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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

Right-Wing Identity Politics and the Trans Debate: the New Reactionaries.

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“In cultural matters the old division of right and left has come to look more like two Puritan sects, one plaintively conservative, the other posing as revolutionary but using academic complaint as a way of evading engagement in the real world.”

Robert Hughes, The Culture of Complaint. 1993. (1)

Trevor Phillips has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobia. What looks like a parting factional swipe at a long-standing opponent of Corbynism, only adds to the culture wars. After the crisis over anti-Semitism recent weeks have seen a new battle, over Transsexuals, reach a peak. Some have demanded that transphobes be added to the list of the expelled. Defenders of family, faith and flag from Blue Labour, self-identifying libertarians, and supporters of the Brexit Party in Spiked, full-blown national populists, and radical feminists have joined together to attack demands for trans rights.

Judith Butler wrote in her critique of ‘foundational’ identity politics, Gender Trouble (2007) “If I were to rewrite this book under present circumstances, I would include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality, the way that ideal gender dimorphism work in both ways to discourses, the different relations to surgical intervention that these related concern.” At present it looks improbable that differences between gender-critical, or “materialist feminists”, and those defending transsexuals, can take place within reasonable limits.

For Blue Labour, citing the inevitable Christopher Lasch on ‘narcissism’, Jonathan Rutherford asserts that, “Like other forms of identity politics, the language of its more extreme advocates has the same mix of moral self-righteousness and ideological certainty. Scientific facts that compromise ideology are dismissed.” “Identity politics becomes the singular pursuit of self-interest detached from social obligations.” He claims, “It is a struggle that many women feel is all the more threatening because of the involvement of powerful lobby and corporate interests.” (The Trans Debate And The Labour Party)The nastiness of a minority amongst those defending absolute ‘cis’ gender has shredded that hope to pieces. The Suzanne Moore affair has opened up a breach that is unlikely to be bridged. (2)

In 1993 Robert Hughes was one of the first to suggest that Marxism, dead after the collapse of official Communism, has had an afterlife by shifting away from “economic and class struggle in the real world”, theorising instead a variety of oppressions and “discursive” articulations and antagonisms. This ‘cultural Marxism’, exploring themes from German and French left theory, has become a target for conservatives railing against “multiculturalism”. Speech codes, the “PC wars” of the 90s, and. fast-forward. Today we have Mark Lilla’s 2018 left of centre critique of “liberal identity politics” (The Once and Future Liberal), and Douglas Murray’s conservative broadside against “identity politics and intersectionality”, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” (The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. 2019) (3)

National Populism.

Those attracted to national populism, who disdain the causes of minorities, have become champions of identity, of the “Somewhere” plain folks against the identity politics of the ‘Anywhere” cosmopolitan elites. This strategy is not confined to the English-speaking world. “The ambition is to imitate the activism of minorities – postcolonial or LGBT – fed by French theory …..in order to serve the cause of identity” writes Nicholas Truong in this Saturday’s Le Monde (Il s’érige contre la « dictature » de la « bien-pensance » : l’essor du national-populisme intellectuel et médiatique). In France, “national populism”, a “catéchisme néo-réactionnaire”, the theme of immigration, the fear of the “great replacement”, the ‘Islamisation’ of urban spaces, up to hostility to human-rights “mongering” (droits de l’hommisme) , and the “terror” of feminist campaigns against sexual violence and harassment. The denunciation of multiculturalist “bobos” (Bourgeois bohemians) parallels British sneers, from Blue Labour, Spiked to the Morning Star at the ‘Islington left”. Truong, with good reason, compares this to French Communist language of the past century attacking the “petty bourgeois”.

In Le rappel à l’ordre (2002) Daniel Lindenberg outlined the way a group of French writers had begun to denounce May 68, human rights, feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, Islam, and “globalism” (mondialisme). These “new reactionaries” had moved from the left critiques of market liberalism to national republicanism, He suggested that anti-globalisation could serve as a crossing-point

A “crude piece of work” commented Perry Anderson. It takes no more than a few minutes to see some names, Marcel Gauchet, Alain Finkielkraut, reappear in Truong’s article, some, like Eric Zemmour, and Jean-Pierre le Goff, author of a study that is recalled or its postscript on the enduring impact of “cultural leftism” post-68, had yet to come to wider attention. Others, like the once respected historian of the French left, Jacques Julliard are much more recent entries, though one was perhaps forewarned by his willingness to debate Jean-Claude Michéa, who asserts that the original sin of French socialism was its Dreyfus Affair alignment with democratic liberal human rights defenders. That one of these figures, Michel Onfray, a self-styled anarchist and pop philosopher has extended his openness to reaction by contributing to the pages of the Nouvelle Droite Eléments, is the occasion for sadness. (4)

Realignments to the right that have yet to go so far could be seen in the UK during the EU Referendum and Brexit process. The Full Brexit brought together left sovereigntists, Blue Labour, Labour Leave, activists in Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and members of the Communist Party of Britain. They contrasted the real popular sovereignty of the nation against the workings of the globalist EU elites. Andrew Murray has expressed the widely shared views of these sections with his hostility towards “rancid identity politics”, pitting the rights of “peoples” against the “poisonous seeds” of human rights (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)

The French new reactionaries have, Truong outlines, a strong and highly visible media presence right in the mainstream, the MSM. For those inflamed with hatred for identity politics Britain offers the consolations of Spiked, the Spectator, and the hard right press for those hostile to all things Woke, with the occasional television platform like Sky Press reviews. As interest in Brexit has waned some of  this new sect of plaintitive reactionaries  has taken up the cudgels against transsexuals. Elsewhere Verso Books publishes Andrew Murray, who thanks Tariq Ali for his “support and political commitment., The journal of Perry Anderson, New Left Review, is home to Wolfgang Streeck, a supporter of the Full Brexit, who believes that national borders are the “last line of Defence”….

 

*****

  1. Page 60. The Culture of Complaint, The Fraying of America. Robert Hughes. Harvill. 1994.
  2. Page xxviii. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Judith Butler. Routledge 2007.
  3. Lecture 2. Multi-Culti and its Discontents. Robert Hughes. Op cit. “PC Wars” in Chapter 8. New Consensus for Old. One Market Under God, Thomas Frank. Vintage 2002.
  4. Page 169. Perry Anderson The New Old World. Verso. 2009 Jean-Claude Michéa and Jacques Julliard La Gauche et le Peuple. Champs. 2014.
  5. Page ix. Andrew Murray. The Rise and Fall of the British left. Verso, 2019

Britain to Drop European Human Rights Laws, a Victory for Brexit Sovereignty?

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End to the “poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights”? Andrew Murray.

This the news today:

Britain is preparing to reject EU demands to guarantee that the country will continue to be bound by European human rights laws once the UK becomes fully independent, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

British negotiators will refuse to accept proposed clauses in a post-Brexit trade agreement that would require Britain remain signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights, leaving the door open to break away from the treaty as soon as next year, the Sunday Telegraph said.

Andrew Murray, until recently a key Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser  expressed these views in The Rise and Fall of the British Left (2019).

The “imperialist left” of the 2006 Euston Manifesto, which championed the right of humanitarian intervention, claimed to base the argument on human rights.  Such rights trump the “rights of nations” and justify Western, external, use of force to impose claims of human rights.

He attacked the standpoint that “articulated the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.”(Page 97) 

The thrust of anti-human rights ideology can be seen on the national populist Spiked site run by the ex-Revolutionary Communist Party network.

Human rights: a reactionary cause. Luke Gittos.

The movement for human rights was born of a fear of democracy.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, many Remainers were keen to emphasise that leaving the European Union (EU) did not mean leaving the remit of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As they saw it, retaining the human-rights regime was a means to retain some vestige of what they perceived to be the progressive European project. It was as though they felt, in the aftermath of Brexit, that all was not lost as long as they could hold on to human-rights laws. Hence, human-rights proponents were keen to highlight the fact that the Human Rights Act was passed into English law by the UK parliament and did not represent a law ‘imposed by Brussels’ – a retort they find useful when the human-rights regime is called ‘undemocratic’.

The conclusion is simple, “The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to postwar elites’ attempt to exert economic and political control over the heads of European peoples.”

This is a complete fabrication.

The human rights demands of social movements, theorised by writers such as Claude Lefort and Étienne Balibar, are written off as they are part the culture of narcissistic complaint. Leftort , in Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siècles, 1986, argue that the political dynamics attached to the affirmation of human rights could not be dismissed as part of the “formal” democracy, but reached into the development of the social basis of democracy. IT is possible to see the limits of legal rights, as the early 19th century writings of Marx on the issue indicated, but also to consider that the fight for rights is, as Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère put it, “a source of disorder and egalitarian reordering” (Was Karl Marx truly against human rights? 2012.)

In a similar vein Balibar has written of the “operation of inventing rights, or of continually setting their history back into motion..” Masses, Classes and Ideas,1994. During the last decade Balibar has written of the convergence of citizenry and humanity, both in human rights documents and in the political imaginary (La proposition de l’égaliberté. 2010)

More radically the cultural critic of political theorist Jacques  Rancière’s account sees human rights emerge through political action and speech. They are products of excluded voices that  seek to enact equality as speaking subjects and demonstrate inequality within the social order: ‘the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the rights that they have not’ (Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man? 2004).

Many argue that, to illustrate the point, that the trade union movement, which came from “outside” the political system,  is the biggest movement for human rights in history.

From the radical internationalists to figures like Keir Starmer human rights have become an important part of the politics of the left.

But what are these fights without legal recourse?

Agreements like the European Convention on Human Rights exist to  give at least some reality to these the demands of the powerless.

Bexiteers assert that only national, sovereign, states, can guarantee rights – an argument that goes back to Edmund Burke, and taken, as a counsel of despair, by Hannah Arendt in the wake of the Second World War and the Shoah.

These positions, taken up and simplified by sovereigntist ideologues many Brexiters, of right and left, have wished to detach themselves from any such international obligations. based on humanity, not nation states.

It is no accident that Boris Johnson and his adviser Cummings attack the European Convention, and assert national sovereignty over human rights. National neoliberalism, national populism, and national rights….

Those who argued in favour of such unlimited national sovereign rights, and wished that Labour had a made a deal collaborating with the Tories in Brexit, can now see where their stand can lead.

What a People’s Brexit they have helped bring into being…

 

 

 

 

Solidarity with the Victims of Communal Violence in Delhi.

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Delhi Riots: Mosques and Huts Burned, Children Attacked, at Least 2 Dead in Mustafabad

Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey

At least two mosques in the northeasrt Delhi neighbourhood have been vandalised and attacked with stones, reportedly by a Hindutva mob. Elsewhere in the area, masked men shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ torched Muslim huts.

New Delhi: The Mustafabad area in north east Delhi also saw violence on Tuesday evening as a Hindutva mob attacked the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site, injuring sevhttps://twitter.com/SAsiaSolidarity/status/1232951475896307712?s=20eral people including children.

According to residents, a mob of around 50 men gathered in the area and began to pelt stones.

At least two mosques in the area have been vandalised and attacked with stones, by the same mob.

Residents told The Wire that men armed with rods and pistols gathered outside the mosques in the area and attacked them. At the time, several children were inside the mosque and were attacked.

The locals rescued several children from the mosque and some have severe injuries. The Wire saw a 15-year-old boy with severe head and leg injuries being rescued from inside the mosque. He was unable to walk and claimed that he had been attacked by rods.

 

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

India: WSS strongly condemns the State Sponsored Hindutva Violence in Delhi!

In light of the extraordinary situation with which we are confronted, WSS strongly and unequivocally condemns the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal led violence. We also condemn the inaction and silence of the state and central government in the wake of the violence. We demand:

1. Immediate restoration of law and order, de-escalation of violence, and fulfilment of the duties of law enforcement agencies.

2. The Delhi government must immediately begin serious efforts to restore the right to safe living of the Muslim community – men, women, children – in these violence-wracked neighbourhoods and across the city. All efforts must be made to ensure that those who have been forced to flee are able to return and live in their homes safely.

3. The Supreme court should take suo moto cognisance of the violent situation and act urgently to contain the violence.

4. The state should be providing immediate medical relief on site, in homes of the injured, and ambulance services to those injured. People trapped in these areas should be provided rations by the state government, in light of the destruction of their homes, livelihoods and property.

5. Immediate and stringent action against BJP ex-MLA Kapil Mishra for inciting violence, as well as all individuals and policemen seen engaged in stone-pelting and beatings.

6. The ongoing violence should be investigated by a SIT.

7. Immediate resignation of the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Delhi LG Anil Baijal and Home Minister Amit Shah.

UK’s Corbyn condemns violence against Muslims in Delhi

Labour chief and leader of the opposition in the British parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, has condemned violence against Muslims in Delhi by extremist Hindu groups linked with the ruling Bhartya Janata Party (BJP).

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, the Labour leader said he’s saddened and shocked at the killing of innocent Muslims in Delhi riots, initiated by the extremist Hindutva groups linked with Narendra Modi’s government.

“I am totally shocked by what has happened and totally deplore the killings that have happened. I stand by those who have protested for their rights. They have the right to protest and they have the right to disagree, that’s what a democracy is all about,” he said.

“The basis of international law has to be the universal declaration of international human rights which of course guarantees and protects the right of religious freedom and assembly and the right of equality before the law of citizenship,” he added.

When asked about his views on the ruling party BJP supporting a progrom against Muslims, the Labour leader said all faiths are equal and no faith has the right to attack others.

“There has to be a basis in every society that there is no supremacy of one faith or ethnic group over another. That’s what a democracy is all about, equality before the law irrespective of your ethnicity of your faith.”

Finally there is this:

And this:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2020 at 1:18 pm