Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Sovereigntism

Britain to Drop European Human Rights Laws, a Victory for Brexit Sovereignty?

with 2 comments

 

Image

 

End to the “poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights”? Andrew Murray.

This the news today:

Britain is preparing to reject EU demands to guarantee that the country will continue to be bound by European human rights laws once the UK becomes fully independent, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

British negotiators will refuse to accept proposed clauses in a post-Brexit trade agreement that would require Britain remain signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights, leaving the door open to break away from the treaty as soon as next year, the Sunday Telegraph said.

Andrew Murray, until recently a key Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser  expressed these views in The Rise and Fall of the British Left (2019).

The “imperialist left” of the 2006 Euston Manifesto, which championed the right of humanitarian intervention, claimed to base the argument on human rights.  Such rights trump the “rights of nations” and justify Western, external, use of force to impose claims of human rights.

He attacked the standpoint that “articulated the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.”(Page 97) 

The thrust of anti-human rights ideology can be seen on the national populist Spiked site run by the ex-Revolutionary Communist Party network.

Human rights: a reactionary cause. Luke Gittos.

The movement for human rights was born of a fear of democracy.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, many Remainers were keen to emphasise that leaving the European Union (EU) did not mean leaving the remit of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As they saw it, retaining the human-rights regime was a means to retain some vestige of what they perceived to be the progressive European project. It was as though they felt, in the aftermath of Brexit, that all was not lost as long as they could hold on to human-rights laws. Hence, human-rights proponents were keen to highlight the fact that the Human Rights Act was passed into English law by the UK parliament and did not represent a law ‘imposed by Brussels’ – a retort they find useful when the human-rights regime is called ‘undemocratic’.

The conclusion is simple, “The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to postwar elites’ attempt to exert economic and political control over the heads of European peoples.”

This is a complete fabrication.

The human rights demands of social movements, theorised by writers such as Claude Lefort and Étienne Balibar, are written off as they are part the culture of narcissistic complaint. Leftort , in Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siĂšcles, 1986, argue that the political dynamics attached to the affirmation of human rights could not be dismissed as part of the “formal” democracy, but reached into the development of the social basis of democracy. IT is possible to see the limits of legal rights, as the early 19th century writings of Marx on the issue indicated, but also to consider that the fight for rights is, as Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves PranchĂšre put it, “a source of disorder and egalitarian reordering” (Was Karl Marx truly against human rights? 2012.)

In a similar vein Balibar has written of the “operation of inventing rights, or of continually setting their history back into motion..” Masses, Classes and Ideas,1994. During the last decade Balibar has written of the convergence of citizenry and humanity, both in human rights documents and in the political imaginary (La proposition de l’Ă©galibertĂ©. 2010)

More radically the cultural critic of political theorist Jacques  RanciĂšre’s account sees human rights emerge through political action and speech. They are products of excluded voices that  seek to enact equality as speaking subjects and demonstrate inequality within the social order: ‘the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the rights that they have not’ (Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man? 2004).

Many argue that, to illustrate the point, that the trade union movement, which came from “outside” the political system,  is the biggest movement for human rights in history.

From the radical internationalists to figures like Keir Starmer human rights have become an important part of the politics of the left.

But what are these fights without legal recourse?

Agreements like the European Convention on Human Rights exist to  give at least some reality to these the demands of the powerless.

Bexiteers assert that only national, sovereign, states, can guarantee rights – an argument that goes back to Edmund Burke, and taken, as a counsel of despair, by Hannah Arendt in the wake of the Second World War and the Shoah.

These positions, taken up and simplified by sovereigntist ideologues many Brexiters, of right and left, have wished to detach themselves from any such international obligations. based on humanity, not nation states.

It is no accident that Boris Johnson and his adviser Cummings attack the European Convention, and assert national sovereignty over human rights. National neoliberalism, national populism, and national rights….

Those who argued in favour of such unlimited national sovereign rights, and wished that Labour had a made a deal collaborating with the Tories in Brexit, can now see where their stand can lead.

What a People’s Brexit they have helped bring into being…

 

 

 

 

Brexit: the Slippery Slope of Left Sovereigntism, from Modern Monetary Theory to Spiked.

with 2 comments

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "dictionnaire des souverainistes de droite et de gauche"

An Ideology Now at the Centre of UK Politics.

Sovereigntism, the assertion of unique national sovereignty,  is at the centre of British divisions over Brexit.

In French  souverainisme has been used for some time to describe hostility to the European Union (“Doctrine des dĂ©fenseurs de l’exercice de la souverainetĂ© nationale en Europe”) expressed by parties and intellectuals from the extreme right to the left. There is even a party, “RĂ©publique souveraine” led by Djordje Kuzmanovic .

During the presidential campaign of 2002, Jean-Pierre ChevĂšnement, who had founded the radical left  Centre d’Ă©tudes, de recherches et d’Ă©ducation socialiste CERES in the 1970s, had been a Socialist Minister in the first Mitterrand government, and served under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, presented himself as the “man of the nation”, above  partisan cleavages. As an opponent of the Maastricht Treaty, Jean-Pierre ChevĂšnement  appealed in the new millennium to a new Gaullism of the left. In many respects ChevĂšnement can be seen a trail-blazer for the evolution of socialists from a kind of Marxism on the left of the French Parti Socialiste (CERES, responsible for the claims that they would create a “rupture” with capitalism) critics of Mitterrand’s ‘modernising turn’ in the 1980s (expressed on the journal En Jeu)  to, outside the Socialists, republican socialism (1992, Mouvement des citoyens (MDC),  to openly nationalist sovereigntist politics which calls for an aligmement of La France insoumise with these right-wing anti-globalisation ‘patriots’. In this vein in 2015 he participated in the debates organised by the hard right Debout la France.

 The former socialist has even endorsed a degree of protectionist economics.

Sovereigntism can in this career alone be seen as a major source of political confusionism.

It rests on the idea that there is an entity called the ‘nation’, and the people, which, like Rousseau’s General Will, exists beyond all the different classes and political factions of a country. Populism, the claim to strand for the ‘real’ people against the ‘elites’ who frustrate their will, out of the self-interest of the oligarchies. In place of international bodies such as the European Union,  a sovereign Parliament, can solve all the problems in the land, by exercising full power.

Left sovereigntism claims that the same machinery, if captured by the right party, can do what it likes. With power in the hands of a left Labour Party,a People’s Brexit, a Lexit,  can “Bring back control” to the people.

Sovereigntism blurs the political lines and leaves the way open to more resolute forces who occupy the same terrain, all claiming to “take back control”. It has helped open the door to,

Exclusive nationalism and nativism, identity politics, critiques of globalisation and internationalism, and calls for democratic re-empowerment of the demos have converged politically on a new locus of inflated territorial, indeed ‘border’ sovereignty, aligning the call of ‘taking back control’ on behalf of a radically re-defined community (‘we’) with a defensive re-territorialisation of power along existing fault lines of nation-statism.

Populism, Sovereigntism, and the Unlikely Re-Emergence of the Territorial Nation-State. Aristotle Kallis. 2018.

Red-Brown Spiked (Italy: Salvini speaks to the gut of the nation) writer Thomas Fazi is perhaps one of the best known people who have argued for a “progressive vision of national sovereignty“.

History attests to the fact that national sovereignty and national self-determination are not intrinsically reactionary or jingoistic concepts – in fact, they were the rallying cries of countless nineteenth- and twentieth-century socialist and left-wing liberation movements. Even if we limit our analysis to core capitalist countries, it is patently obvious that virtually all the major social, economic, and political advancements of the past centuries were achieved through the institutions of the democratic nation state, not through international, multilateral, or supranational institutions, which in a number of ways have, in fact, been used to roll back those very achievements, as we have seen in the context of the euro crisis, where supranational (and largely unaccountable) institutions such as the European Commission, Eurogroup, and ECB used their power and authority to impose crippling austerity on struggling countries.

In a book written with William Mitchell Reclaiming the State, Fazi has argued, as an uncritical notice on the Counterfire site states, that,

The authors suggest that the left needs to provide a powerful alternative to neoliberalism, based around the state reasserting its supremacy over markets, and using its monopoly power over currency creation to introduce policies that favour the great majority. The insights provided by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) show how such an alternative strategy is possible for countries with their own sovereign currencies, but is not available for those who have ceded their power to supranational agencies (e.g. Eurozone nations who have relinquished monetary control and placed it in the hands of the ECB).

Fazi continues to push the line.

It is as plain that as Boris Johnson sets out the only actually existing Brexit plans, that ‘taking back control’ is a smokescreen for hard right attacks on rights and deference to the stronger – US – partner in any independent trade deals.

But what of this plan for monetary control?

Modern  Monetary Theory (MMT)  – this writer has attended lectures on it and read some of less technical materiel – offers at first sight an appealing alternative to financial austerity.

Now James Meadway, an left wing economist,offers some devastating criticisms of NMT. He also sheds light on the reactionary politics behind the idea, politics which help to explain by Fazi now appears  in  the Red Brown Spiked.

This is his case:

James Meadway Interview: “There are ways to end neoliberalism globally that are not progressive, and this will (increasingly) be the terrain the left is fighting on.”

James Meadway is a former advisor to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Previously, he was the Chief Economist at the New Economics Foundation and he is currently writing a book on left wing economics. In his interview with this website, he outlines the principles of Corbynomics, discusses a Green New Deal and explains why he thinks MMT would be such a misstep for the left.

Meadway outlines with appealing clarity the economic strategy of the Labour Party.

John McDonnell summarised the aim when he said “we want nothing less than an economy that is radically fairer, more democratic, and more sustainable, where the wealth of society is shared by all.” As the Shadow Treasury team has developed that since September 2015, I’d say the principles are:

– A rejection of the neoliberal premises that private ownership and markets will always be the best way to organise society;

– A belief that deep changes are required for our economy to begin to move it in a direction that benefits the great majority, including making it more sustainable;

– The principle that ownership and control of productive resources are the decisive factors determining economic outcomes, and that both should be decentralised, democratic, and collective as far as possible.

Instead of rhetoric about elites and globalisation, Meadway  offers a basis for a critique of ‘neoliberalism’,

I’d argue this shift in production relations – transferring ownership and reasserting the power of capital over labour – is at the core of neoliberalism in practice, but it can sit alongside the continued provision of welfare and other “consumption” provision by the state, in one form or another.

Labour, he argues, has begun to tackle this with the first Manifesto under the new left leadership.

So to the extent that the 2017 manifesto aimed to restore spending cuts and improved public service provision, it was essential – the damage done by austerity since 2010 has been both appalling, and entirely unnecessary – but not radically transformative. To the extent the 2017 manifesto went further, and posed the issue of correcting the colossal error of privatisation, it was more radical, because it began the process of reversing forty years of neoliberalism, but it didn’t point at something beyond what is common enough across the developed world. Likewise, [Labour’s] £250bn National Transformation Fund would be a huge increase in public investment for the UK, but would move us to around the average level of investment (relative to GDP) of the developed economy OECD group. To a significant extent, Corbynomics is Make Britain Normal Again.

Furthermore,

The second, underlying even this, is the transformation of ownership. This is more than only correcting the mistakes of the past by reversing 1980s and 1990s privatisations: it means broadening the scope of collective – not government – ownership across the whole economy, from renewable energy production (which, given the technologies we have, will largely need decentralisation), to worker ownership, to areas that we’ve only just begun to think about, like data. There are huge opportunities here to break out of the zero-sum games that neoliberal capitalism is forcing us into.

The interview is recommended to anybody with a serious interest in Labour economic policies, proving some solid foundations have been built. 

The core of the interview is taken up by a critique of Modern Monetary Theory.

In an a earlier article in Tribune, Against MMT, Meadway stated,

Unfortunately, however, MMT’s reassertion of a number of macroeconomic truths has been swamped by its distinctive contribution to theory — which is a rehabilitation of what is known as chartalism. Chartalism holds that money receives its value fundamentally as a result of its use to pay taxes — that, in the words of leading chartalist Georg Knapp, ‘money is a creature of law’. This is dubious as a historical claim, since money has existed in many different forms throughout history, and only some of those forms have arrived with the stamp of the state — and dubious as a description of reality today, since most money is created by private banks when people take out loans, whose relationship to the state is (at most) indirect.

This is the crucial political aspect:

MT’s grand claim is that money derives its value from its ability to pay taxes and, therefore, governments can exercise ‘monetary sovereignty’ by setting the value of money as they see fit. But the economy is not an island, it cannot be isolated from others in this way. Trade matters, as do the financial relationships between different economies — and both of those will depend on the value of the different currencies that economies use. MMT understates the amount these relative values can vary over time. As anyone using the pound since the Brexit referendum will have seen, these variations can be quite large. Countries running a deficit on their current account (meaning, broadly, that they import more than they export, counting goods, services, and flows of income) like the UK — which has a deficit funded from abroad — will always be vulnerable to demands for foreign currency that they cannot immediately meet. This is a significant impediment to sovereignty.

Meadway  concludes,

Worse yet, in a country so profoundly and obviously overstretched internationally, with a major financial centre that we know to be a major vulnerability, MMT promotes a blasĂ© indifference to the real relationships of power and patronage that sustain the world economy. To the extent that it disorientates activists, peddling simplistic monetary solutions to complex problems of political power, it is a barrier to a genuinely transformative Labour government. We need to build an organised and educated mass movement that can see the problems such a government might face. MMT cannot help us do this — in fact, it will hinder us in that mission.

Without pretending to grasp the technical details it is clear that McDonnell  would not have spent so much time consulting respected advisers on taxation reform if the Shadow Chancellor believed that using MMT would magic away the problems of raising revenue for Labour’s spending plans.

This is more in the line of the introduction to this post.

Meadway states,

There’s something I didn’t cover in Tribune, but the underlying politics of MMT are worth spending some time on. The core MMT policy agenda has strikingly little to do with the left: support for dollar dominance; indifference (at best) to redistribution from the rich through taxation (usually argued as taxing the rich being “unnecessary”); and labour market authoritarianism via the so-called “Job Guarantee”. There’s not much in here that is recognisably of the left, if we think the left is basically about freedom and equality – there’s quite a different political tradition at work.

This comes through in many different ways. For instance, Bill Mitchell and Thomas Fazi described it (in Reclaiming the State, p.10) as “tragic” that the left adopted the causes of anti-racism, women’s rights, and LGBT rights in the late 1970s. Worse, they claim this is as “equally tragic” as the acceptance of neoliberalism by parts of the left over the same time period. Now this is reactionary garbage, however you look at it, and should be firmly rejected – but it’s an important indicator as to where MMT is coming from.

MMT is not an authentic programme of the left; it’s a programme for economic nationalism that, currently, is trying to attach itself to the left. Historically, economic nationalism has arrived in left or right variants, and there has been slippage from one side to the other. So at different times MMT’s proponents have used different arguments to gain a hearing – claiming in the 1990s that a “Job Guarantee” would help drive down wages, for instance, whereas now they claim the Job Guarantee is a good way to deal with climate change. MMT advocates are reportedly advising Matteo Salvini in Italy, and Bill Mitchell thinks his government should “lead” other European countries. Mitchell and Fazi approvingly cite the monetary policy of Nazi Germany before the war in their book. I could generously call all this a bit slippery. There are ways to end neoliberalism globally that are not progressive, and this will (increasingly) be the terrain the left is fighting on.

Put simply, neither industry  nor money can be successful in modern attempt to create autarkies, worlds self-sufficient for themselves.

Does this monetary sovereignty lead to autocratic regimes?

That is far from established but it looks as if it lacks the capacity to perform the miracles Fazi and his side claim for it.

But as for slippery slopes, Fazi’s support for the Full Brexit, and now, collaboration with Spiked, shows he is already on one.

 

John McDonnell argues for UKIP Voters’ Veto on Labour Brexit Policy.

with one comment

Vetoed by UKIP Supporters, Says John McDonnell.

John McDonnell: Labour wants to push ahead with Brexit

On eve of conference, shadow chancellor defies calls for party to promise second referendum.

The Guardian Political Editor,    cites this,

Earlier, speaking as Labour prepares to gather in Liverpool for its annual conference, with Brexit high on the agenda, the shadow chancellor told the Guardian he would expect his party’s stance to be similar to the one it took in 2017.

“We would be in the same situation there, where we would be saying: we’re accepting that original vote; this is the sort of deal that we want,” McDonnell said.

“I really think people want this sorted. That means negotiating a deal that will meet people’s objectives. So you don’t get hung up on the semantics; you do the deal that will protect their jobs, and address some of the concerns that they had during the referendum.”

He underlined his scepticism about the idea of a vote on the final deal, which will be discussed in Liverpool after more than a hundred constituency Labour parties, and the Labour-supporting unions, called for it to be put on the agenda.

“The debate around the next manifesto will go on, but I really worry about another referendum,” he said.

I’m desperately trying to avoid any rise of xenophobia that happened last time around; I’m desperately trying to avoid giving any opportunity to Ukip or the far right. I think there’s the real risk of that. We’re not ruling out a people’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think people need to take that into account when we’re arguing for one.”

Stewart notes,

Much of Labour’s manifesto, if there was a snap poll, would probably be based on last year’s document, The Many, Not the Few, drafted by Corbyn’s policy chief, Andrew Fisher. But the final version would have to be approved by a committee of senior party figures at a so-called clause V meeting – and would be expected to take party conference resolutions into account.

And, apparently, Labour Policy will have to be approved or least found tolerable by the UKIP and the far-right…

The new Pamphlet from the Left Against Brexit says.

“Brexit is a hard right Tory project – the only way to resist it is from the left. This pamphlet puts forward our distinct, left wing reasons to oppose leaving the EU.”

It’s increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’, let alone a ‘people’s’ or ‘left’ Brexit – and this reality is gradually becoming obvious to millions of people in Britain. Brexit, after all, has always been a right wing project. Ardent eurosceptics from Nigel Farage to Daniel Hannan have long harboured a nationalist dislike for the idea of European unity – a hostility that has always gone alongside an aggressive support for Thatcherism and an extreme free-market ideology that yearns to emulate the US by, for example, abolishing the NHS.

….

There is a distinct radical case for staying in the EU, which starts from the assumption we cannot light a path to a new society through nationalist division. Instead, we need to work together with our allies across Europe to realise a bold and transformative socialism.Radicals need to make an unromantic assessment of the tasks at hand across the continent. The EU has many negative qualities – just look at its treatment of Greece (page 29). But the solution to this can only be brought about – like so many issues we encounter in the twenty-first century – through international cooperation, not ‘going it alone’. Staying in the EU and working across borders to tackle the many problems the continent faces is the best and only viable option. The alternative is to roll the dice on a Tory hard Brexit and hope for the best. Faced with this choice, leadership from the left is now required.

(Introduction, Luke Cooper).

Download this essential Pamphlet!

  • Brexit and the hard right’s American dream . Nick Dearden
  • Free movement: a workers’ right Ana Oppenheim.Railways and the EU: time for the truth Manuel Cortes
  • Austerity and resistance in Europe.Marina Prentoulis
  • The EU, a ‘neoliberal project’? NiccolĂČ Milanese
  • Corbynism and Europe. Mary Kaldor
  • Conclusion: Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum

From the Conclusion.

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment.

This analysis parallels this present Blog’s views on Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen and the French sovereigntist ‘left’. One can add that the Brexit ‘left’, which may be in a  position to dictate these view inside the Labour Party, may be visibly failing, but still needs to be defeated.

The alternative internationalist strategy of the Left Against Brexit needs active support.

As for the far-right, this is the best response:

It’s in this vein that Michael Chessum says that UKIP should not decide Labour Policy.

After May’s humiliation, Labour must seize the initiative on Brexit  (Guardian)

By backing a referendum on the deal, Corbyn can prevent a split in his party and lay the foundations for electoral success.

This should be a moment of opportunity for Labour and the wider left. The Tories’ Brexit agenda was never about restoring sovereignty to ordinary people – its purpose is to deregulate the British economy and bring us more in line with the American mode, permanently shifting the balance of power in society. By deploying a narrative about the economic crisis that blamed immigration falling living standards, the Brexit project aimed, via the means of a popular vote, to be on the winning side of history.

..

The Labour conference is likely to be dominated by this debate. After a summer in which Unite, the GMB and the TUC have slowly moved towards backing a fresh referendum, 150 motions have been submitted on Brexit. In spite of attempts to weaponise the issue against Corbyn, this is now a campaign led by the left – a grassroots surge centring on the need to defend migrants and free movement, protect the rights and prosperity of working-class people, and push back against the ideological project that Brexit represents.

Everyone now recognises that defeating the Tories’ Brexit agenda is Labour’s only path to government before 2022. There is a consensus that Labour should vote against May’s deal, if there is one, when it is presented to parliament. There is also a consensus that a general election and a radical Labour government is the goal of the strategy. But Labour needs to clarify what it would say about Brexit in any manifesto, and it needs to be clear about its demand if, as is likely, no general election happens. On both points, there is an inexorable logic that points towards a referendum on the deal.

This is a difficult time for the Corbyn project. On one flank, it faces the prospect of an SDP-style split that would fatally undermine Labour’s electoral prospects. On the other, it faces a support base that is up in arms about attempts by unions and the leadership to block open selections and enforce a higher threshold for leadership elections.

There is an alternative to a split, and to using the “party management” machine to crush the left’s own grassroots. By backing a referendum and endorsing a roadmap out of the nightmare of Tory Brexit, Corbyn can kill off the political pretext for a split from the Labour right. Instead of horse-trading with union leaderships and placating the parliamentary party, Corbyn can stick to his principles and make the case for democracy – in the party, and, ultimately, in the country.

We heartily endorse this analysis and these views.