Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Imperialism

Solidarity with Iraq and Iranian Protests.

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Tahrir Square Baghdad: In Iraq Iranian Backed Militias Now Killing Protesters.

Iran is an active player, that is the leader,  in the fight against the recent Iraqi people’s protests.

Last week:

Two days ago (Guardian)

At least 15 people stabbed after Hashd al-Shaabi supporters march to Tahrir Square.

More than a dozen people have been stabbed in a Baghdad square that has become a focal point for anti-government and anti-Iran protests after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia flooded the area.

Thousands of men waving sticks, Iraqi flags and the insignia of the Hashd al-Shaabi armed group descended on Tahrir Square on Thursday morning in apparently coordinated marches from across the capital.

Anti-government protesters who have been occupying the square for several weeks, some of whom are critical of Iranian influence in the country, said at least 15 people were stabbed before the militia-linked marchers withdrew by the late afternoon.

Today: (BBC)

Iraq has seen one of the worst flare-ups in weeks of anti-government protests, with gunmen killing at least 20 people in Baghdad early on Saturday.

The unknown attackers raided key protest sites in the capital sending demonstrators fleeing into the streets.

The unrest in Iraq began in October, fuelled by anger over corruption, unemployment, poor public services and the influence of Iran.

More than 400 people have been killed since the protests started.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes from the latest attacks, which happened overnight on Friday.

Armed men on pick-up trucks are said to have driven through areas that have formed the centre of the protests in Baghdad, forcing demonstrators to flee from bullets.

It is not clear who is responsible – state television called the assailants “unidentified men”.

Earlier this week several people were stabbed in Baghdad after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia swarmed into a square occupied by protesters.

In another development, a drone dropped a bomb on the house of the influential Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, a source within his party said. He was out of the country at the time.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has resigned over the protests but those who have taken to the streets want a fundamental overhaul of the country’s political system.

Iraq uses a quota-based system that allocates positions to political parties based on sectarian and ethnic identity.

But many Iraqis say it only encourages patronage and corruption and there is particular concern over Iran, the dominant Shia Muslim state which has close links to Iraqi Shia politicians who have been running the country since the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Iran itself has seen protests against the Islamist theocracy grow.

The Islamists have used extreme violence.

 

It is well known that the Khomeinist regime consolidated its power under the banner of ‘anti-imperialism’.

Many of the Iranian left, and the left internationally, bought this line.

Today we see the same anti-progressive positions being peddled by some  anti imperialists like the Stop the War Coalition and their allies in other Western countries.

Their priority remains fighting against imperialism.

This have been many  counter-voices from the Iranian left.

In the context of the present-day protests against the Islamist reactionaries, – one that could be extended to their actions by proxy against the Iraqi people, and across the near east through their alliance with Assad in Syria and sectarian forces in Lebanon)   now offers an important analysis of the unfolding fight against the Hassan Rouhani clique that has implications for these other crises.

First of all Khanlarzadeh offers some serious ideas about what kind of solidarity we should offer those fighting for their rights in Iran.

She writes in response to  the US petition, “Letter Against US Imperialism”, “As anti-imperialist activists, scholars, artists and lawyers located in the United States, we stand in solidarity with the peoples of Latin America, Africa and Asia in their calls to end imperialism, sectarianism and neoliberalism, and we view the recent protests in Iran within this broader international context of resistance.”

The people of Iran are resisting the economic, political and militaristic violence imposed on them both by international and domestic elites. The majority of the Iranian people do not seek regime change because they have already lived through two monumental events that destabilized their lives – the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War that lasted from 1980 until 1988. The elder generations can still recount the horrors that followed the toppling of Prime Minister Mossadegh during the U.S. and British-backed coup of 1953.

Iranians seek economic and political stability, and above all, they seek to maintain their national and individual dignity. We stand by them and their calls for domestic reform, and as people in the United States, we demand the end of the sanctions regime and U.S. and Israeli interference in the lives of the Iranian people.

In a detailed response to this declaration (milder than some of the rhetoric coming up from some ‘anti-imperialists’ who fight shy of direct backing for any form of  protest seen to further US interests, “Imperialist powers intensify pressure on Iranian regime in wake of protests“) states

“The petition pretends to know what Iranian people want: “The majority of the Iranian people do not seek regime change because they have already lived through two monumental events that destabilized their lives […]  Iranians seek economic and political stability, […]. We stand by them and their calls for domestic reform [….]” The petition claims Iranians want stability, but who are these Iranians who want stability? It’s certainly not the protesters who shouted for the fall of the dictator (Ayatollah Khamenei) in the streets and actually destabilized the country by forcing the government to use maximum force to silence them and to the surprise of the petitioners, kill more than 200 of them. The violent politics of stability has, in fact, been employed by the government to silence any cry for transformation towards improvement.

As Khanlarzadeh says, these forces position reminds one, of “the famous Ayatollah Khomeini quote, “All the anger you have accumulated in your throat must be screamed at the US.”

At a time when even the Communist Party of Britain has called for solidarity with the Iranian protests, some clarity on the issues is welcome.

Morning Star November.

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths wrote to the Iranian ambassador yesterday to express grave concern.

Mr Griffiths said: “While our party has campaigned against the imposition of sanctions by the United States, we deplore and condemn the suspension of civil rights, the indiscriminate killing of demonstrators and mass arrests which have taken place over the past week.”

Codir is calling on individuals and organisations to show their solidarity with the Iranian people “in this their darkest hour.”

Anti-Imperialism As An Intellectual Trap

Written by Andrew Coates

December 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm

Labour to Launch Review of British Imperialism.

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The Huff Post reports,

 A  Labour government would launch an investigation into British colonialism and its legacy today, the party’s election manifesto is expected to declare.

The policy blueprint, due to be published on Thursday, proposes a review of the “legacies” of UK imperialism and human rights abuses under British rule across the globe, HuffPost UK can reveal.

The wording of the pledge is understood to be broad, but campaigners have long demanded justice for those who suffered due to Britain’s conquests overseas, as well as its separate role in the slave trade.

Labour’s shadow cabinet, trade unions and its ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) met at the weekend to approve the 2019 manifesto in a marathon session.

As well as its eye-catching proposal for a nationalised “British Broadband”, there were also plans for a windfall tax on oil firms and free travel for under-25s on publicly-run bus services.

It is hard to know where this audit of British imperialism came from, or the policy on free bus travel, and how they reached the Manifesto.

To illustrate how difficult an investigation into British imperialism would be some have suggested that this may be a key work to start with:

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Empires are not confined to the the exploitation of classical imperialist structures, such as those set up by the British or French states.

In the 20th century the US waged war in Indo-China without a legacy of colonial rule.

The Ottomans ruled substantial parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East,  from the Middle Ages until the 19th century, with their own form of colonial oppression. exploitation, and slave economy.

After 20th century genocide the ‘new Ottoman” ruler of Turkey, Erdoğan, stands accused of ethnic cleansing of Kurds as this is written.

Globalisation involves inequalities of wealth, ownership and  production rooted in the flow of capital and  the ongoing exercise  of state power.

One can see the present trade war between the US and capitalist China in these terms.

These points suggest that the legacies of colonialism are better looked at not through some kind of historical tribunal but as part of a continuing world system, (see World-systems theory) as writers such as Samir AminGiovanni ArrighiAndre Gunder Frank, and Immanuel Wallerstein.

Colonisation was part of capitalism and the world market not a freely willed political strategy for jingo British state rulers.

Wallerstein, who passed away this year, offers a much more useful approach to imperialism than any kind of audit of a nation’s history.

Capitalism is a system of paradoxes. Though it has promised to liberate people through the expansion of markets and development of new technologies, unrestrained capitalist economies have failed to meet these lofty ideals. Where markets have expanded across the world, the distribution of income has tipped, and the benefits of exchange and trade have flowed to a few, mostly Western, elites.

To explain this paradox, Wallerstein distinguished between a technologically developed, wealthy core of capitalist countries, and a less developed group of “periphery” countries they rely upon for accumulation. Capitalism, he thought, has been global from the start. It can’t erase the gap between rich and poor, or the North and the South, because it relies upon these divides for its very survival. Its inherently global nature also explains the emergence of authoritarian leaders like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro; their ascendance is both an expression of capitalism’s global crisis, and a reflection of how this crisis unfolds in different countries.

Why the world needs Immanuel Wallerstein’s radical vision more than ever. Lea Ypi.

Wallerstein’s views can be summarised, as looking at.

… not the system of the world, but a system that is a world and which can be, most often has been, located in an area less than the entire globe. World-systems analysis argues that the units of social reality within which we operate, whose rules constrain us, are for the most part such world-systems (other than the now extinct, small minisystems that once existed on the earth). World-systems analysis argues that there have been thus far only two varieties of world-systems: world-economies and world empires. A world-empire (examples, the Roman EmpireHan China) are large bureaucratic structures with a single political center and an axial division of labor, but multiple cultures. A world-economy is a large axial division of labour with multiple political centers and multiple cultures. In English, the hyphen is essential to indicate these concepts. “World system” without a hyphen suggests that there has been only one world-system in the history of the world.

In : Structural Crisis in the World-System   looked at political strategies for the left to change the balance of forces. (2011)

The one encouraging feature about a systemic crisis is the degree to which it increases the viability of agency, of what we call “free will.” In a normally functioning historical system, even great social effort is limited in its effects because of the efficacy of the pressures to return to equilibrium. But when the system is far from equilibrium, every little input has great effect, and the totality of our inputs—made every nanosecond in every nanospace—can (can, not will) add up to enough to tilt the balance of the collective “choice” in the bifurcation.

This kind of approach, which raises strategic issues about what to do about the present to create a better future, is surely better than looking, again, at the past.

From Marxists alone, there is a vast literature on these issues, it goes without saying:  Marxist Theories of Imperialism. A Critical Survey . Anthony Brewer. 1990.

Marx had expected the spread of capitalism to lead to full capitalist development everywhere (unless anticipated by socialist revolution), while Lenin and his contemporaries concentrated on the role of monopoly and inter-imperialist rivalry. More recently, the focus of theory has shifted to the explanation of underdevelopment, which has prompted a renaissance of Marxist thought.

Is Labour’s proposed Investigation the place to judge the history and the explanations for it?

Many would suggest that it does not look an easy task.

It is even harder to see what it could possibly change.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2019 at 1:24 pm

UK Trade Unions Stand Against Turkish Invasion of Syria.

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Protests in the UK At Turkish Invasion.

Thirteen major trade unions urge UK government to condemn Turkey’s invasion of Syria – and act to avert ethnic cleansing and potential genocide

Trade unions representing millions of UK workers and their communities have demanded that prime minister Boris Johnson deploy the UK’s influence to prevent a humanitarian disaster as a result of the Turkish invasion of north and east Syria.

Thirteen trade unions and a leading law firm are warning that President Trump’s ‘appalling’ abandonment of the fragile region will see Turkey seek its own military and strategic advantage which will `undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS’ in the region.

The move by the unions is a major display of solidarity with those forces fighting against repression in the region. The unions say that the UK must show its clear and utter condemnation of Turkey’s invasion, calling for a no fly zone and international force deployment.

Having recently returned from the region, Simon Dubbins, Unite’s director of international, said: “We have been part of a parliamentary and union delegation to this region. It is plain for all to see how extremely dangerous the situation is and the human misery that will unfold unless the international community comes together and stands as one against this appalling and unwarranted aggression.”

In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson the unions urge the UK government to condemn outright the Turkish aggression, reminding both the UK government and the international community of the debt owed to the Syrian Democratic Forces for their `sacrifice in stopping and defeating ISIS’.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing in relation to last Sunday’s appalling announcement by President Trump that he intends to immediately withdraw US troops from Syria. This is a green-light to a Turkish military invasion of North and East Syria, which, as we have already seen in Afrin, will undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS.

The international community owes the Syrian Democratic Forces a debt for their sacrifice in stopping and defeating ISIS and building peace and stability in the region, they are our friends and allies.

We therefore call on the UK government to immediately condemn Turkey’s threats of invasion and to work with the international community to deploy an international force and enforce a no-fly zone to prevent the imminent catastrophe and protect civilian lives.

If the Turkish invasion is not stopped the SDF will be forced into a long and bitter war for survival against the second-largest NATO army. In the resulting chaos tens of thousands of ISIS fighters will escape their current internment and resume their barbaric acts of terror across the globe.

We demand that the UK government take action to prevent an invasion of North and East Syria by Turkey and protect the very people who have protected us.

Given the gravity of the situation we would appreciate an immediate response.

Yours sincerely,

Len McCluskey – General Secretary, Unite the Union

Tim Roache – General Secretary, GMB union

Dave Ward – General Secretary, Communications Workers Union

Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union

Mick Whelan – General Secretary, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen

Manuel Cortes – General Secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association

Mary Bousted – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union

Kevin Courtney – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union

Paddy Lillis – General Sectary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Mick Cash – General Secretary, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

Mike Clancy – General Secretary, Prospect

Ronnie Draper – General Secretary, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Larry Flanagan – General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland

Doug Nicholls – General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions

Stephen Cavalier – Chief Executive, Thompsons Solicitors

This makes me weep:

See Shiraz: Trump’s betrayal of Kurds puts Rojava at risk.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2019 at 10:41 am

Trump Betrays the Kurds: Solidarity with the Kurdish People!

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Image result for humanite mardi octobre kurds

French Communist Daily Stood by the Kurds in their Hour of Need.

L’Humanité had a special correspondent on the ground during the jihadist genociders’ siege of Kobane.

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They comment today

MOYEN-ORIENT. WASHINGTON LIVRE LES KURDES DE SYRIE À ERDOGAN

This is another tragic demonstration of Donald Trump’s erratic diplomacy. A flip-flop with potentially explosive consequences. Yesterday, after a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of the United States gave the green light to Ankara’s long-planned offensive in north-east Syria against Kurdish fighters. YPG (People’s Protection Units) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, including the YPG and their Arab allies).

This is the tragic news.

Sky.

Turkey ready to send troops into Syria after Trump abandons the Kurds

US President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw troops from the region so Turkey can start its own operations.

The Turkish Defence Ministry has said that all preparations are completed for a military incursion into northern Syria.

Framing the operation as humanitarian, the ministry said in a tweet: “The establishment of a Safe Zone/ Peace Corridor is essential for Syrians to have a safe life by contributing to the stability and peace of our region.”

“The Turkish Armed Forces will never tolerate the creation of a terror corridor at our borders. All preparations for the operation have been completed.”

This has not gone down well in the USA.

Channel Four, which also has consistently given the Kurds a voice reports.

 

Here is Trump.

Here are some real comrades.

 

 

 

Here are the Ghouls of Socialist Worker  – some of the first of the ‘anti-imperialists’ to gloat,

The US, Russia and regional powers, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, intervened in a bid to grow their influence in the Middle East.

The US didn’t feel strong enough to send in ground troops after its defeat in the Iraq war. It bombed and used the Syrian Democratic Forces—which the YPG is part of—as a proxy army.

The US policy infuriated Erdogan because the YPG is closely linked to the PKK, the main Kurdish nationalist group in Turkey.

US imperialism has a long history of using the Kurds—then dropping them when it no longer suits its interests. It will always be a mistake for the Kurds to trust any of the imperial forces in the region.

Trump struck a bargain with Erdogan to withdraw US troops and support for the Kurds in exchange for Turkey suppressing what’s left of Isis.

Guy Verhofstadt of the European Union said the “US decision to abandon the Kurds will likely create greater regional instability”.

Liberal critics of Trump favour an alliance with long-time Western ally Saudi Arabia rather than the more erratic Erdogan.

The aim remains to project Western power, not to side with ordinary Kurds or Arabs’ fight for self-determination or democracy.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2019 at 10:55 am

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry calls for “timely and effective” new elections in Venezuela and “targeted sanctions”.

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Left needs to say more than this, and Thornberry has said it.

This was posted today on John McDonnell – The People’s Chancellor.

Shadow foreign secretary will make clear rebuke to record of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.

Labour government would not indulge human rights abuses by Britain’s allies or by regimes that “call themselves ‘socialist’ but … betray every socialist ideal”, the shadow foreign secretary will say on Wednesday.

The reference by Emily Thornberry, when she sets out her proposed policy under a Labour government, is intended as a clear rebuke to the record of the Venezuelan government led by Nicolás Maduro.

JeremyCorbyn has so far opposed the decision made by a majority of European Union states, including the UK, to recognise the rival Venezuelan leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, but Thornberry is eager to ensure that Labour’s opposition to interference is not misconstrued as support for the Maduro regime. Guaidó’s party is a member of the Socialist International, with which Labour is affiliated.

The key themes of Thornberry’s speech at the Institute for Government setting out her vision of a Labour foreign policy will inevitably draw parallels with the ethical foreign policy set out by Robin Cook as the first foreign secretary of Tony Blair’s 1997 government.

This is an extremely welcome move.

Unlike many, who have suddenly become experts on Venezuela, this Blog has been reluctant to comment on the crisis in the country.

This numpty for example, thinks he knows it all:

It would seem that the only thing keeping Maduro supporters going in Britain is the fact that Trump and most of the EU (with exceptions like Italy’s far-right/populist government, “Italy has vetoed an EU statement on the Venezuela crisis amid political confusion in Rome“.)  is against him.

It  is as plain as a pikestaff that the Maduro regime is not just on the skids, but that 3 million people have fled  Venezuela, and that the corrupt Chavista government has remained in power through the use of force – including the torture of opponents.

There is a steady drip drip of stories such as this: how pro-regime millionaires have been salting their stolen cash away in foreign banks.

And this:

It is not necessary to go further to agree that Emily Thornberry has the right approach, from first principles, on how to deal with this issue.

Here is what she has just said, (Belfast Telegraph).

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called for timely elections but declined to recognise Venezuela’s opposition leader as interim president.

…in a break with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Thornberry backed the use of targeted sanctions and “whatever means necessary” short of a military invasion to bring about change.

….

Ms Thornberry told an event at the Institute for Government in London on Wednesday: “What I am saying is that we begin with dialogue.

“That offer has been made, internally and externally we need to ensure that happens.”

She added: “That’s the best way to proceed rather than somebody saying ‘that’s it, we’ve had enough, we recognise X, we don’t recognise Y any more’.

“That’s not the way to treat another country, even a country in as desperate a situation as Venezuela.”

Ms Thornberry said she was a “great believer in sanctions” as a way of using foreign policy muscle “that doesn’t involve killing people”.

She said there should be “timely and effective” new elections in Venezuela but “there should be no invasion, there should be proper discussion and negotiation”.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Taking a Stand on Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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Left Should Stand with our Sisters and Brothers.

Recently Pablo Iglesias the leader of Podemos said after denying any financial links with Venezuela of his former admiration for  the President Hugo Chávez that,

I don’t agree with some of the things I said in the past. The current political and economic situation of Venezuela right now is dire. To rectify in politics is a good thing. (Creo que rectificar en política está bien)

13th of December. Podemos chief grilled in Senate over Venezuela financing links

Reuters today reports, The Venezuelan regime is gearing up to the end game: Maduro says Venezuela’s civil militia grows to 1.6 million members.

“We will arm the Bolivarian militia to the teeth,” Maduro said, without detailing how many of the militia members were actually armed. “An invading imperialist force may enter a part of our fatherland, but the imperialists should know that they will not leave here alive.”

Maduro is cosying up to the Turkish far-right President:

The Turkey-Venezuela mutual admiration society

Latin American country is increasingly isolated, but Ankara’s not joining in. 

The FT reports on the background:

The economy is shrinking but the country has so far refused to produce economic data on gross domestic product or inflation despite repeated requests and potentially a major default on Venezuela’s sovereign debt. The country’s inability to pay bondholders could lead to it losing over the next few months of one its main assets — the international trading company Citgo.

What should be one of the richest countries in Latin America, given its extensive oil and mineral resources from gold to bauxite and diamonds, is now one of the poorest.

Basic supplies and food are scarce and, as well as an exodus of talent, there is a growing refugee crisis as people try to escape to neighbouring countries such as Colombia and Brazil.

According to a recent paper from Brookings, there are already more than 3m Venezuelans living outside the country, including a million in Colombia. The exodus includes the desperately poor but also skilled workers and technicians on whom the economy depends. Within that group are many of those who built the state oil company PDVSA but are fleeing the corruption and mismanagement that now dominates the company.

What is left of the economy only keeps going as a result of loans from Russia, in return for which Moscow is being allowed to establish a military base in the country and cash-for-oil deals with the Chinese.

Human Rights Watch states,

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and punish its critics. Severe shortages of medicines, medical supplies, and food have intensified since 2014, and weak government responses have undermined Venezuelans’ rights to health and food. Security forces have arbitrarily detained and tortured protesters, and raids in low-income communities have led to widespread allegations of abuse. Other persistent concerns include poor prison conditions and impunity for human rights abuses.

Another regime is also in crisis, and using repression to crush dissent, Nicaragua.

Harassment and persecution of the voices denouncing repression in Nicaragua

There is a pressing need for the international community to recognize the right to defend rights and to provide a safe space for defenders to do their work.

On Wednesday December 12 the National Assembly of Nicaragua voted to cancel the legal registration of Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH). After the announcement Vilma Nuñez, 80 years old, the president of CENIDH and one of the most recognized human rights defenders in the region declared “We have done our work with conviction and we will continue doing it until Nicaragua is really free”.

Just a week earlier I met Doña Vilma, as she is known, in Washington DC when she came with a delegation of human rights organizations from Nicaragua to participate in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and present their testimony about the continuous repression in the country.

Her strength and commitment to the protection of civic freedoms in her country are remarkable. However, her voice had a sadness tint when talking on how the situation continues to deteriorate in Nicaragua.

During the hearing the activists from Nicaragua provided updated information to the Commission on how the human rights crisis in Nicaragua has evolved and the serious consequences for people in the country.

The organizations denounced how the State of Nicaragua continues to discourage and punish social protest and political dissent, despite the incessant calls to terminate the violence.

The threats to civic space in Nicaragua are not new. Civil society in the country has been facing growing restrictions as political power has increasingly concentrated in recent years and civic space has become completely repressed.

However, the situation has worsened since April 2018 when proposed regressive changes to the social security system sparked widespread, mass protests across the country. The government violently repressed the demonstrations. Since that more than 300 people have been killed and more than 600 remain in detention.

Abuses and violations to civic space in Nicaragua vary from violent repression of social protest, violence against journalists and censorship of the media, and arrest and criminalization of activists to the introduction of restrictions to civic space through the legislative framework.

Despite these developments, as clear as a pikestaff, many on the British left continue to support these regimes.

Protests at a recent conference in solidarity with Latin America were not welcome

Watch this and weep.

It is time for solidarity with those oppressed by the regimes of Venezuela and Nicaragua.

It is also time for some senior Labour figures  to follow Pablo Iglesias and say, “To rectify in politics is a good thing.”

The magazine Labour Briefing has just carried this article on its web site:

The civil unrest and police violence that swept across Nicaragua earlier this year leaving over 300 people dead have been followed by a wave of state repression against human rights organisations and media outlets. Most shocking among these are the police raids on CENIDH, the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, whose director is Vilma Núñez.

……

According to Amnesty International, most of the victims in the recent unrest were killed “at the hands of state agents.” Yet what happened is talked about in Nicaragua Solidarity circles abroad as if it were an internationally orchestrated coup against Ortega, thus justifying the brutality of the regime‘s response. The irony is that, as the Trump Administration ratchets up the rhetoric against Nicaragua, it is the self-serving actions of Ortega himself that leave the Nicaraguan Revolution less able to defend itself.

Some on the left understand this. Noam Chomsky has called for early elections. Pablo Iglesias of Podemos in Spain, and former Uruguayan President José Mujica have also been sharply critical of Ortega. None of these individuals are in the business of promoting US government interests. Rather, they understand that defending the gains of the Nicaraguan Revolution requires the orderly exit of the corrupt dynasty that has betrayed it. Others on the left should now speak up for the basic rights of Nicaraguans as a matter or urgency.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

The Armistice and the Literature of the Great War.

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Siegfried Sassoon.

 

Both of my grandfathers fought in the Great War. My English forebear was, like his brothers, a socialist and a Clarion cyclist. Perhaps inspired by Robert Blatchford’s patriotic seizure at the outbreak of hostilities, Alfred, after a few pints with his friends, walking from Bethnal Green to the City, signed up. My Scottish ancestor,  James, was also a socialist. Less taken by the fight against the Boche and a member  of the ILP, which had a strong anti-war sentiments,  he was swept up by conscription.

I properly got know Alfred when, retired from his work in the Print, and very elderly, he and his wife moved to Bounds Green in North London. He talked of Dickens (I have his complete set) and his Labour beliefs, but never spoke about his war. My mother told me that he had been so desperate in the trenches that had tried to nerve himself up to shoot himself in the foot to get out as wounded. He told her that the officers had been brave, helped by spirits. My grandmother’s first husband, of Huguenot descent like her, had been killed. Left with a small child she got no support from his family. Alfred took to her. They married and had two other children.

Neither of my grandparents ever wore a Poppy. The East Ender said once a few words, not complimentary, about the British Legion who produce them. They did not need to display one; my parents never had one: I do not need to wear one.

Some of the books and poems that we read about the Great War stay in our hearts. Sassoon’s lines in Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man (1928) “And here I was, with my knobkerrie in my hand, staring across at the enemy I’d never seen.” The words of An Irish Airman Foresees his Death (1919) “my country is Kiltartan Cross, My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor, No likely end could bring them loss, Or leave them happier than before.” (W.B. Yeats). And the immortal, “The Old Lie: dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. (posthumously published in 1920, Wilfred Owen).

The chapters in Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That (1929) on his harrowing service in the first wave of the Somme offensive, holds a special place in the literature. He captures “feeling “empty and lost” amongst the slaughter, death sentences for “cowardice”, army pettiness and incompetence, alongside the soldiers’ good sense and humour. Wounded in the cemetery at Bazentin-le-petit church on 20 July 1916 These experience is complemented by the memorable pages of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth on her work as a nurse  in the Voluntary Aid Detachment, which took her to london, Malta and  France.

The most obvious difference with literature in French and German is that authors from these countries were writing about battles taking place on their own landscape. Barbusse’s, vivid, trench language-filled,  Le Feu: journal d’une escouade, 1916 is blood and fury. Babusse added sonorous appeals against national hatred . With its passion it stands head and soldiers over the to-be-Panthonised, Maurice Genevoix’s Ceux de 14, photographic realism, gutted of politics. Ernst Jünger’s Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel is technically one of the finest, but politically already full of the nationalism which wroke havoc in Germany.

There is more common decency and humanity in writers such as Graves than anything that a cheap-jack journalist or ‘radical’ has written in the last few days.

Sunday, one hopes, with see these cited amongst the witnesses of the Great War.