Nov 28, 2005

What Pat sez...

The November 21st issue of American Conservative has an examination of the Weekly Standard. American Conservative is Pat Buchanan’s brainchild and represents a mixture of old time conservatism and a contemporary Far-right anti-globalization, anti-War, and anti-Israeli politics. American Conservative is, however, no unified voice on all fronts. They prioritize debate and the clarification of similarities and differences. Checking out the November 8, 2004 issue you could find a good example of the heterogeneous nature of the journal – each of the main contributors picks a different presidential candidate. If one believed the simplistic caricature that is portrayed of the Right by the Left, one would expect that Buchanan’s folx all endorsed Bush. Wrong. The issue starts with the following editorial,

“Unfortunately, this election does not offer traditional conservatives an easy or natural choice and has left our editors as split as our readership. In an effort to deepen our readers’ and our own understanding of the options before us, we’ve asked several of our editors and contributors to make “the conservative case” for their favored candidate. Their pieces, plus Taki’s column closing out this issue, constitute TAC’s endorsement. —The Editors”

and then among the articles, Scott McConnell lays out an argument for why Kerry should gain the presidency, or more accurately, why Bush should loose,

“There is little in John Kerry’s persona or platform that appeals to conservatives… But this election is not about John Kerry…It is, instead, an election about the presidency of George W. Bush… Bush has accomplished this by giving the U.S. a novel foreign-policy doctrine under which it arrogates to itself the right to invade any country it wants if it feels threatened. It is an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine, but the latter was at least confined to Eastern Europe… George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky’s concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft.”

Anway, the point here is that American Conservative is trying to regenerate “Right Wing” discourse. They have positioned themselves as the opposition to Bush and the NeoCon agenda. Buchanan himself is not fascist, just an old time White Conservative. however, his politics have lead him to embrace fascist groups that organize through patriotic fronts. This is where his sympathies lay, with reactionary nationalism that is attempting to build popular Right fronts. And while Buchanan is a U.S. patriot, he looks globally to find partners and like-minds. Check out his take on France's Le Pen, who won an impressive 17% of the 2002 French Presedential vote. Quasi-fascist National Front Le Pen (Le Pen has been associated politically with WWII Nazi and Vichy Government officials) was defeated only when the the Communist and Socialist Left rallied behind Conservative capitalist President Jacques Chirac.

The signifigance of American Conservative and Buchanan was touched upon previously in an interview I did with the Kate Sharpley Library. I made some political points on the popular Right and it's relevance to fascist trends here in the States.

Nov 17, 2005

The Context and Rebellion Behind The Headlines

more thoughts from Sketchy Thoughts on the French youth revolts:

... While some stupid hypocrites on the left (sorry, some might prefer words like “reformist” or “revisionist” which i think are too inexact) claimed that the rioting was “apolitical” or “irrational,” it was in fact selective (symbols of the State, businesses, and cars being the main things set on fire) and understood by everyone who cared to open their eyes to be a rebellion against the miserable living conditions in the suburbs.

This does not mean that every act that anybody committed during the first two weeks of November should automatically be granted a revolutionary seal of approval. There is nothing laudatory about the case of the disabled woman who was severely burnt when she could not escape a bus that rioters had set on fire, or the retired autoworker who was killed when he tried to put out fires rioters had set. Such attacks have no progressive content, but to condemn them without noting that horrible anti-social violence like that also occurs when nobody is rioting is to risk seriously distorting their meaning. That only a handful of violent attacks against bystanders have made the news during almost three weeks of violent rebellion involving tens if not hundreds of thousands of people is what is actually remarkable.

Yet even when it was sympathetic, the left was slow to respond to events. From what I have seen, the two main Trotskyist organizations (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire and Lutte Ouvriere) were not only slow to respond, but also failed to appreciate that the riots might be something more than a random and dumb revolt.

Not that many anarchists or socialists seemed to know what to make of the largest rebellion in decades either. Notable exceptions were the CNT-AIT, CNT-F and Alternative Libertaire (amongst the anarchists) and the tiny Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). But even amongst these, only the CP(MLM) seemed to initially grasp the import of the events as they transpired. And apart from issuing communiqués, there is no news of practical solidarity being extended on anything but an ad hoc or personal basis. People who have shown up at courthouses to extend solidarity to the rioters have noted that most of the “regulars” at such solidarity appearances are nowhere to be seen.

Anarchist responses seem to run the gamut from “Long live riots!” (many individual postings on the Indymedia sites) to a circle-a echo of the social democrats, decrying the irrationality of the riots while acknowledging that they are the byproduct of real suffering.

With the exception of the CP(MLM), i have not read anything by an groups in France that actually consider the rioters to be the vanguard or the most important agent of revolutionary change in the current context. Most merely suggest that the rioters should ally with or join up with radical trade unionists or other established (and predominantly “French”!) left-wing sectors.

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Nov 14, 2005

Ruling Class Views on France

There are some significant, and quite incompatible comments on the French situation from two distinct ruling class quarters – both of which I would see as neo-con and globalist. The first, from Thomas Barnett’s blog, is indicated below. The second is contained in Steven Steinlight’s comments to a recent panel on the subject held by the Center for Immigration Studies. It should be on either this group’s website, or on NPR’s.


The competing analysis on the Paris riots
■"Why France is burning with anger," comment by Dominique Moisi, Financial Times, 98 November 2005, p. 13.
■"Why Singapore hums as riots sweep France," by Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune, 9 November 2005, p. 2.
■"A revolt of youth without religious motivation," by Roula Khalaf and Martin Arnold, Financial Times, 9 November 2005, p. 2.
■"Strife adds to familiar concern: Economic impressions," by Dan Bilefsky, International Herald Tribune, 9 November 2005, p. 6.
It ain't about religion, but about economic connectivity. The 'new proletariat' can't turn to Marxism, because that's too discredited. So when you're radicalized today, the one package that's both anti-capitalist and anti-Western is jihadist Islam.
No, it's not about religion and, quite frankly, it never is. It's about identity in a world where you're defined by your job.
Singapore works because Singaporeans work. Lee Kuan Yew's genius isn't just his clever use of affirmative action programs, its his ability to make Singapore an FDI magnet. The place has the highest inflows and outflows of foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP in the world, because it's the most trusted government on trade and investment in the world, as captured in Economist polls of corporate CEOs.
So please, no clash of civilizations.
Not yet, at least. But expect Islamist parties to tap into that economic unrest and anger. If they represent that pain effectively, we'll see economic and political connectivity arise. France will do this against it's will, but it will do it to protect the country's own connectivity to the global economy.
Posted by Thomas P.M. Barnett at November

Nov 9, 2005

L' Intifada ou L' Haine?

"Newsweek feverishly asks whether 'the riots [will] swell the ranks of jihadists in Europe' and calls the events the 'beginning of jihad in Europe'.

This is all more than a bit over the top, and drips with the very undisguised racism that is the cause of the disturbances..."

"Nonetheless, the commentators, even if they articulate themselves through the orientalist prism, alight on the heart of the matter: Europe, like anywhere else in this deregulated, unemployed, privatised, pulverised, atomised, lobotomised cosmos, where the slavering corybantic market fundamentalists would yet privatise the heavens and lay off Saint Peter and the Archangel Gabriel if they thought it would enable them to compete better with Estonia's flat tax, sits atop a powder keg of righteous anger, the predictable product of gross inequality and racism both within its borders and in its relations with the developing world."

"The paternalist left has abandoned them at best, and at worst actively participates in racist and Islamophobic attacks disguised as a defence of la laïcité républicaine, and the far left is only marginally better. The left must remember, as in New Orleans, globalisation is not merely a question of class, but explicitly one of race (and, one might add, gender)."

"It is true that this abandonment of the field allows fundamentalists to fill the void, just as a similar attitude by social democrats to their traditional (white) working class constituency opens the door to the far right, but it is not true, as not a few have been reporting, that the riots are a product of Islamist agents provocateurs. First of all, it should be noted that the rioters are not just 'beurs' - French verlan for Arabs - but also black youth. Secondly, to be sure, the riots are anger uncorked, but there is also an explicit political aspect to their actions: "We'll stop when Sarkozy steps down," said a Strasbourg rioter, according to the Guardian."

excerpts from, 'L'Intifada Française' - Between Ramallah '00 and Paris '68, off of the blog Apostate Windbag

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Nov 7, 2005

Two thoughts

Two thoughts

This is my initial venture into the blog world. It may be off to the side of ongoing discussion and activity since that’s pretty much where I am.

I think the left could spend a bit more effort on the wmd issue. Proliferation of wmd’s is hardly a ruling class concern. Russian weapons are for sale, Israel, India and Pakistan all have such weapons and their willingness to sell the technology is known. No reasonable ruling class faction would possibly have believed Iraq’s possession of such weapons was either a direct or an indirect threat to any U.S. interest. The weapons that Iraq once possessed were only used against internal dissidents and Iranians, and only with tacit U.S. approval. Only a presumption of suicidal irrationality makes it conceivable that Iraq would use such weapons against U.S. interests, including Israel, or that it would distribute them to jihadists to be used in this way…particularly after 9/11. It is just as probable, if not more so, that Israel or Pakistan or a former Soviet state could behave in such an “irrational” fashion.
The debate about “bad intelligence” or manipulated intelligence is a smokescreen that obscures the fact that Iraqi weapons were no palpable threat. Now, when a developing majority of the political class is moving towards the position that they were duped into supporting the war by bad information on this issue, we should recognize this as an attempt to regain some tactical flexibility for a strategic initiative that was, and still is, supported by a very broad ruling class consensus, not as a reversal of some neo-con aberration. I think that it is very unlikely that the “intelligence failure” extends beyond the media and a good deal of the left.
No one who follows the Juan Cole blog, Informed Comment, would think that he is a closet supporter of U.S. imperial aims. So why is he advocating only a “limited” pull out of U.S. troops, leaving special operations forces and a monopoly of air power to protect the existing regime and its probable successor? Why would he invoke Yugoslavia and Afghanistan as ‘good’ models, a position that would have been unthinkable - even for most liberals - not too long ago?
Without knowing too much about his political background, I think that it is what Cole knows about the actual players and programs in Iraq that leads him to this naïve advocacy of a sanitized U.S. role, a role not that different from the benevolent imperialism visions of Nial Ferguson. This demonstrates how a variant of social democracy can grow out of an emphasis on the fascist potentials in and around the salafi jihadist movement, if this is not linked with a clear critique of the global capitalist system that this movement is responding to. Such a social democratic thrust can and will find popular support.
We should learn from the mistakes of revolutionaries during the previous “three way fight”, also a time when revolutionaries were persuaded that U.S. and British special forces and airpower were a good way to fight fascism and promote peace and stability.
I see that Alexander Cockburn has a critique of Cole (Juan Cole Blog, Oct. 28,). My first reaction is that this also is an evasion of major elements of the situation, in this case, of the nature of the “insurgency”. Perhaps he goes into more detail in material that I have not yet seen.

Nov 5, 2005

More from Sketchy Thoughts on the struggle in France

"As for [National Front leader Jean-Marie] Le Pen, he thinks that 'by attacking the agents and symbols of the State, it is France herself that is attacked, by hordes of people that the so-called anti-racist laws prevent us from calling foreigners.'

Here we can see what the fascists are up to: using racism to divide the masses!This racist propaganda is also a part of the criminalization of the 'dangerous classes.'

According to the reactionaries it is a matter of passing off the rebellion as part of the gangster tradition of claiming territory.This is the catchphrase used time and again, the 'gang territory'..." -Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist Maoist) November 2005

Please note that the above text about the past week’s riots in Clichy-Sous-Bois come from the website of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist Maoist) in France and translated by yours truly(Sketchy Thoughts). I have a “fast and loose” translation philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and the original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the meaning stays the same. The original document can be seen in French.

Please also note that i am translating this as i have not been able to find any radical accounts of the riots or the police racism that provoked them in English… i do not necessarily agree with the PCMLM’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!

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Nov 4, 2005

France on Fire: North African youth riots

"Anything could have started it. When you're an immigrant here, you're just stuck in your shit. Does it really surprise you it's going up in flames?"
- Momo, Age 26, Aulnay-sous-Bois

"The thugs will disappear, I will deploy the force necessary to clean this up. We will use the Karcher treatment [referring to a cleaning product]. We will send in special teams and then, if necessary, the riot squads."
- Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of Public Security, June 20th, La Courneuve

Last weeks deaths of two North African immigrant youth who were being pursued by police has set off the longest period of urban and suburban rioting in France's most recent past.

Trying to find critical and informed commentary from a radical angel is proving difficult. The blog, Sketchy Thoughts, has tried to provide some French-to-English translations of news. The two above quotes have been taken from a recent post on this blog.

Other stories relating to the Paris events:
Irish Examiner - Rioting continues to spread further
My Way News - Rioting Spreads Beyond Paris Suburbs
Expatica Magazine -Week of violence prompts French soul-searching
BBC - Anger Grips Paris Riot Suburb

While some seem to want to say that the riots are "race riots" this seems simplistic. While the actions seem to be carried out by mostly North African and Muslim youth, the root cause seems to be around the marginalizationion many from these communitiesees face. It's the case of the Tipping Point - where factors have reached a critical level and the pot boils over.

The Paris riots may be a sign of things to come as Europe becomes more global while failing to offer satisfactory integration on the economic and social basis to its growing immigrant populace. And while these current riots may be in poor Middle Eastern, African and Muslim estates of France, as we see more economic decline within the traditional "core" countries of Western Europe and the U.S., we need to ask if insurgency against being stuck in society's periphery may emerge in urban areas that were once the prosperous and now the declining. Capitalist globalization is creating vast areas of economic instability and social marginalizationion - from Paris to Detroit to Manchester to New Orleans to where ever industry picks up and leaves in favor of new labor pools that are cheaper and easier to exploit.