Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘New Left

Exclusive: Tariq Ali on Progressive Military Coup in Myanmar.

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Tariq Ali has the Lowdown on Myanmar.

Exclusive.

Breaking News.

Tariq Ali sat in the attic of his Islington Town House. The veteran of many a revolution, he was honing his combat skills. Zionist Space Invaders flashed across the screen of a games console. He wove between the Jewish laser cannons and blasted a flying saucer to smithereens.

There was a sound from the Smartphone.

The urbane public intellectual and former guerrilla picked the device up,

“Take a chill pill old Red Mole, its all so bogus, like, I’ve gotten the real dope on Myanmar.”

The Californian intonation could not disguise the voice of an old comrade, who had raised himself  to the level of comprehending the historical movement of imperialism as a whole.

“Halloa Perry! What ho? “

Mr Anderson continued, now speaking his mother tongue.

“Burma’s Margaret Thatcher is gone gone gone! Por tanto, the  general mouvance, has, after una estación de tránsito, what is dominant’ will never be exhaustive of the phase in question, Ha-at-tu-si ma-ak-ke-es-ta nu-wa-ra-ta-pa DINGIRMEŠ-is sal-la-i ha-as-sa-an-na-i da-a-er.”

Tariq smiled as he recognised the familiar Hittite tag.

“Insider Source?”

“You bettcha!”

“Next issue of New Left Review or shall it be the London Review of Books?”

“Get the news out pronto!

This was the Myanmar Moment, PR, steps forwards, who would have guessed?

The Street Fighting Man recalled the days in the Quartier latin leading the crowd to occupy the Sorbonne.

He called an old comrade.

“Bonjour Edwy Plenel! ” Tariq continued in the language of Molière, “Je suis un Revolutionary, je habite  à the south of Islington.”

As the story was unfolded the top French insider journalist exclaimed,  “Bougre de crème d’emplâtre à la graisse de hérisson!

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Farewell to Perry Anderson: “Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy.” (the EU).

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Perry Anderson and the French Left After Macron. | Tendance Coatesy

“It may grate that, for all its woeful shortcomings – think only, beyond … realm – Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy” Perry Anderson Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the  University of California Los Angeles.

Briefings for Britain, a pro-Brexit site, is in love.

Perry Anderson’s evisceration of the European Union’s past and present in three long articles in the London Review of Books is remarkable in at least three ways.  First, for its lucidity and intellectual richness: my summary can in no way substitute for reading the whole, which I strongly recommend.  If many of its arguments are broadly familiar to critics of the EU, they have rarely been so cogently expressed, or with such controlled anger and command of detail.  Second, because it comes from a leading Left-wing intellectual—though this will be no surprise to Left-inclined Leavers or to those who have followed some of Anderson’s earlier writings.  Third, because it appears in a journal whose overwhelming majority of readers must be archetypal metropolitan Remainers: so all credit to the LRB’s editors.  I look forward with anticipation to a flurry of Letters to the Editor attempting to reply to Anderson’s indictment.  But so far, not one.

……

The final article, ‘The Breakaway’ (21 January), continues its examination of the political history of the EU focusing on Britain’s relationship with ‘the project’ from Macmillan to Johnson.  Few Brexiteers, I think, would disagree with his overall interpretation.  He discusses several prominent British commentators, both Remainers (noting the ‘weakness’ of their stance, attacking Leave but offering no vision of Britain in the EU, and averting their gaze from its defects), and Leavers.  Among the latter, he recognizes the ‘substance’ in the ideas of our friends Noel Malcolm, Richard Tuck and Chris Bickerton, who differ in their political starting points but agree on the legitimacy of Brexit.  Given his own political views, Anderson is a stern critic of the British system of government.  This makes the comparison he draws with the EU all the more compelling: ‘for all its woeful shortcomings … Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy.’

 

A devastating indictment of the EU

Robert Tombs

Perry Anderson offers a critique of the European Union, a history of Britain’s relation with the EU, and an account of the Referendum and the vote to Leave. The tone of that critique is summed up in these passages, on the EU Court, the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the Central Bank.  “The founding fathers of the Court, notes Anderson, included former Nazis, an Italian fascist, and a French collaborator: nearly all appointees were not lawyers but politicians…” And so it continues, ” corrupted by immunity in their occupance  (sic) of power”

Those familiar with Anderson writings over the last decades, which found admirers not just in Briefings for Britain, but a former foe, who found much to relish in his anti-EU écrits, the late Roger Scruton, will no discover more than an endlessly indulged proliferation of citations, books garnered from every nook and cranny, to support the view that the EU is a bad, failing, thing, full of “tawdry episodes”, whose effects have been to “dilute sovereignty without meaningful democracy, compulsory unanimity without participant equality, cult of free markets without care of free trade..”

The length of the present LRB  articles, the periodic style of the sentences, hides some crude and contentious judgements. An orrery of errors, as one of the leading thinkers of the First (pre-Anderson) New Left, E.Thompson might have said, were he not also a fervant opponent of the ‘Common Market’. Basically, there is very little of the new left left.

Politically, the two camps were divided by contrasting perceptions of what was at stake in the referendum. The Remainers consisted essentially of two groups, those who were moved principally by cultural issues and those principally by economic issues.

For the first group, composed of the young and most of the well-educated, the driving force was overwhelmingly a hostility to chauvinism – a rejection of the blind xenophobia and racism that threatened, they believed, to make Britain a suffocating prison of reaction. For the second group, leaving the EU threatened living standards, which were bound to drop cruelly on exit. Leavers were also divided into two groups. For the first, overwhelmingly located in the plebeian categories C2DE, the key issue was control over their own, and the country’s, destiny, something that could only be secured by departure from the EU. For the second, it was recovery of the independence that had been the basis of Britain’s prowess in the past. To these more general considerations, control of immigration and borders came second. Close to three-quarters of Remainers thought Britain a better country than thirty years earlier; nearly three-fifths of Leavers thought it worse.

Contrast with this, after a lengthy paragraphs on the way that, kept outside the Euro, voters felt no danger in voting to Leave.

The masses who voted for Brexit believed they were striking a blow at Brussels and the neoliberalism under which they had suffered for a quarter of a century. In reality, that neoliberalism – harsher than anything on the Continent – was British in origin, and could be overthrown without any of the instant penalties that would have been incurred if the UK had been a loyal member of the EMU. As for those who voted against Brexit, their warnings of disaster were for all immediate purposes irrelevant.

So in other word “taking control” was in Anderson’s eyes, with the unique talent for reading voters’ thoughts about “neoliberalism’, as they speak about all the time down the Duck and Dog.

Anderson describes the ‘shenanigans’ of the Second Referendum movement.

He proceeds to patronise left wing anti-Brexit supporters.

within their general mouvance, the youthful cadres of Momentum that had formed the shock troops of Corbynism shifted to an increasingly militant pro-Europeanism. This development, however, made clear a substantial gap between aspirations and abilities. That a passionate internationalism moved the new recruits to the idea of a second referendum was clear. But what kind of internationalism was it?

For a start, and a finish, not many of us can speak foreign languages….”. Among the young, an internationalism that is so largely sentimental yields solidarity with other Anglophones, of Commonwealth or other backgrounds. But in any wider or more lasting sense, sympathies without skills lack depth and staying power.” So welcome to the post New left world of the Anglosphere, joining the ERG and Nigel Farage.

Or, so the Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the  University of California Los Angeles  who has spent most of his academic career in the USA, tells us.

And, well that’s our effort to work for Another Europe, it’s just not Possible….

The mysterious synarchy thwarts them. Our “mouvance” – French for a “sphère d’influence”, in orbit of – a locution Anderson struggles with instead of simply saying wider movement – has come to nought.

Reforms, it seems, don’t work, never did, but then Anderson also gave up on revolution long ago, his songes of dual power,(Arguments in English Marxism, 1980s), replaced in New Left Review, with a wholesale slow burn up of leftism and any hopes for the European left. Post-New Leftism without apologies is the new mass line.

The man who once blamed the failures and supine position of the British working class movement and the Labour Party for its deference to institutions, the UK failure to experience a Second Democratic Revolution, is now prepared to acknowledge the superiority of the Palace of Westminster, imbued with the ghost of Hobbesian sovereignty, an election system that gives result that “that bear no resemblance to the divisions of opinion in the country; an unelected upper chamber crammed with flunkies and friends of the two dominant parties; an honours system devised to reward bagmen and sycophants” to the  wily manoeuvrings of Continental elitists.

A lengthy stay in Anderson’s well furnished library has shown us all up.

We could begin our re-education by reading this further marvel from Briefings for Britain,

Variable Geometry: Global Britain’s Opportunity Post-Brexit

Former diplomat Nick Busvine argues that we are already seeing positive signs of a more coherent and influential foreign policy as Global Britain begins to exploit the freedom of manoeuvre offered by Brexit.

Update

Sráid Marx  has posted today, on Anderson’s fellow Lexiteers, aka the Gammon Left.

Is learning from Brexit possible?

Last week the ‘Financial Times‘ revealed that the Tory Government is working with big business on plans to tear up those workers’ rights enshrined in EU law.  This would include ending the 48-hour limit on the working week; changing rules on work breaks and ending the inclusion of overtime pay in holiday entitlements.  This is the list reported but there are undoubtedly others.

That this was one purpose of Brexit and its likely effect was both predictable and predicted, it comes as a surprise to no one.  Yet large swathes of the Left in Ireland and Britain supported it, although much less vocally in Ireland because it is so unpopular.  In any case their support for it has assisted putting in place these projected attacks and is indefensible and inexcusable.

An analysis of why they took such a position would have to look at such things as an originally opportunist position becoming hard-wired into their politics; their nationalist perspective arising from the view that the nation state will introduce socialism and come to embody it; general simple-minded opposition to the EU on the shallow grounds that it is a creature of capitalism, and the strong tendency to have a more concrete idea of what you are against than what you are for.  There’s also a large dose of ignorance and stupidity involved.

The significant role of stupidity first hit me when I read that left supporters of Brexit were complaining that the negotiations on the British side were being conducted by the Tories.  Further examples became clear when they, like the rest of the Brexit movement, demanded a harder Brexit as the only one worthy of the name, and for the same reason – there was no point otherwise.

Now that even a blind man can see what the future invites, what are the chances that this left will reconsider its support for Brexit and the political approach that led to it?  What might this involve?

Well, much of this left also supports Scottish nationalism, which perhaps should be no surprise since this too involves an obviously nationalist project that harbours illusions in a separate capitalist state.

Read the full post through the link above.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2021 at 12:47 pm

A Critique of Susan Watkins – New Left Review – on “After Brexit”.

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Image result for susan watkins new left review britain's decade of crises

Let Brexit Be Done!

 

“Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve got, and from one of people too; that makes it harder to bear, eh? Never mind, he’s worse off than you are.” It was, 1814, the time of the French Restauration. London had been celebrating a visit by His Sacred Majesty, the Bourbon King Louis the 18th. Zachariah Coleman a Dissenter and Radical, had not doffed his cap as the French King appeared. Hit by a burley Drayman’s fist, saved by the intervention of the above Major, the hero of The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane (1887. Mark Rutherford, W.H. White) could stand for the left after the blow of December’s General Election. We are still reeling as the People have cheered, or at least, voted, Boris Johnson into office.

In Britain’s Decade of Crisis, Susan Watkins talks of this present-day “restoration”. “The Tories are back in office with their largest majority since the 1980s, thanks to the long-ignored northern working class”. Like the Bourbons, the PM’s “ traditional ruling-class persona” gave the trappings of “decisiveness, vitality, enjoyment”. Rolling these phrases the Editor of New Left Review sees no cause to revise her judgement on the Leave victory in the 2016 Referendum. “Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret this knocks against it, against which the whole global order establishment – Obama, Merkel, Modi, Junker, to Xi – has inveigled.” (1)

In another return to the old order New Left Review clutches at Tom Nairn’s portrait of British capitalist development. The “rising bourgeoisie was absorbed into the existing aristocratic state and civil structures”. “The world dominance of the City of London served to divert investment away from the northern industrial regions: higher returns were to be found overseas.” To cut a long, and contentious, story short, the country ended up with this: “While London remained the financial capital of Europe, ‘outward-orientation’ in the era of bubblenomics was above all Atlanticist.”

In other words, leaving the EU was not a knock to the neoliberal global order, or to “southern-based financialised capitalism”. Those gaining from “bubblenomics”, some of the funders of the Leave movement, show that much. The multinational state, Nairn’s bugbear, which he calls by the laborious name of Ukania, may be under strain. Watkins cites the ‘Scottish Rebellion’. She does not mention the sage’s speculation that “the breakup of Britain will be accompanied by the dissolution of its heartland or Southern nationalism into a larger European entity”. (2)

UKIP’s ‘National Independence” movement.

A belated English national independence struggle, led by UKIP, and with wider roots in the Northern Rust Belt, fuelled the demand for Leave. “England without London”, the alliance of the “disaggregated” working and middle classes who backed Leave, the ignored “will of the working class” given voice in Tory support is the result. But like the former mining and industrial districts of Northern France that have turned to Marine Le Pen, this is an alliance of the less-well off with their betters, the traditional reactionary wing of the right. French and British legitimists may add colour to the bloc; former mining families, self-pitying pathos. Racism, xenophobic, the germs of popular base for national populism, could be cited. They are not. One equally suspects that Simon Kuper is onto something when he talks of the “middle class anti-elitist” as the vanguard of Leave support, not the working class and poor ‘left behind’. (3)

Britain’s Decade of Crisis skirts over the movements against austerity that grew after the 2008 Banking crisis and state cuts. The People’s Assembly, run at the top by the small left group, Counterfire, funded by trade unions, such as UNITE, it galvanised and brought together grassroots protests. Prefiguring the election of Jeremy Corbyn, anti-austerity campaigns brought together left activists, local councillors, trade unionists and a big slice of community groups. Many involved joined the Labour Party – actively encouraged by the unions, and the transitional stage of supporters’ membership – under the new leadership. Some saw this as the basis for Labour insurgency, a challenge to “capitalist realism” in civil society. Yet, paradoxically or not, the anti-austerity movement began to fade the moment Jeremy Corbyn was elected and Momentum was floated as the new ‘social movement’. There is little doubt that placards and demos can only go so far when confronted with Council budgets and the Fortress of the DWP. (4)

Labour, Corbyn and the Media.

Watkins jumps to the challenge “from the Labour Left under Jeremy Corbyn: an appeal to redistribute wealth and recast foreign policy, distancing the UK from NATO’s wars.” We learn little about how Labour’s team prepared to turn these policies into a digestible form and the criticisms they faced, up to, and during the election about the unintelligibility and volume, of their plans Indeed the difficulties that the ‘Corbyn project’ faced are externalised.

We hear a lot about how the Parliamentary Party tried to frustrate Corbyn, and a great deal, a very great deal about the media’s hostility to Labour. The “Labour leader came under an unprecedented three-way assault—from the establishment intelligentsia, from his own parliamentary party and from opponents of his anti-war foreign policy.”

Nobody pointed out, that blaming foreign wars, with barely audible qualification, for the Manchester bomb attack – mass murder – was factually and politically doubtful. Nobody questioned Labour’s failure to give more than tepid support for Syrians killed by Baathist, Russian and Iranian forces, or do anything to back the Kurds, to back democrats against Assad, was reflected the ethically bankrupt ‘anti-imperialism’ of key Corbyn advisers. Nobody mentioned it in New Left Review!

Instead the issue of anti-semitism loomed over all others. She concludes“… given the scale and toxicity of the establishment onslaught, besides which the concoction of the Zinoviev Letter in 1924 appears the work of amateurs, the first duty is to salute the moral integrity of Corbyn and his courageous Jewish allies.” This no-holds, no concessions, defence offers little to resolve an over-commented issue. It is hard to credit that Corbyn supporters who reacted with as much vitriol as their critics helped resolve the issue, or that the way some treated the Labour Party as  a place to play out their absolute anti-Zionism, was not the best way to deal with a predictable attack from this quarter, helped. 

“The media’s anti semitism campaign represented a damaging assault on Corbyn’s Labour from above.” Far from the only one, but Watkins is eager to go for the next issue. “Brexit hurt the party from below—dividing it from an important section of its historic voter base.” Again, without surveying the influence of those called the Corridor Cabal, who backed Brexit even more enthusiastically than Watkins, or the turn outs on some of the biggest mass demonstrations ever seen in Britain, for remaining in the EU, she concludes, “ Instead of proposing an alternative solution to the crisis, as in 2017, Labour was the main force blocking the implementation of the popular vote, in a defence of the status quo—aligned with the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, the ‘Remainer elite’.”

Let Brexit be Done!

Any attempt to stop Brexit was not only doomed, it frustrated an alternative. “Corbyn could have avoided this position by giving Labour mps a free vote on Brexit legislation in 2019, ‘according to their conscience’, as Harold Wilson had done on the divisive 1975 referendum on the UK’s entry into the Common Market. With the ‘northern group’ voting for the bill and two dozen Labour abstentions, Johnson would have been denied the chance to make electoral hay out of the obstruction of Brexit, and the prospect of combating a much weaker Tory administration would have lain ahead at the next election.”

In other words, Labour should have let Brexit pass. The Northern patriots would have been appeased, Johnson, his key policy given the green light, his own remain opponents tossed aside, and pro-EU protesters rattled, would be in a mess. Or “much weaker”.

With the blessing of hindsight  Zachariah Coleman should have tipped his hat to the Bourbon King.

Having cheered him on his way, the Dissenter would only have to wait till 1830 to see the elite gone, and a fine musical, Les Misérables, written to celebrate it.

What now for Labour and the Left. Momentum, according to some reports, has frazzled out. Long-Bailey looks unlikely to hold the Corbyn candle. The pro-Corbyn left is fragmenting.  “The new left keeps open the prospect of taking the fight to the terrain of the future with bold solutions for inequality, climate change and the international order, as the Corbyn leadership tried to do” states Susan Watkins towards the conclusion of the New Left Review Editorial. This looks like a rerun of the alter-globalisation folk politics of the past, without any prospect of power.

What constituencies should the new left and Labour address? Reworking the themes of the Somewhere and Nowhere people, the Metropolitan and the Periphery, the political and electoral cartography stands as this: For Paul Mason, the progressive alliance of the future lies squarely with the ‘internationals’, the young metropolitan professionals of the Remain camp. For Wolfgang Streeck, the national level offers the only effective basis for democratic accountability, for calling the ravening forces of capital to order.” Paul Mason, internationalist, opponent of right-wing populism and “national neoliberalism”. Wolfgang Streeck, star writer for New Left Review, member of the alliance between left sovereigntists and Brexit Party supporters, the Full Brexit, the man who thinks national borders are the “last line of defence”…. The Editor leaves little doubt about where her support goes….(5)

*****

  1. Susan Watkins. Casting off? Editorial. NLR No 100. 2016.
  2. Page 391. The Enchanted Glass. Britain and its Monarchy. Tom Nairn. Radius 1988.
  3. Simon Kuper. The revenge of the middle-class anti-elitist. Financial Times. Feb 13th. 2010. Most British Leave voters lived in the south of England, and 59 per cent were middle class (social classes A, B or C1), writes Danny Dorling, geographer at Oxford University.
  4. Exiting the Vampire Castle. Mark Fisher. 2013. “One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.
  5. From the Demise of Social Democracy to the ‘End of Capitalism’: The Intellectual Trajectory of Wolfgang Streeck. Jerome Roos. 2019 HISTORICAL MATERIALISM 27(2): 248-288

As an example of how the pro-Corbyn left is splintering this could not be better:

 

Here