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Posts Tagged ‘National Populism

Far-Right Rassemblement National set to top French European Polls.

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National Populists Predicted to get strong vote in European Elections.

Elections européennes 2019 : à deux jours du vote, le RN solidement installé en tête des sondages

European elections 2019: two days before the vote, the RN firmly installed at the top of the polls.

Le Monde.

Selon la dernière étude Ipsos-Sopra Steria pour « Le Monde », la liste RN devance de deux points celle de LRM. L’estimation de la participation augmente fortement, à 47 %.

According to the latest Ipsos-Sopra Steria study for Le Monde the RN list is two points ahead of LRM. The estimated  level of participation has increased sharply to 47%.

The party of Marine Le Pen, the Rassemblement National, RN,  (ex-Front National) is at around 25% while President Macron’s list, La République En Marche  (LRM) with the centrist party, the Modems,  ( Mouvement démocrate) of François Bayrou  is at 23%

The once ruling right-wing politicians (under the Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy 2007 – 2012) grouped in the Les Républicains have only 13%

The RN no longer advocates withdrawal from the European Union.

The hard-line sovereigntist far-right, which backs Frexit, with ‘social’ policies of nationalisation and anti-austerity with an end to uncontrolled immigration (resembling the British red-brown alliance), of Debout la France of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, and Les Patriotes of Florian Philippot stand at 3,5% and 0,5% respectively.

According to these figures the Party of JeanLuc Mélenchon, La France insoumise (LFI), has continued its decline and stands at 7,5%.

The Greens (EELV), who have been keen to stress that they are neither right nor left (Ecologie “ni de gauche ni de droite” : la stratégie à l’allemande de Yannick Jadot) , at 9,5% are well ahead of LFI.

The Socialists, Parti Socialiste (PS) have their own alliance, PS-Place publique. The list is led by Raphaël Glucksmann, of Place Publique, a socially liberal forum of intellectuals. he is the son of the anti-Marxist New Philosopher  André Glucksmann.  Glucksmann, fils, is a one-time dabbler in “neo-conservatism” with a controversial advisory role to the former President of Georgia  Mikheil Saakachvili . They are hovering at just over 5% at 5,5%

Both the Communists, the Parti communiste français  (PCF), and the alliance of Benoît Hamon  (former French Socialist presidential candidate in 2016, 6,36% of the vote),  Génération.s, stand well below the 5% needed to get MEPs (both at 2,5%)

It is worth noting that Génération.s, is linked to  DieM25,

This initiative, promoting a Green New Deal,  very much led by Yanis” Varoufakis, which has a European candidacies across the continent  seems unlikely to make an impact.

The far left  Lutte ouvrière is at 0,5% and a Gilets Jaunes slate (Alliance Jaune) is at 1,0%

Génération écologie, the historic bearers of “écologie intégrale”, who have aligned with just about everybody in the long career of  Brice Lalonde are at 0,5%

The Parti animaliste, which backs animal rights, tops all three of them with 1,5%.

 

There was an important article in le Monde yesterday which judged that any alliance between the very disparate forces of the European nationalist populists is likely to unravel fairly quickly.

 L’alliance à contrecœur de Matteo Salvini avec Marine Le Pen »

By the “spécialiste du populisme et des droites radicales Gilles Ivaldi.”

The failure of the French left to present a united front is clearly a major obstacle in efforts to win electoral support, leaving the way open for the RN and Macron list duel.

But this is not all.

The National Populist leaning (suitably mashed up in a Mouffe antagonistic articulation) left magazine Jacobin, could not be wider of the mark with this claim (yesterday):

Given the state of the Left on most of the continent it seems unlikely to benefit from a breakup of the European Union. If recent trends are any indication, the kind of broad social base and political power necessary to implement a bold, socialist exit from the EU is still quite a way off — Jeremy Corbyn being the hopeful exception.

The European Left in Disarray. LOREN BALHORN

Anybody looking at the Labour Party’s probable European elections result (which is certain to see a big vote for non-Labour Remain parties by Labour supporters) will laugh at that “hopeful exception” comment.

Un rire jaune.

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Red-Brown Front News: Galloway Hugs Steve Bannon in Joy at May’s Resignation.

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George Galloway’s New Best Friend.

Most people, certainly anybody on the left, would shun Steve Bannon.

Not so ‘red-brown’ George Galloway

He chose to have a  little chat with his new mate in the dictatorship of Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assemblyspeech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshipers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials. Torture remains common in places of detention.”

Not that Galloway minds:

Here is his cosy little debate there with the would-be mastermind of a European National Populist movement Steve Bannon.

They appear to have some affinity:

This seems to show them really hitting it off:

Well well.

The  above appearance at the “Eurasian Media Forum (EAMF)” – hosted by a free-speech denying dictatorship, follows Steve Bannon’s campaign to woo national populists, beginning with those standing in the European Elections.

L’ancien conseiller de Donald Trump est en France pour appuyer le Rassemblement national avant la tenue des élections européennes, le 26 mai.

Le Monde. 18th of May.

It includes this: Steve Bannon’s alt-right academy — and one village’s fight to stop it.

How an Italian monastery became part of a plan for a populist Europe.
Bannon was not however involved in this:

Most people are, as a result, sceptical about the potential fruits of his labours but he is trying.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2019 at 11:27 am

Ireland, Irexit and the Manipulations of the British National Populist Right.

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National Populists Try to Enter Irish Politics.

(Thanks to Jim for this latest)

For anybody wishing to understand Brexit  Ireland is at the forefront.

Irish commentators, starting with Fintan O’Toole,  whose Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain has marked the whole debate, have written some of the finest articles and books on the issues involved.

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth O’Tool bit the National Populist right of Spiked,

“His sneering at Leave voters smacks of aristocratic elitism.” writes the hybrid Norman surnamed Michael Fitzpatrick.

Anybody who knows Irish people, and left-wing activists in or from Ireland, will realise that a great deal is at stake.

For those who have been asleep for the last few years this is the sticking point,

Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop? BBC.

A key part of the Brexit negotiations was about the border that separates Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Last month, EU leaders approved a withdrawal deal with the UK that includes an agreement on the Irish border.

Both sides committed to avoiding the return of a “hard border” – physical checks or infrastructure – after Brexit.

This is where the controversial “backstop” comes in.

The backstop is a position of last resort, to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.

At present, goods and services are traded between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland with few restrictions.

The UK and Ireland are currently part of the EU single market and customs union, so products do not need to be inspected for customs and standards.

..

And that had been a problem in the UK?

That is an understatement.

If a backstop only applied to Northern Ireland, then the customs and regulatory border would essentially be drawn down the middle of the Irish Sea.

Goods coming into Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK would have to be checked to make sure they met EU standards.

Any separate status for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK is seen as potentially damaging to the union as a whole.

As such, Prime Minister Theresa May continually rejected the EU’s proposal saying it would threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK.

She suggested a backstop that would see the UK, as a whole, remaining aligned with the EU customs union for a limited time after 2020.

Her proposal, published in June, contained nothing about single market regulatory issues, which are probably more important than customs in terms of maintaining a soft border.

The highly recommended Sráid Marx An Irish Marxist Blog discusses the left’s response in depth.

He analyses this aspect of the thorny subject with all the seriousness it needs, in a 3 part series,

Should socialists support a border poll? 1

One consequence of Brexit has been louder demands for a border poll and the legitimacy of a test of support for a united Ireland, on the basis that Brexit breaches the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

I have argued before that Brexit does not breach the GFA although it does exacerbate its failures and does involve increased tension between the British and Irish Governments, who are the custodians of the agreement.  It does catalyse increased instability and it does give rise to expectations that support for a united Ireland will have increased as a result. I have also argued that while this may be the case it is unlikely that a poll would result in a vote within the North for a united Ireland.

Those following the issue have not failed to notice that after its creation earlier this year a party in Ireland advocating Irexit, Irish withdrawal from the EU has got publicity. The Irish Freedom Party, also known as Irexit Freedom to Prosper (IrishÉire Amach: Cumann na Saoirse).

It began with this in February.

 Last weekend, a group of 600 people, drawn to an appearance by leading Brexit flame-fanner Nigel Farage in Dublin, showed that there is some public appetite for an exit from the EU like the British, or at least that more questions be asked about the direction the EU is heading in.

Irexit: Could it be Ireland’s next big political movement?

But it was this, in March, which grabbed wider attention:

British Far Right Extremism Manipulating Ireland

Irexit Parody. Medium.

This story covers the evidence of ongoing British far right groups trying to influence Irish people towards an Irish exit from the EU. These people do not have Irish people’s interests at heart. It is about pushing their own personal Anti-EU, right-wing messaging, while pretending the genesis of that project originated within Ireland.

The excellent article should be read in full but this should whet people’s appetite.

About a month back, after seeing endless UK based social media accounts pushing Irexit, I was drawn into trying to figure out where these accounts originated. The Irexit party seemed to have an official party website created by a fake web development company. (I did get to the bottom of who runs that but I don’t believe they are relevant to this story). However, I also noticed the unofficial social marketing campaign around Irexit, was being run under the Muintir na héireann website and social media accounts. This is where in the terms and conditions of the Muintir na héireann website, I found the first link to infamous British far right individuals. Muintir na héireann’s terms and conditions pointed to the same address as the European Knights Project and Liberty Defenders..

Jack Sen, real name Dilip Sengupta, is a self-styled spin doctor for nationalist movements. He manages websites and social media campaigns to promote his own beliefs and those of prominent figures in far right extremism. In between his regular Skype’s with David Duke (former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan), Jack Sen took time to run for election with his associates within UKIP, only to be thrown out at the last minute for public anti-Semitism comments about labour candidate Luciana Berger’s Jewish ethnicity.

This is the conclusion:

Some serious questions do need to be asked.

  1. Why would, after throwing him out of UKIP, Nigel Farage and/or his associates again use or aid a known neo nazi, to support the Irexit campaign?
  2. How would Hermann Kelly, who lives in brussels working in PR for Nigel Farage’s EU party EFDD, be allowed the freedom to return to Ireland to form a new anti-EU party, without that being the express wishes of Nigel Farage himself?
  3. Where did the Irexit campaign get all its funding from?
  4. Where did the Irexit campaign get all its funding from?
  5. Where did the Irexit campaign get all its funding from?
  6. After Hermann Kelly’s involvement in libertas and that funding fiasco, why would our media choose to give this even a second worth of airtime to platform the next move? https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/politics/ganley-confirms-libertas-got-cash-from-hedge-fund-group-102147.html
  7. Finally it is clear that the Irexit Party do not stand alone but have the backing and support of a cabal of other “independent” candidates and parties. Why do irish people have to go to some random twitter account to see this? Why is our established media not better at explaining these interconnections to our voters? More on the interconnections here — https://twitter.com/IrexitP/status/1126986431065415681/photo/1

Parts of the Irish left, such as the Communist Party of Ireland and the Socialist Party also oppose EU membership, though the latter is not clear if this means just Brexit or Irexit as well.

The Socialist Party, which has 3 TDs in the Dail, makes this observation,

It is essential that the workers’ movement also considers the potential impact of the withdrawal agreement on sectarian divisions in the North. The draft agreement outlines a scenario in which there will be a developing East-West border. This will increase sectarian tension and weaken workers’ unity, and we are opposed to the agreement on this basis. The trade union movement should reverse its current position and come out against the draft agreement.

We have been warned that if the agreement is not voted through the UK will crash out of the EU, and a hardening of the North-South border will then be “inevitable”. If this were to happen it will increase sectarian tension and weaken workers’ unity. We are resolutely opposed to this scenario too. We do not accept that border checks or controls on the North-South border are in fact inevitable. The trade union movement must oppose, and refuse to implement when possible, such measures.

The Brexit Calamity & the Role of the Workers Movement

How this can be reconciled with their backing Brexit, and how such a result could happen, is, apparently a matter for the workers’ movement, in some misty land where everything turns out right if the correct line is followed.

Since the Socialist Party has yet to support Irexit we are left even deeper in the dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enoch Powell, Europe, Farage, the Working Class and the Brexit Party.

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Image result for paul foot enoch powell

Founder of British National Populism.

Enoch Powell was the first post-war politician in Britain to take an openly racist political position.

He, above all amongst Conservatives, is still recognised as a key political figure of the late 20th century.

What is is his legacy?

This is a helpful summary:

The ‘ultimate impact’ of Powell on the discourse on immigration and ‘race relations’ in Britain was ‘to shift it further to the right’.[7] Also taken up by Margaret Thatcher in her 1978 statements on immigration on Granada TV’s World in Action, Powell’s remarks have provided a rudimentary framework for attacks on immigration and multiculturalism ever since.

The Legacy of Enoch Powell. Hatful of History.

Paul Foot wrote his obituary in 1998.

Everyone who wrote about him was certain of one thing: Enoch Powell was not a racist. He ‘said things we didn’t agree with’ (Tony Blair). He was ‘an extreme nationalist, but not a racialist’ (Denis Healey). He inspired racialists ‘but was not a racialist himself’ (Tony Benn). The Tory papers which revered him and called for parliament to be prorogued in his memory would not contemplate the possibility that he was a racialist. The unanimity was complete. Which is all very odd because the most important thing by far about Enoch Powell was that he was a racist pig of the most despicable variety.

The point is easily proved. In a private speech to lobby correspondents some years before he started speaking in public on immigration, he said, ‘Often when I am kneeling down in church I think to myself how much we should thank god, the holy ghost, for the gift of capitalism.’ Powell believed in capitalism just as a religious nut believes in the holy ghost. When fighting elections in Wolverhampton he would spell out the ‘simple choice’ between ‘free enterprise and a planned society’. He gloried in what he called the symmetry of capitalism. Ponderously, with a deliberate form of speech which many mistook for careful thought, he explained how the market drove and inspired the capitalist economy to ever higher summits of perfection. There was only one condition: that capital should be left to find its own place and its own direction.

Beyond the Powell

Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech, in 1968,  issued dire warnings about the impact of immigration, was followed by these working class actions,

After the “Rivers of Blood” speech, Powell was transformed into a national public figure and won huge support across the UK. Three days after the speech, on 23 April, as the Race Relations Bill was being debated in the House of Commons 1,000 dockers marched on Westminster protesting against the “victimisation” of Powell, with slogans such as “we want Enoch Powell!” and “Enoch here, Enoch there, we want Enoch everywhere”. The next day, 400 meat porters from Smithfield market handed in a 92-page petition in support of Powell, amidst other mass demonstrations of working-class support, much of it from trade unionists, in London and Wolverhampton.

This was only the tip of the iceberg. At the end of April showed that 74% of those asked agreed with his speech and only 15% disagreed, with 11% unsure. The controversy divided the country, with many working class people backing Powell. One of my father’s brothers, a shop-steward in a car-plant in the Midlands, agreed with the Tory Toff. For over a decade my Dad refused to speak to him. In my North London secondary school some of the cockneys (often skinheads) and my friends had fights over ‘Good ol’ Enoch’.

Powell was also an ardent opponent of British membership of the European Union, or Common Market/European Economic Community, was it was known in the 1970s.

This was his view. on what was at stake over British membership of this alliance of states based on pooled sovereignty.

The House of Commons is at this moment being asked to agree to the renunciation of its own independence and supreme authority—but not the House of Commons by itself. The House of Commons is the personification of the people of Britain: its independence is synonymous with their independence; its supremacy is synonymous with their self-government and freedom. Through the centuries Britain has created the House of Commons and the House of Commons has moulded Britain, until the history of the one and the life of the one cannot be separated from the history and life of the other.

 Do not be deceived. With other weapons and in other ways the contention is as surely about the future of Britain’s nationhood as were the combats which raged in the skies over southern England in the autumn of 1940. The gladiators are few; their weapons are but words; and yet the fight is everyman’s.

Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out

It does not take much to see these views echoed in the present Brexit debate, from the European Research Group to Spiked and the Full Brexit.

Powell as a National Populist, with race, nation, People., Sovereignty, all welded together by a demagogue.

In 1974  Powell took this line:

Powell described British membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) as “if there be a conflict between the call of country and that of party, the call of country must come first” and went on to say: Curiously, it so happens that the question ‘Who governs Britain?’ which at the moment is being frivolously posed, might be taken, in real earnest, as the title of what I have to say. This is the first and last election at which the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether their country is to remain a democratic nation, governed by the will of its own electorate expressed in its own Parliament, or whether it will become one province in a new European superstate under institutions which know nothing of the political rights and liberties that we have so long taken for granted.

Speech to an audience of around 1,500 people on 23 February 1974 about British membership of the EEC. 

If the electoral system had been different, if ‘start up’ virtual parties, funded by right-wing millionaires and far right US allies had existed, who knows if Powell would have done. He could have led a political force, like the Brexit Party., As it was Powell’s only direct political intervention of any electoral significance was perhaps his call in 1974 to vote Labour, in the belief that they would oppose British membership of the EU.In the 1975 Referendum over EEC membership.

During the 1975 contest  Michel Foot and other left figures of the Labour Party, such as Peter Shore, Barbara Castle, and the right-winger Eric Varley  opposed to EEC membership notoriously appeared on platforms with Powell. Tony Benn would also campaign against the Common Market. The Communist Party of Great Britain clung onto the ‘No’s shirt tails.

Powell ended his political career as an Ulster Unionist, a group whose presence is a key to present Tory turmoil over Brexit

For reasons rooted in their own support for a Sovereign Britain free to make deals with the un-elected WTO, the remains of this patriotic left are keen to underline working class support for Brexit.

The Brexit Bolsheviks even have a direct line to  how the working class thinks.

During the week the daily of the Labour boycotting Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star had this editorial during the week.

Labour must recapture the anger of working-class Leave voters

The rising index of voters signifying their intention to vote for Farage’s Brexit business entity is the direct consequence of the failure of our deeply unrepresentative parliamentary system to give effect to the Brexit vote and, more directly, it is the product of a deepening reservoir of contempt for mainstream politicians.

The Labour Party’s big losses are among people where the Leave vote signified working-class anger.

This is not a healthy situation. Labour needs to recapture its insurgent spirit and find a shared language with the millions of people it needs if it is to form a government.

These are among the millions who seem unprepared to vote for its candidates in next week’s election.

Yet what exactly is the electoral basis of this ‘anger’?

Yesterday Peter Kellner demolished some myths about the working class anti-Brexit vote.

The polls are clear – Labour’s Brexit tactics are failing spectacularly. Peter Kellner

The party is haemorrhaging votes in the mistaken belief that the leave tendency is driven by its working-class base

“A YouGov analysis of more than 25,000 voters suggests the following division of leave voters in the referendum, linked to the 2017 election result.

• Middle-class leave voters: Conservative 5.6 million; Labour 1.6 million.

• Working-class leave voters: Conservative 4.4 million; Labour 2.2 million. (A few of the remaining 3.6 million leave voters supported smaller parties; most did not vote in 2017.)”

“So the largest block of leave voters were middle-class Conservatives, followed by working-class Conservatives. Just one in eight leave voters was a working-class Labour supporter. To be sure, had even half of these 2.2 million voters backed remain, the result of the referendum would be different. But to suggest that the referendum’s 17.4 million leave voters were dominated by working-class Labour supporters is simply wrong.”

Kellner concludes,

None of this addresses the wisdom of Labour’s policy towards Brexit and a new referendum. All it does is indicate that its policy is specifically haemorrhaging remain votes without enhancing its appeal to leave voters. If the party’s aim was to maximise support next week by appealing to both remain and leave Britain, it is failing spectacularly.

This is obviously far from the last word on the electoral sociology of this election.

As this indicates.

But the issue of those working class Brexit backers is above all a political one.

There are still Lexiters (left supporters of Brexit) who believe that the anger of what Kellner indicates is in a majority the rage of  conservative (both small and Big ‘C’) sections of the working class  and their counterparts in the Middle Class Tory voters,  contains within it the seeds of a genuine People’s Brexit, a fight against EU ‘neo-liberalism’.

The kind of “insurgent spirit” of the Smithfield Porters…

They are unlikely to be convinced by Kellner since they have a hotline to what the ‘real’ workers think.

In case others, fed up with the whole show, think this is a battle between two nationalisms, this should concentrate their minds.

The Brexit Party combines exactly the same extreme nationalism, hard line free-market policies as Powell.

Enoch Powell would not doubt have been happy to get this kind of support:

 

From Jean-Luc  Mélenchon’s Left Populism, Andréa Kotarac Defects to far-Right Populism.

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Image result for Andréa Kotarac parti de gauche

From Populist Left to Populist Far-Right.

Many on the French left have long been wary of La France insoumise, the self-styled Left Populist Movement, “point de ralliement (rally) of Jean-Luc  Mélenchon.

One issue has been its ‘sovereigntism’.

That is, putting the demand of popular sovereignty – against the ‘oligarchy’, domestic and European – at the centre of its politics.

A couple of days ago this type, Andréa Kotarac, decided that the far-right rally of Marine Le Pen, the  Rassemblement national, was a better bet for this nation-centred strategy.

French far-left candidate slammed as ‘stink bomb’ for defecting to far right

France 24.

High drama in the French campaign as a far-left candidate calls for voters to back the far right – earning the would-be MEP some choice insults from French far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Andréa Kotarac, a former regional adviser to Mélenchon’s far-left France Unbowed party (La France Insoumise), announced Tuesday that he was leaving the party and would instead back the far right in European Parliament elections in order “to block” President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move (La République en marche) party. Mélenchon responded by calling Kotarac a “stink bomb” and a “traitor”.

In fact there is already a legal process to stop Marine Le Pen’s Party using this support in their election publicity.

 

More:

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Copying National Populism, the Left and Brexit.

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Image result for national populism

The ‘left’ that copied National Populism so much that it joined it.

The deeply affecting Retour à Reims, (2009, translated in 2018) by Didier Eribon  describes growing up gay in a hard working class area of Northern France. His parents who were manual labourers and cleaners. Eribon, who began a University career, and journalist on left of centre papers and magazines,  known for his critical writing on Michael Foucault and gay politics, stayed away from the city of his youth for many years.  His ‘return’  is  physical, visits, but it’s principally a trip through his memories.

Reims is hard to summarise in a few lines. Even so, for once the publisher’s puff is spot on. It is “breathtaking”.  Perhaps one outstanding theme is important for today, when we see national populism rise across Europe, and channel through the rise of the Brexit Party in the UK. In the sometimes harrowing pages he asked “how did people like his working class family who used to vote communist when he was a child, end up voting in such large numbers for the far right?

That is, how did large numbers of ordinary working people once on the left become voters, if not more, for the nationalist right.

“To be a communist had next to nothing to do with a desire to establish a government resembling the one found in the USSR … In working-class environments, leftist politics meant first and foremost a very pragmatic rejection of the experience of one’s own daily life. It was a form of protest, and not a political project inspired by a global perspective.”

Working Class.

His own answer focused on this, as Steven Pool put it in the Guardian review of he recently translated English version, “the problem, as he sees it, is that the left ended up abandoning talk of the “working class”, a political concept through which people could experience fellow feeling with others in the same boat. After the turn in the 1980s and 90s towards talk of individual rights and responsibilities, by contrast, this idea of group feeling, indeed of fraternité, had been atomised. And what took its place was the cynical exploitation and fomenting of anti-immigrant attitudes by the far right, which brought the working class back together but this time under a mood of hostile nativism rather than economic solidarity. The National Front, Eribon asserts, was now “the only party that seemed to care about them, the only one, in any case, that offered them a discourse that seemed intended to provide meaning to the experiences that made up their daily lives”.

Authoritarian Populism.

In his memoir Erbion refers to the work of Stuart Hall on authoritarian populism in The Hard Road to Renewal (1988),  and to Raymond William’s novel Border Country (196) inspired by his own working class origins. Hall tried to explain how people came to vote for Thatcher’s mixture of hard-line economic liberation through a cultural brand of law and order populism that ‘articulated’, gave voice to, their anxieties. Williams helped more personal insights into how somebody may move class but still be moulded by the ‘habitus’ (Pierre Bourdieu, a key reference) of his ‘popular’ (working class) background.

Erbion, who had been a Trotskyist in a group which ignored issues of identity (he does not name the tendency), as a gay man, asked, how can we neutralise this support for the far-right, or the drift to the more traditional right of his brothers?

The most recent – paperback –  French edition of Retour à Reims has an introduction by ‘Édouard Louis.

The gay writer was inspired by Erbion in his own more recent literary career, books which have an international impact (En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule  Le Seuil. 2014.  The End of Eddy. 2017) 

Louis has recently written Qui a tué mon père (2018). translated this year, Who Killed My Father.  It ends in a few moving pages where he rages against the French  welfare reform designed to attack “spongers”.  Since the new millennium  ‘reforms’, which cut disability benefits and  forced his father to accept low paid gruelling jobs, raised prescription charges  and which, through a reduction in Housing Benefit.

Louis’ anger is very easy to grasp in the country of Universal Credit and Pip Disability Tests.

Other themes are also easy to relate to.

For French Communist Party read the  ‘traditional Labour supporting’ North.

Does this exasperation following the end of the traditional working class and welfare reforms designed to compel people to be ‘flexible’ and turn to precarious jobs,  explain the rise of national populism?

Is part of its support mourning for the end of the traditional working class?

Is the Brexit Party surfing on this wave of emotion  able to direct people’s hatred onto the EU.

Anybody reading Lexit (pro-Brexit) left-wing material will find the idea that somehow the salt-of-the-earth working class have been ‘betrayed’ and ignored by the cosmopolitan elites including the rights based  left – not that Erbion or Louis romanticise  past or present workers, beginning with their own families...to say the least!

Today the Guardian publishes this essential read which deals with some of these issues, above all how can the left tackle the support for national populist parties, like the French Front National/Rassemblement National.

It takes apart some of what might be called the mythic interpretation of the working class.

Why copying the populist right isn’t going to save the left

Cas Mudde.

Among the old stalwarts of the centre-left, there is a simple explanation for the decline of the parties they used to lead: immigration. In recent interviews with the Guardian, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and the former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi all sounded the same note, declaring that Europe must “get a handle on migration” to stop right wing populism. Hardly a week passes without some candidate or columnist declaring that liberals will only regain power when they lock down the borders.

 

Mudde continues,

This dramatic shift in the rhetoric of ostensibly centre-left parties is part of a larger panic over how to halt the spread of right wing populism across the west in recent years. The conventional wisdom has been largely steered by a growing group of academics and pundits, often of the right or centre, who offer the same advice: social democratic parties will perish unless they take care of the “left behind” voters by limiting immigration. Some academics now even go so far as to openly defend white identity politics.

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities,” Eric Kaufmann’s polemic dressed up as social science is a key book in this respect. Although it ends with a call for a ‘civic’ inclusive nationalism, Kaufmann’s premis is the ‘naturalness’ of ethnic dislike. Policies have to adapt to this feeling, not try to change it.

The argument that a tougher stand on immigration will revive the social democratic parties – and arrest the rise of the radical right – is based on two basic errors, which together reflect a larger misunderstanding about the historic role of centre-left parties.

The first mistake is the widespread assumption that the rise of rightwing populism and the decline of traditional centre-left parties are two sides of the same coin – both caused by working-class voters abandoning the old social democrats for the nativist message of the new populist radical right. The second misperception, closely related to the first, is that the voters who now support the populist radical right are largely the white working class that used to vote reliably for social democratic parties.

As the data shows, both of these widely repeated assumptions stand on loose empirical footing. In fact, most populist radical-right voters are not working class, and the majority of the working class does not support the populist radical right.

Comrade Cass Mude states,

In fact, most voters for populist radical-right parties were not working-class – and most working-class voters did not vote for the populist radical right. A recent study found that “only” 31% of “production workers” and 23% of “service workers” voted for west European populist radical right parties between 2000 and 2015. And while the FN and Austria’s Freedom party are exceptions – with workers constituting 45% and 48% of their electorates, respectively – the figures are much lower for other such parties, with Italy’s Lega Nord at only 17%, for example.

I could not put this better,

Social democracy is an ideology that supports egalitarianism and social justice through the framework of liberal democracy and a mixed economy. Inspired by the Marxist concept of class struggle, social democracy aims to uplift all marginalised groups. But those who argue that centre-left parties need to pander to white anxiety about immigration are essentially saying that social democratic parties are first and foremost an interest group for “the working class” – which is always, in these accounts, assumed to be white.

..

The key to reviving the fortunes of social democracy is not to pander to the nativism of part of the white working class, but to embrace the ideas and policies that are fundamental to social democracy – egalitarianism, social justice, solidarity, the right to social protection and a comprehensive welfare state. These values represented a widely shared common sense for the vast majority of Europeans in the second half of the 20th century – before their hegemony was eroded by three decades of neoliberal ideas and policies. The only way back for social democracy is to fight to make these values dominant once again.

 In other words, we should be proud of our movement’s history, and seek to build a left bloc in society inspired by these values.

Democratic socialism is inclusive. Our greatest leaders, from Jean Jaurès to Rosa Luxemburg, stood for universal  rights, and universal rights against oppression and exploitation.

It is no more viable to adopt right wing ‘identity politics’ – not too far from the ‘Identitarian’ far right, than it is to develop a US-style politics of coalitions between interest groups, in its academic version a multiplicity of different ‘sectional’ struggles.

Chantal Mouffe, who has been amply criticised on this Blog, says,

What I call the ‘populist moment’ is marked by the multiplication of resistances to this post-democratic situation. Those resistances are manifesting themselves in many different ways, not necessarily in a progressive way. Those resistances are, in a sense, all expressing ‘democratic demands’ – demands for more democracy, for the people to have a voice. But these demands can be articulated in a xenophobic way. This is why we have seen the development of right-wing populism that claims ‘the problem has come from the immigrants’. Those demands, however, can also be articulated in a more progressive way, as a call for the extension and radicalisation of democracy. This is what I refer to as ‘left populism’.

For A Left Populism’: An interview with Chantal Mouffe

To this argument Mudde says,

Although Mouffe stays away from the nativism lite of some other left populists – most notably Sahra Wagenknecht and her new movement Aufstehen (Stand Up) in Germany – she also clearly targets the white working-class voters, particularly the ones the third way lost to the populist radical right. In several interviews Mouffe has said: “When citizens go to vote they see no difference between the choices facing them. That has allowed the development of right-populism. Marine Le Pen speaks to the pain of the popular classes, telling them that foreigners are the cause of their problems. We need another, opposed discourse built on the basis of equality.”

The left populists share the assumption that the (white) working class votes for the populist radical right out of economic anxiety rather than cultural backlash. Hence, once the left provides them with a better socio-economic alternative, they will no longer care about Islam and Muslims.

Another aspect it that trying to turn around national ‘affects’ (emotional bonds to the ‘nation’) in a left direction have not only failed in Spain (not least because the Spanish ‘nation’ is made of multiple nations) but in France where La France insoumise is down to under 10% in the most recent polls.

And this has happened, a leading member who has just announced his support for the far-right party of Marine Le Pen.

As Éric Faisson says,

..my point is not that immigration is a good economic deal, but, first, how come those who are supposed to think in terms of good deals and bad deals don’t acknowledge this, and, second, how come those who are supposed to be critical of all this actually buy into it. In fact, when people say we cannot afford to be nice to migrants because it would be against the interests of the people, they are buying the idea that it is a bad deal. My point is not to endorse the good deal argument but to question the bad deal one. It is really about the racialisation of economic issues, about how those who are racialised (and thus considered ‘naturally’ other or radically alien) are considered worthless, and then by the same token, about how those who are considered worthless are in turn racialised and treated as ‘other’. Such an approach avoids accepting as a fact the opposition between Whites and non-Whites.

He observes,

The problem with the populist strategy, for the left, is that it’s neither left nor a winning strategy. It was even less so during the latest presidential campaign in France: everyone played that same card at the same time, including Macron, with a rhetoric of ‘centre’ populism! Of course, my argument is not just about France. The same considerations apply to the United States. But another dimension becomes apparent there, thanks to the availability of racial data. Trump’s success is not so much among working-class voters in general, but more specifically among the white working class. In a left-wing populist strategy, the racial dimension of the Trump vote is underestimated, and the class dimension is overestimated – whereas it now seems clear that his critique of the establishment was always just an illusion.

Mudde ends with these inspiring paragraphs,

Social democracy needs to reassert its ideals in a way that is inclusive of all workers. It should return to the theory rather than the practice of European social democracy – an egalitarian ideology based on solidarity with all socially weaker groups and individuals, irrespective of class, race, or sexuality. In the early 21st century, throughout western Europe, a growing percentage of the shrinking working class will be female and non-white (or of immigrant descent).

..

The revival of social democracy will require a new cultural and political infrastructure, centred, at first, outside of electoral politics. It should include the trade unions, which, despite weakened membership and power, still have better connections to working people. It should include progressive minority organisations, particularly those focused on socioeconomic concerns, and new grassroots organisations, rooted in local communities.

Above all, to fight national populism we need to build the internationalist left.

The issue of immigration was and still is at the heart of the Carnival of Reaction that followed the Brexit referendum result.

It and the rhetoric of ‘betray’ are tied together.

An alternative begins with a pro-European internationalism against Brexit, in opposition to the Brexit Party and those who wish to copy the ‘populists’.

 

The latest on those who have copied the National Populists.

 

 

Brendan O’Neill Gets the Hump about “McCarthyite assaults on everyone associated with the Brexit Party.”

with 3 comments

Image result for brexit party rally

Far-right outfit, loopy too.

Brexit Party: The elite’s smears won’t work, because they just aren’t true.

Brendan O’Neill opines,

The elite is throwing a lot of shit at the Brexit Party, but it just isn’t sticking.

Ha! Ha! Ha! 

In extraordinary amount of character assassination – or rather, attempted character assassination. Claire Fox’s political past is dredged up, by those who clearly have nothing of substance to say about her political present and her arguments in defence of democracy.

As in:

As in,

Witness Nick Cohen’s boilerplate column in the Observer yesterday in which he bemoaned the media’s failure to shift politics away from Brexit and in a more ‘desirable’ direction – this is the wail of a collapsing establishment horrified that its fury and bluster and conspiracy theories make no impact whatsoever beyond certain parts of London.

Ha!

O’Neill terminates his prose peroration.

Call off the thinkpieces, park the conspiracy theories, chill your McCarthyite urges….]

Not a bleeding chance me old china!

 

See also: on Medium John Rogan