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Posts Tagged ‘National Populism

Spiked Lays Responsibility for El Paso “Eco-Terrorism” on Extinction Rebellion.

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Madness, They Call it Madness: Spiked.

Top Brexit Party supporters, the Spiked/RCP Network have their own unique line on the EL Paso horror.

The chief of Britain’s National Populist Red-Brown Front, Brendan O’Neill, is in a questing frame of mind, and the quest has found its target.

Is Extinction Rebellion to blame for the El Paso massacre? Maybe Greta Thunberg is? Or any one of the commentators who spends their every waking hour bemoaning mankind’s ‘carbon footprint’ and insisting we need to rein in people’s rapacious consumerist behaviour.

After all, these misanthropic ideas, this green miserabilism, this anti-modern guff about humanity being a plague on poor Mother Earth, is a central feature of the El Paso killer’s manifesto. And if Trump can be held responsible for the shootings on the basis that the manifesto echoes his Mexican-bashing, why shouldn’t greens, who pollute public debate with the kind of anti-humanist ideology that clearly moved and enraged the El Paso murderer, shoulder some responsibility, too?

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As with green ideology in general, there is a strong streak of anti-humanism in his eco-obsessions.

O’Neill defends the Christchurch murder from the accusation of neo-Nazism

 The Christchurch killer explicitly said he is not a Nazi but an ‘eco-fascist’.

And the modern far-right,

And yet somehow in recent years, this backward, anti-modern obsession with cleansing nature of foul mankind’s uncaring, destructive behaviour has morphed into a supposedly progressive, leftish outlook.

So really it was a left-wing killing….

Er not exactly, .

No green-leaning writer or activist bears even the remotest responsibility for the horrific acts of eco-fascism in Christchurch and El Paso.

Yet there’s, a ‘however’,

However, what is clear is that, in their search for ideological justifications for their loathing of their fellow human beings, both of these killers landed very firmly upon the environmentalist ideology. They clearly spied in it a moral-sounding, pretend-scientific justification for their belief that human beings are scum, a plague, who deserve to be punished. When your belief system so readily lends itself to violent misanthropy, it is time, surely, to rethink that belief system. The fashionable misanthropy of green thinking is in dire need of public questioning and public challenge.

So the leftist green ideology “lends itself to violent misanthropy” – and to violence.

Some people might describe O’Neill and his minions as “scum”, but we will not…

This is where the line comes from, straight from Trump:

DOWNPLAYING THE THREAT OF WHITE SUPREMACY, TRUMP ADMIN CRIES “ECO-TERRORISM”

The Trump administration tried to downplay the New Zealand terrorist’s white supremacist views and the global threat of the radical right. That’s dangerous.

Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, echoed Conway, claiming that the accused terrorist’s 74-page manifesto had “eco-terrorist passages.” He angrily rejected any attempt to link Trump’s rhetoric to the New Zealand massacre, despite Trump’s long history of denouncing Muslims as potential terrorists.

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The claim that the killer was really an “eco-terrorist” comes from a superficial and historically ignorant reading of his manifesto. In fact, his manifesto does touch on “hedonistic, nihilistic individuals” who are destroying the environment. He says he is an “eco-fascist by nature.” But what Conway, Trump, Mulvaney and much of the right-wing press apparently don’t realize is that Adolf Hitler and the original Nazis saw themselves very much as environmentalists. Among other things, they thought Jews despoiled the landscape, just as the New Zealand killer believes Muslims are doing.

To illustrate the confusionist politics at work here the terrorism smear does not stop the Spiked National Populists from casting doubt on the radicalism of the climate activists;

By contrast, environmentalist campaigns like Extinction Rebellion are, by their very nature, against freedom. They seek to place new limits on human activity: on industry, on economic growth, on our travel, on our diets, and on childbirth.

climate change presents the establishment with an opportunity to manage the little people’s habits, tastes and aspirations.

Extinction Rebellion merely provides a faux-radical gloss to this depressing and stultifying prospect.

Fraser Myers. Spiked (Today An establishment rebellion|: why the elite loves the eco-warriors.)

For a real analysis see this – highly recommended:

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Brexit Party: James Heartfield, (former..) Revolutionary Communist Party Cadre is Red-Brown Candidate Against Jeremy Corbyn.

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Red-Brown James Heartfield Amongst Many Brexit Party Candidates. 

 

Proud of being publicised in Breitbart Hearty links to this:

Brexit Party Ramps up the Pressure on Boris Johnson, Announces New Parliament Candidates

A Brexit Party MEP has reacted with anger to the suggestion that now Boris Johnson is Prime Minister the party should stand aside, insisting that the British people still need to hold politicians to account over the promised withdrawal from the European Union which still hasn’t happened.

Claire Fox, a new member of the European Parliament and, as a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party a key example of the broad political coalition for Brexit Nigel Farage has built, reacted to the suggestion that the Brexit Party could now be merely dismissed by the government as the party announced 50 new candidates ready for a snap election……

 

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The irony won’t be lost on Mr Corbyn himself, who has been a long-standing critic of the European Union but was apparently forced to drop his views after becoming the leader of the Labour Party. James Heartfield will stand for the Brexit Party in Corbyn’s constituency and said of being selected: “I’ve lived in Islington since the 1980s, working in the Council and now as a history teacher… Seeing the way the EU forced vicious austerity policies on Greece and Portugal convinced me we had to get out.

“Free from the EU Britain can make its own decisions about what kind of country it wants to be. I’ve been a Brexit Party supporter since it launched and urge anyone who believes in freedom and in democracy to join us.”

Comment.

Heartfield, a former RCP full-timer and self-styled ‘Marxist’ backer of sovereigntism, is one of those who have welded the Revolutionary Communist Party/Spiked network into the far-right national populist camp. There is debate pm whether he is attracted by the rewards of the Koch brothers or the glory of defending free-market Trump Toady Nigel Farage. Informed commentators agree that the bombastic academic, often called a ponce amongst ponces, represents the lowest form of political life. A true swine.

Updates from the Red-Front to follow….

At least four individuals standing for the Brexit Party are connected with the RCP/LM/Spiked network. James Heartfield (born James Hughes) was a RCP organiser who spent much of the ’80s and ’90s at the heart of the operation. He is standing in Islington North. Heartfield ran as an MEP in May and won’t have paid the £100.

His friend and one time colleague at Living Marxism, Stuart Waiton, also stood as an MEP and is now contesting Dundee West.

Another Spiked/LM writer, Canadian born Kevin Yuill, is hoping to be elected in Houghton and Sunderland South. Mr Yuill is a keen advocate of gun rights and has written tirelessly about how laws prohibiting the sale of weapons don’t stop gun massacres.

Then there’s comedian, performer and financial expert Dominic Frisby, a friend of Lesley Katon via the Comedy Unleashed circuit, who has contributed to Spiked podcasts when not writing ‘comical songs’ about the Brexit betrayal. Mr Frisby told me he applied to be an MEP but was too late and insisted that he did so through the online process like everyone else. But, as a Facebook friend of Ms Katon, it’s not impossible that his distinctive name will have leapt out from the thousands of other applicants.

That may also have been the case with Alaric Bamping, antiquarian bookseller and husband of writer Julia Hobsbawm OBE, who is another member of Claire Fox’s circle. Mr Alaric is hoping to become the MP for Dartford

Labour Left Moves Against Brexit; the Red-Brown Front Bites Back.

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Brexit Party ‘Marxist’ James Hartfield Defends Sovereigntist Line Against this Internationalist Critique.

 

Away from  the slough of mythology that is the Red-Brown Front:

Remain and Reform: A Necessary Strategy or Doomed to Fail?

Comrade Mike Phillips sums up the case against the ‘purity’ of the General Will that the Brexit Red-Browners put their faith in.

It’s worth recalling all this, when we are told that we have to honour the decision of the British people – in a referendum which was held solely to overcome divisions in the Tory Party and to resist the electoral pressure upon it from UKIP – which resulted in an extremely slim victory for the Leave campaign. In retrospect, we can see that the activities of Facebook and other networks, in the 2016 Trump election campaign and in the distortion of other democratic processes internationally, constituted a qualitatively new phenomenon in the undermining of democracy.

Now we can see ‘fake news’ and the forces that weaponise it as part of a much larger subversion. Liberal democracy is under global attack. Putin – another supporter of Brexit for his own geostrategic reasons – has declared liberal values “obsolete”. His singling out specifically of multiculturalism and immigration demonstrate that he is attacking the core liberal beliefs of freedom, toleration and foundational equality, rather than the outworn dogmas of neoliberal economics that helped propel him to power.

Clearly claiming that there is a People that decided to back Brexit is true.

But what indication is that a majority voted for a No-Deal Brexit?

You can vote for a strike, then you vote on the deal.

More to the point though is the premise of the argument:  what is this ‘people’ that secured a small majority?

And then there is Trump, another ardent Brexiteer, who shockingly admitted that he would want to hear dirt on rival presidential candidates compiled by foreign powers. Trump has praised authoritarian regimes from Hungary to the Philippines and Brazil. Brexit in this context, becomes a piece of a much larger attack on liberal, rational, internationalist values from a conservatism that increasingly disdains democracy in order to cling on to its wealth and privilege – or where it does go into electoral battle does so under the flag of toxic authoritarian nationalism.

Democracy, majority decision-making rests on conflict, within the framework of tolerance and respect between opposing views and group.

Just because the vote goes one way does not mean that the process is halted.

We can call this “agonistic” (Chantal Mouffe), motored by the fight by the ‘pleb’ for equality (Jacques Rancière). An influential view on the left is based on Machiavelli’s “republican’ picture of conflict as the motor of liberty. Many on the modern left are influenced by  Claude Lefort’s “democratic revolution” and Étienne Balibar’.”Illimitation démocratique” as an expansion of social decision making across society.

Democracy, for the internationalist left, which sees no inherent national limits, is not based on the transmission of the Will of the People through Plebiscites. Democracy is based on universal human rights, not national sovereignty. The advance of these claims – as the expansion of the concept of rights over the decades has shown, in institutional forms, is potentially unlimited. They are permanent challenges to the structures of exploitation and oppression held together by bourgeois national states.

The demand for British sovereignty, complete with class privilege wired into the institutions, is national populism, or as Mike calls it “authoritarian nationalism”.

This is James Heartfield’s democratic party, the Brexit Party.

It is no accident that Boris Johnson’s support for ‘no deal’ goes hand in hand with this exclusionary, manipulative rhetoric, for example, demonising Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’, all congruent with the racial discourse of Trump and far right nationalists in Europe. Behind Johnson stands Farage, and behind Farage stand the most extreme forces. Farage’s party’s most senior election official publicly praised the far right ‘Tommy Robinson’, one of the best funded politicians in Britain, thanks to US dark money flooding into his organisation.

In these conditions,a Hard Right Brexit,  we have every right to demand a vote on the deal, or on “no-deal”  and on continuing with Brexit or whether to Remain.

Sticking to this theme (there is a lot more in the article, demolishing the ‘Lexit’ left Brexit case) and surveying the state of public opinion and how Labour should react is this,

these tactical considerations must be secondary to the point of principle: the Brexit vote was a nationalist vote. We socialists are not nationalists, but internationalists. We reject the irrational, exclusionary, anti-human ‘othering’ central to Brexit, in favour of a rational, humanitarian, inclusive commitment to a different set of values. ’Lexit’ could not offer this. There was no visible alternative Lexit campaign or narrative and the evidence of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland shows that where the toxic, divisive, insular nationalism of Farage and the Tory right is not on offer, results can be very different.

Mike Phipps Concludes,

So we need to be ambitious. A radical reform agenda would start by setting out an alternative European model – a social Europe that overhauls the existing institutions of the EU, gives real power to the EU Parliament, and focuses on safeguarding the principles of the welfare state, socially useful and environmentally responsible employment and humanitarian priorities in foreign policy. Lobbying abuses and other forms of corruption need to be tackled and a system of ombudsmen created.

In the spirit of democratic debate Labour Hub publishes on the same page a nostalgic look back on the past Labour left opposition to the EU by Paul O’Connell which dismisses “liberal morons”.

Meanwhile back on the Red-Brown Front Line, anti-Irish hate is the new Black.

 

‘Left Wing’ Full Brexit: A Red-Brown Front for Spiked/ex-Revolutionary Communist Party.

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1980s Campaign of the Forerunners of Spiked who now back Full Brexit Red-Brown Front.

Will Labour take a clear stand on Brexit?

Jeremy Corbyn said today (Independent).

On his own party’s position on Brexit, Mr Corbyn reiterated that his party was supporting a referendum in all circumstances, and said even if Labour is in government a public vote would be held on the UK’s exit from the bloc.

He refused, however, to say whether Labour would back Remain or its own negotiated deal if the party came to power.

We’ve got to get in office first to negotiate a deal,” he said. “We’ve got to win an election – if we win an election then we’re going to have talks with the European Union. But at the moment, the danger is a no-deal exit on 31 October with all the problems that brings.”

In other words Corbyn is still chasing the chimera of Labour’s “own” negotiated Brexit.

It is important to look at the forces pushing the Labour Leader in this direction.

Pressure for Brexit comes not just from Labour MPs in Leave constituencies,  or anti-European right-wingers who claim to represent ‘traditional’ Labour values,  and the well-known figures close to the party chief,  like the recent transfer from the Communist Party of Britain, Andrew Murray, former communist factionalist (Straight Left) Seamus Milne, and UNITE leader Len McCluskey.

Since June 2018, the ‘Full brexit‘ , a “network of activists, academics, journalists and policy experts, all on the broad political left. ” has aimed to “revive a genuine left internationalism” by pushing for Brexit.

This front includes Communist Party of Britain members, Labour Leave, Blue Labour figures, supporters (including a Euro Election candidate, James Hartfield) of Nigel Farage’s far right Brexit Party, and even at least one member (an office holder) of the Conservative Party.

A new post by Bob from Brockley charges that this red-brown front was initiated by the hard-line pro-Farage, pro-Boris Johnson, ‘Spiked’ network.

Going full Brexit: from Red Front to red-brown front

One LM initiative in the post-Referendum period was “The Full Brexit”, an avowedly left-wing pressure group launched in the summer of 2018 to reframe the Brexit narrative as one about “democracy” rather than just bashing immigrants. Alongside a smattering of Blue Labour social conservatives and Lexit Marxists, a good half of its 20 founding signatories are RCP network members.

Academic Chris Bickerton has been a Spiked contributor since 2005, when he was a PhD student at St John’s College, Oxford. Philip Cunliffe, Furedi’s colleague at the University of Kent, is another long term Spiked activist. Pauline Hadaway, another academic, is a veteran of the Living Marxism days. James Heartfield was a paid RCP organiser. Lee Jones seems to have been recruited at Oxford around the same time as Bickerton. Tara McCormack is an RCP veteran, as is Suke WoltonBruno Waterfield write for Living Marxism. Other signatories aren’t part of the network but have been promoted by Spiked: Paul Embery and Thomas Fazi for example (Fazi is also connected to the 5 Star Movement). Many are also involved in Briefings for Brexit, which has several RCP veterans on its advisory committee, and some are involved with Civitas. This is a peculiar form of left-right crossover politics.

The RCP then played a key role in the creation of the Brexit Party, again providing “left” cover for a deeply right-wing project. Otto English in Byline Times documents how, in February 2019, a film-maker, Kevin Laitak, a disciple of Furedi, began turning up at local Leavers of Britain groups, telling campaigners that he was making a short film about rank-and-file Brexiters. He then recruited activists who might consider standing for the new BXP, who were then called by a woman called Lesley Katon. Katon told would-be recruits that she was the co-founder of a group called ‘Invoke Democracy Now’, whose activists, English notes, included Claire Fox, as well as Luke Gittos, the legal editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, its editor, Living Marxism alumni Tessa Mayes and Munira Mirza, and Mick Hume, former editor of Living Marxism. Katon herself has several LM connections, and among the candidates emerging from this process were In addition to her client Claire Fox; Katon’s colleague David Bull who spoke at a Spiked event in 2003; James Heartfield, a long-time RCP cadre; Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, a former RCP activist and Spiked contributor; and in Scotland long time Spiked writer Stuart Waiton. Of these, only Fox was placed high up enough a regional list to get sent to Brussels.

Otto English notes that the RCP’s Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and John Heartfield, were in the cavalcade of hopeful Brexit Party candidates paraded by Nigel Farage earlier this month as he launched his bid for the next General Election.

This section concludes.

It gets weirder, because, Otto English reveals, Lesley Katon is an associate partner at a PR company called Pagefield, founded in 2010 by Mark Gallagher, a close associate of David Davis and John Redwood. In 2018, Pagefield recruited almost the entire staff of Bell Pottinger public relations firm which, as English puts it, was expelled from the PR trade body and went into administration in the wake of a secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa.

Comrade Bob’s  post, The RCP’s long march from anti-imperialist outsiders to the doors of Downing Street, cannot be recommended too highly.

The Full Brexit says it believes “that the left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future.”

Here are some more of the people engaged in that worthy task.

Apart from odd-ball ‘left’ sovereigntists like Thomas Fazi and anti-rootless cosmopolitans, such as Paul Embery, the Communist Party of Britain’s Mary Davis and Nicholas B. Wright, are on their supporters’ list, as is Green Party member Larry O’Nutter, better known under his pen name of Larry O’Hara. Other self-styled leftists include Prof Costas Lapavitsas, a supporter of a minuscule breakaway from the Greek Syria party, German ‘left’ national populist Prof Wolfgang Streeck, who writes extensively for New Left Review,  John Tyrrell, of the madcap Socialist Labour Party (prop- Arthur Scargill), Cheryl Coyne, People Before Profit, Lewisham, Ian Wilson, Executive Member, Conservative Association, Kingston Upon Thames….

Here are some more recent statements from the red-brown front.

Red-Brown left ‘sovereigntist’ expresses admiration for Boris Johnson.

Arm of the Spiked Network attacks Left internationalists:

Red-Brown Full Brexit has close links to the Morning Star:

More will no doubt follow as a Non-deal Brexit looms closer.

 

Frank Furedi, How Fear Works: a Review, “The Red-Brown Dreadnoughts”.

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Mr Dreadnought Faces Fear.

Frank Furedi How Fear Works. Culture of Fear in the Twenty-first Century. Bloomsbury. 2018.

“I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech:

That moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.”

The Ancient Mariner. Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

“In recent times” announces Frank Furedi, “ I have given around eighty lectures on the culture of fear a round the world.” This will come as a surprise to many who associate the one-time leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, RCP, (defunct in 1997) Emeritus professor of Sociology and self-identifying humanist with his progeny in Spiked. That on-line magazine is best known for its claims to defend free speech; libertarian attacks on environmentalism, and “political correctness”. So predictable is its “contrarian” stand that a left-wing prophet regularly forecasts coming articles by editor Brendan O’Neill. Unaided I imagined a heavy swipe at Greta Thunberg. A second later and this came up on Google, “The cult of Greta Thunberg.

Over the last couple of years Spiked has been an outlet for pro-Brexit sovereigntist and ‘working class’ nationalist identity politics, and a strident defender of national populism. Funding from the hard-right Koch Foundation is probably as well known as the ideas Spiked and its nebulae of fronts promote (How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain 

Populist politics are far from a contrarian joke. The Brexit Party. In discussing How Fear Works, on the friendly platform of Spiked Furedi said, “critics of populism accuse populist movements of using the politics of fear. But more concerning is the fear of populism.” (The Fear of Populism is really the fear of the masses). He has poured scorn on “project fear” Not only have contributors to the site stood as candidates for Nigel Farage’s rally, but one, also ex-RCP, the broadcaster Claire Fox, is now one of their best known MEPs.

Relentless in his global preaching How Fear Works is, as the author points out, the latest in a number of his fearful works, including The Politics of Fear (2005) That book talked of the end of distinction between left and right. “It is amongst the left-wing intelligentsia” Furedi asserted, “that the greatest scorn is reserved for the ideas of progress associated with the Enlightenment” The “conservatism of fear” could be seen in those protesting “against capitalism” in the ‘alter-globalisation’ movement of the time. Their concerns for regulation and the environment demonstrated a “misanthropic mistrust of human ambitions and experimentation”. (1)

Green Catastrophes. 

In this respect Furedi bears comparison to the jeremiads against the Green movement’s “catastrophism” by Pascal Bruckner, Le Fanatisme de l’apocalypse. Sauver la Terre, punir l’Homme/The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse (2013).  At present one expects The present book on the “ascendancy of the culture of fear” and the “unawareness of any cherished values” is more ambitious. It ranges from such “eschatological anxieties”, the “perils facing society” to the “psychology of fear” and the “way it was perceived in previous historical epochs”. In this respect he asserts that, “History provides an important intellectual resource for illustrating how people managed to tame their fears and move forward.” (2)

A substantial part How Fear Workers is devoted to sociology from newspaper clippings, or rather what I saw on the Web. If the media is not “an omnipotent force” creating the culture of fear, it is Furedi´s prime source. Written into this “cultural script” of dread is everything from population growth, emotional harm, and how “the evidence of reason and science provides the motivation for fearing threats”. This authority is used for “Warnings about obesity, flue epidemics, SARS and superbugs”. Toning down his previous resolutely sceptical approach Furedi indicates that campaigners on global warning sometimes engage in “distortion of evidence”. “Fear entrepreneurs” and “moral entrepreneurs” are out to protect the public. Safety has become a value in itself.  I saw it somewhere on Facebook.

Furedi offers a reconstruction of the place of fear in, a bite sizes, of  the history of the moral imagination of human beings. Personhood he indicates, has drawn back from responding to fear with “wisdom, courage, moderation and justice”. But what ancient virtues can be detached from the societies that embodied them?

Heroic Virtues.

The one time New Leftist Alasdair Macintyre sketched the ancient “heroic virtues” and the Aristotelian hierarchy of virtues, engaged in a “quest” to reunite our fragmented ethics. “Truthfulness, justice and courage” would replace subjective emotivism, the therapist and the ‘value neutral’ manager. Furedi is more ambitious, calling on the “Judaism and Christianity” for “moral principles” and the “contribution of the Ancients – Greeks and Romans – Christian philosophy and the Enlightenment” to back a move forward towards “openness to experimentation” and risk-taking. It is at odds with our “precautionary culture”, though perhaps, amongst the previous “resources” not all together at once. (4)

Moving from the importance of free debate, the need to take risks, the “virtue of courage” we find that a  “loss of faith in public life and in people’s decision-making” runs through modern politics. Like critical theorists of “post-democracy” the one-time Revolutionary Communist is outraged at “contempt for the public”. He, mirroring the often-expressed view of writers such as Jacques Rancière, considers that the term “populist” is used to belittle popular democracy.

Interviewed in 2017 he talked of being a “genuinely committed European” and the welcome Brexit vote. “The EU is risk averse, it believes that if something moves it should be regulated. It represents risk as a form of danger not an opportunity.” The alternative is national sovereignty, “National sovereignty is not simply about waving the flag, it’s about understanding that only through the institutions of a nation state can you have a sense of control over your destiny and hold your leaders and politicians to account. It is only in this terrain that democracy has any real meaning.” How exactly a nation state enables people to take control over one’s (personal or collective?)  “destiny” is not explored. Furedi belongs to that class of people who think that sovereignty gives the power to rule the waves and turn the oceans into lemonade. While negotiating a Brexit on WTO terms.

In his horror story, which extend from the European Union outwards, Furedi   relies on assertions about the power of “political oligarchy ”, the “elite” is working against the masses . Why and how, backed by empirical evidence,  it fabricates ‘fear’ is less than clear. Outside of news clippings and reflections about the philosophy and history of being afraid we have a theoretical and practical vacuum.

For Spiked and the ex-RCP one thing remains clear. Against the home of that upper crust, the EU, stands the Brexit Party. It, after the failures of the labour movement and the actually existing left,  is the bearer of new hopes. National sovereignty in the hands of Farage and his crew looks an unlikely vehicle for open-minded experimentation and risk. Most would consider than the Brexiteers’ political project is centred on creating a safe space for their emotional needs. They have one home in Spiked. It has a niche. It has developed as a pivotal part of the Red-Brown front. Spiked relayed through its allies within the broader Full Brexit and other has reached out to a fraction of some who call themselves ‘left’. They include Blue Labour types worried about the erosion of ‘community’, those raving at the cosmopolitan EU, identity politics that erodes centuries of indigenous working class culture, and who enjoy the odd burst of Shelly from Claire Fox. Nobody can hide that the online magazine and its panoply of allied Academy of Ideas events has allied them to Nigel Farage, the extreme right of the European sovereigntism.

Encouraged by their Dreadnoughts the Brexit Party is already acting on the political stage. Their antics in the European Parliament indicate the poverty of their nationalist ambitions.  It is, as Furedi will recognise, hard to see how we on that internationalist left that he loathes, will lack the courage to continue our implacable opposition to this department of the culture of fear dominated by the “language of emotionalism”.

*****

  1. Page 67 and 11, Politics of fear. Beyond Left and Right. Frank Furedi. Continuum 2005
  2. Page 244. How Fear Works. Culture of Fear in the Twenty-first Century. Bloomsbury. 2018.
  3. Page 127. Page 99. How Fear Works
  4. Page 192 After Virtues. Alasdair MacIntyre. Duckworth. 1987. Page 244. How Fear Works
  5. Therapy Culture. Cultivating Vulnerability in an Anxious Age. Frank Furedi. Routledge. 2004

More material on the origins of Spiked/the RCP:

Triangulating Bobism 2: The Furedi cult

Who Are They? Jenny Turner reports from the Battle of Ideas

Libertarian Humanism or Critical Utopianism? The Demise of the Revolutionary Communist Party Dave Walker

From New Interventions, Vol.8 No.3, 1998

 PLATFORM FOR WORKING CLASS UNITY? THE REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST PARTY’S RED FRONT AND THE 1987 ELECTION

Boris Johnson, the “Trumpification of British Politics” and the Left.

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Our Ruling Class.

Talleyrand – Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754  – 1838) – was the most famous European statesman of his day.

His house. the Hôtel de Talleyrand, was celebrated,

Into this palace, as a spider into its web, he enticed and captured, one by one, heroes, thinkers, conquerors, princes, emperors, Bonaparte, Sieyès, Mme de Stael, Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Alexandre de Russie, Guillaume de Prusse, François d’Autriche, Louis XVIII, Louis Philippe, and all the gilded glittering flies which buzz through the history of these past forty years. All this glittering swarm, fascinated by the penetrating eye of this man, passed in turn under this gloomy entrance bearing on it the inscription: Hôtel Talleyrand.

In the collection of writings from which this comes Victor Hugo described the death of the man who became a by-word by cynical diplomacy.

In Choses Vues the author of Les Misérables  describes his embalming, in the ancient Egyptian style.

The corpse lay in an empty chamber when a valet walked in.

He found that they had left the brain on the side-table.

The servant picked it up, and finding no other way of disposing of it, threw it into the outside sewer.

It is said that people have been looking for someone with Tallyrand’s cerebrum ever since.

Many would say that dealing Boris Johnson would be hard even for the most experienced politician.

El Pais says that “La única persona capaz de derrotar a Boris Johnson —y ya hay precedentes— sería el propio Boris Johnson.” (“the only person capable of defeating Boris Johnson – and there are precedents – is Boris Johnson himself”)

The European Press is full of such scorn for the man Le Monde calls a “buffoon” (while politely asking him to stop being one):

Le Monde, in an excoriating editorial, said Johnson had shown himself to be “a stranger to logic and convictions” in a career rich in “deceits, blunders and failures”. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum he “told lies on the side of a bus, promised the UK could have its cake and eat it, and compared the EU to the Third Reich,” it said.

As foreign secretary he “made his country an object of ridicule around the world with his amateurism, flippancy and ignorance”, France’s newspaper of record continued. Rivalling Nigel Farage for populism, Johnson’s “jingoistic rhetoric” promised Britons an unrealistic “glorious global future”.

His threat to withhold the €39bn Brexit divorce settlement would have “incalculable consequences”, damaging the international credibility of a country priding itself on being a champion of the rule of law, Le Monde said. And for the EU a Johnson premiership would mean “a mini-Trump across the Channel, dedicated to its sabotage”. Britain would become “a hostile principality, built on social, fiscal and environmental deregulation.”

Amongst the articles cited by the Guardian this stands out (Corriere della Sera)

Lord Chris Pattern says that Johnson is part of the ” una “trumpificazione” della nostra politica., the Trumpification of our politics.

He is equally,

Trump’s poodle: a liar who does not pay attention to the detail of reality, tells people what they want to hear and relies on their ignorance”.

Patten said Johnson exemplified the “collapse of rationality, of the relationship between the facts and what we believe” in present-day politics. “What he is offering is impossible.

All this looks as if it implies some serious thinking about changing Labour’s strategy.

A bounder in his own bailiwick is going to be hard to dislodge.

The Trumpification of British politics has begun; it does not look if a hasty declaration of an “insurgency” against Johnson is going to thwart it.

To begin with there is the impact of start-up political business, The Brexit Party. Helped by the ‘red-brown’ front, not to mention the support of former leftists, it has become a political player, and how to fight it. The Brexit Party is part of a broader trend towards national populism, which has helped dislodge the left from its historic bases of support in Italy and France. Left-wing populisms – in France and Spain – have been unable to counter the nationalist call to fight ‘oligarchies’ and ‘elites’ on behalf of the Nation.

The Brexit Party is not about to vanish:

Is an appeal to our own ‘identity politics’ of the people, the left-behind, the self-identifying native working class better than trying to build alliances on universal, internationalist,  fights for rights and interests?

Then there Johnson’s strategy: will Farage assist the disintegration of the Tory party, or will the Brexit Party pave the way for his victory as part of a new “great moving right show” that can resonate  deeply into the country’s electorate and culture ? Johnson hopes to rebuild the electoral support that got May- just –  elected and to extent it. How can an alternative be created from shards from the same ideology, which, the experience of European left populism indicates, is a sure way to strengthen the carnival of reaction, not to challenge it?

All these issues boil down to one: the Brexit project. Will Labour let Johnson pursue the goal – however much he twists and turns over the details – of a Hard Right Brexit, the only actually existing Brexit.

Apparently the Lexit left has the answer: it needs to back their version of Brexit.

The Morning Star editorialises.

..the trade union movement and the left has to make a decisions it to remain stuck in an increasingly sterile and immobilising debate for and against the EU? Or is it to shift the ground to the kind of withdrawal from the EU that must be secured to protect working people and to advance a progressive agenda that can beat the Tories?

Only class politics can defeat Johnson in Labour’s working-class heartlands. The dangers of not preparing are too serious to be contemplated.

The beginnings of a different approach are there, and have strong support on the left.

This is an excellent reply to such views:

Labour must re-energise the Corbyn project by opposing Brexit

witnessing the party’s continued ambiguity and evasion, many of the members who resolutely defended Corbyn as leader in the face of an establishment onslaught are asking themselves whether the values of straight-talking honest politics only apply if you agree with the leader. Going into a general election with the current policy on Brexit would be disastrous. By bringing its policy back into line with the democratic will of its members, and anchoring its support for Remain in a programme of cross-border resistance, Labour can clearly differentiate itself from the pro-business globalism of the Lib Dems and the utopian optimism of the Greens to win back disillusioned supporters.

With a vision aimed at defending the interests of all workers, British or not, Labour can win here and lead a Europe-wide offensive against capitalist exploitation. Co-ordinating this cross-border coalition will require conferences and organising events attracting activists with shared goals from across Europe. Labour can be the force to convene such events on a mass scale, to begin the fight for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Left Media Review, Labour, Brexit, Tories and the aftermath of the Peterborough By-Election.

with 2 comments

front page of the guardian

Brexit Can’t Be Wished Away by Calls for Labour ‘Unity’ around pro-Brexit Policy.

The Morning Star was one of the first off the block to respond to the Peterborough result.

Labour unity around their pro-Brexit policy was, their Editorial on Saturday asserted,  the only basis for electoral victory.

Tory disunity is Labour’s opportunity. But it must take it

Jeremy Corbyn’s determination that the party must stand for working-class unity and move beyond the referendum’s divisions stands vindicated.

….

… Labour’s chances of forming the next government rest on finding a principled basis for uniting the labour movement with and within the party that best represents its diversity.

The only credible basis for such unity lies in convincing a decisive majority of voters, most particularly Labour’s core constituency of skilled and lesser skilled workers, that Corbyn meant it when he said Labour would respect the referendum result.

A wide spectrum of opinion in the party understands this simple truth. It needs to become a decisive majority.

Socialist Appeal , which now poses as a leading voice on the Labour left,  told everybody who dissented to shut up:

Labour victory in Peterborough silences the cynics

The began with the spotlight on the ‘Blairites’ and the Jewish Labour Movement’s “plan”.

The plan was that Corbyn was to take the blame for allowing a hard-right, hard-Brexiteer MP to enter Westminster, having already overseen a tepid performance in the recent local elections and a poor one in the Euros.

Yet,

The Blairites, for their part, were more bitterly disappointed than anyone. Labour’s temerity to win in Peterborough represented a major setback for all their hard work to sabotage the party and finally get rid of Corbyn.

They went onto say this,

Brexit was supposed to be the ultimate expression of this cultural divide, with people culturally identifying with their stance on the EU to a far greater degree than any social class. The Euro elections were seen to confirm this, with the Brexit Party and strongly-remain Lib Dems gaining at the Tories’ and Labour’s expense.

Many on the left of the Labour Party (including so-called socialists like Owen Jones and Paul Mason) bought into this propaganda.

Despairing at the rise of the Brexit Party, which had apparently lulled the working class under the spell of racism and nationalism, these pessimists and sceptics concluded that Leave constituencies like Peterborough were a lost cause, and that Corbyn had to embrace a second referendum to at least hold onto his middle-class Remainers.

Who cares what the “middle class” think and vote, surely the sturdy working class would see the wool being pulled over their eyes.

As apparently they could

However, the 2017 general election and the Peterborough by-election both show that class-based demands can bridge the Brexit gulf. The by-election also proves that the European election results are not a good measure of Labour’s potential for success in a general election. The party’s vote share in the by-election was up 14 percent compared to the EU elections last month.

That is, when Labour came behind the Liberal Democrats…

This demonstrates that plenty of people who voted for other parties over Europe would return to Labour in a general election – as long as it runs on a bold, anti-austerity programme.

Apparently,

It has also vindicated Corbyn’s refusal to back a second referendum. It is very possible the result might have been different had the party gone down this route. Between this victory, Corbyn’s address at the Trump demo, and the newly launched tour of public rallies (‘Labour Roots’), there is the potential to take the initiative back to the grassroots.

After the Peterborough result, Corbyn challenged the Tories to “bring on” a general election. “We’re ready”, he said.

It is imperative this is accomplished as soon as possible, taking full advantage of the Tories’ internal crisis, and in order to avoid being bogged in the Brexit myre.

John Rees from the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is less sure.

He observes that, “concerns about a new coup” against Corbyn, “have persisted”

Writing yesterday the leader of a successful, several thousand strong march to demand a general election earlier this year he says,

 the issue of remaining in the European Union and of a second referendum which may prove even more consequential.

He has this stark warning against plotters,

the danger in this comes less from increasingly discredited figures like Tom Watson and those who support him in this argument such as former revolutionary socialist Paul Mason, who now calls for the sacking of Seamus Milne, Corbyn’s trusted head of communications and strategy.

It comes rather from members of the shadow cabinet who, although they were not part of the original Corbyn left, and although they share little of Corbyn’s radicalism, have been seen as loyal to Corbyn because they have observed the discipline of being Shadow Cabinet members.

Rees wants Labour to demand a People’s Brexit,

It would be better if Labour did not break faith with working-class Leave voters, and returned to the policy of a People’s Brexit, silently and stupidly retired before it had the chance to pull together both those who voted Remain but respected the referendum result and those who voted Leave.

How the left can take the initiative

A contrasting approach is taken by Socialist Resistance.

Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry are correct on Brexit

The article, which is important and should be read in full, begins,

The Corbyn project is in crisis, writes Alan Davies. The EU elections results were a disaster for Labour, brought about by a major failure by the Corbyn leadership. It was an election that Labour could have won and within the terms of the policy agreed by conference last year, but this policy was repeatedly watered down by the front bench.

This is a crisis that is a direct threat to the most important development ever on the left in Britain in modern times; the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party, which has opened up a real prospect of a left anti-austerity government at a time when world politics is moving to the right. That prospect is still there but the Labour leadership’s stance on Brexit, the issue that defines politics in Britain at the present time, is going to have to change.

..

Had Labour placed itself at the head of the growing anti-Brexit movement the result could have been very different. Overall, the European election vote was pro-remain with pro-remain at 40.3%. and hard Brexit at 34.9%. The Brexit party result was no surprise. It is not a new party as Farage claims but UKIP mark 2. UKIP polled 28%in the last EU election and this transferred to Brexit with some additional votes mostly from the Tories.

Although Labour went on to win the Peterborough by-election – which was important in that it denied momentum to the Brexit Party at this point – it did so on a reduced vote and because the Brexit vote was split (equally according to John Curtice) between the Brexit party and the Tories and reflected the same underlying situation. The Labour candidate, Lisa Forbes, who beat the Brexit party by just 683 votes, argued that her campaign had been successful because it had ignored Brexit and concentrated on local issues. This is a seriously wrong analysis that has been widely accepted on the Labour left and in particular by Momentum.

Davis continues,

The danger with this fence sitting is that it is based on avoiding crucial issues. On the one hand, the further away we get from what was already an undemocratic referendum – in that EU citizens and under 18’s were denied a vote – and as material circumstances changed, the less legitimacy the 2016 result has. This has never been challenged by the Labour leadership. Even worse was the idea that it would be possible to leave the EU without reducing the living standards of the vast majority in the process, or that there could be a Brexit that protected jobs. Ironically those areas where the majority voted leave which may well suffer most if Brexit goes ahead.

There is another very important reason as well to have a second referendum, and actually the most important, that is because it has become a democratic right at this stage of the Brexit shambles to have another vote. A second vote is itself a democratic right as circumstances change. Democracy can’t be a once off event that must be imposed despite the consequences and impact on peoples’ lives. The government has failed to implement what was promised in the referendum and crashing out without a deal cannot be remotely seen as what people voted for then the natural process must be to go back to the voters.

In the Clarion Martin Thomas is equally direct on the Peterborough result.

Labour won essentially because the Tory vote held up better than in the 23 May Euro-elections. Enough Tory voters thought that they will soon have Boris Johnson or another hard-Brexiter as leader, and so no longer have to protest by voting Farage.

Labour still lost many votes to Lib-Dems and to abstention.

The easing of pressure to oust the 3 Ms, the Milne-Murray-Murphy group who run the Leader’s Office, is not good. Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray are longstanding Stalinists, and responsible for shaping Labour’s shameful evasions on Brexit and antisemitism.

Those evasions affront most members, and demoralise and lose members. They affront most Labour voters, and lose votes.

They have ruined Jeremy Corbyn’s personal standing with the broad electorate. The latest poll (YouGov, 5-6 June) had Theresa May, at 29%, scoring much better as “best prime minister” than Corbyn, at 17% – even after May had resigned!

To all appearances, Corbyn is demoralised.

Labour after Peterborough

There is another aspect to take up , the depth of the fight against National Populism, something which the internationalist left and this Blog, have had underlined.

Mike Phipps puts this clearly in Labour Hub

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

In Europe and beyond, the rise of rightwing economic and political nationalism is producing a polarisation into two distinct camps. On the one hand, there are those that support rational, tolerant, liberal, humanitarian, internationalist values and on the other, those that support irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values. We must be the most consistent part of the first camp.

Internationalism should guide our approach to Brexit too. If leaving the EU were right for Britain, it would presumably be right for all member states, and logically we should call for the destruction of the EU and all its institutions. In practice, few argue for this. Internationally, all other significant socialist currents want to Reform the EU, which implies Remaining.

..

It’s time for a change of strategy. We are not economic nationalists, but nor are we content with the neoliberal European order. Above all, Labour is more credible when it is clearly advocating what it believes in, putting forward real solutions to problems, rather than trying to tack between different interests within the movement. Let’s press the  reset button and commit to a distinctive socialist policy towards Europe – radically overhauling its institutions to make them work in the interests of the many, not the elites.

Comrade Mike may well be right in stating the following, but we have to do everything we can to promote the following stand,

In the unlikely event of a new referendum, we should seek to break out of the binary choice of Leave or Remain and focus on Reform, which obviously entails Remaining. But it separates us from the passive Remain camp of the Lib Dems and Change UK. Our message is radically different: the EU is not fit for purpose and must be radically restructured.

The polarisation of poltiics, the evidence of those who support “irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values.” could be seen in the previous post on this Blog, from the identity politics of Spiked.

For all their bombast about ‘Blairites’ the Lexit left are remarkably complacent about their allies in the Brexit camp.

The intellectual centre of this camp is the Full Brexit.

Its “mission” is  “to reshape Britain for the better” – with Brexit. The “left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential”

This brings together  supporters of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and Counterfire (such as Feyzi Ismail),   Blue Labour ( Lord Maurice Glasman, ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ Paul Embery) , prominent New Left Review contributor, Wolfgang Streeck, the Somewhere versus Nowhere People David Goodhart, Edouard Husson (for a French right-wing for everybody, “. Une droite de la France pour tous),  Labour Leave, the self-identifying ‘left-wing’ national sovereigntist, Thomas Fazi, and Spiked supporters and other Brexit Party members and supporters.

It published this piece in the run up to the European Elections,

“A signatory of The Full Brexit’s founding statement explains his decision to stand for The Brexit Party. All of Britain’s major political parties are committed to a feeble Brexit in name only, or cancelling Brexit altogether. TBP is the only major force fighting to defend democracy by carrying through the referendum result, and deserves the support of everyone committed to a Full Brexit.”

As good as The Full Brexit has been at marking out the left-wing case for Brexit, it has not been able to give those ideas a clear organisational expression. There is no Full Brexit Party in a shape to challenge Tory and Labour Parties at the election.

I have joined with the Brexit Party to put myself forward as candidate in Yorkshire and the Humber. I am working with some great people, like Lucy Harris who organised the Leavers of Britain Group, and the libertarian Andrew Allison.

To say we disagree on many things is putting it mildly. But every one of the Brexit Party candidates is committed to Leaving the EU and to democracy. No other party with any prospect of a hearing is even standing on a Leave platform.

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

 

This should focus people’s minds when thinking about why fighting Brexit is part of a wider battle against National Populism and our own Red-Brown Front.

Perhaps this is a good sign..