Posts Tagged ‘TUSC’

Paul Mason: Elite About to Go Tinfoil over Momentum

September 20, 2016

Paul Mason on Saturday posted a long, but excellent piece discussing the way the elite were changing their tactics from attacking Jeremy Corbyn, to attacking his support group, Momentum. This followed the appearance of an article in the Times about the group’s supposedly dodgy activities in Liverpool, based on an anonymous dossier put together from a Labour member, who had visited their chatrooms. He quotes right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes and the Time’s editorial about how Momentum are really cuckoos in Labour’s metaphorical nest, seeking to infiltrate and take over the party. Mason points out that two other films are also scheduled to attack Corbyn and Momentum this week, and notes the way the story being peddled by the Blairites and the elite has changed. Whereas before it was just Corbyn and a few members of Momentum who were infiltrators, with Smudger demanding the right to address their rallies alongside Corbyn, in a speech last week Smudger equated Momentum with Militant Tendency in the 1980s, and almost suggested that Momentum should similarly be thrown out of the party as Militant was.

Mason points out how ridiculous the comparison is, and compares the open and democratic structure of Momentum with both Militant and the Blairite successor group, Saving Labour. He writes

With 18,000 members Momentum is four times bigger than the Militant Tendency ever was, even at the height of its influence in the mid-1980s. Momentum is organising The World Transformed — an open, free, largely unstructured culture and ideas festival alongside Labour conference in Liverpool as a way of attracting non-party activists and local young people. The organisers have arranged open press access and gained sponsorship from two Labour-affiliated unions and a major NGO. Indeed until last week their main problem was convincing the press to cover it.

Militant, by contrast, was a rigid grouping, with two layers of secrecy, an internal command/control structure and an elected leadership along Bolshevik lines. It operated like this because that is how the Labour right operated. It was in some ways a mirror image of the bureaucratic hierarchy it tried to oppose.

Today, that is still how the Labour right organises: Saving Labour, for example, is a website co-ordinating attacks on Corbyn which has still not reveal who funds it or owns it. Labour Tomorrow is collecting funds from rich donors for purposes as yet unannounced. It has no publicly accountable structures at all. Momentum, by contrast, is an open and democratic group.

Mason states that the intention behind these stories is to begin a witch hunt against Momentum if Corbyn loses. If, on the other hand, he wins, it’s to form the basis of the Blairite’s legal campaign to gain the party’s name, bank account and premises on the basis that these had been illegally stolen by infiltrators. He notes also that these attacks on Momentum itself are based on the failure of the attempts to uncover dirt and smear Corbyn himself. Corbyn is popular with the party’s grassroots and his views poll well with the public.

Mason feels the solution would be to make Momentum and Progress, their Blairite opponents, affiliated sections of the Labour party so that their members become Labour members, and are subject to Labour party rules. But this would need a change in the party’s regulations. He is happy to see anyone become a member of Momentum, though, provided they don’t campaign for rival parties like the TUSC, the Greens and SNP. But Mason also believes that Labour members also need to join Greens, Left nationalists, anti-political people and even Lib Dems in grassroots campaigns on issues like Grammar schools. He also makes the point that the reason why Momentum grew so rapidly after Corbyn was in reaction to the dull, hierarchical and very bureaucratic structure of the existing party, and particularly hostility by the Blairites.

He goes on to make the following recommendations on what the party needs to do to attack the government and counter its policies:

•to de-select the (hopefully few) MPs who insist on actively sabotaging and abusing Corbyn;
•to bring forward a new “A-list” of candidates — more representative of the class, gender, ethnic and sexual-orientation of the UK population than the present PLP;
•passing coherent radical policies Labour Conference 2017 and the next National Policy Forum;
•deepening the left’s majority on the NEC and reversing the purge;
•focusing activist resources into geographical areas where the official party is weak;
•and turning Labour’s regional structures from anti-left “enforcement” operations into local networks of co-ordination to fight the Conservatives.

Mason states that Social Democrats in the Labour party should defend it as one of the remaining elements of the party’s Left wing, going back to the Clarion newspaper in the 1920s. And he also makes this point that it can be seen that it is not a far left movement can be seen from the fact that the true far left parties don’t like it:

And one of the clearest indicators that Momentum is a genuine, democratic formation is that the surviving far left — the SWP and Socialist Party–stand separate from it and their leaderships are wary of it. This suits me — because I have no sympathy for the bureacratic and hierarchical culture of Bolshevik re-enactment groups; it is precisely the open-ness, cultural diversity and networked outlook of Momentum, and the generation of youth drawn to it, that terrifies them.

He further argues that Social Democrats should support it, even if they disagree with its policies, as it has prevented the Labour party from undergoing a process similar to the collapse of PASOK in Greece, where the party has been ‘hollowed out’ and replaced by a party of the far left.

He concludes

The bottom line is: Momentum has a right to exist within the Labour Party and its members have a right to be heard.

If you’re a member of it, the best way to survive the upcoming red scare will be to smile your way through it. This is the tinfoil hat moment of the Labour right, as it realises half a million people cannot be bought by the money of a supermarket millionaire.

So get out the popcorn. You’re about to see what happens to the neo-liberal wing of Labour — and its propaganda arm — when the workers, the poor and the young get a say in politics.

In modern parlance: they are about to lose their shit.

See: https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/elite-goes-tinfoil-over-momentum-dd544c9d8f1c#.fwtj82i9m

I think Mr Mason’s exactly right about all this. He is certainly is about the highly centralised, and rigidly hierarchical nature of the real parties of the Far Left – the Communists and Trotskyites. Parties like these, such as the SWP and the Socialist Party, have a very un-democratic party structure based around Lenin’s doctrine of ‘Democratic Centralism’. In order to prevent the party splitting up into various competing factions, Lenin stipulated that the party must be organised around the leadership of committed revolutionaries, who would be responsible for laying down policy. These could be questioned up to a point, but the moment the leadership took a decision, further debate was outlawed and absolute obedience demanded from the members. There is also a very rigid attitude to party doctrine. Only the leaders’ view of Marxist ideology is considered authentic and conforming to objective reality. Any opposition to it is labelled a ‘deviation’ and its supporters purged, very much like heretics from a religious group. Stalin clawed his way to power by fighting a series of campaigns against his opponents in the party, who were labelled ‘deviationists’ of the Left and Right. When Tito in Yugoslavia decided he wanted to purge Milovan Djilas, one of the architects of workers’ control, he accused him of ‘anarcho-syndicalist deviationism’.

Momentum doesn’t have that mindset, but the Blairites – Progress, Tomorrow’s Labour and Saving Labour, certainly do.

As for the opaque nature of Saving Labour’s funding, my guess is that much of it comes from big business and the Israel lobby. This isn’t an anti-Semitic smear. Blair was funded by the Zionists through Lord Levy and David Sainsbury. It’s because the Zionist lobby is massively losing support through the BDS movement, which is also supported by many Jews fed up with Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians, that the Zionists in the Labour party have accused Corbyn and his supporters of anti-Semitism. My guess is that Saving Labour won’t reveal who funds them because it would show their opponents to be right about their connection to the rich and to the Israel lobby.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Jeering and Anti-Democrat Party Revolt in America

August 13, 2016

Last week I put up a piece commenting on the considerable anti-Corbyn bias in Private Eye. The Eye has run a series of articles attacking the Labour leader since he won the election, including a series of cartoons, mainly raking over controversies from the 1980s from the angle of the Blairites, entitled ‘Focus on Fact’.

In its issue for 5th-18th August 2016, the magazine ran another series of pieces attacking Corbyn. One of these was the following satirical commentary.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Joke

It shows a photograph of Corbyn side by side with the American Democratic Party politicians and presidential nomination hopeful, Bernie Sanders. If you can’t read it, the text runs

Spot the Difference 2

America

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following accepts that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

Britain

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following refuses to accept that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

It’s a spectacularly bad piece of political analysis, but it shows very clearly the very strong bias towards the Democrat and New Labour political establishment running through the Eye. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned against Hillary Clinton, was denied the Democratic nomination through dirty tricks. The Democratic establishment and party machine under Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the caucuses in Shrillary’s favour through the use of superdelegates, along with other machinations. The result has been a major political scandal. Sanders’ supporters turned up to protest at the Democratic National Convention the other week complaining that they were silenced. Sanders stepped aside, and urged his supporters to vote for Hillary, despite the fact that she stands for everything that he and they oppose: corporate power and corruption, the indiscriminate use of military force, the overthrow of democratically elected left-wing regimes and their replacement by brutal fascist dictatorships, further welfare cuts and poverty in the American heartland. It’s been pointed out by The Young Turks that Sanders was massively more popular than Shrillary, and stood a far better chance of beating Fuehrer Trumpf. But Bernie was too left and radical for the Democratic establishment to stomach. So they knifed him in the back, just like the Labour rebels are doing to Corbyn.

And the discontent generated by the Democrats’ betrayal of Bernie Sanders is challenging the entire American two party system. Counterpunch has run a series of articles commenting on the way younger, radical Democrat supporters are now turning to the Green party and Jill Stein. Geoff Dutton ran a piece in the magazine, ‘Let’s (Third) Party’, arguing for the inclusion of third parties in the American ballots to stop Clinton and Trump. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/05/lets-third-party/
More recently, the magazine’s columnist, Barbara Ellis, wrote a piece entitled ‘Found – A New Major Opposition Party’, arguing that a third mass party was emerging from voters dissatisfied with the way the two dominant parties follow the agenda of the major corporations against the wishes and interests of the 99 per cent. This is partly based on the history of American third parties, like Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party, which emerged in the 1930s, and became so powerful that the Democrat party sought to make it part of their umbrella organisation. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/10/found-a-new-major-opposition-party/

The Young Turks and related radical internet news programmes have also commented on the growing support for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, and the bitter resentment against a corrupt political system that denies severely ordinary Americans a voice. In the clip below, for example, The Turks’ reporter Jordan Cheriton talks to a young political scientist professor, Rex Troumbley, at the Green Party convention. Troumbley teaches at Rice University, and was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. He then switched to the Greens when the Democrats did the dirty on the people’s candidate. Troumbley explains very clearly why young millennials are dissatisfied with the two party system, a system that is ‘set up to disenfranchise’. He makes the point that they are far more receptive to radical views about their nation’s history – those that take into account the fact that the Founding Fathers hated and feared democracy, the genocide and dispossession of the Amerindians, slavery, Jim Crow and the rest, rather than the upper-class White male perspective pushed by establishment outlets like Fox News and the Republicans. And these kids want radical change.

In the piece from The Young Turks below, Jordan Cheriton talks to Bernie Sanders supporters, who have formed the Demexit campaign, modelled on Britain’s Brexit. Just as Britain, in their opinion, left the Union when it felt it was no longer part of it, so the Bernie Sanders’ supporters are leaving the Democrats to move to Jill Stein and the Greens because of the way they are not represented by Shrillary and the establishment Democrats.

And I could go on. Clinton and Trump between them are the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history, ever. In a recent poll, only 27 per cent of American voters were happy with Trump’s finger on the nuclear button. And Clinton was only marginally higher at 38 per cent. And the dissatisfaction is growing. The Liberal hosts of one American political programme on MSNBC went into absolute meltdown the other day when they found out that John Negroponte had endorsed Hillary Clinton. Negroponte’s a truly heinous individual. He was one of Reagan’s people responsible for arming the death squads in Latin America, amongst his other crimes against humanity. Jimmy Dore, another reporter from the TYT, made a point of criticising them for only just waking up to how horrible HRC was, after they had criticised her opponents, like the Turks, as ‘misogynists’ and ‘Bernie Bros’, and derided Susan Sarandon as ‘insane’.

I’m putting this up because, although it’s American, it parallels what’s happening over here with the attempts of the Labour establishment to stick the knife into Jeremy Corbyn. The Blairites are corporate warmongers exactly like Clinton. Tony Blair modelled New Labour on Clinton’s New Democrats, which took over the pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-welfare policies of the Republicans. Private Eye and the Blairites sincerely wish that the Labour left, who have found a voice with Jeremy Corbyn, will shut up and abandon him, leaving them to continue the same policies of courting the middle classes and the corporate establishment, including the right-wing media, while privatising everything and destroying the welfare state. They’re aghast that the working class they have marginalised, ignored and sneered at are supporting Corbyn and abandoning neoliberalism. But, looking at what’s going on in America shows that removing Corbyn won’t change anything. He’s started a grassroots movement. If they get rid of him, people will leave the Labour party en masse, and a major third party will emerge from his supporters. It could be either the Greens, or parties like the TUSC, the Socialist Party, or Left Unity. Or it could be a completely new third party. Either way, the demand for a genuine, socialist alternative will remain, and it will challenge the Labour establishment. Regardless of the lies and spin the Blairites and Private Eye want us to believe.

Mazzini’s Reply to the Today’s Cynicism about Democracy’s Founders

May 31, 2014

Giuseppe Mazzini

There’s considerable cynicism today about politics and the effectiveness of voting. Some of this is justifiable to a certain extent, coming from the fact that all three of the main political parties – Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives – have embraced Thatcherite neoliberalism to a greater or lesser extent. So much so, that many people cannot see any real difference between them, and so despair of there being any effective change in policy. As a result, they either don’t vote, or else vote for UKIP. The Kippers present themselves as being qualitatively different from the Liblabcons as they put it, but are in fact merely the extreme Eurosceptic Tory Right which has somehow managed to find a largely Left-leaning working class constituency.

Apart from this, there is a facile cynicism about democratic politics, expressed in sneers at the motives of the people who fought and died for modern citizens – Britain, Europe and indeed across the globe – to have the vote. They are seen as acting purely in their own interest, not that of succeeding generations. You sometimes see the comment posted up on the web and made elsewhere at elections that ‘They fought for themselves to get the vote, not for me’.

T’ain’t true, as the great Italian patriot, revolutionary and democrat Giuseppe Mazzini made clear. Mazzini was an early 19th century Italian nationalist, who wanted to see the Austrian Empire expelled from the peninsula, and its multitude of states united into a liberal, democratic Italian nation. Although a patriot, he also believed firmly in the brotherhood of humanity, and from the middle of the 1830s used ‘nationalist’ as a term of abuse. He ultimately wanted a federation of peaceful, free, sovereign states. He declared although it was necessary to struggle for national freedom against foreign oppression, patriotism should be no obstacle to ‘the brotherhood of peoples which is our one overriding aim’.

He was also very much aware that democratic revolutions and uprisings could and did fail before their ideals would be victorious. Nevertheless, the ideas that motivated the revolutionaries would continue to develop and spread even when the revolutionaries themselves had been cut down. He believed that the next revolution would see the triumph of freedom and democracy in Italy and Europe, and looked to future generations for their fulfilment. In 1839 he wrote that modern revolutionaries ‘labour less for the generation that lives around them than for the generation to come; the triumph of the ideas that they cast on the world is slow, but assured and decisive.’ (Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (Little, Brown 2008) 18).

So you have it from the mouth, or the pen, of one of the great architects of modern European democracy itself: the revolutionaries did not fight and die merely for themselves, but for us.

Cynicism about the increasingly identikit nature of the parties will only change when they do, and that will mean long, hard work by activists or the victory of genuinely alternative parties, like the Greens, Socialist Party or TUSC. The facile cynicism about the motives of the 19th century founders of democracy can be combatted by showing the words of the revolutionaries themselves, people like Mazzini, who looked to future generations to fulfil their dream of a world of peace, democracy and international brotherhood. Let’s do our best to honour their vision and sacrifice.