Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Marxism

Communist Party of Britain Calls for Unity Behind Anti-Monopoly Alliance.

with 7 comments

Image

Communists to Promote Unity Candidates Against Labour.

As the class struggle intensifies and working people are uniting in a struggle for popular sovereignty against state monopoly capitalism in the EU and Britain the British Communist Party has launched an appeal for an anti-Monopoly People’s Convention for all those against monopolies and for People. 

COMMUNISTS CALL FOR UNITY AGAINST MONOPOLY POWER

 

 

Britain’s Communists renewed their call for large-scale public ownership in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that research, development and manufacturing addressed people’s health needs at home and internationally, instead of seeking market share and maximum profits from the NHS and private treatment for the rich.  Mr Greenshields, a former trade union president, welcomed the growing readiness of workers and their trade unions to resist attacks on jobs, employment contracts, pay and pensions, urging greater unity between them in each sector of the economy.

The CP executive endorsed his call for an alliance of labour movement bodies, the People’s Assembly and other campaigning organisations to oppose monopoly domination of government policies and the economy.  ‘We need an Anti-Monopoly People’s Convention to highlight the negative role played by big business in our society – and to highlight an alternative strategy’, Mr Greenshields proposed.

Cdes frantically searching for old books on State Monopoly capitalism, the theory that a fusion of the state and big business has led to this stage of capitalism, will recall that, “The strategic political implication of the theory for Marxist-Leninists, towards the end of the Stalin era and afterwards, was that the labour movement should form a people’s democratic alliance under the leadership of the Communist Party with the progressive middle classes and small business, against the state and big business (called “monopoly” for short). Sometimes this alliance was also called the “anti-monopoly alliance”.”

Ally of the Morning Star, ‘Tribune’, has also been unearthing the theory.

The Era of State-Monopoly Capitalism

Grace Blakeley

The challenge we face is not, then, primarily arguing for more state intervention. Instead, we must concern ourselves with how state power is being used — and who is wielding it. By the end of this crisis, a tiny oligarchy of politicians, central bankers, financiers, and corporate executives will have further expanded their power in the global economy. The challenge for the Left will be to hold them to account.

The only way to do so will be making the case for radically democratising our economies and our states. Publicly owned corporations must be governed by workers, consumers, and representatives of the general public. Our economic institutions — most notably the central bank and the Treasury — must engage ordinary people in their decision-making processes.

When this crisis is over, our collective capacity to expand, manage, and plan economic activity will no longer be up for debate. The question we will face is who is undertaking that economic management, and in whose interests.

Few would dispute the important role of the state, acting with business, has played a central role in governing large areas of the economy during the Coronavirus crisis. Whether it is has reversed decades of globalisation, and the internationalisation of finance, trade and production flows to recreate a state monopoly capitalism is another matter. Brexit, which the CPB enthusiastically  backed, was not just a national neo-liberal project but an international free trade strategy. Those who supported ‘Lexit’ ended up paving the way for trade deals that will reinforce this internationalisation. The  ‘tiny oligarchy’  has bases beyond any one state. Amazon and Microsoft only some of the most visible indications of the depth of the process of globalisation. They show no signs of disappearing..

The political problem is equally,  what is the social force behind an anti-monopoly alliance? The CPB casts its net wide, out to ‘labour movement bodies’, though they are not as all-embracing as the kind of ‘democratic alliance’ which seems to be behind Blackley’s call to “ordinary people”.

Or to put it simply: how does standing candidates against Labour help build ‘unity’ for the CPB  alliance?

In another unity move the Socialist Party and the RMT are holding this conference soon.

Come to the TUSC local elections conference – 7 February

Fighting back against Starmer’s new, ‘New Labour’ – including at the ballot box!

Starmer’s Labour cannot be trusted to stand up for ordinary people. That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is preparing to stand across the UK this May in the many elections taking place.

Howie reports on the latest:

Spelthorne Labour Councillors quit and may link up with far-left TUSC

 

Another unity campaigner Chris Williamson, who seemed to back TUSC, appearing on George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain (Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist, pro North Korean):

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 2, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Human Rights and China: Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK.

leave a comment »

Image

The Internationalist Left supports Human Rights everywhere. 

Human rights have been at the centre of left politics since 1789. Some people think that because Marx criticised civic rights under capitalism, and, in “On the Jewish Question” (1843)  considered them a product of bourgeois political culture. That they are themselves bourgeois

“The rights of egoistic man, of man separated from other men and from the community.”  Robert Fine, Marx’s basic criticism was that within political society people were seen as co-operative, while in their economic roles they were competitive, individualistic and egoistic. In short, the theory of rights expressed the division and alienation of human beings. Robert Fine defended socialist approaches which tackled these limitations.

As Paul O’Connell points out, for Marx, in his early writings,

the limited form of political emancipation provided by the attainment of the rights of man ‘certainly represents a great progress. It is not, indeed, the final form of human emancipation, but it is the final form of human emancipation within the framework of the prevailing social order.

He adds,

throughout their lives both Marx and Engels, while entertaining no illusions on the matter, wrote repeatedly in defence of the rights to free expression, protest and the right to vote.

And,

the Provisional Rules of the First International, which Marx also wrote, begins with the affirmation that ‘the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule’.43 The Rules further ‘hold it the duty of a man to claim the rights of a man and a citizen, not only for himself, but for every man who does his duty’.

ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTION
Paul O’Connell.

The First International brought forces together, many of them from a labour movement which had been formed in the mould of (in Britain and Ireland) of the ideas of Tom Paine’s the Rights of Man (1791). French socialist parties of like the  Parti Ouvrier Français, POF) founded in 1880, also adopted this language.

More recent debates on human rights which began in France the 1970s have raised the issue of how human rights are defined by people themselves. Writers have considered how the demand for rights affects political society and creates new movements and institutions which shape the ‘community’. For some abstract human rights are not a political strategy only serve to cover up what would today be called liberal military interventions and wordy domestic statements. But for the philosopher  Jacques Rancière, human rights have been embodied in  movements   have come from the oppressed, the, the demos, the people who have had no rights, those outside existing insitutions.

…the Rights of Man become the rights of those who have no rights, the rights of bare human beings subjected to inhuman repression and inhuman conditions of existence. They become humanitarian rights, the rights of those who cannot enact them, the victims of the absolute denial of right. For all this, they are not void. Political names and political places never become merely void. The void is filled by somebody or something else. The Rights of Man do not become void by becoming the rights of those who cannot actualise them. If they are not truly ‘‘their’’ rights, they can become the rights of others.

Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man. 

The most celebrated original instance of those who had no rights demanding rights is Olympe de Gouges. She wrote the  Déclaration des droits de la Femme et de la Citoyenne in 1789 in response of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man which denied female suffrage, and kept patriarchal laws in place.

A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker’s platform

For her opposition to the Terror Olympe de Gouges was guillotined.

“Yesterday, at seven o’clock in the evening, a most extraordinary person called Olympe de Gouges who held the imposing title of woman of letters, was taken to the scaffold, while all of Paris, while admiring her beauty, knew that she didn’t even know her alphabet…. She approached the scaffold with a calm and serene expression on her face, and forced the guillotine’s furies, which had driven her to this place of torture, to admit that such courage and beauty had never been seen before…. That woman… had thrown herself in the Revolution, body and soul. But having quickly perceived how atrocious the system adopted by the Jacobins was, she chose to retrace her steps. She attempted to unmask the villains through the literary productions which she had printed and put up. They never forgave her, and she paid for her carelessness with her head.

The democratic revolutions of the last centuries, described by writers such as Claude Lefort and Pierre Rosanvallon, have seen many of the right-less making new demands. The Trade Union movement, based on class struggle,  can be seen as one of the greatest human rights movements in history.The women’s movement, the gay movement, and green movements, have expanded the range of what we think of as rights.

We should not just fight for our rights, but as internationalists defend the rights of those deprived of rights.

This is a cause we should back.

And this: Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK

For everyone’s safety and due to the Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions in London, we unfortunately can’t hold our usual monthly protest at the Chinese embassy on 5 January. But that doesn’t mean the campaign stops – read on for events and activities coming up!

“Terror Capitalism: The Enclosure of Uyghurs in NW China/Xinjiang”

Online talk & discussion with Darren Byler
3pm (UK time) Saturday 9 Jan
More info & free registration

Researcher Darren Byler will be speaking to open a discussion about the factors of profit and power behind the regime of repression, surveillance and forced labour to which the Uyghur people are subjected. This is part of a series “China & the Left: Critical Analysis & Grassroots Activism” hosted by Gongchao. Attendance is free but please register!

Write to free tortured, imprisoned journalist Zhang Zhan

Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan has been imprisoned and tortured in China. Her crime? She was charged and convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking quarrels” after travelling to Wuhan last spring and reporting critically on the government’s response to COVID-19.

This is not only an assault on freedom of speech and of the press – in the middle of a pandemic, the ability to scrutinise public health measures is a matter of life and death. Please support Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaign to demand her release.

Write to MPs: end Uyghur forced labour, end all forced labour!

If you haven’t already done so, you can still email your MP and the UK Parliament’s Business Committee to demand new laws clamping down on the global corporate giants exploiting forced labour – not only in China but around the world. Please see our letter-writing guide.

Follow and share our social media

Please help spread the word about our campaign by supporting us on social media! Follow us and share our posts on facebooktwitter and instagram.

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss Speech Attacking “Foucault” and “Post-Modernism” Cancelled by Government.

with 7 comments

No photo description available.

We’ve all been ‘aving a laugh about this today.

‘Bonkers’ Liz Truss speech pulled from government website

The Independent.

Rant about Foucault replaced with note saying content has been redacted

….after appearing in full yesterday on gov.uk, by Friday lunchtime large swathes of the speech had been cut and replaced with a note saying that “political content” had been redacted.

One such redacted passage, which included a bizarre rant about French philosopher Michel Foucault, read: “While we were taught about racism and sexism, there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write.

These ideas have their roots in postmodernist philosophy – pioneered by Foucault – that puts societal power structures and labels ahead of individuals and their endeavours.

“In this school of thought, there is no space for evidence, as there is no objective view – truth and morality are all relative.

Was Michel Foucault a ‘post modernist’?

The word came into social theory and political usage in the 1980s (it has a long history in architecture  and literature) with Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition, (La Condition postmoderne  1979). Lyotard announced the end of ‘grand narratives’. Lyotard professed a preference for this plurality of small narratives that compete with each other, replacing the totalitarianism of grand narratives”.

Number one was Marxism, un récit of progress, the rise of the working class, and the socialist – Marxist –  vanguard party, which he now rejected. He did have something to say about science, which nobody can remember, among the lines of how knowledge became accepted within a scientific community.

While he had a background on the left, including a Marxist phase associated with Socialisme ou Barbarie, Lyotard did not speak about “societal power structures” still less labels. Many argue that his views, that there was no all-absorbing ‘meta-lnaguage’ was a democratic stand, accepting a plurality of different viewpoints, and indeterminacy” rather than totalitarian certainty, was simple pluralism (See for example, the essays, when he was still read, in Judging Lyotard. Editor Andrew Benjamin 1992).

Lyotard acknowledged his debt to Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose latter philosophy influenced the  Ordinary language philosophy school, emphasising the everyday usage of words and word ‘games’ popular in Oxford during the 1940s, Not doubt Liz Truss would have a word to say to the revolutionary Oxford graduates of the 1950s.

One of the best intellectual biographies of Foucault, The Lives of Michel Foucault by David Macey (1994) has no index entry for Postmodernism,  Foucault talked of ‘regimes of truth.’ emphasised the way power (in his sense,  a positice force, linked to some ideas from Nietztsche) and what is accepted as ‘real’ are mixed, “‘power/knowledge’ to signify that power is constituted through accepted forms of knowledge, scientific understanding and ‘truth’. He used the concept of a “discursive formations”, an idea that he had developed from his earlier work The Archaeology of Knowledge, and put them within both subjective and objective power structures. Power in his sense meant both the capacity to create and the ability to override opposition, an every-present force of its own.

What this argument seems to mean is that what is presented as a truth and what is presented as ethical can be looked at through the ways they are accepted and are part of social structures. It does not say that truth as such is  “relative”. Were this case everything Foucault tried to show as an ‘archiviste’ and ‘généalogiste’ working in libraries and archives would have been a waste of time and he could have just concocted his writings up while sitting in his bath (a view which some hold..).

Many people have seen in Truss’s comments the old far-right claim that ‘cultural Marxism‘ is at work behind these ideas. Alt-Right Ipswich Tory MP Tom Hunt has been one peddling  this idea recently.

Foucault was no Marxist – his work is directed against Marxist theory. There is no space for class conflict, exploitation and modes of production in his theory. Efforts by Nicos Poulantzas to synthesise a picture of Foucault’s disciplinary power into a Marxist account of the state have left little lasting imprint (L’État, le pouvoir, le socialisme, 1978).

His own contacts with the left wing prisoners’ campaigners rooted in Maoist Marxist-Leninism ended with a convergence between himself and the figures from that camp who became the violently anti-Marxist nouveaux philosophers. While initially backing human rights campaigns for dissidents under Soviet rule, and supporting the Vietnamese Boat People, Foucault took a much further rightward turn when he saw in the Iranian uprising against the Shah a new revolutionary force to celebrate: Islamism.

Foucault’s stand in favour of Khomeini and Shia Islamism has earned the lasting hatred of progressives.

“The Western liberal Left needs to know that Islamic law can become a dead weight on societies hungering for change. The Left should not let itself be seduced by a cure that is perhaps worse than the disease.
-Atoussa H. Iranian feminist, in response to Michel Foucault, November 1978

Foucault and the Iranian Revolution Janet Anfray and Kevin B. Anderson. 2005

(Download for free)

Michel Foucault’s Iranian Folly

Jeremy Stangroom on Michel Foucault’s political naiveté.

Foucault was precisely seduced by the popular uprising in Iran, which he claimed might signify a new “political spirituality”, with the potential to transform the political landscape of Europe, as well as the Middle East. Thus, for example, in his October 1978 article, “What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?”, he adopted an almost mythic rhetoric to describe the revolutionary struggle:

The situation in Iran can be understood as a great joust under traditional emblems, those of the king and the saint, the armed ruler and the destitute exile, the despot faced with the man who stands up bare-handed and is acclaimed by a people.

And he added reassuringly that nobody in Iran envisaged bringing about a political regime in which clerics would have a controlling or even supervisory role. Rather, the popular uprising was aiming towards a “utopia” or “ideal”, which involved a notion of “advancing toward a luminous and distant point where it would be possible to renew fidelity rather than maintain obedience.” He added that in pursuit of this ideal, “the distrust of legalism seemed to be essential, along with a faith in the creativity of Islam.”

In the particulars, Foucault was effusive:

Islam values work; no one can be deprived of the fruits of his labour, what must belong to all (water, the sub-soil) shall not be appropriated by anyone. With respect to liberties, they will be respected to the extent that their exercise will not harm others; minorities will be protected and free to live as they please on the condition that they do not harm the majority; between men and women there will not be inequality with respect to rights, but difference, since there is natural difference. With respect to politics, decisions should be made by the majority, the leaders should be responsible to the people, and each person, as it is laid out in the Quran, should be able to stand up and hold accountable he who governs.

As I say, we on the internationalist hate that Foucault.

 

Let us also mention this, (Tendance Coatesy)

At the time Maxime Rodinson discerned the potential in the clerics for the totalitarian exercise of that power in the Iranian movement. If he charged Foucault with ignorance about the ambitions already apparent in Islamism, from the Moslem Brotherhood onwards, others have questioned the ‘anti-modernist’ project itself. In a comprehensive study of these writings, Janet Afray and Kevin Anderson (Foucault and the Iranian Revolution. 2005) ask ““Did not a post-structuralist, leftist discourse, which spent all of its energy opposing the secular liberal or authoritarian modem state and its institutions, leave the door wide open to an uncritical stance toward Islamism and other socially retrogressive movements, especially when, as in Iran, they formed a pole of opposition to an authoritarian state and the global political and economic order?”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2020 at 5:24 pm