Monday, 24 January 2011

Student activist to radical leftist worker or student activist – capitalist?

With all the activity during the months of November and December 2010, you would not have been see to be insane if you made suggestions that we might have a revolution on our hands, here in the UK - or just a bit of a lefty loony perhaps, but nothing is to suggest such a position is not admirable.

This type of wishful thinking, although in the spirit a Marxist tradition, or perhaps arguably Robespierre, depending on your political sensitivities, is, from my position of analysis, a far cry from where we are at this moment in history.

Left wing parties in the UK are somewhat in disarray for many reasons, before I continue I would like to state that the work rate, and passion imbued within left wing movements of the UK are inspirational. However there are too many failures for the UK Left to be able to gain the substantial support needed to effectively operate for the inherent functioning of the Left, which I deem to be, egality.

Egality is where society exists for the purpose of the ‘commns’. A truly functional space in which all who need to can use the commons for their provisions, as opposed to what currently exists, that being; an increased privatisation of the public space. An example is in areas such as the NHS.

The Con-Dem coalition, have been and will continue to operate in a manner which favours ‘market completion’, which they believe will be a circumstance of giving GPs managerial positions. In reality this means - services which were once publicly owned close to what could be seen as a common space, although not entirely, should only be provided to those who can afford to pay ‘competitive prices’.

What this suggests is that, only those who can afford the best services are the ones who deserve the best chances of survival if taken ill. We can play a lottery with shit odds for those who are unable to stump up the capital – those with the capital have in most circumstances accumulated such wealth off the backs of exploited workers or through distorting market prices for themselves and their fellow shareholders, at the detriment of innocent people. The most alarming cases of such action are seen in what has been taking place in the global food market. There is a surplus of food but due to price inflation many poor people are struggling to pay for it!

So...back to the main focus - the cracks in the left in the UK.

Eric Hobsbawm, has, in the past week, been quoted as saying that if there is a time for the left to stand up and act, that time is now. Unfortunately although much effort is being made by the hard core collective of workers of the left, such as those involved in NCAFC, the student activist seems, for the time being, to have gone into retreat. Perhaps after going home at Christmas they got a grilling off their liberal-capitalist/neo-liberal parents for being so ‘foolish’/ liberated, and have decided to get ‘back on track’. At the end of the day they will want jobs which generate them loads of money to become rich... and fat.

I hope I’m wrong and we will see the same amount of people, if not more, turn out on the 26th and 29th of this month in protest against this illegitimate, decrepit, spineless government. What we, the Left, need now more than ever is solidarity.

Solidarity is something the Left has been lacking, between one another, for a long time, and in may cases for good reason. Within the Left groups such as the AWL (of which I am a member, although my views, here, may not reflect their political conceptions), Workers Power, Counterfire and the SWP amongst others all oppose one another over one issue or another, particularly but not solely over foreign policy perspectives. Disagreements over foreign policy are although passionately felt, are not what will engage the wider public from my understanding.

At times disagreements are certainly necessary and on the whole a healthy sign of a continuation of political freedoms we here in the UK are privileged with, here my thoughts are with those who are politically oppressed from engagement and radical change within their respective regimes, such as those living in; Iran, Israel/Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Cuba, Congo and such like. Unfortunately I cannot expand this list here or go into detail concerning the contours which may be entailed in this list. All I can say is that each state has its own unique political oppression of opposition to the respective regimes. What this list of states constitutes is the precise point of contention. That being, the Lefts inability to truly unite and generate a united front which would enable the Left to make real pathways toward affective change, and generate a substantial numerical shift of the British population towards the Left.

The speed at which momentum of student activists has dissipated is an example that the Left must be doing something wrong. (Right wing sympathies’ might say we are doing everything wrong but such a simple depiction is easily turned on its head!). It is my understanding that the disunity displayed in the Left on contentious issues such as Palestine/Israel is doing more harm than good to the movement as a whole. Such disagreement or even energy focused on issues such as these is a reason why the left is missing its opportunity to engage wholeheartedly and solely on the counterfire to this governments assault on our commons.

Organisations such as NCAFC, is a prime example of a radical Left organisation that has been formed solely to defend our ground against the government. Why the SWP feel the need to sabotage NCAFC is a typical example of the harm they are causing to the Left in the UK. NCAFC has brought the hard core radical Left together it would be a tragedy if its efforts were thwarted or discontinued or if other groups like it, groups which unite the Left over core issues affecting the UK, did not continue to occur, merely because they disagreed on issues which no one in the UK is able to solve.

Show your solidarity for foreign struggles, but save your energies for the struggle here in the UK.

Workers of the British Left unite.    

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The left matters: Who else is shouting against an unstable, unrepresentative and unjust Britain?

Living in the 21st Century, in the political environment that we as a global civility are faced with, I would like to engage all who are viewing this post with my perceptions that what ‘we’ (the ‘we’ in this instance are; all those who are committed to left wing politics or those who wish to engage or are sceptical of the debates on the left of the political spectrum) are faced with is a world which is unstable, unrepresentative and unjust:

The world is unstable, Unrepresentative and unjust on many levels. Here I set out a few categories highlighting the major concerns or flaws I see.  

The Environment
As inhabitants if this planet we are at the whim of its climate, whether it is through global warming, ecological catastrophes induced by humans i.e. the BP oil spill, volcanic eruptions, large scale flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, or even our dependency on non-renewable energies.

The constant peaks and troughs of financial markets on cyclical basis throughout the history of the capitalist economy, no one is unaware of the devastating effects the financial meltdown of 2008 had, is still going through, and will no doubt continue to experience. The current most worrying event happening in the global economy is the surge in food prices around the world; India, Ecuador and Honduras are the latest economies to have experienced the sharp rise in price of their respective staple foods; Onions and Red Beans.

All this in conjunction with the corrupt practice of monopolising businesses such as BskyB, and Microsoft, corrupt banks, and corrupt individuals who are supported through this decrepit system. A whistle blower Rudolf Elmer has today announced that he has given the details of the endemic failures of the world of finance. The results, when released by Wikileaks, I am sure, will not surprise anyone.  

(Although I strongly adhere to Marx’s analysis that politics and economics being totally interrelated it serves better in this instance to give critiques of the two within two separate categories) 

Politics is at the whim of the market. Today we see Authoritarian capitalism flourishing in Asia (Asian capitalism). It was once assumed that when a state achieves capitalism then democracy will either already be in place or that it will follow suit soon thereafter. What Asia is demonstrating is that such an assumption could not be further from the truth. Asia is the only remaining Region where capitalism is flourishing and where states are advancing on scales never seen in the west.

What this means for democracy in the West is that we are, in order to keep pace and face with our Asian ‘rivals’, rapidly seeing a reduction in social liberties (I speak here from what I know...UK reforms) in legal aid, a massive reduction in statee welfare, 5,000,000 people are now on a housing list, the list is only going to grow. Scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance, a trebling of University tuition fees to become the most expensive public universities in the world!

Democracy and the UK
Democracy also, cannot go without a mention. The UK claims to be democratic and in the general meaning of the term it is, we have marginally opposing political parties, although the Liberal-Democrats and conservatives have shown us an example of how quickly  political parties will ditch their ideals at the expense of the accumulation of power.  

However true democracy is not a system which is dominated by two front benches where the Conservative, Lib-Dems, and Labour MPs went to Oxford together, to study the same course; Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

OK so you might say that people who do this course are suited to lead the ‘country’, I am more sceptical. I think they are careerist politicians in it for themselves and people like them, who happen to be the rich and upper middle classes. This is not democracy it is certainly not representative of the people.

Some people say (a classic fox news line) that we have never had things so good, what do we have to complain about? In comparison to those who have revolted in Tunisia during the past week had things far worse living under authoritarian dictatorship, in Iran political dissidents live in constant fear of their lives, in parts of Africa and parts of South America poverty is endemic on scales far removed from the conditions we in the West occupy. This may be the case, but it does not mean that when the state within which we live here in the UK should merely accept the erosion of our civil liberties and welfare reforms, both of which have paved the way towards the relative lives of the workers of the UK.

Poverty is on the increase, unemployment is on the increase, homelessness is on the increase, restrictions of the poor in education is about to be implemented in the scrapping of the EMAs. This government is introducing measures which favour the rich and condemn the poor. The decision to increase VAT burdens the poor on the grounds of their total income, although it can be argued that the rich will pay a larger sum on the VAT, due to the fact that they spend more, it damages the lives of the poorer earner far more than those who can afford the hike.

But we have this massive deficit and it needs reducing, what else do you propose?! This is the most annoying turn of phrase to come out of the Con-Dem coalition I’ve heard since the financial meltdown phrase “in this current economic climate” (as if it’s going to pass over like it’s a bad weather day. Classic example of the liberal agenda that oh its only a few corrupt individuals or a particular political party causing the problems in the world... ill be Superman, Spiderman, banana man... for a while and solve this problem.

This will not do Cameron, Clegg, or anyone else who believes that twaddle. The financial problems may have been inherited but they come from a system which is corrupt and would have facilitated for such a deficit, under the Conservatives.

So the deficit must be reduced quickly and sharply! For arguments sake lets suggest this is necessary. Put the inherited deficit onto the shoulders of those who had nothing to do with irresponsible lending, and put it onto those fools who spent too much, duped into the spending by a false sense of security projected by the government and the banks, the upper-lower middle class and the poor. The rich the only true beneficiaries of the increase in wealth over the past two decades, the ones who have the money which caused the crash and chose to literally take their shares and run, regardless of the impact upon the workers, no need to tax them or reduce their earnings. Let’s kick those who are down, whilst they are down. Let those poor bastards know the true meaning of inheritance! (I am only assuming what goes on in people’s minds)       

Make of the above what you will, perhaps, typically an unfocused mixed eclectic array of a bunch of issues which don’t matter and which no ramblings of a lefty will solve. But people need to wake up and realise that the picture concocted above is unstable, unrepresentative and, unjust.         

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Gaza Youth break out

Gaza Youth Break Out is a student Resistance which emerged out of the Social Networking sithe Facebook. To date there are 18,000 members. An article published in the Observer on the 2nd of January of this year brought international publicity to this resistance force.

An extract from an Aljazeera article gives an insight into the emergence of GYBO:
“What prompted the group behind the Gaza youth manifesto to take up their pens, was that Hamas officials attacked a youth centre, the Sharek Youth Forum, where young people regularly gathered creatively to vent frustration at the occupation.”

“As a space outside of Hamas's ideological and political control, Sharek constituted a challenge to its authority and its strategies of resistance, to what the Gazan youth describe as the "bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in..."

Here is their Manifesto:

"Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
"We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in...
"We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
"There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.
"We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.
"ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?"
One Blog I read gave a clear perspective for the reasons behind the attention GYBO have gained in the West:

The authors have already released a clar­i­fy­ing statement. They are not dumb, and know which sparkles caught the eye of their tor­men­tors to the north and west, and it wasn’t the stuff about "fuck Israel." (Referring to the fact that they state Fuck Hamas and Fata)

There has been much debate across the left as to whether GYBO are a significant group or mealy a small group of people, not truly representative of the sentiment currently felt in Gaza and the situation there. The reason for the outbreak in publicity is due to their manifesto message managing to strike a chord in the Western media. According to an article published on the 10th of this month in the London Review of Books (Quote) “it has received little attention in the Arab world. The most extensive report on it appeared in Al Akhbar in Lebanon, which more or less reprinted the piece from the Observer”, although subsequently Al Jazeera’s Western media published an article yesterday on the issue.

Weather they represent a board consensus of the people of Gaza or not is not the issue. What matters is that they are a group of (Quote, from the Observer) “Eight people – three women and five men – who wrote the text. They are normal students, from the more secular elements of Gazan society. All declare themselves to be non-political and disgusted with the tensions and rivalries that divide Palestinians between Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, and Fatah, the more secular party which governs the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank. "Politics is bollocks, it is screwing our lives up," said one member of the group. "Politicians only care about money and about their supporters. The Israelis are the only ones benefiting from the division."

So the fact of this situation is that they are like the Left AWL - students who are dissatisfied with all political denominations which claim to represent them, as the AWL is third camp Trotskyism, dissatisfied with Stalinists (such as the SWP, or Workers Power) and opposed to the capitalist construct. For this reason and for the fact that we too are opposed to the Israelis and Hamas oppression we (although I do not want to speak out of turn) stand by and should attempt to support and create links with GYBO in solidarity with this struggle.

The article published yesterday on Western Al Jazeera’s web page was surprisingly in favour of GYBO.  Written by Mark Levine - a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, he is the author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam.

Here is an extract from this article: Note his position towards Hamas:

Hamas as a movement was similarly born in violence, initially against Palestinians more than against Israelis. And now that it has become the de facto state in Gaza, it has deployed its violence against fellow Palestinians with little more scruples than the PA.

Such violence corrodes the social and national solidarity without which large scale, coordinated resistance against occupation is much harder to sustain. It creates, as the authors of the Gazan youth manifesto describe it repeatedly in their text, a "nightmare inside a nightmare," one with "no room for hope, no space for freedom."

This nightmare within a nightmare reflects a double or even triple occupation that keeps those most desperate for freedom imprisoned behind an almost impregnable series of walls. Gazan and Palestinian youth more broadly not only have to fight against the Israeli occupation, they have to fight against their own internal power structures, whose divisive and often bloody competition, corruption, and lack of respect for divergent voices within Palestinian society further weakens the community.

In Breaking their silence GYBO have put their lives at risk (Quote from Guardian): “ young university students are visibly excited, but also scared. "Not only are our lives in danger; we are also putting our families at risk," says one of them, who calls himself Abu George.
Gaza Youth's Manifesto for Change is an extraordinary, impassioned cyber-scream in which young men and women from Gaza – where more than half the 1.5 million population is under 18 – make it clear that they've had enough.

Arab Opposition
GYBO have been attacked on the internet and in some instances have been called Zionists, the Arab world have rejected their plea due to the manifestos explicit opposition to Hamas. So much so that the GYBO opened a blog page as their ability to communicate on Facebook and possibly even Twitter (as they have not Tweeted for a few days now) has been restricted. On this blog page they issued a statement in response to the amount of criticism they were exposed to.
Here is their response:

Title - Don’t distort our speech!

Many activists reject our movement and consider us as some Zionist machinery because in the manifesto, we’ve been denouncing Hamas – among others. It’s always amazing to see the shortcuts people’s minds can take and how good they are at condemning without even trying to understand. We’d like to remind all our goal: yes we are frustrated and tired of being oppressed, killed, humiliated and kept from even leaving to study in other countries, yes we denounce political parties governing us because they didn’t help in anything, but we denounce ALL of them, not ONLY Hamas. We are TIRED of the status quo, from all sides. Political parties have all had the time and chances to BRING THE CHANGE, but we haven’t seen anything yet.

We’re NOT calling for a political coup, let’s be clear on this. We’re young people who want to work for the PEOPLE, we denounce the misery we live in, we denounce their division, and reject their fight, because they are not helping us. But more than Fatah and Hamas, who remains Palestinians just like us, ABOVE ALL we denounce the Occupier & its puppet the International Community who fails, day after day, in its duty to impose sanctions on “Israel”.

Our followers, readers, and those who are not supporting us yet must keep in mind THIS message: we have ONE enemy which is the Zionist Occupier. Hopefully this call will shake our political leaders, wake them up and remind them that they are responsible of us! Hopefully they will realize that what we want is UNITY, and NO MORE DIVISION, because it makes Israeli terrorism’s impact on our lives even worse.

Our call is a call for SOLIDARITY, a call for PEACEFUL ACTION; we are holding out our hands & waiting for you to complete the bond. Make sure this is read, help us work for a better solution, HELP US MAKE IT!

Here are a few of their tweets:

GazaYBO Gaza Youth Break Out 
And we want to get back our rights, bring that change, hand in hand with you against #Zionism. Wait and see what we, #Gaza youth, can do!

GazaYBO Gaza Youth Break Out 
Right to return, right to have a state, right to be free, right to exist. We're Palestinians & that's what we demand. BUILD THE BOND W/ US!

GazaYBO Gaza Youth Break Out 
Why #Gaza's youth stopped dreaming of a normal future? We dare dream, we dare call for an end to this blockade who buries us alive!

GazaYBO Gaza Youth Break Out 
@bangpound We wish more Arabs supported us, hopefully they will join, but apparently, they don't like us criticizing our political parties.

Response from the left in the UK

The SWP may try to claim to support GYBO but this isn’t the case there has been no reference to the group in their paper or their website. Besides this the SWP support Hamas, the very group, who form the oppression of the secular youths who have caused the spawning of GYBO. So for the SWP to claim support for GYBO is absurd.

On the SWP website in an article written by Jody Macintire: he quotes the South African freedom fighter Steve Biko, (quote) "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed", The State of Israel can oppress the Palestinians for another sixty-three years, but it will never defeat their spirit, or win their minds – The article gives no reference to the oppression caused by Hamas toward the Palestinians, which is a clear factor behind the GYBO. 

The AWL was the only left wing site I found with reference to the GYBO. It says allot about other Left wing groups, as they have such extreme positions that when another factor is thrown into the malaise they are unable to accommodate it even if the new information such as the GYBO is a step in the right direction, in doing so this brings the left into disrepute when groups such as the SWP or Workers Power are intrinsically linked to the support of a lesser oppressor, in this case Hamas, being smaller than Israeli oppression. The Awl is the legitimate voice for those truly oppressed around the world, whether in terms of religion, state, or local oppression. Workers of the World Unite!

The Gaza Youth Break Out is a marvellous occurrence to come out of the situation in Gaza. They are Secular and opposed to all and are in search of true peace. If they are not to be supported then we might as well condemn the Israel Palestine conflict forever. Solidarity with GYBO!
Here are some links to their recent Interviews and adaptations of their manifesto:

Authors of Gaza youth manifesto speak to EI  Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 18 January 2011 

GYBO – Manifesto 2.0

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Powers of Mankind

To whit the powers of mankind, nowhere to be kind,
Serving itself,
Compensating through abstractions,
The enlightened stir from its slumber,
Never constant never meticulous,
Capital caught in a debilitating systemic flow,
Constant barrage of inchoate democracy,
By the people for the Bourgeoisie,
Once devised to serve the people,
The symbolic big other,
A destructive loose flow cutting its foundations,
No more for surplus inevitability,
Speculating capital to accumulate destruction, death, disloyalty,
What’s the problem? Think again, what’s the solution?
Ignited once more by students,
It stirs on the streets,
It stirs in the work place,
Socialism, Communism,
Be it what you will,
There is another way,
Back to the drawing board I say,       
We will fight another day,
We will fight on the streets,
Against every corrupt institution,
Create action, new modes, new conceptions,
The Left is Right!
To think we have reached the peak of ‘civility’ is an abhorrent
To claim there is no alternative is subordination,
Enough with this fetish disavowal (I know very well but...)
This will not suffice when they come for you,