A2Dominion – Camden Council’s “preferred bidder” for 156 West End Lane

socialistfight:

The local fightback

Originally posted on Save West Hampstead:

A2Dominion Housing Group Ltd is a Housing Association that builds private developments for the property market via it’s FABRICA by A2Dominion arm.  As an exempt charity registered under the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, A2Dominion pays no tax as part of its operations.

The quality of A2Dominion’s social and ‘affordable’ housing is often dubious and has resulted in many disgruntled tenants, as shown by this petition:

We the people whom are managed by A2Dominion housing association are fed up to the hind teeth with the total lack of customer care and management from A2Dominion. We want people who are being dealt a bad life and whose lives are being destroyed by this company to sign this petition and back us so we can bring this severely mismanaged company to heel. Ultimately we want A2Dominion brought under a national inquiry into their conduct.

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Stop the Jewish-Chauvinist Witchhunt Against Alison Weir!

socialistfight:

Very thought provoking article.

Originally posted on Communist Explorations:

Below is a statement produced by Alison Weir, the American journalist and writer, and founder of the campaigning organisation If Americans Knew, which campaigns in defence of the Palestinian people against both Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing, and against the very powerful Jewish/Zionist bourgeois layer that wields great power in US politics against anyone who criticises Zionism’s crimes.

Alison Weir is not a Marxist, indeed she appears to be driven by consistent liberal and civil libertarian principles in her defence of Palestinian rights. She is fearless in that she touches on questions that many proclaimed Marxists, even those who regard themselves as fervent opponents of Israel and the Zionist project, fear to address. Ms Weir’s work, meticulously researched and footnoted, particularly her important work ‘Against Our Better Judgement’ whose argument is summarised by her in the fascinating video also embedded in his article, documents important historical facts.

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Eddie Dempsey’s account of the London Ukraine events of 9 July supplemented by Gerry Downing

 

 

Eddie Dempsey, branch Secretary of Paddington No. 1 branch RMT made the following report of the Picket of the EU Commission on 9 July at 6pm and the intervention of supporters of the Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine in the House of Commons meeting at 7pm. I have added in names he did not know and expanded at the end as he had to leave early and missed some of the meeting.

Eddie’s report:

Following our successful protest outside the EU building in Smith Square (between 50 and 60 in attendance – GD) some of our party made our way over to parliament to attend the Socialist Solidarity with Ukraine’s meeting hosted by John McDonnell MP advertised as a discussion forum on ‘Ukraine – the alternative road ahead’. 30 of us arrived shortly after the meeting had started during a talk by Kirill Buketov of the Praxis Centre Moscow and the global labour institute. I didn’t hear enough of his speech to give a full appraisal though he did seem to be reaching the end of an argument that the euro-Maidan movement did not support IMF restructuring of the Ukrainian economy or austerity. He was also speaking about the Kiev government in terms of ‘the democratic will of the Ukrainian people’. Once he had finished John McDonnell opened up questions to the floor, I addressed John McDonnell directly, introducing myself as RMT Paddington No. 1 branch Secretary, saying: “You chair our (RMT) parliamentary group and should be aware our union is affiliated nationally to the SARU campaign following an AGM decision yet you are here with this campaign who are supportive of the euro-Maidan movement and the Kiev junta who have openly fascist MPs, have no democratic mandate, have banned the Communist Party, are responsible for the massacre at Odessa and are carrying out atrocities in a military campaign against a civilian population in the South and East of the country.”

He responded angrily by asking me to produce a single statement he had made in support of the Kiev Government and stated that the RMT had brought Kirill Buketov to the UK and that he is to address our political school. I have checked at Unity House and can confirm Mr. Bukatov has not been invited to speak at any RMT political education events nor has the RMT any involvement with him whatsoever. Another member of socialist solidarity with Ukraine spoke to say they do not support the Kiev government.

Gerry Downing then spoke to say that on founding statement of the socialist solidarity with Ukraine expressed support for the Kiev regime, he was shouted down and again was told that the campaign did not support the Kiev regime, Chris Ford read the aims of the campaign to the meeting and again asserted that the campaign does not support the Kiev regime. Gerry was adamant that the statement read out was not the one he had read on the internet, he made a further point about the campaign referring to the military onslaught on the South and East as an “anti-terrorist operation” one of our group, a woman from Donbas also took offence at the terminology. The statement Gerry was referring, which is in fact a report from their founding meeting can be accessed here: http://www.ukrainesolidarity.co.uk/#!about_us/cjg9 I believe the specific passages that give this impression are: “Participants noted that, while much attention has been focussed on the Anti-Terrorist Operation of the Kyiv Government and the the separatist movement in the eastern oblasts…” And “Protests will also be organised at the Russian Embassy and the offices of the European Union to demand cancellation of the Ukrainian government’s debt…”

A woman who I took to be Ukrainian then stood and asked our group “how many of us were Ukrainian?” to which a number of our group raised their hands. A member of our group then stood and announced he was from a new country, neither Ukraine nor Russia – but “Novorossiya” which seemed to cause a stir. The woman left soon afterwards. Another of their group from Lambeth left unity spoke (this was Stuart King – GD) to say the number of things our campaigns agree on outnumber those we don’t, and that perhaps we should agree a joint statement. They then went back to Kirill to answer some of the points where he sort of made a focus of Russian interference and that they were not supportive of the IMF or the proposed austerity measures. Kevin O’Hanrahan then made the point that “they should stop banging on about Russia, Russia are effectively out of it, they got what they want and now they aren’t the problem, we should be focusing on the fascists in power”

Another speaker (this was Chris Ford – GD) who said he’d been writing about Ukraine for a number of years made a lengthy speech on Russia’s interference in Ukraine and the presence of Pavel Gubarov a Neo Nazi he said was in the leadership of the Lughansk people’s republic. One of our Ukrainian women began to answer back and there was some to and fro and I left at that point.

Eddie’s account ends here.

On the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ now the clarity emerges. The first three paragraphs ARE the Founding Statement and the rest, the stuff where they revealed their political prejudices, is just an account of the meeting, an addendum to the statement and not the statement itself. No one signed up to this account but no one distanced themselves from it either until I brought it up in the Brent and Harrow LRC where Pete Firmin made the scholastic distinction, (scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?) which I did not understand because I never imagined anyone would stoop to such chicanery. So the words complained of were there before the people reading out the statement but they chose to ignore them. And they ARE supporters of both the Maidan and the Kiev government because it is not just words but deeds that tell the tale. As Richard Brenner’s letter to John McDonnell MP demands:

As you have affirmed the USSC’s opposition to the Kiev government, we would now ask that you undertake some action in pursuit of these goals, namely that that you publicly denounce, without qualification, the Ukrainian army and National Guard’s offensive in Donestk and Lugansk, demand that the Right Sector paramilitary officers responsible for the Odessa murders be brought to justice, oppose the NATO manoeuvres in Ukraine this summer, and call on the British government and the EU to end its support for the Kiev regime.

We can be confident that there will be no favourable response to this challenge. Moreover strong support was expressed at the meeting for the Maidan movement itself, although its “contradictions” were acknowledged. In fact the government is not fascist, it is a US puppet junta which contains fascist minister but is to the left of the Maidan, which has now become an outright fascist movement. It demonstrated to end the ceasefire when the Southeast demonstrated for peace. It sends its forcers to commit White Terror atrocities against civilians and the left in the Southeast. They murdered the 48 anti-fascists in the trade union house in Odessa on 2 May. They are fascists.

Eddie’s ends his account where the most disgraceful incidents of the night began. The Ukrainian woman he referred to complained about the fighters in the Southeast being called terrorists, and another woman later spoke of the actions of the Kiev junta, they had banned the Russian language (not true, the pro-Maidan hecklers shouted at her, in fact the parliament had banned it but the President vetoed the law, no doubt on US instructions; the intention was clear), they were banning the use of Russian names and they were changing all the history books in the schools to reflect their bigotry (more heckling and derision). When the hecklers shouted at her that Gubarev, People’s Governor of the Donetsk Region, was a fascist she explained that he was fighting for the people there and she had to support him. This drew more hoots of derision for the pro-Maidan mob. In particular both Bridget Dunne and I were outraged at the derision that Simon Pirani was pouring on these courageous women and we let him know it – we had all been members of the WRP under Gerry Healy but he was one of the central leaders and we were rank and filers – “the working class have the shit on the outside but the middle class have it inside” Bridget remarked at his actions.

It is well known that Gubarev was once a neo-Nazi and he has recently become involved with the LaRouchies but we would question if he or they are fascists. Fascism is not simply a far right reactionary movement, it is an organisation dedicated to smashing the organised working class to restore the rate of profit of Imperialism. He is presenting himself now as an anti-fascist and in a certain sense he is; he does not pull down statues of Lenin, nor outlaw red flags or communist parties, as the Maidan fascists do, let alone seek to smash trade unions. He is forced to fight Imperialism with almost no assistance from Russia. One interview with him in the bourgeois press says his office is plastered with posters of Guevara and Hugo Chavez. That would be highly unusual for a fascist.

The derision of the pro-Maidan crew amounted to a demand that the population in the Southeast expel their leaders and surrender. In fact it is always the case that those whom US imperialism want to attack and murder must first be demonised by the capitalist mass media and by the chauvinist apologists for Imperialism within the workers movement, Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Al-Maliki are just the recent examples. With no shortage of former leftists to parrot their propaganda and hail their bogus “revolutions”.

Bridget Dunne spoke just after Eddie left: Bombs dropping tonight in Palestine and Ukraine, both courtesy of US Imperialism which hasn’t been mentioned once here. Yet McCain and Nuland were in Maidan and Joe Biden sat in the Ukrainian President’s seat after the coup – what would the outrage be if Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was to be seen in say Mexico or Canada? Fascists have been used by US Imperialism in the same way they use Whabhi jihadist forces in other parts of the world they want to control. Why doesn’t the left call another Maidan but this time to stop the slaughter of their brothers and sisters and the children in the South and East?

Nina Potarskaya of the “Left Opposition” spoke via Skype in a very boring and uninspiring way. Duncan Chapel outlined some of her points in the Socialist Resistance website:

“Nina observed that social tensions are only increasing. In the confrontations, she explained, things have escalated into patriotic hysteria in both sides. This benefits only the oligarchs and the far right forces who have unprecedented support in society. She explained how the revolutionaries oppose the drawing of neo-Nazis into the Ukrainian government forces and also call on the citizens of Luhgansk to bring down the Russian ultra-nationalists.”

This is an accurate account of the politics of the group which must be very careful not to take sides lest they offend their hosts, the Euro-Maidan fascists and the Kiev junta. This was further clarified when Gerry Downing quoted from the Left Opposition statement on the Odessa massacre which said: “We are unable at the present time to name the people responsible for these murders, their organisations or groups. However, we can see the political consequences of the Odessa massacre and we cannot but see that left wing political organisations are among those that carry political responsibility for it.” And he then asked if Nina had discovered by now who was responsible for the murder of 48 anti-fascists in the Trade Union House in Odessa? She took about five minutes to say no. Simon Pirani intervened to take even longer also to proclaim that the identity of the murderers was unknown. You can see from the extract that the Left Opposition is speculating that the anti-fascists may have killed themselves, presumably to make the Kiev government look bad.

Of course the Left Opposition cannot say that the Maidan fascists carried out the massacre, even though the fascists themselves openly boast about it online, because it is a legal party in Kiev precisely because of its pro-Maidan stance and its defence of the Kiev government whom it wants to transform into a socialist government by “de-Nazifying” it. This act of political alchemy is deemed possible so they can still appear as leftist but also get permission from the Maidan to stand their candidates in Kiev. The fascists would allow no genuine leftists to stand in any elections; they attacked the Communist party in the parliament itself and are intent on banning it. And what candidates the Left Opposition have: Pavlo Vezdenetsky, Zakhar Popovych, Mykola Vlasov and Nina Potarska

 

Bridget Dunne comment on them:

As you may already know Nina Potarska’s ‘comrades’ in the LO include Zakhar Popovych, a well known fraudster and Pavlo Vezdenetsky. Pavlo (unlike the USSC) doesn’t bother to hide his US Imperialist motivations (a point I made when I spoke) nor his reactionary Nationalism on his FB page: [1] Note not only the icon (US-Ukrainian flag) – the first post today – “I’m going to Carpathians to learn experience of the Banderites” [2] The post of 5 July “Avakov [interior minister] and Filatov state that they didn’t eliminated the column of Slavyansk militia of Girkin and let it come out from Slavyansk because there were 200 women and children in the column. So, does it mean that a column with women and children can freely come towards Kiev?” – complains the ‘left candidate’ about the fact that column of refugees was not eliminated.

The “left” cover for the USSC is the Left Opposition, a gang of fraudsters who alibi the Maidan and Kiev fascists whilst hypocritically proposing to “de-Nazify” them. The SARU supports the leftist Borotba who are heroically fighting the fascists. We have no problem supporting these genuine leftist anti-fascists against these fraudsters of the Left Opposition.

Notes

[1] Pasha Vezdenetsky, https://www.facebook.com/pasha.vezdenetsky?fref=ufi

[2] Who Was Stepan Bandera?, by Norman J.W. Goda: “On January 22, 2010 Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko honoured Stepan Bandera by posthumously bestowing on him the state honour, “Hero of Ukraine… (President Viktor Yanukovych annulled the decree in January 2011 after a long legal and political struggle—GD)… Bandera, his deputies, and the Nazis shared a key obsession, namely the notion that the Jews in Ukraine were behind Communism and Stalinist imperialism and must be destroyed.  “The Jews of the Soviet Union,” read a Banderist statement, “are the most loyal supporters of the Bolshevik Regime and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in the Ukraine.”  When the Germans invaded the USSR in June 1941 and captured the East Galician capital of Lvov, Bandera’s lieutenants issued a declaration of independence in his name.  They further promised to work closely with Hitler, then helped to launch a pogrom that killed four thousand Lvov Jews in a few days, using weapons ranging from guns to metal poles.  “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet,” a Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews. But whatever their disappointment with the Germans, the Banderists never disagreed with their Jewish policy in Ukraine, which eventually killed over 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews.” http://hnn.us/article/122778

 

The Rank and File Grass Roots Left Vs the “Hybrid” Unite the Resistance By Gerry Downing Grass Roots Left Chair

Grassroots Left

The struggle for a genuine Rank and File organisation in the trade unions in Britain is more urgent than ever. Austerity rolls on without any serious opposition from the trade union leaders; bluster about one day general strikes from Len McCluskey and others are long since forgotten. So too is McCluskey’s 2010 election address for General Secretary. As Jerry Hicks, the defeated candidate in that election and the 2-13 (36% thought!) observed in a press release of 30 June past:

“McCluskey promises Unites full support for Labour and Ed Miliband, including funding – and my word there will be a lot of that. While Ed Balls, Labour’s ‘would be’ next Chancellor of the Exchequer, promises what? Workers rights? Repeal of anti union laws? No, he promises tax breaks for businesses. What an about turn considering McCluskey recently caught the headlines when he said “Unite may break with Labour, threatening to launch a ‘new party’ adding that Ed Miliband is drinking in the last chance saloon”…

So when McCluskey wrote in his 2010 election address that there would be ‘No blank cheque for Labour’. Did he mean it? Not a bit! Unite doubled its donations to Labour in the first quarter of this year. I predict up to £10 million of members’ money will be stuffed into the coffers of Labour between now and the General Election in May 2015…

I say Unite should keep our money in clenched fist and demand that Labour repeal the anti union laws, reverse the privatisations of the past, end austerity by making the bankers pay for their mistakes. Labour makes no such promise, nor Unite make any such demand. Instead it offers cash galore, up front and unconditional. I loathe the coalition, I detest the Tories, I despise the Lib Dems, but I have little faith in Labour and Len McCluskey reminds me of a hamster on a wheel, forever running but getting nowhere.”

http://www.workerspower.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/unite_flags.jpg

Why we need a Rank and File Movement

And here is the vital necessity for a Rank and File movement to hold the TU leaders like McCluskey, Paul Kenny of the GMB and Dave Prentis of Unison to account. But freed from democratic control these high flying bureaucrats play fast and loose with members’ money and play the opposition game as softly as possible. They know Miliband is committed to carrying out the Tory-LibDem coalition’s austerity package with minor adjustments. At the Labour Party national policy forum in mid July austerity was affirmed as the Guarding reported on 20 July:

“On Sunday, one delegate forced a vote on a demand for an emergency budget in 2015 to allow a Labour government to rip up the coalition’s spending plans for 2015-16. Members, however, voted by 125 to 14 in favour of the leadership’s proposal to accept the coalition’s plans for day-to-day spending – but not necessarily capital spending – in the first year of the next parliament. “The Labour party knows that this Conservative-led government’s failure to balance the books in this parliament means we will have to make difficult decisions after the next election,” Balls said. “Party members have endorsed the tough fiscal position Ed Miliband and I have set out. We will balance the books, deliver a surplus on the current budget and get the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next parliament. But we will get the deficit down more fairly.”” [1]

Reports are that the “big three”, McCluskey, Kenny and Prentis had agreed this entire package in advance (the smaller unions were not consulted, apparently) and the three day meeting itself in Milton Keynes was merely a rubber stamp job. Only 14 delegates emerged with any honour at all. Even more disgracefully it turned out that one of the things the three musketeers had agreed on was that the fees the Employments Tribunals now charge workers who claim unfair dismissal, £1,200, would remain. This did cause a mini-revolt only to be quelled by a vague promise that any worker “would not be out of pocket”. So these tribunals, which have become ever more biased against workers over the years, will now be unchallenged by cynical TU leaders themselves so as not to embarrass Miliband, lest anyone think he had on ounce of sympathy for victimised workers, militant or otherwise. How could they betray the most victimised and vulnerable in this appalling manner? The Observer of 27 July reported on this:
Workers with legitimate grievances against their employers are being deterred from pursuing claims in employment tribunals following the introduction of a fee system. New research from Citizens Advice reveals that seven out of 10 potentially successful cases that could have gone before tribunals are not going ahead.

The findings, based on analysis of 182 employment cases brought to Citizens Advice in June and July, come a year after the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 to access the tribunal system. This has coincided with a sharp fall in the number of tribunal claims: between October 2013 and March 2014 there was a 73% drop on the same period the previous year.

Citizens Advice found that in more than half the cases fees or costs were the main reason why people chose not to pursue their claim. Unfair dismissal, withholding of wages and holiday pay accounted for the majority of claims. The charity cited the case of a man who worked 40 hours a week for more than two months as a kitchen porter and was entitled to holiday pay of just under £300. On learning that the fees to access the tribunal would be £390, he abandoned the claim.

“Employers are getting away with unlawful sackings and withholding wages,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “People with strong employment claims are immediately defeated by high costs. The cost of a case can sometimes be more than the award achieved, and people can’t afford to fight on principle anymore.”

“It is not fair for the taxpayer to foot the £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal,” said the justice minister Shailesh Vara. “It is not unreasonable to expect people who can afford to do so to make a contribution. For those who cannot afford to pay, full-fee waivers are available.” [2]

The Origins of the Grass Roots Left and the SWP

The Grass Roots Left arose as a consequence of Jerry Hicks’ standing against Len McCluskey two times, in 2010 and 2013. He came second in 2010 and got the 40% on 2013. Grass Roots left spent a long time working out what a Rank and File should be and adopted a Constitution in 2011 to reflect that. Its Preamble says: “The Grass Roots Left aims to build a rank and file movement in our union controlled by its members themselves. All those elected as representatives of the Grass Roots Left are obliged to uphold its platform, constitution and policy documents, and we offer our support only to those who do, and continue to do so.”

And the first three points of its Platform are: a) For regular elections and right to recall of all officials and reps, who shall be paid no more than the average wage of those they represent, for democratic control of the union from the bottom up. b) For rank and file control over all negotiations and industrial action through mass meetings and elected strike organising committees. c) For militant action and strikes and occupations, to stop all cuts – with the backing of the officials when possible, without them where necessary, for recognition and strike pay for ‘unofficial’ strikes.

Our unshakable belief is that this constitutes the basis for a genuine Rank and File movement. The biggest far left group in Britain, the Socialist Workers Party backed Jerry Hicks when he ran in 2010 and 2013 for Unite Gen Sec but not without very strong internal opposition. The two groupings that have emerged from the SWP in the wake of the “Comrade Delta” affair, the International Socialist Network (ISN) and the Revolutionary Socialists of the 21 Century (RS21) have similar divided loyalties on this question.

However the SWP did not join the GRL after the 2010 election and was allowed back into the United Left, the bureaucrat’s caucus, with severe warnings for their future conduct. They were expelled without appeal when the repeated their 2010 “error” in 2013 and have since attempted to form some alliance with the GRL, but with no success so far. Jerry Hicks decision to take Unite to the Certification Officer over the conduct of the 2013 ballot has alienated many from the GRL – that case is now due to be heard on 1 and 2 October.

Of course the SWP had its Right to Work front organisation up until 2011 when Unite the Resistance was launched. Socialist Fight has long been a critique of both these party front but so were a number of internal critics like Dave Renton who wrote, Reflections on an Industrial Perspective in November 2013:

“By 2011-2, the party had decided to put this manoeuvre (alliances with the TU bureaucracy) on a semi-permanent basis by closing down its existing “United Front” Right to Work in favour of a new campaign Unite the Resistance (UtR), which we were eventually told – about a year after it had been launched – would (in theory) bring together the rank and file of the trade unions with the leadership, the idea being that the militant demands of the former would spur the latter into action. UtR we were told was not a rank and file organisation, as there was no basis for one, but an alliance with the bureaucracy, out of which it was hoped more strikes would come.

The old SWP would have been sceptical of moves of this sort; certainly our literature used to contain warnings about the similar justifications that were once given for Broad Lefts in the union or for Liaison Committees of the union lefts. We have, in effect, been copying the industrial strategies of the Communist Party but without its union base.

Indeed, the last twelve months’ party crisis has in many ways exacerbated the shift: witness the last UtR conference, with numbers down by a half from the year before. Fewer trade union leaders were present (they know how the last year of scandals has damaged the party’s name and have no desire to be associated with us). No-one was asked to criticise Bill Hayes, even though his union CWU has been relatively passive in response to the enormous threat of privatisation; we simply don’t dare criticise the bureaucrats for fear that none of them will come back for the following conference in another year’s time.” [3]

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was the keynote speaker at the second in the series of all-island 1912-1923 conferences organised by Universities Ireland in Dublin’s Liberty Hall on 15th June, Left to Right: Professor Ralph Darlington, Dr Michael Murphy, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Mrs Sabina Higgins, Professor Karen Hunt, and Mr Padraig Yeates.

Notwithstanding comrade Dave’s failure to see these problems before 2011 nonetheless he does point to a serious political degeneration. The International Socialism article of spring 2014, The rank and file and the trade union bureaucracy by Professor Ralph Darlington attempts to answer these and similar criticisms:

The UtR initiative has been subject to critique for its alleged excessive orientation on the left union bureaucracy at the expense of the workplace and rank and file organisation, and on the basis that the SWP’s attempt to win influence inside the left bureaucracy, including having party members occupying official positions within the union apparatus (such as at NEC level), is no substitute for developing a rank and file cadre whose primary focus is on building independent action. It is claimed the SWP has adopted a “top-down, bureaucratic strategy”, where a “small number of people substitute their own activity for that of the working class”, thereby “replicating the methods of the bureaucracy”.”

These seem really serious and very appropriate criticisms, along the lines of our own criticisms. One is left wondering how the SWP will answer this one. Not to worry, the answer lies in the failure of the worker to fight (“UtR we were told was not a rank and file organisation, as there was no basis for one”). They just are not ready for a Rank and File organisation, so they will have to make do with a “Hybrid Organisations” for now. And this does indeed require us the “work with”, i.e. capitulate to, the left bureaucrats like Billy Hayes, as Dave Renton has spotted above. Well id RtW and UtR are not rank and file organisations, what are they? Comrade Darlington expounds on this at length but this is the most relevant passage:

Arguably the significance of the Unite the Resistance (UtR) initiative is that it represents an attempt to build the beginnings of a hybrid organisation, a united front which brings rank and file militants together with left officials who are prepared to mobilise to fight against austerity and create networks of solidarity for those who do fight back. It is an attempt to bridge the gap between the widespread anger of workers and their ability to successfully push the union officials or act independently. It is an initiative designed to try to involve sections of the left union bureaucracy as a means of increasing the potential scale of workers’ resistance and thereby allowing the rank and file to maximise its own leverage. [4]

This animal is therefore a political mule; it has neither clarity of being either a fully bureaucratic body such as staff the leadership of all trade unions under capitalism nor is it a R+F movement which mobilises independently of the trade union bureaucrats; with them if possible, against them if necessary.

Before we can clarify the vanguard of the working class as to what is necessary we must first clarify ourselves. Like all mules this beast has “neither pride of ancestry nor hope of posterity”. In seeking justification for this he examines the trade unions and, in a clever sleight of hand, manages to equate the trade union bureaucracy with the trade union themselves. Both, according to comrade Darlington, have a dual or ambivalent nature:

To begin with, there is the highly contradictory nature of trade unionism, which both expresses and contains working class resistance to capitalism: the unions are at one and the same time agencies of working class conflict and accommodation with the power of capital. A crucial factor in the situation is the role of the trade union bureaucracy, a permanent apparatus of full-time union officials who specialise in negotiating the terms of the compromises between labour and capital, and who occupy a unique social position with interests, perspectives and resources different from, and sometimes in antagonism to, the bulk of the members they represent. While the formulation of “union bureaucracy” would include both national leaders of unions and regional and locally-based full-time officials, we are primarily concerned with the few dozen individuals who are the principal national officials, some of whom serve on the TUC General Council. A combination of objective and subjective factors helps explain why such full-time trade union officials often tend to behave in a conservative and restraining fashion towards workers’ struggles. It is nothing to do with the individual weaknesses (incompetence, careerism, corruption) of union leaders-it is rooted in the very nature of their job…

The ambivalent nature of the trade union bureaucracy arises because they are obliged to balance between the employers and state on the one hand, and the workers on the other. If full-time officials collaborated too closely with the employers or the state their power would be totally undermined because the only reason they are taken seriously is that they represent social forces that pose the potential for resistance, and if they failed to articulate their members’ grievances and on occasion lead strike action that delivered at least some improvements in pay and conditions there would be the danger they would lose rank and file support inside the union. [5]

Whilst it is perfectly correct to speak of the “highly contradictory nature of trade unionism”, and correct from there to treat trade unions as bodies that act in contradictory ways it certainly is not correct to transfer this to the leading bureaucracy “the few dozen individuals who are the principal national officials, some of whom serve on the TUC General Council”. These and their supporters down the ranks of the trade unions are not in the least contradictory. According to Trotsky:

“The bureaucracy of the trade unions is the backbone of British imperialism. It is by means of this bureaucracy that the bourgeoisie exists, not only in the metropolis, but in India, in Egypt, and in the other colonies. One would have to be completely blind to say to the English workers: “Be on guard against the conquest of power and always remember that your trade unions are the antidote to the dangers of the state.” The Marxist will say to the English workers: “The trade union bureaucracy is the chief Instrument, for your oppression by the bourgeois state. Power must be wrested from the hands of the bourgeoisie, and for that its principal agent, the trade union bureaucracy, must be overthrown.” Parenthetically, it is especially for this reason that the bloc of Stalin with the strike-breakers was so criminal.” [6]

Not a lot contradictory about, is there? No attempt to portray this bureaucracy as on the side of the capitalists sometimes and on the side of the workers other times, depending on the pressure we can put on the. If on accession, like the Winter of Discontent for instance or in any number of shrikes, the TU bureaucracy calls a strike or strikes, it is because they fear that the membership will outs them in disgust and pick new and more militant leaders or they gear that the leaders of the capitalist state in parliament will destroy their trade union organisations and so deprive them of their privileged lifestyles.

And that is the question for all serious oppositions in the SWP, its offshoots and everywhere else. As the TU bureaucracy moves closer and closer to the capitalist state in its crisis a rank and file movement is urgently need in the workplace, not the useless mule that is the UtR of the even worse National Shop Stewards Network. Now is the time to rededicate ourselves to rebuilding the Grass Roots Left in Unite and all the Unions. Come to the extended GRL National Committee in the Cock Tavern, Phoenix Road, Euston on 20 September from 1pm to 4 to discuss this task.

Notes

[1] The Guardian, Sunday 20 July 2014, Labour leaders win crucial policy forum vote on spending plans, Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/20/labour-leaders-policy-forum-vote-spending-plans

[2] New fees lead to drop in employment tribunal cases, by     Jamie Doward, The Observer, Sunday 27 July 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jul/27/fees-drop-employment-tribunal-cases

[3] Renton, Dave, 2013, “Reflections on an Industrial Perspective”, lives; running (November), http://livesrunning.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/reflections-on-an-industrial-perspective/

[4] The rank and file and the trade union bureaucracy, International Socialism Issue: 142, Spring 2014 by Ralph Darlington, http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?s=contents&issue=142

[5] Ibid.

[6] Leon Trotsky, The Errors in Principle of Syndicalism, (October 1923), http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/unions/4-errors.htm

Gilad Atzmon on “the Jewish Solidarity Spin”

Originally posted on Communist Explorations:

I am taking the liberty of republishing this, not because I agree with everything in it, but because it contains a great deal of profound material that Marxist critics of Zionism and its supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, in the advanced capitalist world, ought to find invaluable.

This is despite Atzmon’s jaundiced view of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and his erroneous belief that it had something in common with the crimes of Israel and Zionism today. This is a serious flaw in his often very sharp and perceptive understanding of the crippling of Palestinian solidarity by Jewish chauvinism and capitulation to Zionism. In my view Atzmon’s prejudice against Bolshevism is most likely derived from a narrow reading of a very disgraceful history in which pseudo-radical left-Zionist currents, many of which indeed had their origins in currents derived tangentially from the Russian Revolution, played a barbaric role in the Naqba while…

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Heidegger the Nazi: Reply to John Minahane

John Minahane

John Minahane

Heidegger the Nazi: Reply to John Minahane

by Gerry Downing 20/7/2015

This is the second in the series on Marxist Philosophy in Socialist Fight. The first, in issue 19, finished thus:

“Heidegger’s philosophical outlook found its logical expression in the death camps. His ‘philosophy’ contributed to human understanding of its relationship to itself and to nature in general what the Holocaust contributed to human progress. It poisoned European leftism with bourgeois individualism, the reactionary outlook of ‘existentialism’ so beloved by Jean-Paul Sartre and others ever since.”

This brought a response from the Editor of the Heidegger Review:

JOHN MINAHANE, To GERALD DOWNING

To the Editor.

Gerry Downing misrepresents the philosophy of Martin Heidegger by saying that it “found its logical expression in the death camps” (SF 19). I have shown that this idea is a misrepresentation in Heidegger Review No. 1. What found its logical expression in the death camps was high technology linked to the modern ideology of conquest, exemplified by Great Britain, which was Hitler’s model. (See Mein Kampf, where he repeatedly makes clear his desire for an agreed division of spoils between the two great predators, Germany in the Euro-Russian zone and Britain in India/China/Africa etc.)
Heidegger’s thinking did not cultivate aggression. There is no logic in connecting him with death camps. It would be more logical to make that connection with John Locke, whom Downing cites favourably, since he was an important ideologist of colonial plunder.
John Minahane, Editor, Heidegger Review.

Heidegger as a Nazi

It is first necessary to establish that Heidegger was a Nazi, a full-blown enthusiast for Hitler. He remained a member of the Nazi party from 1933 to 1945 and never disowned (but did falsely downplay) his Nazism and never apologised for it. And he lied copiously about his involvement to the post war de-Nazification commission, saying for instance that he never used the ‘Sieg Heil’ salutation. This is just one instance of him using it in an address to 600 unemployed workers drafted into the ‘National Socialist labour service’, i.e. slave labour work camps, in January 1934:

“This will … must be our innermost certainty and never-faltering faith. For in what this will wills, we are only following the towering will of our Führer. To be his loyal followers means: to will that the German people shall find again, as a people of labour, its organic unity, its simple dignity, and its true strength; and that, as a state of labour, it shall secure for itself permanence and greatness. To the man of this unprecedented will, to our Führer Adolf Hitler-a three-fold ‘Sieg Heil!” [1]

Heidegger’s Being and Time, published in 1927

Since the publication of his personal Black Notebooks over a year ago his anti-Semitism is beyond dispute. But it was well known by the late 1980s and despite that he has legions of academic and political defenders who poo-hoo the evidence, seek to play it down by saying it was simply a youthful aberration and that his philosophy is, in any case, a totally different thing, even if he was a Nazi for a short period. The oft repeated claim is that he was the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. That a Nazi can be hailed thus reflects on the ‘philosophy’ of those who make this outrageous claim rather than conferring any authenticity on Heidegger. Alex Steiner reveals that Heidegger said in a lecture on 1 December 1949:

“Agriculture is now a motorized food-industry—in essence, the same as the manufacturing of corpses in the gas chambers and the extermination camps, the same as the blockade and starvation of the countryside, the same as the production of the hydrogen bombs.” [2]

This shows an appalling contempt for the victims of Hitler’s death camps. Steiner then goes on the show that his differences with Hitler were on the question of the use of technology, as if we could all retreat back to the Bavarian Alps or the Sliabh Luachra mountains in north Cork:

‘A decisive question for me today is: how can a political system accommodate itself to the technological age, and which political system would this be? I have no answer to this question. I am not convinced that it is democracy.’[3]

Having set up an ahistorical notion of technology as an absolute bane to the existence of mankind, Heidegger then explains how he conceived of the Nazi solution to this problem:
‘ … I see the task in thought to consist in general, within the limits allotted to thought, to achieve an adequate relationship to the essence of technology. National Socialism, to be sure, moved in this direction. But those people were far too limited in their thinking to acquire an explicit relationship to what is really happening today and has been underway for three centuries.’[4]

It is thus beyond dispute that at the time of his death Heidegger thought of Nazism as a political movement that was moving in the right direction. If it failed then this was because its leaders did not think radically enough about the essence of technology. [5]

It seems to me that to fulfill Heidegger’s prescription for National Socialism a great deal more people would have to be offed than the Holocaust did because the whole of humanity cannot now be sustained in the countryside. As Pol Pot found out. I don’t know how John Minahane has squared that circle.

Steiner’s works in the WSWS of April and November 2000 supply a great deal more proof than this to leave the issue of Heidegger’s Nazism beyond doubt. But perhaps his defenders are correct and there is no connection between his politics, which developed from right wing Catholic populism to fascism, and his philosophy. These include the existentialist Jean Paul Sartre the structuralists, post-structuralist and deconstructionists, Claude Levi-Strauss, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. And the postmodernists Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard. Not to mention his Jewish student lover Hannah Arendt before the war (she was dismissed from her post at the university where Heidegger was the Nazi-appointed Rector of Freiburg in 1933 with Husserl and others with no protest Heidegger). She resumed her relationship with him after the war and in 1971 wrote a sycophantic essay Heidegger at Eighty, defending him and excusing his Nazism.
In 1987 a book Heidegger and Nazism, by Victor Farias, was published in France, (one of the major sources of Steiner’s work) and the game for defending Heidegger was up for any serious scholar. The Amazon review claims:

Front Cover

“Farias’ evidence shows him to be the only major philosopher whoreely embraced Nazism … “Heidegger and Nazism” transforms the setting in which Heidegger’s standing will henceforth be assessed. From his earliest intellectual and emotional influences to the last posthumously published interview with Der Spiegel, Heidegger’s connection to National Socialism is shown to be a matter of conviction rather than necessary compromise as apologists still contend.”

Of course Arendt was no Nazi herself and neither were/are the above mentioned, nor is John Minahane so why the defence of the Nazi monster’s philosophy? It is simply an attempt to find a substitute for Marxism from those petty bourgeois intellectuals who have lost faith in the working class to make revolution and so need to rationalise their own and humanity’s oppression by global finance capital and its agents throughout society. It must be galling for them to discover that their efforts are built on sand and Farias can demolish them so comprehensively in this great scholarly work.

So what was Heidegger’s philosophy?

Let me correct a false impression I may have given in the reference to René Descartes (1596-1650) in SF 19: “Spinoza opposed Descartes’s mind–body dualism and famously postulated the monist idea that thought and its extension (nature) are one substance”. Readers may think that Descartes’s philosophy was therefore a big mistake and wrongly conclude that his famous dictum “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) is simply the ravings of a crude idealist philosopher. And many then and since have charged him with just this, and there is a grain of truth in the charge.

But the phrase does not mean that he exists because he thinks. It means that reason is the essence of humanity, a very bold and revolution postulate whilst the Inquisition still burned, impossible anywhere except in liberal Holland (and Ireland for very different reasons) and even there very dangerous. Descartes is correctly regarded as one of the great progressive philosophers of the Enlightenment, the individual who first began to drive out scholasticism and metaphysics from their stultifying position in Church-dominant Western thought. Alex Steiner defends the mechanical sciences thus:

“We must view the mechanical science launched by Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and Newton as a necessary moment in the history of rational thought about the world. Heidegger views the advent of modern science merely as a negative, as a procedure that takes us away from the immediate certainty of the intuitive. Here once more is the heart of the problem with Heidegger’s intention of returning to the primordial. He identifies the certainty of immediate intuition with truth. But Hegel already pointed out a long time ago that there is no such thing as a purely immediate intuition, i.e., one that is uncontaminated with mediation. ‘The antithesis between an independent immediacy of the content or of knowing, and, on the other side, an equally independent mediation that is irreconcilable with it, must be put aside, first of all because it is a mere presupposition and an arbitrary assurance.’” [6]

What we are seeing here is the irrationalism of Heideggerian thought, an essential feature of Nazism. He illustrates further this reactionary position with an attack on Galileo, Alex Steiner again quoting Heidegger:

“It becomes a decisive insight of Galileo that all bodies fall equally fast, and that the differences in the time of fall derive only from the resistance of the air, not from the different inner natures of the bodies or from their own corresponding relation to their particular place. Galileo did his experiment at the leaning tower in the town of Pisa, where he was professor of mathematics, in order to prove his statement. In it bodies of different weights did not arrive at precisely the same time after having fallen from the tower, but the difference in time was slight. In spite of these differences and therefore really against the evidence of experience, Galileo upheld his proposition. The witnesses to this experiment, however, became really perplexed by the experiment and Galileo’s upholding his views. They persisted the more obstinately in their former view. By reason of this experiment the opposition toward Galileo increased to such an extent that he had to give up his professorship and leave Pisa. Both Galileo and his opponents saw the same ‘fact.’ But they interpreted the same fact differently and made the same happening visible to themselves in different ways.” [7]

Bishop John Buckley, Diocese of Cork and Ross and Michael O'Flynn at Farranferris at the unveiling of new plans for the campus in 2011.

Bishop John Buckley, Diocese of Cork and Ross (right) who taught both John Minahane and Gerry Downing  at Farranferris when we were there between 1963-68. Photo: Tony O’Connell Photography

You will recall, John, that we had a science teacher in our secondary school, Farranferris in Cork, whom we affectionately dubbed ‘Picnic’. One day in the science lab during the Galileo lesson he conducted an experiment. He produced a glass vacuum tube about eighteen inches long with a feather at the bottom. He ran a little motor to evacuate the tube of its air and then sealed it. Then he inverted it and, to our amazement, the feather fell from top to bottom like a stone. Galileo was absolutely correct, even though our previous ‘intuition’ told us that a feather could not fall as fast as a stone, now our ‘intuition’ was graphically revealed to us to be a prejudice. I was pleased at the passing of that particular prejudice, Heidegger regrets it and denies it.

You will recall, John, that we had a science teacher in our secondary school, Farranferris in Cork, whom we affectionately dubbed ‘Picnic’. One day in the science lab during the Galileo lesson he conducted an experiment. He produced a glass vacuum tube about eighteen inches long with a feather at the bottom. He ran a little motor to evacuate the tube of its air and then sealed it. Then he inverted it and, to our amazement, the feather fell from top to bottom like a stone. Galileo was absolutely correct, even though our previous ‘intuition’ told us that a feather could not fall as fast as a stone, now our ‘intuition’ was graphically revealed to us to be a prejudice. I was pleased at the passing of that particular prejudice, Heidegger regrets it.

NightLongKnives
Heidegger had a different view than Adolph of what Nazism should be, he was closer to Ernst Röhm, leader of the Sturm Abteilung (SA, “Storm Battalion”), Ernst Jünger, Gregor and Otto Strasser, Joseph Goebbels, Gottfried Feder and Walther Darré, who were radical Nazis who wanted a second revolution to implement some of the ‘socialism’, in the Nazi name, for the workers. But Hitler now almost had the state in his grasp, President Hindenburg was dying and the second revolutionaries alienated the army (the Reichswehr) and also the big capitalists, who definitely needed those who accepted order and acknowledged the primacy of the law of gravity and science to maintain a modern state. So Heidegger was attacking Hitler from the romantic and irrational right, he realised the danger of the coming confrontation with the second revolution radicals of the lumpen anti-Semitic proletariat and resigned his post in April, just in time to escape assassinations himself in the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, June 30 to July 2, 1934. Goebbels had already jumped ship and was present at the arrest of Röhm.
This is one more illustration of how reactionary was the mysticism of the famous ‘Dasein’ (being, self) [8], supposed lodged in the distant past of pre-Socratic philosophy (Greece before the birth of Socrates in 470 BC), lost in the intervening centuries by false interpretation of the ‘self’ and what it is to be yourself, now rediscovered by himself alone. If that seems ridiculous it is because it is ridiculous. But apparently in Nazi mysticism some traditions did preserve this ancient ‘self’ or being in a true form and one of these was the Cathars of the Languedoc in the south of France, who were apparently the keepers of the Holy Grail. The last of them perished in the mass fires of the Inquisition in 1244 at the end of the so-called Albigensian Crusade. So we are told:

“On March 16, 1944, on the 700th anniversary of the fall of Montségur (the Cathars’ last redoubt – GD), Nazi planes (or ‘a plane’ elsewhere – GD) are reported to have flown patterns over the ruins – either swastikas or Celtic crosses, depending upon the sources. The Nazi ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg was reported to be on board one of the airplanes.” [9]

And that emphasises what a dead-end the ‘greatest philosopher of the twentieth century’ has led modern philosophy, existentialism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstructionism and postmodernism, all petty bourgeois opponents of Marxism and dialectical materialism, developed to keep the middle classes on the side of finance capital against the global working class in its revolutionary mission to overthrow capitalism and forge a communist future.

We will pursue this theme in future issues, beginning with an examination of the politics and philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Montségur, the Cathars’ last redoubt in 1244

Notes

[1] Quoted in Jeff Collins, Heidegger and the Nazis. Totem Books. 2000, p. 26.
[2] Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism, Temple University Press, 1989, p. 287
[3] Martin Heidegger, “Only a God Can Save Us”: Der Spiegel interview, Wolin, p. 104
[4] bid.
[5] The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi, Part 1: The Record By Alex Steiner, 3 April 2000
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/04/heid-a03.html
[6] Two letters and two replies on “The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi”, 1 November 2000, Alex Steiner. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/11/heid-n01.html
[7] Martin Heidegger, Modern Science, Metaphysics and Mathematics, Basic Writings, Harper and Row, 1977, p. 266.
[8] Wiki, Dasein: Dasein is a German word which means “being there” or “presence” often translated in English with the word “existence”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasein
[9] Montsegur And The Cathars, Mid-12th Century – Early 13th Century, Peter Vronsky, http://www.ironmaidencommentary.com/index.php/?url=album13_dod/montsegur&lang=eng&link=albums.

Why Socialist Fight is launching a series on Marxist philosophy

By Gerry Downing SF 19 – February March 2015

Lenin (1870-1924) considered that there were three sources and three component parts of Marxism, namely German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism. Socialist Fight has neglected the first of these and so will dedicate a page in each future issue to this question.

Serious Marxists are familiar with the thesis that Marx (1818-83) stood Hegel on his head, philosophically, and replaced the Absolute Idea (God) with nature. But Marx didn’t simply reject Hegel. This in 1873:

“The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised nearly thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion…(Those) who now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in same way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing’s time treated Spinoza, i.e., as a “dead dog.” I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker,”

This introduction seeks to show Marxism as the outcome of the historical development of ALL progressive human thought. We were drawn up sharply by the homage paid to Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) following the publication of his ‘black notebooks’ early in 2014 and the appearance of a journal, The Heidegger Review, in July 2914.
The Editor of The Heidegger Review is John Minahane who was once my best friend in Cork in secondary school and college between about 1966 and 1972. He wrote the editorials and Why Heidegger is Interesting in which he managed to equate the reactionary Superman theory of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) with its ubermensch elitism which logically led to the Nazi Alfred Rosenberg’s [1893-1946] untermensch) with Trotsky’s communist projection that under socialism:

“The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx”. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” [1]

Blogger Ross Wolfe http://thecharnelhouse.org/ says the following on the Facebook site Aftermath:

“Heidegger was, and remains, the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. Wittgenstein was, perhaps, a close second. There is the question, however, of whether this is a title one would still want to aspire to in the twentieth century. Indeed, Heidegger himself seemed to recognize that philosophy’s time had passed, that it was over and had to be replaced by an indeterminate thinking.”

At the heart of this debate is philosophical dualism, the idealist proposition that thought and its extension are two separate entities, that the object and the subject are two separate and unconnected phenomena or at least they are not dialectically connected.
This theme runs through the whole of the history of philosophy, challenged historically by ancient dialecticians like Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) who insisted on eternal change in the universe, famously:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice” He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”, all existing entities being characterized by pairs of contrary properties. His cryptic utterance that “all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos” (literally, “word”, “reason”, or “account”) has been the subject of numerous interpretations.” [2]

The Irish philosopher Joannes Scotus Eriugena (c800 – c877, on the Irish five punt note before the Euro was adopted) was condemned by the church as a heretical pantheist, his great philosophy outlawed and his adherents burned at the stake by the Inquisition in France hundreds of years later because he was weakening this separation by seeing God in everything. If God was the motive force of all life it was far too easy to substitute nature for God and become an atheistic materialist. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“Eriugena’s cosmological account has been criticized for collapsing the differences between God and creation, leading to a heresy later labelled as pantheism”. [3]
Leszek Kołakowski, the Polish Marx scholar, has mentioned Eriugena as one of the primary influences on Hegel’s, and therefore Marx’s, dialectical form. In particular, he called De Divisione Naturae a prototype of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

John Locke, he was a great Enlightenment thinker and also the enforcer of slavery in the American colonies, the Carolinas – in other words a typical bourgeois revolutionist.

John Locke (1632–1704), whilst accepted the existence of God held that reason should be the ultimate judge of all truth. Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583–1648) maintained that revelation was unnecessary because human reason was able to know all the truths requisite for salvation.
John Toland (1670–1722), from Ardagh in the Inishowen Peninsula of Donegal, was much influenced by John Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding. Embracing Locke’s epistemology, Toland viewed reason as a mental faculty. He argued that all parts of the universe were in motion. Additionally, motion was part of the definition of matter and was, therefore, an aspect of its nominal essence. Toland invented the word, ‘pantheist’.

The name to be most obviously associated with the deification of nature is of course, Baruch de Spinoza (1632-77). Deism and pantheism owe their philosophical origin to Toland, Spinoza and Anthony Collins (1676–1729) who accepted Locke’s definition of knowledge. His position is that a person is not expected to believe anything that is not comprehensible by human intellect. [4]
Spinoza opposed Descartes’s mind–body dualism and famously postulated the monist idea that thought and its extension (nature) are one substance. And the dialectic was in his Attributes. The Stanford Encyclopedia again:

“Attributes are at the very heart of Spinoza’s metaphysics. They enable us to understand and talk about an extended world and a thinking world in terms of which we understand bodies and minds. Furthermore, it is due to the relation of attributes to one another and to the one substance that an elegant resolution to the Cartesian mind–body problem is possible.”

Evald Ilyenkov (1924-79, the great Soviet philosopher, in Dialectical Logic defends this monism:
“Hence it inevitably follows logically, as Engels said, ‘that matter remains eternally the same in all its transformations, that none of its attributes can ever be lost, and therefore, also, that with the same iron necessity that it will exterminate on the earth its highest creation, the thinking mind, it must somewhere else and at another time again produce it.’

That was Spinoza’s standpoint, a circumstance that seemingly gave Engels grounds for replying categorically and unambiguously to Plekhanov when he asked: ‘So in your opinion old Spinoza was right in saying that thought and extension were nothing but two attributes of one and the same substance?’ “Of course,” answered Engels, “old Spinoza was quite right”.’

Spinoza’s definition means the following: in man, as in any other possible thinking creature, the same matter thinks as in other cases (other modi) only ‘extends’ in the form of stones or any other ‘unthinking body’; that thought in fact cannot be separated from world matter and counterposed to it itself as a special, incorporeal ‘soul’, and it (thought) is matter’s own perfection. That is how Herder and Goethe, La Mettrie and Diderot, Marx and Plekhanov (all great ‘Spinozists’) and even the young Schelling, understood Spinoza. [6]

Engels (1820-95) outlined the new philosophy of dialectical materialism in this way:

“The perception of the fundamental contradiction in German idealism led necessarily back to materialism, but — nota bene — not to the simply metaphysical, exclusively mechanical materialism of the 18th century. Old materialism looked upon all previous history as a crude heap of irrationality and violence; modern materialism sees in it the process of evolution of humanity, and aims at discovering the laws thereof… In both aspects, modern materialism is essentially dialectic, and no longer requires the assistance of that sort of philosophy which, queen-like, pretended to rule the remaining mob of sciences.” [7]

Heidegger’s philosophical outlook found its logical expression in the death camps. His ‘philosophy’ contributed to human understanding of its relationship to itself and to nature in general what the Holocaust contributed to human progress. It poisoned European leftism with bourgeois individualism, the reactionary outlook of ‘existentialism’ so beloved by Jean-Paul Sartre and others ever since.

Notes

[1] The Heidegger Review Issue No 1. Athol books, Feb. ‘14
[2] Wiki, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus).
[3] John Scotus Eriugena, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scottus-eriugena/
[4] Extracted from Wiki from Eriugena to Collins.
[5] Spinoza’s Theory of Attributes, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza-attributes/
[6] Evald Ilyenkov, Dialectical Logic, http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/index.htm
[7] Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch02.htm

Notes on the ICO/BICO:

ICO maintained the regular publication of “The Communist” magazine from 1967-1986. The journal rarely shied away from controversy with headlines written to attract attention, such as “Is Mao A Fascist?”. Clifford provoke a 15,000+ worded reply from Ted Grant (extract published in his The Unbroken Thread), entitled “A Reply to Comrade Clifford” on the question of the difference between Stalinism and Trotskyism. Clifford would repeatedly return in print to the question of Stalin as with “The Communist” July 1979 “Special Stalin Centenary Issue”.

While the ICO generally took a pro-Chinese and Albanian position in international politics, its views were largely motivated by a defence of Stalin and the Soviet experience. In fact, the ICO undertook an investigation into the development of Maoism, and concluded that it was not a suitable model for an anti-revisionist group because, it claimed, Mao had supported the development of Khrushchev’s ”revisionism”. Anti-revisionist maybe, but the ICO was far from a “Maoist” group. This was clearer when the organisation began to produce an analysis on the issue of partition and its work on the “historic Irish nation” that contradicted any notion of a national liberation struggle existing in modern Ireland. Instead it was argued that there were two distinct people in the isle of Ireland who constituted “two nations” each entitled to the expression of its structural existence.

Cover

The change of organisational name from ICO to British and Irish Communist Organisation in 1971 was said to reflect an operational reality with members on both islands. However it also marked a distinct political reorientation that had occurred in the thinking of the ICO leadership after the promotion of its “two nations theory,” a reorientation which led in an increasingly less Marxist direction.

In addition to its original take on the Irish national question, BICO, through its member, Bill Warren, proposed an alternative approach to issues of imperialism. His work argued against the grain that:

the period since the Second World War has been marked by a major upsurge in capitalist social relations and productive forces (especially industrialization) in the Third World; that in so far as there are obstacles to this development, they originate not in current imperialist-Third World relationships, but almost entirely from the internal contradictions of the Third World itself; that the imperialist countries’ policies and their overall impact on the Third World actually favour its industrialization; and that the ties of dependence binding the Third World to the imperialist countries have been, and are being, markedly loosened, with the consequence that the distribution of power within the capitalist world is becoming less uneven. [“Imperialism and Capitalist Industrialization” New Left Review [Sept-Oct 1973]]

This was an analysis that generated many polemical responses and reinforced the questioning of the group’s Marxist credentials which had evaporated as the years progressed.

BICO’s evolving positions, particularly on the Irish national question, were met by dissension from within. Members in southern Ireland who opposed the new direction on the Irish struggle (including Jim Lane) resigned to form the Cork Workers’ Club.

In 1974 more dissidents with the BICO’s policy initiatives, which at the time included support for the Ulster Workers Council Strike, left and formed the Communist Organisation in the British Isles (COBI).

The BICO was never officially disbanded. In the 1990s its members remained prolific publishers, with the Irish Political Review as the direct lineal descendent of British and Irish Communist Organisation publications including Workers’ Weekly and Northern Star. Also in the stable of online and print publications are Labour & Trade Union Review, Church & State, and Problems of Capitalism & Socialism. Clifford and his diminished band of co-thinkers came to work solely through the Ernest Bevin Society, maintaining the publishing outlet of Athol Books, and increasing, having produced over 30 publications, worked through the Aubane Historical Society, which essentially concentrates on the local Aubane and Millstreet area as well as North Cork generally but, through linked sites, still comments on a wider stage.

Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Anti-Revisionism in Ireland

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ireland/index.htm

Brendan Clifford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brendan Clifford (born 1936) is an Irish historian and political activist.


Career

As a young man, Clifford emigrated to the United Kingdom and became involved in left-wing politics. Initially, he was an associate of Michael McCreery, a leader of the Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity,[2] a small British Marxist-Leninist that had left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1963. Later, he joined the Irish Communist Group which soon split into two factions; Clifford sided with the Maoist faction, which named itself the Irish Communist Organisation (ICO).[3] In 1967, Clifford gave a public speech on the Republican Congress in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin,[4] at a meeting of the Irish trade union group Scéim na gCeardchumann.[4]

In the early 1970s, he joined the other ICO members in advocating the “two-nations theory” – that the Ulster Protestants formed a separate nation and the Republic of Ireland had no right to force them into a United Ireland against their wishes.[2] Clifford soon became a prolific publisher of material advocating the group’s viewpoint. The ICO later changed its name to the British and Irish Communist Organisation (B&ICO).[5]

He was an active campaigner against Irish nationalism alongside other B&ICO members including his wife Angela Clifford,[6] Jack Lane, Manus O’Riordan and Len Callendar.[5] By the late 1970s, according to historian Richard P. Davis, Clifford and historian Peter Brooke were effectively leading the B&ICO.[7]

In the 1980s, Clifford began campaigning for the organisation of British mainland political parties in Northern Ireland.[8] He was an active member of the Campaign for Equal Citizenship political-advocacy group which advocated this aim.[8] Clifford was strongly against the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and wrote several pamphlets attacking the agreement and especially the Irish politician John Hume, whom Clifford regarded as a reactionary Irish Nationalist;[9] and Queen’s University Belfast, which Clifford claimed was biased against the Ulster Unionists.[10]

As the B&ICO became inactive in the mid-1980s, he began working through several new groups, including the Aubane Historical Society, an organisation originally intended to be a local history organisation, but later expanded into the role of opposing the “revisionist” movement in Irish history;[11] and the Ernest Bevin Society, the B&ICO’s British branch. In a piece written for The Independent, Clifford argued that Northern Catholics had no interest in a United Ireland and therefore electoral integration was the answer to the Northern conflict: “Opinion polls now confirm what one knew from experience in the Sixties, that most Catholics did not want to join the Republic. That fact is, however, of no electoral consequence”.[12] Clifford also criticised the Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign of violence as futile: “The IRA wants to revolutionise the Irish State to make it fit for Irish unity. But nothing is less likely than a revolution in the Republic, and all concerned know it”.[12]

Clifford also defended the British Monarchy, arguing it played a socially beneficial role in British society.[13]

Clifford opposed the Gulf War (1990–1991); he was dismayed at Irish academic Fred Halliday‘s support for the conflict and wrote a Bevin Society pamphlet, The New Left Imperialist, that was strongly antagonistic toward Halliday.[14][15]

In the 1990s, Clifford and Lane published several books on Irish history, including Notes on Eire: Espionage Reports to Winston Churchill, 1940–2, an account of Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen‘s World War II intelligence reports to Britain. The book marked an abandonment of the opposition to Irish nationalism that had characterised Clifford’s earlier work.[16] This book provoked some controversy because Clifford argued the Anglo-Irish Bowen was not in any way an Irish writer.[17]

Clifford stated Franco’s rule brought political stability to Spanish society: “Spain evolved under Franco. It is doubtful in the extreme whether the Spanish Republic which he overthrew was capable of evolving”.[18]

Clifford has also argued Britain, not Germany, bears responsibility for starting World War II: “Going over the events of 1939 one can hardly suppress the thought that Britain decided to aggravate Germany over the last national issue remaining from the Versailles arrangement and make it an occasion for war, lest no further opportunity for war should present itself, and the Munich Agreement [(1938)] should prove to be a settlement”.[19]

Discussing the book The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922 – August 1939 in an essay in Notes on Eire, Clifford argues that Hitler’s speeches are “coherent arguments” and claims he can see how Hitler was able to persuade the Germans to follow him.[20]

Clifford also argues that pre-World War II British governments had no interest stopping the Nazi persecution of the Jews and that the importance of the Holocaust in World War II has been exaggerated by modern historians: “the extermination of the Jews was an obscure incident in the hinterland of the German-Soviet War…. The Jews were not being exterminated when Britain declared war. The Jewish question does not figure in the declaration of war. The extermination did not begin until two years into the war, after Britain had succeed in spreading it to Russia. It was unimagined even by the most daring spirits in the SS in the summer of 1939″.[21]

He has also taken issue with Irish histories of the Irish Free State during the Second World War. In a critique of the book Ireland and the League of Nations 1919–1946 edited by Michael Kelly, Clifford claims the book and others reflect non-Irish viewpoints.[22]

Clifford has endorsed David Irving as a historian and argued the charges of Holocaust denial laid against Irving are unjust, stating Irving has not denied that “millions were killed deliberately” by the Nazi government.[23]

Bibliography

P literature.svg This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
  • Clifford, Brendan (1986). Parliamentary Despotism: John Hume’s Aspiration. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Athol Books. OCLC 14129827.
  • Clifford, Brendan (1987). Queen’s: A Comment on a University and a Reply to Its Politics Professor. Athol Books. OCLC 18071899.
  • Clifford, Brendan (22 March 1989). “The Political Impotence That Fuels Rebellion; Brendan Clifford on Ulster’s Resentment at Electoral Exclusion”. The Independent.
  • Clifford, Brendan; Lane, Jack (1999). Notes on Eire: Espionage Reports to Winston Churchill, 1940–2. Aubane, Ireland: Aubane Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-9521081-9-1.
  • Clifford, Brendan (2004). Traitor-Patriots in the Great War: Casement and Masaryk – with a Review of the Rise and Fall of Czechoslovakia (part of the Belfast Magazine series 23). Belfast, Northern Ireland: B. Clifford. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-874157-10-6.

Greek Solidarity: Demand Total End to Debt/Austerity, or Torpedo the Euro!

socialistfight:

Excellent exposition of the difference between monetary union and fiscal union. Very important point.

Originally posted on Communist Explorations:

The outcome of the Greek referendum considerably exceeded the expectations of the SYRIZA-led coalition government that called it, as well as most observers. They were painted into a corner by their own conciliation of the neo-liberal leaders of Europe, faced with their humiliating ‘offer’ of a bailout in demand for further massive cuts in pensions and social benefits.  The SYRIZA government was faced with what in effect was an attempt to force a recently-elected government out of office; Alexis Tsipras turned to the Greek working-class masses and asked for their backing.

Their courage in resisting the demands of the Troika far exceeds that of their left-reformist leadership. This was shown by the immediate aftermath of the 61% landslide victory of the ‘OXI’ (no) side, despite the NAI (yes) side having the backing of the entire privately-owned news media, with an avalanche of mendacious propaganda and disinformation. The no vote took…

View original 2,801 more words

Left Populism By Gerry Downing

Left Populism 15/7/2015

Left populist Syriza party chairman and Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras

Very important article from their own spokespeople. Syriza and Podemos are not Social Democrats but “left populist” not of a class but of “the people”, a further extension of the traditional Stalinist Popular Front concept to a rejection of all class politics, a line that the Stalinists in general did not cross, remaining workers’ parties. Many have now become bourgeois workers’ parties after the collapse of the USSR. Of course the Euro-communists, from which Syriza emerged, did cross that line. Quote from article The winds are changing: a new left populism for Europe by Marina Prentoulis (Syriza spokeswoman in Britain) and Lasse Thomassen on 27 January 2015, acknowledging that they are in the same political category as, and a left version of, the Haider, Le Pen and Farage projects:

“A spectre is haunting Europe: the spectre of populism. This time it is not the far right populism of Haider, Le Pen and Farage, but a new left populism challenging not just the parties of the right but also the social-democratic parties and the traditional parties on the left.”

They have more in common with or actually have become similar or even the same as the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein in Ireland – petty bourgeois nationalist political formation with no connection with the organised working class and therefore no pressure from below apart from electoral considerations. Therefore having mobilised for elections and won like in Scotland and Greece the overwhelming pressure comes from the pressure of finance capital and their Troika.

Syriza’s bubble burst very quickly, the SNP’s will take a little longer, the bubble of Podemos and Sinn Fein is yet to inflate properly but the “neither of the left or the right” course and agenda is now clear.

We of Socialist Fight were correct to call for no vote for Syriza, for the SNP, and will continue with Podemos later in the year and Sinn Fein next year.

The four are petty bourgeois nationalist parties and not any form of bourgeois worker’s reformist parties at all.

Left populist Oskar Lafontaine, used a term previously associated with the Nazi Party, Fremdarbeiter or alien workers, in his election campaign in 2005

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marina-prentoulis-lasse-thomassen/winds-are-changing-new-left-populism-for-europe

Defend Kurdish right to to Self-determination, No self-determination for Islamic State!

Kurdish leaders Barzani, Ocalan and Talabani

Defend Kurdish right to to Self-determination

No self-determination for Islamic State!

Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International:13-7-2015

ISIS, like Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad and the Taliban, were tools of imperialism in the past and, apart from the murdered Saddam and Gaddafi, they may become again. But ISIS is different to the rest. It was the creation of US imperialism via the CIA, the Gulf States and Turkey and, more covertly, Israel as Al Qaeda was in the 1980s. And like Al Qaeda it now controls territory. Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad led or lead nations, the Taliban were a product of the Afghanistan civil war and has become, in a certain sense, a national liberation movement in Afghanistan, albeit a very reactionary one, and so must be supported against US imperialism its allies and stooges unconditionally.

What ISIS are creating cannot be described as a nation or indeed any modern version of a state; the Islamic State is a vile reactionary utopia and has no legitimate right to self-determination. And the US proxy nations, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and even Israel still support and supply them, because, though the US is at war with them now, they are an insurance policy for US imperialism and they may come in useful later in deposing Assad and even the Iranian regime. Both regimes in Syria and Iran still reflects the anti-imperialism of the Syrian and Iranian masses, the working class and poor peasants, in however distorted a way. Regime change in Syria, Iran and then Russia and China remains the geo-political strategic goals of US imperialism and its European and Japanese allies, whatever temporary diversions may occur and however reluctant these allies might be at times.

Therefore we must oppose the US bombing of ISIS but we cannot blame the Kurds for taking advantage of the bombing to defend Kobane and other territories that are a legitimate part of a real nation without a state, in fact the largest such entity in the whole world, Kurdistan. Moreover the Iraqi Kurds, both Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are puppets of the US/Israel. Also even Abdullah Öcalan, leader of  the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who were the most leftist  opponents of Barzani in the 1994 -97 civil war have been attempting to accommodate with Turkey and imperialism at the expense of the Kurdish nation. He now puts forward as his models Gerry Adams and Nelson Mandela, who have succeeded in betraying their own followers and nations and has abandoned the majority of the anti-imperialism of his Marxism-Leninism and has become a type of anarchist, advocating local autonomy as if imperialism did not exist at all.

But the war in Syria has strengthened the hand of the PKK enormously against Barzani. The PKK have been the most consistent advocated of a Kurdish nation, despite Öcalan’s frequent disclaimers and fought on the same side as Talabani’s PUK in the civil war of the mid-90s and so their fighters are closer to them.  Therefore we support the proposal of Öcalan in March of this year to hold a Kurdish national conference in the near future. It looks as though both Talabani and Barzani will be obliged to go along with this, such is the sympathy that the Syrian YPG, allies of the PKK, have won in the ranks of the Iraqi Peshmerga fighters that had entered Kobane and Rojave to fight ISIS [1].

[1] Öcalan Sends Letter to Barzani and Talabani, Written by  KurdishQuestion.cohttp://www.kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/ocalan-sends-letter-to-barzani-and-talabani/771-ocalan-sends-letter-to-barzani-and-talabani.html