france

Utopia and inequality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/02/2018 - 12:00am in

graph_dl (1)

Economic inequality is arguably the crucial issue facing contemporary capitalism—especially in the United States but also across the entire world economy.

Over the course of the last four decades, income inequality has soared in the United States, as the share of pre-tax national income captured by the top 1 percent (the red line in the chart above) has risen from 10.4 percent in 1976 to 20.2 percent in 2014. For the world economy as a whole, the top 1-percent share (the green line), which was already 15.6 percent in 1982, has continued to rise, reaching 20.4 percent in 2016. Even in countries with less inequality—such as France, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom—the top 1-percent share has been rising in recent decades.

Clearly, many people are worried about the obscene levels of inequality in the world today.

In a famous study, which I wrote about back in 2010, Dan Ariely and Michael I. Norton showed that Americans both underestimate the current level of inequality in the United States and prefer a much more equal distribution than currently exists.*

In other words, the amount of inequality favored by Americans—their ideal or utopian horizon—hovers somewhere between the level of inequality that obtains in modern-day Sweden and perfect equality.

What about contemporary economists? What is their utopian horizon when it comes to the distribution of income?

Not surprisingly, economists are fundamentally divided. They hold radically different views about the distribution of income, which both inform and informed by their different utopian visions.

For example, neoclassical economists, the predominant group in U.S. colleges and universities, analyze the distribution of income in terms of marginal productivity theory. Within their framework of analysis, each factor of production (labor, capital, and land) receives a portion of total output in the form of income (wages, profits, or rent) within perfectly competitive markets according to its marginal contributions to production. In this sense, neoclassical economics represents a confirmation and celebration of capitalism’s “just deserts,” that is, everyone gets what they deserve.

From the perspective of neoclassical economics, inequality is simply not a problem, as long as each factor is rewarded according to its productivity. Since in the real world they see few if any exceptions to perfectly competitive markets, their view is that the distribution of income within contemporary capitalism corresponds to—or at least comes close to matching—their utopian horizon.

Other mainstream economists, especially those on the more liberal wing (such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Thomas Piketty), hold the exact same utopian horizon—of just deserts based on marginal productivity theory. However, in their view, the real world falls short, generating a distribution of income in recent years that is more unequal, and therefore less fair, than is predicted within neoclassical theory. So, bothered by the obscene levels of contemporary inequality, they look for exceptions to perfectly competitive markets.

Thus, for example, Stiglitz has focused on what he calls rent-seeking behavior—and therefore on the ways economic agents (such as those in the financial sector or CEOs) often rely on forms of power (political and/or economic) to secure more than their “just deserts.” Thus, for Stiglitz and others, the distribution of income is more unequal than it would be under perfect markets because some agents are able to capture rents that exceed their marginal contributions to production.** If such rents were eliminated—for example, by regulating markets—the distribution of income would match the utopian horizon of neoclassical economics.***

What about Marxian theory? It’s quite a bit different, in the sense that it relies on the assumptions similar to those of neoclassical theory while arriving at conclusions that are diametrically opposed. The implication is that, even if and when markets are perfect (in the way neoclassical economists assume and work to achieve), the capitalist distribution of income violates the idea of “just deserts.” That’s because Marxian economics is informed by a radically different utopian horizon.

Let me explain. Marx started with the presumption that all markets operate much in the way the classical political economists then (and neoclassical economists today) presume. He then showed that even when all commodities exchange at their values and workers receive the value of their labor power (that is, no cheating), capitalists are able to appropriate a surplus-value (that is, there is exploitation). No special modifications of the presumption of perfect markets need to be made. As long as capitalists are able, after the exchange of money for the commodity labor power has taken place, to extract labor from labor power during the course of commodity production, there will be an extra value, a surplus-value, that capitalists are able to appropriate for doing nothing.

The point is, the Marxian theory of the distribution of income identifies an unequal distribution of income that is endemic to capitalism—and thus a fundamental violation of the idea of “just deserts”—even if all markets operate according to the unrealistic assumptions of mainstream economists. And that intrinsically unequal distribution of income within capitalism becomes even more unequal once we consider all the ways the mainstream assumptions about markets are violated on a daily basis within the kinds of capitalism we witness today.

That’s because the Marxian critique of political economy is informed by a radically different utopian horizon: the elimination of exploitation. Marxian economists don’t presume that, under capitalism, the distribution of income will be equal. Nor do they promise that the kinds of noncapitalist economic and social institutions they seek to create will deliver a perfectly equal distribution of income. However, in focusing on class exploitation, they both show how the unequal distribution of income in the world today is affected by and in turn affects the appropriation and distribution of surplus-value and argue that the distribution of income would likely change—in the direction of greater equality—if the conditions of existence of exploitation were dismantled.

In my view, lurking behind the scenes of the contemporary debate over economic inequality is a raging battle between radically different utopian visions of the distribution of income.

 

*The Ariely and Norton research focused on wealth, not income, inequality. I suspect much the same would hold true if Americans were asked about their views concerning the actual and desired degree of inequality in the distribution of income.

**It is important to note that, according to mainstream economics, any economic agent can engage in rent-seeking behavior. In come cases it may be labor, in other cases capital or even land.

***More recently, some mainstream economists (such as Piketty) have started to look outside the economy, at the political sphere. They’ve long held the view that, within a democracy, if voters are dissatisfied with the distribution of income, they will support political candidates and parties that enact a redistribution of income. But that hasn’t been the case in recent decades—not in the United States, the United Kingdom, or France—and the question is why. Here, the utopian horizon concerning the economy is the neoclassical one, or marginal productivity theory, but they imagine a separate democratic politics is able to correct any imbalances generated by the economy. As I see it, this is consistent with the neoclassical tradition, in that neoclassical economists have long taken the distribution of factor endowments as a given, exogenous to the economy and therefore subject to political decisions.

France Makes Affairs Between Ministers And Staff Compulsory

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/02/2018 - 8:27am in

Tags 

Politics, france, Sex

Following a scandal where it was revealed that the nation’s deputy Prime Minister was going home to his wife each evening, French President Emmanuel Macron has passed a law making it a sackable offence for a cabinet minister not to be having an affair.

“The people of France expect their elected officials to meet certain standards of behaviour,” said Mr Macron after it was revealed that deputy PM Barnoise le Joyce had impregnated his own wife. “Mr le Joyce is paid a very high salary on the understanding that he uses that money to keep his mistress well maintained in a chateau on the Riviera, not frittering it away on flowers and expensive dinners with his wife.”

The leader of the French Conservative Party has confounded his followers by suggesting that it may be perfectly alright for a cabinet minister not to be having an affair.

“I know of one minister who is not having a torrid affair with her chauffer and she still manages to conduct the duties of her office with capability,” said Bernard Le Coeur. “In the rough and tumble of politics sometimes one cannot help being seduced by the thought of a home cooked meal and sleeping in a bed where you have worn yourself a convenient groove.”

The move has proven popular with the women of France, who were outraged by le Joyce’s very public humiliation of his mistress.

“His mistress has stood by him doing all the hard work sneaking around arranging liaisons in pensiones over the years, and this is how he repays her,” said furious French woman Michelle Deneuve. “He owes her an apology and a good three day long dirty weekend in Nice.”

Peter Green
http://www.twitter.com/Greeny_Peter

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Oswald Mosley’s Qualified Support for the State of Israel

Okay, it’s been a few days since I put up anything critical of the Israel lobby and their libellous mouthpieces in this country and the Labour Party, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement, previously Paole Zion. So here goes.

The fanatics in the Israel lobby have a very simple metric for determining who is and who isn’t an anti-Semite: support for Israel. Or at least silence over its 70 year long campaign of violence, massacre and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinians. Within limits, a European politician can be as anti-Semitic as they like, provided that they support Israel. Concerns have been raised about the increasingly anti-Semitic and racist policies of the current Polish government. This has recently outlawed blaming Poles for the crimes of the Nazis, and the Polish authorities have also given their backing to a campaign to whitewash the village of Jedwabne of its part in an anti-Semitic pogrom during the Second World War. This was when the villagers rounded up the local Jewish community, and burned them alive in a barn. But there is now a campaign ‘to preserve the good name of Jedwabne’ that denies this occurred, which is receiving official backing.

Despite this, Andrew Pollard, the head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, stuck his head up and appeared in the pages of the Groaniad a little while ago to declare that the current Polish president was not an anti-Semite, because ‘he is a good friend of Israel’.

What Pollard and his chums overlook, and desperately hope everyone forgets, is that anti-Semites and Fascists did back initially Jewish emigration abroad and a separate homeland for the Jews as way of removing them from this country. But they want this covered up. When anyone mentions the Ha’avara Agreement between Nazi Germany and the embryonic Jewish state in Palestine to send Jews there, as Ken Livingstone did, the CAA and JLM go bug-eyed with rage and start libelling them as ‘anti-Semites’. Just as they’ve done to Mike, for daring to point out that Livingstone and the others were historically correct on this issue.

So where did the British Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, stand on the issue of Israel and Palestine? Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascists, which later in the 1930s under the influence of the rise of the Nazis renamed itself the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists. Mosley was interned during the War, but attempted to return to British politics as head of a new Fascist movement called British Union during the 1950s and ’60s. His opinion on Israel in this later phase of his political career can be found on pages 137-8 of his 1961 book Mosley-Right or Wrong (London: Lion Books). This reads

Question 136. What is your attitude to Israel?

Answer. I adhere to the policy of a Jewish national home, which I suggested in The Alternative (published in 1947) as follows: –

” For over two thousand years the Jews have asked for a national home, and sought again to become a nation … To this end I propose the partition of Palestine and the placing of Jerusalem under a super-national authority which will afford Christian, Arab and Jew impartial access to their Holy Places. It is plain that even the whole of Palestine would not afford an adequate home to the Jewish population, even if it all were available without outrage of justice in the treatment of the Arabs. Such statesmanship would, therefore, in any case, be confronted with the problem of finding additional living room for the Jews. It is, naturally, desirable to provide such accommodation as near as possible to the Home Land of Palestine. But this consideration is not now so pressing in view of the rapid facilities for travel provided by modern transport… No insuperable difficulty should be encountered, therefore, even if the main bulk of the Jewish population had to live at some distance from the traditional national home. Palestine would remain a home to them in the same sense that the Dominions regard England as home.”

And I have emphasised repeatedly that this entire problem must be solved in a manner that humanity, as a whole, will approve.

Unfortunately, comprehensive settlements, which combine morality with foresight, are not customary in the world of the old parties, and the Jewish state of Israel was born amid the savage brutality which occurs when such governments yield to force what they refuse to reason. The consequence has been a legacy of cumulative hatred, perpetuated by western incompetence and aggravated by Soviet arms-dealing. But we still seek a progressive and peaceful solution for the future.

First, we must eliminate all possibility of another armed conflict in that area, especially in view of the increasing availability of atomic weapons. We should make it clear that we shall not permit any Arabs to cut two million Jewish throats. And equally we cannot allow aggressive expansion of the Israelis into neighbouring lands; they already have a million dispossessed Arabs on their conscience and our hands. it is quite possible to keep order in these easily accessible regions, without plunging about in the minor military operations that have previously disgraced a British government, slow to defend the interests of our own people but hysterically eager to act on behalf of others.

A united Europe-co-operating with a friendly and helpful America- would have little difficulty in developing new lands and organising any required sorting out of populations. Large-scale migration may well be inevitable, if friction between various unsuitable peoples is not to degenerate into chaos and bloodshed; this has become pressing in Africa. As I wrote in The European in December 1953: “There is plenty of room for both Jews and Arabs in the great area of the middle-East, all that is lacking is union, will and energy to accomplish the task. Whatever policy emerges must be based on reason, justice and the consent of the leading minds in both the Jewish and Arab peoples; all parties and opinions have behind them errors in this sphere which must never be repeated. Let us never again clash with the conscience of the world.”

Mosley by this time was trying to deny that he’d ever been an anti-Semite, and the first part of the chapter containing this passage contains his denials. Richard Thurlow, in his Fascism in Britain 1918-1985 argued that Mosley himself had originally not been an anti-Semite, and was genuine puzzled by the Jewish community’s hostility to his movement. He gave the issue over to one of his lieutenants to explain. This Nazi came to the BUF from one of the smaller, anti-Semitic Fascist groups, and so eagerly explained it to Mosley as part of the supposed Jewish conspiracy theories flying around in those groups. This then caused Mosley to make anti-Semitism an integral part of BUF policy. In fact Stephen Dorril, in his biography of Mosley, Blackshirt, has shown that Mosley was an anti-Semite from the start.

And a few years ago I remember reading an article in the Heil by a Jewish journalist, who had interviewed Mosley in Nice in the 1970s. He stated that the wannabe British Fuhrer was still very anti-Semitic, with deeply abhorrent views about the Holocaust.

Mosley’s own views in the 1930s on the ‘Jewish problem’ were expressed in his pamphlet Tomorrow We Live. In it, he stated that under his Fascist regime, the majority of the Jewish population would be deported. A few Jews would remain after being carefully examined to make sure they conformed to British values and civilisation, but would be kept away from gentile Brits through a system of apartheid.

Regarding his later views on Israel, this largely follows the UN recommendations at the time. The only exception is his statement that the Middle East could be developed as a home for both Jews and Arabs. This seems to follow his general plans to develop the world’s resources through careful planning. Which included developing East Africa for White Europeans.

Mosley was the leader of the largest, and most infamous of the British Fascist groups before the Second World War, and despite ‘Mosleyite’ being used as a term of abuse within Fascist circles today, his influence in the British Far Right is still extremely strong. But after the War he gave his qualified support to the creation of the Jewish state, at least in his rhetoric and published statements.

This is a fact of history. And the question is, do the CAA, JLM and the Israel Advocacy Movement want people to know about this? Or would they scream and libel as anti-Semitic anyone who dared to point this out?

Answers on a postcard please.

As you can guess, it’s almost certainly the latter.

Mueller Indictments: truth v lies in“The Observer View”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/02/2018 - 3:00am in

Today’s Observer View focuses on the Announcement by Robert Mueller that they are indicting 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for “interfering” in the 2016 Presidential election. It is, unsurprisingly, full of misleading language, lies by omission and just straight up lies.

John Wycliff’s Arguments for Pacifism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 18/02/2018 - 8:25pm in

Last Sunday I put up a piece about the Lollard sermon, The Perversion of the Works of Mercy. The Lollards were the late fourteenth-early fifteenth century followers of the English theologian and reformer, John Wycliffe. Wycliffe was a kind of proto-Protestant, who denounced the corruption of the church, rejected the papacy and maintained that the Bible should be the sole authority for Christian doctrine. The Perversion of the Works of Mercy attacks the way people have turned away from performing their Christian obligations to feed, clothe, give drink to the poor, visit and care for the sick and prisoners, and instead do this all for the rich and powerful. It’s a powerful message for today, when the Tories’ official policy is to increase the tax burden of the poor, in order to give massive tax cuts to the rich. The Tories are also cutting benefits to the poor, unemployed, sick and disabled as part of this programme of making the rich even richer, while at the same time claiming that the destruction of the welfare state is all for the benefit of the poor themselves. It’s saving them from ‘welfare dependency’, and is encouraging them, in the notorious words of Norman Tebbit, to get on their bikes and look for work. It’s all part of the Tory and Thatcherite embrace of the Victorian attitude of ‘less eligibility’, which stated that conditions of state aid should be as harsh as possible in order to deter people from taking it up, and encourage them to take any job, no matter how low paid or exploitative.

Wycliffe was also a pacifist. I also blogged a month or so ago about a book I found on his pacifism in the Oxbow Bargain Book Catalogue. Wycliffe’s pacifism is also discussed by Basil Cottle in his The Triumph of English 1350-1400 (London: Blandford Press 1969). Here’s the passage where he discusses Wycliffe’s rejection of war, quoting the medieval theologian himself:

In each particular, Wyclif’s views are revolutionary, and his treatment of of war is typical of this: those who go to war cannot with justice say the Lord’s Prayer. ‘And before the seven axingis that Crist techith in the Pater Noster meneth … algatis to axe in charite, and thefore men that liven in werre ben unable to have their axinge; but thei axen ther owne dampnynge in the fifte peticioun, for ther thei axen that God for3yve hem ther dettis that thei owen to Hym, ri3t as thei for3yven men that ben dettours unto hem.’ [And for this reason the seven askings that Christ teaches in the Lord’s Prayer mean… at all events to ask in charity, and therefore men that live in war are unable to have what they ask; but they ask for their own damnation in the fifth petition, because there they ask that God may forgive them their debts that they owe to Him, even as the forgive men that are debtors to them.] But what was the situation in which the divided Church now found herself?-the Pope offering indulgences t6o those who would fight against the antipope (a subject extensively treated in a sermon on Martyrs) , and Bishop Despenser of Norwich leading his beastly and futile ‘crusade’ of 1383 against Flanders: ‘now men seyen that thei shulden, bi lore of ther feith, werre upon Cristen men, and turnen hem to the Pope, and slee ther persones, ther wyves, and ther children, and reve hem ther goodis, and thus chastise hem. But certis this came nevere of chastyment of Crist, sith Crist seith He cam not to lese lyves bu save hem. And hefore this is chastyment of the fiend, and never chastyment of Crist, that uside pacience and myraclis.’ [Now men say that they should, by the teaching of their faith, war upon Christian men, and win them over to the Pope, and kill their persons, their wivs, and their children, and rob them of their goods, and thus punish them. But certainly this kinid of punishment never came from Christ, since Christ says He came not to destroy llives to save them. And for this reason this is a punishment from the dreadful fiend, and never a punishment from Christ, who used patience and miracles.] Yet ‘blynde heretikes wanten witt as ydiotis, whan thei seien that Petre synnede not in smytynge of Malcus ere, but 3af ensaumple to preestis to fi3t’ [blind heretics lack understanding, like idiots, when they say that Peter did not sin in striking off Maclhus’s ear, but set an example for priests to fight]-though Christ prevented him from fighting further. ‘Lord, where this Pope Urbane hadde Goddis charite dwelling in him, whan he stired men to fi3te and slee many thousaund men, to venge him on the tother People and of men that holden with him?’ [Lord, did this Pope Urban have ~God’s charity dwelling in him, when he incited men to fight and kill many thousand men, to avenge himself on the other Pope and on men who belong to his side?] The friars, says Wyclif, preach to a bellicose text- that the English must get in first with their attacks on their enemies in other countries, for fear they do the same and sin be increased on both sides; a hideous doctrine of sinning so as to good.)

Cottle goes on to observe that ‘This new pacifism may have distasteful to readers who still enjoyed the memory of Crecy and Poitiers and to the old soldiers who must have figure among the 1381 malcontents’ (the Peasant’s Revolt). (pp. 235-6).

This hatred of war was shared by Sir John Clanvowe, soldier, diplomat, courtier, poet, crusader, and the author of the Boke of Cupide. This was so similar to Chaucer’s works, that for a time it was accepted as that great poet’s own composition. Clanvowe himself died in a village near Constantinople. Clanvowe wrote

‘The world holt hem worshipful that been greet werryours and fi3teres, and that distroyen and wynnen manye londis, and waasten and 3even muche good to hem that haan ynou3, and that dispenden oultrageously in mete, in drynke, in clothing, in building, and in lyuyng in eese, slouthe, and many oothere synnes.’ [The world considers them honourable who are great warriors and fighters and destroy and conquer many lands, and waste and give much property to them that have plenty, and spend outrageously on food, drink, clothing, building, and living in ease, sloth, and many other sins.] (Cottle, op. cit., p. 253).

Cottle himself says of this passage that ‘the attack here is almost on rank, and Clanvowe is disgusted that it is of these proud and vengeful people that ‘men maken books and soonges, and reeden and singen of hem for to hoolde the mynde of here deedes the lengere here vpon erth’. [Men make books and songs, and recite and sing of them so as to keep the memor of their deeds the longer here on earth.] (p. 254).

As I said with my earlier post about the Perversion of the Works of Mercy, I’m not putting this up to attack Roman Catholicism. I despise religious intolerance and don’t want to provoke any more sectarian religious hatred. I’m also deeply impressed with the various Roman Catholic organisations, clergy and lay people that genuinely work for the poor and those in the needy, and radical groups like Doris Day’s Catholic Workers. My point here is to show merely that religious radicals, like Wycliffe and Clanvowe, despised the way the poor were ignored and treated by the rich, and condemned war as fundamentally unchristian.

This is an attitude that attacks and refutes the vicious opinions of the religious right, with their prosperity gospel – that Christ wants everyone to be rich, and if you’re poor, it’s your fault – and is solidly behind the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. These wars aren’t being fought to protect America, Israel or anyone else. They’re fought purely for the profit of immensely rich multinational corporations, who hope to profit from the theft of these nations’ state industries and oil reserves. As the above texts show, they would have been thoroughly condemned by Wycliffe and Clanvowe.

LE PARISIEN – Varoufakis : «Macron est excellent sur la forme, mais décevant sur le fond»

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/02/2018 - 10:50pm in

L’ex-ministre grec des Finances veut lutter contre la pauvreté de façon «concertée» en Europe.

L’ancien ministre grec des Finances, Yanis Varoufakis, fait le tour de l’Europe à la recherche d’alliés pour proposer un programme de gauche aux élections européennes de 2019.

Vous voulez avoir des listes avec un label commun dans tous les pays pour les élections européennes de 2019 ?

Yanis Varoufakis. Nous sommes face à une crise paneuropéenne, qui est la même dans tous les pays. Crise de la dette publique, du crédit bancaire et un niveau très bas d’investissement. Cela provoque l’augmentation de la pauvreté et de l’exclusion, en France comme en Grèce, en Espagne ou ailleurs.

Que proposez-vous ?

Il faut s’attaquer au problème de façon commune, concertée. Ce que n’a jamais fait l’Europe. Les élections de 2019 sont une occasion splendide de proposer à tous les Européens un programme commun en matière sociale et économique.

Un seul et même programme pour les listes de chaque pays ?

Absolument. En France vous recevrez notre manifeste : ce sera le même en Slovénie, en Grèce, en Allemagne… Il présentera un ensemble politique cohérent de ce que nous voulons faire pour l’Europe dans sa totalité. Mais à côté de ce programme commun, il y aura des mesures spécifiques pour chaque pays.

Mais en France la situation semble s’améliorer : ça ne contredit pas votre projet ?

Ce n’est qu’une guérison passagère. Cela ne suffit pas à rendre à la France une croissance durable. C’est d’ailleurs pourquoi le président Macron propose une réforme de la zone euro, avec un budget commun. Mais ses propositions ont déjà été rejetées par Berlin.

Que faut-il changer ?

Il y a un besoin fort d’un plan annuel d’investissement de 500 Mds€, pour un fonds de transition écologique et économique dont l’Europe a besoin. C’est parfaitement réalisable dans le cadre des traités actuels. Et il faut un plan antipauvreté à travers l’Europe, financé par les profits des systèmes bancaires.

Selon vous Berlin dirige encore l’Europe ?

La classe politique allemande a toujours la mainmise sur le fonctionnement de l’UE. Macron peut bien s’affirmer comme le leader le plus populaire en Europe, dans les faits c’est l’Allemagne qui décide, même si elle n’a pas de gouvernement en fonction. Nous tous -Macron inclus- devons apprendre à dire non à l’Allemagne, à son ministre des Finances. Sauf à adopter une politique de la chaise vide à la de Gaulle, on n’arrivera jamais à réformer l’Union dans l’intérêt des citoyens.

Qui sont vos alliés ?

Nous avons un rassemblement à Naples le 10 mars, plusieurs pays seront représentés (Allemagne, Danemark, Pologne Slovénie, Croatie, Portugal, Grèce, Belgique). On va poser les bases de notre programme commun. Nous pensons que d’autres nous rejoindront une fois notre campagne officielle lancée en juin.

Et en France ?

Génération-s de Benoît Hamon sera là et nous aurons aussi des observateurs du PCF et des Verts.

Personne chez Mélenchon ?

Il a une vision politique différente de la nôtre. Nous sommes radicalement européens, alors que Jean-Luc Mélenchon pense que la solution à la crise est nationale.

Votre avis sur la première année de Macron ?

Excellente sur la forme, mais décevante sur le fond. Il a gâché une formidable chance de mener l’Europe vers les changements dont elle a besoin. Et, contrairement à son discours très progressiste au début, son gouvernement applique une politique dure sur les libertés publiques, sur les migrants

Vous ne pourriez donc pas siéger au Parlement européen avec LREM ?

On ne peut pas être dans le même groupe car on ne partage pas les mêmes positions. Ce qui ne nous empêchera pas de travailler ensemble au Parlement comme avec d’autres partis, sur certains dossiers.

>Politique|Quentin Laurent et Henri Vernet|15 février 2018, 22h04

Review of French edition of Adults in the Room – in LE GRAND CONTINENT

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/02/2018 - 10:34pm in

« Nous allons, en même temps que le possesseur d’argent et le possesseur de force de travail, quitter cette sphère bruyante où tout se passe à la surface et aux regards de tous, pour les suivre tous deux dans le laboratoire secret de la production, sur le seuil duquel il est écrit : no admittance except on business. »

              – Marx, Le Capital

Que l’homme que l’on a présenté comme un dangereux trublion de la concorde européenne rédige un livre résolument pro-européen est étonnant. Que celui-ci s’avère être l’un des écrits sur l’Europe les plus convaincants des dernières années l’est encore davantage. Conversations entre adultes : Dans les coulisses secrètes de l’Europe (éd. Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2017) est un livre aux multiples visages : traité de psychologie des élites européennes, manuel de défense contre les idéologies contemporaines et récit minutieux d’une crise infiniment complexe, il est surtout et avant tout un plaidoyer méticuleux et argumenté pour une nouvelle Europe, dont il dessine en creux les principes essentiels.

Le livre de Yánis Varoufákis est d’abord le récit autobiographique d’une crise vécue de l’intérieure. Né en 1961 de parents hostiles au régime des colonels, Varoufákis fait ses études en Angleterre, où il obtient en 1987 un doctorat d’économie. Sa carrière académique l’amène à enseigner à Essex, en Australie ainsi qu’aux États-Unis. Ses écrits critiques, à l’instar de sa célèbre Modeste Proposition pour résoudre la crise de la zone euro (2011), commencent à le faire connaître pendant la crise des économies européennes. Celui qui aime à se décrire comme un « marxiste libertaire » se lie d’amitié avec certains des membres du parti Syriza ; lorsque celui-ci est porté au pouvoir en janvier 2015, il est nommé ministre des Finances et responsable des négociations avec la Troïka.

UNE MÉMOIRE CRITIQUE

Les 480 pages des Conversations retracent avec une précision salutaire les quelques six mois passés par Varoufákis à négocier, débattre et argumenter avec l’hydre européenne. Et c’est sûrement là la première vertu de ce livre : offrir une chronologie précise et rigoureuse d’une crise que les Européens ont principalement vécue à travers des manchettes de journaux et des discours hermétiques. Les Conversations entre adultesparticipent ainsi d’une “guerre des mémoires” déjà bien engagée. L’extrême confusion médiatique lors de la crise grecque a empêché toute interprétation univoque des événements ; aussi les différents acteurs de la crise ont-ils aujourd’hui le champ libre pour tenter d’imposer leur histoire de ce moment charnière. La mémoire de la crise grecque resteà construire ; pour l’instant, il n’est pas clair quelles leçons il faut en tirer, et qui est coupable d’avoir mené l’Europe au bord du gouffre.

Œuvre d’assainissement intellectuelle, donc, que celle de l’ex-ministre grec : aux formules creuses et inintelligibles qui ont rythmé l’actualité pendant l’année 2015, Varoufákis substitue un récit qui dissèque les rapports de force et d’intimidation à l’œuvre pendant la crise de la dette grecque. Il réintroduit ainsi le politique de là où l’avait chassé le discours économique et technocratique : ce qui semblait être des conséquences inexorables découlant de mécanismes économiques clairs se révèle être le produit de rapports de forces brutaux entre la BCE, le FMI, les différents ministres des Finances européens et les représentants grecs.

Renouant avec la tradition marxiste du dévoilement, Varoufákis entre ainsi dans le « laboratoire secret » de l’Europe et expose les multiples idéologies qui alimentent les décisions des instances chargées de négocier un plan de sortie de crise.

Dans la vaste et foisonnante galerie de personnages que présente le livre, ce sont surtout quatre figures qui exemplifient cette critique : Wolfgang Schaüble et Jeroen Dijsselbloem d’une part, Michel Sapin et Pierre Moscovici de l’autre. Les deux premiers assument et gouvernent par le rapport de force ; leur bagage théorique en économie est faible (ce que l’économiste Varoufákis ne manque pas de souligner), et c’est une doxa austéritaire qui leur sert d’argumentaire. Leur vision de la dette est consubstantielle à son étymologie allemande : les dettes, Schulden, sont liées à la faute et à la culpabilité, Schuld. La Grèce doit payer car elle a fauté ; elle doit accepter le troisième MoU (Memorandum of Understanding, le plan d’austérité proposé par la Troïka) même si celui-ci risque de la conduire à nouveau au bord de la faillite six mois plus tard. La dette, lorsqu’elle ne peut plus être remboursée, devient ainsi un outil de pouvoir. D’autre part, Michel Sapin et Pierre Moscovici sont symptomatiques pour Varoufákis de la faiblesse de certaines élites européennes. À plusieurs reprises, les deux Français capitulent sans opposer de résistance devant Schaüble et Dijsselbloem alors qu’ils avaient assuré Varoufákis, quelques minutes auparavant, de leur soutien.

CHOISIR SON CAMP

Livre-récit, les Conversations sont également le portrait des tensions profondes entre les différents acteurs en présence. Tensions, d’abord, entre l’ethos du chercheur, cher à Varoufákis, et celui du technocrate ; pour reprendre les termes de l’auteur, entre outsiders et insiders.

Cette distinction cruciale provient d’une discussion avec Larry Summers, économiste et figure politique américaine majeure, qui ouvre le livre. Il y a, d’une part, les insiders : ce sont les fonctionnaires de Bruxelles, les politiques de carrière, les « technocrates ». Puissants, ils ont abandonné tout esprit critique, toute distance, et pérennisent les pratiques des institutions qu’ils représentent. D’autre part, les outsiders : personnes extérieures au monde politique, ils sont critiques, mais sans pouvoir ; les insiders les dédaignent. À Larry Summers, qui le somme de choisir son camp, Varoufákis répond qu’il est un outsider prêt à faire des compromis pour trouver une solution.

Un outsider prêt à des compromis

Car celui que l’on a présenté comme une dangereuse tête brûlée – le motard solitaire en veste de cuir – se révèle être un remarquable pragmatiste. Varoufákis s’oppose à la frange dure de Syriza en promouvant les privatisations et en refusant la taxation confiscatoire des entreprises. Alors que la Troïka préconise les premières sans condition et une taxation excessive des ménages à travers une hausse de la TVA, l’ex-ministre des Finances avance une stratégie médiane : les privatisations doivent s’accompagner d’un engagement des acheteurs à investir sur le long terme et à accorder des droits aux salariés ; augmenter la TVA et l’impôt sur les sociétés est contre-productif dans une économie exsangue. À de nombreux moments, face à un Eurogroupe qui ne jure que par l’austérité, Varoufákis réaffirme sa thèse simple : il ne sert à rien d’étouffer encore davantage une économie grecque terriblement affaiblie ; certes, des réformes sont nécessaires, mais il est contre-productif de mener une cure d’austérité extrême alors que les caisses sont vides ; en somme, saigner un agonisant, c’est lui donner le coup de grâce.

Tensions, également, entre le principe de rupture démocratique et d’égalité des pays européens, prôné par Varoufákis, et le principe d’une discipline supranationale, dont le principal défenseur est Wolfgang Schaüble. Dès le départ, Varoufákis et Alexis Tsipras affirment leur volonté de négocier d’égal à égal avec la Troïka, allant ainsi à l’encontre de certaines pratiques vexatoires qui avaient cours depuis des années ; l’économiste grec évoque ainsi à de nombreuses reprises le modèle rousseauiste du contrat entre égaux ayant pour but le bien commun. Il rappelle également la signification du vote des Grecs aux élections législatives de janvier 2015 : Syriza a été élu pour signifier le refus d’une austérité excessive ; ce vote doit être compris comme une décision politique d’un peuple européen. Un échange entre Schaüble et Varoufákis montre ainsi toute l’ampleur de leur désaccord fondamental : au ministre allemand qui affirme que « des élections ne sauraient changer une politique économique », le ministre grec répond que « la démocratie n’est pas un luxe que l’on octroie aux créanciers et que l’on refuse aux débiteurs ».

En plus d’avoir essayé de renégocier une dette colossale, Varoufákis a ainsi essayé, à de nombreuses occasions, de rétablir un rapport d’égalité entre la Grèce et la Troïka, par exemple en menaçant la BCE de dévaluer unilatéralement des actifs grecs qu’elle détenait, ou en refusant systématiquement de signer des communiqués trop optimistes sur l’état des finances de son pays. Ses méthodes ont été perçues comme assez radicales et ont contribué à son image de pyromane de l’Europe, peut-être aussi parce qu’elles rompaient avec la soumission habituelle des gouvernements aux responsables de la Troïka.

PRINCIPES D’UNE REFONDATION

Quelle est donc l’Europe dont rêve Varoufákis ? Les principes qui semblent essentiels à l’ex-ministre des Finances qui a lancé en janvier 2016 son « Mouvement pour la Démocratie en Europe 2025 » (DiEM25) doivent se lire en creux. Ils sont, nous semble-t-il, au nombre de trois. Tout d’abord, l’Europe doit se comprendre comme un contrat entre pays égaux, une rencontre de volontés libres déterminées à œuvrer ensemble pour le bien commun. Ce projet doit être irrigué par des objectifs et une idéologie commune, qui fait aujourd’hui cruellement défaut.

Le deuxième principe est très simple : l’Europe ne peut pas ignorer les revendications exprimées démocratiquement par les différents peuples qui la composent. Sur le spectre qui oppose, schématiquement, les partisans de la rupture démocratique comme Varoufákis aux tenants de la continuité contractuelle et réglementaire comme Schaüble, l’Europe doit déplacer son curseur vers le premier. Enfin, les instances dirigeantes européennes doivent repenser leurs modèles et théories économiques et accepter leur remise en question. Une Europe d’adultes, en somme, responsables, conscients des dangers de l’avenir et de l’importance de mener dès maintenant des réformes longues et difficiles.

Vaste programme, bien sûr ! Mais que serait un projet politique sans sa dimension utopique ? C’est indirectement la question qu’adresse Varoufákis aux élites européennes : il est impossible de lier les peuples et leurs représentants sans projet et sans projection dans un futur commun.

Et c’est donc finalement une tâche considérable que ce livre remplit : celle de donner de la substance à une critique intelligente de l’Union Européenne. Les vociférations sans fondement contre une Europe trop « technocratique », « antidémocratique » et « ultralibérale » sont devenues légion, à gauche comme à droite. On réclame sans cesse une « Europe des peuples », sans même savoir ce que cette expression désigne. À ces critiques malheureusement aussi faibles idéologiquement qu’une grande partie des défenseurs de l’Europe, Varoufákis oppose une synthèse admirable : il est possible d’être résolument pro-Européen et critique ; d’être un enthousiaste de l’Europe et d’opposer à l’Union Européenne une « résistance constructive ». Car la critique, comme le disait si bien Michel Foucault, n’est rien d’autre que « l’art de n’être pas tellement gouverné » 

PAR LINUS BLEISTEIN
Publié 10 février 2018 par gegeurope

The British Press’ Glowing Reviews of Second World War Pro-Nazi Book

Richard Griffiths, What Did You Do During the War? The Last Throes of the British pro-Nazi Right, 1940-45 (London: Routledge 2017).

I recently sent a review of the above book to the conspiracy/parapolitics website and magazine, Lobster. It’s been proofread and corrected, and hopefully will go up on the site before too long. The webmaster’s been very busy with work recently, hence the delay.

Richard Griffiths is an Emeritus Professor of King’s College London, and the author of several books on the British and European extreme Right. These include a biography of Marshal Petain (1970), the head of the collaborationist Vichy government during the Second World War, Fellow Travellers of the Right (1980), Patriotism Perverted (1998) and An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Fascism (2000).

The book is a study of how British Nazis and Nazi sympathisers reacted to the outbreak of the Second World War and internment. Some gave up their activities entirely, others carried on underground. A number also carried on as before. And some angrily denied that they had been Nazis, and blamed and attacked instead their former comrades. Another tactic was to infiltrate genuine, non-political pacifist groups, like the Peace Pledge Union, in order to influence British politics to avoid a war with Nazi Germany.

Oswald Mosley’s Lies about Not Collaborating

One chapter gives the British Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, another well deserved kicking. Mosley claimed that when war was declared, he ordered his goose-stepping squadristi to cooperate with the authorities and obey their orders. This was in the text of a speech published in Action, the British Union of Fascists newsletter. In fact, Mosley advised only those members of squalid organisation, who were members of the armed forces, to obey orders and cooperate. In the original speech he made it clear that he expected the rest of the thugs to carry on their activities and pro-Nazi propaganda as normal. The speech was then carefully edited, published in Action to make it appear that Mosley had issued orders for comprehensive cooperation with the authorities. This was then taken up uncritically by his biographers.

This is another piece to add to the mountain of scholarship demolishing the sympathetic picture of Mosley created by Skidelsky’s biography in the 1970s. This was comprehensively refuted by Stephen Dorril in his biography of Mosley, Blackshirt, which came out a few years ago. Among other things, Dorril disproved Mosley’s claim that if the Nazis had invaded, he would never collaborate with them and serve in government ‘as another Quisling’, referring to the head of the puppet Norwegian government. In fact, he was quite prepared to do so.

Bryant’s Nazi Apologia, Unfinished Victory

But one of the most unsettling studies in the book is chapter 2, ‘The Reception of Bryant’s Unfinished Victory ‘, subtitled ‘The myth of public unanimity against Nazi Germany in early 1940’. Arthur Bryant was a writer of popular histories, such as English Saga (1940), The Years of Ednurance 1793-1802 (1942) and The Years of Victory 1802-1812 (1942). In the ’30s he had written academically respected biographies of Charles II and Samuel Pepys.

Bryant was a committed Conservative, and one of that party’s functionaries. In 1929 he became educational advisor to the Bonar Law Conservative College at Ashridge. His first book was The Spirit of Conservatism. Shortly after its publication he became editor of the college magazine, Asbbridge Journal. In 1937 he was made general editor of the National Book Association, the Tories’ answer to Gollancz’s Left Book Club. He was not only strongly in favour of appeasement, but also a supporter of Hitler and the Nazi regime. In 1934 he described Hitler as a mystic, who had enabled Germany ‘to find her soul’. From the late 30s he included in his columns in the Ashbridge Journal and The Illustrated News diatribes attacking what he saw as the libels and slanders put out by the ‘warmongers’ who were leading the country into conflict with the Nazis. In 1939 he was asked by Horace Wilson to write an article on the British point of view for the German press. This was never published, though it did form the basis for much of Unfinished Victory, and was approved by Chamberlain. In July 1939 he was unofficially authorised by Chamberlain to go to Germany to speak to a number of Nazi leaders, and Chamberlain later offered to pay his expenses from Secret Service funds.

The book’s introduction began by asserting that now we at war, Britain would fight with a unity of resolve and purpose. But it then qualified this with arguments for peace with the Nazi regime. And much of this was explicitly anti-Semitic, following Nazi propaganda. He described how Hitler’s seizure of power was greeted with joy by the German people as the new revolution.

He then went on to blame the Jews for the abortive Communist Revolution, claiming that it was led by the ‘Jew, Kurt Eisner’, and the Russian ambassador, the ‘Hebrew, Joffe’. Joffe had indeed been involved in promoting the Communist revolution, but Eisner was the leader of the workers’ soldiers and peasants’ council in Bavaria. I think he was a radical Socialist, rather than Communist, who believed that the Councils should form an addition to parliamentary government, not their replacement. It’s an attitude very different to Lenin’s idea of a bureaucratic state controlled by the Communist Party.

He then went on to accuse the Jews of exploiting the property market in the First World War, so that by 1939 after by five years of anti-Semitic legislation and persecution they still owned a third of real property in Germany. He stated that the Jews had exploited the 1929 Crash and the consequent inflation to make themselves increasingly dominant in politics, business and the learned professions. A quarter of the Social Democrat politicians in the Reichstag in 1924 were Jews, and they controlled the banks, the publishing industry, cinema and theatre, and a large part of the press ‘all the normal means in fact, by which public opinion in a civilised country was formed’.

He then claimed that there was a Jewish campaign to remove gentiles completely from politics and the privileged occupations. He wrote

Every year it became harder for a Gentile to gain or keep a foothold in any privileged occupation. At this time it was not the Aryans who exercised racial discrimination […]. By the third decade of the century it was the native Germans who were now confronted with a problem – that of rescuing their indigenous culture from an alien hand and restoring it to their own race.

Press Reaction Largely Positive

This is vile, murderous nonsense supporting a regime bent on persecuting the Jews to their deaths, even before the launch of Hitler’s infamous ‘Final Solution’. So how did the British press react to this nasty, mendacious piece of Nazi propaganda? In general, they loved it. The book received glowing praise from the Times Literary Supplement, the New English Weekly, the Fortnightly Review, the Church of England Newspaper, Peace Focus, and very many provincial newspapers, like the Sheffield Star, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the East Anglian Daily Times, and the Cardiff newspaper, Western Mail.

There were critical reviews, however, in the Spectator, which was strongly anti-appeasement, the Jewish Chronical, the Manchester Guardian, New Statesman and other newspapers of that type. Two female critics of the Nazi regime submitted highly critical reviews in the journal Time and Tide. One of these was Emily Lorimer, the author of What Hitler Wants, who stated

“All the best and biggest Nazi lies are here, presented with a garnish of scholarship and erudition […] Please God, your clever book has come too late to take any readers in. “

Rebecca West writing in the same magazine declared that the book was
“a paean to Hitler so glowing, so infatuate, that it might be have been entitled ‘Kiss Me, Corporal’.”

The great historian, A.J.P. Taylor called the book and its author what they were in the Guardian in the very title of his review ‘A Nazi Apologist’ and made the point that much of the book was based on Hitler’s speeches. And Richard Crossman in the Staggers pointed to Bryant’s connection to the Conservatives and the appeasement camp.

Bryant himself started a series of correspondence defending himself with the Spectator and the Jewish Chronicle. His publishers at MacMillan, initially enthusiastic, became progressively cool towards it, trying to find reasons to refuse publication. Bryant was still promoting and defending his book as late as May 1940. What changed his attitude was the accession of Winston Churchill as PM, and the disappearance of pro-Nazi groups like Information and Policy. Later in the month Lovat Dickinson of MacMillan’s asked Hugh Trevor-Roper to inquire whether Bryant should be interned as a Fascist. Trevor-Roper advised against this on the grounds that views change with the times. And Bryant ended up writing pieces in the Ashridge Journal describing Hitler as ‘a terrible calamity’ and referring to the ‘terrible and evil things we are fighting’.

The Myth of British anti-Nazism and Concern for the Jews

One of the great myths about the Second World War was that it was fought to defend the Jews. In fact, as the Tory journalist and polemicist, Peter Hitchens points out, Britain entered the war to honour the defence treaties we had made with France and Poland. And the historian Martin Pugh has also said that Churchill’s reasons for promoting war with Germany were hardly altruistic. They were entirely geopolitical. Churchill was afraid that German domination of the North Sea and Baltic would threaten British naval supremacy. And although in private he described Mussolini as ‘a perfect swine’, he had made trips to Fascist Italy and was an admirer of General Franco. And a friend of mine pointed out that in none of Churchill’s speeches does he ever condemn Fascism. He attacks Nazism and the Axis, but says nothing about the wider political ideology to which they belonged.

Griffiths points out that the book’s enthusiastic reception by the majority of the British press shows that large numbers of the British population were indifferent to the sufferings of the Jews. He argues that the idea that the war was fought to destroy a brutal regime was a later war aim. Most Brits at the time believed that Nazi aggression had to be countered, but there was more interest in understanding Nazi Germany than condemning the internal structure of Hitler’s vile dictatorship.

He also argues that while there was little of the visceral anti-Jewish Hatred in Britain like that, which had propelled the Nazis to power, there was considerable ‘social anti-Semitism’ in popular culture. Jews were excluded from certain social groups, jokes based on anti-Semitic caricatures, such as their supposed greed for money, ignorance of British social conventions, as well as the suspicion in popular literature that they were the leaders of subversive groups, and were cowards and profiteers in war. Griffiths writes

Though, in contrast to rabid anti-Semitism social anti-Semitism may have appeared comparatively innocuous,, its depiction of the Jew as ‘other’ could lead to apathy and lack of concern when faced with examples of racial intolerance and persecution. On the one hand, as Dan Stone has pointed out, the British public could manifest a ‘casual anti-Semitism’ which fell into the trap of accepting the ‘reasons’ for the German dislike of the Jews. […] on the other hand, while Nazi measures could shock people of all views, may people found it possible to ignore the problem altogether, while speaking only of the matters, in relation to Germany, that they believed to be ‘important’.

The Importance of Maintaining Auschwitz and Educating People about the Holocaust

This attitude clearly changed after the War when the Allies investigated and condemned its monstrous crimes against humanity, prosecuting and hanging the Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. And an important part of this change was the revelations about the Holocaust. Which is why Holocaust Memorial Day, the preservation of Auschwitz as a museum and memorial to the innocents butchered there and the various Holocaust memorials and museum across the world are important. Its why the real Nazis, unlike Mike, are keen to minimise the Holocaust and deny it ever occurred.

Hypocrisy of British and Libels against Mike and the Left

But this also shows up the hypocrisy of the various papers, which last week published the gross libel against Mike, accusing him of being a Holocaust denier when he is certainly no such thing. Much has been published on the Net and elsewhere about the Daily Mail’s murky, pro-Nazi past, including how the father of editor Paul Dacre was a fanboy of Adolf. And the scum are still doing it. Mike has put up an article this morning about a vile piece in the Torygraph repeating the anti-Semitic tropes of the American Right about the Jewish financier and multi-millionaire, George Soros, accusing him of covertly funding anti-Brexit groups. This part of the American Right’s suspicion that Soros is responsible for all manner of anti-democratic, subversive political groups. It’s part of the anti-Semitic trope of the Jew as leader and instigator of subversion. Perhaps they’d like to go a bit further and claim that he’s also trying to enslave the White race and bring about its destruction through race mixing?

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/10/anti-semitic-jewish-conspiracy-story-about-soros-confirms-the-businessmans-own-fears/

Soros against Zionists Because of Collaboration with Nazis in the Murder of Hungarian Jews

Of course, this is just more politically motivated smears. The Israel lobby also hates Soros, because, as Mike points out, he is bitterly critical of Israel’s persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Soros himself is of Hungarian descent, and he despises Zionism because of the way they sold out Hungarian Jews to the Nazis. Kasztner, the leader of the Zionists in Hungary, tried to make an agreement with the Nazi authorities to allow several thousand Jews to be deported to their deaths, so long as the Nazis spared some by sending them to Israel. it’s another example of the way Zionists would collaborate with real Nazis and murderous anti-Semites to promote their own cause, even if it meant the mass murder of Jewish men, women and children.

The Hypocrisy, Smears and Anti-Semitic Tropes of the Israel Lobby, the Blairites and the Lamestream Press

This shows just how selective and hypocritical the British press’ attitude to anti-Semitism is, as well as that of the groups promoting the smears – the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Tories and the Blairites in Labour. These smears are used exclusively to isolate and marginalise the Left as a political threat to the cosy neoliberal politics and support for the racist, persecutory regime in Israel. But when it serves their purpose, they will use the same anti-Semitic tropes against those Jews, who also threaten them.

What You Won’t See on the News: Trump Arming Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine

This is another piece of brilliant journalism, of the type that the lamestream media are trying to suppress as ‘fake news’ from the internet. This piece comes from The Real News Network, in which host Aaron Mate talks to Max Blumenthal about the Trump administration arming real neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, and Poland’s criminalisation of references to ‘Polish death camps’.

The Azov Battalion are a paramilitary militia, which grew out of the Patriot party. Their ideological leader is a street demagogue called Andrei Baletsky, and they are now part of his Social National Party. Whose names tells you exactly what they are – Nazis. Just like Hitler’s squad of murderous goons called themselves ‘National Socialist’. The group stands for ‘upholding the honour of the White race’. They at against race-mixing, and see themselves as part of the vanguard in the Ukraine in what they term a ‘reconquista’ – a reconquest of the White countries of Europe.

These thugs emerged in the Donbass in the east of Ukraine, fighting the pro-Russian separatists after the Maidan Revolution. The Russian and Russian-speaking separatists wished to secede as their language would not be recognised by the new, nationalist government. They have very strong support from the interior minister, and have been incorporated into the Ukrainian state national security apparatus. More recently, an special corps of the Battalion have been installed in the capital, Kiev, ‘to keep order’. They have begun to throw their weight around, and have disrupted a council meeting. Blumenthal states that this amounts to a coup against the current Ukrainian premier, Poroshenko. For some reason that Blumenthal doesn’t understand, Poroshenko’s position is weak, and he’s been attacked by the pro-Western politicos and activists.

The promotion of the Azov Battalion as a part of Ukrainian state security has alarmed the Jewish community in Ukraine, as well as severely normal Ukrainians. The campaigner against anti-Semitism, Ephraim Zurov, has commented that Ukraine seems to have a greater number of statues to Jew killers than any other country. This includes the nationalist hero, Stepan Bandera, who was a Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust. Blumenthal describes with disgust the way Stepan Bandera boulevard leads to Baba Yar. This was the site of one of the most infamous massacres of Jews in the former Soviet Union during the Nazi occupation. It’s the subject of a poem of the same name by one of the great Soviet writers commemorating the atrocity and its victims.

And, like the Polish senate, the Ukrainian government has also passed legislation banning any ascription of the Nazi atrocities and persecution of the Jews to Ukrainians. As Blumenthal states, this is to wipe out of history the huge amount of collaboration with the Nazis in Poland and Ukraine.

Blumenthal notes the various liberal commenters, who assured us all that the Maidan revolution wasn’t full of Fascists. It was, and Blumenthal describes it as a right-wing coup.

And America is funding them. Trump has sent a shipment of grenade launchers to the Battalion, as well as US army personnel to train their troops. These troopers have been photographed wearing the Battalion’s uniform, which includes the Nazi Wolfsangel, a badge, whose lettering is very much in the style of the SS badge. There have been attempts by Congress to stop the supply of arms and military aid. Legislation specifically prohibiting the supply of arms to the Azov Battalion has been tabled, only to be pushed back for debate later. And while this occurred, Trump sent a consignment of rocket launchers from the arms manufacturer Raytheon over there. Blumenthal also wonders what else the US is funding. The Battalion’s corps, sent in to keep the people of Kiev down, has 600 members. Supplying them with coats alone costs $1.6 million. So he wonders just who’s paying for that.

And the Azov Battalion aren’t just a threat to Ukraine, but to other European countries. Blumenthal makes the point that they’re like ISIS and al-Qaeda in that they attract foreign fighters. One of these was a French Nazi, Montot, who took back with him a vast cache of arms which he was going to use to attack a soccer match and bomb synagogues.

As for the Polish government outlawing any connection between their country and the Holocaust, Blumenthal and Mate state that this has drawn criticism from a number of countries, including Israel. But last year Israel also signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland, which recognised the country’s need to distance itself from the crimes of the Nazi era. And Poland has been a very strong supporter of Israel. They’ve signed a deal to purchase $14 million of arms from an Israeli arms manufacturer. Blumenthal here makes the point that Israel has a long history of collaborating with anti-Semites, including the Nazis during the Holocaust. He also states that the Nazis right in Poland and the Israeli government have the same ideology. Just as the Poles are trying to cover up their complicity in the Holocaust, so the Israeli are trying to cover up their perpetration of the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their ethnic cleansing.

This is very definitely not something you’re going to read in the Times or any of the other mainstream papers. Remember when we were all told that the ‘Orange Revolution’ was pro-democracy, and was a spontaneous uprising by Ukrainians against their pro-Russia president? It was a pack of lies. The Revolution was organised by the CIA, the US state department, and the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been the NGO to which the US has outsourced is coups and changes of regime since the CIA got a bad reputation for it all during the 1970s. The whole affair was overseen by Obama and his secretary of state, Victoria Nuland.

But the media keeps repeating the lie, including Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye. They’ve published several pieces in their ‘Letter from’ column from Ukraine, presenting the Revolution very much as the Ukrainian people fighting off evil pro-Putin oligarchs. The opposite is true. The Maidan Revolution was set up and controlled by pro-Western oligarchs and politicos, as a coup against their elected president.

The media’s unqualified acceptance of the lie that the new government isn’t at all Fascist is now so gross, that the long term critic of America foreign policy, William Blum, in the latest issue of his Anti-Empire Report has commented that the Nazis could walk down Kiev’s main street in full Nazi uniform, and the media would still tell us all there were no Nazis there.

It also shows how craven and mendacious the mainstream press and media is over here. While the Sunset Times, the Heil, Scum and Jewish Chronicle have libelled Mike and other decent anti-racists as anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, manufacturing lies and smears against them because they had the audacity to talk about Israel’s own crimes against humanity and collaboration with the Nazis, they are silent on the real Fascist and Nazis seizing power in eastern Europe.

Or perhaps that’s the point. The Tories, Blairites and Israel lobby are terrified of Corbyn and his supporters, not because they’re anti-Semitic – they aren’t, and they know it – but because they represent genuine socialism and a commitment to real social justice for the Palestinians. In fact, Steve Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, appeared in the page of the Guardian to deny that the Polish government was full of anti-Semites, because the current president is ‘a good friend to Israel’. Thus showing once again that the pro-Israel lobby will collaborate with real anti-Semites when it serves them. And so they have to be destroyed. But it also serves as a distraction from the way America is supplying and funding real Nazis in eastern Europe.

Utopia and populism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/02/2018 - 12:00am in

2008_10_banksynatives

Much has been made of the rise of populism in recent years and the threat it poses to liberal democracy.

My view is that liberal critics of populism, standing on their heads, get it wrong. If made to stand on their feet, they’d have to admit that populism actually represents the failure of liberal democracy.

Populism has experienced a resurgence of late—in Hungary, Britain, France, Turkey, the United States, and elsewhere—especially the form of populism variously characterized as right-wing, nationalist, or authoritarian. It has attracted increasing support and achieved notable political victories within the institutions and procedures of liberal democracy.

The problem is that liberal democracy has failed to confront, much less solve, the problems that have led to the rise of populism in the first place.

wealth-US

source*

Consider, for example, the history of populism in the United States. The three notable periods—in the late nineteenth century (with the rise of the People’s Party, which was also known as the Populist Party), the first Great Depression (around such figures as Father Charles Coughlin and Huey P. Long), and then during the second Great Depression (starting with the Tea Party and culminating in the election of Donald Trump)—all coincided with obscene levels of inequality and severe economic crises that decimated American workers and other classes (including farmers and small businesses) across the country.

Populism has been one of the principal responses to the complex and shifting layers of discontent and resentment that the ideas and policies of the leading political parties, economic elites, and mainstream intellectuals within American democracy first created and then failed to respond to. As I explained last November,

The paradox of the 2016 presidential race is that both major party candidates claim (or at least are identified by those in the media with) support of portions of the U.S. working-class and yet neither campaign offers anything in the way of concrete policies or strategies that actually respond to the real issues and problems faced by the members of the working-class. . .

It’s no wonder, then, that over the course of the past year and a half American workers have rejected establishment politics—as offered by both Democrats and Republicans—and voted in large numbers for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They’re simply fed up with an economic system that has been rigged to benefit only a small group at the top and frustrated by a set of political candidates (not to mention economists and economic pundits) who pronounce fundamental change to be undesirable and unrealistic. Better to stay the course, so the elites preach, and eventually trickledown economics will work.

A different response was, of course, possible in all three circumstances. Instead of populism, marginalized classes in the United States might have been persuaded by and coalesced into a movement with utopian impulses—an association, organization, or political party that combines a critique of the existing order, including the elites that defend it, with an agenda that seeks to radically transform economic and social institutions in a progressive direction.**

As I see it, both right-wing populism and left-wing utopian movements see the existing system as “rigged” against the vast majority of people and level an indictment against “elites” that both benefit from and defend the existing system. Both responses therefore represent a failure of liberal democracy.

But the two reactions are not at all similar, even when both attempt to represent the grievances of workers and other classes that have been left behind.

There are, it seems to me, two key differences between right-wing populist and left-wing utopian movements. First, they approach the matter of alliance and opposition quite differently. Utopian movements identify a basic conflict between the people and an elite or establishment, and then challenge the claims to universality of those on top in order to form a different universality, a set of changes that will create a new humanity and realm of freedom for everyone, including the existing elites. As John Judis explains, right-wing populists exhibit a radically different approach. They

champion the people against an elite that they accuse of favouring a third group, which can consist, for instance, of immigrants, Islamists, or African American militants. Rightwing populism is triadic: it looks upward, but also down upon an out group.

The second major difference is that right-wing populists look backward, conjuring up and then offering a return to a time that is conceived to be better. For Trump, that time is the 1950s, when a much larger share of workers was employed in manufacturing, American industry successfully competed against businesses in other countries, and Wall Street played a much smaller role in the U.S. economy.***

That time was, of course, exceptional—in terms of both U.S. and world history. And it’s a vision that conveniently forgets about many other aspects of that lost time, such as worker exploitation, Jim Crow racism, and widespread patriarchy inside and outside households.

Instead of looking backward, left-wing utopian movements look forward—criticizing the existing order but also understanding that it creates some of the economic and social conditions for a better, more just society.

Liberal critics of populism understand neither their own role in producing the circumstances within which populism emerged nor the senses of injustice—especially class injustice—that fuel populism’s gathering strength.

The Left should be able to do better, both in analyzing the rise of populism as a failure of liberal democracy and in offering a utopian alternative to the status quo. But for that, it will have to look beyond the idea that populism alone represents a threat to liberal democracy.

If liberal democracy is under threat it is because of its own failures.

 

*The chart illustrating the wealth shares of the top ten percent and top one percent is from Richard Sutch, “The One Percent across Two Centuries: A Replication of Thomas Piketty’s Data on the Concentration of Wealth in the United States,” Social Science History 41 (Winter 2017): 587-613.

**Such a movement did in fact gather strength during the first Great Depression, the Thunder from the Left, which is precisely what led to the second New Deal in 1935 (after the 1934 midterm elections and before Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1936 reelection campaign).

***Joshua Zeitz argues that the Populists of the late nineteenth century also looked backward and that the parallels between then and now are striking:

Ordinary citizens chafed at growing economic inequality and identified powerful interests—railroads, banks, financial speculators—that seemed to control the levers of power. Many came to believe that the two major political parties, despite certain differences, were fundamentally in the pockets of the same interests and equally unresponsive to popular concerns.

 

Pages