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Open Letter to Jacobin and Monthly Review: Stop Racist and Misogynist Attacks on the Emergent Indigenous, Eco-Feminist Left in Latin America, and Address the Crisis in Today’s Ecuador.

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Members of Indigenous communities and supporters of Ecuador's presidential candidate Yaku Perez march in Quito on February 23 [Santiago Arcos/Reuters]

Members of Indigenous communities and supporters of Ecuador’s presidential candidate Yaku Perez march in Quito on February 23 [Santiago Arcos/Reuters]

This is an important statement with wide implications. As the letter states, “We are concerned that a significant number of today’s left-wing actors, across the Americas and the world, align themselves with extractivism, agrobusiness, authoritarian statism, [10] and stand against Indigenous, anti-racist, and anti-patriarchal movements, ideas, and leaders. We worry that the former is acting to eject the latter from the conversation by labelling them as right-wingers and allies of imperialism. We should not be distracted from the wave of violent, ultra-racist “populism,” and military and parliamentary coups that have swept the region in the past years.”

In other words, this is not just about North American left wingers’ positions on central or southern America, or about Ecuador in particular. It is about a widespread confusion about the new forms of neoliberalism and national populisms now taking shape,. It raises issues about emerging social movements, that support green politics. It hardly needs underlining that left populism, the Bolivarian Revolution, has spectacularly failed.

Signalled on the Marx Mail list, and  (via DM) on Twitter, it is an important correction to the reports about Ecuador, in a wider range of left wing journals, and other places, such as the Morning Star. It is also a reminder that the left has not yet done with populism, a sign perhaps of special importance to signers such as Éric Fassin. (Populisme : le grand ressentiment. 2017).  Jacobin is widely read in the USA and has long identified with forms of populism, often pushing support for figures in Europe such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The longstanding Monthly Review is a much more respected left wing journal with in-depth articles in the broad Marxist tradition.

Stop Racist and Misogynist Attacks on the Emergent Indigenous, Eco-Feminist Left in Latin America, and Address the Crisis in Today’s Ecuador

We, the signatories of this letter, have to come together to demand the retraction or clarification of two recent articles that smear political movements and leaders in Ecuador. The gains of Yaku Pérez and the coalition around the Pachakutik party in the 7 February 2021 elections represent an exciting and emergent new left comprised of Indigenous organizations, eco-socialist politics, feminist and LGBTQ+ activists, anti-racist movements, and anti-extractivist causes. On 24 February 2021, these movements came together in the streets of Ecuador, to demand that every vote be counted. Silencing and discrediting Ecuadoran voices as well as new popular movements—while demanding fealty to state capitalist leaders associated with the extractivist “left” in Ecuador and across the region—must end. Ben Norton’s “How Ecuador’s US-backed, coup-supporting ‘ecosocialist’ candidate Yaku Pérez aids the right-wing,” (republished by the Monthly Review on 8 February 2021) [1] and Denis Rogatyuk’s “Ecuador’s Election Was a Massive Repudiation of Neoliberalism” (published in Jacobin Magazine on 18 February)[2] do not reflect the traditions of Monthly Review—the “longest continuously published socialist magazine in the United States.” [3] Both articles contradict Jacobin’s founders goal to develop a “product of a younger generation not quite as tied to the Cold War paradigms that sustained the old leftist intellectual milieu.” [4] The editors’ openness to new generations is at odds with the sustained offensive against a new Indigenous eco-socialist and feminist political left in Latin America.

Rogatyuk’s article in Jacobin condemns the eco-socialist candidate Pérez and his partner, Manuela Picq, pointing out they “have for years attempted to portray Correa as an anti-Indigenous, anti-environment leader that pursues an ‘extractivist’ model of development.” Yes, they have, as have most independent social scientists who have looked at the wreckage of the Correa legacy. [5] There is a vibrant, Indigenous, and youth-led coalition of leftists who have critiqued Correa’s misuse of “el buen vivir” principles in his policies. These policies nourished new extractive industries. Under Correa, the state criminalized Indigenous groups,[6] LGBTQ+ populations, and exploited new mining resources and areas such as Yasuní.[7] Rogatyuk mocks the new left in Ecuador as a “ragbag” and “surreal” group who “absurdly” make claims about the partiality of electoral commissions. Rogatyuk overlooks the extensive and historic struggles of Indigenous identity, genocide and sovereignty, as well as the multiple battles against extractivism and ecological devastation, gendered injustices, political/social misogyny, [8] and homophobia. The article wilfully ignores the organizational and social momentum and innovation that fuelled Pérez’s electoral success. It ignores these movements’ critiques of extractivist statism and monolithic personalism. Rogatyuk suggested that “Pérez’s political record suggests he is a Trojan horse for the left’s most bitter enemies.”

Similarly, Norton’s Monthly Review article disdainfully dismisses environmentalists, whose critiques of extractivism or racist policies of the statist left he portrayed as “opening up space for the right.” The author singles out “Extinction Rebellion” as a right-wing tool. He rages against the language of “decoloniality” and the eco-socialist left’s critique of statist leaders’ complicity with whiteness and colonial-economic and social legacies. In a typically authoritarian thrust, the article demonizes anyone who allies themselves with NGOs, branding them as supporters of imperialism.

Norton’s widely circulated Monthly Review article aimed at fracturing the left and eroding social movement support for Pérez as an alternative. The piece was published at a crucial moment in the Ecuadorian presidential election. Conventional media outlets have used it to discredit and damage a candidate of the eco-socialist/Indigenous/feminist left. Norton’s article wove together a series of Pérez’s tweets critiquing the statist and extractivist left. Of course, many members of the progressive left, including some of us writing this letter, disagreed with these proclamations as well as Pérez’s support of neoliberal candidates as a strategy to defeat authoritarian elements. But we contextualize these positions.

The Monthly Review article spotlights Manuela Picq, Pérez’s partner, in a misogynist and homophobic diatribe that mocks and attacks her feminist, queer studies, and eco-social politics. Generating absurd conspiracy narratives, this article designates her body as evidence of Pérez’s imperialist complicity. It stinks of rumor-mongering, noting that she took classes at Princeton in a building named after Ronald Reagan, as if this would prove that she was a stooge of the Reagan administration. At age 25, Picq was part of a civil society dialogue in the FTAA negotiation process where she organized critics of the FTAA. Instead of mentioning this history of radical praxis, she is accused of being a “CIA cutout” and an agent of “billionaire George Soros,” a familiar anti-Semitic accusation. She is also incriminated for teaching classes in queer studies and feminist theory. The author claims that because Picq teaches “Latinx Studies” and “Queering Notions of Modernity,” she is an enemy of global class struggle and complicit with imperialism. Norton does not acknowledge the long list of Picq’s other publications on queer theory, international relations, social movement struggles, or resistance to authoritarianism. Most tellingly, the author does not mention that Picq was arrested and deported from Ecuador by the Correa government for having participated in united Indigenous, feminist, and anti-extractivist protests.[9]

These two articles do not explore in detail the context of Pérez’s political momentum in the organization and revitalization of CONAIE—the Indigenous confederation that led the largest set of protests in Ecuadorian history in October 2019, uniting Indigenous groups, feminists, students, and workers movements to fight back against the imposition of a wrenching IMF accord and to demand the end to ecocidal plunder and land dispossession. This moment consolidated the leadership of a younger generation. CONAIE’s legacy, of uniting movements in October 2019, lent popular and movement support to Pérez’s candidacy and might bring him perhaps to second place in the polling. The article does not mention the historic October 2019 uprising or CONAIE and Pérez’s roles in it.

We are concerned that a significant number of today’s left-wing actors, across the Americas and the world, align themselves with extractivism, agrobusiness, authoritarian statism, [10] and stand against Indigenous, anti-racist, and anti-patriarchal movements, ideas, and leaders. We worry that the former is acting to eject the latter from the conversation by labelling them as right-wingers and allies of imperialism. We should not be distracted from the wave of violent, ultra-racist “populism,” and military and parliamentary coups that have swept the region in the past years. It is exactly these authoritarian developments that make it irresponsible and dangerous to brand those who critique the extractivist left as allies of Yankee imperialists or sympathetic to Bolsonaro-type populists who are encouraging genocide, femicide, racial exterminations, and homophobic assassinations. We stand against authoritarian statism focusing on individual male populist figures and armed, militarized “machocratic” patriarchy. Against this model, a new progressive alternative for the left has been emerging—led by Indigenous, Black, and feminist as well as class and worker-identified justice movements—to advocate redistribution of wealth, land, and autonomies to forge new modes of collective, bodily, and eco-social participation and rights.

After Ecuador’s 7 February 2021 election, civil society groups across Ecuador raised concerns that an effort was underway to “find votes” needed to bring Lasso’s totals above Pérez’s. This would serve both sides of what Chilean writer Andrés Kogan Valderrama has labelled the “binary” political equation [11] of extractivist left and neoliberal right. Both sides saw Pérez as the most threatening opponent, for he might win and, more than that, dismantle the binary political equation that has been making true redistribution and eco-social justice unimaginable. The Ecosocialist Feminist Network stated, “We reject the role that ‘Correismo’ [Rafael Correa’s regime] has played in this moment, exacerbating racism and delegitimizing social struggle through media campaigns…We know that the struggle continues and what will be the mobilization and unity of the popular field will permit us to sustain the gains accumulated in October [2019] and resistance against this system of death.” [12] We deplore the demonization of both Pérez and movements that brought him so close to the run-off election. A left-wing global community deserves better, and we call on the editors of Monthly Review and Jacobin to reject these simplistic and dangerous analyses which feed right wing structures of hate in Latin America.

Signed,

Paul Amar, Professor, Director of Orfalea Center, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sonia Correa, Co-Chair, Sexuality Policy Watch
Ghaitai Paul Males Castañeda, Comunidad Indígena de Compañía, Líder Espiritual Cristiano-Andino de Jóvenes
Macarena Gómez-Barris, Professor, Pratt Institute
Mara Viveros Vigoya, Profesora Titular, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, LASA President (2019-2020)
Lisa Duggan, Professor, New York University
Cristina Yépez Arroyo, McGill University
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Professor, Wesleyan University
William C. Smith, Professor Emeritus, University of Miami
Rita Laura Segato, Professor, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina
Pamela Martin, Professor, Coastal Carolina University
Mario Pecheny, Professor, University of Buenos Aires
Cruz Caridad Bueno, Assistant Professor of Black Studies, SUNY-New Paltz
Javiera Barandiaran, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Michelle Artieda, Florida International University
Mieke Verloo, Professor, Radboud University, The Netherlands
Lena Lavinas, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Sherene R Seikaly, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Gita Sen, DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era), Fiji
Gloria Careaga, Facultad de Psicología, UNAM, Mexico
Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Hunter College &The Graduate Center, CUNY
Rina Pakari Marcillo, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador
Steve Stein, Senior Professor, University of Miami
Markus Thiel, Associate Professor, Florida International University
Dominique Chiriboga, Activista Feminista y LGBT, Ecuador
Flavio Carrera V., Project Coordinator, Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Daniela Cabascango, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Ecuador
Kiran Asher, UMass, Amherst
Carolina Benalcázar, Concordia University
Fernando Luz Brancoli, Associate Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Diana Coryat, Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador
Bila Sorj, Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Pablo Ospina Peralta, Docente de la Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador
Antonia Carcelen-Estrada, Profesora investigadora, Universidad San Francisco de Quito/Northumbria University
Jennyfer Masaquiza, Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Claudia Sofía Garriga-López, California State University, Chico
David Paternotte, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Carlos de la Torre, Director, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida
Miriam Lang, Professor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador
Carmen Diana Deere, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Florida; LASA President (1992-1994)
Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Guilherme Leite Gonçalves, Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University
Johannes Waldmüller, Research Professor, Universidad de Las Américas, EPN
Sylvia Cifuentes, University of California, Santa Barbara
Larry Lohmann, The Corner House (Environmental and Social Justice), UK
Gareth Dale, Brunel University, UK
Alvaro Jarrin, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross
Alberto J. Olvera, Profesor Titular, Instituto de Investigaciones Histórico-Sociales, U Veracruzana, Mexico
Benjamin Arditi, Professor of Politics, UNAM, Mexico
Margarita López Maya, CENDES-UCV, Venezuela
Les Levidow, Senior Research Fellow, Open University, UK
Javier Corrales, Professor, Amherst College
Patrick Bond, Professor, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Joan Martinez-Alier, ICTA, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain)
Zillah Eisenstein, writer, Prof. Emerita, Ithaca College
Iokiñe Rodriguez, Seniour Lecturer, University of East Anglia, UK
Rehad Desai, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Cristina Vega, Profesora Investigadora, FLACSO Ecuador
Muhammad Reza Sahib, KRuHA – people’s coalition for the right to water, Indonesia
Monroe Edwin Jeffrey, International Tribal Association, United States
Francesco Martone, Senatore della Repubblica, Italia
Barry Gills, University of Helsinki, Finland
Pedro Gutiérrez Guevara, Researcher, Kaleidos Center of Interdisciplinary Ethnography, Ecuador
Rosemary E. Galli, independent researcher, Observatório das Nacionalidades, UK
Elisa Van Waeyenberge, SOAS University of London, UK
Markus Kröger, Associate Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland
Gabriel Roldos, ROLPRO SAS Publishing House, Ecuador
Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
Lisa Rofel, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Co-Director, Center for Emerging Worlds, UC Santa Cruz
Marcelo Coelho, Journalist, Folha de São Paulo, Brasil
Alejandro Bendaña, Activist, Nicaragua
John Francis Foran, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Melissa Weiner, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross
Ashish Kothari, Global Tapestry of Alternatives, India
Elisabeth de Souza Lobo, Psychologue, Université Paris 7, France
Noah Zweig, Investigador Independiente, Ecuador
Devin Beaulieu, University of California, San Diego
Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, Asociación de Abogadas Feministas, Chile
Eng-Beng Lim, Director of Dartmouth Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality; Assoc Professor WGSS, Dartmouth College
Pallav Das, Editor, Radical Ecological Democracy
Roxana Erazo, University of Toronto
Santiago Acosta, Lecturer of Spanish, University of California, Davis
Andrea Sempértegui, Lafayette College, USA
Najwa Mayer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth
Judith Butler, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Marisol de la Cadena, Professor, University of California-Davis
Benjamin Arditi, Professor of Politics, UNAM, Mexico
Rosa Jijón Co-founder, A4C Arts for the Commons, Italy
Donald E.Pease, Professor, Dartmouth College, USA
Grace Delgado, Data Analyst, Dagan Inc., Estados Unidos
Tamra L. Gilbertson, Professor, University of Tennessee and Indigenous Environmental Network
Danid Barkin, Distinguished Professor, Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico
Jai Sen, Researcher and listserve curator
Catherine Szpunt, Occupational Therapist, BOE, USA
Fabio Luis Barbosa dos Santos, Professor, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil
Hugo Ceron-Anaya, Associate Professor, Lehigh University, United States
Salvador Schavelzon, Professor, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil
André Luiz de Oliveira Domingues, farm worker, DSA IC Americas, USA
Mia Yee, alumni, College of the Holy Cross
Juan Wahren, Investigador y Profesor, Universidad de Buenos Aires/ CONICET
Pablo Solón, Fundación Solón, Bolivia
Gina Vargas, Feminista, Peru
Sandra Macedo, Sociologa e artista visual, Brasil
Eduardo Erazo Acosta, Professor, University Nariño, Colombia
Judith Dellheim, Researcher, Zukunftskonvent Germany, Deutschland
Silvia Spitta, Dartmouth College, USA
Carolyn D’Cruz, La Trobe University, Australia
Dr MK Dorsey, Club of Rome, Spain
Didice Godinho Delgado, Activist, Germany
S A Hamed Hosseini, Alternative Futures Research Network, Common Alternatives, U Newcastle, Australia
Céline Veríssimo, Associate Professor, Federal University of Latin American Integration, Brazil
Nina Isabella Moeller, Associate Professor, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, England, UK
Kevin Bruyneel, Professor, Babson College, United States
JM Pedersen, Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University
Julien-François Gerber, researcher & teacher, Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands
Mirella Pretell Gomero, Syracuse University
Pamela Calla, Profesor, New York University
A. Naomi Paik, Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Carla Rodrigues, UFRJ, Brasil
Gayatri Gopinath, Professor, New York University
Teresa Armijos Burneo, Lecturer, University of East Anglia, UK
Trevor Hirsche, Instructor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Bolivia
Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Professor, New York University
Stefania Barca, Zennström Professor of Climate Change Leadership, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
Éric Fassin, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Paris 8 University (Vincennes – Saint-Denis)
Suzana Sawyer, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
Cristina Rojas, Professor, Carleton University, Canada
Nadine Lefaucheur, CNRS Retraitée, Martinique France
Helena Hirata, Directrice de Recherche Emérito, CNRS, France
Angela Freitas, Coletivo Feminista 4D, Brasil
Dennis Altman Professor, LaTrobe University, Australia
Isabelle Stengers, Prof. emerita, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Emmanuelle Picard, Assistant Professor, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France
Valentine Olivera, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
Picard Elodie, OpenEdition, France
Daniel Fischer, Food Not Bombs, USA
Margaret Wiener, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ana María Goldani, Brazil LAB, Princeton University
Paola Minoia, University Lecturer, University of Helsinki, Finland
Lucas Savino, Associate Professor, Western University, Past-Chair of Ethnicity, Race and Indigenous Peoples Section (LASA)
Marco Aurelio Maximo Prado, Professor, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Breno Bringel, Professor, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tristan Partridge, Research Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara
Geoff Goodwin, London School of Economics, UK
Aida Matilde Marcillo Perugachi, Concejala del Canton Otavalo, Ecuador
Stalin Herrera, Instituto de Estudios Ecuatorianos, Ecuador
George Yudice, Professor, University of Miami
Malvika Gupta, University of Oxford, UK
Aida Luz Lopez, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de Mexico
Enrique Leff, Senior Researcher/Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Giorgos Kallis, Professor, ICTA-UAB, Spain
Mariana Walter, Phd. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain
Angus McNelly, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Dalena Tran, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB), Spain
Isabelle Darmon, Lecturer in Sociology and Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh
Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, Asociación de Abogadas Feministas, Chile
John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies, USA
Anna Storti, Dartmouth College, USA
Robin Broad, Professor, American University, USA
Alberto Acosta, Expresidente de la Asamblea Constituyente (2007-2008), Ecuador
Marinalva de Sousa Conserva/ Profa. Dra., Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Brasil
Maria aparecida Ramos, Assembleia Legislativa da Paraíba, Brasil
Bryan Winston, Dartmouth College, USA

Notes

[1] https://mronline.org/2021/02/10/how-ecuadors-u-s-backed-coup-supporting-ecosocialist-candidate-yaku-perez-aids-the-right-wing/
[2] https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/ecuador-election-arauz-hervas-perez-neoliberalism
[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monthly_Review#:~:text=The%20Monthly%20Review%2C%20established%20in,magazine%20in%20the%20United%20States.
[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20190711101435/
http://idiommag.com/2011/03/no-short-cuts-interview-with-the-jacobin/
[5]There is extensive literature that examines how the period of Rafael Correa’s government as a time of impunity and human rights violations. See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8675.12117
[6] In 2017, CONAIE fought to get amnesty for all activists of the indigenous movement who had been prosecuted and sentenced for protesting Correa’s government and Chinese mining companies, and defending water resources. The government misused anti-terrorism laws dating from the 1970s military dictatorship to incarcerate indigenous leaders protesting extractivism. At that time, 98 individuals faced criminal prosecutions for resistance to authority, terrorism, sabotage, etc. See: https://www.planv.com.ec/historias/politica/conaie-la-lucha-la-amnistia
and https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-22656374
[7] See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2013/oct/15/ecuador-president-misleading-yasuni
[8] Correa’s sabatinas, weekly speeches televised in different locations around the country on Saturdays, were spaces which could last up to three hours. There he presented his visions and proposals, and attacked citizens, journalists, human rights activists, academics, and environmentalists. The Media Observatory of Ecuador (OME) has counted 95 grievances against women and for sexist language in the 152 Correa’s weekly speeches between 2013 and 2016.
See: https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/05/23/planeta_futuro/1495560980_079621.html
On Saturday December 28, 2013, one of the last during Correa’s first administration, the former president criticized “gender ideology.” On the same occasion, Correa affirmed “defending the traditional family” and declared opposition to abortion “has nothing to do with the left or the right,” but are simple “moral issues.” See full video here: https://youtu.be/ODXFdqtGsyo?t=6341
[9] See: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-manuela-picq
[10] In 2013, Rafael Correa issued Executive Decree No. 16 to control NGOs and establish limitations on the independent and autonomous functioning of unions and social organizations. The decree was harshly criticized by local and international organizations. https://sobrevivientes.planv.com.ec/decreto-16-y-las-amenazas-a-las-ong/
Correa arbitrarily punished journalists who did not agree with him and actively attacked indigenous environmental activists who opposed oil and gas extraction or open-pit mining on their lands. https://rsf.org/en/news/what-future-free-speech-ecuador-after-presidential-election
https://amazonwatch.org/news/2018/0418-new-report-shines-light-on-dark-days-for-amazon-earth-defenders-in-ecuador
[11] https://oplas.org/sitio/2021/02/14/andres-kogan-valderrama-yaku-perez-y-el-fin-de-los-binarismos/
[12] https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7033

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2021 at 5:25 pm

We Need to Talk About Jacobin – “Srebrenica massacre” “used to justify more war and US intervention”.

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Image may contain: text that says "J Jacobin @jacobinmag The Srebrenica massacre, which started on this day in 1995, was a tragic event. But for the last twenty years, it's been used to justify more war and US intervention. The Srebrenica Precedent jacobinmag.com"

“Helped justify later interventions, including the ongoing strikes against ISIS.” Jacobin.

To commemorate the anniversary of the Srebrenica Mass Killings the US left magazine Jacobin, which owns the British ‘Tribune’, published this piece:

The Srebrenica Precedent DAVID N. GIBBS

This article has one central theme:

…the widespread belief that Serb forces had committed genocide played a critical role in legitimating the idea of humanitarian intervention, in the Balkans and throughout the world. After Srebrenica, US interventionism would increasingly be presented as a genocide prevention enterprise.

Viewed from a humanitarian standpoint, the US response to the Srebrenica massacre was a lethal fiasco. But despite the ugly facts of the episode, a mythology emerged from Srebrenica that emphasized the supposedly benign character of US intervention. In this telling, US policy was the savior of the Bosnian people and the defender of human rights more generally.

Gibbs has little analysis of the break-up of Yugoslavia (nor why some on the left opposed this) and sees everything through the lens of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

There is a second theme.

The Srebrenica massacre was surely a horrific act, but did it constitute genocide? In a controversial 2003 decision, the ICTY tribunal answered in the affirmative. Its determination that the Srebrenica massacre amounted to genocide has been widely questioned among academic authorities on the topic.

His article does not exactly deny genocide but calls the Srebrenica mass ethnic murder a “massacre”  and, ina  range of claims, which specialists can address, seeks to apportion blame more widely. How far this is true is, as indicated, a matter for those with deep knowledge of the history of the events. This is an extremely partisan field and since some of the people engaged in it are, let’s just say, not friends of the Tendance all one can say is that Gibbs offers only an interpretation. Bu then Gibbs is, to be it politely, somebody who has ploughed this furrow for over a decade. The approval of the World Socialist Web Site indicates it…

But the article has a political intention  for the present day.

If one applies the Gibbs criteria, the ” deliberate mass killings of exceptional size and scale, generally in the range of the hundreds of thousands or millions” where would leave the recent genocide of the Yazidis? The UN Commission of Inquiry stated in 2017, ““The Commission of Inquiry calls on the international community to recognize the crime of genocide being committed by ISIL against the Yazidis and to undertake steps to refer the situation to justice,” said the expert panel in a statement marking the third anniversary of ISIL’s attack on the Yazidis.”

As stated, the article has this much wider purpose,

Twenty years later, Srebrenica is still shaping US foreign policy. NATO interventions in the Balkans served to legitimate both the Atlantic Alliance and US hegemony, and the new language of human rights and genocide prevention has helped justify later interventions, including the ongoing strikes against ISIS.

For Gibbs, channelling his inner ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, the US Western help for the Kurds to fight against Daesh is the “fault” of the West’s claims to stand for human rights. Aiding the Kurdish SDF in its stand against the genociders of ISIS was a Western “intervention”, part of its “hegemony” justified in the name of the “language” of humanitarian intervention which can be traced back to reactions to Srebrenica.

It’s as if an act of mass murder is somehow the ’cause’ of every kind of Western intervention, every kind of duplicitous ‘human rights’ language, a kind of pennant of Western hegemony.

It’s as if there is something “new” about human rights.

If human rights are universal then surely there are times when they can “trump” formal national sovereignty?

Humanitarian intervention can, as the Kurds in Kobane (to cite just one example) know, can be a demand from the people themselves.

Gibbs’ way of looking at mass murder as the bunting of species arguments in favour of preventing genocides  is distasteful to say the least.

Such a conclusion perhaps only tops the rest of this curiously timed article.

What does this show about Jacobin?

It indicates  a deep crisis of moral direction.

Jacobin,  “a leading voice of the American left”, lost its way sometime last year.

A vocal supporter of “left populism” in Europe, and Bernie Sanders in the US, 2019 saw defeat after defeat for its favourite parties. Protest Party, and “lieu de rassemblement” (rallying point) for the People Against the Oligarchy La France insoumise went from 19,9% for the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of the French Presidential contest of 2017 to 6,3% in the European elections. The Greek left party Syriza lost control of the government in July to the right-wing New Democracy.  In Spain Podemos went from 69 seats in the 2015  Congress to 35 after last November’s General General Election. In December the British Labour Party was beaten in a Tory landslide, a party some saw in terms of right-wing national populism.

These were not just temporary setbacks.

In La Chute de la Maison Mélenchon (201(9) former LFI leading activist, the political scientist Thomas  Guénolé, described the rally as a virtual democracy run top-down  by its  would-be’charismatic’ leader. “La France insoumise , c’est moi” (Page 121). (1) Guénolé pointed out that the sociological breakdown of LFI electoral support could not be seen as a new bloc, or “articulation” of the people; it closely resembled the vote for François Hollande, the former Socialist president elected in 2012.

In La Chute Mélenchon’s  failure,  as the Tribune of the People, the embodiment  of the Republic (famously saying “la république, c’est moi”), was to follow his own bent and the advice of those who believed in left-populism. He refused  to recognise the electoral basis of his momentary rise in left-wing voters who saw him – as the other parts of left fragmented , with many going over to Macron’s centrist La République en Marche, as the best placed on the left to oppose the far-right Marine le Pen. As the author puts it,  “he said he united the people, but in reality he briefly brought together the voters of the left (“a dit qu’elle unissait le peuple, mais ce qu’elle a fait, ‘c’est unir l’électorat de gauche” Page 224).

THis did not last. Mélenchon has never been able to negotiate as an equal with other left parties and groups. In the recent French local elections he had to recognise his uneven local implementation and accept a secondary role on a few lists with other left forces, leaving his own party as a marginal player.

LFI represents, as Guénolé indicates, the failure of left populism to replace the division between right and left by one which pits the “99%” against the “oligarchy”, the Casta, the “elite”. Its decline cannot be put down to the personal faults of  bombastic  leader raised in the sectarian school of the Trotskyist current known as Lambertism and years of internal Parti Socialiste factionalism. The political strategy of trying to seize national sovereignty in the name of a federate people has not led to a single electoral victory. Those who float the idea of some kind of ‘progressive nationalism’ and a dose of this populism, to help the British Labour Party regain its lost support, have lost any European model to follow.

Podemos, a democratic party willing to negotiate a left coalition with Spain’s Socialist Party, the PSOE, has discretely dropped this left populist’ core. Left Populist theorist and amateur politician Chantal Mouffe set down a benchmark for the current in her book, ” in conversation with Íñigo Errejón”Podemos: In the Name of the People (2016) Errejón now runs his own micro-party Más País with 3 MPs in Spain’s National Assembly. Podemos has also seen the split away of its leftist wing, la Izquierda anticapitalista (June 2020. Anticapitalistas leave Podemos.)

Despite these set-backs (we would leave it to those familiar with the US to write on Sanders), and the wider issues of what happened to the ‘populist’ left in Latin America, Jacobin nevertheless published this during the pre-lockdown Spring,

Left-Populism Is Down but Not Out

GIORGOS VENIZELOS YANNIS STAVRAKAKIS

We argue that it is not the populist core that is responsible for this outcome, but instead the leftist one.

(Left) Populism does not necessarily entail a form of reformist politics. It is, rather, one way with which a leftist programmatic package (regardless of its degree of radicalism) can develop its capacity to form coalitions, articulate demands, and mobilize supporters in order to construct a collective identity and acquire a form able to undermine the status quo within representative systems. In this sense, all communist, socialist, social-democratic, and radical-leftist projects can be populist, too. A Left program which, let’s say, pushes for redistribution, free health care, or free education can frame these demands in a populist way, i.e., by aiming to regain popular (neither national nor class) sovereignty.

A more restrained analysis, has been made by Lewis Basset.

The Left Must Address a Historic Crisis of Representation

A broad survey of the left-populist parties that have attempted to wed themselves to extraparliamentary movements reveals today little but vacated intent. Podemos’s “circles” have all but disappeared, LFI’s equivalent failed to develop, while Momentum in the UK functioned not at all as a social movement and only a little better as an intraparty faction. But it would be a mistake to blame all this on leadership “betrayals.” Rather, both leaders and movements are limited by an atomized social context.

Elsewhere, economic growth and employment levels had finally begun to recover, while “centrists” had found a source of continuity via Emmanuel Macron in France, Pedro Sánchez in Spain, Joe Biden in the United States, and, perhaps, Keir Starmer in Britain. But the dynamics of this new and profound crisis will provide the context in which popular demands will again go unanswered — and in which new alignments of voters can once again emerge.

Make of that what you will.

In the meantime perhaps in despair Jacobin’s European Editor backed the losing side in the recent Momentum faction fight.

Others suggest that Jacobin’s loss of political direction is more serious.

 

*****

(1) A fuller account of this book would deal with Guénolé’s personal dispute with LFI, and issues with, for example, the running of its media operation, Le Média and financial skullduggery. See La chute de la maison Mélenchon”, autopsie de la France insoumise Par Hadrien Mathoux.

Guénolé’s Petit guide du mensonge en politique, (

Tribune ‘Culture’ Editor’ attacks Internationalist Left (“Workers’ Power” and “Trots”) in the Guardian.

with 5 comments

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Guardian Publishes Sectarian Rant.

This article, to say the least odd, drew an immediate response from comrade Paul Mason,

If you must compare Corbyn to a past Labour leader, it isn’t Michael Foot

In fact the drift of this rant is not that peculiar.

Hatherly is the author of “Landscapes of Communism: A History Through Buildings.” 

As he says at the outset, he comes from a family of the left. His grandparents were communists, and his parents were members of Militant Tendency. One childhood holiday was spent at the Militant Labour summer camp on Mersea Island, Essex. The book is in these ways personal. Part of its mission is to find “what socialism is”, to recover from its disappointments, abuses and atrocities what was good about his family’s convictions. He is therefore keen to puncture ideas of western superiority and exonerate where he can the alleged failures of communism.

So Hatherly is pretty patronising and bizarre himself, to begin with.

Then…

Let’s begin with his ‘cultural ‘editorship in Tribune….

The magazine is owned by the US  populist Jacobin magazine, and run by a group of toffs.

Their European Editor is a fan of M. 6,3%  JeanLuc Mélenchon, Dave Broder.

He has developed his own loathing of ‘trots’ over the years, though a different faction to the one pretentious architectural critic Hatherly dislikes.

Home Countries Broder,  immediately after the British election, launched into an attack on the internationalists after the UK, by denouncing the “liberal denunciation of Brexit.”

Fellow upper-cruster, and deputy  Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, blamed Labour’s defeat on the internationalist left:

The Obsessive Remainers Have Scored a Massive Own Goal.

His painted a picture taking of a Remain plot to scupper Labour’s Chances.

Continuity Remain could call upon its own army of foot soldiers, a “political assets” as the conspis call them,

Daniel Cohen continued, his Gentleman’s Relish spluttering over the text,

Remainists are the people who keep bringing the conversation back to Brexit. They point out that the referendum was only ever meant to be advisory, and insist that another one is just around the corner. They go on protests. They have strong opinions about Guy Verhofstadt and Sabine Weyand. They worry about chlorinated chicken. They have acquired detailed knowledge of electoral law and can list the Leave campaign’s violations. They light up at any mention of the 2012 Olympics. They wonder what Orwell would have made of all this. They hang the EU flag in their windows.

Trainspotting notes.

Workers’ Power,  were a split from the SWP/IS long back.

The League for the Fifth International was perhaps their crowning moment,

They have minimal influence on the internationalist pro-EU left, whose breath extends from the Greens, Left Labour MPs, Open Labour, Chartist, Red Pepper to more radical left groups, such as Socialist Resistance, and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – none of which are friends of WP/Red Flag

We do however agree with comrade Paul mason on the fight against National Populism, National neoLiberalism.

This Blog also agrees with Paul Mason on the importance of universal human rights.

Things have changed, we need a bloc of the internationalist left, around human rights (the greatest movement for human rights in modern history is the trade union movement) in  defence of internationalism against the national populists, Johnson, Blue Labour and their objective allies, the  ‘left’ populists’.

And we are united against the kind of rubbish that the minions of Jacobin and its UK branch are trying to spread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm