"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Did Free Speech Allow the Nazis to Come to Power?

It wasn't UAF that did for the BNP
EXTRACTThe main political lesson of Marxism is that this state, at any and all times, is the main enemy - not “the Nazis”. Nick Griffin or any other far-right crackpot should be perfectly free - as far as the police and state are concerned - to expound their garbage. Laws against ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalisation’ are just as much a threat to communists as they are to fascists or political Islam - far more so, in fact, as we have a fundamental class hostility to the bourgeois state.
Yes, we in the CPGB are perfectly prepared to use the no-platform tactic under certain circumstances, but we oppose the traditional far-left approach, which boils everything down to often pointless displays of physical force or, in the shape of UAF, a liberalistic, ‘something must be done’ howl. But it is a profound mistake to elevate no-platform into a principle.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Expel the Blairite Traitors

John Hutton and Alan Milburn: dead for the labour movement
EXTRACTThere is a precedent, naturally enough. In the early 1930s, the last decade when capitalism faced an economic crisis as serious as the present one, the incumbent Labour minority government found itself irretrievably split on cuts in unemployment benefit. Ramsay MacDonald, the prime minister, responded by forming a ‘national government’ with Tories and Liberals - he and the other Labour members of the new government were immediately expelled from the party, even if slightly reluctantly.
It is necessary to do this again when faced with the current crop of collaborators and traitors. OK, Milburn and Hutton may be political small fry compared to MacDonald, Philip Snowden and JH Thomas, but they clearly represent the sort of Blairite baggage that must be unceremoniously dumped if Labour is to have any chance of constituting itself as a serious oppositional force with resonance in the working class. In 1948 Aneurin Bevan memorably described the Tory Party as “lower than vermin”, as it “condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation”. Could you imagine even in your wildest dreams John Hutton or Alan Milburn saying anything even remotely similar?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Victory Tainted by Right Populists

Homelessness is widespread
EXTRACTWhat all this shows, needless to say, is that the question of the memorandum/austerity slices through Greek politics orthogonally, to the ‘normal’ or formal left/right divide. Therefore it is perfectly possible to be totally reactionary on virtually all social and constitutional issues, yet be militantly anti-troika and anti-neoliberal, as Anel amply demonstrates.
The dangers of going into coalition with a party that you can crudely describe as the Greek equivalent of the UK Independence Party are more than obvious (the major difference being that you cannot serious describe Ukip as ‘anti-austerity’, let ‘anti-neoliberal’). Imagine if George Galloway teamed up with Nigel Farage. The Syriza-led government may not be a classic popular front, but it certainly is a popular front sui generis - of a special kind. The determining characteristic of all popular fronts, including the unpopular kind like Galloway’s Respect, is that the minor or junior ally sets the limits of the governmental programme. Given that Anel is an outright reactionary bourgeois party, this is quite an alarming prospect.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Avoid the Temptation of Power

Paris 1871: Marx advised caution
EXTRACTThough he might not like us saying this, comrade McBurney’s argument is distinctly reminiscent of the rightwing Labourites - winning elections is everything: bugger principle or programme. Say or do anything to get elected. Unless we form a government or control a council, take power in some way, then what can we do? We leave ourselves powerless. Shouting from the sidelines.
But comrade McBurney’s stance is in flat contradiction to the classical, orthodox, Marxist viewpoint. Adapting a phrase already in use, what Marx termed ‘permanent revolution’ is a drawn-out process, where the proletarian party will refuse to take power, while fighting to push the revolution forward: constituting itself as a party of extreme opposition. Marx consistently said working class parties should not be prematurely tempted by power in an individual state, even when circumstances clearly make that a viable possibility. Instead, build up your strength, develop your international contacts, deepen your roots in society, etc. That has always been the programme of Marxism.
Or, to put it another way, the classical Marxist approach has historically been more about holding back the spontaneous working class movement. There are reams of letters from Marx and Engels approving and promoting this position. The Second International was opposed to coalitions with bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties as a matter of principle.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

United Front of the Bourgeoisie

Francois Hollande alongside Angela Merkel, Binyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, etc

EXTRACTMost mind-bogglingly of all, it need hardly be said, is the idea that Saudi Arabia is Charlie and could send an official to an event supposedly cherishing and defending the values of secularism - such a level of hypocrisy is off the Richter scale. Further compounding the outrage is the fact that on the Friday before the Paris rally, Saudi Arabia had publicly flogged Raif Badawi for setting up a blog, Free Saudi Liberals, deemed to be “insulting” to Islam. Originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, the punishment was stiffened after his lawyer made an appeal - now condemned to 1,000 lashes, a 10-year prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of one million riyals (£175,000). Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada (for good measure, his lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July for daring to criticise human rights abuses). Compassionately, the Saudi authorities will be flogging him in weekly 50-lash instalments.
How come leaders and officials in Paris were not demonstrating in support of Raif Badawi - Je suis Raif? The fact of the matter is the United States could bring down the entire House of Saud if it chose to do so, let alone get Badawi released. Perhaps even more to the point, just take a hard look at al Qa’eda and IS: exactly who provides the finances? Wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states who have connections right to the very top of these pro-western dictatorships. Then there is the broader historical and geo-political background. Organisations like al Qa’eda and IS can draw deep from a wellspring of alienation arising from colonial and imperialist oppression, whether it be French in Algeria or the US in Iraq.