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A Note on Gender, Identity Politics and the Left.

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Right and Left Identity Politics Reflect, the “fragmentation of the dominated groups.”

The Communist historian, former member of the leading body of the Parti Communiste Français, Roger Martelli wrote a few days ago, (La gauche en quête de sens, Regards. also here, Avant la présidentielle (France) : la gauche en quête de sens) a gloomy article on next year’s Presidential elections. The opinion-piece begins by asking whether the French left can avoid a disastrous result in the contest next spring (La gauche évitera-t-elle le désastre au printemps prochain?). Referring to to weakness of the left because of its splintering (the count of their candidates stands at 6/7) is not enough to explain this.

Martelli argues that the left is not longer in step with the development of ideas. The far-right thinker Alain de Benoist was one of the first (in the 1970s) to point to the désir d’identité”. Right-wing identity politics have taken off in the new millenium with writers like Christophe Guilluy pitting a cosmopolitan metropolitan France to the real ‘periphery’ left-behind France, the « périphérique’ Guilley’s latest book, now out in cheap paperback, sketches an even broader theme, as its title indicates, Le temps des gens ordinaires (Livre de poche, 2021) This theme is now being exploited by the   far-right (Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour). In the fight against these forces Martelli asserts, the left has “lost the battle of ideas”. Asserting one’s power against all others, protecting one’s identity, ensuring one’s security and safety are dominant themes in (French) politics.

Much of the argument here rests on the claim that the French left has, by promoting its own version of inward looking Republicanism and secularism , capitulated to the right on these themes. The intervention is centred around the politics of Hexagon. But as we all know left-wing identity politics – the only one according to the ‘anti-woke’ brigade in the English speaking world – is equally out to protect identities, and people’s safety.

Why is this? One of the points which emerges from Martelli’s intervention may indicate a reason.

Talking in terms even wider than the British debate which inspired the 1980s Foreword March of Labour Halted, and plenty of other discussions, many of them largely on the academic left, Martelli asserts that the coherent Marxist historical projection of the future has been undermined by way capitalism has developed..

The phase of relative unification around the reference to working class has given way to an inverse phenomenon of the fragmentation of the dominated groups. As the Communist Party Manifesto announced in 1848, capitalism has become universal; but it was not simplified by going global. If the polarity produced by the unequal distribution of resources remains the rule, it crosses all the territories, all the societies and all the groups that compose them. So today there is not a North and a South, a center and a periphery, a people and an elite. The social, bourgeois or popular “bloc” is a myth.

He continues,

Social conflict is still there – we can refer on this site to the very documented analyses of Alain Bertho . Extremely combative, sometimes violent, it nevertheless distinct from the mobilisations of the past. These combats can stem from a cause: the climate, the rejection of racial or gender discrimination, the denunciation of gender-based violence. They can be more global and more clearly interclassist, like the Gilets Jaunes movement. In the latter case, a mass movement, the most widespread reason individuals had got involved was out of a rejection of their social exclusion and the contempt with which they were treated.

But, he states, “unlike the mobilisations of the workers’ movement” have not been held together with forward looking ideas “which backed anger with the expectation of a more egalitarian social logic” and the assertion of the “dignity of each individual. Lacking this “Principle of Hope” (from the German philosopher Ernst Bloch), and for lack of a clear identification of the cause of social ills” the anger generated has failed to serve unite. It turns against “scapegoats and can drift into resentment”.

Martelli, thinking of the Gilets Jaunes, states, “Without there being direct and massive manipulation, the most recent conflicts thus slipped into a political development more favourable to the extreme right” than to the left.

On might also comment that a fair amount of left wing liberal identity politics also lacks an “egalitarian social logic”.

The row about gender, gender critical feminism, and transsexuality, indicates these problems to a ‘T’..

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm

The BBC Breaks With Stonewall, New Gender Row Erupts.

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BBC QUITS Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme | Daily Mail Online

New Row Breaking Out.

Image

BBC quits Stonewall diversity scheme over impartiality concerns. Guardian.

The BBC has quit a diversity programme run by the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, saying it believes coverage of transgender issues should be considered an impartiality topic that requires the inclusion of critical voices.

The national broadcaster said it would no longer be a member of the Diversity Champions programme, under which the corporation paid Stonewall for ongoing advice and assessments on creating inclusive workplaces.

The BBC director general, Tim Davie, told staff it was “unquestionable” that its ongoing participation in the scheme “has led some organisations and individuals to consider that the BBC cannot be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active, campaigning, role”.

Jim Waterson Media editor

The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.

“Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

“Being a part of the Diversity Champions Programme has never required the BBC to support the campaigns of Stonewall, nor its policy positions. As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also governed by the Royal Charter and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Our journalists continue, as ever, to report a full range of perspectives on stories.

“Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

In other words, the issue is that the close work with Stonewall has led “some to question” the BBC’s neutrality on the issues which Stonewall champions (read: its positions on gender on transsexuals, self-identification, gender fluidity). The BBC has by contrast, it says, never been anything other than guided by its own “values”.

Reactions from Gender Critical Feminists, Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, and Stonewall.

This report in Variety is useful, above all because it puts the Nolan Podcast centre-stage. Having listened to the (long) series of broadcasts it is not hard to imagine the effect it would have.

The BBC has quit two controversial schemes run by Stonewall, an LGBTQ+ lobby group and charity, following an investigation by one of the corporation’s own journalists.

The public service broadcaster has now followed media regulator Ofcom and fellow broadcaster Channel 4 by withdrawing from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme and Workplace Equality Index.

The news comes after BBC 5 Live journalist Stephen Nolan released a 10-part investigative podcast examining whether the schemes had influenced the BBC’s editorial output. Journalist David Thompson also contributed to the investigation.

In the podcast, Nolan and Thompson questioned whether the BBC was too close to Stonewall, providing numerous instances of BBC internal policy and editorial output that appeared to breach the corporation’s own impartiality guidelines, as well as the Equality Act 2010, following communication with Stonewall in connection with these schemes.

The podcast, which was the culmination of an eighteen month investigation, quickly rose to the top of the charts on both Apple and Spotify after its release last month and garnered numerous headlines as well as comments from members of parliament.

Variety also notes this,

In June, Channel 4 also announced it was pulling out of Stonewall’s diversity scheme while Ofcom quit the scheme in August.

Numerous public bodies, including the Department of Health and the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission also announced they were withdrawing from the schemes this year.

Don’t let other people think for you on the podcasts.

Pass over the highly coloured description below and look at the material itself.

Nolan Investigates: Stonewall – All ten podcasts transcribed

In October 2021 a team of BBC journalists blew the lid off the controversial lobby group Stonewall and its influence on public institutions across the UK. Eighteen months of investigative work has now been broadcast in a series of 10 podcasts.

The new evidence and personal testimony contained within this series needs to be widely shared and easily accessible to as many people as possible. So a team of volunteer supporters at Fair Play For Women have transcribed the key contents of each episode for people to read and quote from.

You can listen to the full podcast on BBC Sounds here.

Episode 1: The brief

This first episode set’s out why these podcasts are important “It’s not about the rights and wrongs of what Stonewall are doing. They’re entitled to lobby.  It’s about the process.  And is it right that in a democracy, a lobby group can have so much influence within government on government policy. And if Stonewall can have it, who else can have it?”

Episode 2: Stonewall’s Schemes and the BBC

The team introduces the Work Place Equality Index and Champion schemes. Stonewall have created a league table, and organisations around the UK are trying to climb up this league table in order to say to the public they are LGBTQ friendly. Not only are the public bodies paying a lobby group to be marked by a lobby group, but then this lobby group is also saying, well, you’re not doing well enough. Pay us some money and we’ll tell you how to get up higher next year.

Episode 3: Self-ID and Gender Identity

Stonewall is campaigning to make it a societal norm, that rather than just male and female, human beings can have lots more genders, including genderqueer, queer, non-binary, two-spirit, many others. That is controversial territory. In this episode we hear what this means from different perspectives. We hear from Ben Cohen of Pink News and Rosie Duffield MP.

Episode 4: Being non-binary in the UK

In this episode the team speaks to a non-binary person, Owen Hurcum, about gender identity and why it matters. “Some women have penises. Some men have vaginas, some non-binary people have penises, some non-binary people have vaginas, and people can change that if they feel they need to.”

Episode 5 – A gender clinic insider speaks out

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. An in-depth interview with consultant Psychiatrist Dr David Bell about the treatment of children with gender dysphoria. “We’re at risk of taking the things at the manifest or surface level and acting too quickly on what is being said. And therefore in danger of doing irreversible damage to a child who might have desisted, and that’s very, very important”.

Episode 6 – Is Government Too Close to Stonewall?

In this episode the team sets out the evidence showing how governments and civil servants across the UK have been influenced by Stonewall.

Episode 7 – Lobbying and the Law

Stonewall’s advice to employers is to go above and beyond the law. The team presents the evidence that Stonewall are giving advice based how they want the law to be, and not as the law stands.

Episode 8 – The Debate

Not all trans people think the same! In this episode we hear a discussion between two trans people with very different views on sex and gender identity; non-binary Owen Hurcum and transsexual Debbie Hayton. “I’m still as male as I was when I was born. It’s simply the surgery has helped me become more comfortable with my own body. That’s the only thing that changed”. 

Episode 9 – How close was Ofcom to Stonewall?

The team cast serious doubts over the impartiality of OfCom. In this episode we hear the evidence that shows how OfCom has cited its own judgements on BBC broadcasts to impress Stonewall in an attempt to climb its equality league table.

Episode 10 – Is the BBC too close to Stonewall?

And finally we discover the extent of policy capture within the BBC. We hear what its been like from an ex-BBC employee and how Stonewall has influenced editorial content through the BBC style guide. “when I queried this stuff, I was told that the BBC kind of checked this with Stonewall and Stonewall were fine. They were fine with it, and therefore the BBC was fine with it.”

Update Julie Bindel:

When the BBC announced today that, “After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index,” sighs of relief could be heard around the corporation. Many lesbians, feminists and gay men had become sick and tired of the dominance of transgender ideology, and increased pressure to use pronouns on email sign offs and capitulate to various demands of the handful of transgender staff whilst being expected to side-line their own needs had become intolerable.

When Ruth Hunt was applying for the role of CEO of Stonewall in 2014, she requested a meeting with me. I was a little surprised and perplexed: I have never been a fan of Stonewall, and had written a book, published that same year in which I criticised the organisation for focusing on wealthy, white gay men bleating about ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’. I considered Stonewall to be a gay men’s rights movement, in which lesbians barely featured. I could never have imagined at that time how much worse it was to become.

During our meeting, which was perfectly pleasant, Hunt explained to me that she had “no intention” of Stonewall becoming a LGBT organisation, and was planning to, if she got the job, help support transgender organisations to autonomously fight for their rights by accessing funding and giving advice and mentoring.

Fast forward a few weeks, and, as soon as she was in post, Hunt held a meeting with several trans activists during which she apologised about my nomination for Journalist of the Year in 2008, at which there was a huge protest by trans activists on the grounds that I am seen as a transphobic bigot.

I am not suggesting that Hunt misled me during our meeting when she said Stonewall would remain focussed on sexual orientation and identity as opposed to gender, but I wonder if she allowed herself to be ‘persuaded’ by the individuals in that meeting that to exclude the T would bring trouble to her door.  This was in the context of brewing animosity about the unreasonable demands being put forward by some trans activists, and the trans rights movement was well on the march.

Whatever happened in that meeting that led to Stonewall changing direction. It soon adopted intransigent, strong-arm tactics. Its “No Debate!” catchphrase and the uncompromising, dictatorial mantra, “Trans women are women” alienated lesbians and gay men. They felt pushed aside by trans activists who argued that same-sex attraction was transphobic bigotry, and that lesbians can have penises. Gay men and lesbians began to turn against the organisation, feeling betrayed.

At the same time, as well as having no advocacy from an organisation that had supposed to be about protecting the rights of same-sex attracted people, Stonewall captured massive institutions that played a huge part in our lives, including the BBC, the NHS, the Office for National Statistics, the Crown Prosecution Service, much of the Police Service, and a number of workplaces including local authorities.

In extricating itself from Stonewall today, has the BBC, a treasured institution, lead the way for other public bodies to follow suit? No other lobbying organisation, particularly ones that refuses to even discuss differences of opinion on matters of public importance, should ever get that close again.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2021 at 9:57 am

Kathleen Stock to join ‘anti-Woke’ University of Austin.

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Bari Weiss, Steven Pinker Start NEW Anti-Censorship, Anti-Woke University -  YouTube

Anti-Woke Uni: “Bible College Without the Bibles.”

The Mail says,

“Spurned Sussex University lecturer Professor Kathleen Stock revealed she has been invited to join a new ‘free speech’ university in the US, described as a place for ‘witches who refuse to burn’.

The analytic philosophy expert confirmed she had accepted the invitation to be a Founding Faculty Fellow at the University of Austin.”

When this news came out the first thing to think of was that Kathleen Stock had found a place to teach in which expressing her views was not under threat.

Confirming she had been invited to join the new ‘free speech’ university, she wrote: ‘Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin, a new initiative announced today by @bariweiss alongside several other stellar individuals.’

She continued: ‘I accepted with alacrity. It’s an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry.

‘PS I should add to avoid confusion – this doesn’t mean I’m moving to Austin. And it’s not a full-time role. Just getting involved in various ways from a UK base.’

Announcing the new initiative, former reporter Bari Weiss said Austin University ‘will welcome witches who refuse to burn’. 

Palantir Co-Founder Starts Anti-Woke "University" w/ Bari Weiss

There is, unfortunately, a lot more happening.

It is with sadness that one reads details about the institution.

Alex Shepherd gives the low-down (and it is low) in The New Republic.

Do We Really Need an Anti-Woke University?

“The new University of Austin seeks to be higher education’s premier institution of monetizing moral panics.”

University of Austin—a new, as-yet-unaccredited, and largely half-baked “college” intended as a rebuke to America’s existing system of higher education, where wokeness runs amok and students throw professors who use the wrong pronouns into gulags. (It may or may not have been inspired by a fictional university from the Tom Green vehicle, Road Trip.)

The vagueness is the point: The University of Austin is pitching itself as a new system of higher education with a “commitment to free inquiry” and a “new financial model” that is never exactly articulated. At this point, it seems largely to be a continuation of the current iteration of the intellectual dark web, in which millions of dollars are poured into new think tanks, newsletters, and now colleges, in the name of building counter-institutions to those that have been corrupted by the plague of wokeism. In practice, however, this isn’t so much the promise of some new wave of Brookings Institutions or Liberty Universities but, rather, an elaborate and lucrative hustle.

Road Trip, with its University of Ithaca,  has had mixed reviews till now, “The consensus is: “Some humour is hit or miss, depending on the audience tastes, but the movie is funny overall.”

Many people would be delighted to visit, without any car journey, imaginary Unis. Our taste runs more to the Young Ones and Scumbag College than whatever a ‘Fraternity’ in the Todd Phillips film may be. But you get the point.

To our chagrin this venture does not look a barrel of laughs/ After the endless fluidity of the gender debate, and its moments of frozen intolerance, it now looks as if an unfunny joke, unfunnier than Road Trip, is taking institutional shape. The anti-wokeness brigade believe that academic freedom is under such threat that the the world of the piss-poor Dystopia imagined by Anthony Burgess in 1985 has arrived.

“Poor Bev Jones, once a paid intellectual, was driven out academia when his sort of academia was defunded for irrelevancy in the eyes of the dullards now running Tucland.” “Tucland (from Trades Union Congress) as it is known in 1985, languishes under the doleful lash of syndicalist trade unionism. Britain has been transformed from the vibrant (if, as Burgess admits in his essays, steadfastly stupid) society of yesteryear to one in which predatory tribes of homosexuals roam unchecked, an alien society quietly infiltrates, and any worker can provoke a general strike for such absurd goals as a reasonable wage and safe working conditions.” (James Nicoll).

It is no disrespect to Stock to suggest that it looks as if the Austin University is indeed the kind of protest of which Anthony Burgess would have approved. To continue with Nicoll, “Burgess is unhappy because people he regards as his social inferiors — women, young people, workers, homosexuals — dare to have voices and political ambitions. ”

Shephard comments, “Far from being an institution freed from the concerns of identity politics, it’s far more likely that the University of Austin will relentlessly burrow into issues of identity—the nail these hammer-wielders already see everywhere. This, coupled with the nod to Musk and Rogan, suggests that, rather than free inquiry and debate, what you will get at the University of Austin is a student body intent on nothing more than owning the libs—and making bombastic and likely offensive claims about issues of race and gender. It’s Liberty University but for the unwoke—except, of course, so is Liberty University. Perhaps this is a more apt description: The University of Austin is a Bible college without the Bibles.

In other words, right-wing identity politics in the vein of the Spikey ones.

Ban on cue the former cadres of the Revolutionary Communist Party on Spiked have just published this by the above Williams, “Author Women Vs Feminism & Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity”:

The University of Austin puts the rest of academia to shame. Joanna Williams.

Rarely does the establishment of a new university attract global media attention, but the University of Austin has achieved just that – and for good reason. This exciting project, based in Texas, is upfront in its commitment to academic freedom, unfettered intellectual inquiry and knowledge-based higher education. It stands in stark contrast to the majority of other academic institutions, which have grown ideologically conformist, censorious and overly bureaucratic.

…….even more inspiring than the people involved are the University of Austin’s founding principles. Kanelos writes:

‘Our students will be exposed to the deepest wisdom of civilisation and learn to encounter works not as dead traditions but as fierce contests of timeless significance that help human beings distinguish between what is true and false, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Students will come to see such open inquiry as a lifetime activity that demands of them a brave, sometimes discomfiting, search for enduring truths.’

Not having the slightest interest in the “deepest wisdom of civilisation” we rely on the wits of the Internet to inform us in detail about this new institution.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2021 at 11:52 am

Peru’s left-wing government says Nicaragua Vote “did not meet the minimum criteria of free, fair and transparent elections.”

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Neither free, nor fair, nor competitive' - Nicaragua's Ortega secures 4th  term, sanctions threatened | News24

Peru: Foreign Affairs Ministry issues statement on situation in Nicaragua

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement outlining the Peruvian State’s position on the last presidential and parliamentary elections held in Nicaragua on November 7.


Statement on the situation in Nicaragua
-Peru has closely followed the events prior to the presidential and parliamentary elections that took place on Sunday, November 7, in Nicaragua, which do not meet the minimum criteria for free, fair, and transparent elections as established by the Inter-American Democratic Charter; undermine the credibility, democracy and the rule of law; and deserve the rejection of the international community.


-Peru has supported the resolutions adopted by the Organization of American States (OAS) to avoid this serious situation, as well as all collective efforts aimed at promoting the restoration of dialogue and understanding among Nicaraguans, the release of candidates and political prisoners, and the implementation of the agreed electoral reforms.


-In this regard, Peru will continue to work in the OAS Permanent Council —made up of Nicaragua and the countries across the continent— to preserve Nicaraguan people’s right to hold free, fair, and transparent elections —in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter— and to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the political crisis in said country.

LIMA, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Peru’s Congress on Thursday confirmed a new moderate left Cabinet, three months into the administration of President Pedro Castillo, who’s first lineup of ministers crumbled amid political uncertainty and nationalization threats.

The vote was 68-56, with one lawmaker abstaining.

The reshuffle is widely seen as more moderate than Socialist Castillo’s original line-up, under which Peru’s currency tumbled to record lows. But the move has also alienated some of Castillo’s most left-wing allies.

The Morning Star……

Background, see:

monday
8 november 2021

Daniel Ortega seems to have won yesterday’s election: with half of ballots counted he is on 75%. As Gabriel Hetland wrote in our current issue, ‘Some will see this as proof of the vitality of revolutionary anti-imperialism in Nicaragua. A thorough examination of the facts suggests they will be wrong.’

Daniel Ortega, revolutionary no more? Le Monde Diplomatique.

Sept candidats à la présidentielle arrêtés depuis juin

Au Nicaragua, une élection privée d’opposition

Nicaragua’s unfair election Gabriel Hetland

If Daniel Ortega is again voted Nicaraguan president in early November, as widely predicted, could he reinvigorate the left in Latin America? His record suggests optimism is misplaced.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2021 at 3:33 pm

More Borders Bloc? Northern Independence Party, Left Unity, Breakthrough Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, and Northern Independence Party in ‘Progressive Left Alliance’ Talks.

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File:Logo of the Northern Independence Party.png - Wikipedia

Nips in More Borders ‘Progressive Left Alliance’?

“We are rich in minorities, as Mr. Thayer shows. Did you know that Contemporary Welsh nationalism was born in 1 886 with the establishment of an organization called The Cymru Fydd, one of whose founding members was David Lloyd George? Did you know that the nationalists of Cornwall are the only ones in this island who do not want to break away from England entirely? Did you know that there is a man who for years has been known as “The Prime Minister of Wales” ? Or that many brave Cornishmen believe that King Arthur will return?” ” George Thayer.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, a time when the hobby of leftist Trainspotting was taken up by a new wave of enthusiasts, novices had to learn the ropes the hard way. A few books in public libraries, like The British Political Fringe. George Thayer (1965, Full Text) with a single chapter on “the Outside Left” failed to slake many people’s thirst. Today the introduction to that section indicates how the field is both more crowded with leftist groups, and, yet, is in some respects unchanged.

“By my definition, the Outside Left consists of all left-wing groups that are either officially or unofficially outside the Labour Party proper. At the moment, there are twelve recognizable Outside Left groups in Great Britain; and, as pointed out in the previous chapter, they can be readily classified into four major categories: Communist, Trotskyist, independent Marxist, and anarcho-syndicalist.” One might quibble on the last category (it is doubtful if syndicalism fits everybody) but the British Political Fringe discusses anarchism in detail, including Max Stirner and individualism. And to the book’s lasting credit there is the major spot of Red Flag and the early British Posadists of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Trotskyist). “The members of the RWP follow such a revolutionary line that among Marxists they have earned the sobriquet of ‘ultra left adventurist maniacs’. The description is due to the RWP’s belief that atomic war is inevitable – one of the points on which it broke with the Pabloists.”

Thayer did the leg-work, visiting some leading figures of way out leftism, in their lairs. Here is one, head of the Committee to Defeat Revisionism, Michael McCreery, newspaper, Vanguard: “With him live a few other bachelors among the squalor of unwashed milk bottles, piles of dirty clothes, unattended dishes in the sink and rumpled beds. McCreery’s office in the flat contains a library of perhaps 2,000 books and pamphlets which line the face of one wall. Piles of loose literature are scattered over the floor. In the centre of the room is his desk on which he answers all his correspondence by hand in a neat, almost classic, script. “

But I regress.

The news today from the world of small political parties is stunning: a claim that Left Unity, which was anti-Brexit, and is aligned to the (European Parliament) radical left Party of the European Left (PEL), is negotiating an alliance with the pro-Brexit Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), run by the Socialist Party and backed by the RMT trade union. The news, uncovered by one of our ace reporters, comes in a tweet from the Northern Independence Party, known as the Nips, Whippets, or more familiarly, the Weasels. Another group, the Breakthrough Party, are involved.

Former MP and lacklustre candidate in the Hartlepool by-election (250 votes, 0,8%) Thelma Walker blocks the Tendance on Twitter not that we have ever been arsed to engage her views through this medium) so we shall have to get the gumshoes to find out what she has done in this lash up. From the notoriously taciturn TUSC there is not a word.

Yet there is a nasty NIP in the air:

Left Unity seems quite happy with a more borders policy of supporting Scottish nationalism.

But is this a step too far?

5 December Left Unity Conference

MOTIONS AT CONFERENCE

  1. Beautiful World, where are we? – North London Branch

(Extract)

  • continue to initiate and engage in discussions with other left forces and social movements in Britain on developing possibilities for political unity
  1. Yes to Left Unity – No to Northern Separatism! – Oliver Charleston

Conference notes:

  • Discussions held between Left Unity, Breakthrough Party and Northern Independence Party (NIP) were largely positive and welcomed by our members and those of the participating parties
  • However NIP is first and foremost committed to ‘establishing an independent North, to be governed by the people of the North. The historic nation of Northumbria once spanned from the South to Scotland, and so we seek independence for people from Cheshire all the way to the Scottish border.’ (https://www.freethenorth.co.uk/our-values)
  • The historic Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria existed from c.547 to c.878 CE (https://www.britannica.com/place/Northumbria) and has in fact never existed as an independent geopolitical entity since that time. NIP seeks to revive a state that has not existed for over one thousand years
  • The above NIP programmatic commitment comes before any mention of socialism and the party incorporates national-separatist themes e.g. flags of ‘Northumbria’ were clearly visible behind NIP supporters during recent discussions.

Conference believes:

  • Despite the serious social and economic disparities between the English regions, the working people of the North and the working people of the South, together with the Midlands, need each other now more than ever before, in the 21st Century.

Conference resolves:

  • Left Unity therefore cannot justifiably seek dialogue or any further discussion with a view to alliance building with NIP because of the NIP’s avowed Northern English national-separatist aims and objectives. England would emerge from such a split severely weakened, divided against itself, worker against worker, Northerner against Southerner and Midlander as well as family against family. This is clearly not the basis for building socialism but rather strengthening the whip hand of the English ruling classes seeking to further divide and rule (as they always do). Left Unity must prevail at all costs so we say no to this ultimately reactionary separatist tendency.

Will this debate be swept under the carpet?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2021 at 10:53 am

Communist Party of Britain Congress hears warning against “External anti-communist forces and saboteur elements”.

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CP 56th Congress – Communist Party of Britain

“Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division!”

The World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency, whose best known member is the British Socialist Appeal, took place in July this year. The clear-eyed spotted that present were comrades from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Leningrad (no this is not made up, that’s the names they used). Delegates heard of a “brewing mood of revolutionary anger”. Adding yeast to this fermentation “On a world scale, the IMT has grown by 43% since the beginning of 2020 alone. In some sections, such as the US section, we have grown by as much as 87%; and in Indonesia, in the same period, the section has grown by as much as 150%!” The current looked to the future, “In one corner of the world after another – whilst the other tendencies are in crisis and drip with pessimism – the International Marxist Tendency is advancing, confident of the future and firmly dedicated to the struggle for socialist revolution.” (Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021)

The gloom-mongering drips did not fail to notice the delegates from countries that no longer exist and a city now called St Petersburg. It was the occasion for a few chuckles and nothing more.

We misunderstood. It has been suggested that the IMT were pioneers of a new form of revolutionary theorising, uchronia, “how history might have been” if things had turned out differently. The genre is cherished in France. In Napoléon et la Conquête du monde / Napoléon apocryphe (1836) Louis Geoffroy recounted how Napoléon won the battle of Moscow and went on to conquer the world. The Felixstowe born Roy Lewis wrote The Extraordinary Reign of King Ludd: An Historical Tease (1990) – popular amongst French leftists under the name of La Véritable Histoire du dernier roi socialiste  ‘The true history of the last Socialist king’ (1994). This story begins in the 19th century where the 1848 revolutions had won and monarchies had been saved by socialist Luddites.

The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) is a party built around a uchronia.

As their own Congress, or Conference, took place they were tweeting this:

In their alternative time-line China is still shining socialist state:

The Young Communist League are rising!

Alas, there’s always those out to thwart the revolutionary forces. Back to the alternate reality of the Communists bravely fighting wreckers and saboteurs out to bring down socialism…

Young Communist League general secretary denounces critics as ‘saboteurs’. (read the full article, which explains this in depth).

Speaking to the CPB’s conference this weekend (6-7 November 2021) in Croydon, Johnnie Hunter, general secretary of the YCL, was keen to quell any offence that those remarks may have given to those CPB members who can still remember Crossroads and Wimpy restaurants. Hunter drew attention to CPB members in the 1980s and 1990s as “those comrades who fought liquidationism, those comrades who fought to maintain a Communist Party in our country”. Hunter “wanted to make very clear” that this generation were “held in the highest esteem by the young comrades joining the YCL today”.[3] Later in his speech, he boldly asserted in relation to the YCL and CPB: “We are you; you are us.”[4] The latter statement was clearly a case of wishful thinking.

Hunter moved on to deliver a colourful passage that addressed the internal divisions that have presumably taken up a lot of his recent time: “Comrades, as we heard today we’ve also endured this year… something that will become increasingly common as we make new successes and increase our influence: forces that seek to divide us. They’ve attempted to and will keep working, with increasing gall and determination, to drive a wedge between the [CPB] and its youth. They don’t do so for earnest reasons; they don’t do so from a dedication to socialism. They do so to attack and undermine the exciting progress that we’re making; to undermine and destroy the [CPB] and the YCL itself. So, we must be on guard against these external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements. Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division. We have to be vigorous in the defence of our organisational independence and also couple this with our unity in action, our common programme and our unbreakable link [with the CPB]. We’ve seen the devastating consequences in a number of European countries just this year where the link between the party and the youth is broken. We say: never here.”[5]

(One of the leaders of the British Young Communist League brings greetings to the 56th Congress of the Communist Party of Britain.)

Cde Parker suggests that “external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements” may refer to his good self and possibly the Weekly Worker.

Alas, there are other hard-bitten enemies at work.

Chin up pardners, that Congress “sure lived up to expectations”. Indeedy.

Note, this Blog condemns the kettling of the YCL by the Glasgow Polis.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Nicaraguan Elections and Ortega’s last ‘anti-imperialist’ friends.

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The 'deep human rights crisis' hanging over Nicaragua's elections |  Elections News | Al Jazeera

Today ‘elections in Nicaragua are being held. There are lots of reports on this

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega will seek a fourth consecutive term in elections that have been widely condemned by rights groups and international observers.

Ortega, whose Sandinista Front party and allies control the congress and government institutions, will face a field of little-known candidates on Sunday, while opposition figures who represented the most significant challenge to the former revolutionary leader’s rule remain in prison.

Al Jazeera.

Nicaragua votes in elections panned as ‘parody’ by international observers

They’ve been called “a parody,” “a sham,” and “the worst possible conditions” for a vote, but Nicaragua’s general elections are going ahead on Sunday anyway. After an iron-fisted crackdown on opposition voices this year, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is widely expected to claim a fourth consecutive term at the polls this weekend, alongside his vice president and wife Rosario Murillo.

The vote is the first for Nicaragua since a wave of popular demonstrations in 2018 rattled the country, and the Ortega government is taking no chances, having spent the past months blocking political participation of potential rivals and closely controlling the electoral process.

CNN

Ortega has put his opponents in gaol.

A summary:

Breaking the ban on journalists from abroad who are not supporters of the Dictator a reporter for El Pais reports today from the Nicaraguan capital.

There have been protests in a number of countries, including the UK.

But there is the ‘alternative‘ view:

Yes, this is him:

“Steve Sweeney@SweeneySteve Morning Star International Editor. Founder of Media Workers for Palestine. Anti-imperialist. Reports on global liberation movements, press freedom & resistance.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Communist Party of Britain Congress to debate “sex-based rights and gender identity”.

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Communist Party of Britain - Wikipedia

Communists attack ” reactionary theories of gender identity.”

From the CPB party pre-Congress discussion:

Defending the rights of women on the basis of sex

“I believe the EC Domestic Resolution sets out an excellent strategy for the party in the short and medium term. In particular I commend its strong commitment, described in lines 438 – 457, to defending the rights of women on the basis of sex, which have come under increasing attack from both successive Tory governments and more surprisingly from the mainstream parties, which seem to be competing with each other to discard decades if not centuries of women’s hard-won rights. The CPB is almost alone in this regard and along with its revolutionary socialist programme was a major reason I recently joined the party. Women are half the working class and central to the fight for socialism and I hope that this section of the resolution is not watered down or compromised when Congress comes to debate the resolution.”

Sonya Andermahr MIDLANDS district.

56th congress discussion and contributions.

The EC Domestic Resolution defends the view that “sex is a material reality” and commends Woman’s Place, (440 – 445)

Ideological attacks on women’s struggle for liberation have intensified as reactionary theories of gender identity have spread in the l our movement. Setbacks to women’s economic and social progress are setbacks for the class struggle as a whole. For these reasons and because the expression of materialist understanding of women’s oppression under capitalism is essential to a Marxist-Leninist analysis, we welcome the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in the Maya Forstater case, which concluded that the belief that a person’s ‘sex’ is a material reality, which should not be conflated with gender or gender identity is ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’ and is ‘not incompatible with human dignity and not [in] conflict with the fundamental rights of others’.

Much more study, discussion and education is urgently needed across the labour and progressive movements about the oppression and super -exploitation of women in class society and the importance of the fight for women’s emancipation in the struggle for socialism. Reactionary liberal and individualistic ideas which undermine and attack advances in women’s rights have to be challenged on the basis of class politics and the position of women in capitalist society. In recent years, the campaigning organisation Woman’s Place UK has won a wider understanding of the risks posed to women’s rights and helped hold back proposed changes to the law that could be detrimental to women. It deserves broader support across the labour movement. Much greater awareness is of the triple oppression borne by black and Asian women workers.

Back to the Congress…

It’s no secret that the Morning Star is independent of the Communist Party of Britain. It is wholly owned the friendliest co-op in Britain.

But the the labour movement and progressives are all talking about an important Communist event taking place this weekend.


“The 56th Congress of the CPB will be its biggest in decades due to the rapid growth of the party in the last three years.”

What’s in store for the Communist Party’s 56th congress?

The splinter group, the Communist Party of Britain, says it was “Founded in 1920” and “is a Marxist-Leninist party dedicated to fighting for workers rights & establishing Socialism in Britain!” Hardened veterans note that it is a split from the original Communist Party of Great Britain” and that, “In April 1988, a special congress of delegates from CCG and existing Party organisations declared the re-establishment of the Communist Party in Britain on the basis of democratic centralism, Marxism-Leninism and The British Road to Socialism.” The CPGB became the Democratic Left in 1991, and only hard-bitten gumshoes can say who its formers cadres are, in the New Politics Network and the Democratic Left Scotland.

THE Communist Party of Britain begins its 56th Congress today in a world in turmoil.

More than 140 delegates will gather at the party’s headquarters in Ruskin House, Croydon, to analyse, debate and propose responses to the challenges facing humanity.

This will be the biggest such congress in decades, reflecting a membership increase of two-thirds since the last one three years ago.

Election Results:

London Assembly20218,7870.3%London-wide list
Scottish Parliament20211,1420.2%[80]Contesting Glasgow (0.2%) and Lothian (0.2%) regional lists, and Motherwell and Wishaw constituency (0.6%)
Senedd20212,8370.3%

Overseas guests include representatives from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Portuguese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Ireland, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and — visa permitting — the Palestinian People’s Party.

Officials from the embassies of Cuba, China and Vietnam will also be present and video messages will be broadcast from the communist and workers’ parties of South Africa, Israel, Cyprus and Venezuela.

Reflecting a long history of solidarity, representatives of banned or semi-legal parties in the Middle East and Africa will also be in attendance.

The main international resolution to be debated is proposed by the outgoing CP executive committee and headed Halting Imperialism’s Drive to War.

It begins its analysis of the international situation by considering the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and global warming on the poorest and most oppressed sections of society.

A host of amendments from party organisations at branch, district and Scottish and Welsh levels emphasise the scale and calamitous consequences of climate change.

This is the context in which the emergence of “a new cold war” aimed primarily at China will be considered.

The ability of US finance capital to continue extracting super-profits around the globe is now increasingly threatened by the rise of China, which is set to become the world’s biggest economy within the next decade.

The smaller imperialist powers — notably Britain, Japan, France and perhaps to a lesser extent Germany — share that fear.

Despite their rivalries with one another, they have stepped up their campaign of economic sanctions and political propaganda against China.

Alongside this go the build-up of Western warships in and around the South China Sea, the strengthening of EU military structures, the big expansion of Britain’s nuclear arsenal and the formation of the new US-UK-Australian pact which, among other objectives, intends to enhance Australian and Nato capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, China’s willingness to engage in mutually beneficial economic relations with developing countries around the world makes it more difficult to enlist them in the new cold war on the side of the US, Nato and an unstable EU.

Hold, on I think we’ve already had enough of boosting the capitalist anti-working class, and-democratic Chinese red bourgeoisie.

Bla Bla Bla…

The CP congress will also analyse developments in the Middle East, Africa — a prime target for Western imperialist expansion — and the Americas, where the left, including the communist parties, are resisting US-backed attempts to roll back the anti-imperialist gains of recent decades.

Not surprisingly, there will be calls to escalate the campaign for Britain to ratify the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and build anti-war movements nationally and internationally, including the anti-imperialist World Peace Council and its affiliate the British Peace Assembly.

On the domestic front, an executive committee resolution declares: “The crisis is capitalism. Take the road to socialism!”

It analyses the major developments that have shaped the present political situation in Britain.

These include the outcome of the 2019 general election, when several million electors ceased voting Labour as that party dropped its commitment to respect the EU referendum result and instead — influenced by the likes of Keir Starmer, Lord Mandelson and their business backers — pledged to hold a rerun referendum.

The CPB actively campaigned and supported the Bosses’ Brexit.

Now they are trying to find a cover for their pro-sovereigntist, more borders, de facto alliance (and not so de facto in red-brown fronts like the Full Brexit) with national populists.

Instead of Boris Johnson’s centralised post-EU Britain, where sovereignty has been secured for British state-monopoly capitalism, the congress will consider a strategy to win “popular sovereignty” — for the working class and the people.

This includes the fight for a “progressive federalism” in which the nations and regions gain the democratic powers and financial resources needed to intervene decisively against the market forces of the capitalist monopolies.

The post-Brexit state aid powers stolen by Johnson from the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments must be taken back from Westminster and Whitehall.

Instead of splitting the political class struggle in three between Scotland, England and Wales, a united anti-monopolies alliance should be built — led by a reinvigorated labour movement — to challenge the wealth and power of monopoly capital.

Cop this one Cdes!

This will be the greenest congress in the Communist Party’s history. It is also likely to host major discussions on trade union and community action, sex-based rights and gender identity.

There it is.

Delegates will elect a new executive committee for the coming two years. However they vote in the secret ballot, it is almost certain that the Communist Party’s next leadership will be younger and more female than at any time since the re-establishment of the party in 1988.

One thing is certain: the Internationale will be sung with greater gusto than usual at the close of the congress, after a period of significant advance by both the Communist Party and the Young Communist League.

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2021 at 2:38 pm

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan. A Political Biography. Máire Fedelma Cross. Review.

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In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan: A Political Biography (Studies in Labour  History LUP): Cross, Máire Fedelma: 9781789622454: Amazon.com: Books

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan. A Political Biography. Máire Fedelma Cross. Liverpool University Press.

(Published, slightly shorter, in the Reviews section of the latest Chartist magazine – November/December).

Flora Tristan (1803- 1804) has, writes Máire Cross, “has achieved as much literary and political renown since her death as during her tumultuous life.” She “became a conduit for a certain kind of socialism and feminism.” and “a symbolic figure in militancy”. Denied a part in the inheritance from her wealthy Peruvian family her first work was Pérégrinations d’une paria (1838). An unhappy marriage to an abusive husband ended with him attempting to kill her in a public shooting in 1838. Tristan’s feminism kept alive and developed the declarations of women’s rights by Olympe de Gouge (executed on the Guillotine during the Reign of Terror) and Mary Wollstonecraft (a writer Tristan admired), during the time of the French Revolution.

At the age of 41, shortly before her death, her last work was a call to create a universal workers’ union, the Union Ouvrière (1843). This call to ‘organise” labour was said by Marx and Engels to anticipate “Critical Criticism” (The Holy Family. 1844). In 1890 the theorist of reformism and “socialisme intégrale” Benoît Malon, celebrated its role in promoting the “international dimension” to workers’ interests and class struggle. The French socialist academic Charles Andler, in 1907 generously (the text itself contains many ideas) saw in her initiative an outline of the “frame of the Workers’ International”. Yet the First International did not acknowledge the woman who had cried Workers of the World Unite! – four years before the Communist Manifesto.

In the Footsteps does not just trace the path of Tristan’s life, or her reception and interpretation, academic and political. It is the story of two political legacies, “My contention is that the political legacies of Flora Tristan and Jules-Louis Puech beyond their graves are completely intertwined”, Their works, are, she argues, best seen in a “double biography”. Above all, Puech kept the memory of Tristan’s work alive and introduced her to new audiences in the 20th century.

Puech wrote prolifically (53 documents in the BNF) on Pierre Proudhon, socialism and utopianism. He embarked on the “trail of Flora Tristan” before the Great War, in which he fought despite his pacifist sympathies. His biography, La Vie et Oeuvre de Flora Tristan appeared, finally, in 1925. A “bourgeois”, married to the “suffragette and feminist” Marie-Louise Puech, (women had to wait till 1944 to get the vote in France) he was not a card-carrying socialist but had empathy for the left individuals and movements he wrote about. He was, she suggests, both a “spectator” and engaged.

Máire Cross makes a solid case that this deeply researched, “history from below” “seeking out forgotten lives” was a forerunner of modern “new social history”.

Tristan Puech paid due attention to the on-the-ground campaign for the workers’ union in 1843 and 1844, from her diary, meeting reports, and, more than 200 letters sent to workers. This is the background to Flora Tristan’s Diary: The Tour of France 1843–1844. This, she contrasts – rightly – with the approach taken in books such as G.D.H.Cole’s 5 Volume The History of Socialist Thought in the 1950s which concentrated on governments, conferences, the broad sweep of the socialist movement rather than the “little people”.

Puech also helped create the “Association of friends of Proudhon”. The theorist of ‘mutualism’ was probably the most anti-feminist thinker on the 19th century left. His followers continued to oppose women’s rights in the 1st International. It is a paradox that somebody who warmed to a man, hostile to any role for women “outside the home” could be sympathetic to Flora Tristan.

Perhaps one of the best introductions to Flora Tristan is her Promenades dans Londres, 1840. (The London Journal of Flora Tristan,). This lucid outsider’s view of London in the late 1830s.includes scenes of great poverty, aristocratic richness, hypocrisy, and her meetings with London radicals, Chartists and democrats. It covers a world that was different from the proletarian and industrial North of the Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). The scenes described in Outcast London by Gareth Stedman Jones. (1971, ” with its vast numbers of casual and irregular day labourers and the artisans and seamstresses engaged in seasonal and workshop trades” suggest that class structures in the British capital had far from simplified into bourgeois and proletarians by that time, even if one subtracts the presence of the “aristocracy”. What Tristan meant by ‘working class’, and what kind of ‘union’, and future she offered, in these conditions, may not be what a 21st century reader would be thinking of.

In the Footsteps of Flora Tristan is in some respects a specialist work. Yet it contains such a wealth of research and analysis that Máire Cross illuminates whole areas of socialist, feminists and labour history. It should shape all future studies on Flora Tristan and, one hopes, Jules Puech.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2021 at 11:20 am

Socialist Democracy: RS21 reproduced “the most appalling arguments ever adduced by a man to justify the sacking of a woman” Kathleen Stock.

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Trans academics on being silenced and worse amid Kathleen Stock row

Important Material by Socialist Democracy on Kathleen Stock and Gender has already featured on this site.

The present contribution (thanks JR) is very relevant to debates that have been taking place here over the last couple of days.

Let’s see what’s at the bottom of this rabbit hole

04 November 2021

Some socialists sincerely believe that a person can change their sex because they self-identify as different from their biological body. Others believe that you can choose whatever gender identity you want but you have no choice over your biological sex. These differences of opinion are frequently not expressed in the most comradely terms, but one would have assumed that some common ground remained. For example, a worker should not face calls for dismissal for saying what most people believe.

God help any woman who works in Scottish higher education who says that sex is immutable and is relying on University and College Union (UCU) Scotland Executive member and Branch President (UCU Edinburgh) Grant Buttars to defend her if some students demand she should be sacked.

In the post-Trotskyist version of a witch trial Buttars produces some of the most appalling arguments ever adduced by a man to justify the sacking of a woman. After a long set up referencing a case of a racist advocate of paedophilia in “When is it right for a union to support dismissal?”, Buttars explains it is OK when the target is a racist, an advocate of paedophilia or a feminist who doesn’t agree with him on sex and gender.

He tries to justify the ousting of Kathleen Stock from her job at Sussex University following a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment by students which was supported by the UCU branch there. His core argument is that women who openly question the effects of gender ideology on women’s lives are comparable to Nazis and should be treated as such.

He doesn’t go as far as saying that she was seen flying on a broomstick, but he does say that her views on the differences between sex and gender were known outside the university. As Stock is a published author that is hardly surprising.

His next killer argument is that some students had complained about her views in the past. Any education worth the name must make students question their assumptions and interrogate evidence. Too bad if that’s uncomfortable for some. That’s how you learn to think.

Stock’s senior management were quite supportive of her when a group of masked protestors were on her campus and putting up stickers demanding she be sacked. What sort of union activist has a problem with a management protecting a worker facing unprecedented harassment? Grant Buttars is breaking new ground for trade unionism and 21st century revolutionary socialism. All the more so since RS21 only exist because they correctly identified the sexism in the Socialist Workers Party and left because of it. Now they are supporting the hounding of women for being feminists.

Anyone lacking the imagination or empathy appreciate the impact of a hate campaign like on its target this should watch or listen to Stock’s interview with BBC’s Woman’s Hour.

A political regression

Buttars’ line of argument will have consequences in the real world if anyone is unlucky enough to be in a union branch where people who hold his views are reps.

Dr Shereen Benjamin is Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at the University of Edinburgh. By writing for Woman’s Place UK she was effectively making herself a potential defendant in a witch trial. She said:“UCU (and others on the political left who purportedly care about academic freedom and freedom of speech) are selective in their defence of such freedoms, and themselves join in with misrepresentations and smear campaigns against feminists, they play into the government’s hands.”For people like Buttars this power of prophecy which allowed her to foresee what would happen to Stock is only further proof of her guilt.

The only thing he gets right in his apologia for harassing women out of jobs is:“As socialists and trade unionists we must side with the oppressed – always. That is solidarity.”Stock is on record as saying that trans people should have respect, safety and the right to live their lives as they please. Those are not the views of a bigot and neither Buttars nor the protestors who posted memes saying “ding dong the witch is dead” when they heard of her forced resignation can point to a single prejudiced word.

Solidarity with the oppressed also includes solidarity with women who know sex is real and say so in public. The RS21 piece is the latest and most extreme development in a prioritising of identity politics over material reality and class solidarity. It’s a political regression which is placing sections of socialists in direct conflict with feminists and is leading to an abandonment of a basic trade union principle.

…….

Socialist Democracy says,

Recent debates in Britain and Ireland have seen a sharp division in the socialist movement on the issue of gender identity.  These divisions have reached new heights following the harassment and subsequent resignation of Professor Kathleen Stock of Sussex University.  Socialist parties have justified the campaign against her and threats against feminists in other demonstrations. The University and college Union responded by condemning transphobia.

That case is summed up by Grant Butters of the UCU, who is also associated with the socialist group RS21.

A comrade involved with feminist defenders of women’s rights responds above (ed).

We can confidently say that Grace Lavery is a close competitor with Buttar’s for the title of appalling. Barrack room lawyer Lavery, who, initial reports suggested, had got her information from the Brighton ‘Albion’, has also entered the fray. If we recall she suggested that gender critical feminist academics were in league with génocidaires.

The Professor of English and legal-eagle promoted this by Caitlin Green· yesterday;

Caitlin Green is a linguist specializing in Discourse Studies and Pragmatics. She lives in California with her husband, daughter, and a very small black cat. She enjoys singing, knitting, embroidery, and taking long walks with a good audiobook.”

(Extracts)

Each year when fall arrives, the leaves change color, the students return to campus, and the media rings one of its favorite old bells: academic freedom is under threat. The fall of 2021 has been no different, bringing hundreds of articles, thinkpieces, tweets and blog posts focused on one or another academic whose freedom has apparently been violated, usually by ostensibly left-leaning students. The hand-wringers never seem to define “academic freedom” or specify how any particular anecdote is an example of the violation thereof. To investigate whether this framing is justified, we can take one of a litany of examples, the Twitter thread posted by the Economist on October 19, 2021, and check its claims, the first and most central being that academic freedom is being stifled in universities. 

Academic Freedom in the Media: Who Is Being Silenced?

After spending considerable time and effort searching, I found no concrete evidence of Stock receiving threats or harassment from students. But there is documented evidence that Stock has, on more than one occasion, reached out to the employers of students who have criticized her and demanded professional censure in retaliation, threatened them with frivolous claims of harassment and defamation when their speech should have been protected, and dragged their names through the mud. It is a common features in these episodes for those accused of harassment and bullying to leave their posts—if they do so at all—while proclaiming that they are actually the victims of the very behaviors (sic) they have perpetuated.

The learned scholar continues,

Pedagogical norms are also relevant to Stock’s case. These include norms about civility and respect for the humanity of one’s students and colleagues. These norms are not in conflict with policies regarding academic freedom in the UK, which only protect educators “within the law” to question and test received wisdom and to “put forward” (which does not mean endorse) controversial opinions. These norms also do not protect educators from criticism or protest, only from losing their jobs. As with all principles regarding freedom of expression, these protections do not cover discriminatory speech. Norms guiding how to do one’s job effectively and responsibly are not a stifling orthodoxy, they are a natural result of living in a society.

Phew, blimey, strike a light!

Jones’s annotations were popular amongst the gender critical users who follow her, suggesting that there is an attitude that this view, which Stock shares, is not actually discriminatory because it is true. Mental health research has been clear on this issue for quite some time now: all of the major national and international psychological and medical organizations agree that it is not only discriminatory, it is measurably dangerous for trans and gender non-conforming individuals to be deprived of acceptance for their gender identities (e.g., the World Health Organizationthe American Psychological Associationthe American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrythe American Academy of Pediatrics, and others). This is not a question of simple disagreement; for some people, social acceptance of their gender identity is a matter of life and death.

“Perhaps most chilling of all, Stock has managed to insert her beliefs about trans rights into political and legal proceedings. She added her name to the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, the credo of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, an organization that campaigns to undo nearly all aspects of the Gender Recognition Act of 2004.

Where such depravity is found, no wonder she’s driven off the ground!

And….

“…the general-secretary of the University and College Union, Jo Grady, today refused to condemn student protesters who campaigned to oust Prof Stock, a professor of philosophy.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Ms Grady instead denounced what she claimed was ‘consistent misinformation’ about Sussex UCU’s actions during the saga. In a statement, the Sussex branch had said all trans and non-binary members ‘now more than ever should receive the unequivocal support’ of the university”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Kathleen Stock Accuses Union (UCU) of Failing to “Protect Employees” in Transsexual Row.

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Free speech row prof Kathleen Stock: Protests like anxiety dream - BBC News

Kathleen Stock says she quit university post over ‘medieval’ ostracism

The philosophy professor at the centre of a row over her views on gender identification and transgender rights has said she quit her post at Sussex University because of what she called “a medieval experience” of campus ostracism and protests.

In a lengthy interview with BBC Woman’s Hour, Kathleen Stock claimed the student protests grew out of hostility from other academics. She said a lack of support from her colleagues and the unions led her to resign.

“There’s a small group of people who are absolutely opposed to the sorts of things I say and instead of getting involved in arguing with me, using reason, evidence, the traditional university methods, they tell their students in lectures that I pose a harm to trans students, or they go on to Twitter and say that I’m a bigot.

“So thus creating an atmosphere in which the students then become much more extreme and much more empowered to do what they did,” Stock said.

This stands out:

Stock said her “personal tipping point” came after Sussex’s branch of the University and College Union responded to a protest against Stock on campus in early October by calling for a university-wide investigation into transphobia.Advertisementhttps://a4852a59f78235f185227ef4990e234e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“It was when I saw my own union branch’s statement, which basically backed the protesters and implicitly made it obvious that they thought I was transphobic and accused Sussex University of institutional transphobia,” Stock said.

Kathleen Stock: I won’t be silenced

The trans activist campaign against the former Sussex professor has backfired

BY JULIE BINDEL

What was the final straw for Kathleen? She tells me it was when the Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) put out a statement in support of “our trans and non-binary students” and against “institutional transphobia”.

“At that point I was just hanging on. I was teaching from home. I saw the posters. I was advised to stay at home for my own protection. The police were coming round. I’m getting security stuff delivered to my house, trying to think about the future. I thought I’d  have to stay off campus for the rest of the term but at least I can teach on Zoom. I hoped they would support me.”

And then her UCU branch issued its damning statement. “It was a pompous peroration about ‘standing with our trans and non binary students against institutional transphobia’” Kathleen explains. “And all they could possibly mean by that is that I was there”.

“There’s nobody else who speaks out like I do. Plus, every second communication that comes out of the university is about trans and non-binary spaces in the library and trans or non-binary support groups and LGBT issues. There’s a staff network; there’s a Centre for Sexual Dissidence; there’s a Centre for Gender Studies.

“It’s literally saturated with positive messaging. It’s in Brighton, one of the most queer-friendly places in the world. So all they could mean by institutional transphobia is: ‘We haven’t shut that bitch up yet’. It came through on my email and it just felt like a punch in the gut.

“But this is a union! They are supposed to protect employees from their bosses and to offer solidarity with anyone who is an employee — especially in a university where they are being targeted for their academic research and their philosophical beliefs, which are also protected in law under the equality act.”

And, Kathleen tells me, this intolerance trickles all the way down from the top of UCU. As far back as 2019, for instance, Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, boasted of her decision to instal ‘Terf Blocker software’ on Twitter, which automatically blocks any account that has been deemed transphobic.

SWP Break-away (1):

The original from this groupuscule – the first time people have heard so much of them for a long time:

When is it right for a union to support dismissal? Grant Buttars (Edinburgh UCU). 

As Stock says they compare her to this,

(Extracts).

Christopher Richard Brand (1943-2017) arrived at the University of Edinburgh in 1970 as a lecturer in the Psychology department, but our story really begins in 1984, when 25 students protested against a class where Brand asked for details of their sexual fantasies and favourite sexual positions. By 1986, he was Director of studies and students were again protesting, this time about repeated racism and sexism. Following an official complaint, Brand was removed as Director but remained on staff. A student from the time recalls: 

Things were to escalate further with Brand revelling in being a scientific racist in the pages of The Independent in April 1996, stating, ‘It is scientific fact that black Americans are less intelligent than white Americans and the IQ of Asians is higher than blacks.’ and, ‘I am perfectly proud to be a racist in the scientific sense.’

The students’ response was to walk out of his classes, begin a boycott of them, and send a letter of complaint to the then departmental head, Robert Grieve. The University responded that, as Brand’s views were inside the law, they would not act. This parallels the Stock situation, where students and others attempted to use internal procedures to raise their concerns but to no avail.

…..

In November, Brand came out in support of paedophile Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, stating, ‘Non-violent paedophilia with a consenting partner over age 12 does no harm so long as the paedophiles and the partners are of above average IQ and educational level.’ This time, the University did act and Brand was suspended. 

By February 1997, it was rumoured that Brand, with RCP backing, was to be nominated to stand for Rector of the University. Whether true or not, it fell foul of the rule that neither staff nor students can serve as Rector. 

And so forth……

The case of Kathleen Stock

First of all, whether her behaviour is of a similar magnitude to Brand’s is not the primary question here. My focus is on what position a trade union should take when there is a clear call for somebody’s dismissal, especially over an issue which the union has policy on. Time and space do not allow me to include a detailed account of Stock’s behaviour but this is covered thoroughly in Grace Lavery’s meticulous analysis, which I thoroughly recommend. 

UCU is unequivocally inclusive. Our policy has been developed via numerous motions, particularly since 2017, and is detailed here. Stock meanwhile, as a Trustee of the transphobic hate group LGB Alliance and as a signatory of the Women’s Human Rights Declaration (WHRC), which calls for the ‘elimination’ of ‘the practice of transgenderism’ as well as the repeal of the Gender Recognition Act, has a position that is completely at odds with this. 

The statement released by Sussex UCU and endorsed by the national union is quite clear that they would not support anybody being summarily dismissed but calling for a full investigation into transphobia at the University of Sussex. Stock’s response, saying that it effectively ended her career, is itself telling, as is her subsequent decision to resign.

Had dismissal really been something that was on the cards, and Stock was still a member (she appears to have left at least 18 months ago), she would be entitled to union representation. The reality of course is that it isn’t and she isn’t so it is a bit of a moot point. Meanwhile UCU’s call to investigate transphobia on their campus aligns with similar demands coming from the students. 

The parallels between the Stock and Brand cases are similar in the following ways: 

  1. Both have/had public personas outside the academy and the focus of complaining was on these and/or the impact of this on their job. 
  2. Both have/had been the subject of complaints over an extended period.
  3. Both have/had demonstrable support from their senior management. 

As socialists and trade unionists, we need to understand the power dynamic involved. Who do we stand with? A trade union has responsibility to its membership as a whole and may often find it needs to defend a member or group of members from the actions of another, be it over bullying, sexual harassment, or a whole range of other issues where the power differential is key. Any member who causes major detriment to the safety and wellbeing of others is not entitled to unqualified union support. Union membership is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. 

Both Stock and Brand’s conduct, over a long period of time, was detrimental to the education of their students and to the wider community. Concerns about this were raised and repeatedly ignored. Having exhausted other avenues, those who campaigned for their dismissal were entirely correct to do so as were those who supported them. 

The situation with Stock perhaps has one key difference that is worthy of specific reference. While Brand was certainly able to shelter behind the power that came with his position in the University, Stock went further. As details continue to emerge about attempts by Stock and her supporters, with the full support of institutional power at the highest level, to gag and discredit criticism, she was not the victim but the perpetrator of the very behaviour she accuses others of. This is a question of class and power and framing it as having anything to do with academic freedom or freedom of speech is just a façade.

As socialists and trade unionists we must side with the oppressed – always. That is solidarity. 

Comment:

Blaming the victim barely covers this Spart rant from RS21, a body which had at one time intellectual ambitions and a theoretical journal. Now look at them, fresh from the pages of The Alternative Voice. That paragraph that ends with, freedom of speech, academic freedom, “just a façade” to start with….

The bulk of the piece is based around comparing Kathleen Stock to Chris Brand.

There are weasel words admitting some differences (and what differences!). The analogy is contemptible. Most people will gasp at the word paedophilia.

It proves the rule that easy cases (the reasons for his dismissal) make bad precedents for hard ones.

What of the present issues? Buttar says, “whether her behaviour is of a similar magnitude to Brand’s is not the primary question here”. No doubt she has never called her colleagues, “Jew-leftie-commie[s”

So what is the crux?

RS21 cannot even be honest and say they wish to get rid of somebody for the views. So the cling to the radical feminist lecturer’s “conduct” her”‘behaviour” and ability to “Gag and Discredit criticism” backed with support in high places, as a threat to her students.

If not worse. Indeed, follow the link Buttars gives and you will find Grace Laverly, who, readers of this Blog will know, accused Stock of being “someone who has wholly undermined academic freedom by reducing it to mere opinion, and attempting to use it to cover genocide apologism.

Then there’s her Trusteeship of the “transphobic hate group LGB”.

Nice touch lads.

And people complained about her! There was no response – instead the Power backed Stock.

As if nobody had ever made complaints about lecturers that had got nowhere.

Let us dismiss the argument about ‘class’ and ‘power’ which can be applied to any academic’s relations to their students, whatsoever. Do we call for anybody whose views we oppose, or dislike, to be sacked? Do we whinge about influence in powerful circles when we do not get our way, and harass the academic?

What the ex-SWP Splinter says, through the voice of the Chair of the UCU Edinburgh branch, can only confirm Kathleen Stock’s claim that some academic staff have played a role in stirring up the intolerance that led to her resignation.

This Blog agrees with Jim’s statement in the Comments here:

I think all decent people should be able to agree that (1) transgender people should be allowed to identify as male, female or non-binary, as they see fit; (2) discrimination, abuse and prejudice against trans people should be illegal (as it already is under the Equality Act); (3) the question of whether gender or biological sex is decisive, is a reasonable issue for debate and that compromise and/or agreement to disagree is desirable, given that most of us do not have the required expertise in philosophy, biology or medicine; (4) “gender critical” feminists have legitimate concerns about male-bodied trans women in women-only spaces, such as refuges and sport; (5) that lesbians have the right to refuse penetrative sex, without being called bigots; (6) threats, violence, denial of free speech and calls for the bosses to sack people on grounds of their views, are completely unacceptable.

Can we at least agree these ground-rules for a civilised debate?

See: Three books on Transgender politics (1 of 4) – Material Girls

The three books under review tackle an issue on which there is no agreement in the debate or even whether there should be one.  No agreement on the terms used and no agreement on the facts, no agreement on what the status of the terms employed have in relation to the facts and which are relevant to the issue.

Making resolution much, much harder is the conviction that what is involved are not only conflicting views but conflicting interests, and although there are some claims to these overlapping to some degree, both sides see the fundamental issue as one that cannot be resolved given the differences; what is therefore involved is a conflict that must be won.  What one side considers as philosophical critique the other identifies as physical intimidation and threat.

So, even to assert that there is a debate is seen as taking sides.  This review cannot help but notice that there is a debate so will even by this fact alone be taking sides; already we are into disputed territory. 

*****

(1) 2014 – January – RS21/Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (resigned 23 December 2013, founded 2014) – over ‘Comrade Delta’
https://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/54901525674/statement-on-…

Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2021 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Founder of Extinction Rebellion and Burning Pink, Roger Hallam: Warns of Doomsday without a “Spiritual Revolution” .

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Warning of “War played out in every city, every neighbourhood, every street..”

With COP and Climate Change dominating the news we hear a fair amount about Extinction Rebellion and their latest protests. But what are their wider politics, what is the kind of strategy their activists advance, and what what is their relationship to the left and any kind of progressive politics?

Here are some clues from a founding figures.

In 2021 only a Spiritual Revolution can bring us together. Only when we remember that we are all connected, only when we remember we are not separate from nature but part of it, only then can we come together on the basis of the one human value on which we all can unite: that life is good and we must preserve it at all cost. Whatever it takes.

Conservatives:

Allowing this to happen violates all our traditions, destroys families and communities, destroys our nations.

Liberals:

We face the destruction of all the progress towards freedom and prosperity built up over hundreds of years.

Radicals:

Corporate capitalism doesn’t just create vile inequality, it now creates global mass death. It has to be stopped.

From ROG,Website of Roger Hallam.

Julian Roger Hallam, a Welsh environmental activist, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, cooperative federation organisation Radical Routes  and the political party Burning Pink (which stood candidates in local elections last May, including in Ipswich).

The idea that Green Politics is neither Right nor Left but ‘Beyond’ or ‘Above’ political divisions is an old one. Hallam goes one stage further. He wants to abolish ballot boxes and elections and replace them with Citizens’ Assemblies, “I started Burning Pink in 2019 to create a direct action movement which would stand in elections to create a political revolution: legally binding citizens assemblies to take over from politicians. We have painted the buildings of NGOs and political parties that refuse to tell the truth and act upon it.”

This politics is based on a universal call to human kind. It has echoes of the 1980s anti-Nuclear movement’s fight against the potential global catastrophe of Exterminism (“Exterminism designates those characteristics of a society — expressed, in differing degrees, within its economy, its polity and its ideology — which thrust it in a direction whose outcome must be the extermination of multitudes.  “Exterminism and Cold War” E. P. Thompson 1987). For Hallam and his co-thinkers the answer to the present climate change threat is, transcendant yearnings aside, grounded on a ‘revolutionary’ proposal to replace elected democracy with institutions of decision-making selected by lot and statistics.

What are these Assemblies?

Permanent citizens’ assemblies need to become the new legislative arm of the state. This is the precise constitutional definition of a democratic revolution in the twenty-first century. They are legally binding so they cannot be ignored by parliaments and are organised by independent civil society groups and social movements rather than by the government and elites. When they announce their decisions, the carbon elites and their political administrators will break the rules and use lies and violence to try to take back power. This happens in all revolutionary episodes. We have to be prepared for this. As soon as citizens’ decisions are made millions will have to come back onto the streets to ensure the people’s will is done. That we demand life not death. And nothing will stop us.

Hold on. Who gets in these powerful bodies?

Extinction Rebellion has a sketch:

“The Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice will bring together ordinary people to investigate, discuss and make recommendations on how to respond to the climate emergency. Similar to jury service, members will be randomly selected from across the country. The process will be designed to ensure that the Assembly reflects the whole country in terms of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. Assembly members will hear balanced information from experts and those most affected by the emergency. Members will speak openly and honestly in small groups with the aid of professional facilitators. Together they will work through their differences and draft and vote on recommendations.”

Burning Pink sees them as a “representative group of people” “chosen at random like a jury”, to “reflect the wider population ” – age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, social class – and “sometimes relevant social attitudes (political left or right)”.

They have, Burning Pink asserts, a three step procedure, learning, deliberation, and decision-making. All good members of the aleatorily chosen ones will, there is little doubt, be united in a quest for knowledge, and follow these guidelines to the deliberate letter.

One is recommended to see the Sortation Foundation for the background (“sortition (also known as selection by lottery, selection by lot, allotment, demarchy, stochocracy, aleatoric democracy and lottocracy“). 

The idea of abolishing democracy, representative or direct, based on election in which different programmes, ideas, and people stand in front of the electorate, the result to be decided by ballot, is a good idea is pretty off the wall. Most people would not wish important public decisions to be made by people chosen on the basis that they are a statistical reflection of the make-up of the population.

Furthermore unlike elections, where members of the elected body may stand for re-election, sortition does not offer a mechanism by which the population expresses satisfaction or dissatisfaction with individual members of the allotted body. Thus, under sortition there is no formal feedback, or accountability, mechanism for the performance of officials, other than the law.

It comes as no surprise that Hallam has plenty of other ideas on bringing together all kinds of different politics.

Roger Hallam: the conservative case for Extinction Rebellion


The environmental campaigner tells Freddie Sayers his movement is not just for the radical Left.

(from the right-wing site Unherd)

In an eye-opening interview, he tells Freddie Sayers about the importance of the nation-state, social conservatism, local community, and how he wants church leaders and ex-police officers in his movement. His pitch, in short, is that philosophical conservatives should not be afraid to embrace radical environmentalism:

On why nationalism is the best approach: National identity at the end of the day trumps internationalism when you’re faced with annihilation. Now, I want to make clear that that does not mean the chauvinistic nationalism that a lot of left wing people associate nationalism with, for good reason, of course. But as we all know, there’s many different shades of patriotism and nationalism. And it’s silly really to weaponise it. What we’re looking at is a nationalism or patriotism which is rooted in a love of one’s country, a love of one’s tradition, and a love of one’s political traditions. – ROGER HALLAM, LOCKDOWNTV

Yet even so, this today is quite an eye-opener.

Then there is this…

He’s still at it:

That analogy leaves you with a sick taste in the mouth.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Stuart Wise, Original King Mob – English Section of the Situationist International – Member, Passes.

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King Mob Echo English Section of the Situationist International

 A highly personal, deeply political, coldly analytical and achingly optimistic account of what some consider to be one of the most important English political groupings of the 20th Century and beyond.

The psycho-mythological legacy left behind by King Mob, nowadays often tied up with its assumed influence on Malcolm McLaren/the Pistols and Punk Rock (and via it’s wider Situationist context, Factory Records and the Hacienda) far outweighs the physical imprint they left behind in the form of six glued together copies of its often wildly and deliberately provocative publication, and the iconic graffiti left up around West London and beyond. 

From a radical working class perspective, Dave Wise (helped by brother Stuart and longtime collaborator Nick Brandt) gives a first hand account of the (loose) formation of King Mob after their core members were excluded from the Situationist International by the schism-happy Debord in 1967. (Not, unfortunately, as the story used to go, after Debord came to London looking for the crack squad of pro-situ streetfighters he’d heard about, and found Dave and Stuart W. sat in front of Match of the Day getting on the lager- it never happened). “A Critical History….” celebrates their attempt to move “from the Situationist salon to the street” , whilst not shying away from identifying tactical, strategic and theoretical holes in the groups day to day actions, as seen by brothers Dave and Stuart.

Plans to blow up waterfalls, getting arrested on demos dressed as pantomine horses (the back end got off in court, on the grounds he didn’t know what the front end was doing…seriously), sharing oversized baked bean costumes with ultra-Maoists on Vietnam marches.  Getting high and hungrily devouring Coleridge, De Quincey, Rimbaud, Marx, De Sade, Breton, Joyce and Hegel. Pissing over the lectern whilst declaring the death of art at the 1968 English Surrealist convention, being (falsely) put in the frame for the 1969 Newcastle School of Art firebombing ; perhaps most infamously dressing up as Santa Claus in Selfridges toy dept, Xmas 1969, and watching the chaos of consumerism unfold before them as crying children had the King Mob freely-gifted toys wrenched from their arms by confused and desperate employees. There was never any danger of King Mob withering quietly on the vine of ritualised opposition, but the downturn of the early 1970’s and the apparent end of any hope for imminent social revolution as the “forthcoming horror of a totalitarian free market society of pseudo-individualism” hoved into view , hit some of them harder than they could have imagined. As more financially independent King Mob individuals drifted off into the warm embrace of various strands of bourgeois counterculture, others faced up to the harsher realities of the “capsized utopia”. Some didn’t make it through, as an at times unintentionally moving epilogue here recalls.

Dave Wise spent the next thirty five years combining casual work on the buildings with travel and immersive writing on everything from the Portugese Revolution to Punk, from deep-ecology to the Inner City Riots of 1984. As he continues with this “maimed praxis” into his seventies, “A Critical, Hidden History” is a living, breathing account of a brief moment in time, when the light got through the cracks in the wall, and a new world felt possible. As we career into the 21st century, with Capitalism apparently in semi-permanent crisis and new (often transient) zones of opposition appearing by the month, the relevance of the playful, life affirming, non-hierarchical, anti-capitalists King Mob seems as great today as it ever did.

King Mob Echo: English Section of the Situationist International

Full copy on Lib Com:

 I have to say I was Impressed by them, they just had a better line of rhetoric. I was excited by what they represented but didn’t fully understand what it was. It was a new way of looking at the world. You could grab whatever bits you could, like crumbs falling off a table. For us the Situationists were revolutionary artists.” Malcolm McLaren, Dazed & Confused

“The Situationists were the first people ever to provide me with a rational explanation of our irresponsible behaviour and to see everything in terms of political activity. They were much more fun, their writings were more fun, they were doing more interesting things, their pamphlets were more interesting than the boring fucking Trots.” Alan Marcuson, Days in the Life

Contents:
Rebel Worker 6 – Burn Baby Burn – London – May 1966 – Charles Radcliffe
Heatwave 1 – July 1966 – Charles Radcliffe
Heatwave 2 – October 1966 – Chris Gray – Charles Radcliffe
The Modern Art of Revolution and the Modern Art of Revolution 1967 – Tim Clark, Chris Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith, Charles Radcliffe
King Mob Echo 1 – April 1968 – Chris Gray
King Mob – Art Schools Are Dead – October 1968
King Mob Two – Letters on Student Power – November 1968 – Chris Gray
King Mob Graffiti and Flyers
King Mob 3 – 1969 – Chris Gray
King Mob 5 – W. Australian Anarchist Federation
King Mob 6 – Work – 1970

A CRITICAL HIDDEN HISTORY OF KING MOB

 “The adventure of the arts (painting, sculpture, poetry, literature, music) passes

 in its decline through three essential phases: a phase of self-liquidation (Malevich’s

 “white square”, Matt/Duchamp’s urinal re-baptized “Fountain”, Dadaist word-

 collages, Finnegan’s Wake, certain compositions of Varese); a phase of self-parody

 (Satie, Picabia, Duchamp); and a phase of self transcendence, exemplified in the

 directly lived poetry of revolutionary moments, in theory as it takes hold of the

Why should I even begin to write what could be a possibly longish text on something that happened so many many moons ago? King Mob, though only existing for a very brief period in the late 1960s, nonetheless affected everything I did afterwards, but I guess this response is also true of all others who were involved in one way or another. Always, always on my mind in some kind of way a push was needed in order to get it kick-started.

“I met a prostitute – Angela W – from the fishing port of Grimsby on the mouth of the Humber in the north of England. I instantly fell in love with her in an all-consuming way. The pain inside my body so massively accumulated with the death of hopes for the social revolution which would have given my life any meaning and, in a way, symbolised by the death of King Mob in my youth, was kind of half wrenched out of me as she slowly and pensively shambled towards me in a disarming walk. She had a certain compassionate expression on her face. I was finished and fulfilled through, it seemed, this obviously contradictory hammer blow. She was 55 –my age – though 5 days younger. Little by little I got to know her and the intensity I felt towards her just convulsively increased. I adored. The odds were gone and there was nothing left remarkable beneath the visiting moon. I just wanted to give everything of my self to her: the money I had, my possessions but most of all the intensity of my experience – the sheer truth of it – warts and all. Over the following weeks I typed her letter, after much mulled over, letter. They were about so many things but constantly came back to the need to transform traditional notions of Eros – extending the “oceanic feelings” inherent in Eros to all aspects of daily life. It was as though my youth had been re-visited on me – a youth cut off so abruptly with the extinguishing of revolutionary hopes. All I waited for was her kisses, her beautifully wrinkled breasts, and her northern, out for a good time, life-enhancing laugh (knowing that it also covered a rebellious spirit tinged with a puritanism that also lacked the courage of its convictions). If necessary – cornball though true – I would have willingly died for her as it felt like a dying in order to live. I was a slave to her erotic, transforming presence and it felt like I was on the brink of a new and different catharsis (infinitely dialectical if you like) the likes of which had never been born concretely in this world.”

The mob who shouldn’t really be here King Mob

HARI KUNZRU

The radical 1960s English group King Mob called themselves the ‘gangsters of the new freedom’, and combined hard-edged politics with the disruptive potential of Dada. Kunzru looks back at their world after sifting through their archive, which has recently been acquired by Tate.

At least two generations of London commuters knew about the radical group King Mob, even if they didn’t know they knew them. For many years, as the Hammersmith and City line tube passed under the Westway near Royal Oak station, a mocking message confronted travellers: SAME THING DAY AFTER DAY – TUBE – WORK – DINER [sic] – WORK – TUBE – ARMCHAIR – TV – SLEEP – TUBE – WORK – HOW MUCH MORE CAN YOU TAKE – ONE IN TEN GO MAD – ONE IN FIVE CRACKS UP.         

The message, painted in huge letters on a concrete barrier wall, survived into the early 1990s, before disappearing in one of the waves of regeneration that have transformed tracts of the city into a globalised consumer playground. The radicals responsible took their name from another piece of graffiti, which appeared during the Gordon Riots of 1780. On a wall of the destroyed Newgate prison some proletarian wit daubed a sort of signature, attributing the work to ‘His Majesty King Mob’. The 1960s King Mob centred around brothers David and Stuart Wise, who had attended art school in Newcastle, developing an interest in the disruptive anti-art potential of Dada and Surrealism and a hard-edged politics partly derived from nineteenth-century Russian Nihilism. In texts such as Pisarev’s The Destruction of Aesthetics, they found fundamental questions being asked about value, politics and the (lack of ) social function of art.

In 1967 the Wise brothers found themselves in London, in the orbit of the English section of the Situationist International. The Situationist picture of the consumer society as a giant machine for producing pacifying spectacle chimed with their own analysis, and SI members such as Chris Gray and Don N. Smith were drawn into King Mob, a name used to sign posters, texts and actions, all aimed at disrupting the hypnotic effects of the spectacular social order. Other associates in the Notting Hill underground included John Barker, later to serve a prison sentence for Angry Brigade bombings, and Charles Radcliffe, later part of Howard Mark’s cannabis smuggling operation. As David Wise subsequently wrote, the group was a ‘spontaneous coming together… sheer passion and the desire to live a life free of money (the intensified invasion of exchange) and the social relations of commodity production was the very essence of what we were about’.

King Mob actions were witty, carnivalesque and confrontational. In 1968 members, dressed in (among other things) gorilla suits and pantomime horse outfits, led a crowd that tore down the high fences surrounding Powis Square gardens in Notting Hill, reopening the place as a playground for local children. They sneaked their own float into the Notting Hill Carnival, and ran riot in Selfridges department store. Their publications often took the form of détourné pop-cultural images, such as the poster Luddites 69, in which Andy Capp, the stereotypical northern working-class cartoon character, shoots policemen, below a text reproduced from a nineteenth-century Luddite broadside: ‘I ham going to informe you that theers six thousand me cuming to you sooon and then we will goe and blow up all about hus, labring peple cant stand it no longer…’ Elsewhere, The Beano’s Bash Street Kids rag their teacher, who asks: ‘What do you demand in pitting the power of everyday life against hierarchical power?’ ‘Simple,’ respond the kids, ‘we demand everything, teacher!’

The other big influence on King Mob’s style and attitude was the floating population of New York’s Lower East Side anarchists centred on Ben Morea, publisher of agitprop journal Black Mask, friend of would-be Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas and founder and animating spirit of Up Against the Wall Motherfucker!, a self-styled ‘street gang with an analysis’. Morea’s Motherfuckers declared war on New York’s artistic elite, picketing MoMA and dumping trash on the steps of the Lincoln Center, all in the spirit of ‘cultural exchange’ – offering ‘garbage for garbage’. They revelled in the darkest and angriest aspects of the counterculture, repelling the more peace-and-love-minded underground types. ‘We are the ultimate Horror Show,’ read one of their communiqués, ‘Hideous Hair & Dangerous Drugs… Armed Love striking terror into the vacant hearts of the plastic Mother & pig-faced Father.’ In the mid 1960s the Wises spent time with Morea, co-signing at least one Motherfucker statement. The group’s wildness and willingness to take personal risks (during a 1967 anti-war rally, they broke into the Pentagon, and were beaten to a pulp) fed into King Mob’s confrontational street politics, worlds away from the Parisian avant-gardism of the SI. Indeed, it was the British Situationists’ support for Morea in a row with Raoul Vaneigem that led to their formal expulsion from the SI. Unlike the Parisian intellectuals, the Motherfuckers combined direct action with social activism, feeding the homeless, housing teenage runaways and standing up for the Lower East Side community against the notorious Ninth Precinct police.

Like the Motherfuckers, King Mob developed a healthy suspicion of the pretensions of many self-styled radicals. Terming themselves ‘gangsters of the new freedom’, they were a chaotic and often unwelcome presence at various nominally revolutionary events. During the Hornsey College of Art occupation, they were thrown out for mocking the ‘abysmal’ quality of the debates. At the LSE they distributed posters and leaflets encouraging occupying students to go further in their actions, material which was hurriedly suppressed by ‘odiously puritanical” student leaders who wanted to maintain the decorum of their protest. As revolutionary bullshit detectors and antiart activists, King Mob despised one thing above all – culture, ‘the commodity which helps sell all the others’. To them Godard was ‘just another bloody Beatle’, and the elite of cultural consumers who looked to the avant-garde or the political underground for shock or novelty were just as duped by the spectacle as any mass-media-watching suburbanite. And that means you, readers of Tate Etc. One thing is certain. King Mob never wanted to find themselves here, in the house rag of cultural consumption, let alone locked away in Tate’s permanent collection. But these posters and magazines are just detritus, the record of past struggles. In the present day, the real action is elsewhere.

Revolutionary Recreations: The Myth of Situationism

What Next Journal. No 21.

Andrew Hussey, The Game of War: The Life and Times of Guy Debord, Jonathan Cape, 2001. Hardback, 420pp, £18.99.

Reviewed by Andrew Coates

POLITICS REDUCED to boosting the free circulation of capital, the commercial landscape overshadowed by multinational logos, virtual wars fought as a spectator sport a little too close to the blood steeped arena, and it is hard to escape the over-abundant products of globalisation. Nor that these wonders have more than a touch of the unreal: “Capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image”, as the major Situationist text, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), put it.1 With capitalism’s onward march across the planet, whatever the cracks and fissures, a section of the left has retreated back to ’60s romanticism, railing against the one-dimensional choices on offer. A world in which only a total refusal, a “défi”, is the basis for revolutionary politics. Almost a universe where Jean Baudrillard, who owes a heavy debt to Situationism, can declare the 11 September massacre an eruption against the all-engulfing security order to attempt to “force a change in the rules of the game”. And, sententiously, that the bombing of Afghanistan is, like the Gulf War, a “non-event” (Le Monde, 3 November 2001).

A somewhat less dramatic challenge was represented, or rather, self-represented, by Guy Debord (1931-1994), and the body he led, and destroyed, the Situationist International (1957-1972). Andrew Hussey’s The Game of War follows a flurry of books published on Debord, some highly critical, in France (Le Monde, 23 March 2001). To the British author his fascination with Debord and the Situationists stemmed from admiration at their “bravery, resourcefulness, poetry and sheer contempt for the veneer of civilisation” (p.5).

Civilised media types fell over themselves puffing this volume, with lengthy reviews appearing in the broadsheets and Radio Three devoting a programme to Debord. It is indeed an exceptionally well-written biography, sensitive and knowledgeable about Debord’s French cultural milieu (though shakier on the politics) and written in a lucid style remote from academic jargon. Hussey demonstrates, nevertheless, when one has undertaken some serious investigation into the substance of Debord’s theories and politics, the fragility of that “bravery”. His concluding assertion, that by explaining the “eternal present” as spectacular reification, the Situationist No.1 presented “the clearest and most penetrating diagnosis of the causes and the nature of the most extreme forms of contemporary alienation” (pp.372-3), is, unfortunately, wholly misguided.

There is no point in indulging these myths, and now is a good time for some settling of accounts with la bande à Debord. Hussey contrasts the abolition of history and politics by the “post-modernist philosophy” of the Socialist Society with the “glamorous nihilism” of the Situationists (p.5). Hilary Wainwright may have her faults, and he is not totally wrong to criticise those Soc-Soc meetings (I speak as an attendee), but post-modernism owes much to Situationism and little to the British New Left. In fact Situationism was one of the most weightless and culturally absorbed efforts of the avant-guard left, its central oeuvre now stocked up in a Walpurgis Night of ghostly incarnations on the Web, mulled over by keyboard revolutionaries. Far from bathing in the illumination of the origins of the nunc stans, a sad dipsomaniac Debord went to his grave carrying on his late ’80s ranting about the “growth of secret societies and networks of influence”. His theoretical legacy to parapolitics, the conviction that there were “thousands of plots in favour of the established order”, is to be taken literally. For the Spectacle, he had long concluded, Mafia-style conspiracy had become “part of its very functioning”.2 This may make for good biographical gossip; it is the basis for very feeble politics.

There is plenty of evidence for Debord’s failings in The Game of War. Romance and a longing for the barricades of May ’68 aside, the attraction of the Situationists lies in three principal dimensions: their critique of cultural artefacts (from representation to urbanism), their sketch of the Spectacle, and their strategy (such as it was) to transform everyday life and politics. In their cultural roots, the Situationists emerged from an even more obscure artistic movement called Letterism. This operated in ’50s France, according to its Romanian chief founder, Isidore Isou, to promote radical artistic “auto-destruction”, chiselling language down to its basic sounds to form the amplitude of an artistic effect. Hussey describes well the rag-week nature of their exploits (disrupting a mass at Notre Dame in 1950), and their self-importance. The results of further experiments can best be judged by those who have heard them, or seen their cinematic production (and Debord’s early efforts), though, fulfilling their objective, they do not seem to have endured. Yet, if there is little artistic legacy left, it can be argued that the histrionics and small group narcissism of the last avant-gardes deeply marked the Situationists’ approach to these triple domains.

Guy Debord began his critique of consumer culture by ploughing through the legacy of avant-garde artistic movements, Dadaism and Surrealism, and their confrontation with modern society. From exposing the underside of contemporary life, he offered a vision of an alternative. The journal Internationale Situationniste appeared in 1958. Its programme was grounded in the “construction of situations”. This involved the discovery of inner wishes, “in order to make them real”, to “free people’s desire to play”, a break from the hypnotism of the pantomime of conditioned conformism. Their International was a micro society centred on a way of life, as Hussey observes, with parallels to that of the gypsy scholars of the middle ages. A central practice of the group around the review was derived from an earlier Lettrist pursuit, the “dérive” (“drift” in this instance – unguided motion/activity). Described by Hussey as those who “would float around Paris in the pursuit of anarchy, play, poetry” (p.91), it involved for the Situationists copious quantities of alcohol, “the transformative agent which released subjectivity and objective change into the city” (p.145).

Echoing as much the habits of a certain Karl Marx on a Soho pub crawl as the crapulous squalor of François Villon, this practice has been of course at the heart of British leftist activity for several centuries. Less familiar is the concept of “unitary urbanism” to which the dérive was loosely connected. This was the vision of an environment which creative subjectivity could mould “a new free architecture”. As Hussey describes it, this implied the rebinding of social and aesthetic qualities in the organisation of urban conditions, making cities into free spaces for play, and passion, a “chance meeting-place of various castles, ravines, lakes”, in which we would drift. The tyranny of town planning and the materialisation of capitalist domination of time and space were challenged by this “psychogeography” (rendering time and space in terms of the human psyche).

What may be charitably described as a leftist Disney World would eventually emerge from the “setting apart of a small number of areas where people are free to relax and to recognise themselves and one another as they really are”.4 It is significant that this concession to something that might actually be tried out in reality – as counter-cultural experiments that took place in the low countries and Scandinavian lands – was not written by Debord but by Raoul Vaneigem and Attila Kotanyi. Another legacy to the counter-culture was “détournement” (twisting round), subversion of advertising and cultural products by imitation. Hussey regards this as an original contribution, making waves in the anti-globalisation movement, though there are certainly precursors in photomontage and radical 1930s cultural militancy. More typically the Situationists, following their 1966 intervention in the University of Strasbourg and the publication of The Misery of Student Life, inserted strident messages about alienation and revolution inside comic strips. They designed the template for generations of unreadable and pretentious student leaflets all over the world.

These suggestive, if limited, forays into the theories of urbanisation and cultural studies are striking in despising the passivity of the “public” and for the Situationists’ own description of themselves as the “livers”. Vaneigem tried to bridge the gap through the liberation of everybody’s multiple desires, notably in his celebrated The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967 – original title, Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage de jeunes générations). He has continued this neo-Fourierian project right to the present, most recently in attempting a fully rounded conception of human rights (Déclaration des Droits de l’Etre Humain, 2001). Debord tried to discover more political methods to end the division between the reified and the savoury remnant in his defining workThe Society of the Spectacle, published the same year. Social relations are mediated by images that have covered the “entire surface of the world”, leaving people to stare at their reflections; from this cavernous gaol we will be led to the sunlight of reality, if we would follow.

In The Society of the Spectacle we are informed that “The origin of the spectacle is the loss of the unity of the world” (Thesis 29), that it is the “concrete manufacture of alienation” (Thesis 32), and that “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life” (Thesis 42). The working class is going to have a hard time becoming a “liver” in these conditions, or to become the “class of consciousness” (Thesis 88) that Debord postulates. In any case, the twin forces of Stalinism and Fascism (Thesis 109) have annihilated the revolutionary workers’ movement. Trotskyism is a hopeless return to a lost Leninist illusion. The proletariat’s “externalised power” helps to “reinforce capitalist society, not only in the form of its labour but also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power it has built to emancipate itself” (Thesis 114). Yet there is hope. By rejection of all “congealed externalisation and all specialisation of power”, and a “total critique of separation” it can rediscover the power of negation. This would require theory to be “lived by the masses”, for “workers to become dialecticians” (Thesis 123).

The Society of the Spectacle is not an original work. George Lukács’s concept of reification and class consciousness, the “critique of everyday life” of the independent Communist theoretician, Henri Lefebvre, and the critical, pro-self-management Marxism of the 1950s review Arguments (which published most of the texts that were the basis for the ’60s “new left”) breathe through its pages. The Game of War evokes Nietzsche as a source for the concept of the Spectacle, and one takes this on Hussey’s authority (though the German term “Shauspiel” has narrower theatrical connotations). This debt leads one to suspect that any “revaluation of values” undertaken by Debord, carried with it something of the same disdain for the vulgar herd who lacked any negative strength. A weakness for the trappings of genteel learning is much in evidence. There are, Hussey admiringly notes, citations and reference to Machiavelli, “the Spanish renaissance poet and courtier” Baltasar Granciàn, Shakespeare, “the distinguished American professor of history who held a chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology” Louis Mumford, and Fourier, proving, he informs us, its “originality” (p.218).

Régis Debray has argued that the theoretical framework of The Society of the Spectacle is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach.5 He has in mind The Essence of Christianity (1841), in which religion is explained as a process by which human properties are discharged onto a God, viewed as a nature apart from its creator. Liberation is the return of divine predicates back to human reality. Debord’s assertion that the unified power of the workers’ councils could bring back human practice – without any clear details about this would happen – from spectacular alienation has something of the same flavour. But the spectacle is not only God. The Society of the Spectacle could also be the object of Feuerbach’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy (1839) which attacked the Hegelian system as the “absolute self-externalisation of reason”.6 Debord’s categories exist in the purest state of objectification: the circuits of capital, their transformation into commodified images, and universal permeation, are laid out without any greater detail than be gleaned from browsing and thinking over a few well chosen texts. Institutions, from Stock Exchanges, Banks, States to Factories, from the Labour Process to the Media, are animated by the flow of images, but not illuminated by their detailed mechanisms. This “expressive totality” works with one simple contradiction (between practice and reification) throughout its entire unified fabric. The twist is that the crystallised forms of the Spectacle have always won until now, and have prevented real oppositions emerging. Or so it is bookishly affirmed.

Debord was not only sterile academically. The major 1960s Situationist writings are possibly unique in combining a virulent workerist streak (in contrast to say other studies of the consumer society, such as Marcuse’s), with a savage dismissal of the existing workers’ movement and its real (as opposed to potential) opposition to specific capitalist structures and policies. They are marred by reliance on rhetorical devices, such as antithesis (the world is at once “present and absent”) and bathos (the Spectacle is a “mere appearance”, reduced to the “empire of modern passivity”, yet it, as befits the emperor, “bathes endlessly in its own glory”). By the stroke of a pen, the struggle over the working day, over welfare, over partial reforms, as “externalisation” is written off.

The Situationists’ moment of glory was the events of May ’68. To Hussey their sloganising made the “events unique” (p.241). Such rhetoric was certainly unleashed at full throttle. Styling themselves after the French Revolution’s Enragés, their writings imitated Hébert’s Père Duchesne. Hussey unfortunately invariably renders their most frequent insults, “con” or “connard”, as “cunt”, which makes them speak the language of Trainspotting, rather than the average French colloquialisms they are. If it is these words which remain in most recollections of the period, including the anthologies that regularly appear, it is difficult to find many activists greatly concerned about this tiny organisation. Hussey concentrates wisely on Situationist manoeuvring in student politics, such as the Sorbonne Occupation Committee – the workers’ occupation councils safely distant – where they were one amongst a gaggle of leftist groups. The clashes between the unions, workers and the Gaullist regime, the scepticism of the CGT and PCF towards the student leaders and the university militants’ hostility towards the Communists (amply justified in both directions) took place in spheres remote from the Situationists’ field of vision.

Hussey remarks that “twenty years after the events Debord assigned the Situationists and himself the central role in the drama of the streets”. He regarded it as a time when “absolute change could occur” (p.247). The failure lay in that intellectuals and students had been unable to understand the nature of the enemy. Unable to face the totality they had crumbled. An aesthetic and absolutist approach to politics, where most of your own side are the tentacles of the Enemy (from anarchists to Stalinists), may also be counted as less than successful.

Debord’s record as a revolutionary, such as it was, is pretty dismal even by the low standards set by this vainglorious rancour. If their slogans made an impact their activities has little resonance. At times The Game of War’s account of his role in the Situationist International resembles that of Netchayev’s murderous conspiracy as rewritten by Dostoevsky in The Devils. There were seductions, manipulations, money dragged from the pockets of wealthy benefactors, beatings, and expulsions. The author, Jean Maitron, has his flat smashed up in his presence, for some slight. This died down as the early ’70s saw the Situationists wind up their organisation. To survivors, “the idea of a collective enterprise had collapsed”. Debord retreated into ever more snobbish and esoteric exercises. He was indulged by the impresario and publisher, Gérard Lebovia, who presented him with the imprint Champ Libre. Amongst those who collected these books, I can testify, were a few who truly appreciated the courtly elegance of Casteligone which Debord took to mirror his own aristocratic gentility. Tasting fine wines and eating gourmet food – still permanently intoxicated – Debord slumped into alcoholic grossness, playing war games in his country retreats. Lebovia’s mysterious gangland killing drove him to further misogyny. It is without surprise that we learn of Debord’s deep-rooted sexism (coming out with the hoary old “she does the washing up, I make the revolution”), and love of behaving badly (being nasty to anyone who tried to carry on his political work). To his credit Hussey reveals this side of Debord’s personality, a factor no doubt responsible for the threats he incurred from the remaining unconditional admirers of, as he calls Debord, the Prince of Division.

The Situationist had slumbered into the world of parapolitics. His last lieutenant, the Italian, Gianfranco Sanguinetti, has published On Terrorism and the State (English edition, 1982) alleging that the Red Brigades were a state invention. This, not unreasonable, claim was, however, supplemented by some of Debord’s own notions, which gradually implicated the spectacle into a conspiracy of self-maintenance. As Hussey states, “the concept of the spectacle implies of course that someone had put the spectacle in place” (p.372). The “of course” aside, what does this imply? That Debord far from pioneering a new form of romantic Marxism, or avant-garde experimental politics, had ended up a conspiracy theorist. Obsessed with drink he sunk rather than rose with it. He was obese. Like a 17th century squire he suffered from gout. For Hussey, Debord’s suicide on 4 October 1994 was an act of gravitas in a world that had left no choice for Revolution. It was appropriate that the “logic which had consistently dictated the rules of Debord’s war against the spectacular society [that] … his first and foremost appearance on television was in the form of a suicide note” (p.374). Perhaps, as Jean Baudrillard glossed the concept of the Spectacle, he had come to realise that he too was part of the “hyper-real”, the absorption of forms of expression, political struggle and labour, into a universe of simulacra. Yet more fittingly we can summarise him in different language: a legend in his own lunchtime, not a legendary life.


Notes

1. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Black and Red, 1973. Thesis 34.

2. Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie, Verso, 1990, pp.74, 82.

3. Christopher Gray, ed, The Construction of Situations. Leaving the Twentieth Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, Free Fall Publications, 1974.

4. Ibid, p.29. Signed by Vaneigem and Kotanyi. I note that Hussey’s index misspells Vaneigem’s name Vanaigem.

5. Régis Debray, “Remarks on the Spectacle”, New Left Review 214, 1995.

6. Ludwig Feuerbach, “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy”, in Lawrence S. Stepelevich, ed, The Young Hegelians, Cambridge University Press, 1983, p.107.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 2, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Campaign Against “Gender Critical Feminists” “Has to Stop” – Lindsey German (Counterfire).

with 32 comments

Sussex University backs trans-row academic despite her resignation | Metro  News

Pathetic attempts at ‘no platforming’ and demands for dismissal.”

Lindsey German on climate change and the case of Kathleen Stock

weekly briefing Lindsey German.

It has to stop  Counterfire (Monday).  

The decision by Kathleen Stock to resign from Sussex University is regrettable, if understandable. She has faced threats of violence, demonstrations and calls for her dismissal. The statements from both Sussex UCU and the national union both fell far short of what should be said faced with this campaign of intimidation. Accusations of transphobia against Stock are wide of the mark.

But the outcome raises wider questions about how we should handle debate on the issues of feminism and trans rights. There are very deep divisions here, but there is an acceptable and unacceptable way of dealing with them. The former involves serious and respectful debate and discussion, the latter the pathetic attempts at ‘no platforming’ and demands for dismissal which should be reserved for fascists.

This was also true last week when a well-attended meeting on women and prisons, organised by Woman’s Place UK, was subject to an unpleasant and sexist protest (Editor’s Note, see letter from Woman’s Place) by people who opposed their gender critical views and accused them (wrongly) of transphobia. It seems lost on these people that women are an oppressed section of society and that if there is a clash with other groups of the oppressed (such as transwomen and men) then it has to be taken seriously.

It is worth noting here that these protests tend not to be directed towards, for example, the government, or real transphobes, but towards those on the left, including established socialists and trade unionists, who are deemed to be wrong about this. In itself, this shows an inward looking and narrow approach – the rest of the left really is not the enemy.

It is not acceptable to use sexist, ageist and racist abuse, as seems to be the case from video evidence, against women. It is not acceptable to comment on their looks, the shape of their bodies, or anything else. We have spent decades now fighting against stereotypes of how women are supposed to look and behave, and it is still an uphill battle. How appalling then that people on the left, in the name of supposed solidarity with the oppressed, feel it is justified to join in with these right wing views.

Let’s be clear here: gender critical women are not fascists – they are mostly left wing. They should be allowed to organise as women without being abused and intimidated. And if you think that doing otherwise is helping fight oppression, you really are in a bad place. This has to stop – the only people it is damaging is the left.

Comment.

German and, by extension, many of those in Counterfire, have been known to hold these views on the campaign of intimidation against gender critical feminism for some time. It is good to see this clear stand expressed.

Update: Top Newshound John gives the background:

We, the undersigned, have a variety of positions about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Some of us have not yet fully formed our opinions.

We are calling for action within our movement to allow debate to take place over proposed changes to the Act.

You may be aware that on April 13 this year, an activist, Tara Wood was convicted of the assault by beating of Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old woman who had gathered with others in order to attend a meeting at which they could discuss the potential impact on women and girls of such a change to the law.

On March 8, an incident also occurred on a Bectu picket line in which trans activists, with no connection to the industrial dispute itself, mobbed and verbally attacked a female trade union member on the basis of having recognised her as an attendee at a similar meeting.

And in late April women in Bristol looking to meet and discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act were met with masked activists blocking entrances to the venue, and deliberately intimidating those wishing to go inside.

More recently, a meeting organised by Woman’s Place UK was targeted with a bomb threat which Hastings Police are investigating as a serious incident.

These cases are part of systematic attempts to shut down meetings organised by women at which they can discuss potential legislative changes and the impact these may have on any sex-based rights already enshrined in law.

They draw the whole of our progressive movement into disrepute.

Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.

Other women, including ordinary women concerned for their rights, as well as those active within the trade union movement and other political campaigns, are also now anxious and fearful that they will be subjected to such attacks when engaging in any political activity, meetings, or protests.

We are sure that, whatever your view regarding the issues around the Gender Recognition Act, you will agree that it is unacceptable for women to be made scared to engage in political life.

We, the undersigned, publicly and unequivocally condemn the use of violence or tactics of intimidation on this issue.

(Some names,well-known on the left and labour movement, are underlined.)

Yours sincerely,
Judith Green
Ruth Serwotka
Kiri Tunks
Lucy Masoud
Karen Ingala Smith
Lindsey German
Paula Lamont
Julie Bindel
Helen Steel

Gill Butler
Mark Serwotka
Mike Clancy
Vicky Knight
Tony Burke
Gail Cartmail
Susan Matthews
Len McCluskey
Sean McGovern
Maggie Ryan
Jane Stewart
Steve Turner
Tony Woodhouse
Philipa Harvey
Sarah Johnson
Dave Harvey
Heather McKenzie
Marilyn Bater
Paul Embery

Jeni Harvey
Julia Bard
Lisa-Marie Taylor
Pilgrim Tucker
Mary Davis
Jane Shallice
Rebecca Lush
Emma Wilkes
Charlie Dacke
Sybil Cock
Gill Parke
Ann Sinnott
Harriet Wistrich
Cllr Julie Davies
Maria MacLachlan
Nic Williams
Debbie Epstein
Kristina Jayne Harrison
Kay Green
Rosie Brocklehurst
Carolyn Thomas
Philippa Clark
Christiane Ohsan
Mary Adossides
Meirian Jump
Miriam David
Trish Lavelle
Megan Dobney
Anita Halpin
Carolyn Jones
Kath Campbell
Rachel Burns
Marj Mayo
Annette Mansell Green
Hilda Palmer
Janet Newsham
Annie Gwilym Walker
Alice Bondi
Helena Coates
Ceri Williams
Debbie Hayton
Gill Knight
Eleanor Hill
Bronwen Davies
Pam Isherwood
Hayley Mullen
Sybil Grundberg
Anne Morch
Jane Galloway
Diane Jones
Karen Broady
Emma Dolan
Jan Pemberton
Beth Aze
Louise Hersee
Naomi Grint
Emma Aynsley
Roy Wilkes
Holly Smith
Marjorie Caw
Catherine Bjarnason
Charlotte Carson
Gerald Clark
Carole Regan
Bernard Regan
John Millington
Therese O’Meara
Amanda MacLean
Gwenan Richards
Jayne Egerton
Kim Thomas
Helen Saxby
Marion L Calder
Gwenda Owen
Hannah Tahir
Kate Graham
Rebecca Heath
Catherine Muller
Radha Burgess
Lisa Bishop
Emma Salmon
Jan Pemberton
Lynne Caffrey
Becky Vaughn
Jan Baxter
Kate Jerrold
Jennifer James

Cllr Amy Brookes
Elizabeth Carola
Marta Garcia de la Vega
Ruth Gordon
Lorraine Roberts
Sona Mahtani
Caroline Spry
Ann McTaggart
Denise Bennett
Cllr Bob Walsh
Sue Lent
Helen Watts
Emma Barraclough
Beth Vennart
Ruth Conlock
Emma Flynn
Cathy Devine
Barbara Hughes
Louise Paine
Prue Plumridge
Sarah Tanburn
Donna Stevenson
Dinah Mulholland
Olivia Palmer
Hannah Laurel
Sandra Easton-Lawrence
Helen Soutar
Paula Dauncey
Tessa McInnes
Lynn Alderson
Abigail Rowland
Christian Stahle
Barbara Brookes
Hilary Adams
Fiona English
Frankie Rickford
Julie Timbrell
Jess Goldie

Here is Woman’s Place

This story is becoming known internationally.

There is, for example, now a French Wikipedia entry on Kathleen Stock.

Stock devient notoire en janvier 2021, lorsqu’elle est accusée de transphobie dans une lettre signée par 600 philosophes et autres universitaires, qui s’opposent à ce qu’elle reçoive un OBE (Ordre de l’Empire britannique). En octobre 2021, une campagne étudiante appelant à son licenciement suscite à la fois des critiques et un soutien envers Stock. Un groupe de plus de 200 philosophes universitaires du Royaume-Uni prend position en faveur de Stock et de la liberté académique. Malgré le soutien que lui apporte l’université, Stock démissionne.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2021 at 10:04 am

Alt Left Media in Crisis.

with 7 comments

And Fall: “Over at the Canary, traffic has fallen from a high of 8.5 million readers a month in the run-up to the 2017 election to around 250,000. “

In the post-Corbyn world, what next for alternative left media?

How are radical start-up outlets that thrived under the last Labour leader faring in the Keir Starmer era, and against the backdrop of newer right-wing players?

By Harry Clarke-Ezzidio (from David W).

Read the full article – recommended.

Extracts and comments.

Over the past ten years, a wave of platforms such as the Canary (founded in 2015), Evolve Politics (2015), Novara Media (2011), Skwawkbox (2012) and Another Angry Voice (2010) have identified a radical left-shaped hole in the media landscape. Many of these built on audiences inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Cumulatively, these outlets have 1.4 million followers across all major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). But with Corbyn gone and money pouring into right-wing news, how will they adapt?

(Note: this would include people who ‘like’ them on FB, follow them on Twitter but do not necessarily read them).

Broadcaster and campaigner Owen Jones recently set up a left-wing media venture based on his YouTube channel, featuring mini-documentaries, interviews and vlogs alongside his weekly news offering, the Owen Jones Show.

Cde Jones recently lost one follower.

What kind of content do they offer?

Yet the newer left-wing platforms also rely on viral hits with partisan content to build an audience. Double Down News, a left-wing site founded in 2017, does this largely through its video interviews with well-known figures on the left, such as Guardian environment journalist George Monbiot, economist Grace Blakeley, director Ken Loach and the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

All very interesting no doubt (hides yawn),

Let us get down to the subjects that interest the newhounds and gumshoes who contribute and read this site here.

Under Starmer’s leadership, the support given to Labour by sites such as Novara and Skwawkbox has diminished. These weaker ties do not trouble Sarkar. “Those four years of Corbyn really spoiled us,” she said. “Because the Labour Party has been boring for a lot longer than it was exciting.”

Having recently cancelled her party membership, Sarkar appeared at The World Transformed: an alternative convention that runs parallel to Labour’s autumn conference, established after Corbyn was elected. “I’m not interested, quite frankly, in what Keir Starmer chooses to do,” said Sarkar.

“He’s not somebody whose opinion I care about very much. What I care about is how the left deals with Starmer in order to achieve its policy goals and values. In the long term, if we gave up a really good climate change policy to give Keir Starmer an extra two points in the polls – that’s not going to be of great comfort on a burning planet.”

The article continues,

“Had their influence been overstated? McDowell-Naylor, who is working on a research project about the rise of alternative media outlets, thinks that while there was “something in the water” in 2017, crediting the new left media with that result ignores the wider context: “You also have to look at the fact that the Conservative Party’s 2017 election campaign was terrible by almost every measure.”

It then looks at Skwawkbox, interviewing the man himself, tactfully not mentioning UNITE, and letting the small businessman talk about his triumph in the solving the Penge Bungalow Murders, sorry Mid Staffordshire Hospital Scandal.

Steve Walker, who set up the pro-Corbyn Skwawkbox blog in 2012 to cover the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, disagreed. “I’m not interested in trying to brag… but the fact that there was a different narrative available, and the success of the spread of that into people’s consciousness – I’m sure it [new left-wing media] must have played a role.”

Walker – who was successfully sued for libel by ex-Labour MP Anna Turley in 2019, and reportedly left the party after alleged complaints of “bullying, harassment and intimidation” (he won’t disclose his membership status) – put Labour’s dismal 2019 performance down to the party’s Brexit position. He said Skwawkbox urged the party to sack Starmer, then shadow Brexit secretary, for backing a second referendum.

Now that Starmer is leader, and the left wing of the party holds less sway, many of these alternative outlets are considering their line come the next election. Who or what will they back?

“I am an anti-Tory person who takes an anti-Tory position, so we won’t discriminate according to the colour of the rosette,” said Walker. “But if you offer people the worst possible Labour government, you will end up with the worst possible Tory government.”

Novara Media: it’s all about Ash.

For Novara, Sarkar said success comes by “diversifying the product, not by diluting the principles which undergird [the] project”. This means being “responsive to the political moment”, but “still having that fundamental set of values about what’s going on and who it is you’re speaking to”, suggesting Novara will continue to be critical of Starmer’s Labour.

They are much more important than the Labour Party. “….the new left media believes its survival is distinct from who’s up or down within the Labour Party. “Novara isn’t about blind loyalty to Corbyn,” Sarkar said. “We predate the Corbyn project, and we managed to grow the most after its end: it was our coverage of the pandemic which really expanded our subscriber base, more so than the Corbyn moment.”

The social injustices and government sleaze arising from the pandemic response have brought new audiences to alternative outlets. Novara’s reporting on its flagship TyskySour current affairs show saw its YouTube channel grow exponentially during Covid-19: subscribers have nearly tripled, from 65,000 in March 2020 to over 170,000 in October 2021; overall, video views have more than tripled – from ten million monthly views prior to Covid, to over 40 million today.

Not having been arsed to watch this the Tendance cannot judge.

Then the Canary.

Over at the Canary, traffic has fallen from a high of 8.5 million readers a month in the run-up to the 2017 election to around 250,000. Editor-in-chief Andrew Rose put this down to a change in the Facebook algorithm in 2018, which significantly stifled traffic to his and competitors’ sites.

Yet the site and its former editor-at-large, Kerry-Anne Mendoza (who stepped back from her role this summer to prioritise her mental health), have also faced several allegations of anti-Semitism. (Rose said these allegations have “always been false”.)

It is asked: Will the alternative left media survive?

In 2017, Mendoza told the New Statesman that the Canary aspired to the same reach as the Daily Mail or the Sun: a lofty goal that looks even more remote four years on. “It’s difficult because we’ve been in existence for six years,” said Rose. “You can’t talk about any of the new left-wing outlets in the same way as about corporations that have both been in existence for hundreds of years, or [are] owned by billionaires.”

Despite the challenges, most in this media sphere believe they can defy the odds. Walker of Skwawkbox predicts social ills – poverty, instability, oppression – will provoke a reaction and generate new audiences. “The left outlets on their own are not going to set the world on fire. But people will, at some point, wake up to what’s being done to them.”

Rose said it “comes down to economics”, with the need for a wider left-wing support network to fund such coverage, including backing from trade unions. “We’re in it for the long haul, but I think it’s going to be a struggle.”

Prospects in the Metaverse are said to be good…….

That said many people will be surprised that the Squawking one is put in the same class as “radical start up outlets” and “alt media”. Skwawkbox is a bilious old grunter trained on a Remington who’s now lording forth against Labour and a variety of enemies (often inspired by his marginalised union cronies) through new technological toys in his basement. On might have little interest n Novara and the Canary, but a lurid fascination with factionalism – the chief pull of Steve Walker’s Organ – is not their forte.

The wider problem for the alt-left start ups is that they are not that interesting, people have had enough of their permanent talking heads, with notable exceptions their material is rarely of any depth, and the scene has more than its share of self-regarding coxcombs who are bitter at their failure to lead a new vanguard of comment.

For reasons best known to the author of their otherwise excellent piece he includes ByLines in the piece,

Reporting by the Byline Media group – which bills itself as non-partisan – has often been picked up by the mainstream press in the age of coronavirus: from uncovering  “crony” government Covid-19 contracts in the Byline Times, to Byline TV filming the abuse faced by Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater on the Batley and Spen campaign trail, and an interview with Dawn Butler MP after she was thrown out of parliament for accusing Boris Johnson of lying.

Bylines has recently established a series of regional outlets.

Their articles, often on local issues by people who know the topics inside out, are in a different league to the alt-left media’s efforts: written by those in direct contact with their subjects, and thought-provoking.

East Anglia Bylines.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2021 at 1:34 pm

Woman’s Place UK Letter to the SWP after Abusive Protest Outside Meeting, “A Women’s Place is not in Prison”.

with 26 comments

Protesters Outside Women’s Place Meeting.

SWP: Stand Up to Misogyny, Racism and Abuse

Many people saw this on Twitter:

This letter expresses the views of Women’s Place. To make their position clear we reproduce it in full.

Dear SWP,

Your paper’s coverage of the protests against Professor Kathleen Stock at the University of Sussex made it clear that the SWP believes it is legitimate for women who recognise that sex is a material reality to be harassed and intimidated at their workplace. The protests have now resulted in Professor Stock being obliged to leave the university. While the piece does say that women like us should not be driven out of our jobs, it gave a signal to your members that they have your organisation’s support if they take part in such protests, whatever the professional or personal impact on the targeted woman.

D, who identifies as an SWP member on Twitter, organised just such a protest at our public meeting A Woman’s Place Is (Not) In Prison on Wednesday October 27th at the QE2 Centre in London.

D’s public Twitter feed encourages people to join the SWP. D has retweeted statements suggesting that protesting at events like ours is a form of “anti-fascist solidarity”. The same individual also tweeted the time and location of our meeting encouraging people to protest at it and described Joanna Cherry MP and women who share her opinions as “absolute Nazis”.

Almost 600 women had bought tickets to hear an all-woman panel discuss how prison punishes women for being poor, violently abused and vulnerable. It was a meeting which would have been of interest to any socialist or feminist as it was discussing the cruelties of the prison system and alternatives to it for vulnerable working-class women.

There were only about six protestors and videos of them are circulating widely online.

Our event coincided with a conference for Black people in business as part of Black History Month.

People attending our event and the Black business meeting, venue staff and our stewards were subjected to the most extreme outpouring of racist and misogynistic abuse. The apparent organiser and leader of the protest, D, and the SWP by association, bear responsibility for the protestors’ language and behaviour.

These include comments such as:

“Shut the f*ck up, you c*nt” shouted into the face of our chief steward.

“Call Weightwatchers, your body’s not doing it.”

“Your hair is minging, buy a weave.”

“Your breath smells like you’ve been eating ar*e, have you been eating her a*se?”

“Are you a lesbian? No man would want that.”

“Your breasts are on the floor, buy a bra and some hair dye too.”

“You fucking bald b*tch.”

“You’re a stuck-up b*tch.”

“I have a better body than you. Like, you have no bum. How do you sit down? What kind of man would want you? A blind man?”

“We don’t want pensioners. We don’t want dinosaurs like all you lot. You are not going to be around in 40 years. Well, 40’s a push.”

“You call yourself a woman? DIE! DIE! DIE!”

To people arriving for the Black Business event (who did not interact with the protestors):

“You went through slavery, you went through discrimination, rape, sexual harassment, the slave masters raped and sexually abused you and now you are abusing me, as a trans woman?”

“You were persecuted. You were nothing under slavery.”

“You look me in the eye. Your ancestors went through slavery and you are here. Hang your head in shame. Slave Master! Yes! Slave Master!”

“You call yourself Black people?”

“Why are you here? Are you supporting these Nazis? Are you supporting neo-Nazis?”

We are asking that the SWP openly stands up to racism and misogyny organised and facilitated by one of its members. As a self-described socialist taking part in the protest and someone who has spoken on behalf of Stand Up To Racism, D had a duty either to tell his collaborators to stop the racism, misogyny and offensive behaviour against women at the venue or to walk away from it. D did neither but instead contributed to it.

It will be apparent to you from watching the videos that our activists refused to engage with the abuse. We are committed to respectful debate on questions of sex and gender with people who disagree with us.

The intimidation to which we were subjected by people who are practising what you preach will not prevent us from organising other major events in the coming months.

We are part of a resurgent women’s liberation movement to which your group is hostile. We accept that, but we would like an assurance that if your members take your paper’s advice and protest against us that they will not permit abusive, racist, misogynistic behaviour at mobilisations for which you are politically responsible.

Some of our activists work alongside SWP members in unions and campaigns. This is an impossible relationship to maintain if people in the SWP are saying in public that we are equivalent to fascists. If this is now the approved position of the SWP it needs to be stated explicitly. If it is not, that also needs to be stated explicitly, if only for the benefit of your members who seem unclear on the question.

The best way for your organisation to do that is to publish a public statement unequivocally repudiating racism, ageism and misogyny which will remind your supporters that they are unacceptable in every circumstance.

Response from a one-time leading figure in the SWP.

This is not the first protest outside a Women’s Place Meeting:

Women’s meeting besieged by raging crowd (2019)

The Morning Star reports from Woman’s Place UK’s Labour Party conference unofficial fringe meeting.

AN ANGRY crowd besieged a Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) meeting in Brighton on Monday night, crowding and shouting: “Shame on you” at individuals entering and banging on the windows throughout in an attempt to drown out the speakers.

Protesters chanted that “WPUK is a hate group,” repeating claims by some trans activists that the feminist organisation is hostile to trans people’s rights, an assertion rejected by speakers at the event.

One woman was doused in water as she entered while a young PhD student was reduced to tears and missed most of the subsequent meeting because the “terrifying” experience brought on a panic attack.

The protest against WPUK’s A Woman’s Place is At Conference event was endorsed from the platform at Momentum’s The World Transformed event, leading to a larger turnout against the meeting, but protesters were heavily outnumbered by the 100 or so women and a few men who braved the demo and attended.

One retired female police officer said the policing of the demo was “a disgrace,” saying one protester had leaned in and screamed: “Shame on you” in her ear.

Socialist feminist campaigner Dani Ahrens said the leadership of the LGBT movement had moved away from a liberating vision as it became closer to corporate sponsors.

This Blog is not a supporter of Women’s Place.

Apart from the accusations against the SWP, whose background in well known, it seems as if this culture war is not going away.

This is not the right way to debate the issues around gender critical feminism.

It should be condemned and opposed by the left and all democrats.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2021 at 9:27 am

Posted in Free Speech, SWP

Tagged with , ,

On the Resignation of Feminist Kathleen Stock after ‘Toxic’ Campaign against her.

with 30 comments

Trans-row professor Kathleen Stock quits university over 'toxic' environment

Disagree with her Opinions, if you wish, but oppose Intimidation.

“Hazlitt was the subject of constant attacks by the Tory press, of a kind we could not now tolerate. They called him depraved, blasphemous, malign, a fiend who endangered traditions and proprieties, a blackguard, a quack, a “pimpled coxcomb”

In its most vicious style one of the chief Tory magazines, Blackwood’s, was capable of ranting

“Let execrations gurgle in your gullet, distended with the rising gorge of your blackest bile; belch out your bitter blackguardism lest you burst; clench your fists till your fretted palms are pierced with the jagged edge of nails bitten in impotent desperation, stamp with cloven feet on the fetid flags of your sty till the mire mounts to your mouth.”

Flowers of despair. A C Grayling

Polemical language may be less colourful today but there is plenty of venom around in the attacks on Kathleen Stock.

The British campaign against her is already well-known,

Here is a lesser publicised justification for those calling for Stock’s Sacking.

Genocidal Ideology.”

The UK Media Has Seriously Bungled the Kathleen Stock Story (October the 17th).

Grace Lavery a Berkeley University Associate Professor of English, and specialist in Trans issues, has argued that academic freedom is “the collective right asserted by those working in universities to conduct research without interference by interior or exterior forces.”   She continues, “we do not believe that there should be any limits on what an academic like Prof. Stock should be able to research and publish.”The feminist professor has researched freely and has been widely – “prolifically” – published. These activities have not been threatened by her University, Sussex.

Here is a reply to these arguments:

So that is so far, largely, but not exclusively, an inter-academic issue.

But what has been the real issue for the “expert in Trans studies” and “one of the most followed trans scholars in the world”  ?

..students oppose Stock’s leadership of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance (LGBA), of which she is a trustee, and claim that her signature on the Women’s Declaration of Sex-Based Rights (WDSR), a manifesto circulated by the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC), creates an atmosphere of unsafety for trans students on Sussex campus.

Following a lengthy discursion on how terrible these bodies are Lavery ventures into the area of genocide.

to the extent that the WDSR affirms the position of the WHRC, it may be thought of as a genocidal manifesto.

Discussing what Stock has written – and a dispute with Amelia Jones she continues,

A naive reader would, I suspect, come away from Material Girls believing that Stock believed that the GRA should not have been passed; that, once passed, it should not have been enforced; and that, in general, it would be better if the GRA placed no obligations on anyone except the transitioning person. This position is indeed fully consistent with the WDSR, for the simple reason that it amounts to the elimination of trans women in law.

Lavery asserts that students have been fighting “genocide apolgism”.

“Journalists across the spectrum of media from right to left have published laudatory essays about Prof. Stock, portraying her as a valiant warrior for academic freedom, rather than someone who has wholly undermined academic freedom by reducing it to mere opinion, and attempting to use it to cover genocide apologism and labeling one’s critics “revolting.” Nobody has thought to ask Prof. Stock questions about why she thinks the WDSR is compatible with the GRA, when the Declaration was written explicitly to displace the Act; nobody has raised a peep about the systematic attempt to destroy Amelia Jones’ reputation after she had said no more than the literal truth: that Prof. Stock signed an eliminationist manifesto”.

This is what is at stake…

“the moral panic about “masked” protestors, nobody has wondered what steps they might take to oppose genocidal ideology, if the Vice Chancellor of their University was saying something like this:

Is genocide the issue? Really? “the Genocide Convention does not require killing (2a) or even assaulting (2b) any class of people in order to adjudicate genocide. The imposition of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction” (2c) is adequate.”

The obscenity of the comparison stands out.

The Genocide Convention refers to “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its
physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

The most notorious recent genocide, an open wound, was by the Jihadist Islamic State.

The Yazidis are a religious minority who mainly reside in northern Iraq and have a distinct religious identity. On 3rd August 2014, they were attacked by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The initial attack was followed by forced conversions to Islam, Yazidi men were killed and thrown into mass graves, and women were sold into slavery. According to a report from the UN, the violence varied “depending on the gender and age of the victims,” though the entire population was attacked. These acts of violence carried out during the genocide were carried out based upon ISIS’ interpretation of gender roles within radical Islam, where men were seen as leaders or fighters and women were seen as “spoils of war”. The Yazidi genocide has highlighted two things: Firstly, the Genocide Convention is gender-neutral and thus fail to recognise the influence of gender-based violence – hereafter GBV – during genocides due to the historic invisibility of women in warfare. Secondly, this makes it difficult for victims to get justice.

The Yazidi Genocide, lack of justice and gender-based violence in genocides

Here is the US Academic’s response to Kathleen Stock’s resignation.

Here is a much better stand on the controversy,

More responses:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2021 at 11:24 am

Kathleen Stock Resigns, Those Calling For Her Sacking Gloat and Crow.

with 11 comments

Sussex University students campaign to have 'transphobic' professor Kathleen  Stock sacked | News | The Times

Triumph of Intolerance over Enlightenment.

This Blog was not going to post today but this really sticks in the craw:

Anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock quits Sussex university in ‘massive win for LGBT+ students’

“Massive win for Sussex LGBTQ+ students today,” said an account on Instagram claiming to represent trans and non-binary students at Sussex. “Let’s take a minute to appreciate this.”

The group added: “Queer and trans students united, never to be defeated!!”

Counter-comment,

Kathleen Stock deserved better

JOAN SMITH Thursday, 28
October 2021

There is no other way of putting it: a distinguished academic has been driven out of her job at a British university. For insisting on the reality of biological sex. A belief protected in law. Scarcely believable, and a terrible commentary on the poisonous atmosphere at some educational institutions. How could it come to this?

We are an ad hoc group of people involved in the University College Union (UCU) who, now or in the past, have served in elected national or local branch positions. We are very concerned at the abject failure of our union to recognise that the key and pressing issue arising from the treatment of Kathleen Stock at Sussex University is that of her, and our, academic freedom. Through the brief statements below we want to show our solidarity with Kathleen Stock.  We also hope to promote a discussion amongst union activists, the wider membership and others too about the importance of affirming academic freedom as a central value underpinning both our role as academics and the purpose of the University.

This is not a political win for those supporting trans rights or gender theory. It is a victory for those who prefer to silence views they disagree with rather than debate differences. It is a triumph for intolerance over Enlightenment.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 7:04 pm

Piers Corbyn Appears on Neo-Nazi Mark Collett’s Show.

with 3 comments

From David W.

Image

Piers Corbyn discusses the ‘Jewish question’ on far-right political show

Piers Corbyn has appeared as a guest on far-right political party leader Mark Collett’s online show where the pair openly discussed “the Jewish question.”

Former BNP publicity director Collett – who has spoken sympathetically of Nazi Germany and shared conspiracy theories about Jews – asked the former Labour leader’s brother “is Piers aware of the Jewish question?” on his Patriotic Alternative Weekly show.

Anti-vaxx movement leader Corbyn responded by saying:  “There’s lots of ways of defining a Jewish question – the difficult is answering can lead you into certain dangers because you’ll say things …

Piers the ‘anti-globalist continued.

“I’m not trying to get out of that, but I’m not convinced we’ve got time to elaborate at this particular point in time.

“If you come and see me under different circumstances we could discuss that more fully if the meaning of the question can be clarified a bit more.”

Earlier Corbyn said: “I’m not a Holocaust denier in case you are leading up to that. Certain things you say, we are told we are Holocaust deniers.

“Well the Holocaust happened and that was horrific. That’s all I can say on that.”

The ‘Jewish question’ was a debate that emerged in nineteenth and twentieth century European societies on alleged special problems and concerns with Jewish people.

The expression was used by antisemitic movements since the 1880s, and also controversially by Karl Marx.

It culminated in the Nazi phrase of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.

It is not the first time that Corbyn has been linked with figures on the far-right.

In 2016 he gave a speech at an event in which he was welcomed by the disgraced academic Nicholas Kollerstrom, who was disowned by the University College London in 2008 for denying the Holocaust.

Collett’s Patriotic Alternative have been described as the fastest growing far-right party, with online broadcasts targeting younger recruits.

A proud fan of National Socialism he published a book in 2017 describing the “alleged extermination of six million Jews”, adding: “When it comes to the notion of white guilt, nothing is pushed more strongly.”

Hope Not Hate researcher Simon Murdoch has previously said: “Collett is a longstanding antisemite who has spoken sympathetically of Nazi Germany, described the Holocaust as the ‘alleged extermination of six million Jews’, and has regularly collaborated with David Duke, a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan.”

In 2019, the pro-Israel Israel Advocacy Group staged a live debate with Collett – but the stunt backfired after leader Joseph Cohen admitted the “ferocity of anti-Jewish racism expressed in the debate and by the audience was unlike anything we’ve experienced in over a decade.”

Leeds neo-Nazi Mark Collet behind far-right group Patriotic Alternative pushing ‘hateful’ home schooling with racist songs.

February 2021.

A neo-Nazi from Leeds is behind a far-right group promoting a home school curriculum that uses racists songs and claims all English people have white skin.

Mark Collet, a 40-year-old Holocaust doubter who has tweeted claiming ‘white genocide is taking place, runs Patriotic Alternative with Laura Towler, a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The group claims 10,000 people a month are viewing its ‘wholesome’ syllabus, which has also been dubbed ‘hateful and poisonous’, online during lockdown, the MirrorOnline reports.

It claims it helps kids “learn history and culture free from the shackles and ideology of the National Curriculum”.

Parents are told to teach their children how Britain abolished slavery, glossing over its involvement in the barbaric trade for 300 years and blaming “African chiefs” for selling their people.

Lessons focus on a “heroic age” when Britons were “a superior kind of people showing great feats of courage”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Empireland: a Culture War Worth Fighting.

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Empireland

“It is puerile to reduce imperial history to a matter of ‘good’ and ‘bad’; trying to weigh up the positive and negative in this way is like defending the morality of kicking a random old man in the shins one afternoon because you helped an old lady across the road in the morning.”
― Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

Empireland observes that much of British history happened elsewhere, in the Empire. This is one of the reasons why the land’s imperialism is not always at the forefront of everyday historical memory. Many people in the country (including this writer, who like millions is partly of Irish descent) will not consider Ireland as much of an “elsewhere” as the Island, and its brutal colonisation, are not far away. There was also the Hundred Years War (1337- 1453) when the English Plantagenets claimed to the Throne of France. A memorable incident from that conflict is commemorated by a copy of Rodin’s statue The Burghers of Calais, which stands in Victoria Gardens next to the Palace of Westminster.

But Sanghera’s point is well-made: if this Blogger is old enough to recall Commonwealth Days when we paraded around with flags at Junior school by already traffic-heavy the North Circular the Empire itself is a historical fact with little, if any, emotional weight. That is one reason why “Despite a recent surge of interest in British colonial history […] the effect of British empire upon this country is poorly understood.” It is not entirely true, at least for somebody who did ‘O’ Level modern history, (GCSE Modern World History) in which the forces which led to decolonialisation figured large. But it is no doubt often the case.

With emotional and historical depth Empireland argues for widening, not “decolonialising” how the British Empire is taught. The author illustrates through his own experience as somebody from a Sikh background not just how the prejudices of some people in this country affected his biography but the way in which the history of the British Raj shaped Britain today. This was a story of callous exploitation, racial hierarchies, kept together by vicious military campaigns.

There were the ‘nabobs’, familiar to many readers of 19th century novels and those aware of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings,  de facto Governor-General of Bengal in 1772–1785. Sanghera looks at the literary trace of those who amassed vast fortunes from their activities to fund lavish lifestyles back in Britain in the form of stately homes, art collections, places and objects the subject of recent battles the ‘anti-woke’ brigade and inside the National Trust. There was equally, in just about recognisable modern times (this is striking even if you know the outline) the stand-out Younghusband expedition to Tibet (1903 -4) when Buddhist monasteries were pillaged, the booty ending up in private hands and the British Museum and Bodleian. Looting, the mark of the wars of the ancient and medieval world, was carried into the twentieth century.

The subjects covered are vast, from the Transatlantic slave trade to the later ‘Scramble for Africa’, and explored in a thought-provoking away. Home and Away looks at the life of ‘expats’ in colonial society, with some portrayed as just as prejudiced and sordid (including sexual exploitation) as one imagines, if they have been thought of.

The British Empire did not have ‘progressives’ as famous as the centre left republican Prime Minister Jules Ferry who  justified French colonialism as a “mission civilisatrice’. But there were parallels and not only from those who bought into Rudyard Kipling’s view of the world and the White Man’s Burden. The Fabian Society had members who believed that, “British Empire is a potentially progressive force in the world.” and that, “The empire should be fruitfully utilised for greater and noble purpose: the establishment of a socialist “Common­wealth”. In the course of disputes over the Boer War Bernard Shaw argued that, “Fabian socialism and Imperialism were both based on the supreme duties of the Community, with State Organisation, Efficient Government, Industrial Civil Service, Regulation of all Private Enterprise in the common interest, and dissolution of Frontiers through international industrial organisation. ” – even if he did not agree with “every act of Imperial government.” They also discussed the potential difference between “higher” and “lower” civilisations. In general terms they “approved and justified” the division of the world between imperial powers. (Fabian Socialism and British Politics. 1884 – 1918. A.M, Briar, 1962)

Empireland advances the view that “as British empire grew and peaked in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it morphed into nothing less than a wilful, unapologetic exercise in white racial supremacy.”Yet for most of the population systematic views about racial superiority are, unlike prejudices, have not been widely shared on this archipelago  for some time, if they ever were.T his, infused with a keen sense of the class as well as racial, ethnic, difference, makes you realise why many people in Britain, the vast majority of whom have no direct personal or family connection with colonial society, neither feel hot nor cold about Empire.

Empireland helps us jolt out of this into awareness of the living legacy of British Imperialism. It is a brilliant thought-provoking book. Read it.

Gardner Thompson makes the point in Chartist Magazine (Selective amnesia)

“At one important level this book is a call to action: to implant the British Empire in the school curriculum. Sanghera has a chapter headed ‘Selective amnesia’ – but forgetting implies having first known. He observes that his GCSE History left him with “little more than superficial knowledge of the world wars, the Tudors, and Tollund man”. He adds, “empire, bewilderingly, remains untaught in most schools: its absence in my education, it transpires, is typical”. Generations have indeed been left, in a virtual knowledge vacuum, to adopt any opinion about empire they choose – as admirable and glorious (a view which has in turn nourished a regrettable sense of British ‘exceptionalism’), or as wholly deplorable.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 1:55 pm

Novara Media: Left and Right Unite and Fight! (“Against Big Tec Censorship”).

with 18 comments

Yesterday this happened.

Novara Media is, frankly, not a must-read.

A glance at its site today (the first for a long time) reveals no doubt worthy articles on the German SPD (Germany’s SPD Is About to Take Power. Can It Stick to Leftwing Principles?), Green stuff (Planet B: Everything Must Change – Land and The Green Transition is Already Underway – And It’s Not Looking Pretty), a link to tele Sour with an interview with John McDonnell about the Budget. a long piece by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow taken from their widely reviewed and much-talked about book The Dawn of Everything (Forget ‘Liberté’ – 17th-Century Indigenous Americans Knew a Lot More About Freedom Than Their French Colonisers) Cde James Meadway (The Government’s Net Zero Strategy Is Beyond Disappointing) and something by Noam Chomsky.

That took fourteen minutes.

All worthy stuff.

But I’ve lost interest already.

Apparently they have a YouTube Channel as well.

Lo!

Novara Media’s press statement

According to Novara’s senior editor Ash Sarkar, Novara had received no prior warning and one ‘strike’ (YouTube operates a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy) before the channel was removed:We could only appeal in the way that everyone else can, which is that you reply to this anonymous email. You’re not even sure if there’s a human on the other side of it. And that’s why we thought that the only means that we have for getting an explanation is by going public and drumming up support. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the role of Big Tech:It’s a bad thing that private companies have got so much influence, but the fact is they do. And so when they do play such a key role in our democracy, and when they play such a key role in making sure that journalism can reach an audience, there needs to be some kind of democratically decided regulation of those platforms, because it has an impact on our democracy. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On lessons she has learned:Well, I think that what you see there are people trying to make sense of a rapidly changing landscape and they’re kind of grasping for arguments which suit the thing that they’re trying to focus on at the time. And I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that…we don’t have a political framework of treating these as public utilities, having some kind of democratic oversight, and people grasp for the nearest available argument… And I think that that is something which has been a weakness in my own politics, right. This is something which I’ve gotten wrong. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Left’s attitude to free speech:There has been a censorious turn to the left. It’s no good denying it. And there has been, I think, a tendency to say, because this conversation has the potential to bring in viewpoints which we deem hateful and harmful, that this conversation shouldn’t be happening at all. That is something which I disagree with. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On Novara’s cross-political support:What was really great is that support came from all sides of the political spectrum. Because it doesn’t matter where you are on some of the big issues of the day, we can all agree that an unaccountable American tech company having this much control of whether a fully regulated, British journalistic outfit is allowed to operate — that’s an incredibly sinister thing. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Trump ban:Well, one of the things that I was saying at the time is that this isn’t something to celebrate. This is not something to just sort of go ‘woo, Trump, we don’t like him, he’s a racist, he’s a fascist. He’s currently corroding democratic norms. It’s a good thing that Twitter is able to just kick him off’, because I was like ‘well, what if next time, it’s a socialist president? What if next time it’s somebody on the left?’ – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

Would Ash interview Anjem Choudray?No, I absolutely would not. And the reason why I wouldn’t is because Anjem Choudary does not need to win the debate in order to have effects which I think are incredibly harmful in order to be able to recruit, in order to radicalise, and potentially turn people towards violence. He doesn’t need to win the debate. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On moving beyond the political divide:

This is much bigger than right versus left, UnHerd versus Novara, or anything else. What this is about is the ability of journalism to function, unimpeded by unaccountable tech giants. And that is something, it does matter where you are on the political spectrum, we all rely on journalism in order to make sense of ourselves socially, culturally, politically, it’s the lifeblood of a democracy. And if YouTube or Google or whoever else it is can just shut it off, no explanation, no justification, no warning. That is something incredibly dangerous indeed. –


Unherd is a predominantly (Cde James Bloodworth excepted and I have no idea or care what Bindel’s views are) ‘Euro-sceptic’ site – an antre from which a variety of national populists emerge to rant and rave against the Europen Union, liberal elitists, and ‘anywhere’ people. Giles FraserEd WestTanya GoldJohn GrayJames BloodworthMatthew GoodwinMaurice GlasmanJulie BindelMichael Tracey and Douglas Murray.

A post in August by anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery…

“While Labour was preaching the gospel of a militant cosmopolitan liberalism, post-industrial Britain was mourning the weakening of common cultural bonds and a lost sense of community and belonging. “

Embery is entitled to his opinions. But he is thin-skinned, and seized with the undeflectable belief that he has a special bond with the real working class wrapped up in mourning for the golden threaded neighbourhood ties- nay bonds ! -of yore.

I for one feel personally insulted by one of his latest sorties. Embery suggested that left-wingers has no shown enough sadness pr tributes after the murder of Southend MP David Amess, that we thought, at bottom, that he was ‘really’ human – The Left’s shameful tribalism Reaction to the death of Sir David Amess has been dispiriting

There is worse.

A lot worse.

The Red-Brown Front grows:

Steerpike doesn’t browse Novara Media much these days. The Corbynista website has ceased to have much in the way of news value since the Magic Grandpa stood down as Labour leader early last year. Nowadays the unholy trinity of literal communist Ash Sarkar, under-employed YouTuber Michael Walker and David Brent tribute act Aaron Bastani spend most of their time moaning on Twitter about Keir Starmer’s beastliness to their comrades on the left. 

(Note: pretty accurate summary)

But now Mr S has found an unlikely common cause with the Trotskyite trio. Novara has today announced that Google-owned YouTube has deleted their channel, supposedly without warning or explanation. This follows the news a fortnight ago that a speech by Tory stalwart to Big Brother Watch on vaccine passports had been unceremoniously purged from the same site – again with no prior warning.

The Red-Brown Front Spiked:

The deletion of Novara Media is an outrage

YouTube’s censorship of political discussion has got to stop.

Novara is demanding the channel be reinstated immediately, and anyone who believes in free speech should support this. Free speech is for cringey pseuds, too. We at spiked may disagree with their identitarian, jargon-laden word salads, but we will defend to the death their right to say them.

YouTube is not just any platform. With over two billion monthly active users it is essentially the video platform. If journalists or activists or filmmakers are deprived access to it, simply because YouTube bigwigs take a dislike to their opinions or output, this has a profound impact on their ability to get their ideas out there and to express themselves.

New Statesman: (a serious article by Sarah Manavis which has to be read).

Is Novara’s channel back up now? 

Yes. After two hours of public outcry – including from right-wing outlets and commentators, such as Guido Fawkes and Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges – the account was reinstated, at around 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, the same day.

 

So why did YouTube do this? 

It’s not entirely clear. A YouTube spokesperson told the New Statesman: “Novara Media’s channel was briefly removed after it was flagged, but upon review, it was then immediately reinstated. We work quickly to review all flagged content, but with millions of hours of video uploaded on YouTube every day, on occasion we make the wrong call.” YouTube did not give details as to why the account was initially flagged.

What does this mean for the media’s relationship with Big Tech? 

Even if it was a mistake, it is concerning that one of the UK’s biggest left-leaning media voices could be erased from a major platform so abruptly. In the past two years, Big Tech has been increasingly scrutinised for the power it holds over a free and fair press, and this incident should serve as a reminder of the outsize influence online platforms have in deciding whose voices are the most valuable in the digital media landscape.”

*****

Sarkar continues being Sarkar.

The CC of the Tendance is concerned about Ash Sarkar.

Like the other mourning ‘Corbynistas’ who run Novara Media she seems lost politically. Perhaps she thinks that issuing statements into the aether about left and right uniting against ‘big tech’ have no real consequences.

With the likes of Douglass Murray and oleaginous Priest of Brexit Gilles Fraser.

Not to mention the backing of Spiked…

This looks like one set of Identitarians (Novara Media) uniting with another gang of National Populist Identitarians.

In short, red-brown confusionism.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2021 at 9:51 am

No Sign of a Cease-Fire: the Gender Culture Wars Continue.

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Trans rights protest at the LGB Alliance conference | Dazed

There are rankles and rages crawling around the Internet. They may be called “”symbolic issues and questions of identity”. Politics has always been soaked in antipathies. Without something to hate, we would lose the very spring of thought and action. Debate would turn to a stagnant pool, were it not ruffled by the” jarring interests and unruly passions”.

For Dominic Sandbrook culture wars have always been around. But “What is certainly true,” he says, “is there are moments in history when disputes about history, identity, symbols, images and so on loom very large. Think about so much of 17th-century politics, for example, when people would die over the wording of a prayer book.” The same applies, he believes, to any number of periods, including the arrival of the permissive society in the 1960s, in which there is an attempt to establish new mores.” (Everything you wanted to know about the culture wars – but were afraid to ask. Andrew Anthony. June 2021)

This excellent ‘long read’ gives a glimpse into a overhanging feature, “if we look at America, where the modern incarnation of the culture wars was first identified, the conflicts over abortion and gay marriage have been fought, at least by one side, from an explicitly religious perspective.” In this respect nobody needs Carl Schmitt’s philosophy of the distinction between Friend and Enemy to explain the springs that exist in people and politics that seem to reoccur in multiple disputes. Seeing this through the faith dimension lets us peer inside more clearly

The Essayist and free-thinker William Hazlitt (1778 – 1830), a warrior in the cause of revolutionary liberty, had the measure of those rowing about the details of these moral codes, “They fortify themselves within the narrow circle of their new-fangled prejudices; the whole exercise of their right of private judgment is after a time reduced to the repetition of a set of watchwords, which have been adopted as the Shibboleth of the party; and their extremest points of faith pass as current as the beadroll and legends of the Catholics, or St. Athanasius’s Creed, and the Thirty-nine Articles. ” (On The Tendency Of Sects. 1815)

Culture wars do not need a direct religious infusion to resemble this structure of feeling. The godless and god-fearing “heirs of Puritanism”, the matrix of sectarianism in the English speaking world, are both now rampant, and nowhere more so than in the skirmishes and pitched battles over Gender. Above all “between trans activists and gender-critical feminists.” As Anthony continues, ” At almost the same time last week that Maya Forstater was winning her appeal against an employment tribunal, after saying that people cannot change their biological sex, the Labour leader Keir Starmer was reaffirming the party’s commitment to introducing self-identification for trans people.”

Some engaged in this fight do not just believe in a set of laws extending gender recognition, gender fluidity, rights at work and elsewhere, or, for their critics, that such legislation (either in principle or in its present form) is flawed. It is that their are many who stand as judgemental Deities, out to punish their rivals, and that they expect others to live by their scriptures. Or get cast out as fascists by Judith Butler. Or, should the other side have the upper hand, as misogynists. To add one more ‘Or’, as one of the worst articles ever written on the whole issue says – “negated by trans dogma, democracy itself is in peril.” (Frank Furedi)

“Nature seems (the more we look into it) made up of antipathies” wrote Hazlitt:” without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action. Life would turn to a stagnant pool, were it not ruffled by the jarring interests, the unruly passion… (On the Pleasure of Hating. 1826) Yet…..”They would gain proselytes by proscribing all those who do not take their Shibboleth, and advance a cause by shutting out all that can adorn or strengthen it. (On Jealousy and Spleen of Party. 1826)

Can one also interpret this aspect of the culture war in the way Engels compared the rival chapels and sects of the early socialists to the founding Christians?

Everybody who has known by experience the European working-class movement in its beginnings will remember dozens of similar examples. Today such extreme cases, at least in the large centres, have become impossible; but in remote districts where the movement has won new ground a small Peregrinus of this kind can still count on a temporary limited success. And just as all those who have nothing to look forward to from the official world or have come to the end of their tether with it – opponents of inoculation, supporters of abstemiousness, vegetarians, anti-vivisectionists, nature-healers, free-community preachers whose communities have fallen to pieces, authors of new theories on the origin of the universe, unsuccessful or unfortunate inventors, victims of real or imaginary injustice who are termed “good-for-nothing pettifoggers” by all bureaucracy, honest fools and dishonest swindlers – all throng to the working-class parties in all countries – so it was with the first Christians.

On the History of Early Christianity Frederick Engels 1894.

This suggestion can be left standing...

And, oh yes, it’s not just in the English speaking world that this is happening:

Entre “TERF” et “transactivistes”, féministes et militants LGBT se déchirent sur la question trans Marianne 2020.

Today’s reports from the Front Line:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Ex-Revolutionary Communist Party Leaders (Frank Furedi and Baroness Fox) to Speak at Social Democratic Party (SDP, Canal Historique) National Conference.

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Image

Family, Community, Nation.

“We are a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We believe in family, community, and nation, and seek the common good in Britain’s national interest.” (SDP)

Tip off from Gumshoe Evan:

.Here is the (very right wing national populist) SDP:

We are an honest, passionate, pro-Brexit party that believes Britain is good enough to govern itself and that the referendum result must be implemented immediately and in full. The establishment parties in Westminster have shown they are out of touch and contemptuous of the will of the people. It is time they were swept away.”

“SDP Brexit spokesman Patrick O’Flynn “

SDP opposes 10,000 new temporary visas

27th September, 2021 – The Social Democratic Party (SDP) condemns the government’s creation of 10,000 temporary visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers. Instead, our party calls on the government to support the creation of emergency domestic training schemes to Read more

Social Democratic Party opposes moves to vaccinate children

14th September, 2021 – The Social Democratic Party (SDP) today announces its opposition to the government’s plans to proceed with a vaccination programme for healthy children aged 12 to 15. Earlier this month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Read more

POLICY PLEDGES:

  • Immigration policy shall be based on applicant aptitudes rather than their country of origin. There must be a level playing field for applicants from every country in the world.
  • Our overall aim is to contain net immigration to fewer than 100,000 per year but in addition, to introduce an annual cap on gross immigration.
  • A points system will be introduced for migrants. All will be required to agree to a pledge to uphold and adhere to contemporary British values as a condition of migration.
  • Information and data systems at UK border control shall be upgraded such that the UK authorities know who is in the country and who is not.
  • A Royal Commission on community integration and social cohesion shall be instituted.

London Assembly elections SDP Result.

YearRegional VoteConstituency VoteOverall SeatsChange
20217,782 votes0.3%0 / 110 / 140 / 25New Party

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Populism

Tagged with , ,

Cuba: Repression Threat to Planned November Protests.

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Warning to dissident leaders against November protests.

There are concerns that November’s planned protests in Cuba face a new serious threat of repression.

Reuters carried this story a few days ago,

HAVANA, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Cuban prosecutors on Thursday summoned dissident leaders from across the country who have called for protests on Nov. 15 over curbs to civil rights, warning them against convening the rallies under penalty of the law.

The protest leaders, organized by a Facebook group called Archipelago, have called on Cubans to demonstrate for the right to peaceful protest and an amnesty for imprisoned government opponents. The group says it has some 20,000 members, many of whom live outside the country.

The Cuban government last week denied permission for the protest, saying Archipelago had links with “subversive organizations” and an “open intention of changing the political system in Cuba.”

A Cuban vice-prosecutor, Yaumara Angulo González, told reporters on Thursday that officials issued the fresh warning because the protest leaders had ignored the government and publicly renewed calls for the marches.

A hispanophone human rights left-winger tweets now today:

This has happened after the last protests.

Human Rights Watch has reported (October the 11th).

Cuba: Peaceful Protesters Systematically Detained, Abused

Arbitrary Detention, Ill-Treatment, Abusive Trials Affect Hundreds

The Cuban government has systematically engaged in arbitrary detention, ill-treatment of detainees, and abuse-ridden criminal prosecutions in response to overwhelmingly peaceful anti-government protests in July 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. The consistent and repeated patterns of abuses by multiple security forces, in multiple locations across Cuba, strongly suggest a plan by Cuban authorities to repress and suppress the demonstrations.

On July 11 thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country in landmark demonstrations protesting longstanding restrictions on rights, scarcity of food and medicines, and the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Cuban authorities responded by arresting hundreds of protesters and bystanders, including well-known critics and ordinary citizens. Officers routinely subjected many of them to brutal abuses, including gender-based violence, in detention, and prosecuted dozens in trials that violated basic due process guarantees. At least one protester died. Hundreds remain in prison or under house arrest, including some children under age 18.

*******

The SWP offers a good introduction to the way the left can approach this, Cuba: for socialism and freedom Inernational Socialism. David Karvala.

The 11 July protests

On Sunday 11 July, there were more or less spontaneous demonstrations in dozens of cities across Cuba. Thousands of people participated in the largest protests on the island in decades. There was a mixture of complaints and demands. Some of the slogans were those of the pro-US right, such as “Homeland and Life” (Patria y Vida), and many were simply insults directed at the Cuban president. In any case, as will be discussed below, not all the discontent can be attributed to “counter-revolutionary manoeuvres” and hashtags promoted by the right-wing opposition in Miami; the root cause was real social grievances. It is significant that the protests, at least in Havana, started in the poorest neighbourhoods, where people suffer most under the current multiple crisis.

The state responded along the same lines as other states around the world, with a mixture of repression and lies. The repression was carried out by the police, but also by government followers, armed with clubs, whom President Miguel Díaz-Canel had called out with the words: “The order to fight has been given—into the street, revolutionaries!”2 However, as the independent left -wing group Comunistas Cuba said in response: “Repressing violence…should not be a matter of preparing clubs and giving them to civilians who can act knowing they have the backing of the law, even if they exercise violence beyond all legality”.3 

There were hundreds of arrests—according to some reports on social networks, more than 800 people have been arrested so far—and there are first-hand accounts of ill-treatment in police stations and prisons.4 As elsewhere, the state and the security forces allege that such accusations are false. Summary trials have already taken place, sometimes without legal defence. In one of them, a 17 year old young woman was sentenced to eight months in prison.5 

The demonstrations were not massive compared to some other recent protests in Latin America. The repression was real but not at the same level as the murders of activists and demonstrators that occur in Colombia (and in Nicaragua, in case anyone forgets). So are they important? Some on the left who have insisted for decades on the global importance of Cuba now downplay these protests. In fact, the debates unleashed by 11 July confirm that the protests are very significant, and not only on the island. Their importance has to do, among other things, with how we understand socialism and the fight against imperialism today.

On broader issues about Cuba and socialism this looks essential:

Sam Farber, the Third Camp and Cuba. Paul Hampton, is a useful place to begin a left-wing positon on Cuba.

Samuel Farber has played an irreplaceable role in the third-camp Marxist tradition for more than six decades. Kent Worcester has conducted a fascinating interview with Farber about his political and intellectual history, now published in Left History journal (24, 1, Spring/Summer 2021).

Farber’s outstanding contribution has been his Marxist analysis of Cuban society, articulated in four books and countless articles. A simple rule should apply on the left: no socialist of any stripe should speak publicly about Cuba unless they have read Farber.

Cuban Stalinism

Farber’s book Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (2011) characterises Cuba as a class society, a “bureaucratic system of state collectivism”. Cuba’s economic surplus “is not extracted in the form of profits from individual enterprises, nor is it realised through the market… The surplus is appropriated directly, through the state’s control of the economy”.

Then there is this.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Response to Judith Butler on the Anti-Gender Movement, Gender Critical Feminism and Fascism.

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Judith Butler Wants Us to Reshape Our Rage | The New Yorker

Butler, “time for anti-fascist solidarity is now”.

Many people, academics, journalists, and activists, have analysed the development and the appeal of various movements and parties across the world that can be called National Populist.

With a daunting shelf of books and a small file of notes to hand, this Blog, which has posted on the topic at length, will simply refer to Wikipedia for a summary.

Right-wing populism, also called national populism and right-wing nationalism. In Europe, the term right-wing populism is used to describe groups, politicians and political parties that are generally known for their opposition to immigration,[6] especially from the Islamic world,[7] and for Euroscepticism.[8] Right-wing populism in the Western world is generally associated with ideologies such as anti-environmentalism,[9]neo-nationalism,[10][11]anti-globalization,[12]nativism,[13][14] and protectionism.[15] European right-wing populists may support expanding the welfare state, but only for the “deserving”;[16] this concept has been referred to as “welfare chauvinism“.

There are right-wing populists across the world. In Brazil where Jair Bolsonaro, described as far-right, is President. In Europe there are themes that stand out amongst these diverse groups – nationalists, in power in Poland and Hungary, with strong support in places like France, Italy, Holland, Austria and Denmark to name only five of the countries where they have some weight. Most people, were they to generalise, would point to the common issue of immigration.

One of the most prominent national populists, the French Éric Zemmour, is given in French Polls as a possible run-off contender to Emmanuel Macron. He says, “We have to stop the flow. I’m not just talking about the illegals; I am thinking first of legal immigration. […] There is a process of replacing the population from the moment there are too many immigrants who no longer assimilate. It’s inevitable.” Zemmour promotes the Great Replacement Theory best known in the writings of  Renaud Camus (Le Grand Remplacement 2011). This claims that European populations are being replaced by non-Europeans. Immigration played a key role in Brexit, with UKIP and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party also seen as national populists who tied sovereigntist politics to fears of migration. Various movements, such as the Identitarians, have held anti-immigrant protests and promote exclusive ‘identity’ politics in European nations.

Judith Butler is not widely considered an authority on national populism and the far-right. She is best known for works such as, Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. (Original publication, 1990. 2007 Edition.) This “sought to uncover the ways in which the very thinking of what is possible in gendered life is foreclosed by certain habitual and violent presumptions.”

This study of the “political construction of the subject” would, she stated, not be the same were it begun again, “If I were to rewrite this book under present circumstances, I would include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality, the way that ideal gender dysmorphism work in both ways to discourses, the different relations to surgical intervention that these related concern. I would also include a discussion on racialised sexuality and, in particular, how taboos against miscegenation (and the romanticisation of cross-racial sexual exchange) are essential to the naturalised and denaturalised forms that gender takes. I continue to hope for a coalition of sexual minorities that will transcend the simple categories of identity, that will refuse the erasure of bisexuality that will counter and dissipate the violence imposed by restrictive bodily norms.”

As mentioned Butler has not written extensively on the history, structure and ideology of national populism, the politically represented far right and extreme right groups. But she has talked about right-wing populism and discrimination against LGBT people in Brazil and Turkey and how anti-gender reactions have affected her (Judith Butler: universities can help develop global “alliance” 2019)

Butler added that the backlash against her work on gender – and that of other gender theorists – has included her being “demonised” in the imagery and rhetoric of those who oppose her: “Those of us who work in the area have been portrayed as witches or devilish figures, and for me as a Jewish queer person it’s particularly frightening given that I’ve also been portrayed with horns. It’s playing on the demonic character of the Jew or the lesbian or the non-gender-conforming person. I have experienced that.”

Yesterday Butler had this piece published by the Guardian.

Why is the idea of ‘gender’ provoking backlash the world over?

This perhaps is a good way to begin to look at Butler’s argument that, “Increasingly, authoritarians are likening ‘genderism’ to ‘communism’ and ‘totalitarianism’.”

For this reactionary movement, the term “gender” attracts, condenses, and electrifies a diverse set of social and economic anxieties produced by increasing economic precarity under neoliberal regimes, intensifying social inequality, and pandemic shutdown. Stoked by fears of infrastructural collapse, anti-migrant anger and, in Europe, the fear of losing the sanctity of the heteronormative family, national identity and white supremacy, many insist that the destructive forces of gender, postcolonial studies, and critical race theory are to blame. When gender is thus figured as a foreign invasion, these groups clearly reveal that they are in the business of nation-building. The nation for which they are fighting is built upon white supremacy, the heteronormative family, and a resistance to all critical questioning of norms that have clearly restricted the freedoms and imperiled the lives of so many people.

What backs these claims up? Polish Nationalists have declared some regions, “LGBTI ideology-free zones”, some have already binned the idea. The Polish parliament is considering a new law called “Stop LGBT”, pushed forward by the Foundation for Life and Family. Others across the Continent would no doubt like to do the same.

Most national populists, if pressed, would not say kind things about “gender, postcolonial studies, and critical race theory”. To cite a figure already indicated, Éric Zemmour has a traditional anti-feminist and anti-gay approach. His Le premier sexe (2006, claims the existence of the “devirilisation” of society during the 20th century and claims capitalism uses women and homosexuals in creating a consumer society. The yet-to-be candidate called for the promotion of “valeurs masculines”. Yet, the views of the leader of Les Patriotes, prominent in recent anti-Health Pass Marches, Florian Philippot, are less clear. He is gay. As is Douglas Murray, one of the best known anglophone promoters of criticisms of the academic fields Butler mentions and an admirer of many French far-right ideas, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, 2017,  The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, (2019)

Where are the “movements” organised on the issue of gender? There are right-wing parties and individuals, pressure groups which take up these issues. The right-wing Common Sense Group in the British Tory Party has supporters who rail at Wokeness. Newspapers in the UK, the Telegraph, the Mail, the Express, GB News, Valeurs Actuelles in France, and the former platform of Zemmour C-News, do. There are pro-family groups, some with a long-standing religious basis, others more recent, such as la Manif pour tous which mobilised against gay marriage in France a few years ago . Those can be filled in with parallels in other countries. They do not amount to anything as coherent and structured as “movements”.

Butler’s take on political and cultural identity has often involved the importance of reactions to others. In 2006 she wrote of the Burka. It “signifies belong-ness to a community and religion, a family, an extended history of kin relations, an exercise of modesty and pride, a protection against shame, and operates as well as a veil behind which, and through which, feminine agency can and does work.” Its use was reinforced by fear of the “decimation of Islamic culture and the extension of US cultural assumptions about how sexuality and agency ought to be organised and represented,”(Precarious life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence 2006)

This is Butler’s most striking claim.

Anti-gender movements are not just reactionary but fascist trends, the kind that support increasingly authoritarian governments. The inconsistency of their arguments and their equal opportunity approach to rhetorical strategies of the left and right, produce a confusing discourse for some, a compelling one for others. But they are typical of fascist movements that twist rationality to suit hyper-nationalist aims.

No doubt there is something like this (is we can get over the hyperbole), ” “gender” is like an unwanted migrant, an incoming stain, but also, at the same time, a colonizer or totalitarian who must be thrown off. It mixes right and left discourses at will.” But in what sense are they combined in “Fascist movements“? This is to short-circuit years of discussion about the relationship between national populism, the far right, conservatism, and the violent extreme right, You might as well say Boris Johnson’s Conservative and Unionist Party is fascist. Zemmour, is reported to have got the active help of Action française and other far-right groupuscules. But where is the totalitarian party, rearing to fight the anti-gender wars, to back him up?

Confusionism, mixing nationalism and many other ideas, remains the main trend, and anti-gender theory is a small, perhaps significant, but not dominant part of these forces, not flesh and blood fascism.

Spiked guru Frank Furedi raved recently about, “The trans assault on freedom

Unless checked, the authoritarian impulse driving transgenderism will become even more unrestrained – it is not a transient phenomenon that will soon fade away. And the absence of any serious opposition to it will only encourage its advance, especially given the backing it receives from big business and elite foundations and trusts.

This is serious. When so many citizens allow the evidence of their own eyes and ears to be negated by trans dogma, democracy itself is in peril. We face a choice – to acquiesce to transgenderism or to exercise our own moral judgement and challenge it head on. We must do the latter. Society’s future depends on it.

Ferudi, somebody who could not lead a mass movement towards the bar at closing time, is a confusionist. A former Revolutionary Communist, he is now a Sovereigntist and national populist. He is a list of contradictions, a walking bricolage of libertarian and populist idea. But does the former Kent lecturer fit this bill?

In his well-known list of the elements of fascism, Umberto Eco writes, “the fascist game can be played in many forms,” for fascism is “a collage … a beehive of contradictions”. Indeed, this perfectly describes anti-gender ideology today. It is a reactionary incitement, an incendiary bundle of contradictory and incoherent claims and accusations. They feast off the very instability they promise to contain, and their own discourse only delivers more chaos. Through a spate of inconsistent and hyperbolic claims, they concoct a world of multiple imminent threats to make the case for authoritarian rule and censorship.

Ferudi for censorship? One thinks not.

But Butler is not making a claim about a fascist ‘movement’ but something else.

That is why it makes no sense for “gender critical” feminists to ally with reactionary powers in targeting trans, non-binary, and genderqueer people. Let’s all get truly critical now, for this is no time for any of the targets of this movement to be turning against one another. The time for anti-fascist solidarity is now.

Gender Critical Feminists will appreciate being lectured on their alliance with “reactionary powers” and persuaded to stop “targeting” “trans, non-binary, and genderqueer people.” And who exactly are the movements which do so? We should like to know her list.

This hippo-girthed polemic about fascism and anti-gender movements fizzles out in an attack on other feminists and a pea-sized call for ‘anti-fascist solidarity’.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Attack on Women’s Place and ‘Blairite’ Transphobia: US Jacobin Gets Stuck into the UK Culture Wars.

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WPUK Archives - Woman's Place UK

The US left populist magazine Jacobin is the latest soldier in the culture wars around Transphobia. It recently published an extraordinary article (that is, beyond the already extreme norms in these battles for the claims it made) on the issue. The piece begins with this claim, “as last week’s Labour Party conference showed, pushback against trans rights has also become a key weapon in the Blairite war against the Left.” “trans-exclusionary radical-feminist (TERF) talking points have become central to the war on the “communist” “loony left” waged by blue-checkmark liberals and Blairite hacks.” (Transphobia Is the Latest Front in the Blairites’ War Against the Left )

It is sad to note that the author, Mark Montegriffo, is not the first person you’d have thought would had signed up to this. He has been active in Another Europe is Possible (whose politics the pro-Bosses’ Brexit Jacobin has never publicised). He is, by all accounts, is a decent type who, as part of his London activism, has backed groups like the IWGB, ‘the UK’s leading union for precarious workers.’ The Transphobia polemic includes attacks on the identarian Family, Faith and Flag Blue Labour. They are ones many will agree with. But that current’s days of glory and (limited) influence during the Labour leadership of Ed Miliband are long past (see: Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. 2015). Yet…..Who knows, a few of their ideas might make come-back, but they are likely to do with working class and Red Wall identity, not hostility to gender politics.

But most is completely awry. The Jacobin article outlined the views of “Labour Campaign for Trans Rights”. Apparently, “They told me that, over a year ago, “a motion was submitted in various CLPs denouncing transphobia and denouncing Women’s Place.” Who are the latter? “Woman’s Place UK, a “feminist” organization created in September 2017 in order to oppose the trans rights embodied in the Gender Recognition Act.” Montegriffo paints a portrait of the Labour Party, from the Parliamentary group to CLPs, riven by debates on trans issues – a claim many would dismiss. He talks of Socialist Campaign Group members concerned with “the departures of trans members and (who)  condemned their targeting by transphobic MPs and their supporters.”

As we sail past the paragraphs a new reef surges. “We’re seeing a convergence,” Gleeson (an author of Transgender Marxism (1)), said, “where anti-welfarism (?), pro-imperialism, and transphobia are fundamental to the right wing of the liberal media establishment, from the Guardian to the Times.” Some might describe this as gibberish. Perhaps one should ignore the rest of the piece.

Fat chance.

Most people who have read the polemic (you wonder how many from the UK?) will be most struck by the ad feminam attack on Rosie Duffield MP, “Duffield soon went from being a beneficiary of the surge in socialist electoral activism to occupying the unofficial role of TERF-in-chief in the Parliamentary Labour Party.” But the text continues, “Despite the alleged security threats, Rosie Duffield did come to Brighton to speak at a Labour Women’s Declaration event aligned with Woman’s Place UK…”

Women’s Place have responded on FB.

What Jacobin gets wrong about WPUK”On 9th October, Jacobin published an article by Mark Montegriffo which misrepresented our campaign. On 12th October, we wrote to request a right of reply.

We have had no response so we are publishing the rebuttal here:Mark Montegriffo’s article sticks the boot into WPUK without any demonstrable knowledge of what we say or do. There was certainly no attempt made to ask us to respond to anything he writes in the piece. Mark doesn’t even seem to have looked at the Myth busters page.”https://womansplaceuk.org/2020/11/28/wpuk-mythbusters/

Every single one of the core activists in WPUK has a demonstrable record of long-term feminist activism. This includes working with women and girls affected by men’s violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, organising demonstrations demanding that the streets be made safe for women, workplace and trade union activism for women’s rights, research into women in the workforce and activism on reproductive rights.

We are confident our credentials as feminist activists are at least as robust as Mark’s.” For the rest of the rebuttal see the link. https://womansplaceuk.org/…/what-jacobin-gets-wrong…/If you want to find out more about our campaign, don’t be like Mark.Check out our website where everything we have published is availabe to view. https://womansplaceuk.org/about/Thank you.

What, some might say, do you expect from Jacobin? They have axes-to-grind. They will publish attacks on a variety of Labour Party targets, Keir Starmer and ‘Blairism’ are old favourites. It is their role to produce them, and whether you like it or not they can sometimes hit hard.

But this is more delicate. There is the blatant hackle-raising of headline, “Transphobia Is the Latest Front in the Blairites’ War Against the Left”.

It looks as if the US journal did not warn Mark Montegriffo about rushing into areas where the Archangel Michael would hesitate to put his foot in.

Perhaps the magazine is just out of touch. Jacobin’s European Editor is best known in the UK for his learned studies of Amadeo Bordiga in the pages of the Weekly Worker (organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Provisional Central Committee, CPGB-PCC) – Famous as a polemical target of ‘Leftwing’ communism, ironically Amadeo Bordiga claimed to agree with Lenin’s strategy for world revolution. David Broder investigates (21.10.21).

Here is the response:

On the 9th October, Jacobin published an article by Mark Montegriffo which misrepresented our campaign.

On 12th October, we wrote to Jacobin to request a right of reply. We have had no response so we are publishing the rebuttal here.

 

What Jacobin gets wrong about WPUK

Extracts,

Mark Montegriffo’s article Transphobia Is the Latest Front in the Blairites’ War Against the Left sticks the boot into Woman’s Place UK without any demonstrable knowledge of what we say or do. There was certainly no attempt made to ask us to respond to anything he writes in the piece.

Anyone who wants to find out what we really say and do can look at our website. Mark doesn’t even seem to have looked at the Myth busters page.

Let’s start with his use of scare quotes to describe us as “feminist”. Every single one of the core activists in WPUK has a demonstrable record of long-term feminist activism. This includes working with women and girls affected by men’s violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, organising demonstrations demanding that the streets be made safe for women, workplace and trade union activism for women’s rights, research into women in the workforce and activism on reproductive rights.

…..

As the article points out, WPUK was on the receiving end of a campaign to brand us as a hate group inside the Labour Party. That’s the least of what we have had to put up with. We have had aggressively threatening demonstrations outside our events. Venues are routinely contacted and pressured not to host our meetings. Never once have we done anything of that nature. We are committed to respectful debate.

Contrast that to the treatment of Kathleen Stock at Sussex University. She has had groups of masked people protesting at her presence on the campus and arrived at work to find posters demanding she be sacked. And the reason for this campaign of intimidation and harassment is that she thinks humans are mammals and mammals don’t change sex by the power of thought.

The row continues.

*****************************

(1) Introducing Transgender Marxism

Jules Joanne GleesonElle O’Rourke / October 16, 2021

Transgender Marxism focuses wilfully on that which others might dismiss as vulgar, inappropriate, besides-the-political. It aims to provide a materialist account of the distinctive conditions of lack in which we find ourselves, and to help us wriggle free through unlikely means.

Much work remains to be done expanding the earthy, intestinal visions of Marx and his successors outwards, moving from the bowels towards the glands and receptors that make up our endocrine system. Transition, too, must come to be understood by revolutionaries as a response to its own form of hunger. The longings that drive so many to reforge lives for ourselves that leave us thoroughly proletarianised, or cast out, rendered surplus. Those cravings and cavings-in that clinicians have long attempted to desiccate under the catch-all term ‘dysphoria’. In truth, our moments of euphoric coping are enmeshed with the moments in which we are struck dumb by gut-churning dread. These are the moments that define our everyday lives. The restless energies that produce for us new needs; needs that can be difficult even to describe. Transphobic strands of ‘revolutionary’ thought would rather these yearnings be set aside, left unspoken; to be repressed (at least in the political arena), or perhaps to be exterminated altogether.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2021 at 10:27 am

Socialist Democracy: Defending Kathleen Stock.

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Law profs defend academic freedom after students target teacher |  RollOnFriday

“A Woman’s Right to Tell the Truth” ?

There is no need to justify reproducing in full this important statement from the Irish organisation Socialist Democracy.

Defend a woman’s right to tell the truth

Here’s a situation that could soon happen in a school near you.

An eight-year old asks her teaching assistant in class if daddies can have babies the way mummies do. The teaching assistant, who is very likely to have been a woman who’s given birth herself and knows how these things work says “no, men can’t have babies, only women can have babies.”

Word of this conversation gets around. A group of masked protestors turn up at the school saying that the teaching assistant is a bigot who has no right to work in education. They put posters and stickers up outside the building. The woman’s union puts out a statement saying that while they don’t necessarily agree that she should be sacked, they agree that it’s OK to have a masked protest outside the school and that there has to be an investigation into institutional transphobia.

That is pretty much what happened at Sussex University to philosophy lecturer Kathleen Stock. A small group of students in Anti Terf Sussex said that her belief that humans can change gender identity but not biological sex was proof that she is “one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes, espousing a bastardised variation of radical feminism”.  They say that this opinion is “mainstreaming hate”.

Guilt by association

It’s not just her union branch that hung Stock out to dry. The people in her department refuse to have lunch with her because they are so terrified of guilt by association. Presumably these same academics have lots to say about integrity and moral courage in the abstract. It’s a trickier thing in real life.

But surely the radical left will come out in defence of a worker who’s being intimidated and hounded out of her job? Not if the Socialist Workers Party is anything to go by. With the caveat that you should only demand the sacking of fascists and organised racists, they agree with the students and the union branch that refused to defend Stock.

One of the students’ lines of attack is that they resent paying more than £9000 to an institution which employs someone who doesn’t share their opinions. They see themselves more as dissatisfied customers who are buying a product rather than learning how to engage with different points of view.

Selina Todd, a feminist historian at Oxford University, routinely faces harassment from trans activists for her belief in the reality of biological sex.

Something similar is playing out in Lurgan. Ceri Black has been summoned to her local police station because someone has objected to her gender critical tweets. Similar things have happened to women in England and Scotland. Activists use the police to try to shut women up.

The Irish and British left, with modest exceptions, refuse to stand up for women facing this severe harassment. As a result, the right and extreme right from the Tories to Jim Allister are able to present themselves as advocates for women’s right to speak freely.

The good news is that in Britain a new grassroots feminist movement is developing. To the extent that the left acknowledges its existence, it does so only to denounce it as bigoted and transphobic. But as anyone who saw reports of last weekend’s FiLiA conference in Portsmouth will know this movement is pulling together women environmentalists, educators and migrant rights activists. The contrast between what was happening in the hall and the pickets outside with placards reading “suck my d*ick you transphobic c*nts” was illuminating.

Woman’s Place UK, a group of socialist, feminist and trade union activist women also regularly organises large events just at the moment when the left can’t even answer the question of what a women is.

Socialist Democracy will give its full political support to any group of women in Ireland who want to do the same as FiLiA and WPUK.

Socialist Democracy,

“Socialist Democracy is a Marxist organisation standing in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Connolly. We believe that the poverty and misery, the oppression and exploitation that marks our society is the result of control of the world’s wealth and productive resources by a tiny class that exploits the vast majority of society. This leads to humanity crippled by the reality and ideology of capitalist society. This reality leads the majority of humanity to premature death and the majority of working people to lives of drudgery and stress in a world over which they have no control. Human rights are routinely violated and inequality has grown dramatically. The ideas that support this social system are those of competition and the rat race. Humanity is left both physically and mentally scarred and disfigured while the planet it lives on is ravaged and devastated.”

Socialist Democracy is the successor to People’s Democracy, a left-wing current which emerged in Belfast in 1968 during the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

There is much to agree with in the Socialist Democracy statement, from the defence of people to speak gender critical views free from harassment, and sanction, to the debate (if that’s the word) on the reality of biology. A statement in defence of the rights of transsexuals and gender fluidity (the latter no doubt a vast area in itself) would also be appropriate.

People will not however feel warm towards the LGB Alliance, which promoted its views at its conference yesterday. This was an event Woman’s Place feels fit to publicise.

Why?

To start with there is this – it goes without saying that Peter Tatchell is held in high respect by many people, including those of us on the left – which is a weighty set of objections to the LGB Alliance, that is its alliances.

The LGB Alliance seems transfixed by this intervention.

Such “admiration of power” in Number Ten and the “virtuous indignation” (William Hazlitt) of the Editor, and Reporters of the Times are alliances, straying into the territory of “veriest sycophants”. To be clear, they are well beyond the territory of any left or progressive body or the statements they would make.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2021 at 11:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Piers Corbyn pulls one of his worst stunts ever.

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Piers Corbyn sparks outrage as anti-vax mob build GALLOWS outside  Parliament | UK | News | Express.co.uk

Who will rid us of this Public Nuisance?

Anti-Vaxx, anti-Lockdown campaigns are at a cross-roads. Only a couple of months ago they were on a steep upward curve.

This was most visible and audible in the streets. One of the biggest sites of protest was Germany. The Querdenken (Thinking out of the Box) movement was behind sone of Europe’s largest anti-lockdown protests. They mobilised tens of thousands. Deutsche Welle said as the demonstrations had got underway back in April, “Some look like hippies from the 1960s and 70s. Others seek to provoke by wearing a yellow star, similar to those which Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis. Instead of the word “Jude” (Jew) their stars bear the word “ungeimpft” (not vaccinated.) The stars are meant to highlight the alleged stigmatization by the system the protesters reject.” They added, that there was evidence of the “interweaving of leading Querdenker figures with far-right Reichsbürger and Selbstverwalter groups.” Querdeenken themselves say that extremism, anti-semitism, violence, hatred and causing harm to people has no place in their movement.

Police in Berlin have arrested 300 demonstrators during protests against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions. (30th of August)

Some 38,000 people took to the streets in the city for mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Later hundreds of protesters, many from the far right, tried to storm the Reichstag, the home of Germany’s federal parliament.

A number of people were arrested and German politicians condemned the attack as “shameful” and “unacceptable”.

Some of those involved had insignia from the far-right Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) movement. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “Nazi symbols as well as Reichsbürger and Imperial German flags have no place in the German Bundestag.”

Earlier some 200 people were arrested at one rally, which the authorities blamed on right-wing agitators who were said to have thrown stones and bottles.

Anti-fascists have protested against the far-right.

What political impact have the anti-Lockdown anti-vaxx protests had? Katharina Pfaff (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Eric Neumayer (LSE) and Thomas Plümper (Vienna University of Economics and Business), noted at the end of September,

Whether the Querdenken franchise survives the end of the pandemic is an open question. At the moment Querdenken mobilises predominantly against the vaccine campaign. It clearly failed to make opposition to lockdowns the main agenda item for the 2021 elections to the Federal Parliament on 26 September. The recent removal of user accounts, pages, and groups linked to the Querdenken movement by Facebook and Instagram on the basis that they spread misinformation is unlikely to affect mobilisation in the long run. Communication with peers and supporters can still take place via social media.

Querdenken: the German anti-lockdown movement that thrives on public distrust.

Now the German media are carrying reports of possible violence from the movement. Today the Lower-Saxony authorities warn of this threat, Niedersachsens Verfassungsschutz warnt vor Gewalttaten aus Querdenker-Bewegung.

Marches against measures taken to deal with Coronavirus have taken place across the planet. The media has reported not just their ‘civil liberty’ themes, but the emergence of anti-Vaccination demands and conspiracy theories. A common language carried by the ‘ querdenken bewegung’ and its counterparts world-wide has been the subject of many many articles and studies. You could hear people talking about restrictions on freedom, about the dangers of vaccination, about Globalism, and the New World Order. It was not difficult to find, and not just in hyper-space, the Web. There were even stickers along these lines in the streets near where I live, and a few, small, protests in this town and County.

In France anti-Covid Health Pass (Vaccine ‘Passports’) demonstrations took place. At their height in August they drew over 200,000 people across the country  (237 000 protesters on August the 7th). Numbers have dropped to tens of thousands in the autumn. As with Germany there was far-right involvement. Anti-Vaxx conspiracist signs have mixed with sightings of those wearing Yellow Stars. The presence of Marine Le Pen supporters was not given official RN imprint – reports talk of their ‘discretion’ faced with a movement that could be seen as ‘anti-Republican’. But Florian Philippot, leader of Les Patriotes and former Vice-President of the Front National has played a leading role in the marches. He will be holding this anti-Health Pass event next weekend Défilé national pour la liberté . Violent ultra-right groupuscules have clashed with left-wingers – a minority of the left believed that there was something to back in protests that claim to be for civil rights and against President Macron – on these protests.

October the 9th. The National.

“A French anti-terrorism judge has charged four men with suspected links to a far-right conspiracy theorist over a plot to attack targets including Covid-19 vaccination centres.

Two of the men are also accused of being involved in the kidnapping of an eight-year-old girl in April.

Remy Daillet, a leading figure in conspiracy circles, was arrested in June over the kidnapping as he returned to France on a flight from Singapore.

..

The group are suspected of plotting a series of attacks, including against vaccination centres, a Masonic lodge, prominent people and journalists, sources say.

The team had “a multitude of violent actions planned, targeting institutional sites, vaccination centres, 5G antennas”, one source said.

There have been protests over government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic across the world, many around the same themes as the German and French movements.

A critique of those on the left – indicating the depths of confusionism in some quarter – who have shown indulgence towards some of their themes is offered here: Valérie Gérard : « Ce mouvement anti-pass ne construit rien de commun mais prône la destruction de toute communauté “we have all seen the posters “Nazi pass” with S evoking the SS, to join it is to strengthen it, and to reinforce this imagination, by increasing the general confusion. In marching with fascists against authoritarianism, we risk above all reinforcing fascism, and, ultimately, authoritarianism.”

Britain, this week.

Part of the same Health Trust as Ipswich Hospital:

And, to cap it all.

With this kind of serious far-right involvement and the stunts in Britain is this surprising? However vile they are they seem to indicate desperation. The upward curve has gone downwards.

The populist right is regretting its encouragement of Covid conspiracists

Paolo Gerbaudo Today.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the pandemic has become yet another stage for the culture war. But it may be one that the right will end up regretting. The emergency unleashed a flood of disparate conspiracy theories about the virus and vaccines that spread rapidly on social media, while “anti-mask” and “anti-lockdown” protest movements framed contagion prevention measures as a “health dictatorship”.

Populist right leaders were quick to take advantage of this, seeing in Covid scepticism yet another opportunity to show the gulf between the priorities of progressives and ordinary people. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro described Covid as “little flu”, and to this day continues to claim he has not been vaccinated, though nobody knows for sure. In the US, Donald Trump went into full conspiracy mode, suggesting that bleach may be a cure for Covid. In the UK, Johnson took a more pragmatic mainstream stance after briefly favouring herd immunity. But to his right, Nigel Farage and some Tory MPs continued to dally with Covid scepticism.

Yet, in many countries the populist right is now finding itself at odds with a movement it has fuelled, but cannot control any more

In France, Marine Le Pen also risks being outflanked on her right by populist candidates who have taken more radical culture war stances. These include anti-immigration talk-show star Éric Zemmour, who is sky-rocketing in the polls, as well as Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the nationalist Debout la France party, and Le Pen’s estranged ally Florian Philippot, who have both espoused Covid conspiracy theories.

In Germany, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party has had a stormy relationship with the Covid sceptic movement Querdenker (literally “lateral thinkers”). Querdenker activists were involved in internal party squabbles and have gone on to launch a new formation called Die Basis (The Base) contributing to the AfD’s disappointing performance in the last elections.

Amid growing culture war polarisation, rightwing parties that have adopted a populist strategy are struggling to hold together their brittle electoral coalition. One in which true believers who embrace conspiracy theories whole-cloth sit alongside more moderate centre-right voters with little patience for popular superstitions.

While anti-vaxxers are very vocal, they are actually a relatively small proportion of the population…..

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2021 at 12:10 pm

50th Anniversary of Workers Vanguard (founded October 1971), Organ of the Spartacist League.

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Workers Vanguard 1971-1973 (includes Workers Action) Vol 1 #1-34 :  Spartacist Publishing Company : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming :  Internet Archive

Workers Vanguard is a Marxist bi-weekly newspaper published by the Spartacist League, a Trotskyist political organization in the United States. It is now affiliated also with the International Communist League (ICL), a confederation of similar groups.

WV was first published in October 1971 and absorbed Workers’ Action, a short-lived bimonthly newspaper published by the nominally independent ‘Committee for a Labor Party’.

Digitization of the Workers Vanguard was the project of the Riazanov LibraryDigitization Project organized by Dr. Martin Goodman This effort is part of the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line’s Left Opposition Publications Digitization Project on the Marxists Internet Archive.

It was expected that celebrations of this honoured birthday would take place worldwide.

Sadly “18 August 2020: Until further notice, Workers Vanguard will have an irregular schedule.

The ICL is said to be on its last legs, the last members merely playing at factional disputes.

It is said that a Metaverse version of the Spartacist League is already in development.

Book page image

The all-time classic issue:

Jeet Heer on Twitter: ""Hail Red Army!" -- Workers Vanguard, 1980. “The  reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into  Russia.They were right to be there" -- Donald Trump,

Update: From Cradle to Grave- the Spartacist League (Britain)

One casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the international Spartacist tendency. In this tightly centralised outfit, crisis and paralysis in the US section has generalised across its ‘international’ the International Communist League and publication of its flagship fortnightly Workers Vanguard and all national section papers appears to have ceased.

Little light escapes the Spartacist event horizon but it would appear that the death of founder-leader Jim Robertson in early 2019 led to a deep, and presumably still unresolved, faction fight.

This was compounded by Covid and lockdowns- a perfect storm which led to the Sparts being all but absent from the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020 publishing neither a paper nor a leaflet anywhere… Ironic given that the SL US has a strategic orientation toward the building of a Black led revolutionary party.

Of course, I do hope I am wrong and rumours of the Sparts’ demise are greatly exaggerated- after all, I have a subscription to Workers Vanguard, Workers Hammer and Spartacist with a few quid still to run.

Read more via above link.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2021 at 4:52 pm

The Left, New Parties, and the Metaverse.

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A Socialist Metaverse?

“As to my old opinions, I am heartily sick of the them. I have reason, for they have deceived me sadly.”

On the Pleasure of Hating. William Hazlitt. 1826

“Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified – either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human.”

 Andy Beckett

“Accelerationism is the name of a contemporary political heresy: the insistence that the only radical political response to capitalism is not to protest, disrupt, critique, or détourne it, but to accelerate and exacerbate its uprooting, alienating, decoding, abstractive tendencies.”

The Accelerationist Reader.

Some on the left are talking of creating a new socialist party that will stand in elections to challenge the Labour Party. Resist, the Movement for a People’s Party, has announced moves to become a political party. Chris Williamson’s group has with friendly links with the Socialist Party and RMT-led Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the George Galloway headed and Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) Workers Party of Britain. The Communist Party of Britain (unrelated to the Morning Star which is run by the co-op) has entered the election fray in the last couple of years. The Whippets, the Northern Independence Party (NIP), are promised a bright future. The Breakthrough Party is another rising star. Phil mentions hitherto not widely known contenders, the ” Harmony Party, a “federation of assemblies ” “unlike any Political party you are familiar with (which nevertheless looks a parallel to the Nuit Debout movement in France) and the BLM-linked Take the Initiative Party.” There is also Burning Pink, which had candidates in some local elections this year on the platform that included abolishing the ballot box and putting Citizens’ Assemblies, drawn by lot, in charge. They “stand in solidarity with Insulate Britain.”

Even in the political backwaters of New Left Review contributors have been dreaming of the potential of new political parties.

In a lengthy introduction to an essay in the latest issue of the journal (which carried a landmark piece that tipped the meteoritic rise of the Whippet NIP, Rebel Regions. 2021.) Mike Wayne writes (Roadmaps After Corbyn)


Let me begin with a political fantasy. I suspect it was shared by many in the early months of 2020, after Corbyn had been replaced by Keir Starmer as Labour leader and a leaked internal report had disclosed the extent to which party officials had tried to sabotage Corbyn’s leadership—and after Starmer settled a libel claim with them, even though lawyers had advised the party had a strong case. The political fantasy went something like this. Corbyn, now a humble backbencher, seizes the initiative and leverages his considerable political capital to lead a small group of left mps out of the Parliamentary Labour Party and in doing so overcomes at a stroke the huge start-up barriers to a new political party which our firstpastthepost system imposes. In the first instance, such a breakaway would be a pole of attraction for a significant chunk of the membership who were inspired to join Labour as a result of Corbyn’s leadership (let us say, 100,000 people).

In Wayne’s world,

There was in this period a window of opportunity for the new party to eclipse the hapless Lib Dems as the third uk-wide party at Westminster in both number of mps—the Lib Dems have eleven—and possibly membership base. It would establish scale, and with scale comes a presence in the mass media—or at least sections of it—and esteem and credibility (not with the establishment, but with the people). It would be in a position to change the terms of the debate, shift the parameters of political conversations, just as the Corbyn leadership managed to do in a number of areas, in their best moments. In short, it would be in a position to engage in the battle for hegemony, for moral and political leadership, something which most of the Labour Party for most of its history, has been singularly unwilling to understand or contemplate. Just as importantly, the new political formation would have solved the psychological problem that bedevils small left-wing groupuscules of attracting people to a project that seems condemned to remain on the margins of public discourse. The new set-up would almost certainly have encouraged the more adventurous unions, such as Unite, under the leadership of Len McCluskey, to begin at the very least to diversify their political funding portfolio and unlock additional resources to help it grow. The result could have been electrifying in my view.

Alas

But it remained a fantasy. A collective inertia prevailed, a lack of independent initiative and agency, a lack of leadership and a failure to learn the lessons that the recent history lays before us.

Roadmaps concludes, after a long detour via an often acute analysis of the social and political barriers facing the left in this country (a welcome change from the diatribes against Keir Starmer by such as Tel’s Nipper), with a mountain of abstractions thaat would have done Perry Anderson proud.

The kind of popular power as a transformative capacity that would be needed to break through into the existing institutions of capitalist democracy so as to begin to effect change suggests we are dealing here with the paradox of a revolutionary form and a social-democratic content. But for a period of time this might be a necessary and an enabling contradiction. It would open up crucial avenues of historical experience in terms of participation, agency, problem solving, experimenting, democratizing, solidarity building, and so forth. 

In evaluating that dilemma, people would have to weigh up the known risks of seriously challenging the power and wealth of an extremely violent and sociopathic class, or of remaining within the existing mode of production and accepting the associated risks of economic crisis, war and ecological catastrophe. Now, take a look at the Labour front bench and the rows of gargoyles arranged behind them and ask whether a word of truth about the dangers facing us would ever fall from their lips, or whether a muscle in their collective body would ever twitch in the direction of addressing those dangers. After Corbyn the left in Labour needs to try something new, something different; something intellectually and politically post-Labour.

But life has opened up new possibilities for the self-identifying fantasist left of Labour Parties. Capitalism has accelerated, its contradictions are now bursting.

“The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, history, payments, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”

Wayne and others need dream not more.

The political potential of the Metaverse is mind-boggling. Farewell dire election results. Not only can new utopias be built but the faction fights in virtual reality will be a wonder to behold…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm

Chris Williamson’s ‘Festival of Resistance’ Flops.

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🇵🇸 RESIST: Movement for a People's Party on Twitter: "We stand with the  People of Liverpool. Starmer is a disgrace to the working people and to the  memory of the ❤️97. Our

A Flop.

On the second day, a panel of speakers and festival delegates debated the topic: Should The Resist Movement Register To Become A Political Party? The Canary.

Following a lively and, at times, contentious debate, the overall feeling was one of support. An indicative vote showed the vast majority of voting delegates support the move. Two weeks ago, this was also the general feeling of respondents to the same question on Resist’s social media page. Paid members of the movement will now vote on this in the coming week. This should give a definitive answer.

What exactly comes after that – we’ll have to wait and see. But what was clear to me was the vast majority of people I spoke to believe the Labour Party, as a representative of the working-class, is dead and well beyond saving. It’s for the bin. And while not everybody there supported the formation of a new political party, there was palpable anger with the ruling elite. It’s an anger that’s more than justified.

Among the delegates there was a very strong appetite for a fight back – a fight back against an anti-working class parliament, a corporate media that speaks for the elite, and against sexism, racism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. It’s also a fight to return the NHS into full public ownership.

Pictures of this historic event are hard to come by, but our top gumshoes found a few.

Look at the turn out…

Image

Here are the delegates enjoying themselves.

Debate rages as to whether there were thirty, forty or even fifty, maybe up to sixty, of them in this ‘packed house’.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Communist Party of Britain Discourages On-Line Adulation of Stalin, Bans Conspiracy Theorising and Holocaust Denial.

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Eddie Dempsey's postings are totally unacceptable | Socialist Fight

Banned from CPB Social Media.

Britain’s Young Communist League has trebled in size, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) is standing in elections, and leading CPB Cdes are leading the fight against Gender Theory Wokeness.

In these conditions a Marxist-Leninist Party has to observe the strictest discipline. Democratic centralism is the watch-word for old and new members. Young comrades and the more elderly must pay attention to the party’s public image. The CPB is always on the look-out for saboteurs, wreckers and elements of the class enemy infiltrating its ranks.

This, carried by our official Organ, UNITY, is a timely warning we gave to members posting on social media,

“We do not construct or promote ‘Conspiracy theories’ “Our class enemy is the ruling capitalist class, not some secretive sinister cabal of Freemasons, Zionists, the Illuminati or the Bill Gates Foundation..”

The CPB also lays down a timely call to the more enthusiastic ‘anti-Zionist’ recruits, “Posting anything on line which “normalises” anti-Semitic conspiracy theories including holocaust denial in any form – is incompatible with Party membership.”

Much-needed reminders!

It is a concern that certain Rotten Elements have got hold of our internal documents. They have just published further, hitherto confidential details, of our top- secret protocols on their deviationist web site.

The Communist Party of Britain disappears comrade Stalin.

The Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain (CPB) issued a set of social-media protocols to its members in August 2021. These warn CPB members, in line with the ‘democratic centralism’ (in fact, bureaucratic centralism) of far-left organisations, that they cannot “undermine well-established party positions” in public. Included in such undermining and harmful endeavours is “adulation of Stalin and support for the substantial abuses of state power which occurred under his leadership”. Such endeavours are “not compatible with our party’s judgment of these matters” as set out in the CPB’s Britain’s road to socialism (BRS) programme.[1] Indeed, in that document last issued in 2020 we find the following lines: “At times, and particularly in the late 1930s following the rise of fascism, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred in the fight against external threats and internal subversion. Large numbers of innocent people were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the worldwide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism.”[2]

These putrid forces continue,

As one can imagine, this hasn’t gone down at all well among some sections of the CPB, which has always been a generally pro-Stalin organisation, even though, in recent years, this hasn’t been pursued in the more cult-like manner of rivals such as the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML) founded by Harpal Brar in 2004. Ioannis Michalopoulos, a CPB supporter from Yorkshire, opines in his organisation’s current pre-congress discussion that the “CPB’s criticism on Stalin merely resorts to bourgeois/Trotskyite/Khruschevite phraseology and clichés”. He adds: “It is ironic that defending Stalin’s legacy is not considered [by the CPB’s social-media protocol] compatible with the judgment of the BRS, the first draft of which was approved by Stalin himself.”[3]

Head Office shall be having a word with this so-called Blog site.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 18, 2021 at 8:52 am

Class Politics, Identity Politics and Gender Politics.

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A group of masked demonstrators at the University of Sussex staged a protest on campus demanding lecturer Kathleen Stock lose her job

‘New Social Movement’?

In 1985, as Margaret Thatcher was consolidating her rule. Ralph Miliband wrote an influential article, the New Revisionism in Britain (New Left Review 1/150). “One of Miliband’s main aims was to refute the argument that conflicts over gender, ethnicity, the environment and so on were as fundamental as those concerned with class” wrote his biographer, Michael Newman (Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left. 2002).

In the NLR piece the author of Parliamentary Socialism stated, “‘Class politics’ has become the shorthand for much which the new revisionism most strongly repudiates: above all, it has come to stand for the insistence on the ‘primacy’ of organized labour in the challenge to capitalist power and the task of creating a radically different social order.” He noted, “Opposition to new revisionist writings has since then come from journals of the Labour Left such as Labour Herald and London Labour Briefing, from Labour Left figures such as Tony Benn and Eric Heffer, and from Trotskyist journals such as Socialist Worker and Socialist Action. But the main resistance has come from within the Communist Party, notably from a very traditionalist Morning Star, and also from individual party members.” This call to defend class struggle and the unions was a major factor in the eventual break up of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

This approach was developed in his study of class struggle, Divided Societies, written a few years later in 1989, Miliband argued that “without labour movements organised as political forces no fundamental challenge to the existing political order can ever be mounted.” In the chapter on New Social Movements he asserted that class-based motor was central, “whatever feminists, or black people, or gay and lesbians, or environmentalists or peace activists, or any other group may choose to do, even though their actions may well produce advances and reforms.” He added that “a great deal of oppression, discrimination, agression and violence exercised by white men, whether workers or bourgeois against women black people, ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, cannot be traced back in any plausible way to direct or indirect economic pressures.”

On liberal and other types of non-socialist feminism Miliband commented that “This is not deny that women do have certain common interests – for instance, the right to reproductive choice, or the struggle against male violence. But lass, in relation to women, is nevertheless major dividing factor…(and) as a class, wage-earners have the potential for a degree of unity, at least, which women, as such, cannot hope to achieve.” This thought is not developed far but a moment’s reflection indicates that Roman and religious ‘laws’ alone ,sanctioning male supremacy in property and the family, are hard to untangle from history, ideology and custom to reveal a common economic basis across thousands of years. They do not rest on anything as clear as the ruling class appropriation of the social surplus.

The themes of the New Revisionism inspired many articles and books on the ‘retreat from class’ and defences of what became Marxism Today’s New Times project. Divided Societies had a tepid reception from those who were enthusiastic about ‘new social movements’ and is probably unread today. How it could help make sense of ‘intersectionality’, “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalised individuals or groups”? The answer is that Miliband was not concerned with American political concepts/ strategies of legal and political voice but with the goals of socialist democracy based on a unifying social force, the labour movement. It could be argued that political disagreements within the left, which equally cannot be traced to “economic pressures”, from ideology to organisational differences, have played a bigger role in thwarting the forward march of labour than socially and culturally rooted divisons.

The present row over ‘critical feminism’, gender theory, and transgender rights could be seen in this light. Here is a summary of Kathleen Stock’s views that have, in effect, consolidated divides in the gay and feminist movements:

Kathleen Stock explained her views on trans issues in written evidence to Parliament in November 2020 here:

  • Womanhood and manhood reflect biological sex, not gender or gender identity;
  • The claim ‘transwomen are women’ is a fiction, not literally true
  • Sexual orientation (being gay, being lesbian) is determined by same-sex attraction, not attraction to gender identity
  • Spaces where women undress and sleep should remain genuinely single-sex, in order to protect them;
  • Children with gender identity disorders should not be given puberty blockers as minors.

Will this result in the same kind of decade long debate, rows, and sometimes bitter splits as the New Revisionist decade?

Mary Davis, who has announced her colours, is a veteran of that epoch.

This can be seen in yesterday’s post and here where Mary Davis writes for the Red-Brown Full Brexit site which brought together supporters of the Brexit Party, Spiked, sovereigntists and nationalists with members of the Communist Party of Britain, Blue Labour, sovereigntists, and self-identifying left-wingers. The fact that she feels that this is a sympathetic audience indicates that at least some Gender Critical people feel happy with the Family Faith and Flag brigade and the Brexit Party, Spiked/RCP national populist identity politics. Some might argue that the kind of class politics that appeal to them are pictures of idealised traditional working class identity.

Class Politics vs Identity Politics: The Choice for Labour 2020.

Mary Davis

The epithet “woke” is often incorrectly used to describe this phenomenon. However, such a term fails to do justice to the gravity of the political and cultural shift now infecting society. Class politics is based on an understanding that there is a conflict between labour and capital in which those who sell their labour power for a wage are exploited by those who buy it. This is central to the capitalist mode of production. But this is not the concern of identity politics. The version of identity politics which is most damaging steps beyond the collective identity of historically-marginalised sections of the population and which has, in the twentieth century, given rise to important liberation movements, chiefly of women, black people, gays and lesbians. But identity politics turns its back on such collective movements for social change. It renounces class and collectivism in favour of individual self-identity. It has traversed the boundaries of wacky theories to become a mainstream narrative which has permeated all aspects of civil society including the labour movement and especially the Labour Party.

She continues,

Labour has accepted this mantra is evidenced by the recent leadership campaign in which the candidates were urged to accept the twelve pledges produced by the newly formed Labour campaign for trans rights. These pledges include committing the Labour Party to accepting “Trans people as their self-declared gender”, and that “trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary”. Supporters of these pledges argue that the Labour Party must “Organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups… [and] Support the expulsion from the Labour Party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views”. Most of the leadership candidates accepted the pledges or a variant of them – hardly surprising given that most of them, reflecting mainstream ideology, are Labour policy anyway.[1] However, the demand to expel those who campaign for women’s rights through their support of such organisations as Women’s Place UK or the LGB Alliance, breaks new ground. By effectively turning its back on women, half of the population, the Labour Party will be propelled into an uncharted and potentially disastrous course.

This should be a cause for concern. The fact that it is not is alarming for two reasons. Firstly, identity politics is the antithesis of class politics and its theory and practice should induce great anxiety in the labour movement, whose very foundation was rooted in working-class struggle. Secondly, the gender identity issue is of particular concern for women because it conflates biological sex and gender, and wilfully and errantly fails to understand women’s oppression. Trans people (and many other groups) experience intolerance and discrimination but this is not same as oppression. Discrimination itself is not a function of class society even though it is an almost inevitable by-product of the inherent inequalities within it. Women, however, are oppressed, and the basis of such oppression is class exploitation. Oppression, although it may take the form of discriminating against the oppressed, occupies a unique relationship within class society. It is the most important means of maintaining the class relations which support class exploitation and, as such, oppression is a function of class society as well as being a product of it. This is because oppression, unlike discrimination, is linked materially to the process of class exploitation as well as operating at a “superstructural” level through oppressive ideologies which serve to maintain class rule by dividing the exploited. This is why it is impossible to understand women’s oppression without understanding varying forms of exploitation in class society – capitalism in particular. In this way, Labour’s betrayal of women is linked to the betrayal of the working class. This is what Labour needs to understand before it’s too late.

Book review – ‘Women and Class’ by Mary Davis

Lynette Cawthra

Mary Davis’s Women and Class was first published in 1990 by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and has been republished in an updated and revised form in 2020 as part of the CPB’s centenary celebration. Its main aim is to argue for a Marxist feminist perspective of the way in which women are marginalised and exploited. What this perspective means in practice is that the major determinant of women’s marginalisation is the way in which capitalist economies are based on the exploitation of the working class by the ruling class. Women are doubly exploited both as workers and as those who create the conditions for the system to reproduce itself.

The pamphlet is especially critical of approaches to the marginalisation of women which regard class as just one of a number of subjective factors which make up individual identity. It argues that this denies the fact that the economic system creates objective class divisions and the marginalisation of women cannot be effectively opposed unless this is recognised. It regards as particularly dangerous the growth of a ‘self-identity politics’ which questions ‘the commonly understood categories of male and female…hence doubting the fact of biological sex itself.’ Mary Davis states that this has created a situation where ‘the ideological construct of gender has usurped the material reality of biological sex and has become a ruling ideology…[which] has stealthily penetrated all aspects of civil society, including the labour movement.’

Cawthra continues,

The pamphlet expresses concern about the proposal to amend the Gender Recognition Act to allow for gender self-declaration. The concern arises on the basis that it would lead to the possible removal of women-only spaces and effectively end the protected characteristic of being a biologically defined woman. Obviously, this proposal has now been dropped by the current Government in a statement issued in September 2020. The statement by the Minister for Women and Equalities can certainly be seen to implicitly vindicate the argument in Women and Class that identity politics conflates gender and biological sex: ‘Our philosophy is that a person’s character, your ideas, and your work ethic trumps the colour of your skin or your biological sex. We firmly believe that neither biology nor gender is destiny.’ Equally, the individualism within the statement can be seen as evidence for the argument that ‘identity politics is the antithesis of class politics’.

Note this clear alignment with recent critics of Stonewall:

The pamphlet also criticises the state-sanctioned encouragement of non-binary gender classification, e.g. official Government advice to avoid gendered pronouns like he or she. From a Marxist perspective, it regards state advocacy of this as an expression of the ruling ideology and is concerned that non-binary gender classification and the consequent downgrading of the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ has been accepted even within the labour movement.

Women and Class recognises that ‘there are vital areas of social reality which Marxists (including Marx) have simply not addressed.’ It may possible to examine the acceptance of a range of gender identities from a Marxist perspective while recognising the central oppression of biologically defined women. Current evidence seems to show a steady increase in the number of countries accepting as legitimate range of gender classifications including non-binary and transgender. That fact clearly doesn’t indicate that this is necessarily a progressive move from a Marxist perspective and the pamphlet regards it as ‘pseudo-egalitarianism’. From the point of view of the Marxist feminism set out in Women and Class, the question is whether it could be possible that this could contain transgressive challenges to the ruling ideology which sanctions the oppression and marginalisation of women.

She concludes,

As an alternative to the form of Marxist feminism advocated by Women and Class, I’ll end with a quote from Heidi Hartman: ‘Many Marxists typically argue that feminism is at best less important than class conflict and at worst divisive of the working class. This political stance produces an analysis that absorbs feminism into the class struggle. Moreover, the analytic power of Marxism with respect to capital has obscured its limitations with respect to sexism. We will argue here that while Marxist analysis provides essential insight into the laws of historical development, and those of capital in particular, the categories of Marxism are sex-blind. Only a specifically feminist analysis reveals the systemic character of relations between men and women. Yet feminist analysis by itself is inadequate because it has been blind to history and insufficiently materialist.’

Miliband, as can be seen, recognised these points, which puts his 1980s writing ahead of the Communist Party of Britain..

Update.

Kenan Malik writes in the Observer today (Whether freedom of speech or fairness to migrants, some principles are sacred) – a view this Blog endorses:

“It’s a complex debate, with important arguments on both sides. For many trans activists, however, it’s not a debate that should be taking place. Anyone who believes that sex is more important than gender in defining what it is to be a woman – or who would exclude trans women from women-only spaces – is, they argue, “transphobic” by definition and their arguments bigoted. Yet, condemning figures such as Selina Todd, one of Britain’s most distinguished historians of working-class and women’s lives, or the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as if they were feminist versions of Tommy Robinson, strains credulity. Trying to strangle a debate, or mislabelling one’s opponents, is no response to complexity. It also makes harassment and intimidation more acceptable. After all, many argue, if they are bigots, who want to “eliminate” trans people, why shouldn’t they be harassed? The result is to leave female academics such as Stock needing police protection from those who identify as women.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Breaking: Morning Star Defends ‘Gender Critical’ Feminism.

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May be an image of 2 people

Mary Davis: Back in 2018.

The Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and run by the co-op, today carries this article by a leading member of Communist Party of Britain, Mary Davis.

It is safe to say that this is not just an opinion up for debate but reflects the views of strong currents in the Daily’s team and the CPB.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement must go hand in hand, argues MARY DAVIS.

Extracts,

The unrelenting ideological onslaught on women’s sex-based rights has escalated to the point at which the very definition of “women” as a biological sex is now subject to sustained attack.

This has resulted in the collective rights of women threatened and undermined. The overused term “cancel culture” is wrong and inadequate to describe the current and unparalleled ideological onslaught on women as a biological sex. We are facing erasure in the face of gender identity policy capture.

Note: No direct reference to Stonewall.

This weekend’s FiLiA conference, I hope, along with other gender critical women’s organisations will play an important part in creating a regenerated women’s movement.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement, which rejects capitalist ideology and understands the vital importance of protecting and extending women’s sex-based rights, must go hand in hand.

However, without a robust renewal of Marxist-feminist theory, which challenges the dominant ideology of identity politics, such a project will remain a distant vision.

Note are all gender critical feminists Marxists or even socialists? Kathleen Stock defines herself in other ways, “am I, or am I not, a feminist? Yes in the broad sense that I’m broadly focused on promoting the rights and interests of women in a world in which they’re often neglected. But not in the sense that I sign up, no matter what, to any particular doctrinal element. I think everything should be up for reasonable discussion. If you think I’m not a real feminist, that’s fine by me. I’m honestly not that attached to the term. What I am attached to is trying to get the underlying actions and attitudes right” Julie Bindel concentrates on the demand to “defend women’s sex-based rights”.

……

The oppression of women is rooted in class exploitation. The super-exploitation of women as workers and their oppression as women is a fundamental prerequisite for the operation of capitalism — economically, politically and ideologically. Hence, the eradication of class exploitation is the essential precondition for the liberation of women.

Socialism provides the only means by which the most complete form of class exploitation (ie that represented by the capitalist system), can be ended.

Whether conscious of its mission or not, the labour movement exists for this purpose. But its socialist mission can only be fulfilled if it expunges capitalist ideology — and that includes any ideological practice which impedes the protection and extension of the rights of women.

..

Both these two movements — a strong and class-conscious feminist-inspired labour movement and a broad-based women’s movement — are essential together as the twin pillars of the challenge to women’s oppression and super-exploitation.

However, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that the labour movement truly represents the interests of 51 per cent of British population, let alone the majority of its members — women!

Recent events have shown that gender identity ideology has permeated the labour movement, with the result that defending women’s rights has taken a back seat.

Currently, a campaign against alleged transphobia has taken precedence over the threat to Professor Kathleen Stock’s employment at Sussex University. She has received no support from the University and College Union.

For socialists, the goal has to be the forging of working-class unity based on a recognition of its historic divisions; divisions founded principally on race and sex.

The first is the ideological battle which has to be shifted away from the “gender” issue per se and on to our terrain of the fight for women’s rights and the understanding of women’s oppression.

Second, the (at present non-existent) “respectful debate” can only be achieved when we women are a mighty assembled unignorable force so that our analysis and our policies lead the debate.

This requires a powerful women’s movement. Thirdly, even at the risk of vilification, our argument must be taken into the labour movement in order to challenge and expose an ideology which erases women and tramples our rights. We are many, they are few.

Comment: this looks like a call for some serious rows. There are points on which this Blog agrees, ‘gender fluidity’ being one. AS one of the ideas in some modern gender theory, promoted by Stonewall, it initially sounds reasonable, but then splinters off into a kaleidoscope of definitions, and even stripped down to a minimum is hard to pin down as a legal or campaigning category. There equally serious issues about women’s spaces which would take a lot more than Mary Davis’ article to draw lines on.

It is not clear that ‘materialist feminism’ is just abut biology and class, or capitalism, there are views about the structural reality of patriarchy for example that exist in many different societies. This open up further into the picture of ” “how women are produced as a category” which in some version (such as the 1970s-early 80s journal M/F), included linguistic ideas and the theories of Michel Foucault about ‘power’. Dos class ‘trump’ everything else? Religious ideologies, embodied in state apparatus like the Islamic state of Iran, have relative autonomy to the class rule of the Islamist bourgeoisie, and the laws restricting women in that country cannot just be explained by capitalist oppression.

There remains concern that words like “onslaught” are intended to provoke a ‘counter-attack’. Davis has, in the recent past, defended Blue Labour pro-family figures like Paul Embery, who has also entered this fray. Will she align with this anti-rootless cosmopolitan in a war against Woke?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Chris Williamson’s ‘Festival of Resistance’ is Underway.

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Image

Packed out already!

Speakers represent a wide range of left opinons, from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Workers Party of Britain – Jodi Brar, The Monster Raving Greenstein Party, Jackie Walker, international support comes from the red-brown Grayzone (Max Blumthal and Ben Norton) Calos Garcia Hernandez (Funny Money Man, see note (1)), Vox Political, and so it goes.

Support in Swindon is growing apace:

Resist call itself a Movement for a People’s Party – not workers’ party one has to say.

Williamson has allied with this bloc in the past, before becoming enamoured with George Galloway and the Workers Party of Britain.

Where stands he now?

And…

What is Resist’s line on this new development?

Bringing the left together

The leadership bodies of LAW (Labour Against the Witch-hunt), Labour in Exile Network (LEIN) and the Labour Left Alliance (LLA) are proposing that the three organisations should enter a closer working relationship. 

With two of LAW’s leaders at the Festival, and no doubt many, or at least a few LAW, LIEN and LLA supporters there, this weekend is an ideal occasion to discuss this important development.

******

(1)” Fiat socialism’ would enable an open and prosperous society governed by the principles of modern monetary theory (MMT). A society without unemployment or poverty, in which everybody had a decent job (either in the private sector, or in the public sector) allowing people to fulfil all their basic needs and coordinate their working and private life because of reasonable time schedules. A society in where public services, education and health access were of the highest quality, and in which the level of prices remain stable. This isn’t just a socialist pipedream. By using MMT as a lens to understand the monetary system, it’s a realistic possibility, but it requires the political will to jettison neoliberalism .Carlos García Hernández – Fiat Socialism and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 11:19 am

Stonewall, the Nolan Investigation, and the Gender Disputes.

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Must-Listen to Podcasts.

These 10 podcasts are over 5 hours long in total. Some of the material is straightforward and political, trying to find out the governmental and corporate influence of Stonewall, which is one campaigning charity that says it stands for “lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere”. Some of the episodes are disturbing (relating to the Tavistock Clinc and young people referred there and to professional help.). Some (on the multiplicity/fluidity of gender identities) are not so much bewildering as a cause to ask, why on earth bother? The main issue is, has Stonewall’s take on these issues come, without proper open debate, to dominate corporate bodies and state institutions, to the exclusion of other views on gender, without open democratic debate and minimum standards of accountability. One area has come to the fore: does this and has the Stonewall strategy and policies excluded from reasonable public discussion a whole section of feminists – ‘gender critical’ – and parts of the gay movement itself?

Kevin Ovenden expresses what many will think about the need to hear them (I have got to episode 8),

This will not stop instant reactions.

It is a bad sign that the Islamist site 5 Pillars, which campaigned against gender equality teaching in schools, has caught up with this controversy:

Here are the views this web site sees fit to carry,

Who should teach our children about sex? (2019).

In the light of the increasingly heated row over the teaching of sex and relationship education in schools, Dr Siema Iqbal argues that schools have no right to impose lifestyles and beliefs on children because that is the parent’s job.

Who should teach children about sex? The answer should be us, the parents. As parents we are the primary educators and decision-makers for our children and we teach them about family values and relationships, in some circumstances based around our religious beliefs.

At present as parents we currently have the right to withdraw our children from SRE lessons from primary school up to 19 years of age. Concerns raised by parents who object to SRE lessons are commonly about issues such as promiscuity, same sex relationships or gender choice being discussed prematurely with their children.

Exposed and explained: The insidious agenda to foist LGBT on our children (2019).

Faisal Bodi is the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s press officer. 

 in the manipulative hands of the LGBT lobby the Equalities Act, an anti-discrimination tool, has been turned into an official duty on everyone to affirm the acceptability of LGBT behaviours/identities even if they consider them to be morally reprehensible. Accepting this logic one would be justified in asking why the state is not also pushing for schools to promote the beliefs of faith groups as it could be similarly argued that since religion is also a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act it is impossible to teach tolerance and mutual respect without affirming that they are correct.

The Stonewall guide is a real eye-opener and reveals the extent to which the LGBT agenda stands to become woven into the fabric of secondary school teaching. In English for example it suggests studying fiction by LGBT authors, discussing how their LGBT identity may have influenced their writing and advises teachers to introduce LGBT themes in discussions about representation in literatures. Critics have suggested that this undermines educational standards as teachers will be required to choose books not on the basis of their literary qualities but whether they represent LGBT themes.

Then there is this today, from a more considered source.

The Welsh government has been accused of being “dictated to” by an LGBT charity.

BBC.

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi said the government promoted an “ideological culture” by adopting Stonewall’s interpretation of the Equality Act.

Her comments were in response to a BBC investigation (Note,  the Nolan Investigates podcast) which revealed the Welsh government had adopted Stonewall’s interpretation of equality law.

The Welsh government said its policy was in the “spirit of the law”.

..in a document sent to Stonewall and seen by the BBC, the term “gender reassignment” has been replaced with the term “gender identity” in the Welsh government’s Equality and Diversity Policy.

It is a characteristic not provided for in law, but something Stonewall has been campaigning for.

It could mean people with various gender identities, such as non-binary, would be protected in law.

Critics of Stonewall’s interpretation of the law argue that the term gender identity is too broad and it could undermine sex-based rights protected under the legislation.

Ms Antoniazzi said: “It is astonishing that the Welsh government can so blatantly misrepresent the Equality Act 2010 as dictated to by Stonewall.

“They are promoting an ideological culture and rewriting the Equality Act at the same time. To misrepresent the law in this way shows a contempt not only for the law, but also to anyone who wishes to speak up for women or who has concerns around safeguarding.

“I’d also like to know what other organisations the Welsh government draws on to test their policies and practices, and what their relationship is with Stonewall and the Senedd.

“This situation is risible, and as a Welsh Labour MP I am deeply disappointed that no minister has been available to respond to the BBC to defend their stance.”

Ms Antoniazzi also said there was a “lack of transparency and independence around policy making”.

“I would urge [the Welsh government] to provide a safe space for all staff to express their concerns without fear nor favour,” she added.

The Welsh government works with LGBT charity Stonewall when updating its policies and it has been involved with two Stonewall schemes to promote diversity, including the Workplace Equality Index, which is a public ranking of organisations scored by Stonewall.

Documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the BBC’s Nolan Investigates podcast, revealed what the lobby group was asking organisations to do to improve their ranking on the Workplace Equality Index.

Not everyone agrees:

And here:

And then there is this..

“The witches are being drowned and the bitches burned at the stake. Kathleen Stock, Jo Phoenix, Selina Todd and many other women whose names you will never know are being put through hell.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Homages in France to Samuel Paty, Murdered for Defending Freedom of Speech.

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Libération (@libe) | Twitter

A Reminder Of How Serious Free Speech Issues Can Be.

Samuel Paty, un prof impliqué devenu héros posthume.

Today French schools will observe a minute of silence in hommage to Samuel Paty,

France honours ‘quiet hero’ teacher killed for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoon

France 24.

Samuel Paty, who was 47, was killed after leaving the middle school where he taught history and geography in the tranquil Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on the evening of October 16, 2020.

His killer, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, who had been living in France for years, claimed the attack as revenge for Paty showing his class the Mohammed cartoons in a lesson on free speech.

On Saturday, several ceremonies will be held in memory of the popular teacher hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as a “quiet hero” of the French republic.

In Conflans, the ceremonies will include the unveiling of a monument of an open book, while in Paris a square opposite the prestigious Sorbonne University will be renamed in his honour.

“The terrible drama of #SamuelPaty‘s murder took place a year ago . One year later, pay tribute to him, and even more, share knowledge, inspire reflection, sharpen the critical spirit. Against the gravediggers of freedom, let us, even more strongly, support human emancipation.” Clémentine Autain. Radical left MP (Seine-Saint-Denis), La France insoumise, Ensemble!, unambiguous on the anniversary of the killing of Samuel Paty. 

Charlie Hebdo: 40 years ago the Death Penalty was abolished, A year ago it was brought back.

The murder of Samuel Paty (French pronunciation: ​[samɥɛl pati]), a French middle-school teacher, took place on 16 October 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. Paty was killed and beheaded by an Islamist.

Paty had, in a class on freedom of expression, allegedly shown his students Charlie Hebdo‘s 2012 cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[1][2][3] One of the cartoons portrayed Muhammad naked with his genitals exposed.[4] The cartoons having been protested by many Muslims in the past, Paty preemptively permitted his students to avert their eyes or leave the room while they were displayed.[5] The 13-year old girl who made the allegations against Paty has since confessed to lying.[6]

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2021 at 10:56 am

Kathleen Stock Under Fire as LGB Alliance Trustee.

with 7 comments

New LGB Alliance Aims to Evict Trans People From Activism | by Phaylen  Fairchild | Medium

Controversy Grows.

Avant-propos…

As part of this Blog’s coverage of French politics I am reading the most recent book, La Nef des Fous, (2021) by leading red-brown writer and philosopher Michel Onfray It would be helpful were there a word for his kind of philosopher, something like poetaster for poet, to describe the author of over 150 works. Onfray self-identifies as a left wing Nietzschean and post-anarchist, amongst many other identities. The founder of the magazine Le Front Populaire, which brings together ‘sovereigntists’ of all sides, left and right, from articles by the far right (Alain de Benoist), sympathetic coverage of the far right, Florian Philippot, and, amongst others, Génération Frexit (and so it goes..) He recently hosted a beano attended by four thousand people for the hard right wing polemicist of Éric  Zemmour.

La Nef des Fous, (the Ship of Fools, an allegory, see Plato, a state run by dysfunctional crew.) has as its theme ‘decadence’. Hence the sub-title, Nouvelles du Bas-Empire, the declining and falling late Empire. The author modestly says that one could have proposed a book of 500 pages on the subject. In its place we will have to put up with his “impressions”. This he calls an ephéméride which helpfully corresponds to the “obsolete” English “diary or almanac”. In brief, a log. A year. 2000.

This work is a pile of piffle, a mob of moans, and a dustbin of thought. A kind of cross between the Daily Mail and Spiked. It is a series of vicious rants against targets such as Greta Thunberg, left wing parties, trade unions, against Black Lives Matter, rising crime, paedophilia, and…the suing of the Tavistock Gender clinc (he refers without naming her to Keira Bell, 23 and…a transgender woman who demands recognition as the mother of her (biological) daughter. With the wit to which one becomes accustomed to, Onfray remarks, C’est Gide à l’envers: famille je vois aime! (Page 181)

Now that somebody as low as Onfray can ironise over the love of a transgender woman for her daughter gives a flavour of the prejudices these issues arouse. It could be said that reading them written from another country makes them look starker.

Today our Log sees another raft of incidents.

Shadow minister criticises Kathleen Stock for being LGB Alliance trustee.

In a letter apparently replying to a constituent, Taiwo Owatemi, the Labour MP for Coventry North West and the shadow equalities minister, said: “I am greatly concerned by [Stock’s] work as a trustee for the LGB Alliance group

Owatemi said she had read the “strong and principled” request from the Sussex branch of the University and College Union for a university-wide investigation of “institutional transphobia”, which earlier this week caused Stock to say the union had “effectively ended” her academic career at Sussex.

In a later statement, Owatemi said: “I was clear in this letter that I was not passing judgment on Prof Stock’s academic work, and did not call for action to be taken against her.”

Most of the letter was devoted to Owatemi’s criticism of the LGB Alliance, saying that the group “should be rejected by all those who believe in equality. They oppose reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which has long been the position of my party and to which we remain committed.

“Furthermore, the group opposes LGBT+ inclusive education [and] believe that adolescents should not be able to access puberty blockers (in flagrant disregard of the entire concept of ‘Gillick competency’).”

She also claimed the group had criticised measures to make conversion practices illegal and refused to condemn those who were against same-sex marriages.

“Every single one of these stances is diametrically opposed to my beliefs and the position of my party. I note that an appeal against their charitable status is due to take place next year, and I will be monitoring the case with keen interest.”

Owen Jones:

Blue Labour Anti-Rootless Cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery:

The issue of the day.

Despite the above, whatever your position on the issues the criticisms of Stonewall are pretty weighty.

Have listened to 3 of these.

Update.

Having listened to the disturbing evidence about Stonewall in the Nolan Podcasts issues like the below remain,

“Over recent years, women with views like mine have routinely been described as hateful. This happened even when we made it clear that we oppose bigotry and support laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. But what is shocking is the escalating language and threats, to the point where Stock – the author of a well-reviewed book on this subject – was advised by police to install CCTV.

For the avoidance of doubt, I appreciate that for transgender people it is vital to be accepted in the gender to which they have transitioned. I know that this is what the statements “trans men are men” and “trans women are women” mean. I also think it is vital to have words that refer to people’s sex. Of course, it is true that trans men have a cervix and in that sense Duffield’s remark was inaccurate. But it’s also true that for many people, the words “man” and “woman” signify biological sex. And this linkage cannot be severed by diktat.”

 It seems easy, for some, to dismiss any resistance to changing cultures of gender as reactionary (or quasi-fascist). It is true that most of the MPs speaking up for Kathleen Stock so far have been Tories. By not explicitly condemning the demands for her to be sacked, while calling for an “investigation” into “institutional transphobia”, the academic union, the UCU, appeared to side with the campaign against her.

But it is a mistake to imagine that the only people for whom sexual differences are meaningful are evolutionary biologists or religious conservatives. For gender-critical feminists, our politics are underpinned by an analysis of the way female bodies and reproductive labour have historically been controlled and exploited. This is why we describe women’s rights as “sex-based”.

In common with others, including the philosopher Jane Clare Jones, I also see a connection with the environment. I think there are parallels between the failure to address the implications of our planet’s finite resources and our dependence upon it, and the idea that human potential is boundless. While I want people to be free to live as they choose, I also believe that human bodies have limits. And I am concerned about the influence on young people of the idea that, with the aid of medical technology, these can be transcended.

It seems clear that investigations of gender have a long way to go and my own understanding is neither fixed nor complete. I don’t expect most people to agree with the thoughts I have set out above and know that some will strongly object. I know too that for some people their gender identity – the feeling of being male or female – means more than chromosomes or anatomy. I want to find a way for our different ideas to coexist. But I am very worried by the lack of an equivalent recognition of gender-critical beliefs. And I think the most recent round of attacks on feminists should alarm everyone who cares about pluralism.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Kathleen Stock: Free Speech Union, Free Speech and Tolerance.

with 23 comments

Woke students try to cancel feminist lecturer Kathleen Stock | Daily Mail  Online

Defending Kathleen Stock.

Here comes the first response:

The position of this Blog on the Kathleen Stock case is not based on a take on the university world. We leave that to Shereen Benjamin, reproduced below at the bottom of this Post. Our stand is Voltairean, tolerance of difference. Voltaire writings express the paradox of tolerance, stating both, “Tolerance has never provoked a civil war; intolerance has covered the Earth in carnage.”(Traité sur la Tolérance. 1763) and écrasez l’infâme! Crush the loathsome thing, “superstition, le fanatisme et, plus généralement, la religion.” (Written many times see: ÉCRASEZ L’INFÂME!). Put another way, just because you can and should put up with different opinions, including ones you can’t abide, does not mean you have to cosset them.

Stock has views, as a radical feminist, a current of thought which, emphasising patriarchy first, is distinct from socialist feminism’s positon of class and capitalism. It, the broad current, is probably best known in recent years for its anti-pornography and anti-prostitution campaigning, which puts it at variance with much of the Ipswich left and Trades Council who worked with the English Collective of Prostitue during the Steve Wright murders in 2006. We do know Stock’s stand on legislation on these issues, but we suspect that as she considers them part of “sex based oppression” we would guess that she does not have the same position as the Collective on the decrimalisation of “sex workers”.

Much as what the Sussex Professor says is eminently reasonable, ‘materialist’, on the biological basis of sexual differentiation. Sue R outlines much of her take rejecting “gender identity theory” in the comments on this Blog. Phillip Collins says in the New Statesman today, “even if we accept that gender association is a more complex phenomenon than it might seem, it is surely possible to believe in the existence of biological sex and, at the same time, to extend the highest standards of consideration to people who identify with a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth.” In other words, both sides in the dispute have good arguments and causes.

There are more contestable – perhaps sensitive is a better word – areas. She has expressed opinions on “autogynephilia” sexually aroused by the idea of being or becoming a woman” ,which some find offensive. Thus, “we could talk more about autogynephilia in a less toxic way, fewer men would feel they had to transition, and fewer men would feel so ashamed of it that they had to deny it existed. But I do not say this to let men off the hook for wanking in changing rooms.” (Julie Bindel interviews Kathleen Stock and asks her about radical feminism, autogynephilia and her new book Material Girls. June 2021.)

Is there is a right to be offensive? In this case we are not dealing with two goods, but those who would assert that Stock is not good at all. She is a “phobe”, in this case transphobe.

‘Islamophobe, was the accusation levelled at Charlie Hebdo. Attacks on the satirical weekly went beyond that. Norman Finkelstein, now a defender of the free speech of another academic, David Miller, dismissed from Bristol University, declared after the massacre of our comrades in 2015, that the paper was not satire but “sadism”. He compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. (World renowned political science professor says he has ‘no sympathy’ for staff at Charlie Hebdo.)

Before his death Charlie Hebdo Editor ‘Charb’, Stéphane Charbonnier  had written Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes (2015). The pamphlet takes aim at many targets, including one which has come up in the Sussex controversy, that the objects of both serious criticism and mockery – in that case Islam and Islamism – are uniquely privileged to judge on what may, or may not, be ridiculed or attacked. They have right to be shielded from those whose excessive dislike creates distress.

At the beginning of the posthumously published polemic the left-wing cartoonist asked, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam.” He concluded, that if you agreed then his book was not for you. He mounted a robust defence of the right to be rude, to make fun of, and throw sallies at all religions, particularly, but not exclusively, ones, like Christianity and Islam, with institutional wealth, power and states upholding them.

After the slaughter at their offices, and the killings at the Hyper-Casher Charlie got a lot of support, including transient defenders from those not known previously as friends of the radical left publication. One can note that their enemies are still active as well: “Erdogan sues Charlie Hebdo over caricature. An ongoing Turkey-France spat deepened after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a caricature of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompting legal action from Ankara.” (Al Monitor. 2020). Let us hope that critics of Charlie will not agree with Erdogan against this “libel” which he linked to this, “Unfortunately, we are in a period when hostility to Islam, Muslims and disrespect for the prophet are spreading like cancer, especially among leaders in Europe,” said Erdogan.”

Drift from objecting to what somebody says into wishing to denying them any platform is not the preserve of despotic Presidents. If there is one thing you can guarantee it is that any kind of rows about freedom of expression, perhaps most of all when academic institutions are involved will throw up plenty of very different responses.

For Islamophobia read Transphobia. In both cases there is a drift from asserting the importance of directly lived and felt experience, to making this the basis for a standard of law, or practice, to decide on other people’s rights to express their opinions. It slips from hurt, harm, to punishing so quickly you hardly notice it until it comes along with demands to sack, to prosecute. Measures which under normal law are judged by independent parties (one of the main reasons we have a legal apparatus in the first place), debated through legislation (laws against race hatred, hate crimes, potential laws on misogyny) spread further and further, with people demanding to recreate Blasphemy laws, or to prevent the teaching of views one group opposes. Or as Collins says, “The more we censor for “good” reasons the more we open the door for those who would censor for bad reasons.”

This can be extended much further. Look at Toby Young’s, no doubt well intentioned, intervention. What a fragile bloom tolerance can be seen when we look at those defending ‘free speech’, who immediately summon those who rush into denouncing ‘woke’ and call for the closure of Unis. This is not tolerance, but using one cause to bludgeon another.

*******

Threats to academic freedom today

In today’s commercialised university sector, where universities act like large corporations, academic freedom faces multiple threats.

Casualisation in academia

One comes from employment practices. In 2016 53% of academics were on short-term or hourly-paid contracts. Many employers measure an academic’s ‘value’ according to their student satisfaction ratings and their number of publications in favoured journals. This encourages those who are precariously employed or seeking promotion to avoid controversy and pursue popular and fashionable topics.

The student as “consumer”

A second threat is the perceived need to placate student ‘consumers’. There’s nothing new in students feeling affronted and even offended by ideas that contradict their views. Learning to participate in robust, evidence-based discussion of ideas without resorting to personal attack requires effort and is sometimes painful. The job of universities should be to teach students how to do this. But a focus on recruiting as many students as possible has seen seminar discussions replaced with more lecturing, and time for dialogue between staff and students has been squeezed out by the increasing demands on academics. So instead of challenging students, university managers anxious to achieve student ‘satisfaction’ seek to ensure their protection from ideas that they find uncomfortable or unpleasant.

The corporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda

A third threat to academic freedom is universities’ ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ (EDI) agendas. EDI is a corporate branding exercise which has little to do with addressing the most significant inequalities in the sector, such as the growing gap between pay for highest- and lowest-paid staff. How much cheaper and more straightforward to fly a rainbow flag than to address casualisation of the workforce or provide subsidised food and accommodation for students. Small wonder, then, that almost every university has joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme which, for a fee, confers the stamp of approval of this exceptionally powerful and well-funded lobby group. The more profound costs of Stonewall membership – complying with Stonewall’s demands about what can and can’t be discussed on campus – seem less troubling to university managers.

A hostile climate for critical discussion of sex and gender identity

These three factors have produced an extraordinarily hostile climate for critical discussion of sex and gender identity. When students and staff launch protests against the platforming of speakers who advocate for women’s sex-based rights, university managers with an eye to their Stonewall recognition fail to condemn the personal attacks, or to insist on appropriate boundaries for protest.

A handful of cases involving feminist academics targeted for their views have reached the mainstream media: for instance, Professor Selina Todd being provided with security escorts to her lectures pre-lockdown following threats on social media. Professor Todd is a senior and established academic. Whatever the psychological costs to her of the campaigns against her, she doesn’t face a threat to her livelihood. Academic freedom does, at least, provide that protection to secure and senior staff. But beyond the media spotlight are the junior academics, and those on precarious contracts, who keep silent for fear of their jobs, who choose to research and teach less contentious topics, and who decide not to organise public engagement events critically examining gender identity theory. It’s impossible to measure what isn’t happening. But at the University of Edinburgh where I work, I counted 12 public events that platformed uncritical discussions of gender identity ideology in the year March 2019-20, compared with just one on women’s sex-based rights. That should tell us something. Universities, instead of providing the fora where gender identity theory can be critically discussed, have become engine rooms for its uncritical promotion.

Time for a left wing defence of academic freedom

It has been especially disappointing to see sections of the political left lining up to restrict discussion of women’s sex-based rights. A low point came at the University and College Union’s (UCU) 2019 Congress when a motion to protect academic freedom in relation to sex and gender identity was defeated. UCU has rightly pointed out that the threats to academic freedom posed by “endemic job insecurity” do not feature in the government’s current proposals. But while UCU (and others on the political left who purportedly care about academic freedom and freedom of speech) are selective in their defence of such freedoms, and themselves join in with misrepresentations and smear campaigns against feminists, they play into the government’s hands.

Only a root-and-branch reform of university funding and governance which re-establishes universities as public institutions for public good is likely to produce an environment in which academic freedom can truly flourish. In the meantime, the job of the left is to ensure that no ideology is considered unassailable on university campuses, and to challenge no-platforming and other assaults on academic freedom when they occur.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Trade Union, UCU Backs “Right to Protest” against Kathleen Stock.

with 16 comments

Image

Image

Does not endorse bullying but backs “right to protest”.

This is the comment of Kathleen Stock,

Here is another response,

Comment,

This statement does not genuinely back a member of staff, by her account a former UCL member, against “bullying” when it defends the right to protest against her. The issue is not “protest” but the demand to sack the gay feminist academic. The sentence about “instrumentalising” employment rights and academic freedom is particularly ignoble. The phrase “institutionalised transphobia” and how a call for a special investigation into how this has affected the “democratic rights and freedoms” of members of Sussex University is another issue, unless it is a sneaked in cover for suggesting that Stock is part of that structure.

Socialist Worker says,

Right wingers and university bosses have rushed to defend University of Sussex lecturer Kathleen Stock after she was accused of transphobia.

The university’s vice chancellor Adam Tickell told BBC News that staff “have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think”.

The university also tweeted that Stock was being targeted for “exercising her academic freedoms”.

In fact Stock is being criticised for making comments that rightly outrage most trans people and should be opposed by everyone who wants to fight oppression.

The background to the issue is not some calm academic debate. It is that homophobic hate crime in Britain has trebled—and transphobic hate crimes quadrupled—in the space of five years.

The Tories are zeroing in on trans rights as an element of their “culture wars” where groups of people are demonised and scapegoated in an attempt to win votes and divide opponents.

Yet…

Students are right to protest. But calls for sackings don’t fit here and should be directed against fascists and organised racists.

..

Whatabout….

no Tory ministers or right wing media are complaining that Bristol University has sacked Professor David Miller. He has been falsely condemned as antisemitic for his pro-Palestinian views.

The university management says the sacking is because “We have a duty of care to all students and the wider university community”.

Miller was said to have “discomforted” some students—which would certainly apply to Stock.

The latter is a valid point, though we will certainly not defend MIller’s ‘academic’ work.

Counterfire,

Trade unionists should defend workers against management attack, and defend academic freedom in universities, argues Mike Wayne.

And it is not just the right that will play this game. What the philosopher Nancy Fraser calls ‘progressive neoliberalism’ is also very adept at it. The Guardian has run numerous articles claiming that ‘cancel culture’ on university campuses is part of a right-wing conspiracy (that word again) dreamed up by a government pursuing its culture wars. How embarrassing for The Guardian then that this imaginary conspiracy exploded on 7 October at the University of Sussex. Posters appeared there calling for the sacking of Professor Kathleen Stock. Her crime? That she is ‘gender critical’, meaning she believes biology is a co-determinant in the lives of women, and cannot be simply wished away by the belief that anyone can be a woman. Further, she and fellow gender-critical feminists have reasonable cause to think that such beliefs will have negative consequences for women. Again, hardly lunacy.

Unlike Bristol, the vice-chancellor of Sussex has defended Stock and academic freedom, launching an investigation into the campaign to have her fired. One would like to think that the University and College Union (UCU) would have enough of a moral-political compass to follow suit. But alas, at the time of writing, despite many Twitter communiques to the General Secretary Jo Grady, there has been a devastating silence.

UPDATE: The Times Take on this:

Universities union backs trans rights over threatened professor Kathleen Stock

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Islam and Free Speech: Steven Greer, Bristol University, “cleared over Islamophobia claims.”

with one comment

Another Free Speech in University Issue.

Peter Tatchell tweets this today,

  • Human rights academic Steven Greer was cleared over Islamophobia claims
  • Bristol University chiefs rejected complaints that he expressed ‘bigoted views’
  • But Bristol University statement has now said ‘we recognise BRISOC’s concerns’
  • After a five-month investigation, Mr Greer’s module was still pulled from syllabus
  • Critics said his lecture slide about 2015 Paris terror attack was ‘Islamophobic’ 
  • Students called for the module at Bristol University’s law school to be scrapped
  • Mr Greer accused senior academics of ‘capitulating’ to the threats of students 

The story a few days before:

The Muslim Association of Britain, which has links to the hard-right Muslim Brotherhood, got involved.

One of the groups encouraging the witch-hunt, 5Pillars, an Islamist organisation,

The Website 5 Pillars has long been accused of extremism,,

5 Pillars UK: Dangers of Extremist Muslim Media

And,

5Pillars publishes Hizb ut-Tahrir leader advocating military force and a Caliphate to “liberate Palestine and Kashmir” (2021) Policy Exchange.

The UK Islamist news website 5Pillars has published an opinion piece by Abdul Wahid—chairman of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain—arguing that Muslim majority countries, and to a lesser degree some Muslims in the UK, are betraying the Palestinian and Kashmiri causes. Titled, Only a united Ummah can liberate Palestine and Kashmir, Wahid advocates the use of military force and the establishment of the Khilafah, or Caliphate, as the only means for achieving this.

Subtitled “Dr Abdul Wahid, chairman of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, asks when will Muslim states step up to their responsibilities and liberate Palestine and Kashmir,” this piece is primarily an attack on Muslim countries, although it also denounces the United States and Israel—which is referred to by the derogatory term “the Zionist entity”.

In the above, 5 Months ago, 5 Pillars carried the version given by Greer’s accusers: Bristol University Islamic Society demands swift action over ‘Islamophobic’ remarks.

Greer stands accused of this:

A different view is offered by on New Age Islam,

Controversy over Bristol University Professor Steven Greer’s ‘Islamophobia’: Why Critical Discussion of Islamic Tradition Should Not Be Snubbed

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

The complaint against Professor Greer was made by the Muslim student body called the University of Bristol Islamic Society (BRISOC). The group encourages God consciousness, facilitates Muslim students by advising them on appropriate places to eat, find accommodation, etc. It educates Muslims about the necessity of being ‘Islamic’ at all times and one of the ways of doing so, it argues, is through gender segregation. Although it claims to represent the diversity of Muslim experience, it appears that the group is closer to a particular interpretation of Islam which can safely be called fundamentalist.

The campaign against Professor Greer has also been led by the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS), an umbrella organization of Muslim student groups in the United Kingdom. Started in 1963, FOSIS is perhaps the first Muslim support group to become operative in that part of the world. The group’s philosophy is about faith-based activism which it defines as a ‘transformative journey of progression in faith, skills and habits to become comprehensive Muslims, living to further the cause of Allah’. One of the prominent faces in this forum was Ahmed Deedat, the South African writer and speaker of Indian descent, and who made a name for himself by entering into ceaseless polemics with the Christians.

Indians who are familiar with the work of Zakir Naik will recognise Deedat for the immense harm that such people have caused to inter-religious understanding. Rather than entering into a dialogue with one another, Deedat repeatedly trashed Christianity as a religion which was now superseded by Islam; the implication being that all of them should now become Muslims. Similarly, he has written against Hindu religious beliefs, denigrating them, without in fact understanding much of its philosophy.

Deedat supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and was sympathetic to the views of Osama bin Laden. In fact, his dawah centre was funded by the bin Laden family. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for his missionary work. In calling people like Deedat to their forum, the ideological orientation of groups like FOSIS becomes clear. And this orientation seems to come from a Wahabi-inspired ideology which wants Islam to become the ruling idea of the world.

The conclusion.

The criticism and censure of Professor Greer is, therefore, not from all Muslims but from Muslim groups which have a distinct political agenda. Most Muslims will not have a problem if a professor, in the wake of a discussion on polygamy and human rights, gives examples from the Islamic society.

Five Pillars have found time to back academics when it suits their cause.

The irony of reproducing this statement about Bristol seems to have escaped them,

In a letter sent to the university today, they accuse the university of caving in to the demands of the pro-Israel lobby and violating the freedom of speech that is necessary for intellectual enquiry.

The boycotters have mastered the jargon of hurt and safety.

In doing so, they say, the university is no longer a safe space for students and staff.

Perhaps they could also call for the sacking of Steven Greer to ensure student safety.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Transphobia, Kathleen Stock, Academic Freedom, and Free Speech.

with 31 comments

Weekly Roundup and the Harassment of Professor Kathleen Stock

The University of Sussex’s vice chancellor has defended a professor after protesters tried to have her sacked for her views on gender identity.

BBC.

Staff “have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think,” Adam Tickell told BBC News.

An anonymous campaign included posters accusing Professor Kathleen Stock of transphobia, a claim she rejects.

Prof Stock tweeted that students shouldn’t “just expect to hear their own thoughts reflected back at them”.

Posters put up near the University of Sussex campus and an accompanying social media campaign claimed the philosophy professor “makes trans students unsafe”.

Photos also show a masked protester standing on the university’s sign with a banner that reads “Stock out”.

Professor Stock, who recently published a book questioning the idea that gender identity is more “socially significant” than biological sex, completely rejects the claim that she or her work is transphobic.

Kathleen Stock has a Wikipedia entry.

On France Culture a few days ago the writer and broadcaster Brice Couturier was interviewed, “According to the author, those promoting identity politics split up and compartmentalise more than creating equality. This ‘woke cultural revolution’ will, and is, invading France as it did in the United States. ” Brice Couturier the author of an interesting puff for France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, un président philosophe (2017) , has published OK millennials  which traces some of the wokish themes back to what is claimed to be ‘French Theory’, ideas such as that there is a “political economy of truth”, and the alleged ‘relativism’ of all claims to the validity of what you say depend on people’s power.

Is Europe is about to see a new wave of “Red Guards” – a phrase which that risks trivialising the killings and persecutions of the Cultural Revolution? The observation that we can see, “Puritanisme, victimisation, identitarisme, censure (censorship)” seems more to the point.

Puritanism, Couturier argued in the interview, in a Protestant culture, has had a lasting influence. The idea that artistic, and above all, literary criticism is essentially a branch of morality is so widely diffused that it is hardly noticed. The identity of authors and their subjects, the identity of painters, actors and sculptors, is taken as big part of their moral worth.

The French commentator did not refer to the way an essay like  Fautil bruler Sade ? by Simone de Beauvoir (1951) would get treated today. But you can suspect that reflections on Sade’s fantasies and pondering on “la cruauté et le masochisme” and claims to a “liberté sans loi et sans peur” would be off for the bonfire, even wrapped in de Beauvoir’s claim that the Marquis shed light on the relations between human beings and the egoism of the privileged. Sade is, well, deeply upsetting. How could he be read, or taught, otherwise? His work remained censored throughout the 19th century and most of the 20th. A French court case against some of Sade’s works took place as late as 1957-58, the publisher winning on appeal. His full writings had to wait till the start of the 1960s to be widely available in France. In 2014, on the of bicentenary of Sade’s death in 1814, the manuscript of Les 120 journées de Sodome, other texts and letters were exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay.

You could say that if you are going to start banning objectionable sexual politics Sade might be a place to begin with. Except that nobody has got round to drawing up lists of what it’s acceptable to teach, read or, perhaps, attempt to Bowdlerise such writings. Yet.

It looks as if, in the micro-environment of Sussex University teaching on far wider scale is facing would-be censors. Sade would surely have something to say about the ‘hurt’ the group of Sussex students, @antiterfsussex, complained about. Or to list some of their complaints more extensively:

Middle Way:

Counter-thread:

That Kathleen Stock has been backed by Spiked, (she was due to speak at the ex-RCP Front, The Battle of Ideas event and is supported by them Academic freedom or mob rule? Time to pick a side.) Blue Labour, Flag, Faith and Family Paul Embery and even Tony Greenstein DOUBLE STANDARDS: Sussex University’s Defence of Free Speech for Kathleen Stock Contrasts with Bristol University’s Cowardice in Sacking David Miller should not district from the issues this raises.

Defend Kathleen Stock!

This is not just about academic freedom but about free speech and the right to open debate.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2021 at 11:58 am

Socialist Party (TUSC) Beats Liberal Democrats in Nottingham Council By-Election: 76 Votes to 63!

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Socialist Party :: The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is 'up  and running' for the May 2021 elections

Beat Liberal Democrats Fair and Square.

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is the electoral front of the Socialist Party(SP), more specifically (in recent local elections) the Socialist Party in England and Wales and is backed by the  National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. Chris Williamson’s Resist movement were observers, but the busy chap has been spotted more recently supporting George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain. The other front of the Socialist Party is the National Shop Stewards Network.

The SP wishes to create a new workers’ party,

The building of a new mass working-class political voice is needed as part of the fight for a society where measures are taken in the interests of humanity and the environment.

The Socialist Party is working with the RMT rail union and others in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to take steps in that direction, preparing to stand candidates in next May’s elections against Starmer’s New ‘New Labour’ councillors who’ve axed so many jobs and services.

The Socialist.

This is the present mass-line.

The first meeting after the Labour Party annual conference of the All-Britain Steering Committee of the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) took place on October 6th. The meeting agreed that Labour’s Brighton gathering marked a definitive break with the promise of fundamental change that had been offered by the previous Jeremy Corbyn leadership.

In response TUSC is issuing a call for the largest possible anti-austerity and socialist intervention to be organised in the local council elections scheduled for May 2022 – as a vital next step in the fightback against what is so clearly now a return to Tony Blair’s New Labour politics.” “Part and parcel of building a new mass workers’ party is the struggle for democratic, fighting trade unions.”

What kind of initiative is this? What is the political culture that leads small organisations to launch themselves into electoral fronts in the belief that they can create their very own, “new mass workers’ party” fired up their efforts to build “fighting trade unions”?

A parallel could be drawn from the French ‘Lambertist’ current. They founded the Parti des travailleurs (PT) in 1991, a kind of mini-workers’ party with ‘tendencies’ (who had about as much independent reality as the ‘Christian Democrats’ in the East German Nationale Front der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik). By a process by no means unique to Trotskyism this became the  Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) in 2008, and then underwent an all-mighty split (like the SP and their breakaway, Socialist Alternative) in 2015. Their own rivals called themselves, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), a weighty name.

Apart from a virulent hatred of the European Union the French group shares one thing in common with TUSC: election scores, “During the municipal elections of 2020 , the POID presented lists in a certain number of towns and cities in France, which scored between 0% and 2%.”

TUSC had high hopes a few weeks ago.

The BFAWU bakers’ union agrees to disaffiliate from the Labour Party

Posted: 28 September 2021

A recall conference of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) has voted to disaffiliate from the Labour Party, after 119 years of membership.

Following the receipt of an auto-expulsion letter from the Labour Party HQ by the president of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson, the union’s executive had decided to recall the delegates who had attended their June conference for a special meeting on September 28 with the sole agenda item on whether the BFAWU should remain affiliated or not.

Here is TUSC in action,

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2021

Nottingham: Punish Labour for cruel cuts

Vote TUSC in Sherwood and St Ann’s on 7 October

Clare Wilkins, Nottingham Socialist Party

TUSC have yet to publish the by-election results.

In the spirit of comradely public service here they are (see Nottinghamshire Live).

TUSC Beat Lib-Dems!

Nottingham UA by election results 6 October
Sherwood ward
Labour 1174 – 47.4%
Nottingham Independents 629 25.6*
Tory 320 – 1.0%
Greens 195 7.9%*
TUSC 76 3.1%* Geraint Thomas
Lib Dem 63 – less!

  • didn’t stand in previous election
    Labour hold

Not so good here..

St Ann’s ward
Labour 1048 +0.9%
Nottingham Independents 204 12.7%*
Tory 193 + 1.2%
Green 92 5.7%*
Lib Dems 42 – 8.0%
TUSC 24 1.5%* Florence Chadwick

Seeing this result no doubt the BFAWU will be enthusiastically getting closer to the SP.

They have already begun a bit of fellow-travelling:

BFAWU RetweetedSocialist Party | Sheffield Branch@SPSheffield· LEEDS 9th October Youth Fight For Jobs

Take a look at that picture:

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2021 at 11:25 am

Populista. The Rise of Latin America’s 21st Century Strongmen, Will Grant. Review.

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Populista: The Rise of Latin America's 21st Century Strongman

Populista. The Rise of Latin America’s 21st Century Strongmen, Will Grant. Head of Zeus.

In the new millenium new ways forward for the radical left in Latin America seemed open. “For a decade and a half, populist left-wing presidents were in power from the Amazon to the Andes, The leaders of the Pink tide were democratically elected and radical in heir socialist reforms, though not sufficiently communist to be deemed ‘red.” The BBC correspondent in Latin America Will Grant continues, “Yet within a decade and half, the party was over…A movement that had promised so much was either floundering or had crumbled entirely….. several governments morphed into pseudo left wing kleptocracies run by repressive authoritarians. In some cases the constitutions had been changed to allow indefinite presidential re-elections and concentrate power in the hands of the executive.”

Will Grant’s hefty and path-breaking book begins in Venezuela. The early, pre-Presidential biography of the leader the Bolivarian Revolution, a career military man, would-be 1992 MBR-200, golpsita, the is a starting opener. In power from 1999 the “worker President”, Hugo Chávez who promised a “socialism of the 21st century.” Wreathed for years in “unconditional love” he passed away in 2013, still holding the reins of government. Behind the grieving the promise of socialism had already begun to end with the “biggest robbery of national resources and looting of national funds in Latin American history” .

It is hard to summarise what Chavez and his successor’s ‘socialism’ as an alternative to the capitalist system’ was and is. The Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, (PSUV) and millions of members owes a founding loyalty to “Comandante Hugo Chávez” and a mixture of anti-imperialist, patriotic, and a variety of ideas fashionable on the left. It is better to look at its practice. Today far from abolishing capital or bringing workers and peasant power, resources are dominated and exploited by the Boliburguesía, the monied cartel ennobled by this socialist and his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Chavista thugs terrorise political opponents, even the local Communist Party is now banned from running for office. The country’s economy is “in free fall”; infrastructure is wasting away. Cuban trade and help have brought their ruthless secret service in their wake. Conditions are bad enough for over 4 million refugees to have fled. Only die-hard supporters blame these conditions on ‘Imperialism’.

“Venezuela is a stark warning of what can happen when vanity and dogma outweigh pragmatism and common sense” Yet Populista is far from another denunciation of the vain hopes of the left. As he moves from the North to Brazil Grants paints a portait of the extraordinary life of the leader of the Workers’ Party,  Partido dos Trabalhadores(PT) an organisation launched as democratic socialist, with internal democracy and tendencies. Lula da Silva , who went from shoeshine boy to President. He is a democratic socialist and states, “I don’t consider myself a populist I consider myself a leader who dared to govern with the people, who was no afraid” of the people. In this reformist vein Lula created his social programmes, such the family grants, the Bolsas Familias. If Lula’s party has had is share of corruption scandals, he personally had power snatched away by the an openly biased state and judiciary following the Operação Lava Jato. Brazil is now governed by the right wing, extreme right-wing, populist Jair Bolsonaro, recent victories in court cases and his good showing in polls indicate that he may make a strong electoral comeback.

.Populista goes into the achievements of Bolivian indigenous leader, Evo Morales, another remarkable leader, whose first language is Aymara. His ideology, Grant outlines, draws on this heritage, ‘Kataymism’ an indigenous culture, mixed with European pacifism and ecology, and a Guevarist image of the Two Bolivias, “international neoliberal v. exploited nationals’ whites v. Indians, oligarchs v. subalterns; global models v. local experience.” One of Morales’ key measures, the renegotiation of foreign energy (gas and oil) contacts, reflect this outlook Social reform efforts, breaking down the ‘apartheid’ between the “crillios” of European descent, and the peasants and indigenous population run with their grain. Morales made mistakes, the proposed TIPINIS highway driving through indigenous areas which was vigorously resisted, and ended up on an autocratic pathway, self-cocooned by his own councillors, and seeking refuge in “hollow socialist rhetoric”.

Left Populism?

The ideas and policies of Morales can be compared to left populism, pitting the People, el Pueblo, against the European owners of natural resources, 500 years of struggle against the “oligarchy” But Morales did not believe that they were ‘enemies’ that excluded each other. He did not pose as a Caudillo, strongman, who would stamp out his opponents. The president came from the self-organised assemblies of peasant workers (‘cocaleros’, after the coca leaf), by definition accustomed to both action and negotiation. His political party the Moviemento al socialismo (MAS), is said to have a ” bottom-up, decentralised structure, with regional and local branches having a large amount of input on party decision”. Adjustments had to be made, a “plurinational state” created by consent, backed by “overwhelming popular support.”

The personal qualities of the President aside you can’t help thinking that Bolivian history played a major role in injecting caution into the MAS project. Since independence from Spain Bolivia has seen 190 coups, attempted coups and revolutions. The forced “resignation” of Morales in 2019 under charges of terrorism” was widely seen at the 191st.

These are epic histories and biographies. The chapters on Raphael Correda’s authoritarian rule in Ecuador and the sordid tale of Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship in Nicaragua paint pictures on a smaller scale. Correda, described as a “populist”, “a tragedy replete with treachery, sedition and corruption”. The latter the grave-digger of Third-Worldist hopes with a wife and Vice-President, Rosario Murillo, a blend of “Lady Macbeth and Dick Cheney.. Cuba comes across as an exhausted model, its repressions aide, “The island is dysfunctional in the extreme but doesn’t suffer from the violence or extreme poverty seen elsewhere in Latin America.” Why people continue to consider Cuba as a beacon of hope is a mystery. …

In an Epilogue Populista states “In that extraordinary unprecedented line-up of left-wing leaders at the start of the twenty first century the urgent needs of el pueblo were fulfilled for a time.” The cost, outlined in its pages, was great. The “permanent campaigns” of charismatic chiefs peter out, are revived, lift spirits, and, in the case of Venezuela many would say, have caused lasting damage. Brazil and Bolivia remain the focus of wider hopes, but as Grant indicates, did not fit like a glove, if at all, into the “populista” mould and above all the leadership of a Caudillo.

Laclau and the ‘Political Logic of Populism’.

Populism, Ernesto Laclau argued, is a “political logic”. Grant cites the late Argentinian theorist and professor discourse studies at Essex University that it presents itself as “subversive” of the existing order and the starting point of a new one. There are heavy layers of emotion, ‘affects’ attacked to political leaders who can articulate the democratic demands of the people. These can be mobilised by populists of the right or left against the ‘enemy’, globalisers, metropolitan elites, capitalist oligarchs, neoliberals. What is right and what is left are, on this account, constructed ‘relationally’ and ‘discursively’, they have no fixed meaning.

It has been suggested that the reasoning behind the academic’s approach can be traced to his early years on the Argentinean Left. This was faced with the issue of how to engage with Peronism: specifically, how to develop a leftist project that could win mass support in an era when the working class remained linked to a Peronist political identity. 

Laclau’s founding political experience was in the early sixties in a group that called itself the National Left party, (From Marxist to Post-Marxist Populism: Ernesto Laclau’s Trajectory within the National Left and Beyond. Omar Acha 2019) Without going into the small group politics of the organisation founded by figures such as Jorge Abelardo Ramos the “critical support” given by the  Partido Socialista de la Izquierda Nacional (PSIN) to populist leader Juan Domingo Perón and ‘Peronism’ stands out. In semi-colonial countries (Argentina and the rest of South America) the national tasks of the bourgeoisie had be carried out by the working class – no doubt with the PSI indicating what they might be.

Acha’s description of the PSIN as an “appendage” of Peronism can be applied to those who saw, like Laclau, Chavism as a renewed “Latin American populism.” A theoretical justification for the Socialism of the 21st Century that accepts and justifies the idea that “an entire political movement” can be “built on the shoulders of one man” is beyond implausible faced with the results Populista lists in sad detail. Only those practised in “disconnection from reality” can ignore this. The Marxist principle that emancipation comes from the people, the workers, themselves, not from populist leaders, stands in sharp contrast to the populist experience brilliantly narrated and analysed in Will Grant’s riveting book.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Barry Gardiner, Skwawkbox flies the Kite of a Labour Leadership Challenge.

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Skwawkbox Using Barry Gardiner to Fly a Kite?

EXCLUSIVE (to Goggling), BREAKING (on this Blog…):

9th of JANUARY 2000.

Barry Gardiner ditches Labour leadership bid just 24 hours after announcing he might run.

Here we go again:

Our so-called rival, from the alt-media, has been running this story for the last couple of days.

Exclusive: left MPs urge Gardiner to challenge

Alas,

Yet.

MPs clamour for more on Gardiner’s leadership challenge

SKWAWKBOX (SW)06/10/2021 MPs clamour for more on Gardiner’s leadership challenge

Gardiner’s denial does nothing to dampen interest and hope – and others report same ‘rumours’

“reports from MPs about the growing support for a Gardiner move have started to reach other ears in the movement, independently of Skwawkbox’s exclusive..”

On From the Message Board Bog-Brush writes.

I am sure he could unite the Labour party but you need to get a move on if you want to remove the fascist regime now..

Concerned friends of Steve Walker have suggested that the whole story was concocted over a few jars of Dandelion and Burdock, and that this is a load of cobblers: “Skwawkbox has received appeals from a number of enthusiastic MPs for more information on the challenge and how much support it has from other MPs and from unions.”

It must have taken something stronger to come up with this bit, “His denial has done nothing to put a lid on that burgeoning hope and appetite – or to end the reports that it’s ‘on’.”

The Squawking one’s story is so exclusive nobody else is running it.

The whole story reeks of fabrication.

But then, maybe it is true….

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2021 at 11:14 am

David Miller, Socialist Worker, Spiked, and Academic Freedom.

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SWP – “Disagreeing with Miller about the significance of the Israel lobby is far less important than the need for solidarity with him now.”

Academic and intellectual freedom are serious issues at present. Socialist Worker, commenting on the sacking of Bristol lecturer David Miller, says, that the University \\\2wanted to get of Miller, probably as a result of government pressure.” Alex Callinicos continues, “When it couldn’t pin antisemitism on him, it used the hurt his remarks may have caused some students to dismiss him. This manoeuvre is typical of the senior management of contemporary universities, who operate like the bosses of businesses.

“The statement affirms Bristol’s commitment to academic freedom but this is clearly a lie. Freedom of speech is impossible if you punish people for offending others. “Galileo Galilei offended the Pope and his cardinals when he said the Earth went around the sun, but this doesn’t mean the Inquisition was justified in forcing him to recant.” (Defend David Miller and academic freedom Alex Callinicos.)

On Spiked one-time Revolutionary Communist Party Leader Frank Furedi says, “I have little time for Miller or his obsessive fantasy that Zionism is responsible for the evils of the world. But despite his warped worldview, it is still wrong for Bristol to fire him. Academic freedom is a foundational principle in university life – it is far better to challenge Miller’s abhorrent views than to suppress them.” One can only agree with these words, were they not from somebody waging his own culture-war from the National Populist HQ who says little about his own side’s efforts.

The one-time backer of No-Platform, Callinicos, says, “It’s a basic liberal precept that toleration matters precisely when one doesn’t agree with the views under attack. But we live at a time when liberal institutions such as universities don’t respect their principles.”

The problem lies there. As the SWP top-theoretician’s fellow liberal Nick Cohen righty wrote last Sunday, “As it is a familiar experience for contacts to tell me in confidence that they are frightened of speaking their minds, while pretending in public that nothing is wrong, the canard that cancel culture does not exist needs to be tackled.” Shouldn’t progressives be in favour of people wanting to speak their mind? Nick Cohen.

One would nevertheless find it hard to place David Miller in the camp of those opposed to Cancel Culture. Or Socialist Worker as a resolute defender of free speech.

Here is what Alex Callinicos wrote after the murder of our comrades from Charlie Hebdo (Paris attacks are a legacy of imperialism. January 2015),

The closest French equivalent to the Socialist Workers Party, the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), (NOTE, a claim most people would strongly contest) issued a statement condemning the Charlie Hebdo massacre headlined “Barbaric and reactionary madness”.

Of course it was right to condemn the massacre, but the NPA was wrong to call the attack barbarism (and even, in another statement, its perpetrators fascists). This is exactly how ruling classes frame their wars in the Muslim world. 

After 9/11 George W Bush talked about a struggle between civilisation and barbarism. Ex-right wing president Nicolas Sarkozy echoed him on the steps of the Elysée presidential palace last week.

This discourse implicitly justifies the right of Western imperialist states to bring order and freedom to “backward” societies and combat “Islamofascists” worldwide.

The NPA statement goes on to accuse the attackers of “sowing terror, against freedom of expression, freedom of the press in the name of reactionary and obscurantist prejudices”. This effectively endorses the dominant identification with Charlie Hebdo—“Je suis Charlie”—with a magazine that has gloried in publishing horrible, bullying racist caricatures of Muslims.

Not much of defence of Charlie’s freedom of expression there. Those backing Charlie Hebdo, the learned theoretician asserted, stand with a bullying racist horrid weekly. Slaughtering the cartoonists, staff and people who happened to be in their offices, was not “barbarism”. It was highly inappropriate to call the murderers ‘fascists’. They, if “nasty”, were really acting as part of the “legacy of imperialism”, and the fault lies with those that bequeathed that heirloom.

In fact one see here that Callinicos and the SWP have little interest in freedom of expression, except, in the Miller case, when it suits their cause of defending a potentially larger pool of “critical scholars” and showing up university authorities.

The politics of universities, dominated by business-driven managers, and, it is said, competing staff and student identity politics of the right and self-identifying left, is not something this Blog cares greatly about. If Nick Cohen is right this culture has been inflected by narcissism, fear, ‘feelings’, by sneaks, and heresy-hunters, to put it no higher.

We are strongly in favour of free speech and the liberty of debate.

As one of the greatest defenders of this principle put it,

“Let her [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.”
― John Milton, Areopagitica 1644.

Milton claimed to have met Gallio, besting Callinicos, “grown old a prisoner of the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.”

A lot of the politics at play at present look like, as Milton said, attempts to “expel sin” – reducing debate to rival expressions of moral outrage. That is, liberty of expression reduced “into the power of a few”.

Milton liked people who had done a bit of ground-work, the “deep mines of knowledge”, before speaking,

“When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be informed in what h writes, as well as any that writ before him.” (Areopagitica).

Which certainly does not look like the kind of work behind the ranting about inter-faith chicken soup (and his bizarre conspiracy charts) that Miller went in for and will no doubt continue.

Or as this chap says:

Tony Greenstein started this petition to academics and supporters of civil liberties

Professor David Miller of Bristol University called for an End to Zionism and said that the Union of Jewish Students, which is affiliated to the racist World Zionist Organisation, is using Jewish students as pawns and playing on their fears of anti-semitism.

David Miller has come under vicious attack from the Jewish Chronicle and a full spectrum of Zionist organisations including the Board of Deputies of Zionist Jews, the Union of Jewish Students and a multiplicity of Zionist organisations.

In Israel they imprisoned a dissident Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour who spoke out against the racism that Arab citizens of Israel experienced.  We refuse to allow Israel’s undemocratic norms to become the normal in this country.

We support Professor Miller’s right to speak out about Zionism and the racist State of Israel.

It is not David Miller who should be condemned but the Zionist movement and a state that refuses to supply vaccines to the 5 million Palestinians under its control whilst inoculating its own Jewish citizens.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2021 at 11:34 am

Confusionist Red-Brown Éric Zemmour, and Michel Onfray ‘Debate’ in Paris.

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Red Brown ‘Popular Front’ Debate.

Before beginning we should shed some light on who and what Éric Zemmour is and what he has been doing in recent months.

Éric Zemmour, the will-he-or-won’t-he-run far Right French Presidential candidate has been scoring up to 15% in opinion polls, just behind the candidate of the Rassemblement National, Marine le Pen, at 16%. Both the principal possible candidates of the main right-wing party (they will only choose a Presidential runner at their Conference at the start of December) Les  Républicains – Xavier Bertrand (14%) and Valérie Pécresse (12%) are behind the far-right polemicist in the most recent surveys.  Emmanuel Macron remains at 24 to 25%. According to a recent poll no French left wing candidate has got above 10%.

As Le Monde pointed out on Saturday, this is a drop of 10 points for the leader of the “de-diabolised” far right party. Keen to rub this in her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen (kicked out of the predecessor the RN, the Front National in 2015), commented in an interview with the French daily of record, ““If Eric is the candidate of the national camp in the best position, of course, I will. support him“.

One of Zemmour’s most notorious claims is that the Vichy regime kept French Jews safe from the German occupiers. Le Pen did not lose the opportunity to remark that. It was not Pétain who was the boss, he defended the French Jews and gave up foreigners (to the camps…..) . The French police carried out a procedure in a more humane way. It is easy to say sixty years later “they should have……”  He added, “The only difference between Eric and me is that he is Jewish,” Jean-Marie Le Pen bluntly. concluded, “It’s hard to call him a Nazi or a fascist. This gives him greater freedom. “

Now for yesterday…

Yesterday an audience of 3,700 (tickets were at 24 or 44 euros) came to the Palais des congrès in Paris for a meeting of “sovereigntists from two different sides. ” Michel Onfray once a self-styled libertarian anarchist is the founder of the journal Le Front Populaire, which brings together the extreme right and nationalist ‘anti-woke’ left. He helped organise this friendly conversation-spectacle, billed as a ‘debate’. Most came, reports say, to see and listen to Zemmour.

This meeting illustrates what sociologist Philippe Corcuff describes as “blurring of political boundaries” . “Onfray’s confusionism, cobbled together from the far right to the radical left, endorses the ultraconservatism of Zemmour, which mixes xenophobia, sexism and homophobia in a nationalist framework”, judged the author of La Grande Confusion. How the far right wins the battle of ideas (2021). One could add that both share an anti-European Union position.

The Nouvel Obs estimates that the pair share 92,7% of the same opinions.

Selon notre décompte, Zemmour et Onfray sont d’accord sur 92,7 % des sujet

Both mourn the decadence of our civilisation, our lost sovereignty and the Machiavellianism of Pope Francis. They do not agree on Voltaire and fridges.

Slate magazine has gathered together what they call “the worst” of Zemmour’s statements.

Le pire des citations d’Éric Zemmour.

Were he the French President, “a Frenchman will not have the right to call his son Mohamed” .

Employers “have the right to refuse Arabs or blacks”.

“All Muslims, whether they say it or not,” regard jihadists as “good Muslims”.

Unaccompanied minors (that is, those who come as refugees) “like the rest of immigration […] have no place here: they are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are”.

“I think rap is an illiterate subculture.”

“When General Bugeaud arrived in Algeria, he began to massacre Muslims, and even some Jews. Well, today I am on the side of General Bugeaud. That’s it, being French! ”

“-Shouldn’t power remain in the hands of men?
– Of course it should, otherwise it will be wasted. “

His “humour”: The green of the Greens (ecologists) corresponds, as if by chance, to the green of Islam.”

The death penalty: ” I am philosophically in favour of it.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Should the Left Back Insulate Britain or Condemn them as an Elitist Hobbyists?

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Desperate woman following mum's ambulance begs Insulate Britain protesters  to move as they block four corners of London

Climate Protest as a Disruptive Hobby.

“For Hobbyists, their left wing politics are their identity, their raison d’être, and the source of much of their self-worth. But unlike earlier radicals, they are not at the vanguard of any movement, but are instead largely removed from the groups they seek to represent.”

David Swift. A Left for itself, Left-wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism. Zero Books. 2019.

Swift harked back to groups that claim to stand for a variety of inter-sectional struggles, and he made a sweeping judgement. But you can’t help feeling that the Climate Change and Insulate Britain movements fit the hobbyist bill.

Following the set back to the governing prospects of Corbynism and distant from the mass labour movement they also mark a return to the leftist folk politics of direct action.

A difference with the identity left or right is that they claim to stand for the whole human race and planet, if not a few more things besides. This is the basis on which to act in elitist vanguard ways. They have so far succeeded in alienating ordinary people without an express interest in their cause but have also cut them off from a large section of potential supporters.

Today it is blocking roads. Not long ago it was a variety of counter-produtive actions.

Such as this one:

One of the most ridiculous actions of Extinction Rebellion in East Anglia was the defacement of Ipswich Borough Council’s Offices in Russell Road. In February 2021 a spin off from the movement, Burning Pink, they sprayed the front of the building with large graffiti. Ipswich Council has a Labour majority and takes the issue of Climate Change very seriously.

Two women have been arrested after the main office of Ipswich Borough Council was daubed in pink graffiti by members of a political party.

The council’s Grafton House office in Russell Road was targeted by environmentalists on Monday morning, February 15.

A message in bright pink paint reading “tough love” and “12 demands ultimatum” was sprayed on the front door and windows and the Burning Pink party has claimed responsibility.

Several police cars attended the scene, while the council’s graffiti team removed the message early Monday morning.

A spokesman for Burning Pink confirmed the party were behind the vandalism, which came as part of a move against 15 councils nationwide who in their opinion have failed to act on their promises after declaring a climate emergency.

This is what the left of centre and Green conscious Council said,

The group that is thought to have carried out this vandalism is making demands around climate change. However, the council has already declared a climate emergency, has been reducing its carbon footprint for years and has a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Just last week the council’s executive agreed to acquire a site for a new carbon neutral depot to run key services from; we’ve already spent millions on new electric and lower emission vehicles, made thousands of council houses more energy efficient through solar panels and better insulation and have planted hundreds of new trees.

“Climate change is everyone’s responsibility – while the council is playing its part, the government and others need to do their bit too.”

Burning Pink, campaigning on climate change and plans to abolish democracy and replace it with a system of citizens’ assemblies chosen by lot to reflect the’ real’ poulation, got these votes.

Date of electionConstituencyCandidateVotes%Position
2021 London mayoral electionLondon-wideValerie Brown5,3050.2%20th (last)
2021 Bristol City Council electionWindmill HillRachel Lunnon901.7%9th (last)
2021 Ipswich Borough Council electionSt Margaret’sSue Hagley781.2%5th (last)
2021 Oxfordshire County Council electionHanborough and Minster LovellDave Baldwin340.9%5th (last)
2021 Suffolk County Council electionSt Margaret’s and WestgateTina Smith1682.1%7th (last)

The latest incarnation of this mouvance is Insulate Britain, ““set up by people in XR and related networks”.

This elitist group is shy about how its internal decisions work. It is suspected that it works by ‘consensus decision making’ between a handful of activists. There is no democratic membership structure. Those prepared to engage in the vanguard politics of blocking roads are largely self-selected. The nature of the protests, which involve potential physical harm to motorists and demonstrators, as well as arrests, excludes mass participation and promotes those willing to ‘sacrifice’ themselves.

Socialist Worker argues that the left should support the campaign.

Climate activists are right to block roads (21st September.)

The Tories and right wing media have launched huge attacks on the climate action group, Insulate Britain. But Sophie Squire argues that in the face of government inaction and repression it’s right for protests to be disruptive.

But the Tories and the right wing press have whipped up a backlash against the “eco mob” and “enviro zealots”.

The left must not line up behind this onslaught and has to defend the need for protests to be disruptive.

The SWP does however note, “Direct action is most effective when large numbers of people take part. Thousands participating in this kind of action at the Cop26 protest could not only block a road but have the power to shut down a whole city.”

This is what people are increasingly saying,

But with their actions causing further division rather than instigating positive change, what are they actually trying to achieve? If it just to raise awareness of climate change – then the vast majority of people agree that something needs to drastically change. However, blocking roads is clearly causing nothing but harm to everyday working people’s lives.

The below are reasons why Insulate Britain are getting spurned:

Few are going to listen to this,

 Insulate Britain released a statement saying: “We share the frustration of the people being delayed on the roads today. Does our government know what to do? The disorder on the roads today suggests otherwise.

“The Insulate Britain protests could end immediately, the government has a choice: make a meaningful statement that we can trust on insulating our homes, or make the decision to imprison those people who are more scared of the destruction of their country than they are of fines or a six-month sentence.”

The self-regarding final sentence says it all.

The voice of would-be martyrs stands out as that of elitist hobbyists.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Lars Vilks, Cartoonist of Muhammed, Attacked for ‘Blasphemy’, Killed in Car Crash.

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Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his drawing of the prophet Mohammed, is awarded with the Danish freedom of the press award in Copenhagen, on March 13, 2015.

Lars Vilks, awarded the Danish freedom of the press award in Copenhagen, on March 13, 2015.

Lars Vilks: Muhammad cartoonist dies in car crash while under police protection – reports

The Swedish artist has lived under police protection since his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body, which sparked several death threats.

Shedding some clarity on the nature of the threats against Vilks,

The death threats against Vilks came following his cartoon, with dogs being considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposing any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Al Qaeda had put a $100,000 (£73,692) bounty on his head in response to the drawing.

In 2015, he attended a free speech event at a café in Copenhagen. It was targeted by an Islamist gunman who opened fire, killing a film director and wounding three police officers. The gunman then went to a synagogue and killed a volunteer guard.

Vilks later said he believed he was the intended target of the shooting.

.

This continued.

In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden. Last year, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.

Vilks was largely known within Sweden for illegally building a sculpture made of driftwood in a nature reserve, triggering a lengthy legal battle.

He was fined, but the seaside sculpture – a jumble of wood nailed together – draws tens of thousands of visitors a year.

Le Monde gives a lot more detail,

Lars Vilks, le caricaturiste suédois de Mahomet, est mort dans un accident de la route.

“His assassination was planned by the American Colleen LaRose , alias “JihadJane”, who would have recruited Islamists for this purpose, according to American justice authorities, before being arrested in October 2009. In May 2010, two young Swedish brothers of Kosovar origin try to burn down his house with Molotov cocktails. He was not there. In June 2010, he was the victim of a head butt during a debate at the Swedish University of Uppsala which turned into a fist fight.

In September 2011, hundreds of people were evacuated from a building in Gothenburg where the Contemporary Art Biennale was inaugurated: the police, who had strong reasons to believe that Mr. Vilks would be attacked, arrested four people.

In February 14, 2015 , a young Danish man of Palestinian origin opened fire when he tried to break into a debate on freedom of expression in Copenhagen , organised after the deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Lars Vilks, who topped the meeting’s bill, with the French ambassador, escaped unscathed, but a 55-year-old Danish director was killed. The attacker then managed to kill a Jewish guard outside the synagogue in Copenhagen, before being shot dead in a face-to-face with Danish police.”

*********

This Blog is not, in general, an admirer of Andrew Boyle.

But he hit the nail on the head when he wrote these words, which apply equally to the drawing of Lars Vilks.

“In an satirical traditions authority is the target whether that takes the form of kings reduced to the status fruit, or ideological figureheads conceptualised in sexually comprising scenarios Charlie Hebdo’s description of Mohammad like its cartoon of the Holy Trinity, in which he Son, the Father and Holy Spirit, are seen engaged in a three-way sexual encounter – are no ‘punching down’ at ordinary Muslims, but ‘punching up’ at the icons of powerful global religions. After all you can’t punch much higher than God.”

“To excoriate these cartoonists for racism is to lock horns with a phantom enemy. If satirists are to self-censor due the possibility of misinterpretation we may as well abandon the genre altogether. (Pages 52 -32. Free Speech. Andrew Doyle. 2021).

Image by Lars Vilks published in Nerikes Allehanda adjacent to the editorial.

The Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy began in July 2007 with a series of drawings by Swedish artist Lars Vilks that depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog (a form of street installation in Sweden). Several art galleries in Sweden declined to show the drawings, citing security concerns and fear of violence. The controversy gained international attention after the Örebro-based regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published one of the drawings on 18 August as part of an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of religion.[1]

While several other leading Swedish newspapers had published the drawings already, this particular publication led to protests from Muslims in Sweden as well as official condemnations from several foreign governments including Iran,[2] Pakistan,[3] Afghanistan,[4] Egypt,[5] and Jordan,[6] as well as by the inter-governmental Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).[7] The controversy occurred about a year and a half after the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in Denmark in early 2006.

And,

9 March 2010 arrests[edit]

On 9 March 2010, seven people were arrested in the Republic of Ireland over an alleged plot to assassinate Vilks. The arrested were originally from Morocco and Yemen and had refugee status.[32][33][34] Of the seven, three men and two women were arrested in Waterford and Tramore and another man and woman at Ballincollig, near Cork.[33] Garda Síochána (the Irish police force), which conducted the arrests with support from the counter-terror Special Detective Unit and the National Support Services, said the suspects range in age from mid 20s to late 40s.[35] The Garda Síochána also added that throughout the investigation they had been “working closely with law enforcement agencies in the United States and in a number of European countries”.[35]

The same day, Colleen R. LaRose from the Philadelphia, US, suburbs, had her federal indictment unsealed charging her with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists to murder Vilks.[36]

2010 Stockholm bombings[edit]

Main article: 2010 Stockholm bombings

An emailed threat sent to a news agency and to the Swedish Security Service occurred made reference to this incident.[37][38] Afterwards, two bombs exploded, injuring two people and killing the would-be attacker.[39][40][41][42]

2010 Copenhagen terror plot[edit]

Main article: 2010 Copenhagen terror plot

At the time of the December 2010 terror arrests, Lars Vilks’ home page was subject to a hacker attack. According to Vilks’ blog, the hacker declared the attacks would be continued with no end and that the targets are Vilks, Kurt Westergaard, and Geert Wilders.[43][non-primary source needed]

2013 Al-Qaeda’s most wanted[edit]

In 2013, cartoonist Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier was added to Al-Qaeda‘s most wanted list, along with Lars Vilks and three Jyllands-Posten staff members: Kurt WestergaardCarsten Juste, and Flemming Rose.[44][45][46]

2015 Copenhagen shootings[edit]

Main article: 2015 Copenhagen shootings

On 14 February 2015, shots were fired at a public meeting in Denmark attended by Vilks, leaving one civilian dead and three policemen wounded.[47] The attacker fled after a brief gunfight with police and was later shot dead the next day after committing another shooting at a Jewish synagogue, killing one person and injuring two policemen.[citati

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2021 at 12:16 pm

China and the Left Conference: Why does the Progressive International contain the pro-Beijing Qiao Collective?

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“I once informed leaders of the Progressive International—which rather awkwardly includes New Bloom (Note, Taiwan centred youth and political news) , Lausan (Note: Hong Kong left and labour rights) , and Qiao Collective alike—that as a basic rule of thumb, an international should not include members who wish death and destruction on other members as Qiao Collective does on Hong Kong and Taiwan, and that the Progressive International should consult with its existing members more knowledgeable about regional specificities before admitting new members who may have rather questionable politics. This rather basic suggestion has been completely ignored by the Progressive International leadership, who at the start of the venture did not seem to know of any groups in Asia. A list sent by the author of groups to possibly reach out to was ignored in favor of admitting the Qiao Collective. “

Brian Hioe

This Blog agrees 100% with the above.

Essential reading for all democratic socialists a careful, restrained, taking apart of the claims of the new pro-Chinese state left.

THE FOLLOWING TALK, which took place after an hour-long break for lunch, was a keynote by Michelle of the Qiao Collective. 

 Michelle sought to steer this observation toward claims of Chinese superiority, stating “We, in the imperial core, are the unfree ones,” claiming that the US’s failure to control COVID-19 was a form of genocide. Never mind that “genocide” has a specific meaning and does not simply refer to mass death, one need only note the contemporary ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang through reeducation camps to wonder how Michelle’s moral indictment of US genocide is anything other than a rhetorical diversion tactic. Furthermore, while Michelle claimed that the west was projecting its own boogieman onto China, one need only note that Michelle and other Qiao Collective member’s views of China betray a pernicious form of diasporic projection onto China. At the same time, Michelle would not be the only speaker at the conference to cite the US’s failures in managing COVID-19 as an example of the superiority of the Chinese system. 

MANICHAEISM WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS: A LOOK BACK ON THE “CHINA AND THE LEFT” CONFERENCE

Surprising nobody, the event mostly consisted of uncritical apologia for the Chinese state—however, the mental gymnastics on display are worth remarking on. Ultimately, the depiction of China by the event’s speakers will still be persuasive to members of the western Left who know little about China and for whom China is little more than a faraway land to projected one’s romanticized hopes onto, something reflected in how little most speakers seemed to know about the world’s most populous nation. All this reflects the poverty of much of the western Left’s knowledge of anything outside of western contexts and their projection of readymade frameworks onto any and all non-western contexts—in which they seem unable to see beyond their own Euro-American-centric worldview, failing to grasp the rather basic idea that there can be any empire in the world outside of US empire.

The ‘Progressive’ International:

Members of the ‘progressive’ international include: (Progressive International Site).

The World Transformed, The Nation, Novara Media, Mediapart, Jacobin, Open Democracy (!) and yes, the Qiao Collective.

Another case, the one-time Trotskyist leader of the International Marxist Group, John Ross:

By contrast:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm