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Counterfire on “Post-Corbynism”, “Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough” .

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Image result for the sea of faith arnold
Post-Corbynism. 

Labour in vain? – weekly briefing

Lindsey German, on “ Post Corbynism” .

The leader of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is already retreating from Long-Bailey.

And what’s more, she has, in-between defensive remarks based on her own group’s unique standpoint, begun to talk sense.

The main thrust is to undermine the claim that Long-Bailey is the ‘real’ left candidate to lead Labour.

The problem for the left however is that Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough. She advocates the use of nuclear weapons. She declared herself a Zionist at the Jewish Labour Movement hustings. And she has signed a statement over trans policies in Labour which contradicts the manifesto pledges, and which threatens to lead to a witch-hunt against some feminists. I understand the pressure that she is under, but we can see from the experience of Jeremy Corbyn himself over the past four years that giving in to pressure doesn’t mean it gets easier further on down the line.

Lindsey German may be wrong to highlight ‘Zionism’ as a be-all-and-end-it all issue.

She ignores the pressing issue of Syria. Many would like to see Labour leadership candidates confronted with the need to support the Kurdish fight and that of democrats against Assad and wider Middle East. Other democratic struggles, across the world, are pressing, from Hong Kong to South America.

Labour’s whole flawed foreign policy needs dropping.

As Rohini Hessman says,

The attempt by the Corbyn team to cover up the brutality of Russian airstrikes in Syria illustrates what I call their pseudo-anti-imperialism: opposition only to Western imperialisms while supporting non-Western imperialisms like Russian imperialism and Iranian regional imperialism, which share responsibility with brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad for over half a million dead and over half the population displaced in Syria.[17] Putin’s is a far-right regime which has provided funding and other support to neo-fascist parties throughout Europe,[18] and to far-right politicians – including Trump – in the rest of the world. Evidence has emerged that it has supported Boris Johnson too.[19] One reason why it has bombed Syrian civilians and democracy activists in support of Bashar al-Assad is to entrench its power in the Middle East; but another is to support its neo-fascist allies in Europe by giving them an ‘enemy’ to demonise, namely millions of Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives.[20] It is disturbing that Corbyn’s team would want to cover up the crimes of such a regime; equally disturbing is the implicit contempt for Syrian working people struggling against unemployment, poverty and authoritarianism.

 It is important that the Labour left – and indeed all socialists – abandon the simplistic notion that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ which has been used to support anti-Western tyrants and imperialists, and take a consistent position in solidarity with all struggles against oppression and exploitation. They need to be able to deal with complexity; to understand that it is possible to oppose military assaults on Iran and sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, and at the same time oppose the repressive, extreme right-wing Islamic regime; to acknowledge that prejudice against Jews is racist and antisemitic, but denying Palestinians the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also racist, and campaigning for those rights is not antisemitic.

German continues on Long-Bailey,

She will get the majority of the left’s votes, although some of those will go to Keir Starmer, who is tacking very much to the left at the moment. His support for Owen Smith back in 2016, his record at the DPP, his ultra-remain politics, are all on the back burner for the next month and a half. Lisa Nandy is the most right wing of the candidates and has already signalled retreat on nationalisation. All three of the remaining candidates have distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn in a number of ways, even though December was clearly a Brexit election and even though there are many signs that Labour’s policies were, and remain, popular.

This is where it get sticky.

The Brexit election…German means an election in which Counterfire backed Brexit, and,  with the help of a rag-bag of parties like the Communist Party of Britain, the SWP, left sovereigntists, ‘traditional’ Labour nationalists helped confuse politics by supporting an imaginary ‘People’s Brexit’.

‘Remain’ was the right policy for internationalists, the prefix “ultra” signifying Counterfire’s annoyance at the consistent and principled influence on the left and the Labour Party of groups like Another Europe is Possible.

German opines further on Labour’s  popular policies,

Equally fanciful is the idea that the left-wing policies put forward by Corbyn were unpopular. Indeed if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we should look at the way in which Johnson’s government is scooping up a number of these policies and claiming them as its own. We’ve already had the nationalisation of Northern Rail, and rail nationalisation is likely to go much further. Now Johnson has declared massive spending on bus services, something that Corbyn was ridiculed over just a couple of months ago.

As has been said time and time again, such clear policies were swamped in the sheer volume of announcements the Labour Party put out.

The faith in Corbyn, a man with many merits, but not a charismatic leader for most of the population, is disintegrating.

Is this one answer?

Rebecca Long-Bailey would offer Jeremy Corbyn a place in her shadow Cabinet

The need to remove the failed team, the “corridor cabal”  that botched an already hard election battle, and to build a united Labour party, would suggest otherwise.

One threat has emerged.

On trans issues German says,

It should be possible for socialists to discuss these issues and reach a position which opposes all oppression. The trans debate in the Labour Party is in danger of ending up in a bad place if it does not do this. Some of the pledges put out by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights are in my view unacceptable, especially those calling organisations like Woman’s Place UK transphobic, and calling for expulsions of transphobes (presumably including members of WPUK). What I find most worrying here is that women who are good socialists are being branded as transphobes because they have a different perspective on women’s rights and trans rights, and that there are repeated moves to close down this discussion. This is being done in an authoritarian manner through threatening expulsion. We have already seen protests at WPUK meetings, attempts at no platforming women such as historian Selena Todd, and attempts to sack women who disagree.

This leads to a situation where it is impossible to move the debate forward. Labour’s manifesto called for full support for trans rights, but also for retention of rights relating to women as a sex under the 2010 Equality Act. Both Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey seem to have dropped this approach in favour of signing the pledge. Laura Pidcock’s eminently sensible call for discussion led to a stream of abuse directed at her. It really has to stop.

For a very different view (this Blog tends to agree with German on this issue but this is an important, heartfelt, article) see:

What’s Wrong With Woman’s Place?

There have been few more bitter struggles on the left in recent years than the conflict between those who support trans inclusion and those who style themselves as Gender Critical and refuse to accept that trans people should be socially or legally treated as their aquired gender.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

“Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State” – says Vice President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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Image result for tony greenstein ken loach

Ken Loach and Friends (Greenstein on the the far left).

 

Keir Starmer is the candidate that the Deep State & the British Establishment want you to vote for.

Tony Greenstein.

Starmer is the candidate of MI5 and the Political Police – he is Establishment down to his manicured fingers. ‘Sir’ Keir has pointed to his role in providing legal advice to striking miners and print workers.  This is true but it was a long time ago when he was a socialist. Today he is the darling of the Right.

Anyone who is fooled by this ‘lurch to the left’ is truly pathetic. Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State that eviscerated Corbyn.  It was just one of Corbyn’s idiocies that when Starmer resigned in the chicken coup that he was let back in to wreak more havoc.

Mr Greenstein is the Vice-President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt and a frequent contributor to the Weekly Worker.

He has also contributed to Al-Jazeera’s web site.

LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Ken Livingstone
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist.

If you had doubts before, Starmer is now the candidate to back!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm

After Progressive Patriotism Long-Bailey backs “Working-class Aspiration”.

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Image result for the blair revolution

Now Selling Like Gold-Dust Amongst Long-Bailey Supporters.

In the latest Private Eye Craig Brown talks, exclusively, to Rebecca Long-Bailey.

But the parody of the “life long socialist”has already been better done by the ‘left candidate for the Labour Leadership herself.

To begin with there was the “progressive patriotism” movement at the end of December

Long Bailey differentiates herself from Corbyn by saying that as Labour leader she would champion “progressive patriotism”. She says: “From ex-miners in Blyth Valley to migrant cleaners in Brixton, from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford, we have to unite our communities. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built upon unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone.

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain.”

We all had a hearty laugh about that one, before it disappeared without trace into the pages of the Morning Star.

Then there was the reference to Labour as “the party of the Lever brothers and Ralph Miliband” (a claim which reminds some of us of a member of the Weekly Worker group claiming that Miliband “said” the party “grew out of the bowels of the tradeunion movement‘” – Ernest Bevin, TGWU general secretary, 1935).

A couple of days ago Rebecca Long-Bailey announced that Labour should support “open selection” of candidates for election – after the populist Jacobin owned Tribune suggested she did so.

Well-wishers were quick to point out that, apart from opening up wounds in the Party, in the detail she appeared to be be also downgrading Labour Conference,

On our policy making. I have always believed that it is our members and trade unions who should shape our vision, but there has to be a more open and democratic way of developing our vision.

“Trying to clunkily mesh together the wording of various motions from constituency parties in a sweaty room at conference is not dynamic and it is not using the vast wealth of talent our members bring.”

The rows have already begun:

Now the Labour contender is going for the “aspirational” vote of hard working workers,

The shadow business secretary, who is widely assumed to be Corbyn’s chosen successor, cited a couple she met while canvassing in her home seat of Salford who told her they thought Labour just offered handouts.

“They were working class but they’d bought their own house, they’d worked hard, they felt they should be rewarded for working hard, they didn’t want to think that other people were getting handouts,” she told the Guardian as the leadership race kicks off in earnest.

“Whatever people’s incomes are, a lot of the time people don’t see themselves as destitute and struggling, and they don’t want someone to come along and say: ‘I’m going to remove the scales from your eyes, and save you from yourself’. It’s like, ‘I’ve got a job, I don’t need saving from myself, I just want to do a little bit better, thanks!’” she said.

She was keen to downplay criticism of Blair…..

At a packed rally for Long-Bailey in a Hackney bar on Tuesday evening, some of the loudest applause came when she backed open selections for MPs – with one enthusiastic audience member shouting, “banish the Blairites!”

Confronted with the comment, Long-Bailey insists: “We don’t want any of that … this goes right to the heart of what the party is supposed to be about, and this is what upsets me so much.

“The only way we ever win, is where we represent those elements of the centre-left. That’s why we were created: to bring together all those left groups,” she added.

The Guardian observed,

Long-Bailey’s anecdote about canvassing the aspirational couple in Salford was reminiscent of one told by Blair in his 1996 conference speech, when he said that while campaigning, he had met, “a man polishing his Ford Sierra, a self-employed electrician,” who had told him, “as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too”.

Blair said: “That man polishing his car was clear: his instincts were to get on in life, and he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.”

Candidate seen as successor to Corbyn says party needs to back working-class aspiration

It may be that the new turn draws on this by Simon Heffer  the New Statesman.

Today’s working-class Tories are defined by their determination to improve themselves and their way of life, and, I think, not to be contained by an idea of welfarism or a paternalism. One needs only to look at some of the working-class Tories elected to parliament in north-eastern seats such as Redcar, Bishop Auckland and Blyth to see this social phenomenon in action.

Rise of the new working-class Tories

Heaven forfend if this time she, or her advisers and spinners, have been reading this:

Most British people are living ever more enriched and enriching lives, even as under-35s are finding it harder and harder to start making their own way. They’re going to the football and the theatre, reading more and buying more books; they’re doing their gardening; going running and cycling; watching box sets at home; going to the pub; knitting, jam making, birdwatching and rambling. Just as British people’s very dense and associative lives insulated them psychologically from the Depression of the 1930s, hampering Labour’s progress then, the party’s basic emotive case just makes no sense to most people. They don’t think Britain’s broken. Labour should stop talking like it is.

Elect and appoint more plausible leaders. Stop promising everything to everyone. Admit that you got it wrong, and allow yourself a truly honest and affecting self-examination. Speak optimistically. Get yourselves straight. Stop it with the hate and the jibes. Stop walking around like you’re the big I am. Break out of your bubble and take credit, not brickbats, for your achievements. Stuff like that. If this sounds like Politics 101, it is – it amounts to just saying ‘sort yourselves out’. It’s a mark of how far Labour has fallen that most of this needs to be said at all.

So what should Labour do now?

The classic strategic book on the need to align Labour to hard-headed hard-working aspirational workers, by hand and by brain, was made in this book: The Blair Revolution: Peter Mandelson and Rob Liddle. Can New Labour Deliver? Faber, 1996.

 

Blair began to do this by accepting the Thatcher Political Settlement.

 

Tony Blair said in 2013,

 

 “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.

“Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability(sic).”

BBC.

Will Long-Bailey accept the hard right Brexit settlement and concentrate on appealing to those who feel they should be rewarded for working hard?

The problem is that Long-Bailey’s incontinent flow of new catch-phrases, policies, and woolly ideas lack any credibility whatsoever.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year (2019).

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Related image

Many things have happened since 1980…

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year.

 

1) George Galloway made  headlines after the General Election when he created the Workers’ Party of Britain, with close involvement of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

The CPGB (M-L), its Eternal Honorary Chairman of the Party and his daughter, Joti, are the scions of which dynasty.

  • The Rabbits of the Br’er.
  • House Targaryen.
  • Brar.

2) The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) split this year over the issue of ‘Mandelism’.

What is Mandelism?

  • A  sweet almond based cake.
  • The ideas associated with much liked and respected Ernest Mandel, the Belgium Marxist economist.
  •  A deadly political virus which brought women’s and gay liberation – political correctness gone mad -into Trotskyism

3) Gilles Fraser, darling of the Occupy Movement outside St Paul’s and fellow traveller of the SWP, has now announced that he is a Tory.

He is the Vicar of which parish?

  • Bray.
  • Dibley.
  • Brexit.

4) Who were the  Socialist Labour Group and why did they resurface during, and after, the Brexit vote?

  • They are doughty champions of national independence and the rights of Rochdale.
  • They are Lamberists,  the deadliest enemies of socialist internationalism.
  • They are part of the Red-Brown front.

5)  The  International Socialist Organization dissolved this year.

What was the name of its respected  paper?

6) James Heartfield was a leading cadre of the Revolutionary Communist Party and has close links to Spiked.

Before bottling out he was going to stand for the Brexit Party in the General Election.

What is his  original name?

  • James Field of Hearts.
  • James Heartfelt.
  • James Hughes.

7) In which European election did the CPB, in the pages of the Morning Star, (wholly owned by the Co-Op), advocate not voting Labour?

  • 1918.
  • 1945.
  • 2019.

8) Anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery is a member or associated with the following?

  • Blue Labour
  • ‘Trade Unionists’ against the European Union.
  • Spiked.
  • The Full Brexit.
  • Kate Hoey.

9) Who is the UK’s most celebrated political vegan?

  • Lord Voldemort.
  • Sauron.
  • Chris Williamson.

10) Pabloism has been in the news again.

Why?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2019 at 11:22 am

Chantal Mouffe Calls for Labour to Revive Failed ‘Left Populism’ as ‘Green New Deal’.

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Image result for chantal mouffe jean luc melenchon

Mouffe Advising M. 6,31%.

In the  1990s Chantal Mouffe was an avid reader of Carl Schmitt. In her take on the German theorist of the fundamental political antagonism between Friend and Enemy, had to become a democratic clash of opinions. (The Return of the Political. 1993.) In the Democratic Paradox (2000) she argued that the “agonistic practice of valuing and sustaining dissent in the democratic process as a more important goal than  consensus.”

Many writers before her, such as Bernard Crick (In Defence of Politics (1962, and five subsequent editions, the last in 2002) and Claude Lefort  (L’Invention démocratique. Les Limites de la domination totalitaire. 1981) expressed (often without needing words like ‘agonistic) through reading Machiavelli, and the history of the left’s relationship to democracy, have argued for the importance of free debate, disagreement, and rows. The French writer, Jacques Rancière has made something of a career out of arguing for the importance of “disagreement” and dissensus (Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy 1998. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. 2010).

Mouffe’s writing was by contrast aimed at a highly abstract set of liberal writers, such as John Rawls, and Jürgen Habermas, who argued for a liberalism based on an “overlapping consensus” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, 1993), or rational consensus “discourse ethics” bases on an ideal agreements (Habermas). It was an academic intervention in a series of related debates.

Since those days Mouffe has, it is said,  begun to engage in real politics.

The book, “In conversation with Íñigo Errejón Podemos: In the Name of the People (trans. Sirio Canos),  2017 had a wider readership than her books, or those of her late partner, Ernesto Laclau, on the way populism could be seen both as a way of “constructing the people” and upsetting the (alleged) political consensus of Western societies.

Since those days left populist parties have tried to put into practice the principle of ‘post class politics’ that ‘federate the people’ against the elite, the casta, the oligarchy – the permanently floating signifier of that the populist ‘revolt’ is said to be against.

In their best known form, in Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), and Podemos, they have reached an impasse.

In France, after getting only 6,3% of the vote in this year’s European elections, LFI faced a major crisis. Some talked of the death of left-wing populism (Le « populisme de gauche » est mort ! June 2019).

The vote of Podemos has declined. They no longer appear an unstoppable force that would replace the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE. Podemos has also split with Mouffe’s friend, Errejón, forming a new party Más País, that is predicted to win seats in the coming elections, and split the left vote further.

Más País, is betting heavily on a version of the Green New Deal. This worth remembering in looking at the Mouffe article that appeared yesterday.

Centrist politics will not defeat Boris Johnson’s rightwing populism

Mouffe repeats her old support for ‘agonistic’ politics.

….fear of populism reveals something troubling about how we currently understand democratic politics. What most people seem to find shocking about Johnson’s strategy is that it involves an “us v them” confrontation – as if democratic politics could avoid conflict between irreconcilable political projects.

But,

Since Thucydides and Machiavelli, we have known that politics involves conflict and antagonism and that it has, by definition, a partisan character. In politics, therefore, we are always dealing with an opposition between “us” and “them” – which means it will always be necessary to draw a political frontier between the two sides.

The post-Marxist theorist repeats the well-worn description of a world in which politics apparently had frozen for decades, from the protests against globalisation, to countless elections, rivalries, changes of government,  to the Arab Spring interspersed.

After decades of “post-politics”, during which citizens were deprived of a voice in the way they were governed – under the pretence there was no alternative – we are now living through a populist moment. Political frontiers that were said to have vanished are now being reinstated, in the name of recovering democracy and popular sovereignty.

She claims that the vote for Brexit was a protest against “post-politics”, although few can recall anything particularly beyond politics’ about the rule of the Conservative-Liberal Coalition dominated by political manoeuvering on a grand scale.

Perhaps people protested against those government’s austerity because of the effects this has on their lives.

But the answer seems to like in the idea that a vote for Brexit was tied up with demands for “Popular sovereignty and democracy”. But was the the anti-EU vote about a real loss of sovereignty and democracy  or the result of a campaign that articulated frustrations on a range of issues (not least immigration) into an “imaginary construction of a nation” under threat from the EU?

Mouffe does not say. Nor does she offer the slightest idea of what “real” popular sovereignty is, putting somebones on the ghostly concept that has floated around politics for over two centuries.

She notes that  “by articulating anti-austerity and anti-establishment sentiments with a nationalistic flavour” they gained support.

By blaming the EU for the deterioration of social and political conditions in the UK, Brexit became a hegemonic signifier – one around which a new “people”, identified as leavers, has coalesced. These are the “people” Johnson pretends to represent and whose will he accuses parliament of disregarding.

Yet many people, given the closeness of the Referendum vote, did not agree.

Why should they have to “understand” people. Why should they listen to Mouffe lecturing them that they should “not demonise all Brexiters as deplorables, or dismiss them for being unable to recognise the intellectual and moral superiority of the European project.”

Either it’s right to argue for Remain – in a strategy of transforming the EU – or it is not.

That is dissensus.

The article offers no answer, or rather one that avoids the issue.

In Britain, as in the rest of Europe, the way to answer the rightwing populist offensive is the construction of another “people” – through the articulation of a project that can link together various demands against the status quo. A project in which both leavers and remainers could feel that they have a voice and that their concerns are taken into account. One signifier for such a project could be a Green New Deal – which articulates multiple environmental and economic struggles around a demand for equality and social justice.

To be sure, such an “us” will never include everybody. It does, of course, require a “them” and the drawing of a political frontier. But we can have a frontier that makes democracy more radical – one that pits the people against the oligarchy, and the many against the few.

That is to plunge into a rusty tool box.

Left wing populist parties have failed to ‘construct’ the people. Targeting the shifting signifiers of the elite has not worked.

As Cédric Durand et Razmig Keucheyan argued, after the defeat of LFI in France, at its best,

L’opposition entre les 1% et les 99% permet peut-être de déclencher un mouvement politique et de l’incarner dans un leader, mais l’empêche de s’inscrire dans la durée.

The opposition between the 1% and the 99%  allows perhaps a political movement to get off the ground and to incarnate it in a leader, but it prevents its long term estbalishment.

There are, they note, fundamental conflicts of interests inside the “people”.

One stands us,  the ‘deplorables’ who back brexit include many, many, people who backed it out of xenophobia.

Understanding them is not just a pleasant sounding word, a wink to the wise, as Mouffe suggests.

It can become part of a left populist strategy.

In Germany, many consider, left populism, with its belief in the “people” “elite” conflict has opened the space to the red-brown politics of national populism.

Pop-Up Populism: The Failure of Left-Wing Nationalism in Germany

Aufstehen’s leaders insisted that their movement was not defined by its opposition to migrants. But they consistently cast migrants as either pawns in the game of finance capital or as the phony poster children of misguided urban idealists.

Theorists of left populism like to argue that “the people” needs an adversary against which it can define itself. Who was “the adversary” for Aufstehen? It was an eclectic group. At its head was Merkel’s government, followed by the forces of what they called “Goldman Sachs capitalism.” Arrayed behind them were a less typical crew for the left: an alliance of migrants (some of whom were suspect followers of “hate preachers of radicalized Islam”) and the naïve leftists who loved them. Together, they played the role of useful idiots for a ruling class intent on driving down wages by swamping the remains of the welfare state.

Against this union of elites and outsiders, Aufstehen offered “the realistic left” a middle approach that distinguished between “forced” and “economic” migration—lest all “competitors for scarce resources at the bottom of society” be given access to the German labor market and social welfare benefits. “If the core concern of leftist politics is to represent the disadvantaged,” Wagenknecht explained, “then the no-borders position is the opposite of being on the left.”

One see how populist rhetoric develops further in this recent interview on the red-brown site Spiked.

Nationalism is the search for a new solidarity’

Red Tory Phillip Blond on Boris, Brexit and the ‘post-liberal’ future.

 I think that what is happening is that nationalism has become a new principle of solidarity. Nationalism is the unifying principle between the vision of ‘Global Britain’ and those people who are demanding solidarity because they’re experiencing insecurity in terms of the care of their parents, the care of the children, and their own situation. There is fundamental realignment going on.

The Green New Deal is not the magic potion to make everybody forget about Brexit and ignore this realignment.

The fight against this nationalist “solidarity”, the rich man at his Brexit castle the poor man at his gate, and for the internationalist anti-Brexit cause, continues.

We need less understanding and more argument, till we have won our case through democratic means.

**********

More reading: 

There are two articles in the latest Historical Materialism which point to further theoretical and practical problems about Left Populism.

Editorial Perspective: Is a ‘Left Populism’ Possible? Panagiotis Sotiris

In contrast to the proposals to think radical and emancipatory politics in terms of a left-populist strategy, we have attempted to present an alternative theorisation based on the dialectical contradictions and dynamics of the contemporary conditions of the subaltern in relation to the possibility to rethink the people, in an anticapitalist, post-national and decolonial way as the people-to-come, the people of the emergence of a new historical bloc. This requires not discursive constructions and rhetorical inventions but a new practice of politics, a new collective elaboration and experimentation for a potential hegemony of the subaltern, in a process that aims to fully unleash the potential of the subaltern for self-government.

Research Article: From the Demise of Social Democracy to the ‘End of Capitalism’  The Intellectual Trajectory of Wolfgang Streeck Jerome Roos

Streeck’s account ends up stripping foreign workers of their status as fellow workers, treating class in narrowly national terms and throwing up a stark divide between the interests of ‘indigenous’ workers on the one hand, and the interests of migrants and refugees on the other. Taken together, these two moves do not only end up obscuring the common interests shared by these groups (in higher wages and increased public spending on education, healthcare and social housing, for instance); they also reinforce a narrative that considers migrants and refugees as mere extensions of the class interests of international capital – and, as such, an existential threat to the integrity of the European welfare state. In the process, Streeck ends up lending legitimacy to the ‘national-populist’ view that immigration, by exerting downward pressure on wages and placing unbearable strains on national welfare systems, constitutes a direct threat to the interests of ‘indigenous’ workers.111 This is a potentially dangerous claim for which there is no convincing evidence. Indeed, research on Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States has demonstrated that in all of these countries immigrants actually bring in more in taxes than they take out in benefits, meaning immigrants, on the whole, far from undermining the integrity of the Western welfare state, actively fund its redistributive policies.112 Moreover, as Tansel and Turner point out with respect to Streeck’s unsubstantiated claims about immigration lowering wages:

… comprehensive reviews on the subject suggest that ‘there is still little evidence of an overall negative impact on jobs or wages’ in the UK. Coupled with the findings of a state-of-the-art research project on asylum seekers which concluded that ‘no clear correlation [exists] between access to the labour market and the number of asylum applications a country received’, it is clear that ‘economic’ arguments against immigration and accepting refugees should be examined under extreme scrutiny.113

And yet, ever since the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015 and the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump in 2016, immigration policy has increasingly become the stick with which Streeck continues to flog the dead horse of the cosmopolitan centre-left. In a 2017 essay for the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies, he even goes so far as to hold immigrant children – as opposed to government cutbacks on education spending – responsible for crowding public schools (so that ‘“white” parents … will find ways to send their children to schools where they learn the national language properly’), just as he construes immigration as a leading cause of urban segregation, contributing to ‘“white flight” from areas where immigrants cluster’, instead of seeing immigrant neighbourhoods as ethnically diverse working-class communities in their own right, which are often on the front-line of the financialisation-driven process of gentrification and among the first to suffer from austerity.114 Elsewhere, in a recent contribution to the social-democratic journal Juncture, he takes the argument even further, directly reproducing the Islamophobic trope that ‘mass migration’ leads to terrorism:

..

 

Again, as with the notion that immigration lowers wages and welfare provisions, there is little empirical evidence for the claim that it leads to greater terrorist violence. Indeed, notwithstanding a number of high-profile, high-mortality attacks in recent years (most notably those in France in 2015 and 2016), the moving average of victims from terrorist violence in Western Europe decreased sharply during the supposed era of ‘open borders’ since the 1990s compared to the bloody autumn days of Streeck’s idealised welfare state in the 1970s.116 Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist attacks in Europe continue to be committed not by immigrants or refugees with religious-fundamentalist motives, but by European citizens with ethno-nationalist or separatist motives.117

Beyond the liberty he takes with the facts, however, the real irony is that Streeck’s own analysis as laid out in How Will Capitalism End? is characterised precisely by such a ‘lack of any vision of a practically possible progressive future’ that he attributes here to immigrant ‘primitive rebels’. Moreover, it seems to be his own incapacity to imagine a feasible egalitarian alternative beyond the current ‘post-capitalist’ interregnum that is now driving Streeck to join a growing chorus of disillusioned social democrats in responding to the neoliberal pressures on what remains of the European welfare state by jealously guarding its last-remaining crumbs from the claims made upon it by migrant workers and their families. It is a development that has, on occasion, seen Streeck’s views on immigration and refugee policy veer dangerously close to the welfare chauvinism of the nationalist right.118

 

The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Review “in the spirit of popular frontism against Brexit.”

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Image result for The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Jonathan Cape. 2019.

 

The Cockroach. Ian McEwan. Jonathan Cape. 2019.

“Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature.” There is no need to scuttle to the reviews of Ian McEwan’s Brexit fable to get the tribute to Metamorphosis. The affecting shape-change of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa is transposed into a pamphlet on beetling Boris Johnson and the project of the ‘Reversalists’ to bring back cash from the European Union.

The Cabinet are fellow bugs. They “eerily resembled humans” despite their “shimmering blattodean core”. This courageous group, with their obsequious (cowed) Spads, would set “the country free from a loathsome servitude”. Has the moment come to squash the lot underfoot, or at least skip these overwrought pages?

Happily the tale shifts. Reveralism, that is, the Brexit project, was a favourite of People with One Idea, “Let the money flow be reversed and the entire economic system, even the nation itself, will be purified, purged of absurdities, waste and injustice.” People should be paid for consuming and a “counter-flow” of money away from the European Union was behind the cause of Reveralism in One Country. The fate of the opposing Clockwise cause was sealed by the promise of “national revival and purification”.

Samuel Butler in Erewhon (1872) imagined, a land in which, amongst other things, the sick are punished for being ill. Reveralism is not such an outrider. McEwan could take the unsatirical panacea, popular on some parts of the anti-EU left, of a solution to austerity through limitless money issues by a sovereign state, in his stride.

A bloody battle with France over fishing rights is equally less than unthinkable. Wetherspoons chief, Tim Martin, manager of pro-Brexit Beer Halls across the country, cannot heat a fish finger without a peroration on the plight of fisher folk under the EU. He weathers, with the backing of US president Archie Tupper, diplomatic crises, and, against the Gallic enemy, the Royal Navy is at the ready. There is a final push for the Reversalist completion Bill. The Royal Assent comes through. You can hear the thump of pint glasses of stale beer even now.

The Cabinet cockroaches celebrate,  “There will be hardship. It might be punishing in the extreme. I don’t doubt that enduring it will harden the people in this great country”. Continuing in pheromone “You have put a human shoulder to the wheel of populism”…..

The Cockroach is not a familiar insect. Some people in Britain may have only rarely seen one. Older readers might recall sentient cockroach creatures in the film of William Burroughs Naked Lunch (1991). Hutu extremists used the word to label Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. One can already see podgy hands at Spiked about to claw into the allegory.

The Cockroach can be read in the spirit of popular frontism against Brexit. It will annoy Brexit supporters. But it would be generous to say that this is better than a squib. It falls short of the ambition flagged up by reference to Kafka’s story. Sams has more of the diatribes against the “inconveniencies of trade” and love of the militia, of Joseph Addison’s Tory Foxhunter, than the words expressing the plight of Samsa and his family. Though this too is far from exact: ancient squires had a certain sincere conviction and more decency than Boris Johnson. Even cockroaches have.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Some Left Responses to Labour Refusal to Have a Policy on Brexit.

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Image result for workers hammer

Key pro-Brexit Constituency Labour has to Worry About.

The Morning Star reports,

A statement by the party’s governing national executive committee (NEC) said: “The NEC believes it is right that the party shall only decide how to campaign in [a referendum on Brexit] — through a one-day special conference, following the election of a Labour government.”

The statement was also reinforced by composite motion 14, that said Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit was “abundantly clear”, which was voted through.

Moments earlier, delegates narrowly rejected composite 13, that called on the party to “campaign energetically for a public vote and to stay in the EU.”

Quoting, exclusively, from the anti-composite 13 side of the debate the Party that calls itself Corbyn’s best friend notes,

Urging delegates to reject composite 13, Sheffield Hallam delegate Sophie Wilson said: “I represent a proud, northern ex-mining community of committed Labour voters and people who share our vision of a country that works for the many.

“Like so many of our heartlands, they also voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU.

“We cannot disregard the 2016 referendum, or attempt to leave behind our heartlands in the same way the Tories have done.

“I urge people to support composite 14 for the good of our people, to unite our electorate, and to ensure that we win a general election and deliver the radical Labour policies so desperately needed.”

Batley and Spen delegate Cath Pinder said: “Since the referendum the Tories have deliberately tried to widen the divide. Theresa May shut out all the 48 per cent who voted Remain as though they did not matter.

“Now Boris Johnson wants to make out it is the public against Parliament when it comes to Brexit.

“Labour will give the people the final say on any Brexit deal — unlike the Tories and the Lib Dems who won’t.”

In a parallel  Editorial today the Morning Star defended its claims to internationalism,

…. support for the EU on “internationalist” terms is contradictory. The EU is a driving force for imposition of unequal trading terms on poorer countries: its subsidised agricultural exports have had devastating effects on African farming. It is a key architect of treaties aimed at prioritising the rights of corporations over the rights of elected governments.

As then commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem told John Hilary, then of War on Want, in 2015, when he pointed to the evidence that a big majority of Europeans were opposed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated with the US, “I do not take my mandate from the European peoples.”

In the end it was Donald Trump, not the EU, that ditched TTIP.

Vote for comrade Trump as the way to get rid of TTIP?

Well, apparently it’s the EU at fault all the way.

If socialists are serious about transforming our economy, challenging the power of capital and planning a sustainable future, we cannot simultaneously act as cheerleaders for one of the most powerful enforcers of the global economic status quo.

…..more serious still is the debilitating effect on our movement when “internationalism” comes to mean support for institutions of the ruling class. A revolutionary socialist movement must know its enemies.

The Communist Party of Britain believes in a Brexit on WTO rules: dump the capitalist WTO?

Fake News site Skwawkbox  also goes folk politics,

SHOWSTOPPER BECKETT TAKES ON ‘CAR-CRASH’ THORNBERRY TO DEMAND SUPPORT FOR CORBYN ON BREXIT

Unite deputy general secretary describes Thornberry’s full-remain position as a ‘car crash’ and brings house down with speech backing Corbyn on Brexit

The Unite deputy, Howard Beckett,

 …..brought the house down with a speech in which he demanded Labour’s conference support Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit – saying that to do otherwise would be to tie Corbyn’s hands in a nonsensical way and describing Emily Thornberry’s attempt to defend her full-remain position on a recent Question Time episode as a ‘car crash’.

No doubt we should all trust leaders, of the stamp of Corbyn, just like that, without indication of what his stand on the key British political issue of Brexit is.

Socialist Worker says,

Labour needs a general election campaign not based on what’s good for business and the EU—but a Brexit which can unite working class people and a fight against austerity and racism, and for action on climate change.

The Morning Star seems to suggest that Britain, free from the EU, without ‘cheerleaders’ for the capitalists, will be ready to become an internationalist state.

That’s ‘revolutionary socialism’ – though perhaps they could indicate what exactly that revolution means with a capitalist British state and capitalist class still in place.

But back to the electoral fall out.

Here is a different angle: Sráid Marx

An Irish Marxist Blog (Extracts)

Corbyn wins and condemns himself to defeat

The Labour Party has just decided, in advance of the general election that cannot be far off, that it won’t tell those who might think of voting for it whether, on the big issue of our time, it is in favour of Brexit or against it.  It wants instead to unite the nation around the belief that this is so unimportant that you don’t really need to know.

According to its leader Brexit might, or might not, be better than Remain, although if you believe what he says about his ability to strike a ‘credible’ deal, that might indicate to you that your support for Labour will result in support for Brexit.

The Labour leadership wants its members and supporters to continue to play the role of mushrooms and to forget that with this policy it received less than 15% of the vote in the European elections. It wants everyone to forget about being out-polled by the Liberal Democrats for the first time since 1910, a party on the way out just before; forget that it failed to win a majority in 2017 with 40% of the vote but has only around two-thirds of that support now in one opinion poll after another.

So, it doesn’t matter because Labour will go into the election with a dishonest position, that makes no sense even on its own terms; that has proved a failure in the European and local elections; that is opposed by the vast majority of its members and big majority of its supporters, and that will most certainly lead to defeat.

Michael Chessum says,

https://twitter.com/michael_chessum/status/1176120174631673856?s=20

 

On Labour List,

Michael Chessum, national organiser of the Another Europe is Possible campaign group that backed the defeated pro-Remain motion, commented: “Labour members, 90% of whom want to stay in the EU, will be deeply disappointed with this decision.

”It is possible that the Remain motion had a majority in the CLPs, but because there was no card vote we will never know.

“Brexit is a project of the Tory hard right. It is about attacking workers, downgrading migrants rights and shifting politics to the nationalist right. Labour beating the Tories is the only path to stopping this project, and it is not to late for Labour to make clear that that it opposes Brexit outright.

“Though it is not the policy we supported, the calling of a special conference to democratically decide Labour’s Brexit policy was a concession which we won. But a fudge is not a unity position. It is deeply divisive among members, and risks losing a large chunk of our voter base.

This vote was set up as a loyalty test, but those grassroots activists who ran the campaign – Momentum activists, people who have fought for the left in Labour for years, know this is a nonsense. We have come so far in pushing Labour’s position towards a public vote, and while we might all be disappointed by this outcome, we must now prepare for the election. If Labour loses, the consequences will be dire.”

Boffy has this line on those running Labour,

I would say that the sour atmosphere created around the  way the victory of the Corbynista loyalist ultras was secured will not go away.

This, from reliable sources, looks an accurate account of yesterday’s Labour vote:

How Jeremy Corbyn stitched up Labour’s Brexit vote, writes Robert Peston

ITV

Labour’s leadership may have failed in the “drive by shooting” of Tom Watson (using his colourful words) but they have totally stitched up NEC and conference Brexit votes – by making sure their supporters were largely in the room, and keeping out those pesky Remainers.

None of this should come as a surprise. But it was still awe-inspiring to watch in action.

The point is that for the past 24 hours, all the attention has been on which way the big unions would vote.

And when Unison turned against Corbyn’s Brexit neutrality it looked as if the Remainers might just squeak a victory. But in the end the unions’ position was irrelevant.

Because the conference votes were done by a show of hands. And guess what? There just weren’t many Remainers on the conference floor.

I wonder how that happened?

It’s a bit like how two crucial 8am NEC meetings were cancelled and requests for emailed submissions on the Brexit policy were made at around midnight on the prior evenings, making it almost impossible for Corbyn’s critics to get their act together.

The Brexit position of the trade unions was always a red herring, what magicians call misdirection. What mattered was who was in the hall.

And that was sorted weeks ago though the choice of delegates.

For spectators like me – who spent 15 years observing the tactics of China’s leaders – all this is quite familiar.

For passionate Labour Remainers, it’s infuriating.

  • Update 20.05:

Just to explain in more detail the preceding points, a senior member of the shadow cabinet told me days ago that constituency Labour Party delegate selection had been organised to favour Corbyn loyalists.

About half those present were trade union delegates, who were thought to narrowly favour Corbyn’s Brexit ambivalence.

And immediately before the vote a delegate made a point of order from the platform alleging there were many in the conference room not entitled to vote – which was a suggestion she thought the vote was not being conducted in a robustly fair way.

Also there were lots of shouts at the end for a card vote, to verify the result via a formal counting process – which showed not everyone present thought the results accurately captured the view of Labour members.

All that said, Jeremy Corbyn won handsomely, which his allies told me he would over the preceding hours.

You can admire or criticise the professionalism of the operation to secure the win.

And of course I regret and apologise for my comparison with China which I thought was a joke but has caused unnecessary offence.

It is of course the case that the Labour leadership in the past would often simply exclude any motion they disliked that looked as if it might win from  getting on the agenda at all.

But they were not supporters of the Theory of Conference Sovereignty and Democracy.

Though the “populist left” where it has any strength (think France, think Spain) has evolved its own methods of excluding and ignoring dissent.

There remain some straws to clutch on:

Now to add to all the fun, there is this: