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Guardian Boosts Anti-Charlie Hebdo Hatred: Emmanuel Todd.

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Emmanuel Todd: Loathes Charlie Hebdo, Now Warns of European ‘Suicide’.

The Guardian loves France.

The France of a Year in Provence, and now, the film of Posy Simmond’s Gemma Bovray.

The Guardian hates France.

The France of secularism, of a left that is for ever rubbing the liberal warm feelings of the majority of its eceumentical readership.

The Guardian has an ignoble history of printing violent attacks on the secularist satirists of Charlie Hebdo.

After the murders at the Weekly, and at the Hyper Cacher Seamus Milne, former Comments Editor at the paper, stated of its cartoons, “This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” Milne put the blame for the attacks down to Western policy in the Middle East and the ‘war on terror’  – no doubt a serious warning to Bangladesh to cease its imperialist ambitions there if it wants to end the slaughter of secularist bloggers.

Now they have found Emmanuel Todd to stand as proxies for their campaign against the militant leftist secularist Charlie.

The printed article below contains a reference to Todd’s La Chute finale (1976), a study which predicted that the Soviet Union would decompose. He has been living off the reputation it gave him as a seer since 1989. Indeed (this is unlikely to be a coincidence) le Monde gave the book a favourable  mention   a few weeks ago (Emmanuel Todd, la fin de l’étoile rouge).

He is a ‘demographer’. Todd’s central theme is that changes in family structures (nuclear, extended) are related to economic and political change. His most famous claim is that “nuclear” families are the oldest form. We not competent in this field, but one be assured that his ideas are not ‘universally’ accepted.

Todd is the kind of French essayist, or polemicist, who churns out a yearly book on a “controversial” subject every year. Less repetitive than Régis Debray, but always, always, contrarian.

InL’Illusion économique : Essai sur la stagnation des sociétés développées, 1998. Todd advocated “Intelligent protectionism”.

Après l’empire : Essai sur la décomposition du système américain, (2002) is an extended essay on the title.

This recent statement (11.7.2015) should give pause for thought to those on the left, or to liberals,  rushing to adopt Todd’s views on Charlie Hebdo,

 Europe is “contrôlée par l’Allemagne et par ses satellites baltes, polonais, etc” et qu’elle est “devenue un système hiérarchique, autoritaire”“On est en train sans doute d’assister à la troisième autodestruction de l’Europe”, estime-t-il, rappelant les précédentes : “Il y a d’abord eu la guerre de 14, puis la deuxième guerre mondiale.” Il en conclut que “l’Europe est un continent qui, au XXe siècle, de façon cyclique, se suicide sous direction allemande.”

Europe is controlled by Germany and its Baltic and Polish (etc) satellites” and it has “become an authoritarian and hierarchical system. ” “we are without doubt witnessing the third self-destruction of Europe, “he asserted, referring to the historical precedents, “First there was the 1914 war, then the second world war.” He concluded, “Europe is a continent which, in the 20th century committed suicide under German leadership.”

This year Todd published a book, and articles, attacking the massive wave of solidarity, mass demonstrations and commemorations for Charlie and the victims of the Hyper Cacher.

Now we have this in English.

The article’s main theme is this: “The street demonstrations were the self-glorification of the French middle class. That made me explode.”

With customary modesty he begins with,

…what he called his own “magnificently crafted Exocet missile” at the nation, with a book arguing that the street rallies were a giant lie.

This is the missile:

The rallies, he argued, were not what they claimed to be – an admirable coming-together of people from different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds standing up for tolerance – but an odious display of middle-class domination, prejudice and Islamophobia. To Todd, they represented “a sudden glimpse of totalitarianism”. These “sham” demonstrations, he claimed, were made up of a one-sided elite who wanted to spit on Islam, the religion of a weak minority in France. The working class and the children of immigrants had been notably absent, he said. The most enthusiastic demonstrations, he decided, had occurred in the country’s most historically Catholic and reactionary regions, an affirmation of the middle class’s moral superiority and domination, and their Islamophobic quest for a scapegoat.

Todd’s central argument is that there are fundamentally two Frances. There is a “central” France, including Paris and Marseille and the Mediterranean, where there is equality on the family level and a deep-rooted attachment to secular values of the French revolution and the republic. Then there is a France of the periphery, for example, the west or cities such as Lyon, which has stayed true to the old Catholic bedrock, where people may no longer be practising Catholics, but they’re still infused with all the social conservatism of that Catholicism, its hierarchies and inequality. He calls this “zombie Catholicism”. Infuriating his critics, Todd maintains that the post-attack rallies represented zombie Catholicism on the march.

The pro-Charlie Bloc  (bloc MAZ, Middle class, Aged and Zombies) is given a fuller analysis in French (oddly….discussion of two parts of it are missing in the Guardian article – although written by a respected French journalist).

Its ideology is:

  • « européiste », par son soutien à Maastricht en 1992 et à la Constitution européenne de 2005 ; Pro-European, backing the Maastricht Treaty and the European constitution,
  • islamophobe, au vu de la diffusion d’une « obsession de l’Islam » dans la presse papier, du succès des livres d’Éric Zemmour et de la relégation des attentats de l’hypercacher au second plan du mouvement des « Je suis Charlie »  Islamophobic, related to the racist rantings of Zemmour who wants to expel all Muslims from Europe.
  • germanophile, par sa défense du « modèle allemand » que la France devrait imiter à tout prix. Germanophile, defending the German model, which they want France to defend at any cost.

More here.

It would be interesting to know how he found statistical evidence for the Je Suis Charlie marchers’ support – or even readership – of Zemmour.

Readers of the introduction above will note that Todd is, by pure coincidence, anti-European and something of a Germanophobe.

The statistics he used to bolster this analysis have been rigorously unpicked.

Où est Charlie ? Ce que montrent réellement les cartes d’Emmanuel Todd –T. Joliveau is one of the best.

Joliveau questions, rightly, if you built a picture of the sociology mass demonstrations of public concern by aligning them to their geographical origin. Can one find evidence of this, “mystérieux indicateur de zombitude catholique” and transfer this to those who turned up on rallies? Nothing is less certain.  The tie with Catholicism is even less clear. he notes, “Une légère sur-participation à la manifestation dans les villes de tradition catholique semble confirmée mais il est moins justifié par un traitement statistique que par une typologie du recul du christianisme que Todd sort un peu de son chapeau.” there is a slight over-representation of demos in Towns and Cities with a Catholic tradition appears confirmed, but is less justified by a statistical alignment with the retreat of Catholicism, which Todd has rather pulled out of his hat.

Joliveau also points out, by way of how you can shape statistics, in this lengthy and detailed examination, that you can equally draw a correlation between the areas where there were fewer demonstrations and zones where there are high numbers of  low paid, unqualified and unemployed people, and supporters of the Front National.

What is clear is that there was a link between those with higher education and  support for Charlie on the marches (les diplômés de l’enseignement supérieur court ou long).

There is a little doubt that there are a lot of (self-evident) indications  this is true.

Is Todd saying that educated people – that is by definition those likely  to read left-wing satirical magazines and are concerned about issues such as freedom of expression and (not the least!) defend a hard-line secularist weekly– are ‘Catholic zombies”.

That the scores of immigrant associations who backed the protests are all ‘Islamophobes’ is less certain.

The idea is so incoherent that it is barely worth considering.

His theory is that the rise in Islamophobia is in turn stoking anti semitism in run-down suburbs, and that anti semitism is growing in the middle class.

Presumably the same middle class that worshiped Charlie…..

We stood up, with millions across the world,  for Charlie with every fibre of our being.

Todd can dislike the vulgar and 68er Charlie as much as he like.

He can engage in Anglo-American language about being careful not to offend religious sensitiveness.

As Joliveau says, the support was a “Symbole non d’un collectif, mais d’un rassemblement d’individus ayant chacun leur propre raison d’être là avec les autres.”

We all had our own reasons to show our sorrow, our internationalism, our solidarity and our love.

We are certainly not anti-Euro, protectionist nationalists like Todd.

We are not surprised that Polity Press is publishing a translation of this book.

Unlike pro-Charlie writings, (see the Tendance’s  review of Charb’s pamphlet), it will not doubt be on university courses.

****

Note: this is another demolition of Todd’s statistics: Un esprit de système caricatural Les catégorisations opérées par Emmanuel Todd et son déterminisme sociologique sont discutables. 

Nick Cohen Goes Colonel Blimp on Jeremy Corbyn.

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Nick Cohen goes Colonel Blimp:

How Jeremy Corbyn’s Coup Hijacked Labour.

Blimp outraged:

Jeremy Corbyn encapsulated everything that was deceitful about his campaign to be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when he claimed he wanted to prioritise “the needs of the poor and the human rights of us all”. From the point of view of the poor and the oppressed, his words were a grim joke.

Blimp more outraged:

Like many from the Left’s dark corners, Corbyn does not believe in the human rights of “us all”. He is concerned only with the rights of those whose oppression is politically useful. If the oppressed’s suffering can be blamed on the West, he will defend them. If not, he is on their enemies’ side.

Blimp apoplectic:

A short and far from comprehensive tour of the regimes Corbyn has supported includes the geriatric Cuban dictatorship, the corrupt and extraordinarily incompetent Chavistas who have come close to bankrupting oil-rich Venezuela, and Russian imperialists who have used force to redraw Europe’s boundaries..

Blimp warning of Russian bear:

Corbyn, like so many on the far Left, does not fear Russia. Nor does he care that UKIP and the French National Front defend Putin because they admire a regime that loathes the European Union as much as they do. The far left has never been comfortable with the EU either. However, it indulges Putin because, as Corbyn explained in the old Communist daily, the Morning Star, “the EU and Nato have now become the tools of US policy in Europe”. From this, it follows that all attempts by the former occupied nations of Europe to protect themselves from their old imperial master are American-backed provocations which goad a justly affronted Russia. Or as Corbyn put it, “The expansion of Nato into Poland and the Czech Republic has particularly increased tensions with Russia.”

Blimp reminded of his evening appointment in the Bath House:

When the far Left shades into the far Right, I am tempted to hug the centre and treat it as our best protection against the poisonous and the deranged. Respectable commentators have urged Labour members to do the same. They failed to understand that in Labour’s case the centre ground is as polluted as any derelict site.

Blimp talking religion and ethics,

Jeremy Corbyn has never pocketed thirty pieces of silver. He says what he says because he means it, not because he has been paid to say it. This does not make him morally superior in my eyes.

Blimp, musing that they’re all as bad as each other,

One wing of the Labour Party left office and latched onto a malign force in the world: the resource-rich states with large sovereign wealth funds and a vanishingly small concern for human rights. After the Western financial crisis, they were the freest spenders on earth, and Blair, Mandelson and dozens of others sucked long and heartily at their teats. Meanwhile, a second wing of the Labour Party latched on to equally powerful and equally malign anti-Western movements which hate not just the worst of our society but its best: democracy, human rights and sexual equality.

Blimp thinking of Tiffin and trying to wrap up his immortal peroration,

Unless Labour changes very fast and very soon, it will cease to be a force for good in the world. I hope I am wrong but I can’t see that change happening in my lifetime.

Why, O Why?

I have not left the left, it’s the left that’s left me…….

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Sparticist League Backing ISIS: Once Again.

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Sparts Campaigning.

Spartacist League Forms Syrian Battalion in Support of ISIS

RAQQAH, SYRIA – Marking the first time since the Bolivian National Revolution that Trotskyists have rallied in armed defence of their values, members of the Spartacist League of Britain have travelled to “the Caliphate” in order to defend ISIS from “imperialism”.

The formation of the so-called “Hammer Battalion” follows an announcement earlier this week of Spartacist League support for ISIS military victory.

“However, a senior ISIS source has hinted that not everyone in the movement is supportive of the group’s actions: “They spend more time condemning others for not being ISIS enough than actually fighting. Three of our best men were killed last month in a fight over whether the Soviet Union was a ‘deformed’ or ‘degenerated’ worker’s state.”

See more on Workers’ Spatula.

The source for this?

SL/B National Conference Summer 2015. The fight for a Leninist party

We must guard against a tendency, noted in the documents adopted by the December 2014 plenums of the ICL International Executive Committee and the SL/US Central Committee, to succumb to the pressure bearing down on our party to weaken our opposition to imperialism. The reintegration of Crimea into Russia in the aftermath of an imperialist-sponsored, fascist-infested coup in Kiev and the referenda for “self-rule” in the East Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk were largely met with howls of outrage by the liberal and reformist left in the West…. We took a correct, Leninist stance in forthrightly declaring “Crimea is Russian” and in defending the right to self-rule in Eastern Ukraine.

The US, supported by Britain, is now at war with the Islamic State (ISIS), which was initially funded by extremist Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. [An IS motion of 23 October 2014 said:] “We have a military side with the reactionary ISIL when it engages in military conflict with the imperialists and their local forces on the ground, including the Iraqi Kurdish pesh merga, the Baghdad government, Shi’ite militias and the Syrian Kurds. We give no political support to any of these retrograde forces.”…

The justification?

Here is some background:

Workers Vanguard 3rd of April 2015.

It is the duty of class-conscious workers everywhere, particularly in the U.S., to oppose all wars and occupations carried out by the imperialists. When the U.S. began air strikes against ISIS last year, we explained that “any force, however unsavory, that attacks, repels or otherwise impedes U.S. forces strikes a blow in the interests of the exploited and the oppressed” (“U.S. Out of Iraq! No Intervention in Syria!” WV No. 1051, 5 September 2014). We take a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and forces acting as their proxies, including the Baghdad government and the Shi’ite militias as well as the Kurdish pesh merga forces in Northern Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish nationalists. This does not mean we give the slightest political support to the reactionary ISIS butchers.

 

Workers Hammer(UK) Winter 2014 – 15.

Many liberals and reformist organisations, while claiming to oppose the imperialists’ intervention in Syria/Iraq, are simultaneously backing the Kurdish forces that are acting as imperialist proxies. In the battle for the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria, the US has carried out airstrikes against ISIS and dropped arms and other supplies to fighters on the ground, mainly from the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is allied to the nationalist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Turkey. PYD military forces are acting as ground troops and spotters for the US imperialists, thus tying the fortunes of the oppressed Kurdish population to the imperialists’ war against ISIS. While we uphold the right of national self-determination for the Kurdish people, who are oppressed by the bourgeois regimes in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, “championing the Kurds in the current conflict can only mean lending support to imperialist plunder”, as we explain in “Down with US/British war against ISIS!”

Workers Vanguard. 31st October 2014.

ISIS today is in battle against the local tools of U.S. imperialism, the main enemy of the world’s working people. A setback for the U.S. in Syria might give pause to Washington in its military adventures, including by encouraging opposition at home. Such opposition adds to the tinder that must be ignited in class struggle against the capitalist rulers who, in their quest for ever greater profits, beat down the workers, black people and immigrants.

In our opinion the Sparts show the ultimate degeneration of revolutionary “defeatism” (wishing the destruction of one’s own ‘ruling class’ and its military).

This is where it led during the Second World War: saying that the Allies, backed by the French Resistance, were the same as the SS and Vichy.

One might say that the ultimate blame for this moral bankrupcy can be put at Trotsky’s feet.

As this indicates –  on the eve of the Second World War.

Trotsky sharply rejected any notion of taking sides in the war:

By his victories and bestialities, Hitler provokes naturally the sharp hatred of workers the world over. But between this legitimate hatred of workers and the helping of his weaker but less reactionary enemies is an unbridgeable gulf. The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would not be less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved. By helping their bourgeoisie against foreign Fascism, the workers would only accelerate the victory of Fascism in their own country. The task posed by history is not to support one part of the imperialist system against another but to make an end of the system as a whole.

Just as in 1914, Trotsky was urging his followers to swim against the stream. In doing so, he cut through the ideological claptrap of the ‘democracies’ opposed to Hitler. What he failed to do was to offer any real indication of a strategy which would enable the tiny Trotskyist current to relate to the broad anti-Fascist movement that would emerge in occupied Europe.

More:  With the Masses, Against the Stream  Marxists Archive.

Ian Birchall, the author of the article cited above, is a lot more forgiving to the “errors” that resulted from these words than the Tendance is.

Pablo Iglesias Backs Jeremy Corbyn, but Podemos is less and less a model for the Left.

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On Downward Slide in Opinion Polls.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias held a press conference on Monday to mark the end of the summer holidays, as Podemos supporters launched a campaign to make #PabloIglesiasToMoncloa the top trending topic on Spanish Twitter, in reference to Moncloa Palace, the Spanish Prime Minister’s official residence.

“We are out to win the election”, he said.

A poll published earlier on Monday showed Podemos in line for 11.94% of the vote or 30-34 seats in the 350-seat Congress, in third place behind the Popular Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE).

Mr. Iglesias rejected the idea of a coalition deal between the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos after the general election as “absolutely unlikely”, although he did not rule out “decentralised dialogue processes” with new alternative left platforms such as Ahora en Común.

He added that Podemos now believed the general election in Spain would take place “in December”.

Regarding the early regional elections in Catalonia, which will take place on September 27, he said he believed the Podemos option there, “Catalonia Yes We Can” (Catalunya Si Que Es Pot) was the “only option” that had a chance of beating the First Minister’s joint pro-secession electoral list: “Our main aim is to beat Artur Mas”.

,…

He also said the rise of Jeremy Corbyn was “very important” in the race to lead the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, helping it to remember its roots.

“What is happening in the United Kingdom, I insist, is very important. A different Labour Party, that gets its party origins back as a representative of the popular classes is, I believe, very important”, suggesting Angela Merkel now represented “the past” and that alternative left parties were the future.

One of Mr. Iglesias’s European parliamentary assistants later tweeted that Podemos supports Jeremy Corbyn “because we understand he is an ally in changing the constitutional architecture of Europe”.

Spain Report.

While Iglisias’ backing for Corbyn is generous, we sincerely hope that people on the British left would stop comparing themselves with Podemos.

The  leadership of Iglesias has been most recently in trouble over his attitude to the rest of the Spanish left (indeed over whether the party should be ‘left’ at all) followed by disputes over Podemos’ stand on Catalan independence.

Their downward spiral was described yesterday in El Mundo by Casimiro García-Abadillo ¿Por qué se desinfla Podemos?

Naturally we would not credit this daily, or its journalists, with any sympathy for the Spanish left, but some points made are important.

García-Abadillo begins by noting a higher figure for Podemos than Spain Report, 15,7%. But the most significant aspect is the drop from 23,9% in January (and, we could add,  around 30% at points last year).

He argues that Podemos is in trouble because (in our, not the article’s order):

  • The shift to pragmatism (the “leftist populism,” Iglesias represents), conducted with the aim of disputing the hegemony of the PSOE left,  disappointed some of its electorate, linked to 15-M (that is, the original Indignados). These has created internal strife, led by figures such  Teresa Rodríguez and Pablo Echenique. This ideological tension thas demobilised many of his followers, as highlighted by the low turnout in the primaries (something we have noted on this Blog).
  • The ideological uncertainty extends to issues such as the independence of Catalonia. This generated confusion among potential voters. Essentially, Podemos has failed to stand for a genuine leftist movement that has nothing to do with nationalism. The compromise position adopted on secession has created tensions within the party in Catalonia and has likely discouraged many citizens from other regions who reject granting privileges to the richest part of the country (Catalonia) for sealing off its privileges in autonomy, if not independence.
  • The experience of coalition government in municipalities and communities following the elections of 24th of May has been somewhat disappointing. The case of Madrid is well known and covered on this Blog.
  • The debate on electoral alliances. El Mundo blames the “opportunism” Podemos has shown. We by contrast would blame the “new age sectarianism” of the “post-left” that thinks it can dismiss the Marxist forces of the Izquirada Unida and the Greens of Equo.
  • The effect of the failure of Syriza in Greece, or more simply its defeat faced with the power of Finance  – which are too obvious to dwell on.

Full article: El Mundo.

Podemos had a strategy which many people on the left across the world admired.

The “Spanish regime is facing a crisis of legitimacy and there exists an opportunity for the emergence of a party with progressive politics and popular appeal that can challenge the political establishment and reassert the collective power of the people against corporate capital.”

To mobilise this strength Podemos claimed that it needed an approach that was “beyond” the left/right division.

That is, according to Eduardo Madura,

The traditional ideology and language of the left is unfit for purpose in that it does not adequately correspond to people’s everyday experiences. ‘For the majority of people the language of the left does not signify what it does for those within the movement,’ he says. ‘People’s traditions and experiences are so different.’

Podemos: Politics by the people. Andrew Dolan. Red Pepper

Words that apparently move “beyond right and left” and connect with real experience focus on the key element in Podemos’s public discourse: mobilisation against the ‘casta’ – the political ‘caste’ or elite.

In On Populist Reason (Verso, 2005) Ernesto Laclau described the shifting way the “popular” is constructed. A populist party is, he argued, built around “empty signifiers” – that is symbolic points around which the conflict between the “people” and the “elite” is created.

Podemos is so famous for having woven its discourse around opposition to the “casta (caste)” -the political ruling class – that the, having fixed it, quilted it, wrapped itself around with it, it would, at some point, fray.

It was perhaps predictable that once it became identified – symbolically and in reality – with those who rule, that is take office – it would face problems.

These are exacerbated by the creation of a Podemos of the right, Cuidamos,

Ciudadanos deprives Podemos of its novelty effect and, above all, its appearance as the only contender to the throne that bipartisanship has already semi-abandoned, around which a heterogeneous social majority could be built, attracted to Podemos by the real possibility that it was the vehicle for political change. It is a vicious circle, because as a victory for Podemos seems less possible, the less support it will receive. And, on the contrary, the more credible the victory of an alternative, the more instrumental support it will receive. Although both parties are vying for only a layer of votes and their major potential voters come from counter-posed sites, Ciudadanos blocks the growth of Podemos in the less politicized and more conservative sectors and fires a torpedo at the waterline of its project of a transversal party which aspires to quickly accumulate a social majority that goes beyond the traditional confines of the “people of the left”.

Josep María Antentas International Viewpoint.

Podemos has also moved rightwards, dropping, notably, plans for a universal ‘Citizen’s income and tempering its anti-austerity plans with a degree of realism – such as proposing that debtors and creditors negotiate mortgage payments, instead of advocating the suspension of all such foreclosures as it did previously.

These difficulties have been worsened by the existence of another ‘populist’ element, a charismatic leader who holds the party together and takes the decisions.

How Iglesias has been insulated from political difficulties – opposition – is indicated by Podemos’s adoption of an inner party structure that gives  “winner takes all” power to the leadership. That is despite claims that it is “horizontal” and based on intimate “circles real decision-making is made by one circle; the Leader’s.

His dislike of the ‘old’ left is unfortunate in that every political ideology becomes – pretty rapidly with today’s communication systems – ‘old’, old enough to remind people of earlier attempts to move “beyond” left and right, with their mixed results.

There are few signs that Iglesias or his  Courtiers has found a way out of the problems posed by ‘populism’ – a shifting social base, a drift with the tide of opinion, and the ‘charismatic’ tendency to ignore the advice of others.

Letter to a Young Corbyn Supporter: Courage! You are our Future!

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Vote Corbyn!

An impassioned article has just appeared on the Guardian site.

Please don’t ridicule this young Labour voter’s passion for Jeremy Corbyn.

Rosie Fletcher writes,

My many criticisms of Labour in recent years – its milquetoast defence of its economic record, its lack of direction, skittering whichever way the tabloid wind blows, its bland, sputtering lack of passion – distanced me from them. But I saw May’s defeat as an opportunity to revitalise the party, along with tens of thousands of others, many of whom, like me, are young people whose futures are being clouded by the Tory present.

I joined before Jeremy Corbyn had even removed his hat to throw it into the ring, but he’s not only got the policies to clear those clouds, but also the passionate support needed to do so.

Jeremy Corbyn’s backers, that is the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, and others, such as the activists’ alliance, the Labour Representation Committee (Labour Briefing) have been arguing for a positive alternative to Labour Party national policies, for many years.

So many that we are perhaps we were convinced that nothing would change in the Party – which some of us left (although if union members we have been affiliates in a sense already: I voted in my union’s elections for the last leadership candidate).

We were however convinced that Ed Miliband served our full support in the May General Election.

On issues like the Living Wage, workers’ rights, progressive taxation and defence of public services (particularly welfare and education) we saw Miliband as a step forward.

He was unable to successfully defend Labour’s past economic record in the face of mendacious Tory attacks.

He did not clearly come out against austerity, or the wholesale give-away of public services to private chancers – at present enjoying a continued bonanza at the expense of the rest of the population.

He did not tackle head on the anti-migrant message of the other parties, or the anti-welfare message of the free-market right.

But, it must be said that Miliband was more open to the labour movement, new radical ideas,  and wider left-wing opinion that his predecessors.

Many of us gave practical support to Labour during the election.

We too do not relish being treated as potential infiltrators.

 Rosie Fletcher notes,

as a young Labour member, it’s often hard to discuss Corbyn with – shall we say? – more seasoned voters. It can feel as though an official opinion has been issued. If in doubt, one can, should the topic of the Labour leadership come up, simply pronounce: “Of course, Corbyn is totally unelectable” and feel as if one has contributed something at least. We have reached consensus without giving him an opportunity to disprove it, despite his progress from being eminently electable in Islington to imminently electable as Labour leader.

I would take this argument seriously.

But the counter-argument is that if we wish Labour to be a copy of the Conservatives, backing welfare cuts for example, then people will vote for the original and the not the copy.

I am not so overcome with Corbymania that I believe Comrade Jez to be perfect and his leadership of Labour – should it happen –as the first step to a sort of socialist version of the 1970s’ Coca Cola commercials, where we not only buy the world a Coke, but seize the means to produce it as well.

Perhaps we are much too old to even begin to think in these terms!

The accusations surrounding his less savoury associations need a robust response, more than just a denial of antisemitism. His detractors should, however, consider the paradox held within complaining about the company Corbyn keeps and then parroting Tony Blair.

As indeed they should.

Not everybody agrees with what Jeremy Corbyn has said on foreign policy issues.

We need, just to cite one case, a strong response of complete opposition to all forms of Islamist reaction just as much as opposition to Western intervention in the Middle East. The sight of British volunteers for the jihadist genociders – people who go to murder our Syrian, Iraq, Kurdish, Yadzidi and Assyrian sisters and brothers  – cannot be dismissed as a product of the ‘West’s’ crimes. They are responsible for their actions and should be judged for them.

We need practical backing for our Kurdish sisters and brothers, against Turkey’s  Erdoğan and the Jihadist killers.

But we have confidence in the ability of people, with a new and open Labour Party, to bring these views into debate.

Jeremy Corbyn is the Chair of the very respected human rights and anti-colonial organisation, Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom). Liberation campaigns for human rights without exception. It has taken up not only the case of the Palestinians but, amongst many others, that of  secularists in Bangladesh, the victims of Islamism in Sudan, and (as Stephen Marks notes in the comments here) has, with Jeremy Corbyn, been promoting the Kurdish cause for many many years.

We would hope that this activity is better known.

Back to the Past?

Rosie continues,

These patrician warnings that Corbyn only serves to drag Labour backwards serve to make me, as a young voter, feel patronised and unwanted. I had never considered that Corbyn was a throwback until people started banging on about how bad the 1980s were, seemingly forgetting that we are not actually electing a leader to be sent back in time into the exact circumstances of Jim Callaghan’s resignation. You’d think Michael Foot himself was running, attending debates in a hammer and sickle-print donkey jacket, from the amount we’ve been talking about him.

There were patrician predictions of dire consequences of radical policies at every stage in the left’s history…

Unfortunately we recall the 1980s campaigns against left-wingers, feminists and anti-racists, all too well.

Barely a day went past without a story about the “loony left”.

Let’s not talk about Michael Foot. We should look at somebody, who was greatly loved, and who tried to make a difference to the world, starting from where she lived, Haringey

Mandy Mudd.

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Mandy Mudd “I am not intimidated, I will not shut up”

Mandy helped set up the “Positive Images” campaign. This was after controversy was whipped up over the inclusion of a statement in the 1986 Haringey Labour Party manifesto, which committed Haringey Council to devote resources to “to promote Positive images of gay men and lesbians”.

Nobody, today, would accuse this initiative of being extremist madness.

But this is exactly what happened.

Then this,

When Bernie Grant stepped down as Leader of Haringey Council, following his selection as the Labour Candidate in Tottenham; Steve King and Martha Osamor took over as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, and for a short while the left was in the ascendancy. But the Labour right wing within the Haringey Labour Group, soon organised to replace them. This they achieved in 1987, and immediately the new leader began making significant cuts from the autumn of 1987 onwards. In response, Mandy and Mike Marqusee initiated through Haringey Labour Briefing, an attempt to build mass resistance to the cuts by setting up “Haringey Fights Back”. Public meetings and mass lobbies were organised, whilst inside the Labour Party attempts to get councillors to oppose the cuts continued.

Then there was the evening of 10th December 1987 when the Haringey Labour Party Local Government Committee met to discuss the cuts. Heated discussion took place. Finally the riot police, already deployed within the Haringey Civic; were used to clear the public gallery during the course of the meeting. Two councillors and two labour party activists were arrested. A complaint was subsequently made against Mandy and she was charged with “a sustained course of conduct prejudicial to the Party”.

It was at this point that the attempt to smear and discredit Mandy began in the national media. She was turned into a national hate figure, with the clear intention of undermining her leadership of the campaign against the cuts. The attack was vicious and very personal. She found herself on the front page of the Sun and door stepped, having to climb over a garden wall and out through a neighbour’s door in order to be able to get off to work. Various attempts were made to get her employer to take action against her. One example of this was an article in the Daily Mail on 11th February 1988, in which Richard Littlejohn wrote: Appointing Mandy Mudd as a school governor is as appropriate as putting Kurt Waldheim in charge of a holiday camp. Do you want her ruining your daughter’s education? I don’t.”

Mandy did not shut up.

There were many Mandies, and many of us are still around.

 Perhaps Rosie you can now realise how we react to the press campaign against Jeremy Corbyn.

Forget Foot!

Corbyn is inspiring passion, enthusiasm and motivation. People want something different. He is packing out halls, bringing in new supporters and new voters. Imagine what Labour could do if they harness that over the next four years, rather than throwing away the harness and then shooting the horse and setting the barn on fire for good measure.

Exactly!

 

Euston Manifesto Top Backer Compares Corbyn Supporters To EDL.

with 21 comments

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Corbyn Meeting Queue: Bad as EDL Says Top Euston Manifesto Backer.

In 2006 the Euston Manifesto was published.

“The manifesto proposed a “fresh political alignment”, which involves “making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not”, in which the Left stands for democracy, freedom, equality, internationalism, the open-source movement, and historical truth, while condemning all forms of tyranny, terrorism, anti-Americanism, racism and anti-Semitism, including any form of it that “conceal[s] prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of ‘anti-Zionism.'” Wikipedia.

It ended with these words:

It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic “anti-imperialism” and/or hostility to the current US administration. The values and goals which properly make up that agenda — the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

Euston Manifesto.

One of the main signatories is given as David T, Harry’s Place (Wikipedia).

This is what he said yesterday.

You’re a person who has supported somebody who actively promotes people who are trying to kill me and my family.

When somebody says “I’m a socialist and I support Jeremy Corbyn” I hear the equivalent of “I am a UKIP member, I love Nigel Farage, and I go on EDL marches”.

David Toube.

Coatesy is not alone in receiving this message from the blustering public school boy’s incontinent brain.

Others too have been told that they are a ‘revolting person’ and ‘worse than a fascist’.

It would be tedious to list all the other Euston Manifesto rages against Jeremy Corbyn, but here is another prominent Euston signatory, Oliver Kamm, yesterday.

Corbyn’s deplorable allies

It’s no longer possible to assume that a declared progressive will defend free speech, secularism, women’s rights, homosexual equality, cosmopolitanism and the spread of scientific inquiry.

Those are the values that cause me to admire Israel – a nation whose pluralist ethos will be fulfilled when there is an eventual two-state solution with a sovereign Palestine.

Yet now we have a left that tolerates bigotry, allies with theocratic reaction, embraces terror groups and espouses irrationalism.

Paul Anderson, another Euston backer on Corbyn,

The first thing to know about him is that he’s a boilerplate leftist with a Chomskyite thicko’s take on the world.

The idiot noise online favours Corbyn; I’d rather read the FT.

Nick Cohen, yet another Eustonite, at the beginning of August,

The severity of the assault makes me wonder why so many unions are backing Jeremy Corbyn. It is not just that he has planted kisses on the backsides of half the tyrannies on the planet: including the posteriors of an Iranian regime, which persecutes its own trade unionists along with women and religious minorities; Putin and his kleptomaniac and irredentist Russian nationalist friends; Gaddafi, after his own people had executed him, and the Chavez gang, which somehow managed to reduce oil-rich Venezuela to penury.

Worse than the tyrannophilla, from a practical point of view, is that Corbyn does not have a chance of winning the 2020 general election. And if you think five years of unconstrained Tory government is bad, picture what they could do with 10.

Now he ramps up the hysteria,

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party: one of them must go

Nick Cohen.

“For years people like me have been arguing that the worst people on the left have been going along with movements and regimes, which are reactionary and in some instances fascistic – radical Islam and Putin’s Kremlin to take the most obvious examples from Corbyn’s CV. We have been trying to provide a left-wing case against the appeasement of imperialist aggressors, in the case of Russia, or of sexist, racist and homophobic religion in the case of radical Islam.

I am putting it as politely as I can when I say we had limited support from mainstream commentators and politicians of the centre left. They didn’t want to criticise ‘our side’. They didn’t want to admit that racism (in its anti-Semitic form) was as much a problem for the left as the right. They didn’t want to puncture the phoney air of righteousness which surrounds left-wing politics like a cloying perfume, or ‘distract’ themselves from the fight against the Tories

They didn’t want to know. Well they know now.

And as the far left moves to takeover Labour, their laziness and ignorance has left them naked before their enemies. They have no principled social democratic arguments in their arsenal, as the pathetic figure of Andy Burnham proves daily.”

****

It was often said of professional ex-Communists in the Cold War that they adopted they reversed the Stalinist Manichean view of the world: everything Communist was evil incarnate and everything in the West was  great.

Was that true of the Eustonites – as many allege?

The original Euston Manifesto had many faults, above all its failure to find much fault with American and Western foreign policy, and its embrace of – some – supporters of the invasion of Iraq.

But it did back universal human rights.

Many on the left – the non-Leninist left – did not need lessons in this respect.

Human rights form the common roots of democratic socialism.

From Jean Jaurès to Ralph Miliband democratic principles are part of our most basic principles.

Those of us who are democratic Marxists stand for what Jaurès famously called the “synthesis” between liberty and socialist class struggle.

It should go without saying that the Tendance, and our close comrades, defend “defend free speech, secularism, women’s rights, homosexual equality, cosmopolitanism and the spread of scientific inquiry.”

We are part of a substantial group of people, including Jeremy Corbyn who backed Charlie Hebdo’s right to free speech in an Early Day Motion immediately after the Paris massacres.

Corbyn is also the Chair of Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom), a respected and long established human rights and anti-colonial group in the UK. *

Perhaps Cohen and the Eustonies could explain why their campaign against the British Empire was wrong when they have time for anything other than mouth frothing.

But then, that lot are becoming more like their anti-Communist forerunners: they can not accept that we are democrats, we are ‘left-wing’ and therefore on the wrong side.

Like their monomaniacal predecessors, it is people like Toube and Cohen who are now trying to scream down the democratic socialists who back the thoroughly decent Jeremy Corbyn.

We suspect that the Eustonites are preparing another Manifesto, to be published  should Corbyn win.

If this happens, we will bear the above comments at the front of our mind.

♦♦♦

* History of Liberation ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom.

In 1945 one-fifth of the world was still under British sovereignty and 780 million people throughout the world lived under European colonialism.

The Labour Government did not support independence and their general election manifesto gave no commitment to introduce bills to provide for self-government, except for India. The Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, justified this by saying the loss of the colonies would mean falling living standards for British people. Continued colonial rule was in contradiction to the Atlantic Charter, agreed between the UK and USA to provide a blueprint for the world after World War II and which stated that “All peoples have a right to self-determination”.

In Malaya communist insurgents were put down by British security forces, who even used head hunters to bring in rebels’ heads. News of this was concealed from the British public but anti-colonial activists received the photographic evidence. Fenner Brockway played an active role in convening a conference of anti-colonialists, representatives of nationalist and independence movements and black organisations such as the League of Coloured Peoples in 1947. Offices were set up in Paris and London and in 1948 the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism was established.

With the outbreak of wars against French rule in North Africa the Paris office of the League of Coloured Peoples was closed. By now India, Ceylon and Burma had their independence.[when?] In Africa, however. independence organisations, such as the Mau Mau led byKenyatta, were established and solidarity was called for.

The Movement for Colonial Freedom was founded in 1954. The Labour Party’s official position was not to support independence leaders. This however was not universally accepted and 70 MPs, including Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle, supported the Movement for Colonial Freedom. It also had backing among celebrities such as Benjamin Britten and in the universities. Fenner Brockway was the chairman, Douglas Rogers the secretary and Tony Benn the treasurer.”

Wikipedia.

Liz Kendall: Diary of a Résistante

with 15 comments

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Liz Kendall: Only Serious Resistance to Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Kendall ready to join ‘The Resistance’ if Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership race….

Thursday August 20.8.15. The Corbynistas are advancing on all fronts. The entire population is leaving Knightsbridge; we are living in an atmosphere of panic.

The passengers on the Tube this morning looked ugly and deformed.

A cat near my office was scavenging for tit-bits.

I thought of how it’s always the animals who suffer first.

Friday August 21.8.15. Corbyn’s policy programme looks backwards and had been rejected by Labour in the 1930s.

My heart is filled with the scenes of savagery I have witnessed at his Tottenham meeting.

Chuka says that is it just him just him or is there a serious lack of cool places to go in London at the weekends.

“Most of the North London haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe.”

Saturday August 22.8.15. We must champion the power of human beings to shape their own lives, and oppose the tyranny of the bureaucratic state.

Corbyn’s plans to bring back the old Labour Badge made me think of the Stalin’s Pioneer camps.

Tristram thinks that Jeremy’s message is sweet and simple: we must end austerity now, bring back steam railways, scrap Trident, replace it with catapults, and nationalise kebab production.

Afternoon.

People are different.

They have acquired a secretive, furtive air when I ask them if they’ve voted for me.

Sunday August 23rd. It’s the little things that bring home the depth of our isolation: this morning our cleaner announced that she has joined the ‘militia’ of the Labour Party Marxists.

I could have wept into my latte.

Monday August 24th. Liberty should be reclaimed as a defining ideal.

 We must be doing the best for kids, particularly in white-working class communities.

The editorial committee for the newspaper we are planning is settled. The name of our organ? Résistance.

Tuesday August 25th. News from the Suffolk Maquis in encouraging.

A brave band of supporters has set up a ‘free zone’ in Rendelsham forest.

They sent us a Selfie of their base: