greenstein: The End of Labour Briefing and the LRC as Political Forces on the Left.

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This appears on the Labour Briefing site:

Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion describes Jon Lansman’s behaviour down to a tee:

Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!

In Momentum today there is no obvious way to remove Lansman. The Constitution he has imposed would be the envy of the Chinese Community Party.  If it wasn’t clear before it should be clear now that Lansman’s desire to succeed McNicol was motivated by his desire to continue with the ancien regime.

Tony Benn must be spinning in his grave as his former student has become a practitioner of the dark arts best associated with the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson.

No doubt Tony Benn’s ashes (he was cremated)  are also spinning at the publication of this spleen.

It follows this disingenuous article in Labour Briefing,

THE WITCH-HUNTERS are celebrating: they have bagged a trophy quarry. Tony Greenstein has been expelled from the Labour Party.

The main pretext used to justify his expulsion was making offensive comments against certain individuals. Tony is indeed not in the habit of using diplomatic language. He is often outspoken in his condemnation of apologists and supporters of injustice.

Greenstein has certainly “spoken out”.

Such as here (from the original of the doctored article that appears above),

“It almost seems as if Momentum’s führer, because he is an unelected dictator, has forgotten what the word socialism means.”

“Tony Benn must be turning in his grave as his former student has turned into a latter day Napoleon Bonaparte. Lansman’s trade is treachery.”

“Lansman, when given the choice between being honest and open, lying and transparency chooses the former without fail.”

And here:

Or this:

(from here: “the fragrant Ella Rose, the Jewish Labour Movement’s violent Director ” Snoopers, Serpents and Mosers – McNicol’s Secret Police are hard at work.

 

Not that his abuse is confined to ‘Zionists’ (a very broad category including this Blog) , or as he calls them ‘Zios’.

There is this post,

 5 November 2017

The Framing of Kelvin Hopkins MP

First it was ‘anti-Semitism’ now the Labour Right (& the BBC’s Tory Kuenssberg) are weaponising Sexual Harassment.

Ava dressed up as a schoolgirl by her Telegraph minders for her interview

That is why just like anti-Semitism has been weaponised, so sexual harassment can be and it would appear is being weaponised at this moment.  It is clear that the Tories epitomised by the monstrous lech Michael Fallon are clearly guilty of gross acts of abuse and worse.  However there is a determined effort by the BBC and the Tory press to turn the attention on Labour.  The Right are doing all they can to encourage this and the Left should stand up and ask where the proof is, because apart from Ivan Lewis MP there seems none.

It is almost certain that Kelvin Hopkins is innocent of the charges against him. I must confess that when I first saw Etemadzadeh I rubbed my eyes. Why is she dressed up as a schoolgirl? Is this to try and suggest she is young, virginal and innocent? She must be at least 23-24, what is this school girl image for?  And the poppy?  No socialist activist would be seen dead wearing a symbol to British military imperialism.

Or this,

But his main theme is indeed the Middle East.

Here he is describing the Nazis and Zionists as “best of Pals”:

Here is Greenstein’s own best friend,

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DWyizJPXcAAOs-2.jpg

The Labour Representation Committee, LRC) already pushed itself into margins by refusing the support the Momentum slate for the Labour NEC. Now most people on the democratic socialist left will want nothing to do with a magazine, and an organisation that publishes and supports this abusive and misogynistic hate-monger.

 Meanwhile in the real world:  Labour antisemitism more widespread than thought, Momentum says

Accusations should not be dismissed simply as rightwing smears, group says, urging Labour to deal with the problem

Once More on Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party.

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IMG_5987

Jeremy Corbyn at Liberation AGM 2018: Standing up For Universal Human Rights.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour must “do better” as a row continues over how the party deals with hostility to Jews.

BBC.

In a Passover message, he said it was easy to denounce anti-Semitism abroad but sometimes harder to see it closer to home.

It came as Jewish Labour peer Lord Winston said Mr Corbyn had “encouraged and endorsed” anti-Semites.

Dozens of Labour politicians are urging him to suspend a senior Momentum figure amid further anti-Semitism claims.

In an open letter, the 39 MPs and peers call for Mr Corbyn to suspend Christine Shawcroft from the party’s governing body after it emerged she had sent an email showing support for a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.

After the letter was first published, four more MPs and Lord Mendelsohn added their signatures.

In the letter, they say it is “utterly wrong” and “highly offensive to the Jewish community” that she remained a member of the National Executive Committee.

Posting on Facebook, Ms Shawcroft said that she would not be seeking re-election to the NEC and that her term would end this summer.

There is an atmosphere of contrived hysteria on Labour and anti-semitism. For all this Blog’s fundamental differences with the extreme wing of  ‘anti-Zionism’ – as opposed to differences over Israeli policies – we want absolutely not part of it.

This letter by long-standing comrade Stan Newens means a lot to this Blog,

Before being elected as Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn chaired Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom) in succession to me. Liberation, founded in 1954 on the initiative of Fenner Brockway, was in the forefront of the struggle against all forms of racism. When Jeremy took the chair it was accepted that one of our continuing fundamental purposes was opposition to racism – including antisemitism. Liberation has been critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians – and often had Israeli or Jewish speakers at meetings arguing the case.

It is patently obvious that criticism of Corbyn and the Labour party on grounds of antisemitism is being encouraged by individuals who – unlike the Labour leader himself – have rarely participated in the general struggle against racism. Most are motivated by opposition to Labour under Corbyn and any excuse to harass him will be taken.
Stan Newens
President, Liberation.

Liberation apart from carrying on the historic legacy of Fenner Brockway, has, by defending universal human rights, offered an independent voice on MIddle Eastern issues, and to those determined to defend Islamism and other “anti-imperialist” states.

Liberation AGM – Summary

Ararat Ratoosi, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights and member of Liberation

Ararat presented the Liberation resolution on Solidarity with the Iranian people noting with concern: Iran’s theocratic government’s continued abuse of democratic rights; non-recognition of the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO conventions; the continued economic and social crisis; reports of torture and maltreatment of people arrested following recent street unrests throughout Iran.

He also talked about the importance of understanding the Iranian people’s deep-seated belief of rejection of any outside intervention in the internal affairs of Iran under any pretext, based on their own history and their experience of recent tragedies in the Middle East, and believe that the future of Iran should be decided only be the Iranian people themselves.

It was also noted that Liberation is totally opposed to the use of threat of military attacks or the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran. Liberation believes that all disputes in the Middle East should be resolved in accordance with international law, the UN Charter and through diplomatic channels and negotiations.

Liberation believes that that realisation of the demands of ordinary people for peace, progress and social justice is the best guarantee for Iran’s independence and for genuine popular sovereignty.

Ihsan Qadir, Secretary of Kurdistan Regions

Ihsan expressed his organisation’s deep concern about the current situation of the people of Afrin, who have been subjected to Turkish government’s aggression. He noted that Afrin has been one of the more stable parts of Syria, and like other parts of Rojava, it is run democratically and peacefully with an emphasis on religious and ethnic pluralism; Pointing out that the recent actions have worsened the prospects for peace in Syria and the wider Middle East. The resolution condemned the use of violence by Turkish army on the people of Afrin and the Kurdish forces in Syria, and asked the conference to support calls on the government, as a matter of urgency, to press the importance of respect for fundamental Human Rights and rule of international law.

Abdel Malik Elobeid, Sudanese human rights defender

Abdel Malik gave his report on Human Rights situation in Sudan and expressed his deep concern about the continued and worsening violation of Human Rights by the government of Sudan. The government violations include: the use of extensive force against the peaceful street demonstrators calling for the lack of freedom of expression, freedom of association in particular Trade Unions, freedom of press, food and decent living.

The resolution called upon Liberation to support the demand that upon the Government of Sudan stop harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens including Human Rights Defenders, peaceful activists, journalists, and all others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly including freedom of the media.

Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP

Rosena began her talk on Rohingya refugee crisis, particularly on refugee camps in Bangladesh. She accounted for the devastating situation of these refugees – orphans, widows and elderly – who fled guns and fire from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugees face daily struggle for lack of food, water and shelter. She talked about her plans of travelling to Bangladesh to visit those camps and reporting back to the Parliament which she hopes will be translated into immediate actionable plan for immediate humanitarian assistance.

There are many more letters in the Guardian.

Such as this,

The Board of Deputies of British Jews – drawn from synagogues and Jewish organisations – does not speak for the thousands of individual Jews in the UK who do not belong to these groups. The mass of Jews are probably liberal. However, the board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, told the Times of Israel that the last election results represented a “loss” and described the Tory-DUP agreement as “good news”. And he told the Jewish Chronicle that there must come a point when even groups like the Jewish Labour Movement or Labour Friends of Israel feel “it’s over” for Jewish links with the party.

He also supported Donald Trump’s moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and has condemned criticism of Israeli settlers. His views are not necessarily mainstream Jewish views. For him to make it a precondition for meeting Corbyn that Labour should adopt all 11 examples illustrating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a cynical political move.
Tracy Lindner
London

In the light of the relentless attacks this is worth considering, 

Hi everyone, in case anyone has been misled by the Press coverage, I am not a Holocaust denier and I would not support a Holocaust denier. I have been trying to support members who have been affected by all the shenanigans around Council selections, and thought this case was just another one of those. I had not seen the appalling and abhorrent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the supportive email. As soon as I saw it I told the member that he should have antisemitism training. It is entirely right that having made the initial mistake, I should resign as Chair of the Disputes Panel (which never meant I had to power to overturn suspensions anyway).This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know. That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.

Christine Shawcroft. FB.

In  case you thought some ill-considered remarks are a Shawcroft speciality there is this image shared by Alan Sugar, a harmless  bit of fun according to some.

Still there is this which is serious.

Leaked Minutes Show This Labour Councillor Proposed A Candidate Knowing He Had Shared An Anti-Semitic Facebook Post

Minutes of a local Labour Party meeting in November last year, seen by BuzzFeed News, show that Alan Bull was proposed by the Labour group leader Ed Murphy.

The broader impact of this climate is also greatly concerning,

In defence of Stan Keable!

On March 27, the day after he attended the counter demonstration in Parliament Square, organised by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable was suspended from work by Hammersmith and Fulham council. The suspension letter states that there are “serious allegation(s) which, if substantiated, could constitute gross misconduct under the council’s disciplinary procedure” and which “could result in your dismissal from the council’s service”.

Some of the background (for full information go via link).

Stan has not yet been informed of the exact nature of the alleged “inappropriate comments”. However, it seems very likely that they relate to a short video clip tweeted by BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman. It seems that Grossman – without asking for permission – filmed Stan on his mobile phone while he was talking to a supporter of the anti-Corbyn demonstration.

Like other LPM comrades, Stan had approached the Zionists with the intention of engaging with them. He handed out Labour Against the Witchhunt leaflets and spoke to numerous people. Most discussions were friendly, if a little one-sided: “People on the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration were a mixture of Tories, Labour Party members and ex-members,” says Stan. “They told me they were there because of the ‘huge problem’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but when I asked if they themselves had experienced discrimination, they could not give me any concrete examples.”

The conversation in question was several minutes long “and the guy and I shook hands afterwards”. The 105 seconds that Grossman has published – again, without even asking for permission – are entitled: “Anti-Semitism didn’t cause the holocaust and Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”. As we show in the transcript below, this is seriously misleading. But, as you would expect from such a headline in the current climate, the short clip has caused quite a stir on social media.

Outraged Progress leader Richard Angell has called for Stan to be expelled from the Labour Party, only to be rather disappointed when somebody pointed out that he had, in fact, already been booted out under Labour’s witch-hunting rule 2.1.4.B. This automatically bars from membership anybody “who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party” and has led to the expulsion of dozens, if not hundreds, of Marxists and socialists, including supporters (or alleged supporters) of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and  Socialist Appeal, as well as Labour Party Marxists.

Angell then demanded that Jeremy Corbyn should “make clear to him that he never wants to see him in a Labour sticker ever again and that he does not speak for the Labour leadership. Corbyn could tweet at him, write to him and make it clear beyond any doubt.”

Somebody then alerted local Tory MP Greg Hands, who sprang into Twitter action, demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham “investigate and urge action. Enough is enough.” And they quickly did his bidding. Less than 18 hours after the demo, Stan was suspended by the council (which is run by Labour, incidentally).

After the Westminster Demonstration Against Anti-Semitism.

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Image result for ian paisley mp anti-semitism demo

Ian Paisley MP, “Supporting our Jewish People.”

 

The below is a deeply offensive and wrong-headed statement made into a headline,

Jeremy Corbyn is ‘figurehead’ for antisemitism, says Jewish group ahead of Westminster protest

Independent.

‘The reality is there are no safe spaces online, or in meetings, for Jewish people within the Labour party’.

This, by contrast, probably sums up the feelings of many people., and not just those with a Jewish background.

This is also good.

Jeremy Corbyn told to act on ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in party.

Labour has taken too long to stamp out antisemitism in the party, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said it was imperative for the party to urgently address the problem to ensure that the Jewish community felt welcome.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “Jeremy has always been a militant opponent of antisemitism, but too often the issue has been dismissed as a few bad apples when we need to take very serious root and branch action, to root out the cause of the problem.”

….

Long-Bailey insisted Labour did take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism but this had not been “enforced as effectively as it should have been”.

She also called for faster implementation of recommendations made by Shami Chakrabarti in a report for Labour on allegations of antisemitism.

She said: “There will be clear efforts now to roll out a political education programme specifically to make sure that every single person in the Labour party is aware of all forms of antisemitism … to make sure nobody suffers in the way that they have done.”

Long-Bailey said she hoped Jewish leaders would help Labour to tackle the issue. “I would really welcome a meeting as urgently as possible between Jeremy and the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council because we have to work collaboratively on this,” she said.

On Corbyn’s comments about the mural, she said: “It was clearly an antisemitic mural, and Jeremy has apologised for not looking at it. We are all human unfortunately and it’s a lesson to us all to look clearly at the things we are supporting or commenting on on Facebook.”

See picture above…

Our reaction to the following is more mixed.

Corbyn’s words on Labour antisemitism are welcome – now we need action

Mike Katz is vice-chair of Jewish Labour Movement and was Labour’s candidate in Hendon in 2017.

For me, this is not about undermining the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s leader. His mandate is clear. But with great power comes great responsibility.

No, this is a challenge to him to lead the Labour party – and the wider movement – out of this toxic situation and make all parts of Labour safe for Jews.

This is vastly over-exaggerated and wrong headed.

There is a  problem with a certain strain of ‘anti-imperialism’ which too easily makes excuses for racialist reactions to ‘Jews’ on the grounds that the Palestinians are oppressed by Israel. This  stand, in various forms has seeped through to a host of paranoid views about ‘Zionism’,and various conspi themes. It is reactionary, deeply so.

It is the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, which, in its efforts to back anybody opposing the ‘West’ the ‘Global order’ and to understand Jihadists and various forms of violent Islamism in this light, is not reducible to antisemitism.

It is very very notifiable that at the moment there are mass murders taking place in the Middle East, not just committed by the genociders of  Daesh, but by Assad’s forces, and…the Turkish assault on Afrin.

The organisations which owe a debt to the anti-imperialism of fools are at present standing by in the conflicts, always anxious to find the US at work with little concern for the people’s suffering.

In this context, are we are seriously to take some comments about a Mural and the existence of a number of anti-Semitic nutters in the Labour Party? That is, as we mourn the death of beloved comrade Anna Campbell who gave her life for the cause of the Kurdish people and internationalism?

From the calmer backwaters of New York Ross Wolfe makes a long, reasoned, and important commentary on the controversy in Britain,

Antisemitism as a “blindspot” for the Left

Let me lay my cards on the table: I don’t think that Corbyn is a hardened antisemite or anything like that. Efforts to portray him as such are in my opinion transparently opportunistic. One can make casually antisemitic, racist, or sexist comments without necessarily being an ideologically committed antisemite, racist, or sexist. This is the crucial takeaway from theories of structuralantisemitism, racism, or sexism — that is, they don’t rely on self-consciously antisemitic, racist, or sexist agents or individuals in order to be reproduced societally at an unconscious level.

“Hillel Ticktin, the South African Trotskyist, followed a similar line of reasoning in his synopsis of an issue of the journal Critique. “No Marxist can support nationalism,” writes Ticktin, “whether that of the Zionists or of Hezbollah. That does not remove the real oppression of Palestinians, but it does imply that no religious or nationalist solution is possible… At the same time, there can also be no question that antisemitism is rising, particularly in areas where it has been endemic for the past half-century: Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Bebel’s dictum that antisemitism is the socialism of fools is partly correct in that the role of antisemitism is different from that of racism; it provides an alternative populist ideology to the appeal of socialism.

Rejecting both widespread calls for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (or BDS, a strategy he also opposed as misguided vis-à-vis the apartheid regime during the 1980s) as well as opportunistic alliances with groups like Hezbollah, which ostensibly leftist organizations like the SWP-UK and ISO-US condone, Ticktin nevertheless affirmed that antisemitism is an irreducibly right-wing phenomenon:

The representative of the Israeli Embassy on the BBC1 10 AM program on Religion 1 May 2016 argued that, although the left had fought antisemitism, there were examples of left-wing antisemites like Proudhon, Bakunin, and Stalin. This is stretching the concept of the Left. If one includes anyone who is critical of the status quo in capitalism to be left-wing then the Israeli representative is correct. There is no doubt that Stalin and Stalinism were not just antisemitic but among the worst perpetrators of acts of antisemitism that the world has seen. This journal has made that clear. Can one call Stalinism left-wing? It was a reaction to the Russian Revolution of 1917 from the right. It introduced and maintained high levels of inequality in all respects. It was brutal in form and totally opposed to the forms of civil liberties accepted by the left. Bakunin attacked Marx in antisemitic terms and Proudhon was no better. They were both anarchists of a kind that would fall outside the left as we understand it today. The people accused of antisemitism do not fall into a Stalinist or anarchist category. There are of course left-wing anarchists but that is another matter. However, it can of course happen that the left sees antisemitism as a form of discrimination employed to divide the population in order to maintain capitalism at the present time, whatever the age of the practice. The left stands for the abolition of all forms of social inequality. Hence it is automatically and inherently opposed to antisemitism, unlike Conservatives and the Labour Right, who accept the market and its forms of subjection and inequality, since they accept the market.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Arron Banks, Hard Right Donator to Trade Unionists Against the EU, Embroiled in Cambridge Analytica Scandal.

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Sharing the stage: Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Arron Banks’ is one of the best-known Brexiteers.

His hard right wing Westmonster site (A full, clean Brexit, defeating radical Islam, ending the scourge of violent crime. These are our priorities. If they are yours as well, please support Westmonster and help us grow), is a conduit for the frequent articles by George Galloway.

As in,

Galloway: The project is subvert Brexit democracy is succeeding

Banks also donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU, a Brexit campaign backed by, amongst others, the Morning Star and the Socialist Party.

Now Arron Banks is in the news for some more skullduggery.

Cambridge Analytica bragged: We have vast data for Brexit vote

Evening Standard.

The founder of Leave.EU, Arron Banks, referred in his book The Bad Boys Of Brexit to CA being “hired” in October 2015. But he told the committee this simply referred to an early meeting and an intention to work together if Leave.EU won lead status, entitling it to spend up to £7 million, get a free mailshot, TV broadcasts and £600,000 public funds, in the referendum campaign. He insisted the group “devised and implemented its own social media strategy … without any input from Cambridge Analytica”.

Confusingly, a CA staffer, Brittany Kaiser, appeared on the platform of a Leave.EU press conference in November 2015 alongside Mr Banks, seemingly to present their campaign plans. She has since left the data company.

But…..

The Guardian leads with this story today,

Cambridge Analytica misled MPs over work for Leave.EU, says ex-director

Exclusive: Brittany Kaiser contradicts CEO, who told MPs the data firm did not work with Brexit campaign group.

Cambridge Analytica conducted data research for one of the leading Brexit campaign groups and then misled the public and MPs over the work the company had undertaken, according to a former employee who has spoken to the Guardian.

In an exclusive interview, Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s business development director until two weeks ago, said the work with Leave.EU involved analysis of data provided by Ukip.

Emails and other documents, seen by the Guardian, show the company was worried about whether it could speak openly about the “interesting findings” and the origins of the data that had been analysed. It decided against doing so.

Kaiser, 30, said the work took a number of weeks and involved “at least six or seven meetings” with senior officials from Leave.EU, which was co-founded by Arron Banks, a Ukip donor. She said the work took place as part of an effort to secure formal business with the campaign group.

Kaiser said she felt she had lied by supporting Cambridge Analytica’s company line that it had done “no paid or unpaid work” for Leave.EU. “In my opinion, I was lying,” she said. “In my opinion I felt like we should say, ‘this is exactly what we did’.”

Labour Left Group, LRC, Commits Suicide: “no longer possible to endorse the slate for Labour’s NEC drawn up by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD)”.

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Image result for labour representation committee meeting

LRC: Forward Towards the Political Graveyard.

On Wednesday this appeared in the Morning Star, written by two Left Labour activists this Blog really respects.

The left must stay united the closer Labour gets to power

Maintaining the unity of the forces invested in a Corbyn victory, which may yet be a while away, is no small task, write MIKE PHIPPS and LIZ DAVIES.

Maintaining the unity of the forces invested in a Corbyn victory, which may yet be a while away, is no small task. In recent weeks, tension has emerged over the contest as to who will be Labour’s next general secretary. Writing in The Guardian, Owen Jones saw the candidacy of Jon Lansman, the national chair of Momentum, who has since withdrawn, against that of Unite’s Jennie Formby as “a sign of just how hegemonic the party’s left has become.”

He saw the rivalry as “a mark of the left’s sense of political security.”
Martin Kettle in the same newspaper was more sulphurous. He called it a “debacle” that exposed to public view “real and potentially fundamental divisions.” Who’s right?

The truth may lie closer to Jones’s view. There is undoubtedly a tension between the 30,000-plus members Momentum has recruited, arguably the most active section of the hugely increased Labour membership, and the older trade union left.

Momentum mobilised on an unprecedented scale in the 2017 general election. Its My Nearest Marginal app was used by over 100,000 people.

Momentum contacted over 400,000 voters on polling day through viral WhatsApp messaging.

During the campaign, nearly one in four UK Facebook users viewed a Momentum video.

Unsurprisingly, its members are impatient for change and frustrated with the slow pace of internal party reform.

Many are unengaged by the old methods of doing politics in the party and want to see palpable changes that transform it into a mass campaigning movement.

That said, there is an absence of detail on exactly how. It may well be that some concrete ideas could be a basis for unity across the divides.

Leading left unions are both engaged by and a little wary of this new movement, which is youthful and enthusiastic, certainly, but also politically inexperienced.

Unite and others stayed with the party through its leanest years, funding it in elections once New Labour’s fickle donors deserted the party.

In opposition during the coalition years, they pushed for better, more accountable candidates than those wanted by the party apparatus, used to parachuting their own favourites into winnable constituencies, often in the teeth of opposition from local activists.

In the process, they had to confront both the party’s right wing and a hostile mainstream media.

Those who understand the party’s history must communicate that Corbyn is neither the property of Momentum alone, nor of the left unions, nor of the old Labour left, nor even of the broader membership.

There are millions now, both inside the party and out, who passionately want a Labour government. They will rightly take a dim view of any disunity which could jeopardise that.

It’s worth remembering too that there are still plenty in the party, especially among its parliamentarians, who still don’t want Corbyn as leader, even if his strong showing in last year’s election has temporarily silenced them.

They will seize on any sign of weakness — either within the Corbyn-supporting unions or the broader membership — to roll back the astonishing achievements of the last two years and prepare another leadership challenge.

We on the left must continue to work together with discipline, mutual understanding and a focus on the main prize.

Mike Phipps’ book For the Many: Preparing Labour for Power is published by OR Books (www.orbooks.com). Liz Davies is a former member of Labour’s NEC and a barrister specialising in housing rights.

Now this has appeared.

In fact it was published some days ago on March the 19th, and the  Blog Skwawkbox reported the tumultuous beginnings of this suicide note, but nobody noticed – not least the membership –  until yesterday, such is the importance activists give to the LRC…

Statement Supported by the National Executive Committee of the LRC on Saturday 17th March  

The LRC, Grassroots Black Left (GBL) and Red Labour have agreed that it is no longer possible to endorse the slate for Labour’s NEC drawn up by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) for the following reason:

1. The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) is supposed to operate on basis of consensus but the slate has been drawn up without consultation with all its constituent bodies. The slate has to all intents and purposes been presented as a fait accompli.

2. The GBL has been unilaterally refused membership of the CLGA on the basis of opposition from one person representing Momentum.

3. Red Labour was invited to join the CLGA but has been informed that this will not be permitted until its 2018 slate is finalised.

We resolve to start an online consultation process, hosted by Red Labour, to determine whether grassroots candidates want to stand and whether it is the expressed wish of rank and file members that such candidates be supported.

In the interests of tackling the under-representation of oppressed and disadvantaged comrades, we would positively welcome applications from women, from Black African, Caribbean, Asian and other people of colour, people with disabilities, those who are LBGT, and people from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds.

The LRC NEC meeting overwhelmingly agreed on March 17th to endorse the draft statement drawn up by LRC/GBL/RL representatives previously circulated

The NEC agreed on the next steps:

1) To confer with the other organisations as to whether they endorse the proposal;

2) The statement to be made public and sent out to members, asking for people to submit their names (or those of others) together with a short `CV’ saying why they should be considered as a candidate. The address to write to is leftslate@gmail.com

3) The `working group’ elected by the NEC together with the other groups involved in this process, to continue to provide feedback and consult with the LRC NEC;

4) The final decision on whether the LRC supports alternative candidates, and if so who, to be taken by an NEC MEETING ON SUNDAY 6th MAY. 

Even the Labour Party Marxist queries this decision (After Formby’s election Weekly Worker 22.03.2018).

…we fear that the statement issued by the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour10and Grassroots Black Left (see below) will do little to lead to political clarity or greater democracy.

The Weekly Worker cannot resist mentioning their own eccentric politics,

Why does the statement not contain any mention of the basic political principles that we would want our NEC representatives to uphold? At least a commitment that they stand for a democratic republic, abolishing the House of Lords, replacing the standing army with a popular militia, getting rid of capitalism and achieving the rule of the working class and socialism.

Wild gestures apart the LPM accurately notes,

There is also opposition in the LRC. Yes, its executive voted in favour of endorsing the statement, but a sizable minority of LRC executive members opposed the move.

We would agree with those comrades. It is one thing to criticise Jon Lansman for his undemocratic methods. He deserves it and we have done plenty of it. But to seriously consider standing candidates against a slate endorsed by Momentum, is – how to put this nicely? – not tactically advisable at the moment. We understand the LRC executive will make a final decision on May 6 – we would urge them to vote against. It runs the risk of letting in right-wingers like Eddie Izzard, which, considering that the NEC does not have a rock-solid left majority, could well have dire consequences for the left’s fight to transform the party.

It is not hard to see where such opposition comes from (see article above), and where the undying loathing of Momentum comes from.

But this is wrong-headed behaviour, to put it mildly, an act of political suicide which will push the LRC further into irrelevance.

In short into the kind of wilderness where in perfect seriousness Moshê Machover can write an article in the latest Labour Briefing (April 2018) asserting that the “real reason” Tony Greenstein was expelled from the Labour Party was “his tireless campaign against Zionist colonisation of Palestine and the ideology which justifies it.”

Meanwhile some discussion  on this decision (Clarion):

Debate: Support Momentum’s Labour NEC slate?

YES: Support Momentum’s NEC slate

By Rosie Woods .

NO: Fight for a more democratic process

By Emma Maxwell

Update:

 Mike Phipps of Labour Briefing has just sent out a list of recommended nominations for the NEC. There are, as far as I can tell,  *no* differences from the Momentum list.

I am informed that he resigned from the LRC NEC over this decision.

I am sad, I greatly respect and like Mike.

The candidates below are working to secure the election of a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government. They will stand up for the rights of members and are backed by: the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), Labour Assembly Against Austerity (LAAA), Labour Briefing Co-op, Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (LCND) and Momentum. Please urge your CLP to nominate these candidates by Friday 22 June.

National Executive Committee 2018 Campaigning for a Labour victory.

Huda Elmi
Peter Willsman
Yasmine Dar
Rachel Garnham
Ann Henderson
Jon Lansman
Claudia Webbe
Navendu Mishra
Hazel Grove CLP.
Darren Williams.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Day of Strike Action in French Public Services Against Background of Unity Call for the Left.

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Image result for CGT jour pour la fonction publique 22 mars

Today is March the 22nd, the same day in March when, fifty years ago,  the revolt of May 68 began.

“when a a French student movement at the  University of Nanterre founded on 22 March 1968, started a prolonged occupation of the university’s administration building.”

After occupying the building, the school dean called the police, and a public scuffle ensued that garnered the movement media and intellectual attention.”

Today is March the 22nd when a day of strikes, from the Public Service to Trains, is taking place.

L’Humanité leads with the story,

Mobilisations. Les agents se battent pour sauver notre service public

A day of action in public services, joined by train drivers, is supported by all the unions,  CGT, FO, FSU, CFTC, CFE-CGC, Solidaires  and FA-FP. On the rail network a united front of the SNCF (CGT, UNSA, SUD-Rail, CFDT), backed by FO are moblising against the “reform” of the train service, which directly touches the conditions of workers, notably the locomotive drivers.

The Guardian reports,

Thousands of train drivers, teachers, nurses, air traffic controllers and other public sector staff have gone on strike across France and begun street protests against Emmanuel Macron’s latest reform drive.

France’s centrist president, who has been in power for nearly a year, has so far escaped large strikes and trade union action, managing to easily push through an overhaul of labour laws in the autumn despite limited street marches.

But Thursday’s strike marks a new joint phase in trade union action – it is the first protest against Macron that has brought together civil servants and railway staff.

Rolling news from LibérationFonctionnaires, cheminots…, tous ensemble

This happens against the background of successful appeal for left unity behind the strike action and protests, issued by Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA).

Déclaration unitaire : Défendons tous les services publics ! Solidarité avec les cheminots et les cheminotes !

Une réunion unitaire s’est tenue dans les locaux du NPA la semaine dernière. Elle a aboutit à un appel unitaire large, d’une grande partie des organisations politique du mouvement ouvrier, en soutien aux mobilisations à la SNCF et dans les services publics. Une conférence de presse se tiendra également jeudi.

Le Monde dedicated a long report on this welcome initiative.

A gauche, l’unité (presque) retrouvée.

12 parties and groups have backed the call, from Alternative Libertaire (AL) ; EELV ; Ensemble ; Gauche Démocratique et sociale (GDS) ;  Géneration.s, (led by former Socialist Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon) ; Groupe Parlementaire FI ; NPA ; Nouvelle Donne ; PCF ;  PCOF ; Parti de Gauche (PG)  to République et socialisme.

The Parti Socialiste, and its newly elected leader, Olivier Faure, were, in view of the record of their recent government, not asked to join.

It goes without saying that the leader of La France insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who considers his rally is the only force that counts on the left, is keeping his distance.

Strikes in France: A guide to navigating transport, childcare and more.

France 24.

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the start of strike season in France. With workers across the country set to walk out on Thursday, here is a brief rundown of which services will be affected and tips on how to survive the madness.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, France is the country with the second-highest number of days not worked due to industrial action in Europe, bested only by Cyprus, according to the European Trade Union Institute.

Yet despite the regularity of strikes in France, navigating disrupted services can be stressful for even the most experienced of locals. To make life easier, here’s a guide to Thursday’s strikes, as well as a few tips on how to survive.

Who’s striking?

 A total of seven trade unions have called on public sector employees across the country to strike on Thursday, including school and hospital staff, civil servants, air traffic controllers and Paris metro (RATP) workers.