Nov 20 2016

FROM FARAGE’S BREXIT TO TRUMP’S “BREXIT PLUS, PLUS, PLUS”, AND ON TO ‘MADAME FREXIT’?


WHAT DOES TRUMP’S VICTORY SIGNIFY?

– ALLAN ARMSTRONG IN CONVERSATION WITH

ALAN BISSETT, BRIAN HIGGINS, PAUL STEWART AND

JOHN TUMMON

(see short biogs at end)

 

 1. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 9.11.16

“An even greater leap into fantasy land is the belief that Brexit will provide a progressive example to other member states wanting to break away from the EU…. The first and unfortunately well-known non-UK person to celebrate Brexit was none other than the Right populist US Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. With typical crassness he chose his new golf course at Turnberry in Scotland to declare his solidarity with Brexit… Another presidential hopeful, Marine Le Pen, of the French Far Right National Front, was the first significant European politician to proclaim her solidarity with Brexit.

In every EU state, where serious ‘break-up-the-EU’ forces exist, they are led either by the populist Right or the Far Right – the National Front in France, Alternative for Germany, the Swedish Democrats, the Danish Peoples Party, the True Finns, the Free Citizens Party in the Czech Republic, and Jobbik in Hungary. Even in Greece, the largest party advocating Grexit is the fascist Golden Dawn.

Brexit can not be seen in political isolation. The last significant global shift to the Right followed Thatcher and Reagan’s election victories in 1979 and 1980. However, this process started as far back as Chile in 1973, after General Pinochet’s CIA-backed coup, and his bringing in the Chicago Boys to begin what eventually developed into a global neo-liberal offensive. There was nothing inevitable about this process, but the election of Thatcher and Reagan probably tipped the balance. This led to the rolling out of transnational corporate neo-liberalism across much of the world.

Brexit has added to the possibility of a new significant shift further to the Right in Europe, although the fact that Trump has risen so far in the USA, shows that this Rightward shift could also take on a global form. We have seen the rise of the Far Right in eastern Europe for a number of years. Here the situation of rampant ethnic nationalism is beginning to resemble the eastern Europe of the pre-Second World War years. This is no longer confined to the east though. The rise of high-level Far Right politicians in Austria and France, also committed to ethnic nationalism, shows that this political descent into a ‘carnival of reaction’ is increasingly becoming a possibility. And their opposition to the EU is what unites these disparate and potentially antagonistic forces.”

 

from June 24th – The FUKers’ Black Friday or Red Friday for a Democratic European Revolution, 28.6.16

(http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/07/04/june-24th-black-friday-or-red-friday/)

_________

In an earlier posting (see above) with regard to Brexit, I raised the possibility of a new further Right populist politics becoming dominant in the world, and replacing the neo-liberalism associated with Thatcher and Reagan, to which most social democrats eventually capitulated.

I suggested at RCN and RIC meetings, before the Brexit vote, that the possibility of the populist Right winning a majority was real (and would not necessarily be blocked because a majority of the British ruling class was against it). I also said at the recent October RCN aggregate that I thought a Trump victory was now likely.

Trump clearly saw the link, dubbing his own campaign, “Brexit, plus, plus, plus”. Marine Le Pen, styling herself ‘Madame Frexit’, was also quick to welcome Trump’s victory. Two thirds of what I forecast above has come to pass. After 1979, France held out for a period against the new neo-liberal assault with the 1981-3 PSF-PCF coalition. Such an interlude is very unlikely to stop the slide to national right populism in France today, particularly since Sarkozy and Hollande have capitulated to much of this already. This doesn’t mean that Marine Le Pen will necessarily win the French presidency, but that she is already dictating the grounds on which the mainstream parties will organise – a sort of preemptive Penozyandism!

Neither Brexit nor Trump could have happened without the mobilisation of marginalised and alienated sections of the working class (particularly white males). But it was the backing of a significant, even if then minority section of their respective ruling classes (highlighted, in the UK case, by the most widely read newspapers backing Brexit) which was the essential factor in these Right populist victories.

Before Thatcher was able to impose full-blooded neo-liberalism (in an international alliance with Reagan) she had a period where she had to deal with those ‘Wets’ or Butskellite Tories still attached to the old model, before they knuckled under. From being initially an outsider, in relation to the British ruling class (whilst still cultivating links with its most reactionary agents in the armed and security services), she brought the overwhelming majority of the British ruling class behind her. Then New Labour followed suit in its acceptance of neo-liberalism (Blatcherism), adding some social liberalism, also subsequently accepted by Cameron’s Tories.

After the Trump victory, there will be a period of liberal outrage amongst some Democrats and some Labour figures (especially on its Right – as after the Brexit vote). However, just as the New Deal Democrats morphed into Clintonites and Old Labour morphed into New Labour, so both parties are likely to morph into national populism too, especially the demand for even stronger controls on immigration and stepped up Islamophobia. I don’t think the Trump election campaign’s apparently less gung-ho approach to international politics beyond the Americas will last too long either. 200 US generals and admirals have already given him their seal of approval. Thus, just as Obama merely recalibrated US imperial strategy after Bush, Trump will probably do the same after the Obama and especially Hillary Clinton years.

Thus, Trump is likely to follow a similar trajectory, persuading a majority of the US ruling class that his national populist politics can be utilised in their interests. I suspect the previously majority Clinton/Democrat supporting section of the US ruling class will quickly adjust to the new opportunities this right populist victory provides them, with more tax cuts for the corporations and the rich – and intensified attacks on public sector trade union organisation, following the Republican model in Wisconsin. They will go along with Trump’s ability to defuse working class feelings of economic and social insecurity with a compensatory emotional/psychological ‘security’ fed by continuous state promoted chauvinism and racism.

How Trump will make use of his presidential powers, and how real any constraints on him will be, once a majority of the US ruling class come to terms with the new situation, has yet to be seen.  It is interesting to see, after the Brexit vote, how May has quickly adopted the mantle of UKIP and has tried to combine this with the most reactionary powers of the UK constitution – the royal prerogative. Many of these prerogative powers were effectively given to the US presidency in the imperial republic constituted by the early USA.

Thus, any real Left challenge to the rise of the populist Right will have to confront the anti-democratic nature of the states we live in. Sanders never even considered this in his initial challenge to Clinton. Corbyn seems oblivious of this too. What would remain of the current Corbyn phenomenon after any early election is a moot point; but even in the very unlikely event of him winning an electoral majority coalition for his diluted ‘Spirit of 45’ policies, he would likely fare less well than the Mitterand/Marchais 1981-3 coalition in France.

And as I have suggrsted above, it is not only the neo-liberals/social liberals, from the remaining Cameronite Tories, through Clegg and Farron’s Liberals to Right Labour, that are likely to bow to the logic of the populist Right. Right wing, UKIP-Lite. Blue Labour already promote ‘Family, Faith and Flag’. And we have already seen some on the Left making their own adjustment to the nationalist orientation promoted by the Right populists. This could pull more on the Left into a reactionary vortex. The Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party has become very much more needed.

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2. PAUL STEWART – 9.11.16

Allan,

Thanks for putting together a response so quickly. While I don’t find much of this contentious I think it’s overly catastrophist to assume an early impulse to ‘ unity’ within the ruling class.  There remain innumerable contradictions as there always are within it and as for the political class and it’s dominant currents, it is in the midst of a huge crisis.

  

 3. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 9.11.16

Hi Paul,

Good to hear from you.

I agree with your statement, “There remain innumerable contradictions as there always are within it and as for the political class and it’s dominant currents, it is in the midst of a huge crisis.” My reservations are directed at those who look to the liberal ruling class to stymie Trump and Brexit. I think it is far more likely that the majority of the US ruling class will come to some new accommodation with Right populist politics. May is already showing how this can happen in the UK.

I don’t agree with John Rees that Sanders would have beaten Trump. Rees hasn’t abandoned his old SWP training, where mindless optimism replaces more serious analysis of what we are up against.

Would Clinton have gone on to back a Sander’s candidacy? I doubt it very much, or it would have been the sort of support the Labour Right gives to Corbyn – just itching for his downfall. If Sanders had won the Democratic nomination, big funds would have dried up, the level of media hostility directed against that “commie bastard” would have far outstripped the liberal establishment reaction to the Trump candidacy. Trump would then probably have received the backing of key sections of the liberal establishment. Just look at some of the forces they are prepared to back across the globe (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria) and the e-mails from Hillary Clinton directing operations against Sanders!

In the very unlikely event of Sanders nevertheless then becoming president (if he hadn’t been shot first!), he would have no institutional backing (something Trump is already getting, e.g. support from generals and admirals) and his New Deal mark 2 programme would be blown out the water. Sanders believes in ‘US democracy’ and thinks the existing US state can be used to bring about his reforms. As I have already stated, the more strongly rooted PSF/PCF government of 1981-3, with its much more significant trade union backing, was unable to halt the slide to the Right in France, when that Right was less virulent than Trump and his backers.

I would argue that for the Left to even begin to take advantage of the contradictions facing a US or UK ruling class all facing the imperial, social and economic crises you point out, means being prepared to challenge the very nature of the state we are living in, and not just hoping to revive either the New Deal or ‘Spirit of 45’ within the existing political system.

If the ruling class is in the process of moving away from their current version of ‘internationalism’ – corporate global neo-liberalism – it is all the more imperative that socialists take up the baton of our internationalism (Another Scotland, etc. etc. /Another Europe/Another World are possible) and build resistance around those in the front line of struggle against national chauvinism and racism.

We need to meet up soon for good chat – but Coors beer is banned!

 

John Tummon

4. JOHN TUMMON – 9.11.16

I agree very much with this, except for the comment near the very end that the Left must not attempt to relate to the politics of the far right. We need to have a full understanding of how far right, xenophobic campaigning in the present volatile political era achieves such resonance within some sections of the working class as well as how this manifests in different countries in the OECD. Just distancing ourselves morally and politically is not enough. A far stronger trade union and socialist movement in the interwar period failed to fully grasp the way the far right could appeal to large swathes of the dispossessed and downtrodden and its subsequent vicissitudes right up to the ‘Popular Front’ policy and beyond showed its ultimate political weakness. The history of Weimar is particularly important to this point.

We must continue to work on this attempt to grasp our own era and why the right has had such a massive impact.

 

 5. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 11.11.16

Hi John,

I mustn’t have put across effectively what I was actually trying to say. I wasn’t arguing that the Left should not try to relate to those marginalised and alienated workers attracted by UKIP and Trump. I was trying to argue that the Left can not effectively challenge Right populists, and win support for an emancipatory alternative, through adopting their own version of national nostalgia. The world has moved on, and the only way that any attempt to bring back the old world could proceed, would be to violently force tens of millions of recent migrants back to their places of origin. A Left, which in any way bowed to this, would follow the same path as the those pre-First World War Social Democrats and pre-Second World War Stalinists.

The Brexit and Trump alliances have both been made up of different groups who want to turn the clock back. For the Left Brexiters it was back to the days before Thatcher, or revive the ‘Spirit of 45’. They voted with the Right Brexiters who looked to the British imperial  ‘glory days’ before Suez, or before the Second, or even the First World War.

There is a similar coalition around Trump. Its working class component looks back to the New Deal, particularly the period from 1945 up until Reagan. There are others, on the conservative Right who see 1960-70s Equal Rights (e.g. the Wade v Roe ruling on abortion) and Civil Rights (leading to a black President) as the legacy they want to overthrow. This specifically Right  (and not the New Deal) nostalgia represents the politics of Trump and his Republican neo-conservative backers.  There is also is the far Right Ku Klux Klan who backed Trump, but whose profoundly reactionary nostalgia takes them back to before the American Civil War.  Trump did publicly disassociate himself from the KKK.

However, if you want to give your support to those New Deal glory days, supported by many of Trump’s white working class supporters, it has to be recognised that a key feature of those days, is vehemently opposed by Trump and the Right. At the time, the New Deal was only possible because of the power of working class organisations. This also applies to the UK Welfare State from 1945-79. This was also a period when women, black people and gays were expected to know and accept their place – a position accepted by many white male workers, their trade union leaders and Labour politicians at the time too.

Workers confined their struggles to improving the terms of their wage slavery. They hoped to gain ‘house slave’ instead of ‘field slave’ status, or at least a society with a finely graded hierarchy of status, where white male workers and their families might be able to climb the social ladder and enjoy some privileges.

However, whatever the limitations of the New Deal and Welfare State (and these must be recognised if there is to be any hope of advocating a politics that moves beyond a continued crisis-ridden world of wage slavery and ‘nation’-states), those trade union and political party leaders buttressing this post-Second World War order retreated in the face of corporate capitals’ globalisation offensive. Nor was it just these particular organisations which declined in size and influence. As you have shown, the very workplaces (especially large scale industrial) and communities (public housing schemes), which gave them sustenance, were uprooted too. The old industries and communities can not be brought back.

This has left many workers or ex-workers as more atomised individuals without collective organisation. This is the situation which allows the ‘promises’ of Right populist saviours to appear more attractive and become a substitute for the collective organisation of workplace and community, trade union and political party. When the populist Right talks favourably about the working class, they haven’t revived the notion of the working class previously held, but now abandoned, by many Social Democrats. They welcome a different working class, one now made up of atomised and dependent individuals – wage slaves hoping for a job in the benevolent master’s house. The populist Right detests self-organisation of the working class (and women and blacks), which made the US New Deal and UK Welfare State political deals possible (at the cost, of course, of trade union and Democrat/Labour official acceptance of the ‘democratic’ nature of their states, imperialism and the Cold War, and their continued acceptance of many conservative social ideas).

With the demise of that old post-Second World order social order, since 1979, we have been living increasingly in a neo-liberal world dominated by global corporate capital. However, the rulers of this order soon became very concerned by the creation of a wider and increasingly transnational working class, both nationally and internationally. They recognised this challenge and began to put into place a strategy and the policies to deal with this. Hence all their anti-migrant and nationality legislation with its accompanying repressive state machinery. However, a battle has emerged on the Right between neo-liberals and Right populists about the extent of national protective measures required to thwart the emergence of a transnational working class.

Strengthened by the post-2008 crisis of neo-liberalism, the Right populists have seized upon the precedents already created by neo-liberalism. They demand more extensive and higher walls, and not just for the elite living in their own walled and gated residential communities. The Right populists also want stricter citizenship criteria and wider participation of the (right) people in the national state, contributing to active surveillance, monitoring and control of ‘outsiders’. ‘We too want our place on the lifeboat. We mightn’t have paid for the luxury tickets, but we can help you stop any of the steerage class getting to the lifeboats, if you protect us too’.

In the Right populists’ brave new world, workers, of course, will still suffer from the alienation resulting from the lack of control of their working lives. That is endemic to wage slavery. But they are to be emotionally compensated for this through their involvement in publicly organised campaigns directed at various ‘others’ – whether non-nationals, ethnic minorities, women and gays who do not know their place (in the ‘ghetto’, kitchen or closet). Or else they can feel useful and superior through reporting on their ‘illegal migrant’ or ‘benefit scrounging’ neighbours. Under existing legisaltion and security measures, many people have already been drawn into the apparatus of control of migrants, asylum seekers and welfare dependents as landlords, or in their workplaces, schools, colleges or hospitals. And just in case one feels uneasy in this state policing role, there is punitive legislation to ensure you perform your allotted role.   A section of the populist Right would extend this further, and encourage the emergence of supplementary vigilante activity.

Until the 2008 Crash, the dominant global corporate elite had promised that their ideal neo-liberal world would eventually improve the lives of the vast majority of people on this planet – despite occasionally acknowledged short-term pain for some. Now, after a nearly decade long period of crisis, all that people can see, in the USA and Europe, is a never-ending vista of austerity and war. Those in the Third World had already come to understand this through the global corporate promoted Structural Adjustment Programmes and through repression by their local domestic client governments.

My contention is that socialists should be building upon the most positive aspect of recent global corporate development – the development of a transnational proletariat (those with nothing to sell but their labour, whether currently in or out of work). Opposition to these people is what unites the neo-liberals and Right populists. We must look at the world we now live in, and look forward, and not retreat to various now reactionary national ‘utopias’.  The old Stalinist idea of ‘socialism in one country’ was itself a continuation, under new circumstances, of that held by the Right wing of the old pre-First World War Social Democracy. Neither of these ‘national road’ strategies could prevent the outbreak of the capitalist barbarism of the First and Second World Wars.

However, instead of looking forward, and developing a new and practical proletarian internationalism to meet the new situation we face (as opposed to sect internationals), considerable sections of the Left (including many from a Trotskyist background) have stepped into the national shoes of old Social Democracy and Stalinism. You can clearly see the continuity in such campaigns as the Militant/CPB No2EU and the SWP/CPB Lexit.

Yet, some of these socialist national roaders, e.g. the SWP, do recognise the threat to humanity posed by an increasingly voracious capitalism, through its constant degradation of our environment. But, how on earth can you combat this on a national basis?  Those ‘international’ deals, from Kyoto to Paris, are highly compromised and likely to prove as ineffective as other inter-imperialist deals have been in the past. Trump and Farage would do away even with these. Genuine global planning is required and this is completely inconsistent with the longer term continuation of national states and their associated cynical ‘international’ deals.

The Communist Manifesto had a whole section addressing those nostalgic socialists who were utterly repulsed by the new world order, which the rising industrial capitalist class had developed. These nostalgic socialists (Marx called their thinking, reactionary socialist) wanted to turn the clock back. Yet, Marx, in 1848, did not mince his words about the nature of the brutal new world brought about under the rule of industrial capital. However, he looked to the newly created proletariat, either living a precarious existence or still part of the global reserve army (of would be economic migrants and asylum seekers). They represented the fighting core of a new future world order.

And when clashes arose between those nostalgic workers who backed the national exclusive orientation of their masters in opposing the struggles of black chattel slaves or evicted migrant Irish, Marx demanded that other workers, including their trade union leaders, should champion their cause. He saw the setting up of the First International as the practical means to achieve this. We can still learn much from this today.

 

6. JOHN TUMMON – 11.11.16

Well argued, Allan. I only took issue with the possible misinterpretation of your comments in order to clarify, but insofar as it produced this development, I’m glad I did. We are clearly on the same page!

 

 th

 7. BRIAN HIGGINS – 9.11.16

Hi Allan,

President Trump! Sends a shiver down the spine and around the globe. America has gone completely mad and to the dogs thanks to the FBI. The world is about to follow! Along with some kind of [very un]civil war in the land of the free!

 

 8.BRIAN HIGGINS – 10.11.16

Hi Allan,

I’ll get back to you about exchange re Trump between you and Paul Stewart. In the meantime it was so encouraging, hopeful and inspiring to see what looks like the birth of a social and political peoples’ street movement against President Trump taking place before our very eyes on tv with masses of people demonstrating on the streets of 25! large American cities just the day after Trump ‘elected’. If this takes off, which it looks like it will, then gallop to the right will be not be anything like as easy as they thought it would be and Trump and Could be, if not swept away then find it difficult to implement plans and policies, because of this movement and Hillary and ilk left, I use the word left advisedly, in it’s wake!

I wrote I thought there would be a civil war, and add huge social upheaval, of some kind in response to Trumps election but I did expect to see the manifestation of this so soon and so massively on the streets of so many American cities. Trump always boasts about [very right wing populist] movement he is forming. Now there is a people’s ‘revolutionary’ street movement being formed to counter what he’s doing. All power to the people…. and social media, These people are using it to advance and not severely curtail and remove democracy and hard won rights and freedoms. Ironic isn’t it Mr trump!

 

 9. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 13.11.16

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your thoughts on Trump’s election. Yes, it is good there has been a reaction on the streets, particularly by young people. However, that also happened in London straight after the Brexit vote. The problem is that because of the hidebound sectarianism of the Left over the decades, many young people go along with the idea of spontaneity and oppose the idea of forming a democratic party, which can develop longer-standing and deeper roots. Thus, we have had the Anti- {Corporate} Globalisation movement, then Occupy, etc,, which quickly disappear without leaving much political trace; or a collapse into rebranded social democracy, fronted by Left populist leaders, e.g. Tsipras in Syriza and Iglesias in Podemos.

In the USA, the problems are greater. Any extra-constitutional opposition to Trump could soon find themselves up against not just the state forces (as those in Black Lives Matter well know), but a mobilisation of the white militias – and the Ku Klux Klan, with its horrific record. Yet this is an entirely legal organisation, and which will only need a nod and wink from the state to restart its terror.

Furthermore, I think big chunks of the liberal establishment will come to a new agreement with Trump and adopt more of his clothing. Just see how most of Theresa May’s Remainers have morphed into UKIP mark 2. May is already making private EU deals for bankers and selected global corporations – and Farage has said nothing about this.

 

 10. BRIAN HIGGINS – 15.11.16

Hi Allan

Thanks for this. Good to see debates over Trump widening and your contributions over this and that your friend John is on the same page! So am I!

Meanwhile back in the USA and Brexit Britain to an extent. Big and very significant and important political difference between Trump post election situation in US and post Brexit one in Britain is that Clinton won the popular vote which gives those still protesting on the streets in mini urban rebellion against Trump presidency much more political ‘legitimacy’, and energy than very short lived anti Brexit demos. This also helps to politically sustain the spontaneous street rebellion in America – which seems to be hardening and getting more and better organised politically and socially –  and to counter attempts to call for national ‘unity’ [of the graveyard!] and acceptance of election result to ensure a peaceful transition of power which offers no threat whatsoever to the established order! Communism is not the spectre which haunts America but action and organisation independent of all of the established order ‘left’, right and centre! The beginnings, the seeds, of socialism are being planted in the street’s, the urban, response to Trump’s [rigged] election. The ruling class and established order must be very worried this spontaneous ‘independent urban rebellion could quickly take on a new political as well as social dimension that could lead to a new re evaluation and realignment of the ‘revolutionary’ left in America out of which a new unified workers’ [pre party] united front political organisation could emerge.

By the way Corbyn’s and his LP’s obvious reluctance to back Remain, and the right wing inspired civil war raging in Labour, were also a millstones round the necks of those who took to the streets, as well as not winning popular vote, and this combination led to very quick sinking of organised ‘street opposition’ to Brexit. Meaning parliamentary ‘democracy’, and May’s [199 strong Tory MPs vote] parliamentary dictatorship very quickly took centre stage and that’s where it remains. Nae pun intended but who knows!

Although high court judges of all people have issued a challenge to May’s dictatorship!

I agree massively the ‘revolutionary’ left must not hark back to the past but instead learn from this and address the new world order and objective circumstances we are now globally faced with and try to organise a new alterantive workers’ world order to this. With a new emerging transnational proletariat, really good internationalist phrase, at the heart of it, fighting and organising street by street, city by city, nation by nation and continent by continent! Off with the old on with the new!

 

 11. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 15.11.16

Hi Brian,

You may well be right about the greater sustainability of the protests in the US over Trump, compared with those in the UK after Brexit.

Nevertheless, unless they begin to take some organised political form, then they will either fizzle out or be recouped by the Democrat Party. I see a Million Women March is planned in Washington on January 21st. If Hillary Clinton is given a prominent role, then that would represent a real dead end. Any smart Democrat, though, would put Michelle Obama at the head!

Meanwhile in the UK, it is the Right and Far Right who are planning a mass demonstration on December 5th to coincide with the beginning of the High Court deliberations over Article 50. This could look like the mass protest organised by the Countryside Alliance – only with more khaki fatigues than Barbour jackets! UKIP, BNP and EDL are all giving their support. Will be interesting to see where the Tory government lies over this.

Even more interesting to see whether the SWP and Socialist Party sign up too – since that is the logic of their Brexit (sorry Lexit!) position! I wrote the following, back in my original piece written straight after the Brexit vote:-

(http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/07/04/june-24th-black-friday-or-red-friday/)

“However, Lexit dares not follow the logic of its misguided politics and call a demo for an  ‘Immediate Break with the EU’  – frightened at who may turn up!”

Well now they know!

I am devoting quite a bit of time developing the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party. Below are some of the relevant links:-

REPORT OF MEETING TO SET UP THE CAMPAIGN FOR A EUROPEAN REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY

 

 

THE REALITY OF THE EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

 

 

EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION – A statement from the Republican Socialist Alliance

 

12. BRIAN HIGGINS, 16.11.16

Street protests are still going on and show no signs of stopping at moment. And Trump appointing white supremacist and anti semite Steve Bannan as his Chief Strategist gave two fingers to protesters and has just added fuel to the fire of street rebellion. I also think time it takes between a president being elected and then installation/inauguration means those on the streets have two months to try to stop him taking office!

Million women march can’t stop inauguration but they will sure as hell send a powerful message about Trump and company interfering with women’s hard fought, hard won rights, especially over abortion. Democratic Mayors of a dozen cities in America, including New York, LA, S Francisco and Chicago have sent message to Trump telling him they will uphold sanctuary status of their cities and will do everything they can to protect immigrants living in their cities against his plans for them. The more pressure brought to bear on Trump and cohorts the better!

Regards street demos fizzling out. One of the founders of Occupy Wall Street was on Newsnight last night and argued that street demos and activity like Wall Street, on their own are not enough and that a new political party needs to be formed to unite disparate groups of protestors and give them a political organisation to fight the Washington system and establishment! And so say all of us. Although he didn’t say just how revolutionary or not this political organisation should be!

I didn’t know right, far right would be holding a demo in London on December 5th to coincide with beginning of appeal over article 50. Surely SWP SP Lexit brigade will not be stupid enough to join this ultra right demo? I think they will be frightened of being associated with ultra right forces who’ve said they will turn up even although as you say the logic of their misguided Lexit politics points in that direction.

Here’s to Socialist Republican Party of America [give current RP kittens!] and European Republican Socialist Party!

 

 13. ALLAN ARMSTRONG, 17.11.16

 Hi Brian,

Let’s hope you are right and that enough people in the US begin to see the need for a Socialist Republican Party. To which I would add – and one that is prepared to challenge the imperial presidential nature of the US constitutional set-up, and not just seek to get people elected within the existing framework.

This will involve political struggle on at least four fronts – i) against continued Democrat attempts to coopt any such movement; ii) against attempts to create a new Labour Party in the USA which focusses most of their efforts on trying to improve economic conditions within the existing US set-up, i.e. get a New Deal mark 2 (when the economic and political conditions for this have been historically superseded); iii) against those who want recreate their own nostalgic version of the Marxist-Leninist Party (along with all their variations on alliances with i) and ii); and iv) against those anarchists and autonomists who worship spontaneity, and see no need to create that Socialist Republican Party. That’s a lot of challenges!

There is one sobering thought, when acknowledging that national populism we currently face is not the fascism being claimed by so many liberal (and even some Left) commentators. The ruling class don’t need fascism to get their own way when the Left is more marginal than during the 1920s and ’30s!

To the extent the Left in Europe has gained wider influence, it has been mainly organised around its own versions of Left populism, e.g. Tsipra’s Syriza and Iglesia’s Podemos. These promote little more than reheated versions of social democratic policies, but for a period when the traditional working class, organised in trade unions and social democratic/labour parties, has lost most of its old economic and social basis.  Syriza’s own Left national populist politics (highlighted by its government alliance with the Right national populist ANEL) failed at the first hurdle. Podemos began to peddle their own version of a ‘third way’ in the most recent Spanish election. They have not been able to develop a clear understanding of the nature of the Spanish state or develop a consistent position in relation to the EU.

In reply to you not knowing what Farage and the far Right have planned for December 5th – the SWP hasn’t decided to join Farage’s demo on December 5th (the logic of their earlier Lexit desire to be close to Brexit’s working class supporters), but are organising a counter-demo. This follows their decision, after the Brexit vote, “to quietly abandon ‘Leave’ and throw themselves, somewhat hypocritically, into a renewed call for Scottish independence. This is based upon a ‘Remain’ vote, which they also opposed. They attempt to pull off such U-turns by claiming, “We’re the revolutionary party” (code words for, ‘We can make it up as we go along’); and its all a question of “tactics, tactics, tactics” (code words for, ‘We have no programme, so anything goes’).” (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/07/04/june-24th-black-friday-or-red-friday/)

The SWP’s turn is behind their latest front organisation – Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) – launched to relate to the Corbyn phenomenon. Looking at its website, there is no analysis of the nature of the racism (and national chauvinism) we face, the role of the state (especially the latest Immigration laws) in underpinning this, no recognition of the Left Brexiters’ role in helping Farage and the Tory Right come to the fore, and no principles (e.g. supporting ‘no one is illegal’ and the free movement of people). SUTR looks like little more than the SWP’s latest attempt to win some new recruits from the currently large Corbyn pool, without following the rest of the ‘Brit Left’ into the Labour Party marsh.

If the job confronting us seems a tall order, then our greatest strength lies in having an analysis that understands the need for a new internationalism, which challenges existing states. Furthermore, you are definitely right in thinking there will be many points of resistance to the effects of this latest national populism. Developing the political organisation to bring these two together is the key.

 

th-1

14. ALAN BISSETT, 14.11.16

Hi Allan

I hope to god you’re working on a piece about the post-Trump landscape. From where I’m standing I’m seeing white nationalism in the ascendant in the US, the UK and potentially various European states, with Trump signalling to Putin a willingness about letting him advance west.  The far right movements in Europe are pro-Trump and pro-Putin, which leaves Europe in the grip of their pincer movement, notwithstanding nationalist contagion from within.

I keep coming back about what you said pre-Brexit about the EU having the potential to be a progressive bulwark, uniting socialist governments of Europe, preventing warfare on the continent. It seems that the far right have had exactly the same thought, which is why Trump, Farage, le Pen, Putin et al are all presently seeking the disintegration of the EU.

At the Scottish level, the far right has been kept in check by the success of the Yes campaign in working-class communities, establishing an alternative narrative than the one being sold to the English by Farage, and counterbalancing the pull of British nationalism on the Scottish working-class in the form of Unionism and the Orange Order.

But it also makes us a target.  Farage, May and Trump will recognise the strategic importance of maintaining the structural integrity of the UK and the defeat of the independence movement.  And Trump already has a grievance against the SNP after his golf-club/windfarms contretemps with Salmond.

Ironically, the very security risk to Scotland which the Unionists themselves will engineer then is what they’ll use to frighten us into a No vote in indyref2.

A successful No vote, however, leaves us vulnerable to be trapped with an ascendant far-right, shut off from the protection of the European Court of Human Rights.

Be very interested to get your thoughts on this.

 

 15. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 15.11.16

Hi Alan,

I have been giving quite a lot of thought about the situation we face in the aftermath of Trump and Brexit. I agree with all the points you make about May (and her Right allies). They want to further batten down the hatches of UK Ltd. Despite his part-Scottish background, I think that Trump sees his best allies amongst the reactionary Brexiter British unionists. They are very keen to increase the NATO contributions he has called for.

This all makes it increasingly unlikely that the SNP government will get a British government agreed independence referendum, and the US is likely to be even more hostile. Sturgeon’s hoped for greater institutional support from the EU in any future referendum (or even for a separate Scottish Brexit deal) is looking more unlikely, as the political complexion of the EU member countries threatens to shift from neo-liberalism to national populism too.

Although I very much have a European perspective, this does not equate to a pro-EU position though.  The EU, like any other capitalist institution (and especially the UK), is not run for the benefit of workers or small farmers. In the post-2008 crisis situation, the EU no longer offers any new meaningful reforms. Indeed, like the UK, the EU is going through counter-reform process as the people of the Greece and Ireland know only too well.

When I voted to Remain in the EU, it was firstly in solidarity with those 2.6 – 2.9 million EU residents who with a Brexit vote would face the prospect of being subjects of the draconian 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts, with dire consequences for all workers. More positively, these migrant workers and their families also represent a real basis for a transnational future, which I believe socialist should embrace. Now that, following the 2008 Crash, the corporate elite has abandoned any pretense of a wider more universal perspective (concentrating entirely on saving their own skins). I think it is essential that socialists take up the baton of an entirely different globalism – that of the Global Commune. Our immediate support, though, should go to all those who form the already existing basis for such a future – the tens of millions of migrant workers the main focus (along with asylum seekers) of neo-liberal and national populist hatred.

All Brexit and Lexit dreams are based on nostalgia for past that can not be brought back, and denies or downplays the importance of these people. Disregarding, or indeed completely opposing their needs (as the Right do), can only bring about a horrific new dystopia. The reinforcement of such reactionary thinking through Brexit is, of course, the other reason why I voted to Remain, and strongly opposed those Left populist Brexiters, Lexiters and Scoxiters who, like the equally misguided Galloway and the Red Paper Collective over the Scottish independence campaign, could only reinforce the Right through their actions. There is a direct link from Brexit to Trump.

I have begun to work with others to bring about a Campaign for European Republican Socialist Party (you will see the links in my last reply to Brian Higgins. This goes further than Varafoukis DiEM25, which accepts the existing national state make-up of the EU as a given, and is ambiguous about the anti-democratic structures of the EU set-up. DiEM25 sometimes appears to argue that if the right people (meaning the Left!) become a majority that would suffice. Corbyn has equivalent illusions in the UK state set-up. The challenges made by Catalunya and Scotland highlight the need for a complete transformation of the EU (and UK) including its present state-make up, both within and outside the existing boundaries.

This is a period when any progressive distinction between British nationalism and Scottish nationalism could become blurred. There could be a retreat from the (tactically supportable) Scottish civic nation approach of most Scottish independence supporters in the 2012-14 referendum campaign, under the political pressures we face now face. Socialists in Scotland should belong to neither of these nationalist camps (whatever discussions and debates there will inevitably be about particular tactics towards them). We should stand out clearly as Scottish internationalists and argue that not only are Another Scotland, Another Europe and Another World possible, but that we start developing the necessary organisations to make this a reality/

I would be very pleased to get any further thoughts you have. It’s time for the 2011 generation to take over from us crusty old ’68ers!

 

16. ALAN BISSETT – 16.11.16

 

Thanks, Allan.

As ever a cool appraisal. Much for us to worry about, but I’m also glad you found the positives (the US street movement). You’re right, we can’t go back to a ‘proletarian revolution’ as the workplaces and organising structures were smashed in the 1980s, but it does look as though change will come from the same alliance of feminists, BLM, trans and queer activists plus the more ‘traditional’ left (in the shape of the Sanders movement) that are up in arms about Trump’s victory. The centre has completely dropped out of politics (New Labour, Lib Dems, Democrats) and we’re seeing the true nature of the struggle now in a way that we haven’t in decades.

One thing: Russia is absent from your analysis. Trump seems to be making conciliatory words to Putin. Is this because he sees him as a potential ally against ‘socially democratic’ Europe?

 

17. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 17.11.16

 

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your encouraging comments.

I would want to go beyond the “same alliance of feminists, BLM, trans and queer activists plus the more ‘traditional’ left (in the shape of the Sanders movement).” I would not abandon the terrain of production, which is at the heart of capitalism (and any other social system for that matter). Work is organised very differently now, and the traditional forms of trade union workplace organisation no longer fit. One of the interesting features of the period, which led to the New Deal (although its socio-economic and political preconditions can not be brought back), was the development of major new industrial unions, e.g. UAW, and even a new organising centre – the CIO. These brought working class organisation to workplaces that many earlier union leaders thought unorganisable – e.g. Fords, then sometimes seen as an example of ‘fascism in the workplace’.

Today, though it is not a revival of industrial unionism we need but social unionism, which can link workplaces to communities, and can organise wider support action. The Independent Workers Union in Ireland has being trying to develop this. This is one of the debates that took place at the Third Global Commune event (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2011/02/11/report-of-the-third-global-commune-event/)

And again, I would like to emphasise the need for a political party of a new type, thoroughly democratic in its organisation. It would need to develop an analysis and programme which could politically unite the diverse forces of opposition, stating not only what is was is anti- but provide a positive programme, which outlines the way to the ending of wage (and other forms of) slavery and the formation of a Global Commune. This is part of the thinking underpinning some of us working for the Campaign for A European Republican Socialist Party. Certainly a lot of emphasis needs to be around immediate demands, such as support for the ‘free movement of peoples’. But its activities would have to be underpinned by building independent class organisation, rather than providing new personnel to keep the old system running.

You also raise the very relevant point about Trump’s foreign policy – particularly his much-vaunted (including by some on the Left) overtures to Putin. Trump is not wrong in recognising in Putin another national chauvinist populist with contempt for democracy and particular racial/ethnic groups, women and gays. Trump’s and Putin’s appeals to sections of their respective national working classes is based on total opposition to any attempt they may make to organise independently, and upon their acceptance of Trump/Putin as the unquestioned leader who alone (or maybe along with a subservient state machine and his allies) will provide. And, if there is a big economic shortfall in what this actually amounts to, Trump/Putin offer emotional/psychological compensation in the form of a celebration of  ‘true’ Americanism/Russianness, coupled to their call for active involvement in the scapegoating of others (up to now this has been left by the liberal elite to the behind-the-scenes bureaucratic operations of the state). If necessary, workers can even be drawn into further wars, where they receive national populist state promoted heroes’ accolades (building, of course, on all those state promoted national chauvinist events already in place), which will try to  drown out the misery and loss caused by all the deaths and injuries.

Trump has suggested a rapprochement with Putin. The pre-First World War period was marked by a a series of realignments between the main imperial contenders. The main world power, the UK, shifted from an earlier nineteenth century pro-Germany, and anti-France and anti-Russia stance to a reversal of this in the 1900s. A later enemy, Austria Hungary, was allowed to extend its influence in the Balkans, without UK opposition as late as 1908. There were also temporary deals made with the UK’s by now main enemy, Germany, such as occurred after the 1911 Agadir Crisis.

But all this was all still within a context of continued inter-imperialist competition. Some have argued that the actual First World War was not inevitable, and they may be right. However, unless socialists had been able to stop it breaking out, another major inter-imperialist war, with possible different line-ups, was inevitable.

The key thing about imperialism is that it is a mutually competitive system which enforces its logic upon all participants, and is not just a particular policy pursued by one or a few powers (e.g. USA or UK), or even particular leaders (Hillary Clinton and her backers, or Tony Blair and his backers). It is possible that Trump may come to some new deal with Putin, which would be bad news for say the Ukrainians or Kurds.

Furthermore, in doing this, Trump could actually strengthen US imperialism’s currently overstretched position, by forcing European states to pay much larger contributions to NATO. This is something that would be much more likely in a break-up of the EU scenario, which ends any possibility of an alternative European imperial military force emerging. Theresa May and Nigel Farage are already salivating at this prospect. And the SNP government thinks that by participating in NATO they can help to redirect US imperial policy!

Trump faces bigger contradictions in the Middle East (but so too did Obama – unsure whether to focus his main attention against Assad and Iran, or against ISIS). Trump has talked about leaving Assad to get on with it. However, he has also talked about scrapping Obama’s deal with Iran (and even bombing the country). His election has been welcomed by Israeli politicians for putting the end to any prospect of a Palestinian state.

Some people have been surprised to the extent to which Trump managed to win Latino votes, assuming Latinos formed a homogenous bloc. Florida is the home to many right wing Cuban exiles, and Trump has promised to scrap Obama’s recent deal with Cuba. Trump will also likely step up the pressure on the now ailing Chavista government in Venezuela.

The key imperial players in the world today are the USA (still easily militarily superior to all others); China (gaining economically all the time – and more than happy that the US concentrates its main efforts on the Middle East and Russia); the EU (now looking like an unsuccessful attempt to revive Europe as a key imperial, but after the calamitous Second World War, as an economically and politically united centre); and Russia (a declining imperial power, a bit like the Spanish and Ottoman Empires at the end of the nineteenth century – but still with nuclear weapons).

This is the situation, which makes it harder for the USA to pursue a consistent imperial strategy with regard to the other main contenders (remember there were even divisions in Obama’s government, with Hillary Clinton being more ‘hawkish’ over Syria). Obama (despite liberal and some leftist illusions after his initial 2008 election) merely rebranded US imperialism when he took office. He depended more on drone warfare to avoid too many unpopular American military casualties.  He stepped up training of national counter-insurgency forces, such as are seen in operation in Mosul today (although again with little possibility of a broadly accepted post-ISIS regime emerging there and the prospect of a whole new set of conflicts emerging, with Turkey becoming the new unpredictable maverick). Obama unleashed his own political disaster – Libya (egged on by Clinton and backed by Cameron and Miliband) to match that of Bush – Iraq (backed by Blair and Duncan-Smith).

Trump might have shaken up the existing Washington political establishment, but I think he will rapidly come to some form of accommodation with the US military/industrial nexus, demanding his share of the spoils. The 200 US military and naval leaders, who have already given their backing to Trump, show the beginnings of a new imperial line-up.

Much to ponder over. I am putting all these online conversations together. They have greatly stimulated my own thoughts.

Cheers,

Allan

______

 

Allan Armstrong

Allan Armstrong is a retired school teacher and author of From Davitt to Connolly, ‘Internationalism from Below’ and the Challenge to the UK State and British Empire, 1889-95 and The Ghost of James Connolly – James Connolly and Edinburgh’s New Trade Union, Labour and Socialist Movements (1890-96). He is also a contributor to Unstated – Writers on Independence and Scotland and the Easter Rising. Allan is a communist, republican, freethinker, secularist and Scottish internationalist. He was the convenor of Scottish Rank & File Teachers, then the Scottish Federation of Socialist Teachers, and Chair of the Lothian Anti-Poll Tax Federation. He is a supporter of the Radical Independence Campaign, Republican Socialist Alliance, Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party and on the Editorial Board of Emancipation & Liberation.

see:-

JUNE 24th – THE FUKers’ BLACK FRIDAY OR RED FRIDAY FOR A EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?

AN OPEN LETTER TO LEXITERS

 

A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-eu-referendum.html

 

 Alan Bissett

Alan Bissett is a novelist, playwright and performer from Falkirk, who now lives in Renfrewshire. He is co-editor of Under a Union Flag – Rangers, Britain and Scottish Independence and a contributor to Unstated – Scottish Writers and Independence and Scotland and the Easter Rising. Alan is a supporter of the Radical Independence Campaign.

see https://alanbissett.com

 

Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins, originally from Glasgow, now lives in Northampton. He has been the most blacklisted building worker in the UK. He was secretary of the Building Workers Group, and amongst many other struggles, a leading militant in the 1995-6 Laings Lock Out. He is the author of Rank and File or Broad Left – A Short History of the Building Worker Group. Brian is a communist, republican, Scottish internationalist, trade union militant, Glasgow bear and Celtic supporter.

see:-

WHY NO PITCHFORD ENQUIRY IN SCOTLAND?

 

A STATEMENT FROM BRIAN HIGGINS, SECRETARY OF THE BUILDING WORKERS’ GROUP, ABOUT THE DEATHS IN QATAR

 

BLACKLISTED

 

UNDERCOVER BUT WITHIN SITES – POLICE INFILTRATION OF TRADE UNIONS

 

Brian Higgins Anti-Blacklist Campaign

 

Campaign To Fight The Blacklist And To Support Brian Higgins

 

 Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart is a university lecturer at Strathclyde University. Originally from Belfast he now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of We Sell Our Time No More and wrote the Introduction to The Provisional IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament by Tommy McKearney. Paul is a supporter of the Radical Independence Campaign and attended the founding meeting of the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party.

see https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-stewart-11b04732

 

John Tummon

John Tummon lives in Stockport. He is a musician. He has been involved in many campaigns in the Greater Manchester area. John was involved in English solidarity work during the Scottish Independence Referendum and is a supporter of the Republican Socialist Alliance and the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party.

see:-

FOR AN INTERNATIONALIST REPUBLICAN POLITICS THAT ADAPTS TO 21st CENTURY TERRAINS OF STRUGGLE

 

DEFINING REPUBLICANISM

 

 

 

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