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Posts Tagged ‘Populism

“For National Populism”: the Man-Crush of Spiked (former, Revolutionary Communist Party) for Viktor Orbán.

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Orban’s Gallant Defiance of EU Elites.

A few days ago Frank Furedi was doing his chivalrous bit by coming to the aid of distressed demagogue Hungary’s PM, Viktor Orban,

The Hungarian government’s values are very different to the technocratic outlook of the EU federalists. The best way to describe the Hungarian government’s outlook is conservative, traditional and Christian. It is also democratic and very human. These are values that the EU oligarchy is determined to abolish, to erase from the European landscape and history, in order that it might replace them with its own technocratic cosmopolitan outlook.

Frank Furedi.  THE EU’S SHAMEFUL CRUSADE AGAINST HUNGARY

Furedi launched this crusade for Orbran and now his minions are now following.

The former High Up of the RCP and ex-Editor of Living Marxism Brendan O’Neill  has leapt into the fray in the right-wing Spectator.

Tory MEPs were right not to denounce Viktor Orban

You would never know it from the shrill media coverage, but Tory MEPs’ refusal to back the EU’s censure of Viktor Orban’s Hungary is one of the most principled things they have ever done. They are, of course, being denounced as Orban apologists, as cheerleaders for the authoritarian turn Hungary has taken under his prime ministership. Nonsense. They have taken a stand against authoritarianism. Against the authoritarianism of the European Union, whose technocratic arrogance has now reached such dizzy heights that it presumes the moral authority to punish nation states for doing what their own people, the electorate, have asked them to do. That is a far greater crime against democracy than any committed by Orban.

Good on the Tory MEPs who refused to back the anti-democratic censure of Hungary. And shame on those who are denouncing these Tories as bootlickers of Orban’s regime. It brings to mind the way that those of us who opposed the war in Iraq were written off as stooges for Saddam. Grow up, everyone: you can be critical of a foreign government while also opposing any tyrannical attempt by outsiders to overthrow or throttle that government.

What lies behind the New Course?

The Chief explained in August 2017.

Residing in Hungary for much of last year, I could see that the attacks levelled against that country by the EU-influenced media were motivated by the same impulses driving the anti-populist crusade across Europe. These attacks said more about the undemocratic spirit of Brussels than anything that was going on in Budapest.

WHY I WROTE A RADICAL DEMOCRATIC DEFENCE OF POPULISM

This book, appearing last year, to all the loud ‘umph of a falling hazelnut, intends to be a kind of alternative to Chantal Mouffe’s For a Left Populism (2018)

..one of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about Brexit, and remain so, was precisely because I see the EU as detrimental not only to public and political life in Britain, but also to the future of Europe. My book is devoted to explaining how the values espoused by the EU oligarchy are actually alien to the longstanding values of European civilisation.

The EU continually upholds the identities of minorities, regions and ethnic and other groups, but the one identity it singles out for attack is that of the nation. The EU prides itself on its celebration of identity politics and diversity; but its love affair with diversity doesn’t extend to appreciating the diversity of this continent’s national cultures. In my book, I argue that the EU is carrying out a culture war against national pride and consciousness.

National sovereignty is important for two reasons. First because it provides the largest terrain that humankind has discovered so far where democratic accountability can be exercised and have real meaning. Popular sovereignty can occur within a local community, a city or a nation – but it cannot be exercised in a territory larger than the nation. And the second reason national sovereignty is important is that it provides a context for the cultivation of a real, felt identity. There are other possible ways for people to develop their identities, but for most people the nation constitutes the largest area within which their identity can be forged and gain real purchase.

Having asserted the case for “identitarian politics” Furedi continues,

 in the course of researching this book, I came to the conclusion that, from the EU’s perspective, the main crime of the Hungarian government is that on many issues it promotes values that directly contradict those of the EU.

It is interesting to set these claims beside those made by Chantal Mouffe (who will be the subject of a full length  reply on this Blog, here is a very critical review in French, in which it is also published: Populisme de gauche, du nouveau ? Sur le dernier livre de Chantal Mouffe KHALFA Pierre) defending her new book, For a Left Populism (2018).

 She asserts that,

The only way to fight rightwing populism is to give a progressive answer to the demands they are expressing in a xenophobic language. This means recognising the existence of a democratic nucleus in those demands and the possibility, through a different discourse, of articulating those demands in a radical democratic direction.

This is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

Guardian

This raises the obvious point that the demand “out with the immigrants” has no progressive content, nor does a demand for “sovereignty” rub up against markets, capitalism, or any of the left’s targets. That is the mechanisms which create inequality, injustice and oppression.

To put it at is starkest: those who claim that the ‘strain’ on public services ’caused’ is caused by migration and the EU ‘elite’ freedom of movement policy,  divert anger against austerity towards migrants…

Mouffe also claims that her alternative, “cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. “

It needs,

to bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

Let us leave aside the point that such a “people” is something which has yet to be seen and touched, and how exactly does a “collective will” take decisions,  outside of her theoretical abstractions.

More significantly Mouffe’s examples, Podemos and La France insoumise, are widely different.

The first is a genuine mass movement with links to social movements (it was formed in the wake of the anti-austerity Movimiento 15-M), which, while not founding Podemos, are in close relation with a democratically organised organisation. Podemos has a proper elected leadership, conferences and internal debates, even ‘tendencies’. It takes decisions, hard ones in the case of the separatists populists of Catalonia, where they recognised national rights without giving way to the creation of ‘sovereigntism’, either of the Spanish state or the Catalan bourgeoisie.

La France insoumise (LFI), by contrast,  is a top-down Rally led by a Chief, Jean-Luc Mélenchon a “Party-Movement dedicated to training actors “in the art of becoming historical agents”. There is a simulacrum of internal democracy for its (massive, I am a ‘member’) on-line ‘membership, conferences of delegates in which a majority are chosen by lot, and policy decided by the Trainers. There are no internal tendencies (unlike their allies in Ensemble). LFI has recently been accused of drifting towards the nationalism which right-wing populism thrives on.

Feurdi and his mates have a simpler answer: they consider not just the kernel but the whole populist nut of people like Orban worth defending.

All the works of Lenin, Trotsky,  Marx, and Engels, all the ideas about capitalism, modes of production, class struggle, have evaporated.

The slate is clean.

The populists, Orban in case you asked,  are the Nation-People incarnate, proudly felt.

Woe betide ‘elites’ who attack them!

 

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Socialist Left Moves to Back People’s Vote on Brexit Deal.

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Theresa May’s abject failure in negotiating a deal with the EU means that the public must have a fresh say.

Mayor of London’s call for people’s vote adds to pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.

More than 100 anti-Brexit motions, and motions backing another referendum, or people’s vote, have been submitted by constituency parties – believed to be a record for any single issue in the party’s recent history.

A large number of the motions are from the left of the party, and call for a commitment to a people’s vote to be inserted into Labour’s next general election manifesto.

Sam Tarry, national political officer of the TSSA union, who used to work for Corbyn, said the left of the Labour party was uniting behind demands for another vote: “The sheer weight of anti-Brexit motions going to conference is unlike anything I have ever seen – and the only force in the Labour party capable of pulling that off is the left. The trade union movement has moved quickly towards an anti-Tory Brexit position this summer. There is this feeling that we, the socialist left, simply cannot stand by and watch while workers and communities are sacrificed at the altar of Tory dogma and imperial nostalgia.”

Until now Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have said they would prefer the public to be given a say on Brexit in a fresh general election, adding that, if one does not happen soon, the option of a second referendum should remain open. But leftwingers in the party now say this formula is not sufficient, and want a commitment to another referendum in the next manifesto.

Alena Ivanova, a leading activist for the grassroots group Momentum in east London, said: “This is a campaign now being led by the left… Tory Brexit is a fundamental threat to the rights and prosperity of working-class people and the communities that Labour represents, driven by bosses and rightwing ideologues. We will only stop it with unashamed leftwing internationalism and, crucially, that will also help us in the campaign to get the Corbyn government we need.”

Guardian.

 

One of the parties backing such a motion is Ipswich.

In a debate last week at the All Members’ meeting this motion  was endorsed. It was just past the deadline for formal inclusion in the above list, but will be the basis for our Conference Delegate to support.

Motion – to be moved by Andrew Coates:

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government.

(Extracts)

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda”
…..

“We call on the Labour Party to:
1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.
2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.
3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for animmediate general election.
4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.”

This received overwhelming support from all sections of the party, with one vote against and a couple of abstentions.

Image result for march for the many people's vote liverpool

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2018 at 11:58 am

Rancière: ‘Post Democracy’, Populism, and Anti-Anti-Populism (Part One).

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‘Rancière: ‘Post Democracy’, Populism, and Anti-Anti-Populism.

Part One.

Maint fleur épanche à regret,

Son parfum doux comme un secret,

Dans les solitudes profoundes.”

Many a flower regretfully
Exhales perfume soft as secrets
In a profound solitude.

 

Le Guignon. Les Fleurs du mal. Charles Baudelaire. (1)

Introduction.

Jacques Rancière has become a reference point in radical aesthetic theory. Over the last two decades his writings have a committed audience, a larger group of spectators, and have helped inspire some optimism about allying artistic experimentation with emancipatory politics. (le Monde 6.7.18)  The irruption of “dissensus”, upturning existing communities of the creation and reception of arts, (the “partage du sensible” in a “sensus communis”), offers glimpses of “festivals of the future”. (2)

Across the left Rancière is best known as a champion of the politics of the “principle of equality”, “the equality of anyone at all with anyone else”. This, the only universal in politics, is the perpetual up-setter of apple carts. Perhaps his most ambitious target is a vehicle that might be better called a juggernaut. This is “post-democracy”. Pierre Rosanvallon has observed that he was one of the first to employ this term. “Post-democracy”(“post-démocratie”) has replaced the classical active ‘subject’ and agent of politics, effaced before the technical regulation of society – in the interests of those who hold economic power. (La contre-démocratie. 2006). As Rancière has stated, “Post-democracy is the government practice and conceptual legitimisation of a democracy after the demos, a democracy that has eliminated the appearance, miscount, and dispute of the people and is thereby reducible to the sole interplay of state mechanisms and combinations of social energies and interests.” (3)

Can the egalitarian figure of the People overturn the rule of the experts steeped in managerial science, neo-liberal economics, and the crafts of PR, presiding over post-democracy?  Is neoliberal post-democracy, as Rosanvallon has recently stated, so dominant, diffuse and elusive that the one is restricted to making its workings known?  (Le Monde. 31. 8. 18) Rancière places his hopes in a revived Demo. As he said in 2017, “the point today is trying to think a form of political organisation as really creating a new form of people. Because person is not the reality that parties represent, it is the reality that they create. The problem is whether we can create a new kind of people, a people of equals who have the possibility to put the capacity of anybody at work.” (4)

Rancière, then, is a critic of “Ètats oligarchiques”, based on the rule of – liberal – law that excludes Popular Sovereignty, and a voice on the side of the People. The late Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason (2005) welcomed his “rediscovery of the People”, while flagging up his differences, with the French writers references to the “irreducible heterogeneity” (as Rancière calls it, “a multiplicity of experiences of equality, freedom or emancipation”) of popular struggle. Including those whose fight for equality flowers in “profound solitude.”(5)

Disagreements are more clearly signalled in public discussion with Laclau in 2015. Rancière asserted, “at least in European countries the representative principle of the state is completely integrated into the oligarchic mechanisms that it reproduces. It certainly does not function as a means for building a popular will.” This puts him at odds with the intramundane translation of Laclau’s ideas, put into strategic form by his partner Chantal Mouffe as ‘left populism’. Based on “federating the people”, bringing together their diverse interests and backgrounds into a unity that displaces the post-democratic consensus managed by the ruling political class, this has had some influence on European politics.  Spain’s Podemos and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI) have paid attention to this perspective. Key advisers have borrowed from Laclau’s theoretical tool-box. It would be rash nevertheless to make the bolder claim that these politicians are the earthly incarnation of the abstractions of On Populist Reason and, other, far less accessible works. Mouffe’s most recent book, For a Left Populism (2018) restricts herself to quoting Rancière’s description of “post-democracy”. The debate has halted there for the moment. (6)

Populism.

Rancière is also known for his article, L’introuvable populisme (2011), which criticised, pell-mell, “elite” contempt for the rough masses, secular French republicanism, and the racialism of the French state. Éric Fassin, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, include these aspects of Rancière in discussion of both Populism and post-democracy. (7)

In this year’s Socialist Register James Foley and Pete Ramand find comfort for their opinions on the potential of Referendums for outsiders (including the left) to express themselves in the earlier La Haine de la démocratie (2005).  Pouring scorn on the denial of the French vote on the 19th of May 2005 against the EU Constitution, Rancière wrote on the theme he was to take up in L’introuvable populism, “Populism is the convenient name under which is dissimulated the exacerbated contradiction between popular legitimacy and expert legitimacy”.  Railing against “les oligarches, leurs savants et leurs idéologues” who despise the masses, in this instance those opposed to backing the EU plan, as ignorant “populists”. This theeme is repated many time in his writing, “‘populist’ is very much part of this arsenal used by the intellectual world, the world of the dominant.” This is, in some eyes, a way of avoiding talking about what exactly this particularly “heterogeneous” people. Indeed he is obdurate enough to claim that “it was clearly a democratic question and that was in the forefront.” In reality during that contest the ‘non’ to the Constitution included the whole of the French extreme right and many on the left marked by ‘elitist’ republicanism’ and nationalism. (8)

And yet… Rancière is best described as an ‘anti-anti-populist’. The ‘elite’ horror of mass direct intervention in political life, turning upside down the consensus of established politics, is the principal contradiction. “Cold racism”, he asserts on the universal basis of French experience, is generated by the ‘secular’ state. Laws entrenching secularism (that is, laïcité), endorsed by the Republican left, which affect ‘Moslems’, terms no doubt requiring no further explanation – highlight a wider form of contempt. But is, the “new racism coming from the top of the State” the end of the problem? The successes of right-wing ‘populism’, up to the extreme right, in the electorates of many countries, can hardly be obscured as they parade in the light of day. Is it only a ‘secondary contradiction’ amongst the people, a fabrication by ‘elites’, another shadow game in post-democracy, or, as most would imagine, a profound and rooted political problem?  Any answers are, at best, obscured by Rancière’s polemical gambit. That is, the principle  – frequent if never explicitly put – that one often needs to “reverse”, turn upside down, two poles to get a hold on how the elusive post-democratic society is operating. The election in Sweden this September suggests that one should turn this round again. We have to look at the ‘popular’ basis for mass backing for racist parties.

Radical Democracy.

That said, does Rancière contribute to grasping the world described as “post-democratic” and offer any useful ideas about creating democratic equality? Alex Dimorivić offers a hook into his work: the thinker is a champion of “Radical democracy ll, a stand that flavours democratic aspirations through “dissensus, argument, conflict and antagonism.” To approach Rancière’s politics through the lenses of left-wing radical democracy is to place him within, as he might put it, to join a sensus communis that is potentially intelligible to a broad left audience.  Rancière certainly does not follow those who are attempting to construct and channel the ‘People’ into a political organisation under the guidance of left populist theory and charismatic Leader. In the 2017 French Presidential election he called for a “non candidate”, and encouraged of independent forms of popular democracy beyond the “false choice” in the ballot box.   It would appear that the last thing the principle of equality would endorse is, transposing the words of The Philosopher and His Poor, a Party-Movement dedicated to training actors “in the art of becoming historical agents.”  (9)

Can Rancière offer light, as Étienne Balibar has stated, on the roots of his own principle of “égaliberté”, equality-liberty? That is that by pushing the drive for recognition by those without a stake in society into broader political thinking (including the worlds of Theory and Philosophy….)? He may of thinking through the concepts of freedom in the mould of radical egalitarianism, and add some spice about the pitfalls of integration into the ways things have been set up till now. Balibar’s pwn democratic experimentation, has explored the blind spots (“angles morts”) of Marxism. Rancière’s independent take (and criticisms) of pictures of the “democratic revolution”, and “political emancipation” associated with Claude Lefort.

Ideas of  “equality-liberty” may open up further avenues that bring the “principle of equality” into a wider range of issues, from human rights to the shape of the welfare state and education.  The critic of the Western military imposition of “infinite justice” is far from an opponent of all concepts of human right. Indeed he is a keen supporter of the struggles stemming from those who have no part in society (“la part des sans-part”), and their fight for rights that emerge beyond the framework of nation, peoples and classes. Those influenced by Claude Lefort tend to be over-wary of the threat of totalitarianism; Rancière has a profound tendency to ignore the issue altogether.  A certain balance, or, dare I say it, ‘anglo-saxon’ (as French writers misleadingly call us) pragmatism would suggest that that each writer may illuminate the other. (10)

But – this is a repeated warning  – often the language is very abstract. This is not only a matter of the terms employed. Slavoj Žižek point out that Rancière’s account (the ‘non-foundation’) of The Political (le politique) and Politics (la politique) structurally avoids the importance of the critique of political economy. One can extend this insight. Anybody educated in the history of the labour movement and the left will find the bald assertion of the importance of a “non-sociological” concept of the working class,  “a kind of symbolical invention of the collective”, offered without substantial documented detail, grating.  It is not only these difficulties that should concern us. Whether his take can contribute to any definite political project is equally far from clear. As Frédéric Lordon has remarked – he is far from the first to do so – the golden moments of democratic energy, real politics, are for Rancière brief and rare. The “police”, the administration of post-democracy, soon brings the masses to order. (11)

 

**********

Part 2, from the  La leçon d’Althusser (1975) La Nuit des prolétaires. Archives du rêve ouvrier, (1981), Le Philosophe et ses pauvres, (1983) to the overview offered by Pratiquer l’égalité  Anders Fjeld (2018) passing through, amongst others Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (2010), Chronicles of Consensual Times (2010)…….

 

References :

 

 

  1. Translation by William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954). The lines, criticsm assures us, echo, “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” Thomas Gray. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The following may extend the relevance to Rancière’s project, “Some Village Hampden that with dauntless breast, The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood”.
  2. On the new links between aesthetics, politics and “other ways of living”, “Entre esthétique et politique les frontières deviennent poreuses.” Le Monde. 6.7.18). One of the best texts with which to begin reading his views on art is Chapter 3. Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community. The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière. Translated Gregory Elliott. Verso. 2009. See the invaluable Translator’s Introduction to, Jacques Rancière’s Politics of Perception Gabriel Rockhill to The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution  of the Sensible. Jacques Rancière. Continuum. 2005. In French there is this useful short overview:  Stéphane Roy-des-rosiers. Introduction approfondie à l’esthétique de Jacques Rancière.  On the wider importance of his views on aesthetic judgement, see the Introduction to Rancière’s Sentiments. David Panagia Duke University Press. 2018.
  3. Page 15. Rancière, Disagreement. Originally published as La Mesentente: Politique et philosophie, copyright 1995 Editions Galilee. Translated Julie Rose. University of Minnesota Press. 1999. On Post-democracy: Page 267. La contre-démocratie. Pierre Rosanvallon. Seuil 2006. Rosanvallon states that Rancière was probably the first to use the expression “post-démocratie” in La Mésentente. The line cited is from the English translation, Page 102. Disagreement. Op cit. The term is also known through the work of  Colin Crouch. See Colin Crouch. Coping with Post-Demcoraccy.(Fabian Society. No Date) Is there a liberalism beyond social democracy? By Colin Crouch. Policy Network , 5 May 2011
  4. .Pages 19-20 A coffee with Jacques Rancière beneath the Acropolis Babylonia. January 2018.
  5. “Concluding Remarks” On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. Verso 2005. Don’t they represent us? A discussion between Jacques Rancière and Ernesto Laclau. 2015. Translated by David Broder, from El Diario. Page 13. For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Verso 2018.
  6. L’introuvable populisme in Qu’est-ce qu’un people? Alain Badiou, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Georges Didi-Huberman, Sadri Khiari, Jacques Rancière. La Fabrique
  7. Pages 17 – 18. Populisme: le grand ressentiment. Èric Fassin. Èditions Textuel. 2017. In the Conclusion: Ce Cauchemar qui n’en finit pas. Comment le néolibéralisme défait la démocratie. Pierre Dardot, Christian Laval. .La Découverte. 2016.
  8. In fear of Populism: Referendums and neoliberal democracy. James Foley Pete Ramand. Pages 87 –88 Rethinking Democracy  Socialist Register 2018. Merlin. La Haine de la démocratie. Jacques Rancière La Fabrique. 2005 Page 120. Europe: The Return of the People, or of Populism? 2016 (Verso site’s translation). In fact faced with the Brexit vote all he could do was mumble about  a reaction to the (EU) “denial of democracy, a denial which the European bureaucracy itself embodies. Then there is the aspect that is about relating to the other, relations with foreigners. “
  9. Radical Democracy and Socialism. Alex Dimorivić. Socialist Register 2018. Merlin 2018. On more details on this ‘non-candidacy”, such as they are, see Jacques Rancière, La Grande Table: Revaloriser la démocratie avec Jacques Rancière. France Culture. (3.5.17)“Les logiques représentatives génèrent un système d’alternance de partis qui se ressemblent de plus en plus.”:”La seule campagne significative à mon sens est précisément une campagne pour la non-présidence.” “Il reste possible d’envisager des formes d’institutions réellement démocratiques et non axées sur la question de la lutte du pouvoir.” “La vraie question est celle du choix lui-même : nous assistons à une élection de la dépossession.” “Un peuple n’existe pas par lui-même : c’est le résultat d’un certain nombre d’éléments, d’un processus politique.” “Il y a un combat à mener contre les idéologies ouvertement réactionnaires et élitistes, et un autre contre les fausses évidences.” The Philosopher and His Poor, ed. Andrew Parker, co-trans. John Drury, Corinne Oster, and Andrew Parker (2004) original edition. Le Philosophe et ses pauvres, Fayard, 1983 a crucial transtional point which will be taken up further).
  10. The translation “counting the uncounted” (counting , décompte) is used in From Universality to Equality Badiou’s critique of Rancière. Jeff Love and Todd May (Clemson University) Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy. (Web) Most of the article is taken up with demolishing one of the most arrogant claims a world class egotist has ever made, Alain Badiou has asserted that in this approach to equality Rancière simply borrowed his own concept of “nomination” – in a grand ontology which few can fathom – to signal out the moment of resistance that marks the ‘non-part’ rebellion. Rancière’s own, respectful, account of Badiou’s concept of ‘fidelity” is discussed at a level of enormous abstraction in, “Jacques Rancière A propos de L’Etre et l’Evénement d’Alain Badiou. le cahier du Collège international de philosophie.n° 8 octobre 1989 (éd. Osiris) A courageous effort to render into English the decent obscurity of the learned language in this essay on Badiou is offered by David Broder, Time is nothing other than intervention”—Jacques Rancière on Alain Badiou’s Being and Event. Verso Site.
  11. The link is underlined by Balibar right at the beginning of this work, “il faut que s’affirme une légitimité de la lutte, ce que Jacques Rancière appelle la part des sans-part, qui confère une signification universelle à la revendication du « décompte » de ceux qui ont été maintenus en dehors du « bien commun » ou de la « volonté générale” Ouverture: l’antimonie de la citoyenneté. In Étienne Balibar. La Proposition de l’égaliberté. Essais politiques. 1980 – 2009/ Actuel Marx. PUF 2010. Étienne Balibar, L’Illimitation démocratique. Martin Deleixhe. Michalon Éditeur. 2014. Page 293. Of Lefort’s writings on these issues see particularly. Essais sur le politique. Claude Lefort. Seuil. 1986. L’invention démocratique. Fayard, 1981/1994.  Page 75. Amongst many references to this take on human rights see: What is the Subject of the Rights of Man? In Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (2010) The Lesson of Rancière. Slavoj Žižek. In: The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible. Op Cit. Structures et affects des corps politiques. Frédéric Lordon. La Fabrique. 2012.

 

Sahra Wagenknecht Launches German left “law and order” Populist Party “tough on immigration”.

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Image result for Wagenknecht entartage

Sahra Wagenknecht: new Left “law and order” Populist Party “tough on immigration”.

“Leftwing politicians are singing the praises of border control while rightwingers call for expanding the welfare state. Old political certainties could be turned upside down in Germany this summer as the far ends of the country’s political spectrum both moot a “national social” turn.”

Says  in the Guardian today from Berlin.

A new leftwing movement soft-launching in Germany in August aims to part ways with what one of its founders calls the “moralising” tendency of the left, in an attempt to win back working-class voters from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

The as-yet-unnamed new populist movement, partly inspired by the British Labour party’s Momentum and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise, and spearheaded by the leftwing party Die Linke’s chairwoman, Sahra Wagenknecht, will include former and current members of the Social Democratic and Green parties, and prominent academics such as the sociologist Wolfgang Streeck.

Note: the latter is a frequent contributor to New Left Review, which tells you something about their political direction…

Image result for wolfgang streeck how will capitalism end verso

It seems that this is serious, although earlier this year an Aprilscherz (April Fool’s joke) suggested, Wagenknecht gründet links-nationale Partei (that is, a Nationalist Left party…)

If the opening paragraphs are bad news enough  the first thing to note is that the key figure in this new group is  Sahra Wagenknecht.

The Linke MP is notorious for her views on migrants – not favourable – which have created a serious row the German left, and praise from the racist AfD (Sahra Wagenknecht nach stern-Interview: Lob von der AfD, Rüffel von der Linken. ) Notoriously she claimed after the 2017 Lorry  terror attack on the Berlin Yule Market that Angela merkel bore a responsibility (‘Mitverantwortung”. “In addition to the uncontrolled border opening, there’s a police force that has been downsized to the point of inefficiency, that neither has the personnel nor the technical resources which would enable it to cope with the current threat situation.”

This is a summary of her stand,

““There have to be open borders for the persecuted,” she said, “but we certainly can’t say that anyone who wants to may come to Germany, claim social benefits, and look for work.” That point of view is “detached from reality”, she claimed.” 11th of June 2018. The Local. Open borders for all? The debate dividing Germany’s Die Linke.

Her background:

Wagenknecht’s East German past (Deutsche Welle DW)

Wagenknecht’s rebellious streak stretches back to her childhood growing up behind the Iron Curtain. Born in the former East Germany (GDR) in the city of Jena, her father was an Iranian student and her mother worked for a state-run art distributor.

Although she tends to be sparse with personal details in interviews, Wagenknecht has said several times that she doesn’t identify as having a “migrant background,” emphasizing that her father never fully immigrated to Germany. According to Wagenknecht, he returned to Iran when she was a small child and was never heard from again.

Today, she is considered part of the old-school wing of the party as one of the members who remains from the former East German Socialist Unity Party (SED).

For a time, she was under surveillance by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency for her far-left views.

She’s campaigned hard for an end to German military involvement in foreign missions and wants Germany to stop all weapons exports.

“I consider it so dishonest to say we are fighting terrorism, while at the same time cooperating with and delivering weapons to those who openly support terrorism,” she told DW. “You can’t fight terror with terror.

Noting the rise of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) following the influx of refugees in 2015, Wagenknecht controversially adopted similar rhetoric in an attempt to make populist causes left-wing.

She’s heavily criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policies and went so far as to say Merkel is partly responsible for the Berlin Christmas market terror attack which killed 12 people.

“In addition to the uncontrolled border opening, there’s a police force that has been downsized to the point of inefficiency,” said Wagenknecht in January. That comment led to condemnation across the political spectrum, but applause from the AfD.

She’s also called for a limit on refugees and made comments about asylum-seekers losing their right to asylum if they commit crimes. In its party platform, the Left party calls for all who are looking for protection in Germany to not be turned away.

The parallels with the right-wing populists have uneased many within the party, with top Left party members repeatedly distancing themselves from her remarks.

A more extreme example of left-wing disapproval with Wagenknecht’s refugee stance happened last May when an anti-fascist activist threw an entire chocolate cake in her face at a Left party conference.

Weeks earlier, the same group made a similar attack – but that time it was the AfD’s Beatrix von Storch with cream pie on her face.

Wagenknecht represents the radical side of the Left Party, fellow top-candidate Dietmar Bartsch appeals to the moderate wing

Instead, she wants to solidify the Left’s position as the largest opposition party in the Bundestag. She’s all but ruled out possibly entering into an alliance with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens in a so-called “Red-Red-Green” coalition.

“A good opposition policy is better than a bad government policy,” she said at a party conference in June to thunderous applause.

Other leading members of her party, including her co-candidate Dietmar Bartsch and Left party co-chairwoman Katja Kipping, are more open to cooperation with the SPD and Greens if it means the Left gets a chance to be in the driver’s seat.

But Wagenknecht has harshly criticized compromises made by the Left in “Red-Red-Green” governments on the state level, saying the SPD and the Greens advocate for neoliberal policies.

With her precise and uncompromising attitude, Wagenknecht is determined to fight for her vision of Germany. “I think you must be able to fight for what you believe in,” she told DW.

Echoing the AfD, Left party’s Wagenknecht says Merkel partly to blame for Berlin terror

The Guardian story announces:

Wagenknecht has practical concerns: she worries that the Left’s support for open borders, beyond the recognition of right to asylum, is driving voters away from the party. She also fears that uncontrolled migration increases the pressure on Germans looking for work.

According to one of the movement’s founders, its defining feature is likely to be its adherence to “the materialist left, not the moral left”.

“When people live in social conditions that make them feel secure, they are usually prepared to act generously and tolerantly,” said Bernd Stegemann, an author and dramatist at the prestigious Berliner Ensemble theatre who is working with Wagenknecht on the movement’s programme.

“When they live in increasingly precarious and atomised conditions, however, they are also likely to react to challenges in a tougher and colder manner. Brecht summarised it wonderfully. Grub comes first, then ethics.”

As well as rallying around traditional leftwing causes such as disarmament and a reversal of Germany’s Hartz IV labour market reforms, an unsigned position paper circulating around Berlin political circles in recent weeks suggests the movement will also advocate law and order policies and a tougher stance on immigration. “Open borders in Europe means more competition for badly paid jobs,” says the paper, which is headed “fairland”.

Stegemann, who is not a member of any political party, said he was frustrated with middle-class leftwing intellectuals lecturing working-class Germans for their sceptical reaction to Angela Merkel’s decisions at the height of the refugee crisis.

We are dealing with an absurd situation when the winners of neoliberalism tell the losers that they must be more humane. And it galls me when politicians think it is enough to pass down moral judgments. No, politics must act.”

The launch of the new movement, which will start as an online forum where supporters can upload and visualise policy proposals, comes as the AfD is trying to win over disappointed Die Linke supporters in the former states of East Germany. It is doing so by occupying positions on social welfare usually associated with the left.

Earlier this year, on the First of January, this story appeared, on the DW site,

Germany needs ‘new left-wing people’s party,’ says leftist veteran Oskar Lafontaine

The co-founder of the Left party has called for a new alliance to catapult the left wing into power. He believes German voters are more than ready for such an option.

Oskar Lafontaine, who co-founded Germany’s Left party (Die Linke) in 2007 after leaving the Social Democratic Party (SPD)in protest over business-friendly reforms by ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, told weekly news magazine Der Spiegel that German voters had shown there was a “potential for a leftist majority” and that people were “downright asking for such an option.”

“We need a collective left-wing movement, a kind of left-wing people’s party comprising the Left party, parts of the Greens and the SPD,” Lafontaine told Der Spiegel.

Lafontaine, who is married to one of the Left party’s parliamentary group leaders, Sahra Wagenknecht, even goes so far as to say that the “political party system we have today no longer works” and that a new order was necessary to give the left wing a chance to get into government at the federal level.

Comment: 

It will be interesting to see what the new Party’s position on the European Union is.

This, with migration and law and order, is one of the central concerns of the AfD, whose electorate  Wagenknecht’s ‘anti-moralist’ group aims to target.

If they adopt a ‘sovereigntist’ anti-EU position, above all opposing the Euro, they way lies open for ties up with a number of other rightward, or ‘national’  drifting groups, from the British Brexit left, to French ‘republican’ currents present in the thinking of La France Insoumise.

There is equally room for further cross-overs with the patriotic cultural  ‘identity’ movement across Europe, seen in the UK not just on the hard-right but within Blue Labour and the ‘communitarian’ left  (indebted, amongst others, to the writings of Roger Scruton) and anti-virtue signaling networks, spearheaded by Spiked-on-Line. Perhaps the pro-Brexit New Left Review will give Wolfgang Streeck plenty of space to expound the new party doctrine.

It is a measure of the political direction of this movement that instead of attacking the Islamist genociders from the standpoint of universal human rights, they chose to float their ideas behind the provisional  name which  Guardian cites as “fairland” – a cosy heimat.

Update from our correspondent in Germany:

 the Guardian article contains no actual news. The only thing that makes this news is this article a month ago in the right-wing tabloid, Die Welt: https://www.welt.de/…/Gastbeitrag-Warum-wir-eine-neue…

 

Trade Unionists Against the EU – “Former” Leading Communist Party of Britain Member worked with Arron Banks

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Worked Hand in Hand with Hard Right Millionaire Arron Banks.

Trade Unionists Against the EU was a key front for the Brexit left, supported by, amongt others, the Morning Star and the Socialist Party.

It is a strange beast, as today’s Unherd outpouring from their national Organiser Paul Embery illustrates,

…for those of us on the more traditional Left, the concept of family, far from being antithetical to our socialism, is the very essence of it. It is within the family unit that we first learn about obligation, sacrifice, loyalty, compassion and solidarity. It is one place where the common good will almost always transcend self-interest, where you are in every sense your brother’s keeper. What better example is there of socialism in action?

That’s why we socialists should defend the family unit against all-comers. And that means resisting not just the cultural war against it, but the economic one too. Austerity, low wages and poverty have all weakened family ties, as has the explosion in the number of families in which both parents go out to work, often not through choice but financial necessity.

..

Confucius had it right 2,500 years ago when he said, “When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation.”

Why won’t our spineless politicians stand up for the family?

In a more traditional vein Trade Unionists Against the EU made much of their imaginary support amongst the European left.

It is true that some on the Continental  left – generally known as ‘sovereigntists’ and others who could be called anglophobes – resented the UK and some may have backed Brexit.

I recall one of the leading figures of TUAEU,  Enrico Tortolano, speaking loudly in public about his internationalism, and citing in evidence the ‘millions’ of Greeks who has stated that they wished the ‘Leave’ campaign would win.

Yet, as we known, the Greeks actually voted in a pro-EU left government, for all its faults, led by Alexis Tsipras.

The only concrete evidence of this pan-European  Lexit alliance,  came from a, they claimed at the time, a mass Paris Rally. In reality this was a hook up with the French trotskyist splinter (too small to stand in the most recent Presidential elections), the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique, (POID One of its best known members, Gérard Schivardi,was the last Presidential candidate (standing on a platform of backing for local Mayors’ power)  from this current, in 2007. He got  0,34 % of the vote.

Is this an “internationalist” movement?

POID is known for its support for reasserting  French National sovereignty against the European Union. The EU, they assert, has deprived Parliaments of their sovereign will, and reduced them to a subsidiary role to the EU  which imposes its will directly on nations. (“Parlements privés de toute velléité de souveraineté étant réduit à un rôle subsidiaire, les décisions de l’Union européenne s’imposent directement à toutes les nations. La Tribune des travailleurs).

That particular jamboree (2017) can be viewed here: LE GRAND MEETING INTERNATIONALISTE DE PARIS PORTE DE CHARENTON’ en 20 minutes et version sous-titrée:

 

More recently Trade Unionists Against the EU has developed a good rapport with the Spiked-on-Line linked Sovereigntist, grouping, the Full Brexit, which includes Murdoch’s Man in Brussels “The founding statement of a group called ‘The Full Brexit’. Good to see the statement signed by some well-known figures in the labour and trade union movement.” (5th of July): Trade Unionists Against the EU

Yesterday John Rogan  published:

Lexit and Brexit collaboration-what did the Morning Star know?

One long standing Lexiter is leading Communist Party of Britain member Brian Denny (also of the RMT union who backed Brexit). He has written extensively on the need to get out on the CPB’s website (“Trade Unionists need to take the lead against the EU”14 Aug 2015) and was a co-ordinator for NO2EU (Lexit electoral alliance), organiser for the (“Eurosceptic Labour Movement”) Campaign Against Euro-Federalism (CAEF) and a founder of Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Image result for Brian Denney rmt and arron banks

Denny’s contributions also take up some space (see here)  on the Trade Unionists Against the EU site.

Rogan continues,

Denny (CPB) and Banks (Ukip) worked together to maximise the Leave vote. Here’s an extract from Arron Banks’s “Bad Boys of Brexit” (28 Jan 2016) where Banks saw Labour voters as key to winning and the need to fund an anti — TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) leaflet produced by Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Here is some evidence of the collaboration between the leading Communist and the far-right Brexiteer.

Rogan Notes,

Arron Banks is currently under investigation by the Electoral Commission for funding of Trade Unionists Against the EU (£54,000) and other organisations. Some more background to this can be found here and here.

So far we have heard nothing from those accused of collaboration with the hard right.

Brian Denny, meanwhile, regularly retweets Spiked-on-Line….

 

Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

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“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But Orbán, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

Pro Trump Thugs Demonstrate in London as US Lobbies for Tommy Robinson.

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Trump, “I think they like me a lot in the UK” – pro-Trump London Demo.

Today London played host to a raft of far and radical right leaders from around the world as pro-Trump and free Tommy Robinson demonstrations merge in Whitehall.

Hope Not Hate.

The day kicked off with a ‘Welcome Trump to London Demonstration’ near the US embassy in Vauxhall. Despite being organised by the oddball Make Britain Great Again group, led by the equally bizarre Luke Nash-Jones, the event attracted a number of UKIP speakers including Elizabeth Jones from UKIP NEC and UKIP London chairman Freddy Vachha.

The most high profile speaker was the Australian anti-Muslim activist Debbie Robinson from the anti-Muslim party, the Australian Liberty Alliance. Robinson, who was accompanied by Avi Yemini, is also President of the key Australian ‘counter-jihad’ organisation, the Q Society of Australia. 

Martin Costello of Make Britain Great Again addressed the crowd screaming “round up all illegal immigrants and get them out of here” and “we shall never surrender” into the microphone.

FREE TOMMY ROBINSON DEMONSTRATION

The main event happened in central London and kicked off just after 3pm in the wake of the shocking revelation that Sam Brownback, the US ambassador for international religious freedom, lobbied the UK on behalf of Tommy Robinson (AKA Stephen Yaxley-Lennon).

As the stage and screen were erected just in front of the Monument to the Women of World War II on Whitehall, notable figures from across the international far right and the right-wing alternative media began to gather. Members of Lennon’s team such as George Llewelyn-John and co-founder of the English Defence League (EDL) Kevin Carroll helped set things up alongside Siegfried Daebritz from the German anti-Muslim street movement PEGIDA. Also milling around the stage area was American “alt-light” figure Jack Posobiec.

The Guardian Reports,

A union leader has said he was the victim of an “unprovoked” attack by a mob after he addressed a counter-protest to a rally in support of Donald Trump and the jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson.

Steve Hedley, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT, was among a number of officials assaulted by Robinson supporters, according to the union.

Witnesses said a mob ambushed a group at the Westminster Arms pub in central London on Saturday afternoon in a targeted attack.

In a video on social media, Hedley said: “We got attacked by a load of thugs, completely unprovoked.

“We defended ourselves obviously and there were a lot of casualties on both sides. But it was a completely unprovoked attack – we were just sitting there having a drink.

“If you oppose Tommy you get attacked by a glass and a chair – we have to stop this.”

He described the attackers as being from the far-right English Defence League, which Robinson used to lead.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “They [the attackers] knew what they were doing.”

Guardian.

AMERICAN THINK TANK FUNDING TOMMY DEMOS

Hope Not Hate,

it has emerged that Lennon has also been receiving significant financial assistance from across the Atlantic, receiving money for legal help from the Philadelphia-based organisation the Middle East Forum (MEF), led by Daniel Pipes.

Worryingly, MEF also claims to have held an “organizing and funding” role in both today’s protest and the previous protest in June, which was marred by violence and vandalism and saw nazis and other antisemites among the crowd.

MEF’s blog claims that they “provided all the funding and helped organized the first “Free Tommy Robinson” event held June 9 in London.” The event in question attracted around 10,000 people and saw police officers being chased and attacked near Trafalgar Square. Sections of Lennon’s supporters also hurled metal barriers, bottles and street signs, injuring five people and resulting in the arrest of nine.

Despite this, the MEF also decided to once again contribute to the funding and organizing of today’s Free Tommy demonstration in London, writing that it was arranging for US Congressman Gosar to speak at the rally. Gosar has previously courted controversy when, in an interview with VICE News, he suggested that the August 2017 alt-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which led to the murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer, may have been organised by an “Obama sympathiser” and raised the possibility that it may have been funded by Hungarian philanthropist George Soros. Gosar also accused Soros of having “turned in his own people to the Nazis”.