Posts Tagged ‘Protests’
Owen Jones, “not taking part in Trump Demo because of leading role of the SWP in it, a cult which covered up rape.”
People who follow these things may have noticed an angry exchange between Lindsey German and comrade Owen Jones over the Trump protests.
As I have no wish to offered comrade Owen, who deleted the remarks, but did not protest at people mentioning it (despite opportunity to do so) I shall not paste it.
People who follow these things may have also noticed that yesterday there were two letters in the Guardian protesting against Trump’s planned visit to the UK.
One was headed by Owen’s name, it included Ed Miliband, senior trade union figures and human rights campaigners, prominent Momentum figures and people from respected left groups, such as Left Unity.
The other, well, let’s just say that it also included respected figures from the union movement and human rights campaigner, and… Lindsey German and organisations in which her groupuscule play a considerable part, the Stop the War Coalition and the remains of the People’s Assembly. Another organisation’s supporters, Stand up to Racism, best known for the SWP’s involvement, featured. And Islamist organisations, such as the Muslim Association of Britain. (1)
Momentum meanwhile has advertised the London Demo without mentioning the various fronts, groups claiming to represent the Muslim community, and others, behind the demonstration.
It simply says this: ” JOIN THE MARCH TO STOP TRUMP THIS SATURDAY
If you’re in London, join the march to Stop Trump’s Muslim Ban this Saturday, 4th February, from the US Embassy to Downing Street. The Momentum and Labour Assembly Against Austerity bloc will meet at 11am at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ. Check out the Facebook Event for more information.
Momentum is in the right direction.
Protesting against Trump is very important, welcome, and needed.
But we don’t we don’t want to be caught up in the manipulative and dead-end politics of the likes of the SWP or Counterfire (both strong backers of the Brexit that Trump welcomes), the StWC (who oppose any interference in the sovereign politics of Syria) still less MAB and its cohorts.
Now this bombshell comes:
(1) “MAB first started working with the StWC in 2002 when they agreed to join together a demonstration they had planned to mark the anniversary of the Second Palestinian Intifada with a demonstration StWC had planned against the looming Iraq war at the opening of the Labour party. The march took place under the dual slogans ‘Don’t attack Iraq‘ and ‘Freedom for Palestine‘. According to Altikriti, MAB ‘spoke to Stop the War and we said to them, we will join you; however we will not become part of your coalition, we will be a separate and independent entity but we will work together with you on a national basis as part of the anti-war movement’. This reassured MAB that it would not ‘melt into that big coalition’  that was known to be led by the Left. They would remain a distinct and autonomous bloc, able to shape the agenda. Altikriti and others in the MAB leadership were working to persuade members that collaboration with non-Muslim anti-war activists was halal (religiously permissible) and that it was within the remit of their organisation. Their argument was that, if gender-segregated spaces and halal food could be provided at meetings, demonstrations and other events, then Muslims could participate in the anti-war movements without being assimilated”
More on Wikipedia.
We Wish Our French Comrades Well!
The NuitDebout (Night on Our Feet) movement, which has occupied Paris’s Place de la République for four nights in a row, is not your average French protest, but could it reach the levels of the Occupy or Indignados movements?
NuitDebout started like many other French demonstrations. Student and workers groups who oppose François Hollande’s planned labour reform law, which they say will make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers, organised a protest march on March 31.
But after the march many participants wanted to continue the protest and expand their message. They proposed three nights of occupation in République, which they called March 31st, 32nd and 33rd, and came up with the name NuitDebout to express their defiance. Between 1000 and 2000 people attended each night, according to organisers, although by 8pm on Saturday there were probably a few hundred.
“Most protests in France, we go in the street, we express ourselves and then each of us goes home. It’s a little sad,” one NuitDebout protester explained on Saturday night. “But here [in République] something else is being built.”
“We aren’t on our knees, we aren’t in bed, we’re standing up,” explained a communications spokesperson and initiator of NuitDebout, who asked to be identified as Camille.
Protesters point to diverse motivations for the movement, including the proposed labour reform, popularly known as the El Khomri law; the hit documentary film “Merci, Patron!“, which ridicules France’s richest man, billionaire Bernard Arnault; solidarity with French Goodyear tyre plant workers who kidnapped their bosses in 2014; and objections to the controversial Notre Dame des Landes airport project.
A crowd of Camilles
For now though, NuitDebout protesters are avoiding specific demands. Instead, they emphasise their dissatisfaction with France’s treasured republican ideals, which they see as not truly democratic.
“The people who come here don’t agree with the way the government runs things. The idea is to reconstruct a system that starts with the citizen,” said another protester, who also asked to be identified as Camille.
That’s right, when speaking to the press they all want to be identified as Camille, a gender-neutral first name in French.
But this policy of vagueness and anonymity is strategic. NuitDebout is taking many cues from the Occupy movement in the United States and the Indignados movement in Spain, both of which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in anti-corporate and anti-austerity protests in 2011 and 2012.
NuitDebout is hoping, as Occupy and Indignados participants did, that a focus on organisation and structure will allow them to build a movement that can sustain itself and be taken seriously in the long run.
“Usually citizens movements [in France] are associated with a political party or a union, but here there’s no flag in the square,” said Camille the communications spokesperson. “It’s completely directed by the citizens.”
Much of their organisational structure is borrowed from the American and Spanish movements: Committees of 30 to 100 people each direct the movement’s communication, logistics, security and entertainment. Major decisions are made at a “general assembly” at 6pm, where anyone can put their name on a list to speak. People show approval by waving, and votes are decided by a simple show of hands. So far there have been two general assemblies, on Friday and Saturday, where the main issue being voted was whether to come back the next night.
The communications committee maintains a stylish social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. The NuitDebout pages feature attractive anti-corporate graphics that could have been designed by advertising firms, and their posts carefully avoid inflammatory rhetoric.
One member of the communications committee explained that he also works in communications in his professional life.
“A kind of awakening”
There has been a conscious effort to put NuitDebout in an international context alongside Occupy in the United States and Indignados and Podemos in Spain. Spanish headlines and have referred to a “primavera francesa”, or French spring, and social media users frequently put #NuitDebout and #Occupy in the same posts. Camille, the communications spokesperson, said organisers from Spain had come to Paris to advise NuitDebout.
But while the Indignados protests drew about 20,000 people in May 2011, and the Occupy movement gathered between 2,000 and 15,000 protesters in 2011 and 2012, NuitDebout has so far reached at most 1000 to 2000, according to organisers. The general assembly on Saturday night saw only a few hundred.
Marta, a student from Barcelona who lives in Paris now, has participated in both the Indignados and NuitDebout protests, and was at République on Saturday night.
“We see that there’s a kind of awakening of people who are mobilising, but for the moment I think their demands lack precision,” Marta said. “There are lots of groups with lots of demands, but they haven’t converged yet.”
Riot police again showed up at Républque around 5 o’clock Sunday morning. But this time there weren’t enough protestors to disperse. Instead, as people snapped photos that would show up on the NuitDebout Twitter feed the next day, the police took off their helmets, chatted with protesters and smiled.
More protests are taking place this week Contre la loi travail, une semaine sociale sur tous les fronts.
The Nuits Debout movement continues.
Originally called by the collective Convergence des luttes and backed by the journal Fakir, (Journal fâché avec tout le monde – angry with everybody) Nuits debout (Nights standing up) began after last week’s demonstration against the new Labour Laws. They occupied the Place de la République. They were removed by the police. They came back. They are still there (La « Nuit debout » continue de rassembler place de la République à Paris).
Their objective extends well beyond defeating the ‘El Khomri’ labour law: this is but a branch of a tree which must be felled («Cette loi n’est qu’une branche d’un arbre immense qu’il faut abattre»)
Discussions in general assemblies are taking place on the whole gamut of social problems in France. Decisions are taken with some elements of Occupy practice with direct democracy and voting by hands raised (but no enforcement of the stifling ‘consensus’ model: “ces suggestions sont votées à la majorité et notées dans un registre”), such as the use of a “moderator” and calls for a clam exchange of views. Unfortunately we note that a series of bizarre ‘ipster’ gestures are used to participate in debates. We strongly suspect the model of the ‘Zadistes’ (French Swampies) at work in importing this practice. (1)
There is a cultural wing, including a “gang of clowns”, and the use of social networks.
The movement has expanded across France (details to follow…)
(1) Zadistes, ZAD, from Zone à Defendre, that is places to defend against development, notably against the construction of the airport at Notre-Dame-des Landes, (a ‘funny’ turnaround of the official term, zone d’aménagement différé).
Street Battles in Nantes.
Violence erupted when about 20,000 people demonstrated against an airport project near the city of Nantes on Saturday, leaving six riot police officers injured.
Environmental activists have been protesting for more than a year against the government’s plan to build a new airport for the west of the country, with some activists occupying the area by living rough in makeshift wooden cabins.
Police have tried several times in vain to evict the squatters and have had to contain many demonstrations. Reuters.
Agence France Presse also reports,
Riot police moved into the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, clashing with hundreds of anarchists who broke shop windows, destroyed bus stops and pillaged the city centre.
At least eight police officers were hospitalized after violent confrontations with up to 1,000 “radicals,” the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantique region said. Fourteen people were detained.
The rioters had joined an estimated 20,000 people protesting against plans to build a regional airport. Officials did not say whether protesters were injured.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the delinquents were from the “radicalized ultra-left” and were waging an “urban guerrilla” campaign.
The protests turned very violent as “autonomous” groups broke away.
The evidence remains today,
On the route taken by the demonstrations the day before, this morning we could still see marks of the events. Municipal workers were busy erasing tags and paintings on the walls, including those of the mayor. The façade of a Vinci Immobilier (Estate agents), ransacked on Saturday, has been replaced by wooden boards. Vinci is linked to the airport project. On sites a little further away, lay the blackened carcasses of a giant drill and a bulldozer. The façade of the administrative court, is still painted with large amounts of red paint, and on the ground floor several windows were broken, making it unrecognisable. A huge“Zad Everywhere” was tagged on the main entrance door. Zad means “deferred development zone” of the airport. This acronym has become a symbol of the opposition.
On Kervegan, one of the oldest districts of Nantes island, the cobblestone streets were scarred by large holes. They have been replaced by the earth where the pavement had been torn up. Barricades were erected and then set on fire. At the transport hub of the city, the Place du Commerce, all the ticket booths and the offices of the Society Nantes transport were burnt out. The paving stones for several tram lines were torn out.
Where we would we be if the left was reconciled to capitalism? Left-wing activism is driven by hope, perhaps, at times, overwhelming optimism. Newsnight’s Economics Editor, Paul Mason – an unlikely post – celebrates the end of the “capitalist realism”. He does so through “reportage, essay, tweet, anecdote and cyber-psychology.” Mason plunges into an “an “1848 Redux”. Leading up to 2011, this revival of the Springtime of the Peoples, is a patchwork. There is the Iranian Green movement, the epic of the Arab Spring, European protests at austerity imposed in the wake of the Debt crisis, Philippine slum dwellers’ struggles, the British student and anti-cuts movements, the Spanish indignados, and those that have followed Occupy Wall Street. This is a broad, global, collage of revolt, of “human solidarity and participatory democracy”.
What does this radical élan mean? To Mason, the “events of 2011 show simply this: that no situation is hopeless, and everything is susceptible to change”. If so, what kind of movement, formed by “info-capitalism”, an oppositional “general intellect”, is at work? Are the “semi-communal” forms of capitalism (the ‘communism of the market’), helping new “human archetypes” prevail against “austerity, nationalism and religious fundamentalism”? And what can, or will, they do?
Nobody Foresaw the Revolts?
It’s all Kicking Off sketches the “mind set of the left in an era of defeat.” The left, apparently, was not long ago weighed down by the market’s triumph and the fall of Official Communism. Did that mean the reduction of even the most radical to trimming moderates? That is, former leftists who turned to the Third Way, similar ‘triangulated’ politics or the Boho bourgeoisie of the European Green movement?
The malaise, to Paul Mason, was of a different character. Jean Baudrillard (uncited) asserted that the modern capitalist “hyperreal” renders useless, all “negative” contradiction is annulled in a world of simulacra (Les Stratégies fatales 1983) To Mason this strand of postmodernism infiltrated left thinking percolated through the view that dissent was not strong enough to break the media, and only “irony or flight” were possible. Unlike a similar account of a stranded left, more than a decade ago, by Naomi Klein, in No Logo (2009) he does not include what was known as ‘political correctness’ and its culturalism. The more substantial effects of the end of Stalinist rule get caught up in these “rationalisations of defeat”.
Against this stand, however, from the 1980s to the present, other theorists considered that globalisation and ‘Empire’ (its political-economic inter-tangling) were creating a new ‘nomadic’ (Félix Guattari) form of resistance: the “multitude”. (Multitude. Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri 2004) Negri, Hardt and others from the ‘autonomist’ tradition considered that in contemporary capitalism, the “general intellect” and ‘immaterial labour” (production and communication by the manipulation of symbols) were centre stage. Paulo Virno described post-Fordism as a “communism of capital”, “A communality of generalised intellect without material equality.” (A Grammar of the Multitude. 2004.) For Hardt and Negri a general figure, made up of “all the diverse forms of social production”, emerges. This the multitude. It is “an open and expansive network in which all differences can be expressed freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work and live in common.” It is a “living alternative” to the domination of Capital and Empire – the entangled economic, “biopolitical” and sovereign rule of Nations. This ‘network’ is the future paradigm for revolutionary change, its imprint flourishes everywhere, its future open.
Negri and Hardt observed examples of this operating, in the anti-globalisation campaigns of the 1990s, and early new century. Such resistance showed up most famously in the Mexican Zapatistas, and, travelling down to a region where revolts never died down, in the rest of Latin America. For John Holloway, building on several decades of similar work, there was a world-wide “Scream of refusal” of people refusing to accept Capital and the State (Crack Capitalism. 2010) Negri talked of how the proletariat was enlarged, giving it “productive functions that were once typical of the middle class” (Goodbye Mr Socialism. 2008). May 68 was only the “first revolt of the post-Fordist and cognitive proletariat” against global capitalism. Europe was not resigned to the rule of business. 1996 saw France explode in nation-wide union-led strikes and protests against neo-liberal public reforms that brought down Alain Juppé’s Cabinet (though not the President). Many at the time saw that as defining set back for neo-liberalism. Negri enlarged the field of class conflict to the “precariat”, the partially employed and often unemployed, and saw this as a social factor behind the 2006 “local insurgencies” in the French banlieues. Read the rest of this entry »
Defend The Right to Retirement!
Raising the age of retirement is a European-wide issue. Everywhere there are plans to raise it. In France this means plans to put the age to get a pension up from 60 to 62/63 (here). This is meeting great resistance.
People often forget that such low limits were once welcomed as a means to help reduce unemployment. While no doubt many over-60s enjoy their work and should be encouraged to do so this may affect others, particualrly the younger, and block their careers. The unsightly attempt to cling to one’s post – and privileged position – appears widespread amongst highly paid professionals such as academics (including some well-known leftists). In less exalted realms most welcome their retirement. Postponing it effectively worsens their conditions. It, to repeat, will certainly help increase the level of unemployment. It harms the notion that you should have a real chance to enjoy a secure future without being pressed into lengthy toil.
Such a measure is part of a wider attempt to cut public spending. That is, it fits into European ‘economic governance’ based on austerity. The savage measures used to ‘solve’ the Greek crisis in public spending are being introduced, in varying degrees of severity, across the continent.
The French Unions, more strongly than their British counterparts, have vigorously resisted.
Defending the age of retirement at 60 is a symbol of this fight. The unions have been untied on this, even the previously moderate and compromising CFDT. This has not lasted. Unfortunately they are already undergoing a split. In a brazen attempt to outbid the other trade union federations Force Ouvrière (a coalition of business unionists, paleolithic anti-Communists and ‘Lambertist’ Trotksyists – background in English here) has called for its own protests today (here). That is, on the eve of the expected announcement of French government plans.
The 24th of June will see a unitary day of action (with all the other union federations, from the CFDT to the CGT onwards) (CGT here, CFDT here). It is hoped that this will be extremely well followed.
Communiqué commun CFDT, CGT, FSU, Solidaires, UNSA
Appel à une nouvelle journée de mobilisation le 24 juin
Les organisations syndicales CFDT, CFTC , CGT, FSU, Solidaires, UNSA se sont réunies le lundi 31 mai 2010 pour faire l’analyse de la journée de mobilisation du 27 mai pour l’emploi, les salaires et les retraites et pour envisager les suites.