Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Mate’

The Real News on Labour’s Plan For Nationalisation and Workplace Democracy

October 16, 2018

In this 15 minute video from the Baltimore-based The Real News network, host Aaron Mate talks to Leon Panitch, professor of political science at York University about the proposals announced at the Labour party’s conference last month that Labour intended to renationalize some of the privatized utilities, introduce profit-sharing schemes and workplace democracy in firms with over 250 members, in which 1/3 of the board would be elected by the workers.

The video includes a clip of John McDonnell announcing these policies, declaring that they are the greatest extension of economic democratic rights that this country has ever seen. He states that it starts in the workplace, and that it is undeniable that the balance of power is tipped against the worker. The result is long hours, low productivity, low pay and the insecurity of zero hours contracts. He goes on to say that Labour will redress this balance. They will honour the promise of the late Labour leader, John Smith, that workers will have full union rights from day one whether in full time, part time or temporary work. They will lift people out of poverty by setting a real living wage of ten pounds an hour.

McDonnell also says that they believe that workers, who create the wealth of a company, should share in its ownership and the returns that it makes. Employee ownership increases productivity and improves long-term decision making. Legislation will be passed, therefore, for large firms to transfer shares into an inclusive ownership fund. The shares will be held and managed collectively by the workers. The shareholders will give the workers the same rights as other shareholders to have a say over the direction of their company. And dividend payments will be made directly to the workers from the fund.

Commenting on these proposals, Panitch says that in some ways they’re not surprising. McDonnell stated that Labour would inherit a mess. But his remarks were different in that usually governments use the fact that they will inherit a mess not to go through with radical policies. Panitch then talks about Labour’s commitment to bring the public utilities – rail, water, electricity, the post office – public ownership, pointing out that these used to be publicly owned before Thatcher privatized them. McDonnell particularly focused on water, before going beyond it, citing the 1918 Labour party constitution’s Clause IV, which Blair had removed. This is the clause committing the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, under the best form of popular administration. And unlike previous nationalized industries, these will be as democratically-run as possible. Councils would be set up in the water sector made up of representatives of the local community and workers’ representatives to be a supervisory council over the managers in the nationalized water industry.

They then go to a clip of McDonnell talking about the nationalization of the utilities. McDonnell states that the renationalization of the utilities will be another extension of economic democracy. He states that this has proved its popularity in opinion poll after opinion poll. And it’s not surprising. Water privatization is a scandal. Water bills have risen by 40 per cent in real terms since privatization. 18 billion pounds has been paid out in dividends. Water companies receive more in tax credits than they pay in tax. And each day enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost due to leaks. ‘With figures like that’, he concludes, ‘we cannot afford not to take it back into popular ownership’.

Mate and Panitch then move on to discussing the obstacles Labour could face in putting these policies into practice, most particularly from the City of London, which Panitch describes as ‘the Wall Street of Britain’, but goes on to say that in some ways its even more central to financialized global capitalism. However, Panitch says that ‘one gets the sense’ that the British and foreign bourgeoisie have resigned themselves to these industries being brought back into public ownership. And in so far as bonds will be issued to compensate for their nationalization, McDonnell has got the commitment from them to float and sell them. He therefore believes that there won’t be much opposition on this front, even from capital. He believes that there will be more resistance to Labour trying to get finance to move from investing in property to productive industry.

He then moves on to talk about Labour’s plans for ten per cent of the stock of firms employing 250 or more people to go into a common fund, the dividends from which would passed on to the workers up to 500 pounds a year. Anything above that would be paid to the treasury as a social fund for meeting the needs of British people and communities more generally. Panitch states that this has already produced a lot of squawking from the Confederation of British Industry. Going to giving workers a third of the seats on the boards, Panitch states that it has already been said that it will lead to a flight of capital out of Britain. He discusses how this proposal can be radical but also may not be. It could lead to the workers’ representatives on these boards making alliances with the managers which are narrow and particular to that firm. The workers get caught up in the competitiveness of that firm, it stock prices and so on. He makes the point that it’s hardly the same thing as the common ownership of the means of production to have workers’ sitting on the boards of private companies, or even from workers’ funds to be owning shares and getting dividends from them. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction of socializing the economy more generally, and giving workers the capacity and encouraging them to decide what can be produced, where it’s produced, and what can be invested. And if it really scares British and foreign capital, this raises the question of whether they will have to introduce capital controls. Ultimately, would they have to bring the capital sector into the public sphere as a public utility, as finance is literally the water that forms the basis of the economy?

Mate then asks him about Labour’s refusal to hold a second referendum on Brexit, which angered some activists at the conference. Labour said that any second referendum could only be about the terms of the exit. Panitch states that people wanting Britain to remain in a capitalist Europe try to spin this as the main priority of the party’s members, even Momentum. He states that this is not the case at all, and that if you asked most delegates at the conference, most Labour members and members of Momentum, which they would prefer, a socialist Britain or a capitalist Europe, they would prefer a socialist Britain. The people leading the Remain campaign on the other hand aren’t remotely interested in a socialist Britain, and think it’s romantic nonsense at best. He states that the Corbyn leadership has said that they want a general election as they could secure an arrangement with Europe that would be progressive without necessarily being in Europe. They would accept the single market and a progressive stand on immigration rather than a reactionary one. They did not wish to endorse a referendum, which the Tories would have the power to frame the question. And this is particularly because of the xenophobic and racist atmosphere one which the initial Brexit vote was based. Panitch states that he is a great critic of the European Union, but he would have voted to remain because the debate was being led by the xenophobic right. He ends by saying that capital is afraid of the Trumps of this world, and it is because of the mess the right has made of things here in Britain with the Brexit campaign that capital might give a little bit more space for a period at least to a Corbyn government.

This latter section on Brexit is now largely obsolete because Labour has said it will support a second referendum. However, it does a good job of explaining why many Labour supporters did vote for Brexit. The editor of Lobster, Robin Ramsay, is also extremely critical of the European Union because of the way neoliberalism and a concern for capital and privatization is so much a part of its constitution.

Otherwise, these are very, very strong policies, and if they are implemented, will be a very positive step to raising people out of poverty and improving the economy. Regarding the possibility that the representatives of the workers on the company boards would ally themselves with capital against the workers, who put them there, has long been recognized by scholars discussing the issue of workers’ control of industry. It was to stop this happening that the government of the former Yugoslavia insisted that regular elections should be held with limited periods of service so that the worker-directors would rotate. Ha-Joon Chan in his books criticizing neoliberal economics also makes the points that in countries like France and Germany, where the state owns a larger proportion of firms and workers are involved in their companies through workers’ control, there is far more long-term planning and concern for the companies success. The state and the workers have a continuing, abiding interest in these firms success, which is not the case with ordinary investors, who will remove their money if they think they can get a better return elsewhere.

My concern is that these policies will be undermined by a concentrated, protracted economic warfare carried out against the Labour party and the success of these policies by capital, the CBI and the Tories, just as the Tories tried to encourage their friends in industry to do in speeches from Tweezer’s chancellors. These policies are desperately needed, but the Tory party and the CBI are eager to keep British workers, the unemployed and disabled in poverty and misery, in order to maintain their control over them and maximise profits.

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The Real News on AIPAC’s Suppression of Al-Jazeera Documentary on Israel Lobby

September 18, 2018

This is another video about the Israel lobby in the US from the Boston-based The Real News Network, posted on YouTube in March 2018. In it, presented Aaron Mate talks to Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada about Al-Jazeera’s documentary about America’s Israel lobby, and AIPAC’s efforts to suppress it.

AIPAC is one of the main pro-Israel lobbying organisations in the US. I’ve already put up a video by Dena Takruri of AJ+, YouTube’s companion channel to Al-Jazeera, of what she saw when she attended AIPAC’s annual conference way back in 2016. The conference was attended by all the presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, all pledging their total support for Israel. The only one, who didn’t attend, was Bernie Sanders.

The video opens with a clip of Democrat congressman Chuck Schumer making an incredibly ignorant speech at AIPAC, in which he claims that the reason why there isn’t peace between Israel and the Palestinians is because the Palestinians don’t have the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. They don’t want a Jewish state at all, and that’s because they don’t have the Torah, which supports it.

Mate states that this also reveals another reason why there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians: liberal politicians in the US hold extremist position on Israel.

He then move on to talk about Al-Jazeera’s suppressed documentary about the US Israel lobby. After their documentary, The Lobby, which exposed officials at the Israel embassy in Britain conspiring with members of the British civil service to take down politicians that were insufficiently supportive of Israel, Al-Jazeera decided to make a similar documentary about the Israel lobby in the US. They sent undercover reporters into AIPAC and other organisations. Although the documentary they produced has not been released, the identities of the reporters themselves has become known. They were reported by the newspaper Haaretz in Israel, and some Jewish newspapers in the US.

Amongst other things, they found that the Neocon organization, the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies collaborates with the Israeli embassy and acts as a front for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The documentary’s revelations are apparently so damaging to the Israel lobby, that they have sent a succession of their officials to Qatar. They haven’t said that they are trying to put pressure on the Qatari government to suppress the documentary, but it seems that this is what they’re doing.

The Foundation for the Defence of Democracies also spies on anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups and compiles lists of their members. Al-Jazeera also recorded its chief, Jonathan Schanzer, openly admitting that they smear critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists as anti-Semites as a weapon to defend Israel. However, he also says later in the video that this strategy is no longer as effective as it once was. Winstanley states that this is also damaging to the Israel lobby, as it wants to appear powerful and hegemonic.

Since the documentary was filmed, AIPAC and the other organisations have been trying to get the government to register Al-Jazeera as a foreign agent, in the same way that they forced, or tried to force, RT as an agent of Putin and the Russian government. But the FDD should also be forced to register because of its very strong links to the Israeli government. But there has been absolutely no moves to do so.

It’s clear that if the whole documentary was aired, it would be extremely damaging to the American Israel lobby and considerably embarrassing for the Israelis. It would seriously discredit their attacks on pro-Palestinian activists.

It’s particularly a pity that the clip of Jonathan Schanzer brazenly stating that they smear their opponents as anti-Semites hasn’t been shown. This should be posted up everywhere and go viral, as it would do immense damage not just to the American smear campaign, but also to its British counterpart against pro-Palestinian activists over here, and to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party.

What You Won’t See on the News: Trump Arming Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine

February 8, 2018

This is another piece of brilliant journalism, of the type that the lamestream media are trying to suppress as ‘fake news’ from the internet. This piece comes from The Real News Network, in which host Aaron Mate talks to Max Blumenthal about the Trump administration arming real neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, and Poland’s criminalisation of references to ‘Polish death camps’.

The Azov Battalion are a paramilitary militia, which grew out of the Patriot party. Their ideological leader is a street demagogue called Andrei Baletsky, and they are now part of his Social National Party. Whose names tells you exactly what they are – Nazis. Just like Hitler’s squad of murderous goons called themselves ‘National Socialist’. The group stands for ‘upholding the honour of the White race’. They at against race-mixing, and see themselves as part of the vanguard in the Ukraine in what they term a ‘reconquista’ – a reconquest of the White countries of Europe.

These thugs emerged in the Donbass in the east of Ukraine, fighting the pro-Russian separatists after the Maidan Revolution. The Russian and Russian-speaking separatists wished to secede as their language would not be recognised by the new, nationalist government. They have very strong support from the interior minister, and have been incorporated into the Ukrainian state national security apparatus. More recently, an special corps of the Battalion have been installed in the capital, Kiev, ‘to keep order’. They have begun to throw their weight around, and have disrupted a council meeting. Blumenthal states that this amounts to a coup against the current Ukrainian premier, Poroshenko. For some reason that Blumenthal doesn’t understand, Poroshenko’s position is weak, and he’s been attacked by the pro-Western politicos and activists.

The promotion of the Azov Battalion as a part of Ukrainian state security has alarmed the Jewish community in Ukraine, as well as severely normal Ukrainians. The campaigner against anti-Semitism, Ephraim Zurov, has commented that Ukraine seems to have a greater number of statues to Jew killers than any other country. This includes the nationalist hero, Stepan Bandera, who was a Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust. Blumenthal describes with disgust the way Stepan Bandera boulevard leads to Baba Yar. This was the site of one of the most infamous massacres of Jews in the former Soviet Union during the Nazi occupation. It’s the subject of a poem of the same name by one of the great Soviet writers commemorating the atrocity and its victims.

And, like the Polish senate, the Ukrainian government has also passed legislation banning any ascription of the Nazi atrocities and persecution of the Jews to Ukrainians. As Blumenthal states, this is to wipe out of history the huge amount of collaboration with the Nazis in Poland and Ukraine.

Blumenthal notes the various liberal commenters, who assured us all that the Maidan revolution wasn’t full of Fascists. It was, and Blumenthal describes it as a right-wing coup.

And America is funding them. Trump has sent a shipment of grenade launchers to the Battalion, as well as US army personnel to train their troops. These troopers have been photographed wearing the Battalion’s uniform, which includes the Nazi Wolfsangel, a badge, whose lettering is very much in the style of the SS badge. There have been attempts by Congress to stop the supply of arms and military aid. Legislation specifically prohibiting the supply of arms to the Azov Battalion has been tabled, only to be pushed back for debate later. And while this occurred, Trump sent a consignment of rocket launchers from the arms manufacturer Raytheon over there. Blumenthal also wonders what else the US is funding. The Battalion’s corps, sent in to keep the people of Kiev down, has 600 members. Supplying them with coats alone costs $1.6 million. So he wonders just who’s paying for that.

And the Azov Battalion aren’t just a threat to Ukraine, but to other European countries. Blumenthal makes the point that they’re like ISIS and al-Qaeda in that they attract foreign fighters. One of these was a French Nazi, Montot, who took back with him a vast cache of arms which he was going to use to attack a soccer match and bomb synagogues.

As for the Polish government outlawing any connection between their country and the Holocaust, Blumenthal and Mate state that this has drawn criticism from a number of countries, including Israel. But last year Israel also signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland, which recognised the country’s need to distance itself from the crimes of the Nazi era. And Poland has been a very strong supporter of Israel. They’ve signed a deal to purchase $14 million of arms from an Israeli arms manufacturer. Blumenthal here makes the point that Israel has a long history of collaborating with anti-Semites, including the Nazis during the Holocaust. He also states that the Nazis right in Poland and the Israeli government have the same ideology. Just as the Poles are trying to cover up their complicity in the Holocaust, so the Israeli are trying to cover up their perpetration of the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their ethnic cleansing.

This is very definitely not something you’re going to read in the Times or any of the other mainstream papers. Remember when we were all told that the ‘Orange Revolution’ was pro-democracy, and was a spontaneous uprising by Ukrainians against their pro-Russia president? It was a pack of lies. The Revolution was organised by the CIA, the US state department, and the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been the NGO to which the US has outsourced is coups and changes of regime since the CIA got a bad reputation for it all during the 1970s. The whole affair was overseen by Obama and his secretary of state, Victoria Nuland.

But the media keeps repeating the lie, including Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye. They’ve published several pieces in their ‘Letter from’ column from Ukraine, presenting the Revolution very much as the Ukrainian people fighting off evil pro-Putin oligarchs. The opposite is true. The Maidan Revolution was set up and controlled by pro-Western oligarchs and politicos, as a coup against their elected president.

The media’s unqualified acceptance of the lie that the new government isn’t at all Fascist is now so gross, that the long term critic of America foreign policy, William Blum, in the latest issue of his Anti-Empire Report has commented that the Nazis could walk down Kiev’s main street in full Nazi uniform, and the media would still tell us all there were no Nazis there.

It also shows how craven and mendacious the mainstream press and media is over here. While the Sunset Times, the Heil, Scum and Jewish Chronicle have libelled Mike and other decent anti-racists as anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, manufacturing lies and smears against them because they had the audacity to talk about Israel’s own crimes against humanity and collaboration with the Nazis, they are silent on the real Fascist and Nazis seizing power in eastern Europe.

Or perhaps that’s the point. The Tories, Blairites and Israel lobby are terrified of Corbyn and his supporters, not because they’re anti-Semitic – they aren’t, and they know it – but because they represent genuine socialism and a commitment to real social justice for the Palestinians. In fact, Steve Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, appeared in the page of the Guardian to deny that the Polish government was full of anti-Semites, because the current president is ‘a good friend to Israel’. Thus showing once again that the pro-Israel lobby will collaborate with real anti-Semites when it serves them. And so they have to be destroyed. But it also serves as a distraction from the way America is supplying and funding real Nazis in eastern Europe.

Max Blumenthal on the Real News Talking about the Nutters, Frauds and Fascists behind ‘Russiagate’

November 20, 2017

This is another example of the quality investigative journalism coming out of the alternative news media, which shows up the extremely biased reporting of the mainstream news.

In this clip, presenter Aaron Mate of the Real News Network talks to the author and journalist Max Blumenthal of AlterNet about a new, two-part series he’s made for the channel investigating the very shady figures behind the allegations that Russia has influenced a variety of left-wing movements in America through the use of bots in social media. Blumenthal states that most of these allegations overwhelmingly come from the Alliance for Securing Democracy. This outfit has claimed that Russia has influenced Black Lives Matter and the Take The Knee protests by NFL players following the lead of Colin Kaepernick. This organisation is responsible for the Hamilton 68 tracking software, which is used to trace the Russian bots. However, it won’t name or release the details of any of the websites that it supposedly tracks. Nevertheless, this organisation influenced Senator James Lankford to claim that the Take The Knee protests were the result of Russian propaganda. Blumenthal states that this is more or less the same allegation that was made against the Civil Rights Movements in the 1960s. Despite the complete absence of proof, the organisation has been uncritically cited as a reliable source by the mainstream news, including Scott Shane at the New York Times and Craig Tinberg at the Washington Post, as well as the Daily Beast. One of the main figures at the Alliance for Securing Democracy is Clint Watts, who has called for the government to quell ‘on-line rebellion’ and wants ‘nutritional labels’ put on websites to warn prospective browsers what their politics and links are. The Alliance for Securing Democracy is partly funded by the German Marshal Fund, which is one of the most respected think-tanks in Washington, and which is itself partly funded by the German government. The organisations and individuals now promoting ‘Russia-gate’ are also strongly funded by the Neocons.

Another major figure in these allegations is Aaron Weisburd. Weisburd has no training in Russia, and absolutely no expertise there either. He started his career as a self-declared defender of internet democracy by setting up the website, the Online Haaganah. This doxed – released the personal details – of Muslim and Palestinian web sites Weisburd decided was Islamist or anti-American. Along with the details of the webmasters, he’d also post the details of the websites’ IP providers, who would then come under attack by his fans. Blumenthal states that they are the same type of people as the Jewish Defence League, the violent wing of the Jewish anti-Islam movement. Weisburd has also put up on his site the writings of Daniel Pipes, another virulently anti-Islamic author.

But it hasn’t just been Muslims and Palestinians, who have been attacked by Weisburd and his slavering hordes. He’s also attacked other, left-wing sites, sometimes for the most trivial reasons. Like they showed the American flag upside down, or they dared to criticise George Bush.

Since setting up the website, Weisburd has gone on to take up a position at the George Washington Centre for Cyber and Homeland Security. It was Weisburd, who was brought in to design the Hamilton 68 software, which is being used as an effective blacklist of left-wing and dissenting websites. As well as doxing those he thinks are insufficiently patriotic, Weisburd has also posted up his own, violent fantasies about killing Glenn Greenwald, the editor of the Intercept. He also claimed that the Intercept was a vehicle for Russian propaganda, which Blumenthal states is just pure McCarthyism. Blumenthal also states that among the others pushing the story that Russia is attempting to distort American democracy through the Net are members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, including Laura Rosenberger and the former CIA director Michael Morell.

Returning to Clint Watts, Blumenthal states that he was formerly at an obscure and marginal think tank in Florida, the Foreign Policy Research Centre. This organisation was set up by a group of Austrian Fascists, who published eugenicist tracts and claimed that the peoples of the Developing World and non-Whites had lower IQs. They were fiercely in favour of the Cold War, and at one point denounced Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove, as Russian propaganda. Watts has also written a series of articles on his organisation’s cite and elsewhere urging the American government to spend taxpayers’ dollars to get Salafist Islamist terrorists to attack Russia and Iran. He also claimed that he had personally been attacked on-line by Russian bots. He has also spuriously claimed that RT and Sputnik were responsible for causing riots in Turkey. He has testified about this to Congress. When he released a transcript of this, which listed his sources, Blumenthal checked them. He states that in every single case it was either a lie, or a distortion or half-truth. As for Watts himself, he can’t speak Russian and has never produced any academic work on Russia. He’s simply not remotely a credible source.

I think some of this has been covered before by Counterpunch, or one of the other radical online news organisations. I can remember reading about how the allegations of Russian hacking and on-line interference was being promoted by the Clinton team, and promoted uncritically by the hacks at the New York Times and Washington Post. The same article also described how the allegations were also being produced and promoted by the Austrian eugenicists and Cold War Fascists.

It’s clear that these allegations are almost entirely insubstantial, and come from the extreme Right, as well as Hillary Clinton’s team in the Democrat Party. The last is trying to use Russia as a diversion and scapegoat for Killary losing the presidential election to Donald Trump. However, Hillary herself when she was in Obama’s cabinet showed every sign of wishing to increase tension with Russia and China. Her involvement in these allegations suggests that she’s genuinely hostile to Russia, and that she isn’t just making them because they just happen to be a convenient way of deflecting criticism from her.

What is disturbing is how seriously these allegations are being taken, including by people over this side of the Atlantic. When RT asked people outside Hillary’s book-signing event at the South Bank Centre ‘what went wrong?’, many of them answered that it was the Russians. And we’ve also seen Theresa May and the Tories criticise RT in Britain.

These allegations are simply another McCarthyite tactic designed to close down alternative news sources, and those websites that attack and criticise the neoliberal, corporatist establishment. This needs to be better known and called out. But I doubt very much that the mainstream media will do that, and certainly not the BBC over here.