Posts Tagged ‘Neoliberalism’

Bastani, Srikasthan and Nunns On Starmer and How to Remove Him

October 4, 2021

Here’s another interesting video from the Labour left and those with similar views I found on YouTube. Staged as part of The World Transformed, it’s of a debate between the awesome Aaron Bastani, Gaya Srikasthan and Alex Nunns in front of an audience on whether Starmer should go, and if so, how. In actual fact, as they say from the start, there is no disagreement between them and their audience that Keef Stalin should get the push. What is up for debate is how this is to be achieved.

Bastani begins by a complete demolition of Stalin’s career as leader and his attempts to project an image of being a trustworthy politician. He isn’t, not remotely. Stalin has broken every pledge and promise he made. And it was always clear to members of his constituency that he was hard right by the awful company he kept. This is going to rebound on him with the public. Bastani makes the case that there are three kinds of people: those who tell the truth; those who lie, but don’t claim to be telling the truth; and then there are those who lie but claim to be honest. The self-acknowledged liars are Berlusconi and Boris. Those who claim to tell the truth include Stalin and Hillary Clinton. And the public dislikes these liars more than they do crooks like Berlusconi. It is possible that people will become so disillusioned that Stalin will be forced out. Unfortunately he could be replaced by somebody as bad, like Lisa Nandy, or worse, like Wes Streeting. Much of this debate concerns the way Starmer has rigged the constitution to make it extremely difficult for a left-winger to become leader ever again. But the overall message is not to be too disheartened. Even with the motions passed, things haven’t gone all Starmer’s way at conference. One of his gerrymandering motions was rejected. Another barely scraped through. It would have been rejected if some of the people, who have left the party, had remained and voted against it. Even after Stalin’s purges.

The message from the speakers is that left-wingers should remain in the party to fight from the inside. But they need to organise. People should join momentum and their unions, and especially get on the Unison link with Labour. Nor should they be too worried about the leadership. Jeremy Corbyn gave socialists hope, but Bastani states that Labour hasn’t been a socialist party since 1951, and hasn’t been social democrat since the 1970s. Corbyn himself offered less in the way of socialism than the 1970s state. Towards the end of his time as leader Corbyn was making concessions in his negotiations with industry, and Bastani feels that if he had got into power, socialists would have been disappointed. But he also points out how the leadership can change rapidly. Only a decade ago, it seemed that Ed Miliband was the best you could get as Labour leader, and the next one could be just slightly left of him. And then Corbyn’s election changed the situation completely.

When it came to questions from the audience, one woman rather loudly and in my view, angrily told them that in their dismissal of the candidates for the Labour leadership they were being misogynist in omitting various left-wing female MPs. She also ran an ‘activists’ corner’ in a pod cast, Not the Andrew Marr Show, and suggested the speakers and perhaps other Labour members should do the same, and invited Bastani to appear on hers sometime. Another member of the audience wondered what should be done to help Black and Asian members, who had been the most consistent voters and supporters of Labour. They and the panel pointed to great Black politicians, such as Dawn Butler, the importance of Black leadership programmes and said that they needed the support of White allies. On a similar issue, another audience member denounced Stalin’s purge not only of socialists, but socialist Jews.

When it came to supporting left Labour politicians in other constituencies, one man said it was useless sending donations through regional office, ‘because we know what’s done with them’. He suggests instead that people should become treasurers of their local constituency party, suggest that it pairs up with that of a left-wing MP, and then send the donations directly.

They also recommend that left-wing members should concentrate in building up their local constituencies, many of which are still left-wing despite Keef’s purges. They should also look outward to forge links with the public. And most of all, they are not to be too disheartened. Srikasthan states that instead of concentrating on one leader, she sees a roomful of leaders. She also makes the point that she has worked with indigenous people elsewhere in the world, who are suffering real repression and persecution. This isn’t like the situation in Jakarta, where people are being rounded up by the authorities.

The talk therefore gives hope for changing the current dire situation in the Labour leadership, though I would have liked more detailed suggestions on how to organise to overthrow Stalin and his corrupt, anti-democratic NEC. The attitude is that the Labour party isn’t completely lose yet, and the left can make gains by supporting the Green New Deal and particularly issues with the soft left. But I think this will be a very hard struggle and I am not entirely sure if it will be successful in rescuing Labour from the right. But Srikasthan makes a very serious point when she says that neoliberalism has failed, and in the coming decades with the climate and other crises there will only be two alternatives: socialism and extreme nationalism. We are very much back in the situation H.G. Wells confronted, that the world was in a race with catastrophe.

And the only choice is civilisation, proper socialism, or barbarism.

Starmer’s 11,500 Word Vision: Blairism Rehashed

September 24, 2021

Last week people were commenting on an 11,500 word piece Starmer had written laying out his vision for the Labour party. There was a rumour going round that it was going to 14,000 words, but mercifully we’ve been spared that. I think Novara Media put up a piece suggesting that it would be 14,000 words in which Starmer says nothing. This would be the same nothing that he says to voters and with which he criticises the Tories. He has precious little to say to them. When questioned a while ago on whether Labour had a particular policy in one specific area, the Labour person questioned replied that they did, but that it was secret. Now it seems Starmer does have policies of his own. He has written that he is not in favour of nationalisation, but that government should be ‘a partner to industry’.

This is Blairism. Blair had Clause IV, the clause in the Labour party’s constitution committing it to nationalisation, removed in the 1990s. Instead, Blair promoted various public-private partnerships with business in public works projects, the building and management of hospitals and health centres and so on. This was Tony’s big idea. The result was the corporatism that mars public administration in America and Britain. Government functions were outsourced to companies like Serco, G4S and Maximus, managers and chief officers from private companies were appointed to government bodies, often those that regulated the very industries from which these officials were drawn. NHS privatisation moved into a higher gear and expanded further than the Tories had pushed it, and schools were handed over to private academy chains.

This has been a massive failure. Tens of schools have had to be taken back into public administration thanks to the failure of the private companies running them. Academies are no better educating their charges than state schools once the far greater expenditure on academies is accounted for. Hospital, GP and other medical services are being cut so the private firms providing them can make a profit. The construction companies with whom Blair5’s government went into partnership to build the country’s infrastructure, like bridges and so on, have gone so regularly over budget that the entire PFI scheme under which they are given contracts has been criticised by the Office of National Statistics as a colossal waste of money. And at a local level, ordinary communities saw their traditional shops closed down by local authorities in favour of the big supermarkets despite the opposition of ordinary people.

The private firms running the utilities are not providing the investment these sectors need. Several of the railway companies have had to be removed from running the trains in their areas and the service taken back into public administration, for example.

Thatcherism is, as one Australian economist described it, ‘zombie politics’. It’s dead and should have been buried years ago, but still lurches on, supported by a neoliberal elite, including the Blairites in the Labour party.

Starmer has nothing to offer but more of this unappetising stuff warmed up. It’s yesterday’s economic left-overs, which were foul and indigestible then, and even worse now.

The only alternative is the socialism Corbyn championed – nationalisation of the utilities, a strong welfare state and the restoration of power to the unions. Everything Starmer hates.

Which is why Starmer must go. He’s an ideologically bankrupt, dictatorial non-entity, who has nothing to offer but more Toryism and Blairite despair and exploitation.

Labour Anti-Semitism: Starmer Once Again Accusing Jews

September 24, 2021

I had a couple of commenters come over here a few days ago to give me the benefit of their views on my article about Gary Spedding getting suspended. Spedding was all too keen to have decent people suspended and expelled on trumped up anti-Semitism charges, but has now changed his tune somewhat now that he has met the same fate. He’s been accused of passing around Green party material during the Hartlepool election. Thus Spedding now would like to offer his solidarity with others. Except when Mike asked him for an apology for calling him an anti-Semite and holocaust denier, Spedding asked why he would want to apologise to him. He hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t really changed his views. He just wants sympathy and so deserves everything he gets.

One of the commenters on my article about this said that I had a conspiratorial attitude, and a problem with people who had genuine concerns about anti-Semitism, particularly Jews. Another left a snarky comment stating that I believed all the anti-Semitic libels against the people I term ultra-Zionists, ‘who just happen to be Jews’. I deleted that comment because, sarcastic as it was, I didn’t want the anti-Semitic smears to appear on my blog, as well as the fact that I couldn’t be bother to argue against such nonsense.

In fact there is abundant evidence to show that all the anti-Semitism comes from the Labour party witch-hunters. It’s sectarian anti-Semitism directed primarily against the people that threaten the Board of Deputies’ very narrow definition of British Jewry: people like them from the United Synagogue, who wholeheartedly support Israel and demand the suppression of any reporting of its atrocities against the Palestinians. Neoliberals who support Blair and fear the revival of socialism in the Labour party, and so joined the rest of the Conservatives in looking for a way to smear Corbyn and his supporters.

Four-fifths of the people accused of anti-Semitism are Jews. They’re supposed to be self-hating. This is risible, a sick joke. There are, unfortunately, self-hating Jews. I found an academic book about the phenomenon once in the university library. In some extreme cases, they pretend to be Aryans and join neo-Nazi groups. There was a case in the ’90s of one such individual, who was the head of a neo-Nazi unit. He took his own life after being outed to his storm troopers. But none of the peeps Starmer and Evans are suspending for anti-Semitism seem even remotely like this. They look to me like decent, self-respecting, secular and Torah-observant Jews. Many of them have been victims of real anti-Semitic abuse and assault, as I’ve said ad nauseam. They’re being smeared and expelled instead because they’re socialists, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who criticise Israel’s barbaric ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And this week, Starmer’s NEC suspended and smeared 11 more Jewish victims: ┬áLeah Levane, Jenny Manson, Graham Bash, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Mike Cushman, Glyn Secker, Jonathan Rosenhead, Stephen Marks, Diana Neslen, Marion Roberts, Tony Booth. Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi is one of the leading figures in Jewish Voice for Labour, which one right-wing Labour MP tweeted should be expelled en masse along with other ‘commies’. Graham Bash is a well-respected Labour member and activist of very long standing. But they’re the ‘wrong kind of Jews’.

The Blairites running these purges make great use of the fact that real Nazis and Fascists identified Jews with capitalism, and so have accused anyone attacking big business or the financial sector of being anti-Semitic. But the Nazis also believed Jews were responsible for Communism and ‘Marxist’ socialism. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to find the exact quote, but in the 1920s/30s Nazi propaganda against the SPD, the mainstream German socialist party roughly like the Labour party, was that it had been taken over by Jews. The Jews had conspired to get elected as delegates to the Reichstag and were busy expelling non-Jews from the party so they could replace them. It’s a nasty, vile piece of propaganda. And now we see something rather like it with the anti-Semitism smears. The smear merchants are claiming that the wrong type of Jews, commies and pinko lefties, are trying to take over the Labour party to oust virtuous believers in capitalism and Maggie Thatcher, and so must be purged.

But the anti-Semitism smears and lies are just one part of this general purge by Keef Stalin against the left. If he can’t smear his opponents as anti-Semites, he suspends them anyway, with no reason given. We’ve seen this with the sudden suspension of delegates to the Labour conference which begins tomorrow. It seems to be simply a method to remove delegates, who would vote out general secretary David Evans, the vile individual chiefly responsible for the purges and smear campaign within Labour. The victims haven’t been given reasons, just suspended. This is arbitrary government, the mark of the tyrant. It shows that Starmer and the NEC cannot be trusted and should not be allowed in government.

Because if they break the internal regulations of the Labour party, how much worse would they be if they felt they could break the laws of our great and beautiful country with impunity? And what would they do to real socialists, especially our Jewish brothers and sisters, if they had the power of the state?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/09/21/also-in-the-news-starmers-racist-labour-accuses-jews-of-anti-semitism/

Nestle, Pinkwashing and the Corporate Enslavement of Black Africans

July 5, 2021

Apart from the mad internet radio host, Alex Belfield, another right wing YouTube channel I keep an eye on is The Lotus Eaters, with Sargon of Gasbag, alias Carl Benjamin, and his friends. It annoys me with its calm assumption that capitalism is perfect, more privatisation and deregulation will lift the world’s starving billions out of poverty and their casual sneers against the left. I found their review of Ze’ev Sternhell’s latest book on Fascism, Neither Left Nor Right, absolutely unwatchable because of the massive amount of ignorance about the subject, and just intellectual history generally. Sternhell’s an Israeli who grew up in Poland during the Nazi invasion. He’s a very well respected scholar of Fascism, not surprisingly. But Benjamin and his cronies took the book as proving that Fascism is a form of socialism. This idea is rampant on the right. This ignores the Fascist alliance with big business, their promotion of capitalism, and their recruitment of private sector businessmen to run the vast industrial associations through which the Nazis exercised control of industry and society. Mussolini started out as a radical socialist, but moved right to ally with the industrialists and feudal landlords to break up the socialist trade unions, smash workers’ and peasants’ cooperatives, and destroy other dangerous liberal political parties, like the Populists. The Italian Popular party was founded as a Catholic organisation, and stood for a widening of democracy including the radical step of votes for women and further rights for the workers and peasants. But the papacy at the time allied with the Fascists to smash it because it wasn’t under the control of the bishops. Yes, Mussolini’s ideal of the corporative state, in which industries are run by vast industrial associations which combine the trade unions with the employer’s organisations, sort of if someone combined the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress and then gave them a separate parliamentary chamber, was derived from anarcho-syndicalism. But it also incorporated ideas from Nationalists like Alfredo Rocco, who wanted the state to take over the trade unions from a right-wing, pro-business viewpoint. It also ignores Adolf Hitler’s adulation of the big businessman as biologically superior to the proles, his blanket refusal to nationalise anything and a speech he made to the German version of the CBI stating that business needed dictatorship to protect it. Instead you generally get a lot of waffle about how the Nazis were socialists, because they said so, but it and Fascism were different types of socialism to Communism. In fairness, this analysis of Italian Fascism does have more than an element of truth. In the words of Sargon’s matey Callum, Fascism is socialism after it dumps Communism. Which is almost true, but ignores the fact that Communism is only one form of socialism, and was so even at the time. But it excludes the fact that Mussolini and the rest were generally and fanatically pro-capitalist. The statement that it must somehow be a form of socialism rests on the Fascist’s state control of industry. But this state control is contrasted with an idealised form of free market capitalism that has never existed. And Fascist corporativism looks very much like the Blairite Third Way or modern neoliberalism, in which the heads of big corporations form government policy and and are rewarded with government posts.

It looks like Boris Johnson’s crony capitalism, and is, I fear, what we are moving towards with his continued attack on democracy and the right to protest.

However, I believe very strongly that the Lotus Eaters are absolutely right about the extremist views promoted by the far left, like Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory. So do many left-wing intellectuals, who feel that there is still a lot of racism, sexism and bigotry that needs to be tackled, but despise Critical Race Theory and Queer Theory for their rejection of objective truth and fact in favour of feelings, ideological assumptions and subjective interpretations.

It was the end of Pride Month a few days ago, and the Lotus Eaters marked the occasion by sneering at the corporate nonsense various big companies were putting out to show that they indicated Pride and gay and trans rights. I’m blogging about this not because I wish to attack genuine support for gay rights or promote intolerance towards trans people, but because some of this corporate support does seem a mite excessive. And in some cases it might even be hypocritical. The Lotus Eaters’ video included a promo video from one of the banks telling everyone to watch their pronouns around trans people. Ikea went even so far as to launch gay and trans sofas. The gay sofa has various colour straps running across it, presumably to represent the colours of the rainbow gay flag. The trans sofa has various slogans written on it, one of which is ‘No-one will believe you.’ The sofa is also decorated with prints of multicoloured hands. Various trans people appear in the video saying that they can really express their essential selves on this piece of furniture. Which makes it sound like no trans person was ever comfortable on a normal sofa before. Sargon and Callum then giggle about how the hands and slogan make the sofa creepily rape-y, and unfortunately they do have a point.

But they have a rather more serious point when they report that a legal suit brought against Nestle, one of the companies loudly promoting their support of gay and trans right, was thrown out last week by an American court. The suit was against the company’s use of enslaved Black African labour in the production of the cocoa from which their chocolate is made. The case was thrown out because the people enslaved aren’t under American jurisdiction. Sargon and Callum used it to argue that Nestle, and all the other companies, really don’t care about the various left-wing issues they claim to support, like Black Lives Matter. They just want to be seen as nice, liberal and cuddly to avoid being attacked for racism or any other form of bigotry. And in the case of gay rights, it’s called ‘pinkwashing’.

Israel’s particularly guilty of this, using the state’s official tolerance towards gay culture and the Jerusalem Pride parade to present a false liberalism and appeal to western liberals and radicals against Islam. Israel is pro-gay, even though many of its citizens are extremely conservative in their views and hate gays just like they’re hated by other religions and societies. They contrast this with the persecution of gays in contemporary Islam. But traditionally Islam was far more tolerant of homosexuality. Tele Sur’s Abbie Martin reported that when she went to Palestine, she found the situation the complete opposite of what the Israelis were claiming. Gayness was definitely tolerated, and she saw gay couples who were not persecuted at all.

Nestle’s a nasty corporation. I remember the scandal a few years ago when they were pushing their baby milk, a substance that needed to be bought after the baby was started on it, as against healthy breastfeeding in Africa. And all for corporate profit. It doesn’t surprise me that they source their cocoa from plantations using slave labour. It also bears out a comment by one of the great readers of this blog, who pointed me in the direction of an article about how the various big companies all pledging their support for Black Lives Matter were ruthless exploiters of slave, or starvation level labour in the developing world. This is all lies and corporate hypocrisy, done to impress liberal consumers in the West, while the reality is very different.

I’ve also no doubt that the example he makes of Nestle using Black African slave labour also damages his case for unrestrained capitalism. This is what unrestrained private enterprise looks like. The most horrific example of this was the Belgian Congo, now Zaire, when it was the personal fief of the Belgian king, Leopold. Leopold set up his own private police force, the Force Publique, and demanded that all Congolese produced a set amount of rubber. If they didn’t, they were beaten, mutilated and killed. Eight million Congolese died in what can only justly be described as a holocaust. This is what unrestrained global capitalism is doing today – forcing people into real slavery and poverty. We need more regulation, not less.

And I’m dam’ sure that the case against Nestle was brought by lefties outraged at this corporate enslavement for a western multinational.

Don’t be taken in by this type of false advertising, which only really applies to the West. We needed to see beyond the specious support some companies give to liberal issues like anti-racism and gay rights, and look at what is really going on elsewhere in the world.

If you want to have a look at their video, it’s entitled ‘Social Justice Is Going Over the Top’ and it’s at (2) Social Justice is Going Over the Top – YouTube. I’m not going to post it, just link to it, because, well, this is Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, and the Lotus Eaters are annoying, even when they make some decent points people on the left can also get behind.

Book on Anti-Capitalism

May 29, 2021

Simon Tormey, Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner’s Guide (London: One World, revised edition 2013).

Like many people, I’ve been doing some reading during the lockdown. I found this in one of the mail order book catalogues I get, and ordered it as it looked interesting. I got through the post the other day. It was first published in 2004 and was republished in a revised edition nine years later. The blurb for it on the back runs

The financial crisis, bank bailouts, and the dash to austerity have breathed new life into protest movements across the globe, and brought anti-capitalist ideas into the mainstream. But what does it mean to be anti-capitalist? And where is anti-capitalism going – if anywhere?

Simon Tormey explores these questions and more in the only accessible introduction to the full spectrum of anti-capitalist ideas and politics. With nuance and verve, he introduces the reader to the wide variety of positions and groups that make up the movement, including anarchists, Marxists, autonomists, environmentalists, and more. Providing essential global and historical context, Tormey takes us from the 1968 upsurge of radical politics to the 1994 Zapatista insurrection, the 1999 Seattle protests, and right up to Occupy and the uprisings across the Eurozone.

This is a fascinating and bold exploration of how to understand the world – and how to change it.

A biographical note states that Tormey is a political theorist based in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. He was the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham.

The book has an introduction and the following chapters:

  1. The Hows and Whys of Capitalism
  2. Anti-Capitalism after the ‘End of History’
  3. A ‘movement of movements’1: ‘reformism’, or ‘globalisation with a human face’
  4. A ‘movement of movements’ II: renegades, radicals and revolutionaries
  5. The Future(s) of Anti-Capitalism: Problems and Perspectives

There is a timeline of contemporary anti-capitalism, a glossary of key terms, thinkers and movements, and a list of resources.

Although the book was published eight years ago, I think it’s still going to be very relevant. The world may have been in lockdown for the past year with governments supporting their economies, but the Tories have neither gone away nor changed their stripes. It’s been pointed out that they never let a crisis go to waste. Once the lockdown is lifted, they’ll revert back to cutting the welfare state, privatising the NHS and with further attacks on workers’ rights, increasing job insecurity and lowering wages. We will need to organise again and resist them. The book’s short at 181 pages, excluding the index, but it looks like a very useful and necessary contribution to combating neoliberalism and the poverty and misery it is inflicting on working people across the globe.

One Struggle: The People Oppressing the Indian Farmers Are Also Donors to the British Tories

May 5, 2021

As I’ve mentioned previously, last Friday I went to a Virtual pre-May Day rally on Zoom, put on as part of the Arise festival of left Labour ideas. It lasted for nearly an hour and a half, and featured great speakers from across the world, including our own Jeremy Corbyn. The international guests included Daniele Obono, a Black socialist politician from across the Channel in France, and peeps from Ghana, India and Latin America. They spoke about how people everywhere had to fight against exploitation from their own national elites, as well as combating racism, colonialism and the legacy of slavery. One of the speakers graphically showed how the poor African countries are very much at the mercy of the big multinationals with a story about Kenya and Vodaphone. The Kenyan government had asked the phone company not to give its shareholders their dividends this year, because the pay out would bankrupt the African nation.

I was also very much interested in the talk by an Indian lady about the appalling policies of Modi’s Hindu Supremacist government. This is the Indian nationalist BJP, which is extremely right-wing and bitterly intolerant of Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, as well as liberal Hindus, who believe in a secular, tolerant, pluralist India. The BJP are trying to privatise the state purchasing mechanism for the agricultural sectors. This was set up to guarantee a fair price to India’s farmers. However, the BJP are neoliberals and so want to hand it over to private entrepreneurs. This will force down prices, sending millions of farmers into abject poverty. There have been mass demonstrations and strikes against it right across India. She said that it’s the biggest protest movement in the world, number 250 million people. And Modi and his crew have reacted brutally, sending the police in to break up the protests, beat demonstrators and arrest the journalists covering them.

And guess what? Some of the businessmen backing Modi’s privatisation are also donors to the Tories over here.

This also shows how multinational capital is operating across the globe to impoverish and exploit working people.

A few months ago we had as guest speaker at a Virtual meeting of my local Labour party here in Bristol a member of Sikh community to talk about Modi’s attacks on the Indian farmers. Most of the farmers affected are Sikh, and so there are Sikh charities in this country which are giving aid to their coreligionists in India.

But it’s also very clear that working people across the world also need to unite to tackle the poverty and oppression created by capitalism because of the impact of globalisation. I am very definitely not a Communist, but Marx made this very clear in the slogan on the Communist Manifesto.

We really do need the workers of the world to unite. Because if we don’t, we will be in chains.

Retired Generals Call for Military Dictatorship to Save France from Islamist Terrorism

April 28, 2021

Here’s another landmark on the march of militant populism across Europe and the ominous threat of the return of real Fascism. Mahyar Tousi is a right-wing, pro-Brexit YouTube, who regularly denounces the left. Normally I wouldn’t watch his videos, but last night he posted a grim one which reported that a group of twenty former French generals had signed a letter, published in the right-wing news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, calling for a military coup if President Macron failed to stop the disintegration of France by Islamists. The first signature was that of Christian Piquemal, a former head of the French foreign legion. Macron’s government condemned the wretched letter and compared it to the failed military coup which tried to topple President de Gaulle during the Algerian war of independence sixty years ago.

The letter declared that France ‘is in danger. Several mortal perils threaten her. Even in retirement we remain soldiers of France and cannot in the present circumstances remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.’ According to its signatories, the country was disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of suburbs – banlieus – who were detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to the constitution’. They accused the government of sparking hatred because of the brutal police treatment of the Yellow Vest protesters two years ago. They warned that if nothing was done, there would be an explosion and then intervention by our comrades on active service in the dangerous mission of protecting our civilised values and the safety of our compatriots.’

Marine le Pen, the head of the National Rally party, has come out in support of a coup. Tousi calls this ‘a bit crazy, because France is still a democracy at this point’, and he doesn’t know why people are getting so emotional. His video also show a graph of the various parties’ support according to the opinion polls. These show Macron and Le Pen neck and neck at 26 per cent, Xavier Bertrand, an Independent centre-right candidate at 15 per cent, Jean Melenchon of the Far Left at 11 per cent, and Anne Hidalgo of the centre left at 6 per cent. The report on which Tousi draws for his coverage of the issue states that the generals’ letter has especial resonance following the murder a few days ago of a woman working in a Limousin police station by a Tunisian Islamist.

There are several remarks to be made here. There’s been much anti-Arab racism in France for sometime now, just as there’s racism here across the pond. About twenty or so years ago the Independent’s and I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown complained about the racism her family experienced when on holiday in south of France. However, she subsequently wrote an article several years later about how the situation had changed for the better when her family went back there on holiday. And a few years ago there was a series of mass protests under a slogan that translates into English as ‘Don’t Touch My Mate’ of White French young people attacking this racism in solidarity with their Arab friends.

I think the racial situation on the other side of the Channel has got worse due to recent Islamist atrocities, such as the attack in Marseilles a few years ago and the mass murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. The spectre of this attack returned a few weeks ago when a French schoolteacher, Thomas Paty, was murdered by an enraged Muslim for showing a classroom of children one of the blasphemous cartoons from Hebdo which provoked the attack. Paty was teaching a lesson about freedom of speech, and had warned his Muslim students that he was going to show the cartoon. If they were going to be offended, then they were allowed to leave the room. Some of them stayed, told their parents, and someone at the local mosque then put Paty’s details up on the Net. This prompted a raft of legislation against Islamist terrorism, and I’ve seen videos on YouTube claiming that, to show his defiance of the Islamists, Macron not only gave Paty a state funeral, but he had the cartoon displayed on public buildings. According to Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, and his mates over at the Lotus Eaters YouTube panel, the legislation provides for the deportation of the foreign-born parents of any child who protests over cartoons. If this is correct, then the French government is coming down very hard, and because of this there have been counterdemonstrations against the new laws by Muslims.

Many of the Islamist terrorists came from the banlieus. Muslims are generally underprivileged across Europe, and from what I was taught in geography while I was at school, the banlieus are grim places of tower blocks, unemployment, despair and nothing else. They don’t, or at least didn’t, have any basic services because their planners believed they weren’t necessary. Their residents could simply travel into the centre of town for whatever they needed.

The rhetoric about parts of France being detached and governed by dogmas against the constitution clearly mirrors the concern here in Britain and the rhetoric about the growth of parallel societies and Muslim ‘no-go areas’ governed by sharia law. Laicisme – secularism – is the official stance of the French state towards religion. It’s why the authorities there tried to ban the wearing of the hijab in school by Muslim schoolgirls. There are real issues about the rejection of French secular values in Arab and Muslim areas. A little while ago French television screened a documentary about the very strong pressure in these areas against women appearing in public and going to cafes. This disapproval even extended to western women living in those areas. The documentary followed the efforts of a group of female protesters to assert their right to go about in public and visit the cafes.

As for Marine le Pen coming out in favour of a dictatorship, she has just shown her true colours. the National Rally was originally the Front National, an avowed Fascist organisation, and her father, le Pen senior, made his living selling Nazi memorabilia. Marine Le Pen managed to win massive support for her party by dropping some of the Fascist symbolism and giving a more moderate, centre-right image. It was still anti-immigration, but a Black female rapper performed at one of their rallies on the grounds that she was still a patriotic French woman. And like UKIP and the former Brexit party over here, now Reform, it’s very much against the EU. It’s picked up much of its support from the elements of the French White working class, who’ve been left behind by neoliberalism and ‘centrist’ welfare cuts, and who also feel threatened by immigration and the European Union. The poor performance of the centre left in the polls also appears to bear out what I’ve heard and read elsewhere about the collapse of the centre left across Europe due to their embrace of neoliberalism. This could very well happen in Britain if Starmer and the Blairites keep their grip on the Labour party. The extreme right – the BNP, National Front and similar organisations – have all collapsed in Britain, or been banned as terrorist groups like National Action, although tiny little Fascist grouplets still remain. Nevertheless, the rise of National Rally in France does indicate that there could be space for a similar populist right-wing party over here.

Tousi in his video says that the generals’ letter is strange and wonders if Marine le Pen will lose or gain support by backing it. It’s a good question. Tousi says that Macron’s government has come under criticism from both the left and the right, and the generals’ complaint is that while Macron talks tough, and he hasn’t followed this up with action. As for supporting any kind of Fascist dictatorship, the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the Haute Vienne department of the Limousin provides a very stark, grim reminder of why no-one should. This was a village where all but 18 of its 660 inhabitants were butchered by the Waffen SS in June 1944 as a reprisals for kidnappings, attacks and sabotage by the resistance. It’s been preserved as a memorial. It’s a graphic reminder of the utterly horrific nature of Fascism – torture, mass murder and butchery on an industrial scale. Given the atrocities committed by the Nazis across Europe, and particularly in France and Poland, it astonishes me that any self-respecting French person or Pole could ever vote for or support such a party.

Hopefully no-one will take this call for a coup seriously and France will remain a democracy. But it does indicate that democracy is very fragile. And we have absolutely no reason to feel complacent over this side of the Channel. In the mid-1970s groups of politicians and industrialists, including the editors of the Times and the Mirror, wanted to overthrow Harold Wilson’s government and replace it with an emergency government or military dictatorship, to save Britain from the left and the trade unions.

We have to fight Fascism wherever we find it. And we need to take seriously the fact that it always presents itself as defending society from the absolute forces of evil.

If it rises again in France, how long before the sound of jackboots marching will be heard in Britain.

Oradour-Sur-Glane as it is today following the Nazi Massacre of its people. From Richard Harper, Abandoned Places – 60 Stories of Places Where Time Has Stopped ( Glasgow: Collins 2014) 68-71.

I’m not going to link to Tousi’s video, as he is a man of the right, but if you want to see it on YouTube, it’s title is ‘Retired Generals Call For Military Takeover In France’

Ecuador, Socialism and the Destruction of Democracy in Latin America

April 8, 2021

Last night the Arise Festival, a series of events organised by the left-wing of the Labour party, staged a zoom talk about a possible socialist victory in the coming Ecuadorean elections, and the way the neoliberal right across the continent were trying to prevent left-wing parties and movements from forming governments. The speakers included Latin American journalists and activists as well as Brits. I regret that I was able to get no more than ten minutes of it. But what I did see was chilling.

The neolibs are clinging on to power, not through winning elections, but through using the legal system to ban and imprison their opponents on trumped up charges. In one country, the socialist party was banned from standing because the judges ruled they supported terrorism, all without any evidence or indeed any terrorism. The leading left-wing politico in Brazil, Lula, was falsely jailed on corruption charges, but has now been freed after spending 19 months in jail. And the president of one of the Latin American countries, Moreno, actually took power as a socialist but then, on obtaining office, declared that he was really a man of the right and started implementing right-wing policies.

I found this all particularly chilling as it could easily happen over here. The Tories are trying to scrap the protections Brits have under the European convention on human rights. The current wretched police and crime bill seeks to ban any protests or demonstrations they don’t like if they decide it’s going to cause a nuisance. I can see them using the judiciary to try to outlaw left-wing parties and falsely imprison politicians and activists, just as their counterparts are doing in Latin America. And Starmer is very definitely a neoliberal, but is trying to get into power by claiming he supports Corbyn’s left-wing programme.

This is all extremely frightening. So I stand in solidarity with the Latin American democratic left and urge everyone to reject the Tories’ assault on our traditional freedoms over here.

Bristol South Labour Party’s Motion on the Suspension of Three Local Labour Activists

February 19, 2021

As well as a motion of solidarity in support of the Indian farmers, Bristol South Labour Party also passed a motion on the suspension of three local Labour activists. This has caused great concern among local Labour politicos, activists and party members throughout Bristol, and I believe a letter expressing these concerns has been sent to the national party bureaucracy. As I understand it, the motion does not give an opinion on whether the suspended peeps are innocent or guilty, but merely calls for them to have a quick and fair trial.

Following the experience of Mike and the other great people, who’ve fallen foul of Labour’s suspension process, I had absolutely no problem supporting this motion, which was passed. However, I really don’t see it having any effect. The concept of natural justice is foreign to the Blairites controlling the NEC and the party bureaucracy, who are using accusations of anti-Semitism and other wrongdoing to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters and others on the left. Mike and the very many others accused and summarily found guilty were tried in kangaroo courts which had already decided on a guilty verdict well ahead of the trial. And as Mike found, there is no possibility of getting redress against these gross derelictions of justice by arguing that they are against Labour party rules, because the national Labour party changes those rules as and when it choose and finds convenient. This absolute contempt for fairness as well as the leadership’s continuing campaign to purge the party of socialists and opponents of neoliberalism as well as supporters of Palestinian rights are the reason people are leaving the party in droves and the membership has plummeted.

I would like the three people, who’ve been suspended, get a fair trial. But I’m afraid I have no confidence of this with Starmer and Rayner in the party leadership. I strongly believe that there will only be fair, just trials again when these two are gone, the party bureaucracy purged of Blairite conspirators and saboteurs and party democracy restored with a corresponding respectful attitude to its rank and file members and activists.

Bristol South Labour Party Passes Motion of Solidarity with Indian Farmers

February 16, 2021

Bristol South CLP held its monthly meeting last Thursday, and passed a number of motions. Due to the Coronavirus, these are now held over Zoom, like many meetings up and down the country generally. A number of motions were debated and passed during the meeting, one of which was solidarity with the Indian farmers. Explaining the issues was a guest speaker, Dal Singh, from the Sikh community. According to Mr Singh, the central issue is the poverty caused by the BJP’s government’s privatisation of the state purchasing apparatus for agricultural goods. The Indian government had a state organisation that bought up the farmer’s produce, giving them a fair price. But now Modi is handing this process over to private entrepreneurs, who are paying starvation prices for the produce purchased. Singh said that as a result, the farmers are going to be in debt for the rest of their lives. The farmers affected and involved in the protests aren’t all Sikhs, but Sikhs form a majority of those affected. When asked what the attitude of the Sikh community was to it, Mr Singh seemed to indicate that they were more or less resigned to it. He called it a ‘genocide’ several times, and said that Sikhs regarded it as part of the long history of their people’s suffering going back to the horrors of the partition of India and the British occupation of the Punjab. He also described how the police and armed forces were being used by the Modi government to brutalize protesters and muzzle the press, with the arrest and beating of journalists covering the protests. As well as explaining the situation, Mr Singh also gave details of charities to which people could donate to help the affected farmers, though I’m afraid I’ve forgotten what they were.

I had absolutely no problem supporting the motion. Socialists are internationalists, as the Style Council song reminds us, and we have to stand in solidarity with working people around the world. ‘Workingmen of all countries, unite!’ as Marx and Engels said in their little Manifesto. I am very pleased that others agreed, and that the motion was passed.

Someone at the meeting commented that the Indian farmers were yet more victims of Neoliberalism. Absolutely. Around the world, working people are being pushed further and further into poverty as wages are slashed, hours increased, rights at work taken away, industries privatised and deregulated. The book Falling Off the Edge, which is a critical examination of this process, the poverty it’s causing, and the violence and terrorism that it engenders as a backlash, describes very clearly how its affecting the average Indian worker. And this poverty is the creation of Modi’s BJP Hindufascist government.

Hindufascist? Yes, absolutely. The BJP is a nationalist organisation, which actively persecutes non-Hindus like Christians, Sikhs and Muslims. One of Modi’s fellow BJP politicos was the governor of a province, which took absolutely no action when pogroms broke out against the Muslim population back in the 1990s. The BJP also have connections to the RSSS, a Hindu nationalist paramilitary outfit modelled on Mussolini’s Fascists. Not only has the BJP followed the standard Neoliberal policies of privatisation, deregulation and low wages, they’ve also been trying to abolish the affirmative action programmes intended to improve the conditions of the Dalits, the former ‘Untouchables’. Debt slavery was one of the forms of exploitation and servitude that afflicted many Indians, and Mr Singh’s comment that Modi’s privatisation will mean that farmers will not be able to get out of debt certainly makes you wonder if the scumbag is actively trying to bring it back.

It’s not only non-Hindus and the lower castes Modi is persecuting. The BJP, or at least parts of it, have a real, bitter hatred of Gandhi and his influence on Hinduism, because he preached tolerance and the inclusion of the Muslims rather than turning India into a Hindu state. The party also actively persecutes liberal Indian journalists and writers. Tony Greenstein, the long term campaigner against Zionism, racism and Fascism, has also rightly criticised Labour party leader Keir Starmer for supporting Modi. Yes, I know – India is now a global powerhouse. Yes, it’s a vital trade partner with this country. But the country’s prosperity should not come through the exploitation of its working people. Just like ours shouldn’t. But this seems lost on Starmer and the rest of the Blairites.

I am very glad, however, that my local Labour party has made this gesture of support for the Indian farmers, and hope this will give them strength in their struggle with a Fascistic, exploitative government.