When 52% of those who voted in the UK Referendum on membership of the European Union chose the Brexit option it was not an isolated incident but another example of the growing international problem of populism. You can see it in the support for Donald Trump in the battle for the US Presidency; in Germany with the appearance of political forces to the right of the Christian Democrats (Pegida and Alternative für Deutschland); in the recent presidential elections in Austria where the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats were eclipsed, and the contest was between the Greens and the populist right; in France there is the continuing rise of the Front National; in Italy there is the Five Star movement; and there’s also the governments of Poland and Hungary.
Blame the elites, they scream: the greedy bankers, the corrupt politicians, the shadowy bureaucrats who run the EU and tie us all up in red tape and regulations. And all these figures are indeed part of the ruling class and play their part in ramping up exploitation and destroying jobs and futures. But “blaming the elites” is a distortion of class consciousness, not the real thing, and the trick can be exposed by asking the question: who is peddling this new anti-elitism? And you only have to look at Donald Trump or the leaders of the Brexit campaign, or the mass media who support them, to see that this kind of anti-elitism is being sold by another part of the elite.
A day of discussion on the migrant/refugee crisis.
Economic migrants and war refugees in the history of capitalism
Populism, national borders: the real interests of the working class
The whole range of imperialist war and conflict in the Middle East, despite various truces, talks and cease-fires, continues to deepen and spread. In these circumstances it is useful to look into the root of these developments within the framework of the decadence of capitalism – the context of imperialist domination and its connection to the formation the nation state in the area of the Middle East; in particular, we want to concentrate on the “Islamic Republic” of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose rivalries are becoming increasingly significant within the overall pattern of conflicts.
In the first article in this series, we gave a brief overview of the origins and function of migration in the capitalist system and how this has changed as that same system began its remorseless historical decline in the early 20th century. In part two, we examined the culmination of those trends in the horror of the Holocaust. But the defeat of the Nazi terror did not mean an end to the suffering and trauma of displaced people around the globe. As Nazi terror was replaced by the terror unleashed by the Stalinist and democratic powers, millions of displaced Jews, fresh from the horror of the concentration camps, became pawns in the imperialist struggle in the Middle East around the formation of the Israeli state. As the Cold War confrontation widened, millions more around the globe fled wars and massacres, victims of murderous rivalry between the global super-powers and their equally murderous local client states.
This article was written by our section in France as a response to cases of cruelty against animals exposed in French slaughter-houses. But the same horrors have also come to light in British abattoirs, for example in 2015 following the secret filming of what goes on behind closed doors at a slaughter-house in Butterton, Staffs. As the article explains, cruelty to animals is inseparable from cruelty to human beings, and both are inseparable from the capitalist mode of production, where everything is subordinated to the drive for profit.
Gatherings every evening of several thousand people, especially at the Place de la République in Paris: the Nuit Debout movement has been in the headlines since 31 March. These are meetings of people from different horizons – high school pupils and university students, workers and the precariously employed, unemployed and pensioners, all sharing a desire to get together, to discuss, to close ranks against the adversities of this system. The sincerity of many of the participants is undeniable; they are indignant about all kinds of injustice and at root they aspire to a different world, a more human world founded on solidarity. However, Nuit Debout is not developing their fight or their consciousness. On the contrary, this movement is leading them into a dead end and strengthening the most conformist outlooks. Worse than that, Nuit Debout is a vehicle for the most nauseating ideas, like the personalisation of the evils of society, blaming them on a few representatives like bankers and oligarchs. In this way Nuit Debout is not only misleading all those who are taking part for honest reasons, but is already a blow by the bourgeoisie against the consciousness of the whole working class.
The current situation in Germany is in a sense, a concentrate of a whole series of issues of major importance in the present situation: Germany is at the heart of the refugee crisis, the rise in populism and the threat this poses to political stability, the imperialist confrontations with Russia, to name but a few. This report, adopted by the February 2016 joint conference of the ICC sections in Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland, does not claim to be complete but rather to open up a reflection on these difficult questions.
The co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour club resigns after claiming “a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews."; two Labour councillors suspended for antisemitic posts on social media: one of them, Salim Mulla, the mayor of Blackburn, tweeted that Israel was behind recent Islamic State atrocities in Europe; further up in the party hierarchy, Labour MP Naz Shah has to apologise in the House of Commons for suggesting on Facebook that the solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is to transport the entire population of Israel to the USA; and to top it all, Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, denies that Naz Shah has said anything antisemitic and refuses to apologise for claiming that “Hitler supported Zionism in 1932 before going mad and killing six million Jews”. Under pressure from the press and parts of his own party, Jeremy Corbyn announces the formation of a commission of inquiry into antisemitism in the party, headed by civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti.
So, do Labour and the left have a “Jewish problem”?
Leaving aside the way Labour’s scandals have been used to the hilt by the Tories, the right wing press, and parts of the Labour party itself, to discredit the Corbyn leadership; leaving aside the habitual refrain of the right wing Zionists that any criticism of the Israeli state is by definition antisemitic – the answer is still yes.
The arguments by both sides in the UK’s Referendum on membership of the European Unions are limited. They make outlandish claims on the benefits of Leaving or Remaining while warning of the dangers of their opponent’s policy in a perpetual pantomime of “Oh no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is!”