407 comments on “Farewell Fidel

  1. brianthedog on said:

    RIP Fidel. Gave Cubans back its dignity in overthrowing the yoke of US imperialism and played a decisive role in the end of apartheid in South Africa.

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  2. Andy Newman on said:

    I have been astounded by some of the negativity from people on social media, clearly many who think of themselves as being on the left in the UK are basically liberals

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  3. Brianthedog on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I agree. Many events this year have exposed so called ‘lefties’ as pro establishment liberals.

    Left capitalists and social imperialists. It’s reactionary and pretty dire.

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  4. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog,

    Yes….we should remember and acknowledge the Cuban army’s sacrifices in Southern Africa in countries like Angola. They were decisive in denying the SADF a free rein. Genuine anti-imperialism.

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  5. Brianthedog on said:

    Andy Newman,

    It’s like the combination of Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and ultra leftism has been as successful as Thatcherism.

    We have a large part of the so called ‘left’ that sees itself as a middle class lifestyle choice. It’s obsessed with identity politics, whilst sneering at the working classes and desperate to hang on to and prop up the political structures of neo-liberalism.

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  6. jack ford on said:

    Washington has been waiting for years for the Old Man to die. Now a new offensive will begin. It will be an economic not a military assault, offering money in unlimited qualities to buy the loyalty of the island people and promising them a consumer paradise for eternity. If they succeed it will be a tragedy for Cuba and Latin America. The choice in neo-liberal times is between the destruction through privatisation of the remarkable system of health, education and culture that has been constructed here, and the strengthening of the Revolution by preserving its gains by creating an effective internal mechanism that makes the leadership and politics accountable to the people. This will not happen overnight but it is worth working for.

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  7. jock mctrousers on said:

    Now we will see how Fidel’s 50 year suppression of the truth of Trotsky’s theories of Permanent Revolution and Combined but Separate Development has left the Cuban working class unarmed to face the coming assault of the Capitalist Beast…

    ONLY JOKING! It has been a great honour to live on the Earth in the same time as a giant like Fidel Castro. Greatest respect!

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  8. Jellytot on said:

    Brianthedog,

    I’d wager too that Cuban AK47’s in Angola did more to end apartheid than the gentile folk of Kingston-upon-Thames refusing to buy Cape apples….or non stop pickets outside South Africa House.

    Just sayin’

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  9. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,
    I’ve found some of the anti-Fidel commentary from so-called ‘left-wingers’ pretty revolting too. There’s a certain type of self-described ‘leftist’ that in essence is simply neo-liberalism.

    Jellytot,
    I think you’re right that the Apartheid regime’s military defeats in southern Africa had a greater effect on it than the various boycott campaigns. But the ‘Boycott Apartheid’ campaigns were politically important as well and shouldn’t be dismissed or belittled.

    (And also, why call anti-Apartheid activists ‘gentiles’? There were many Jewish activists in that movement, as there were many gentiles too.)

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  10. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    LOL

    Meant to write Genteel Karl not gentile. My bad.

    Had had a shandy or two when I typed that.

    More seriously I recall an SWP speaker at a Marxism once stating that it was marches in the UK and the wider west that really defeated apartheid. When other people from the floor pointed out that it was the Black people on the ground, at the sharp end of the struggle, who were the real agents of change there, they were hissed at.

    This just smacks of Eurocentrism to me.

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  11. John Grimshaw on said:

    Wellll! Paul Mason and then Emelie Thornbury both defending Castro and Cuba with reservations on the Marr show. The more conservative journals of course did the opposite.

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  12. John Grimshaw on said:

    Brianthedog:
    Andy Newman,

    It’s like the combination of Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and ultra leftism has been as successful as Thatcherism.

    We have a large part of the so called ‘left’ that sees itself as a middle class lifestyle choice. It’s obsessed with identity politics, whilst sneering at the working classes and desperate to hang on to and prop up the political structures of neo-liberalism.

    Do you think BtD that being gay is a “lifestyle choice”?

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  13. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot,

    Fair do’s mate. (It occured to me that was what you’d probably meant after I posted).

    You’ve got a point about western protesters sometimes over-egging their role. It’s also often said about the Vietnam War.

    Although the protests were a good thing too, without the actual military victory of the Vietnamese on the ground, those protests would have had no more actual impact on the ground than the (far bigger) anti-Iraq War protests.

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  14. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I know a British woman of Vietnamese parentage who gets so pissed off by all of that.

    To paraphrase her, “It’s as if the Tet Offensive was merely supporting exercise to marches in DC and London”.

    Political narcissism has always been a feature of the Western far left.

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  15. John Grimshaw on said:

    brianthedog,

    🙂 Interestingly enough BtD Grinnshow is usually what my Kurdish/Turkish friends call me. Evidentially something gets lost in translation. Actually joking aside I raise the issue because in a number of posts now you have made this critique, presumably directed at Trots, although you are not quite clear, that they are only playing at politics. I somehow think that you have been suckered by a stereotype. A bit like me claiming that every member of the BCP I know wants to sleep with uncle Joe and send everyone they don’t agree with to a concentration camp. And then of course there’s that most damning (I suppose) of all insults on the left i.e. you don’t know any real working class people. I’m not convinced that whether one drinks on a Friday night down the Green Dragon in Mansfield or has a glaaasss of red wine in ones flat on the same day (or indeed both) has that much bearing on how serious a revolutionary socialist one is…do you?

    As to the substantive issue I’m sure you realise that there has been quite a range of views on the Trotskyite (and anarchist) left about the nature of Castro’s Cuba. Some such as the IMG/SWP(US) are openly supportive, some such as the AWL (Schactmanites) are openly hostile and then there are a lot in the middle. I would appreciate a more nuanced debate. 🙂

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  16. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw: structures of neo-liberalism.

    This phrase is also popping up a lot. “Liberalism” can mean lots of things in English. It might be helpful if you defined exactly what you understand by this term for the benefit of discussion.

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  17. Jellytot: “It’s as if the Tet Offensive was merely supporting exercise to marches in DC and London”.

    Or course that would be a ridiculous way of seeing things. As one who was active in the Vietnam solidarity movement I don’t recall such a sentiment being widespread – I think most of us knew who was carrying the main burden of the struggle. We were doing what we could, being where we were.
    At the same time the significance of the anti-war movement should not be underestimated or sneered at. Karl Stewart refers to “the actual military victory of the Vietnamese on the ground”. But one of the key facts is that the Vietnamese did not win a straightforward military victory (the same is true of other national liberation struggles, for example Algeria.) The US had to get out of Vietnam because their army was demoralised and near collapse. There is an excellent brief description of this in Jonathan Neale’s chapter in Mike Gonzalez & Houman Barekat [eds], Arms and the People, Pluto Press, 2013. By 1971 a US Colonel described the US army as being “in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden and dispirited where not near mutinous”. Behind this the war was unpopular with a very significant section of the US population. And the role of the US anti-war movement in creating this state of affairs was of some significance. And if we in Britain gave encouragement to the US anti-war movement, we were doing what we could. I don’t think it helps to dismiss such activity as merely “political narcissism.”

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  18. Maybe some of the negativity comes from the treatment of LGB people in the 60s and 70s (internment camps for being Gay anyone?) Or the fact that dissenting could land you in jail for years.

    We do not favours to anyone by pretending that there were big problems with some of the things he did.

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  19. Ian Birchall: nd if we in Britain gave encouragement to the US anti-war movement, we were doing what we could. I don’t think it helps to dismiss such activity as merely “political narcissism.”

    There were some elements of political narcissism about the solidarity movement, especially the artificial rhetorical differences which some of the ‘super solidarity’ types on the ultra left engaged in.
    But we did something more.
    First thing, practical solidarity. The Young Communists organised collections of money to buy the things that the Vietnamese actually asked us to supply. Medical kits and bikes mostly although my YCL branch (Hornsey) went one better and bought a motor bike. All this stuff was delivered in person to the Vietnamese at the World Youth Festival in Bulgaria in 1968 and was shipped by the Soviets and played a part in maintaining the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
    Incidentally, we were castigated by various trots including some IS types (and unbelievably the Young Liberals), for promoting ‘charity’ rather than political solidarity because, apart from practical solidarity, our priority was to put pressure on the British government to stay out of the conflict.
    This was the main achievement of the very broad British movement and Wilson in particular was strengthened in avoiding full comittment to the US strategy.

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  20. Jellytot on said:

    Ian Birchall,

    The activity at the time was not political narcissism. A lot of it was good and useful. I would say the activism of the VVAW was the most effective and their campaign had a direct impact on the collapse of US army morale in 1970/1971.

    The narcissism came afterwards where far too much stress was placed on the importance of the Western marches to the detriment of the struggle of the VC and NVA.

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  21. John Grimshaw on said:

    brianthedog:
    John Grimshaw,

    John you really have a knack of extrapolating from what I have actually said. I am not sure it always helps the debate.

    Sorry about that but I’m missing your point. Which of my comments is the one that is incorrectly extrapolating? I would re-read your comments up-thread if I were you. My point was, and I could be wrong, that your commentary is thinly veiled criticism of specific parts of the UK left that you clearly do not agree with, which is fair enough. My concern however is this criticism is not specific or quantified it revolves around vague stuff like “lifestyle” or not being “working class enough”. I assume but don’t know obviously that you are some kind of union officer? In my book just being a union officer doesn’t enable one to be an organic part of the WC axiomatically, although it helps maybe, but it depends on the circumstances. In any case if this is a criteria I’ve known lots of Trots over the years who have been good union stewards and officers, including myself I might say. 🙂

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  22. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy H:
    Maybe some of the negativity comes from the treatment of LGB people in the 60s and 70s (internment camps for being Gay anyone?) Or the fact that dissenting could land you in jail for years.

    We do not favours to anyone by pretending that there were big problems with some of the things he did.

    Well I would’ve thought that some of these issues have a bearing on Castro’s reputation with certain people, yes. The problem is Andy H is that there are some other people who are inclined to a form of hero worship of Castro. Especially as some people consider Cuba to be actual existing socialism. Any criticism of the Castro regime therefore automatically means that if you are doing it you must be a supporter of the western military-imperialist complex.

    For myself I’m clear that a revolution took place in 1959 and that it had mostly popular support. The exception being the minority of right-wingers/USA stooges who fled to Florida. I’m also happy for the successes of the regime to be praised. There are two sides to the coin however. You mention the regime’s previous attitude towards gay people but you could also have talked about the lack of independent TUs or the lack of the right to strike etc.

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  23. John Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright: especially the artificial rhetorical differences which some of the ‘super solidarity’ types on the ultra left engaged in.

    By which you mean people counter-posing one type of solidarity work against another I presume? Sorry Nick too young to have been around at the time. I was only 3 in 1968! By the way what type of motorbike was it?

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  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    Why do some on the UK left continually feel the need to attack Cuba and Fidel?

    No-one says it’s perfect – in the real world, people like Fidel and others fought all their lives for a better society and made a lot of progress.

    But so-called ‘leftists’ over here, who have never achieved anything at all whatsoever feel they have the right to criticise.

    Build something first, build a perfect society and then you’ll have earned the right to make fraternal criticisms of our Cuban comrades there on the front line for so many decades.

    Until then, just give support and solidarity.

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  25. Of course Castro has a positive side and we should be happy to acknowledge that.

    However, he also welcomed the arrival in Cuba of Ramon Mercader who had been convicted of the assassination of Trotsky.

    He supported the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and, if I remember correctly, the Chinese government crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

    He once expressed distaste for the death penalty but did nothing to abolish it.

    During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he urged Khrushchev to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. He later expressed deep regret over this and a massive sense of relief that such terrible advice was rejected.

    On the fortieth anniversary of this crisis, he held a conference in Havana where veterans of this crisis came together to discuss it and help to understand the lessons learned. This was a very good idea.

    We should be saddened by his death and we should celebrate the things he got right but we should not forget the things he got wrong.

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  26. #34 & #35

    John Grimshaw: Especially as some people consider Cuba to be actual existing socialism.

    Some people definitely do think this, including your’s truly.

    I wonder how the various ultra leftists in this country who are so quick to criticise or even condemn would deal with the kinds of issues that have confronted the Cuban government since 1959 (were they in the unlikely position of actually having to worry about them).

    I also wonder what sort of approach the leaders (or rank and file) of most of those groups would have taken back in the 50s and 60s to such matters as the treatment of gay people.

    And, I sometimes get bored of raising this one, how many of the trotskyists who will be (rightly) celebrating the centenary of the Russian revolution next year, and identify with its revolutionary government while their late guru was part of it, are prepared to provide a balance sheet in terms of socialist gains versus repression etc between that government and the government of socialist Cuba.

    Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy.

    But so were the deaths of the thousands of Kronstadt sailors (killed in battle or executed without trial) at the hands of the Red Army in 1921.

    And one of Trotsky’s least impressive literary moments is when he tries to evade culpability in this action.

    If instead of an agent of the GPU it had been a relative of one of those people or a survivor who had plunged the icepick in his head would that have been any better?

    Revolution is a necessity, but not always a glorious one.

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  27. Karl Stewart on said:

    Evan P: Some people definitely do think this, including your’s truly.

    Me too

    Evan P: Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy.
    But so were the deaths of the thousands of Kronstadt sailors (killed in battle or executed without trial) at the hands of the Red Army in 1921.

    Indeed, it was a terrible atrocity.

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  28. John Grimshaw on said:

    Brianthedog:
    John Grimshaw,

    For starters, asking me if I think being gay is a lifestyle choice!

    Maybe I was being a bit disingenuous BtD. I raised this because you keep talking about lifestyle (I wish I had one by the way) and you still haven’t explained what you mean by this. However I was inviting you to debate/discuss why it was that Castro’s government had such a downer on gay people (amongst other things). Now I know that you could retort what about the western “democracies”. Their record is hardly brilliant etc. Homosexuality wasn’t made legal in the UK until 1967 etc. But Cuba was meant to be socialist and thus “superior” to the reactionaries in Blighty. If this is some kind of yard stick? then you will of course know that it was made legal in the USSR after the rev. but then illegalised in the 1930s after Stalin was in full flood.

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  29. John Grimshaw on said:

    I’ve given this a cursory look over. In the early twenties the Bolsheviks abolished all Czarist laws including those criminalising homosexual acts. In effect it was decriminalised, although in some Soviet republics it was still considered to be a criminal activity. In 1933 Stalin re-introduced a law criminalising homosexual acts, punishable by 5 years in prison, under article 121 of his code. This was extended to all the republics.

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  30. #25 Respect to the generation in this country who helped keep us out of the USA’s brutal imperialist adventure.

    But I have to take issue with the concept of a straightforward military victory.

    Firstly, are such things ever straightforward?

    Secondly, I would have thought that the complete collapse of your enemy’s armed forces followed by their complete withdrawal looks like a pretty straightforward military victory.

    I suspect would have seen it as that if I was an NVA soldier of NLF guerrilla watching the helicopters,B52s and ships departing through my Russian made field glasses.

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  31. Karl Stewart on said:

    Evan P: the complete collapse of your enemy’s armed forces followed by their complete withdrawal looks like a pretty straightforward military victory.

    Yep, a win is a win – and the Vietnamese defeated the USA. However much the USA have tried over the years to make excuses, this was indeed a humiliating military defeat for them.

    They sent their army in, poured in enormous resources, tried as hard as they could and lost.

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  32. George Hallam on said:

    Ian Birchall: At the same time the significance of the anti-war movement should not be underestimated or sneered at. Karl Stewart refers to “the actual military victory of the Vietnamese on the ground”. But one of the key facts is that the Vietnamese did not win a straightforward military victory

    Who Lost Vietnam? NYT September 20, 1998
    A review of ‘The Wrong War: Why We Lost in Vietnam. By Jeffrey Record ‘

    Record, who served a tour as a civilian State Department adviser in the Mekong Delta and was later a legislative assistant to Senators Sam Nunn and Lloyd Bentsen, declares at the outset that in his view the main causes of the American defeat in Vietnam were a misinterpretation of both the significance and nature of the struggle; an underestimation of the enemy’s tenacity and fighting power; an overestimation of United States political stamina and military effectiveness; and the absence of a politically competitive South Vietnam.
    He writes off the American news media and the domestic antiwar movement as having made any significant contribution to the war’s outcome, and instead apportions the blame thus: ”I contend that, whereas the primary responsibility for the U.S. share of the war’s outcome clearly rests with civilian decision-making authorities — which were, after all, constitutionally and politically responsible — the military’s accountability was significant and cannot and should not be overlooked.” The armed forces, he argues, contributed to their own defeat in Vietnam ”by fighting the war they wanted to fight rather than the one at hand.”
    The continuing debate over whether an American victory in Indochina was undermined by a flawed war policy, Record says, may well be irrelevant. ”A decisive U.S. military victory in Vietnam,” he writes, ”was probably unattainable except via measures — an invasion of North Vietnam or an unrestricted air attack on its population — that were never seriously considered by either civilian or military authorities.”
    Throughout the war, Record insists, both gradualists and sharp-blow proponents in the United States believed that North Vietnam’s leaders had some rational breaking point, some point where they would tire of drowning in the blood of their sons and daughters. To maintain that belief, the Americans had to ignore the history and culture of the Vietnamese and blithely overlook the French defeat just a few years before. Record goes on to quote Gen. Colin Powell, a two-tour Vietnam veteran: ”Our political leaders led us into a war for the one-size-fits-all rationale of anti-Communism, which was only a partial fit in Vietnam, where the war had its own historical roots in nationalism, anticolonialism and civil strife.”

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  33. On the question of sexuality and repression, the classic formulation of Lenin was that Marxists should aspire to be tributes of the people by championing all democratic rights, rather than emulating the approach of a trade union branch secretary who is primarily concerned with the narrow economic issues of workers at the point of production.

    So, once it is established that liberation of non repressive or exploitative human sexuality is a legitimate and vital democratic cause it become axiomatic that communists have a duty to be in the forefront of promoting that cause.

    But clearly there are many liberals who have understood the need to support that cause long before many communists.

    That doesn’t stop those liberals being liberals or those communists being communists.

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  34. George Hallam on said:

    Off topic, but things are moving in Syria.

    For months main stream media (if you will forgive me for using a ‘left’ term) have ignore the situation. Now they are giving it a lot of coverage, most of it incredibly one-sides.

    I have found Sic Semper Tyrannis run by Colonel W. Patrick Lang (retired U.S. Military Intelligence and special forces) a useful source of information.

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/11/httpssouthfrontorgmainstream-media-is-in-outrage-as-government-forces-liberating-northeastern-aleppo-and-freeing-civilia.html

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  35. “Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy.

    But so were the deaths of the thousands of Kronstadt sailors (killed in battle or executed without trial) at the hands of the Red Army in 1921.”

    I totally agree. It is not necessary to be a supporter of Trotsky to deeply regret his murder and any celebration of it.

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  36. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: If this is some kind of yard stick? then you will of course know that it was made legal in the USSR after the rev. but then illegalised in the 1930s after Stalin was in full flood.

    For what it is worth, homosexuality was decriminalised in East Germany in the 1950s, and legalised in the 1960s (I haven’t checked the sources for the exact dates), One of many cators that liberalised views in Cuba, was doctors visiting there from the DDR, and expressing their concern.

    It is worth considering that one of the characteristic weaknesses of many actually existing socialist states was the tendency of government agencies to conflate social non-conformity with political opposition, hence the ridiculous repression of guitar bands in Germany, leading to the Leipzig guitar riots.

    When *all* social non-conformity is regarded with suspicion, then this is not a conducive climate for challenging pre-revolutionary stereotypes of gender and sexuality.

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  37. Andy Newman on said:

    Evan P: On the question of sexuality and repression, the classic formulation of Lenin was that Marxists should aspire to be tributes of the people by championing all democratic rights, rather than emulating the approach of a trade union branch secretary who is primarily concerned with the narrow economic issues of workers at the point of production.

    However, a good trade union branch secretary will seek to organise the working class as it actually exists, which by necessity means an accepting view of all members.

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  38. Andy Newman on said:

    Brianthedog: asking me if I think being gay is a lifestyle choice!

    I don’t want to get into hot water here, but surely there is a distinction between four different things here: i) the personal sexual preferences of individuals (which they I am sure do not mainly consciously choose), ii) the prevailing social mores which make some sexual preferences more or less taboo, iii) the adoption of “in-group” signifiers or behaviours by people with a particular sexual preference, and iv) the self conscious adoption of a social “identity”.

    In a sense, while same-gender sexual activity and attraction is as old as the human race, people considering sexual orientation to be something you *are* rather than what you *do* is relatively new.

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  39. John Grimshaw on said:

    Well this is interesting. Both East Germany and west Germany inherited the Nazi 1935 para. 175 criminalising homosexuality. For a short time the GDR reverted to the milder 1925 Weimar laws but pretty quickly reverted. After the 1953 uprising the government reverted to the 175 law and same sex activity was considered to be a remnant hangover of bourgeois decadence. Para 175 stayed on the books until 1968 although it ceased to be enforced after 1957. Despite all of this the police carried on using force to break up gay events into the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s the authorities had changed their line and were openly setting up gay discos for example. Jurgen Lemke, an East German gay activist insists that the law was more equal in the East than the West.

    Para. 175 was not abolished in the West until 1969. The SDP and the Greens openly supported gay rights for some period of time but the majority Christian Democrats constantly stymied any change as they often continue to do so. Gay rights in the West didn’t really play out until the end of the cold war. So for example gay people were not allowed in the Bundeswehr until 1990. Same sex marriages are still illegal in Germany and the debate is still ongoing.

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  40. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: Para 175 stayed on the books until 1968 although it ceased to be enforced after 1957. Despite all of this the police carried on using force to break up gay events into the 1980s.

    It was not just “not enforced” a conscious policy decision was made not to enforce it. It was therefore decriminalised.

    When you say that gay events were broken up, that is undoubtedly true, but were they broken up because they were *gay* or because they were *events*.

    East Germany was a very complex society that was highly sexually permissive in conjunction with low tolerance of social non conformity at both places individual and state level.

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  41. Jellytot on said:

    Tony:
    “Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy.

    But so were the deaths of the thousands of Kronstadt sailors (killed in battle or executed without trial) at the hands of the Red Army in 1921.”

    I totally agree. It is not necessary to be a supporter of Trotsky to deeply regret his murder and any celebration of it.

    His murder should certainly never be celebrated but, given the atmosphere of the time, it did have a certain inevitability about it.

    By 1940 his best political work was over anyway. It is easy to forget how all over the place he was politically by the late thirties.

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  42. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: When you say that gay events were broken up, that is undoubtedly true, but were they broken up because they were *gay* or because they were *events*.

    I understand the point you are making. The information I looked up insisted it was because they were gay events, however the way the sentences are constructed could imply the latter. Further investigation will be needed.

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  43. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy.
    But so were the deaths of the thousands of Kronstadt sailors (killed in battle or executed without trial) at the hands of the Red Army in 1921.
    And one of Trotsky’s least impressive literary moments is when he tries to evade culpability in this action.

    Trotsky’s murder was a tragedy. In my view there was still mileage in the old man’s tank. I suspect some others of you on this blog would not however agree with that. What makes it worse is that Trotsky wasn’t just “randomly” murdered but rather was assassinated at the behest of a mass murderer who had spent some considerable period of time lying about Trotsky’s reputation and denying his role in the Revolution.

    For what it’s worth Evan, as a somewhat unorthodox Trot, I actually think the Kronstadt debacle was completely wrong. And I do agree with you that this was not one of Trotsky’s finer moments. I think the Bolshevik party had started to run off the rails at the party congress in1920. I am surprised that you and other communists have chosen to pick up on this however. As far as I am aware both Lenin and Stalin were fully supportive of the attack on Kronstadt, so presumably along with your criticism of Trotsky you would include these other two comrades as well?

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  44. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I can’t speak for Evans, but I wouldn’t hesitate to include criticism of others in the leadership who also supported the Kronstadt massacre.

    It’s worth pointing out that, as head of the armed forces at the time, Trotsky bears the primary direct responsibility for the atrocity.

    More generally, communists have made detailed and comrehensive critiques and condemnations of the crimes carried out in the name of communism.

    But Trotskyists continue to worship the personality cult of Trotsky, a man who, for them, remains some kind of secular saint – a prophet almost.

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  45. John Grimshaw: The information I looked up insisted it was because they were gay events, however the way the sentences are constructed could imply the latter.

    The reason I ask is because from what I know of how East German police operated, and specifically the system of “offizielle Mitarbeiter” informants to the STASI, is that the whole business operated much more on the basis of neighbours reporting what they regarded as nuisances than any systematic campaign of repression.

    In a society which placed great stock on conformity, and was generally conservative towards new cultural and social shifts (though some like nudity and sexual promiscuity became so widespread that it swept the old attitudes away), any system that allowed people to report behaviour they just disapproved of to the authorities will lead to events being closed down.

    A distinction I would draw – for example – is between state policy and actual reality. There was a very interesting paper I read about racism in the East German health service, where there were many overseas visiting staff, who despite very strong official anti-racist policies, in real life experienced unbelievable levels of racism from ordinary citizens and work colleagues.

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  46. #60 ‘… presumably along with your criticism of Trotsky you would include these other two comrades as well?’

    If my point was to criticise then yes I would be aiming it at the entire leadership, including minority factions who all went along with the suppression of the mutiny.

    My point is that Trotsky had as much culpability in the way the regime developed as anyone else. And as Karl points out, he was in command of the Red Army at the time of Kronstadt.

    I see no evidence in terms of anything he did rather than said that the Soviet state or government would have been less repressive and more cuddly had he remained part of it.

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  47. Karl Stewart on said:

    Evan P: I see no evidence in terms of anything he did rather than said that the Soviet state or government would have been less repressive and more cuddly had he remained part of it.

    Spot on – the rest of the leadership was rightly terrified of him becoming leader. He’d have been every bit as repressive as Stalin, but just perhaps with a bit more ‘revolutionary elan’

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  48. Karl Stewart: Spot on – the rest of the leadership was rightly terrified of him becoming leader. He’d have been every bit as repressive as Stalin, but just perhaps with a bit more ‘revolutionary elan’

    Rather a lot of the discussion on this thread assumes that ‘repression’ is a bad thing of itself.
    In defence of a revolution, of necessity, it is a good thing.
    “the dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn struggle-bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative-against the forces and traditions of the old society.”

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  49. Andy Newman: A distinction I would draw – for example – is between state policy and actual reality. There was a very interesting paper I read about racism in the East German health service, where there were many overseas visiting staff, who despite very strong official anti-racist policies, in real life experienced unbelievable levels of racism from ordinary citizens and work colleagues.

    It appears, sometimes, that left wing critics of the DDR forget that socialist relations of production arose in a ruined economy, that the popular consciousness was conditioned by 12 years of fascism, complicity in horrendous war crimes and the shock of defeat.
    Only the hopelessly mechanistic and undialectical of observers would expect that in the few decades of the DDR’s existence that an entirely new consciousness would arise. (Incidentally, a few of the DDR functionaries I knew fell into this category. Most did not and were sharply conscious of the need to maintain a firm grip on power.)

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  50. #67 I have deliberately avoided engaging not a discussion so to the rights and wrongs of regression.

    I would have thought that it was axiomatic that the events at Kronstadt and those that accompanied various clampdowns under Stalin’s watch were tragic in terms of hunan cost.

    As someone who understands the nature of class rule and the role of the state I also realise that state power will have to be wielded by our class just as it is against it by the bourgeoisie.

    But I don’t believe in making a virtue out of necessity, just as I also believe that the means can often hinder the end.

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  51. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    The transitional programme was certainly not Trostsky at his finest….to put it mildly!! He was wrong on Spain (The so called “Revolutionary” Militia approach would have ended the war in 37….The Popular Army meant discipline and organisation and Russian arms which enabled resistance well into 39). On the other hand he supported the SU against Finland and movement into the Baltic terrorities. Organisationally his 4th International Sections were riddled with spies and informers who fed him bogus information, being holded up in his walled compound in Mexico City.

    Like I said…well past his prime.

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  52. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Re: racism in the DDR…..ditto China and Cuba where quite extreme anti Black racism existed and exists despite government pronouncements.

    Even in the most repressive states , government policy does not necessarily permeate down to street level.

    I read, and can well believe, that those stupid mass parades in modern day North Korea are only so well attended because it is one of the few places where young men can meet young women (and vice versa) without chaperones.

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  53. Nick Wright: It appears, sometimes, that left wing critics of the DDR forget that socialist relations of production arose in a ruined economy, that the popular consciousness was conditioned by 12 years of fascism, complicity in horrendous war crimes and the shock of defeat.
    Only the hopelessly mechanistic and undialectical of observers would expect that in the few decades of the DDR’s existence that an entirely new consciousness would arise. (Incidentally, a few of the DDR functionaries I knew fell into this category. Most did not and were sharply conscious of the need to maintain a firm grip on power.)

    Good point.

    “Where want is generalised, all the old crap revives”.

    Dead Russians and now dead Germans. I am reverting to type in my old(er) age!

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  54. Nick Wright: It appears, sometimes, that left wing critics of the DDR forget that socialist relations of production arose in a ruined economy, that the popular consciousness was conditioned by 12 years of fascism, complicity in horrendous war crimes

    Indeed Nick, I recommend to those who havent read it, the excellent book,” Justice in Lüritz: Experiencing Socialist Law in East Germany” by German-American academic, Inga Markovits.

    Lueritz is an anonymised town, in order to protect confidentiality, but her book is based upon detailed research of court and administrative records from the period of Soviet occupation onwards, and given the admirable German aptitude for record keeping, it is a highly detailed snap shot of social history.

    She demonstates that in this one city (I assumed from the physical description it might be Rostock) that the overwhelming cases of political dissidence that the authorities dealt with were from Nazis or neo-Nazis. In the entire history of the state, in this one city, there was only one political dissident who came though the justice system who was inspired by Western liberalism, and he was dealt with by quietly facilitating his move to the Federal Republic.

    It is also worth bearing in mind a few other things. The entire police and justice system had to be built from scratch, among the rubble, and Markowitz documents the dedication and sense of fairness of the untrained magistrates who – in the early years – resolved disputes and brought order out of chaos, often with Solomonic wisdom.

    The other things worth bearing in mind is that not only was the economic and social base of society litterally in ruins, and the population war ravished and fascist indoctrinated. But the leaders of the state had justified fears, not only based upon their own expereince of either camps or exile, then war; but they saw West Germany before their very eyes incorporating into senior political, diplomatic and military positions, many who had played senior roles in the Nazi regime; but the East also experienced Werwolf domestic terrorism and also Western sabotage. With the benefit of hindsight we know that West Germany’s trajectory did not become revanchist and crypto-fascist, it was an entirely resonable apprehension of the East Germans that it would go that way

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  55. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart: Spot on – the rest of the leadership was rightly terrified of him becoming leader. He’d have been every bit as repressive as Stalin, but just perhaps with a bit more ‘revolutionary elan’

    Professor Robert Service makes exactly this point in a very good youtube debate on Leon Trotsky with Christopher Hitchens from 2009.

    Can be found doing a youtube search under those three names.

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  56. Andy Newman: but they saw West Germany before their very eyes incorporating into senior political, diplomatic and military positions, many who had played senior roles in the Nazi regime; but the East also experienced Werwolf domestic terrorism and also Western sabotage.

    One of our comrades was in military intelligence and was given the task of denazifying a German city – a job he set about with enthusiasm only to be given other duties whilst the nazi police and intelligence functionaries were deployed along with Wermacht units awaiting demob to forward positions along the demarcation in anticipation of an offensive against the Soviets.

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  57. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: It is easy to forget how all over the place he [Trotsky] was politically by the late thirties.

    And not just in the late thirties.

    There are three characteristics of Trotsky’s writings
    • They make definite pronouncements on a very broad range of issues;
    • The positions taken often change over time;
    • There is very little in the way of self-criticism.

    This led to some rather convoluted positions.

    Interestingly, this actually makes it more difficult to criticise Trotsky because doing so looks like a personal attack. And to be fair, any assessment of Trotsky’s writings will tend to lead to an assessment of his character.

    In addition, since a lot of Trotsky’s writings are directed against Stalin, criticising him can seem to be a defence of Stalin.

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  58. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: But Trotskyists continue to worship the personality cult of Trotsky, a man who, for them, remains some kind of secular saint – a prophet almost.

    This is a bit of a catch all phrase Karl. Some Trotskyists worship Trotsky as if it were a personality cult! Some Stalinists continue to dream about Stalin and the good years of, lets say, 1937, no? And they like their big statues as well.

    Ironically I think that the persecution of Trotsky by the USSR’s government and Stalinists in general actually contributed to him being seen by some as some kind of secular saint, as you say. Makes you wonder, if Joe had left him alone would he have settled down with Frieda and got an honest job down the local bakery?

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  59. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: for example – is between state policy and actual reality.

    I think by now you’ve gathered that I have more than a passing interest in medieval history and archaeology. In the Middle Ages in Western Europe women were forbidden by law to own property. However we know from research using court rolls that quite often they did. Equally they were in theory not supposed to be out and about without a chaperone…but we know that they did…including getting into fights with men and winning. This is not to say that there was some anarchic equality but as you say about East Germany what the state says is not always the reality on the ground.

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  60. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: I see no evidence in terms of anything he did rather than said that the Soviet state or government would have been less repressive and more cuddly had he remained part of it.

    I see no evidence. 🙂

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  61. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: Professor Robert Service makes exactly this point in a very good youtube debate on Leon Trotsky with Christopher Hitchens from 2009.

    Interesting that the “Communists” (sorry don’t know what you want to be referred to as?) resort to enlisting the support of the right-wing historian Service to justify their positions. Service was criticised strongly by his own academic colleagues at the Hoover Institute for the glaring errors in his biography of Bronstein, especially matters relating to his Jewish background.

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  62. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P,

    Well. I was being a bit flippant. Also we wouldn’t want to be seen as being supportive of bourgeois-normal male-female relationships would we?

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  63. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: But I don’t believe in making a virtue out of necessity, just as I also believe that the means can often hinder the end.

    Good point Evan. I agree with Nick that sometimes revolutions have to be bloody but there comes a point when you’re in the driving seat that you have to catch a breath and move on to the next stage, rather than living in a constant state of artificial paranoia.

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  64. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: • There is very little in the way of self-criticism.

    I forced myself to read “My Life” once. It was not very good for the reasons you say. The History of the Russian Revolution was much better but then he wasn’t talking about himself as much I suppose.

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  65. Nick Wright: One of our comrades was in military intelligence and was given the task of denazifying a German city – a job he set about with enthusiasm only to be given other duties whilst the nazi police and intelligence functionaries were deployed along with Wermacht units awaiting demob to forward positions along the demarcation in anticipation of an offensive against the Soviets.

    Well worth reading is Perry Biddiscombe’s “The Denazification of Nazi Germany.”

    All of the four occupation powers struggled, in different ways.

    The Soviets had enormous practical difficulties, and a debate between three factions, the Popular Frontists, the hard peace faction and the Bolshevisers, but had a number of successes. The first occupation zone to allow Germans to enter into political activity, and the only occupation zone to successfully bring emigre Germans , Communists, social democrats and liberals into adminstering the occupation zone.

    Certainly compares well to the British zone, where for example Hanover continued with a Nazi police force.

    As someone said in 1942. “Hitlers come and go, the German people and the German state remains”

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  66. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw: Makes you wonder, if Joe had left him alone would he have settled down with Frieda and got an honest job down the local bakery?

    Fair point John. I’ve often wondered whether Trotsky’s murderer was really following direct orders from Stalin or if he was more of a ‘freelance’ psychopath?

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  67. George Hallam on said:

    Evan P: And one of Trotsky’s least impressive literary moments is when he tries to evade culpability in this action.

    Whatever the literary merits of his account, Trotsky certainly tried to distanced himself from events in Kronstadt

    “I have never touched on this question. Not because I had anything to conceal but, on the contrary, precisely because I had nothing to say. The truth of the matter is that I personally did not participate in the least in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion, nor in the repressions following the suppression. In my eyes this very fact is of no political significance. I was a member of the government, I considered the quelling of the rebellion necessary and therefore bear responsibility for the suppression. Only within these limits have I replied to criticism up to now.”
    (https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/07/kronstadt2.htm)

    Trotsky had an alibi:

    “The rebellion broke out during my stay in the Urals. From the Urals I came directly to Moscow for the 10th Congress of the party. The decision to suppress the rebellion by military force, if the fortress could not be induced to surrender, first by peace negotiations, then through an ultimatum – this general decision was adopted with my direct participation. But after the decision was taken, I continued to remain in Moscow and took no part, direct or indirect, in the military operations. Concerning the subsequent repressions, they were completely the affair of the Cheka.” (Ibid)

    There are a number of things wrong with this account.

    • The situation in Kronstadt had become serious enough for the Pravda to publish a statement on 2nd March 1921 https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1921/military/ch59.htm
    This was signed by both Lenin and Trotsky.

    • The 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party was held during in Moscow from 8th to 16th March.
    But where was Trotsky in the days before the Congress?

    • The ultimatum to the mutineers is written in the first person and signed by Trotsky

    “I therefore order all who have lifted their hands against the socialist fatherland to lay down their arms at once. …

    Only those who surrender unconditionally may count on the mercy of the Soviet Republic.

    At the same time I am giving orders for everything to be made ready for crushing the mutiny and the mutineers by armed force.”

    It is dated 5th March 1921 (A Last Warning to the Garrison and Inhabitants of Kronstadt and the Mutinous Forts https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1921/military/ch60.htm)

    • It seems that Trotsky had arrived in Petrograd on that day and stopped for four days.

    “The situation altered with the arrival in Leningrad [SW], at about 13 hours on March 5, of Comrade Trotsky [1d], accompanied by Comrades S.S. Kamenev, Lebedev and Tukhachevsky. At 14 hours on that day an address to ‘the garrison and inhabitants of Kronstadt and the mutinous forts’ was issued, categorically demanding that they lay down their arms. Comrade Tukhachevsky was appointed commander of the forces operating against Kronstadt, and the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic ordered him to suppress the revolt in the shortest possible time.” (ibid note 1b)

    The initial assault on Kronstadt was launched at 5.00 am 8th March. It was unsuccessful and another attack was made on March 16-17. The fighting had stopped by dawn of 18th March.

    Trotsky was not just “a member of the government” he was Commissar for War, so it should not be surprising that he had a leading role in the suppression of the mutiny.

    Petrograd was not Kronstadt but it was close enough to be the centre from which the putting down of the mutiny was organised. Trotsky was present while preparation for the first assault took place and possibly still in the city when it was launched. Presumably this was the reason for his visit to the city.

    All this suggests that Trotsky’s 1938 account is deliberately misleading.

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  68. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’ve often wondered whether Trotsky’s murderer was really following direct orders from Stalin or if he was more of a ‘freelance’ psychopath?

    ???
    You mean you’ve never bothered to find out?

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  69. Karl Stewart on said:

    George Hallam,

    Well, I’d always assumed it was ordered by Stalin, but then I’ve heard people advancing the argument that Trotsky had become so marginalised politically by 1940 that it was unlikely whether Stalin would have judged a politically and diplomatically risky assassination on another continent as a priority.

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  70. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    Evan P,

    Well. I was being a bit flippant. Also we wouldn’t want to be seen as being supportive of bourgeois-normal male-female relationships would we?

    If certain high ranking members of the SWP had been more in favour of “normal bourgeous male-female relationships” a few years back they wouldn’t have lost a third of their membership.

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  71. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I do not care that Service is right wing. He is largely spot on in that interview….. Sorry.

    P.s. I am not a communist. I have not got the political strength, courage, faith in humanity and consistency to be one. Just a bit of a Lefty.

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  72. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam,

    I think it is generally accepted that Trotsky had an ego the size of Siberia.

    That stated he was an intellectual collossus and a brilliant man.

    And didn’t Mick McGahey of the NUM and CPGB once say something along the lines of, “Give respect to the founder of the Red Army” ?

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  73. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: I think it is generally accepted that Trotsky had an ego the size of Siberia.

    That stated he was an intellectual collossus and a brilliant man.

    As Dennis Healy said: it’s no trick to be brilliant as long as you don’t mind being wrong all the time. “

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  74. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: That stated he was an intellectual collossus

    This is what I was trying to point out earlier; it’s difficult to be objective about Trotsky without appearing to be making a personal attack.

    He could write well. He is acknowledged as an accomplished orator. “Intellectual colossus” is stretching it a bit, at least in the positive sense.

    He insisted on making pronouncements about subject he had only a superficial understanding. He also made things up when he felt like it (see above for one documented example). In doing so he sowed a tremendous amount of confusion in the study of 20th century history.

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  75. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: been more in favour of “normal bourgeous male-female relationships”

    H’mmm. I think your wrong here Jellytot. But also like me you can’t spell bourgeois.

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  76. Karl Stewart on said:

    George Hallam,

    Lots of aspects of Trotsky’s history have always puzzled me.

    Why didn’t he attend Lenin’s funeral?

    Why didn’t he call out the army in his defence when he was attacked?

    Why didn’t he resist being exiled, or attempt to return?

    After being exiled, he wrote at great length about what the communists were getting wrong in China and Germany, but why didn’t he go to either country?

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  77. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Well, I’d always assumed it was ordered by Stalin, but then I’ve heard people advancing the argument that Trotsky had become so marginalised politically by 1940 that it was unlikely whether Stalin would have judged a politically and diplomatically risky assassination on another continent as a priority.

    Full marks for questioning your assumption.

    However, Sudoplatov says that Stalin did authorise “action” against Trotsky.

    see Sudoplatov (1994) Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness page 67

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  78. Evan P on said:

    Karl Stewart: Why didn’t he call out the army in his defence when he was attacked?

    If I recall correctly from reading Deutscher’s biography it was because he didn’t want to come to power as a kind of Napoleon figure through a military coup.

    If that’s correct then it’s at least one plus on his side.

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  79. Evan P on said:

    Karl Stewart: Why didn’t he call out the army in his defence when he was attacked?

    If I recall correctly from reading Deutscher’s biography it was because he didn’t want to come to power as a kind of Napoleon figure through a military coup.

    If that’s correct then it’s at least one plus on his side.

    George Hallam: This is what I was trying to point out earlier; it’s difficult to be objective about Trotsky without appearing to be making a personal attack.

    He could write well. He is acknowledged as an accomplished orator. “Intellectual colossus” is stretching it a bit, at least in the positive sense.

    He insisted on making pronouncements about subject he had only a superficial understanding. He also made things up when he felt like it (see above for one documented example). In doing so he sowed a tremendous amount of confusion in the study of 20th century history.

    Excellent points there.

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  80. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Why didn’t he attend Lenin’s funeral?

    The standard story is that
    Stalin told Trotsky the wrong date for Lenin’s funeral, soTrotsky turned up a day late.

    This seems unlikely.

    What we know is that Trotsky fell ill (influenza, weight loss, fever, etc.) before Lenin died. His doctors ordered him to go to the Black sea to recuperate. He left Moscow by train on 18h January (see Deutscher 1959 :132)

    Lenin died on 21st January. Stalin immediately telegraphed the news to Trotsky who was by which time had reached Tifilis.
    Allegedly, Trotsky asked Stalin what he should do and Stalin told him he couldn’t get back in time for the funeral. Consequently, Trotsky continued his journey and convalesced as per his doctors’ orders.

    In the event, Lenin’s funeral took place on the 27th January. So there would have just been time for him to return. However, it is not clear that he would have been well enough to attend. Even if he had it is unlikely he could have been a pallbearer.

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  81. Karl Stewart on said:

    Evan P,

    Can’t see how that’s a plus in any way?

    Someone who’s head of the army meekly accepting being exiled by a mid-ranking and little-known bureaucrat…just seems inexplicable to me to be honest. Almost as if he wasn’t really that bothered.

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  82. Karl Stewart on said:

    George Hallam,

    Another example of frankly odd behaviour though.

    Surely he must have realised that there would immediately be a serious power struggle and should have just pulled himself together (what kind of ‘revolutionary’ calls in sick with ‘the flu’ FFS!) and returned immediately on hearing the news, rather than asking Stalin for ‘permission’.

    Just seems strange behaviour to me.

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  83. George Hallam on said:

    Evan P: If I recall correctly from reading Deutscher’s biography it was because he didn’t want to come to power as a kind of Napoleon figure through a military coup.

    In late 1925 and early 1926, some members of the Left Opposition had considered a coup as a desirable option (see Victor Serge ‘Memoirs of a Revolutionary’ 234-5). Quite independently, Eric Wollenberg, a sympathiser in Germany, came to the same conclusion (see note 1) This was only an abstract discussion as Trotsky withheld his support.

    However the idea of a military coup did not go away and Trotsky himself referred to the possibility, using the negative term ‘Bonapartism,’ several times from 1928 onwards(see note 2). In November 1935 he referred back to 1925/26 discussion and asserted that a coup would have succeeded in overthrowing the government “without any difficulty” had it been attempted at that time.

    Note 1: Wollenberg later decided that such an attempt would have failed because “the top military command had full confidence in the party leadership”. Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 133-135

    Note 2: “Here you have also, so to speak, the Bonapartist candidate Klim. ..it does not have to be Klim. If he won’t do it, then Budenny. We have no lack of Bonapartes.” (1931 ‘Thermidorianism and Bonapartism’) October 1928 https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1928/10/sitruss.htm ‘On the Situation in Russia: A Letter to a Comrade’

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  84. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Surely he must have realised that there would immediately be a serious power struggle and should have just pulled himself together (what kind of ‘revolutionary’ calls in sick with ‘the flu’ FFS!)

    The winter of 1923-4 in Moscow was exceptionally bad and medical science had far less resources then than it does today.

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  85. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Someone who’s head of the army meekly accepting being exiled by a mid-ranking and little-known bureaucrat…just seems inexplicable to me to be honest.

    Yes, if that is what happened.

    On the other hand..

    Trotsky lost his position as Commissar for War in 1925.

    He was expelled from the Politburo (October 1927), and then from the Communist Party (November 1927),
    .
    He began his internal exile in Alma-Ata (January 1928).

    So by the time he was deported in January 1929 he not in a powerful position.

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  86. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: (what kind of ‘revolutionary’ calls in sick with ‘the flu’ FFS!)

    IIRC both George Washington and Ulysses Grant were incapacitated by ill health at critical times. Both mightier figures in my opinion than Trotsky.

    But in any event Trotsky seems to have been seriously ill and had every reason to feel physically and mentally exhausted after leading the army through the civil war.

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  87. Andy Newman on said:

    George Hallam: He was expelled from the Politburo (October 1927), and then from the Communist Party (November 1927),

    While you are undoubtedly more right than Karl. He nevertheless does have a point.

    Michael Reiman’s book “the birth of Stalinism” has a fascinating discussion of this. Up until this point the alliance of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kaminev did have a great deal of support. Trotskyists in fact did still have considerable influence in the Army, and dominated the diplomatic corps, and through Zinoviev and Kaminev. The Moscow and Leningrad party organisations were in the hands of the opposition. The 1928 demonstration in Leningrad for the anniversary of the Feb revolution was dominated by opposition slogans.

    Leaving aside whether Trotsky regime would have been better ( it wouldn’t), Trotsky’s cavalier attitude to the famine, and the irresponsible behaviour of his ally Rakovsky in scuppering trade with France, meant that moderate figures like Tomsky, Bukharin and Kaliningrad, would rather block with Stalin, and indeed Trotsky preferred Stalin to them.

    When Preobrazhinsky abandoned Trotsky for Stalin, his cause was lost

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  88. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: H’mmm. I think your wrong here Jellytot. But also like me you can’t spell bourgeois.

    Without wanting to dredge all that up again, do you think that a late 40’s man using his position of influence within an organisation to allegedly sexually exploit a teenage woman in the same organisation normal ?

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  89. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam:

    He insisted on making pronouncements about subject he had only a superficial understanding. He also made things up when he felt like it.

    Socialist Unity comments would have been right up his alley then !!

    Sorry….couldn’t resist.

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  90. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    George Hallam,

    Well, I’d always assumed it was ordered by Stalin, but then I’ve heard people advancing the argument that Trotsky had become so marginalised politically by 1940 that it was unlikely whether Stalin would have judged a politically and diplomatically risky assassination on another continent as a priority.

    Maybe the assassin and his enablers in that part of the world just assumed that it was what Uncle Joe desired and did it on that premise?

    Without direct orders having to be issued from Moscow.

    According to Professor Ian Kershaw it was a dynamic evident in Nazi Germany. He called it “Working towards the Fuhrer”

    Underlings acting to fufil what they perceive to be the regime’s wishes without direct orders needing to be published and delivered.

    I think too that John Arch Getty wrote about something similar occuring in the Great Purges.

    It certainly was evident in the Cultural Revolution in China.

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  91. jock mctrousers on said:

    I wonder if anyone an recommend a good account of HOW Trotsky set up the Red Army? Who helped him etc. It seems quite a feat for such a young man, with no military background.

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  92. Nick Wright on said:

    Jellytot,

    The assassination of Trotsky was the task of the security unit under the command of Pavel Sudaplatov. It was exceptionally well planned. As one would expect from professionals with long experience of combatting counter revolution and subversion.

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  93. Andy Newman on said:

    jock mctrousers: I wonder if anyone an recommend a good account of HOW Trotsky set up the Red Army?

    I cannot recommend a *good* account, but there is a short stab at it in Tony Cliff’s biography of Trotsky, it is free on line here

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1990/trotsky2/index.html

    While Trotsky had no military experience, he had been a war correspondent during the Balkan Wars, and his journalism about that conflict is excellent and insightful.

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  94. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: Without wanting to dredge all that up again, do you think that a late 40’s man using his position of influence within an organisation to allegedly sexually exploit a teenage woman in the same organisation normal ?

    Well if you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about…no. Incidentally I notice that that person is now writing stuff for the SWP on-line about the rise of fascism with another female comrade that I used to know. Presumably ongoing rehabilitation? What I meant was that there is more to relationships than just a white middle class male marrying a white middle class female in the local parish church and then having two children and a Volvo estate. Whilst I don’t know whether that person was guilty or not (I wasn’t there) I’m inclined to believe so from what little I know, however it is the weird power structures that get thrown up by these small and limited left organisations that create an environment that can be taken advantage of by people who are “morally” challenged.

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  95. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman,

    The Red Army by Erich Wollenberg isbn 0 902030 96 5 In particular Chapter 5 Trotsky and the Red Army. Wollenberg also dedicates some time to the role of Tuchachevsky.

    At the beginning of this section Wollenberg starts off by quoting Pepov’s official history:
    “The high honour of having organised the victories of the Red Army falls first and foremost to the Party and it’s leader, Lenin. Lenin’s best and most loyal helper in the military sphere was Comrade Stalin…blah…blah…The party won it’s victories in the Civil War over the principal enemies of the Soviet Union under Lenin’s leadership and against the advice contained in Trotsky’s plans….Trotsky’s deep-rooted disbelief in the fitness of the proletariat to lead the peasantry and the fitness of the Party to lead the Red Army is characteristic of his strategy and policy.” Wollenberg then goes on to critically compare this “official Stalinist history” with the eye witness account of one Larissa Reisner a Bolshevik young women who entered the army and served as a commissar in the Baltic Fleet. She wrote a book called October. There isn’t space here to give you the full quote but suffice it to say she was extremely impressed by Trotsky’s energy and organisational skills after the armoured train pulled up in Sviyazhsk to bolster the faltering resistance against White Guard Troops.

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  96. John Grimshaw on said:

    Joseph Stalin wrote a pamphlet “On Trotskyism” in which he says, “I must say that Trotsky did not and could not play any leading part in the October Revolution….for he was still a comparatively junior member of our party in those October days.” That he was formally a new Bolshevik is probably the only truth in this dissembling.

    In an article signed by Stalin that appeared in Pravda in 1918 as a commemoration of the first anniversary of the rev. he says, “All the work and practical organisation of the rising was carried out under the immediate leadership of Trotsky, the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. We can state with all certainty that we owe the garrison’s prompt adherence to the Soviet cause and the skilful organisation of the work of the Party’s Revolutionary War Committee first and foremost to Comrade Trotsky.”

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  97. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    jock mctrousers,

    Trotsky would have had assistance from a ex Tsarist officers, men with much recent organisational and combat experience, who came over to the Reds.

    They didn’t all join the Whites.

    Tuchachevsky was one such.

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  98. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    This man was also writing for the UAF under the pen name Milo Samuels (same initials….geddit?!) a few years back. He is almost certainly being brought back…..let’s face it….the SWP hardly have a large leadership talent pool to choose from anymore…”needs must” and all that.

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  99. John Grimshaw on said:

    I was going to make a comment relating to Jock MacTrouser’s name on the other thread but sadly it seems to have come to an end. I was going to say give me MacTroosers anyday whether in or out of the LP given that the new USA defence secretary is now called Mad Dog!

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  100. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    John Grimshaw,

    This man was also writing for the UAF under the pen name Milo Samuels (same initials….geddit?!) a few years back. He is almost certainly being brought back…..let’s face it….the SWP hardly have a large leadership talent pool to choose from anymore…”needs must” and all that.

    Indeed. The old leadership are either dead or have joined Counterfire, or some Scottish outfit. I would’ve thought that despite their having fallen on relatively hard times they would have some fresh faced young people coming through, but maybe not?

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  101. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I doubt that the “brightest and the best” from the uni’s join the SWP anymore (like they did in regards to IS in the 60’s/early 70’s).

    The contributions from the floor by their middle ranking hacks featured in the Youtube Marxism 2015 & 2016 vids were mediocre to put it mildly.

    We’re hardly talking razor sharp intellects here.

    There’s brighter people on here.

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  102. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: Indeed. The old leadership are either dead or have joined Counterfire, or some Scottish outfit. I would’ve thought that despite their having fallen on relatively hard times they would have some fresh faced young people coming through, but maybe not?

    We shouldn’t get too misty eyed over the old leadership either. Most were terrible (Bambery, Rees, Smith et al)….The only ones I had any time for were Duncan Hallas, Pat Stack and Andy Strouhous (probably spelt wrong)….And I always had a soft spot for Paul Foot…despite him being a semi-detached totem for the Party.

    Goes without saying that the present crop are uniformly crap. Despite me being once friendly with Mark L. Thomas (nice guy on a personal level).

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  103. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: were Duncan Hallas,

    That’s because he was the real deal, whether you agreed with him or not. I had some good times with him drinking and listening in a now defunct pub in Hackney. In my view he was treated poorly in his latter years by the SWP leadership. Par for the course you may say?

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  104. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: (Bambery, Rees, Smith et al)….

    Bambery just thinks he can grow a trendy barb and go around being all mysterious and that somehow that will make him a real revolutionary. Oh well. 🙂

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  105. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: Bambery just thinks he can grow a trendy barb and go around being all mysterious and that somehow that will make him a real revolutionary. Oh well.

    Bambery used to play the Scottish “pseudo tough guy” card to impress the soft Southerners ….rather like someone who used to hang out around here 😉

    That didn’t wash on his own turf….During the bloody INLA/IPLO split in 1987 he gave a speech in Glasgow extolling the virtues of the IPLO’s Jimmy Brown and Gerald Steenson and the rest of that grubby drug dealing little gang. Afterwards a IRSP member promptly put him on his arse !

    Thus denting his hard man image. He fled back to Hackney rather quickly I heard.

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  106. jim mclean on said:

    Jellytot,

    Bambery is still hanging around the edges of RISE Scotland, My contempt for the Scottish Left Nationalists is getting worse over time. Support free uni places for the middle class kids and laugh when we point out the SNP make working class families go through a demeaning means test. Oh they could be lying about having no money!!!!

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  107. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    I was going to make a comment relating to Jock MacTrouser’s name on the other thread but sadly it seems to have come to an end. I was going to say give me MacTroosers anyday whether in or out of the LP given that the new USA defence secretary is now called Mad Dog!

    Hard to see where you’re ‘ coming from’ here, so hard to respond. as in WTF!!!!

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  108. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: jock mctrousers: I wonder if anyone an recommend a good account of HOW Trotsky set up the Red Army?

    I cannot recommend a *good* account, but there is a short stab at it in Tony Cliff’s biography of Trotsky, it is free on line here

    .
    Thanks for that, Andy. And thanks to others who gave links. But this just further illustrates the problem, which has shown up throughout this thread, of the uncertainty about the sources of info for everything to do with the bolsheviks – sorry, but Trotsky’s word alone is not enough, but what academic studies exist are entirely (no need for an ‘almost’) anti-communist propaganda, since no-one who didn’t toe this line would ever get near the resources of a top Uni Soviet studies dept. It may be actually even WORSE now!

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  109. jock mctrousers on said:

    Chris Bamberry? He’s a strange one. He crops up regularly on RT, on their News slots, as a ‘political commentator’, as do John Rees and Linsey German from Counterfire and Stop the War, and our old pal John Wight. Yes, he does look violent. His whole body language says ” me tough, working class, stick the head on fascists, racists etc…” Drinks a lot, I’d guess.

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  110. Jellytot on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    Bambery is from Edinburgh (not Glasgow) and went to very good uni’s so doubt he has a working class bone in his body. Like most of the top Swappies I don’t think he has ever had a proper job (i.e. he’s hung around higher education and done full time party “work”).

    But I suppose if you are a College student from Surrey the whole shouty Jock accent schtick comes across as impressive.

    I only saw him in action once during a confrontation with fascists at the top of Brick Lane around 92. He was happy to shout and scream at them from a distance but once they noticed him and approached he ran behind police lines and continued to jump up and down and shout behind a phallanx of cops.

    Not impressed.

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  111. George Hallam on said:

    jock mctrousers: Andy Newman: jock mctrousers: I wonder if anyone an recommend a good account of HOW Trotsky set up the Red Army?

    I cannot recommend a *good* account, but there is a short stab at it in Tony Cliff’s biography of Trotsky, it is free on line here.

    Thanks for that, Andy. And thanks to others who gave links. But this just further illustrates the problem, which has shown up throughout this thread, of the uncertainty about the sources of info for everything to do with the bolsheviks – sorry, but Trotsky’s word alone is not enough

    Your scepticism is justified.

    As Commissar for War Trotsky was the politician in charge of the Army. As such he presided over the building of the Red Army, but that does not mean that he should take all the credit.

    The October revolution put the Bolsheviks controlled most of the major cities and industrial centres. These contained arsenals and some well-stocked depots.

    The Czarist state had been “smashed” but not to atoms. As far as the army was concerned, millions of trained men and hundreds of thousands of officers remained. Also some institutions remained relatively intact. Crucially, this included the central administration.

    So the Red Army was not set up from scratch; it was built using a lot of existing material – physical, human and institutional.

    As Trotsky himself said:

    “A new class has risen to power, a class which has weighty accounts to settle with the past. That past has bequeathed to it, in the shape of the army which has now ceased to exist, a certain material capital – guns, rifles, all sorts of military stores – and a certain mental capital – an accumulated sum of knowledge, military experience, habits of administration, and soon, all that which is possessed by the specialists in military matters, the former generals and colonels of the old army, and which the new revolutionary class did not possess.” https://www.scribd.com/document/162927192/The-Military-Writings-of-Leon-Trotsky-Volume-1-1918-How-the-Revolution-Armed

    “Every individual regiment, and the army as a whole, were living improvisations.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1922/military/ch37.htm

    Wollenberg quotes S. I. Gussev, The Lessons of the Civil War to the effect that a lot of this improvisation took place locally through the initiative of “absolutely decentralized machinery” rather than centrally. (Wollenberg 1978: 45-6)

    Two features of the Red Army stand out:
    a) The use of “bourgeois specialists” (former czaist officers) and
    b) military commissars. These were a necessary check on the former.

    “bourgeois specialists” – Credit for recruiting many high-ranking czaist officers should go to Mikhail Dmitriyevich Bonch-Bruyevich (himself a former czaist commander and brother of Lenin’s personal secretary, Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich). (see Mawdsly 2008:46-7 81-3 )It was Bonch-Bruyevich who formulated the plan of expanding the Red Army to one million men.

    military commissars – Initially these too were a local initiative responsible to regional soviets. This was quickly changed so the that they were organised centrally, initially though the All-Russian Bureau of Military Commissars (VBVK) and, from May 1919, by the Political Administration of the Revolutionary Military Soviet (PUR).

    Both the VBVK and the PUR were directly responsible to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, not the Commissar for War. In fact, Trotsky himself was not too enthusiastic about military commissars and floated the idea of phasing them out.

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  112. #142 I don’t know about Cliff’s biography of Trotsky but I once heard his work on Lenin described as reading like a biography of John The Baptist by Jesus Christ.

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  113. jock mctrousers on said:

    brianthedog: Whilst on the Trot theme it looks like the AWL are up to their usual tricks. They would make MI5 proud

    Thanks for that. I missed that one.

    Karl Stewart: Why on earth does anyone ever allow the poisonous AWL to join anything?

    And who is ‘anyone’ in this case? John Lansman? Does Corbyn really ” count Lansman among his closest allies “. ?

    This all just looks like one big astroturf sea of mud for us to wrestle with, squeezed out its long-prepared tube as soon as Corbyn hit the ground, to generate confusion while the Tories go on selling everything off!

    Yet again not a word about the fact that the ‘Trot group’ in question is actually a Blairite, zionist, Eustonista type group, which is opposed to everything Corbyn and his followers stand for, hugely over-represented in Momentum

    To quote Labour Party Marxists again (and who are THEY, by the way?)

    ” Eighteen of the attendees at the November 5 meeting were members of the national committee. The AWL had four comrades present and there was a member each from the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Socialist Appeal and Labour Party Marxists. A journalist from Socialist Worker was shown the door before the start of the meeting and, after a brief discussion, a member of the Socialist Party in England and Wales was also barred from attending.

    Four members of the Momentum steering committee were present: Jackie Walker, Matt Wrack, Jill Mountford and her AWL fellow traveller, Michael Chessum. But because of the outrageous decision by the AWL to effectively support the right’s witch-hunting of comrade Walker by demoting her from the position of vice-chair of Momentum on the initiative of Jon Lansman, there is clearly a lot of bad blood between those four ‘left’ members on the SC ”

    NOTE: THE AWL HAD 4 MEMBERS PRESENT!

    Corbyn has to extricate himself from this, or we have to wake up and consider the possibility that he just might be no good. I love the guy myself, but it may be that he’s already just too tired to think straight.

    Both Lansman and the AWL have to go, or Corbyn and MacDonnell have to go!

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  114. John Grimshaw on said:

    brianthedog: Whilst on the Trot theme it looks like the AWL are up to their usual tricks.

    Whilst on the Stalinist theme I’m worried about those big socialist-realist statues of big macho workers with vests on.

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  115. John Grimshaw on said:

    On a more serious level BtD I read the article you linked to. The Guardian makes no attempt to point out that Andrew Murray has been a leading member of the CPB for years and that Laura is his daughter. Now of course people who are related to each other may of course have the same or similar politics but it always sounds suspicious to me when it looks like people are keeping it in the family. The article also doesn’t point out that Andrew Murray has worked closely with the SWP and latterly Counterfire for some time now (both notionally Trotskyists groups). In other words there is no Trot theme as you insist, rather you are critiquing the AWL only I presume.

    On the substantive issue. I do know people who are in the AWL but I’m not at all a supporter because I find their strange views on Imperialism etc. difficult to deal with. And then there’s the poetry as you have pointed out before. And…I don’t know enough about Jackie Walker but it does look like to me that they stabbed her in the back for no good reason. There is still a problem with Momentum however. Clearly this Lansmann who has conceived it as his personal project is also a problem. If there was a proper democratic structure and if the organisation was adequately related to the WC then a few AWLers wouldn’t really be such an issue.

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  116. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: I thought the point about astroturf was that it didn’t get muddy?

    Like QPR’s old pitch.

    Great for pitch invasions at the end of the season and you didn’t even have to get yer Forest Hills or Gazelles all muddy. Double win.

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  117. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: Why on earth does anyone ever allow the poisonous AWL to join anything?

    The triumph of hope over experience.

    It was a fatal error to allow people to join Momentum who were not Labour Party members.

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  118. Karl Stewart: thought Momentum was just for LP members and that AWL was inside the Labour Party.

    I thought that as well.

    The AWL as far as I know have gone rapidly from having some people lingering in the LP to everyone rejoining now that JC has won.

    A couple of people alleged to be AWL supporters have been expelled in Manchester. Nobody should be expelled from the Labour Party for being a socialist, but I do find it ironic that these are the same people who (as far as I’m aware) refused to defend Jackie Walker because of her alleged anti-semitism.

    How on earth can anyone wage a serious battle for socialism inside the LP and take it out to the wider working class if the left is engaged in stupid internal strife?

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  119. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: It was a fatal error to allow people to join Momentum who were not Labour Party members.

    I could’ve joined Momentum or attempted to but I have chosen not to do so. I tried to become a supporter of the LP in 2015 (under the Ed Miliband rules – yes I know) but was denied by Ian MacNichol’s office. I have not been a member of any Trot organisation or any other for that matter since 2001but wanted to support Corbyn who I have some respect for. Also I thought that the LP would be qualitatively different with him in charge rather than the Blairite Tories. I think, but can’t prove it obviously, that I was denied membership because I signed an election petition for a friend, in the SP, who stood against John Biggs for Mayor of Tower Hamlets. And I still haven’t got my ten pounds back. I had assumed Momentum was an LP organisation. Since I can’t join the LP there seemed no point in joining Momentum.

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  120. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: The AWL as far as I know have gone rapidly from having some people lingering in the LP to everyone rejoining now that JC has won.

    As far as I am aware the AWL doesn’t technically exist at the moment. They have “dissolved” themselves so that they can join the LP. Of course they do still really exist. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this sort of “entryism” if the LP is so big and the AWL (or other organisation) so small it shouldn’t make that much difference. That some Labour Party structures and other “lefties” are so concerned about it speaks volumes for the state of the “official” LP.

    Evan P: A couple of people alleged to be AWL supporters have been expelled in Manchester. Nobody should be expelled from the Labour Party for being a socialist, but I do find it ironic that these are the same people who (as far as I’m aware) refused to defend Jackie Walker because of her alleged anti-semitism.

    There are some AWL members that I know and am on comradely terms with who have been denied membership of the LP presumably on similar terms to me? I don’t agree with their politics but they are good working class activists. But yes I agree with you Evan. No-one should be expelled from the LP just for being a socialist and they were wrong about Jackie Walker.

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  121. Its hard to get excited or alarmed about small numbers of trotskyites from marginal groupuscules joining the Labour Party. Its a big enough organisation and sufficiently grounded in the organised Labour movement to resist infection.
    However, when, as in the case of the AWL – with its ideological alignment with imperialism, zionism and (like the even tinier and parasitical Weeky Worker) the bosses’ EU – these people are able to divert Momentum from its most productive course into the familiar terrain of sectarian dispute we do have a problem.

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  122. Evan P on said:

    Nick Wright: familiar terrain of sectarian dispute

    Yes, looking in from the outside as a friendly neighbour I find some of what I see depressingly familiar having gone through so much of this in the 80s and to a lesser extent the early 90s.

    The difference then of course is that the left didn’t have any of their own in the leadership, let alone the leader of the opposition.

    We can only hope that the new and fresh manage to counteract the old and stale (I’m pretty old myself btw before anyone says anything!) and step up with the campaigning amongst those who need the Labour movement and a Labour government the most.

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  123. Karl Stewart on said:

    For me, what put the AWL finally beyond the pale was their being apologists for the Odessa massacre. A truly revolting organisation. I wouldn’t belong to any political movement that allowed them in frankly.

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  124. John Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright: Its hard to get excited or alarmed about small numbers of trotskyites from marginal groupuscules

    I agree. That’s the point I was making.

    However, at risk of causing your and your comrades ire, the membership of the CPB is hardly massive (750?) and many of them as Evan pointed out are of a certain age. What I still don’t understand is why you don’t also do what the AWL and some others have done and join the LP? By the way I do read the Weekly Worker and they don’t have the same politics as the AWL. In fairness. And why would you defend Momentum if your not going to join it?

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  125. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: apologists for the Odessa massacre.

    I assume we’re not talking Eisenstein here? So therefore you must be referring to the 70 odd dead in the TU building? So I assume that you are accusing the AWL of siding with Ukrainian fascists, and I also assume that you are peculiarly siding with Putin’s Russia even though the USSR has not existed for over 15 years. Have I got this right?

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  126. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw: I assume we’re not talking Eisenstein here? So therefore you must be referring to the 70 odd dead in the TU building? So I assume that you are accusing the AWL of siding with Ukrainian fascists, and I also assume that you are peculiarly siding with Putin’s Russia even though the USSR has not existed for over 15 years. Have I got this right?

    I’m referring to the murder, by Right Sector Nazis (Nazis not fascists) of dozens of people in the Odessa Trade Union House in May 2014. The revolting AWL published an article whitewashing the whole event at the time.

    Do I ‘side’ with Putin? No

    Was Russia right to accept the request of the Crimean people to return to Russia? Yes of course.

    Was Russia right to support eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters? Yes of course.

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  127. #165 The CPB stands in complete solidarity with those in the Labour Party who are changing its political direction under Jeremy Corbyn and clearly Momentum is an organisation that plays a role in mobilising around that.

    Therefore we want to see Momentum organising and operating as effectively as possible.

    The CPB is ineligible under current rules for affiliation to the Labour Party and individual members are prohibited both by the rules of the Labour Party and our own party from joining.

    We have absolutely no intention of liquidating our party as we believe that the existence of a Communist Party is essential, and there are huge number of people outside our ranks who agree with us on this and our influence in the wider labour and progressive movement is far greater than our size.

    Nor do we feel that the time is right at the moment for us to divert ourselves or our friends into a renewed argument as to whether or not we should currently be allowed to affiliate.

    By the way you have underestimated our actually membership as will be revealed when we publish our figures for the electoral commission at the end of the year 🙂

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  128. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: (Nazis not fascists)

    The “nickname” NAZI was an abbreviation for the German National Socialist Workers Party who were a fascist organisation. The term, I believe, was first coined, in this context, by Mussolini, (or that bloke from Trieste who’s name I can’t remember) based on the axes and stick bundles carried by the functionaries of Republican Roman senators. I do not know why you seek to make an issue of “difference” between fascist and Nazi? Or Phalange?

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  129. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters?

    One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist?

    Actually Karl I’m relatively sanguine about the Russian annexation of the Crimea as it was a part of Greater Russia until some administrative rearrangement under Kruschev. Although I do think you have to admit that there are issues with ethnic minorities and Greater Russian Nationalism. That there are fascists in the Ukraine is not in doubt, but then there are in Russia and this country and France and so on and so on. The question which I have not found a satisfactory answer to is whether the Ukraine is a fascist state which is obviously different to a country which has fascists in it.

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  130. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: By the way you have underestimated our actually membership as will be revealed when we publish our figures for the electoral commission at the end of the year

    Sorry Evan I got this scurrilous figure from some ultra-left organisation. 🙂

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  131. John Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright: It appears our bosses are divided over the question of the EU but the most powerful and dominant section are in favour of membership of the single market.

    I agree but they are still all bosses. Anyway Cameron says he’s combatting “populism” now irrespective of how much money he’s getting.

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  132. John Grimshaw: The question which I have not found a satisfactory answer to is whether the Ukraine is a fascist state

    Go there. It’s not expensive or difficult – no visas required. Look around, and talk to people. If what you find looks to you like Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, there’s your answer.

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  133. Karl Stewart on said:

    Francis King: Go there. It’s not expensive or difficult – no visas required. Look around, and talk to people. If what you find looks to you like Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, there’s your answer.

    Look out for torchlit processions of nazis, thugs in uniform beating people up, that kind of thing.

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  134. brianthedog on said:

    Karl Stewart: Look out for torchlit processions of nazis, thugs in uniform beating people up, that kind of thing.

    Yep there is quite a bit of it about and Nazi militias incorporated into the Ukrainian Army and Nazi MP’s and ministers.

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  135. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: While you are undoubtedly more right than Karl. He nevertheless does have a point.

    Michael Reiman’s book “the birth of Stalinism” has a fascinating discussion of this. Up until this point the alliance of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kaminev did have a great deal of support. Trotskyists in fact did still have considerable influence in the Army, and dominated the diplomatic corps, and through Zinoviev and Kaminev. The Moscow and Leningrad party organisations were in the hands of the opposition. The 1928 [sic] demonstration in Leningrad for the anniversary of the Feb revolution was dominated by opposition slogans.

    I haven’t read Reiman’s book. I know of it because it is cited to make the point that the Left Opposition was more powerful than it is often portrayed.

    1. It seems that it was larger than the figure of 4,000 that is often quoted, perhaps 10,000 plus. At a stretch the Left Opposition could have been as big as 30 to 40 thousands (members and sympathisers combined). This makes a significant organisation by leftist standard.

    2. At that time the soviet Communist Party had a membership of around 3/4 of a million. So the Left Opposition might, at best, have 5 per cent of the membership.

    3. The above has some implications for the Left Opposition’s strategy. It must have been obvious to the leaders of the Left Opposition themselves that it was unrealistic to think that they could make any headway in the Party.

    To sum up: the Left Opposition was big enough to take action but too small the take over the Party by normal means. What were the alternatives? It would be surprising if some of its members didn’t consider more desperate means.

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  136. jock mctrousers on said:

    Excuse me for stating the obvious, but whether or not it was pre-planned as such, Momentum at the moment is verging on an Astroturf Red Herring – all this talk about democracy in Momentum, when of course it’s democracy in the Labour Party we should be talking about. That’s the point of it, I thought?

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  137. Karl Stewart: Look out for torchlit processions of nazis, thugs in uniform beating people up, that kind of thing.

    Yep – see how much of that sort of thing you see, see what else you can see, do and hear, listen to the views people express and how freely or unfreely they express them, etc. etc. You might find something which conforms fully with how you visualise Nazi Germany. Or you might find something different.

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  138. non-partisan on said:

    There is among the many other problems ‘the left’ faces the question raised by Karl and Francis, ‘What is fascism’? in today’s world. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia all have right wing nationalist governments, that inhibit a free media and are engaged in moving society further and further to the right, at what point, and why do we determine they are fascist? and does it make any difference, given that we would oppose them in any circumstance.

    Without research, or looking for definitions, my ‘rule of thumb’ has always been the extent ‘they’ mobilise on the streets to physically defeat, liquidate, and intimidate any opposition forces, determines this question. That in sense it’s academic, ‘We know when we are dealing with facists when we can feel the blows’ Any comments?

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  139. George Hallam: haven’t read Reiman’s book. I know of it because it is cited to make the point that the Left Opposition was more powerful than it is often portrayed.

    I think you would find it a rewarding read, given your interests. You are correct that it has been cited by various people seeking to find evidence for their pet alternative histories, rather like the industry of amateur writers who pick over the ways the Confederate states coulda shoulda woulda won the civil war.

    However, Riemann himself deals in facts, and it is a well researched and documented account of the Economic and social background and the debates and disputes in the party.

    What came across to me, to give a one sentence summary. Was a state in crisis and a party leadership split between the moderates who rested on the prospects of improving trade and stability, a centre who rested on the party bureaucracy, and a left who were prepared to recklessly gamble with the lives of millions of people by having a punt.

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  140. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: What came across to me, to give a one sentence summary. Was a state in crisis and a party leadership split between the moderates who rested on the prospects of improving trade and stability, a centre who rested on the party bureaucracy, and a left who were prepared to recklessly gamble with the lives of millions of people by having a punt.

    Thank you for this value-free summary. 🙂

    Seriously though I found both #110 and #189 useful and interesting. I appreciate the effort involved in making a short summary.

    I was under the impression that, as against Stephan Cohen and other enthusiasts for Bukharin, Reiman argued that by 1928 NEP had ceased to be an option – hence the “crisis”.

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  141. Jellytot on said:

    non-partisan,

    A better rule of thumb is do they seek to be a mass movement comprising lumpen/working class and middle class elements who are seeking to accommodate to the existing elites intially but ultimatiely, and crucially, to supplant them?

    The whole “smashing the enemy” and “rule the streets” stuff is very 30’s. They don’t need to do that anymore in the age of the internet. The most recent incarnation of the BNP (Britain’s most successful electoral fascist party) had little to no street presence.

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  142. non-partisan on said:

    Jelly I think you are right about the mass movement, but it needs to be mobilised and activated rather than just passive support, that is where the ‘streets’ come in. But ues its simplistic to view it as a battle for the streets, but about the ability to oragnise opposition. With both Brexit and Trump, there is no doubt there was a genuine reaction to poverty and lack of engagement, but the people w reacted by supporting these projects were I think conned into supporting a campiagns that move society and politics further right .

    Nonetheless, I think your comment does clarify things, what does that mean in today’s situation? Have NF in France, Wilders in Holland, Law @ Justice in Poland etc, moved away from, or are they the same fasc as ever?

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  143. jock mctrousers: Momentum at the moment is verging on an Astroturf Red Herring – all this talk about democracy in Momentum, when of course it’s democracy in the Labour Party we should be talking about. That’s the point of it, I thought?

    Exactly.

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  144. George Hallam: I was under the impression that, as against Stephan Cohen and other enthusiasts for Bukharin, Reiman argued that by 1928 NEP had ceased to be an option – hence the “crisis”.

    The situation was desperate, famine, failed harvests, faltering trade. I can see why the urbane and cultured Bukharin appeals to liberals in hindsight, but it is hard to see that the right opposition’s plans could have worked.

    The left opposition had two deep flaws, they conflated the aims of the state with the party, so that for example, Rakovsky, as ambassador to Paris saw his role as a communist agitator not as a statesman. The result was the ban on trade by the French government, which was a body blow to the Soviet economy. The second weakness was that they advocated a transfer of wealth from the country to the cities to industrialise, but they sought to oppose and weaken the only force that could achieve that, the party.

    I remember some years ago talking with a formet Serbian army officer who had been in Kosovo. His view was that militarily they were still in a good position at the point they withdrew, and NATO would have struggled to pay the political cost of a ground war in Kosovo.
    But they had to withdraw because the Serbian state couldn’t afford to win that battle. That is, they had to ask what would winning look like: encirclement, isolation, sanctions.

    Whether his judgement is right is besides the point, but it throws some light on the psychology. Either the left or the right *could* have prevailed over Stalin, but in their hearts they would have questioned what winning would look like, having to take responsibility for a state and an economy that was in crisis.

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  145. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman,

    #196 this is fine as an explanation of why they should have given up in, say, 1928.

    However, there is evidence that both groups didn’t ‘give up’ but went on opposing Stalin’s line. In fact they organised a bloc in 1932.

    To turn your argument on it’s head (or set it on its feet) both groups were horrified by, what they judged to be the consequences of what Stalin was doing, i.e. a split with the peasantry, industrial chaos, war with the West.

    So you could say that they were driven by fear of Stalin winning.

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  146. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I actually liked Robert Service’s point in the video debate with Hitchens refered to earlier. That being that Trotsky in power would have been an incredible risk taker; Trying to spark revolutions everywhere when even the necessary consciousness and ground game wasn’t in place. In the 20’s and 30’s that could have provoked a fascist/White Guard backlash worse than it even was. Mosley and his movement could have been much bigger than he turned out to be in such a scenario for instance.

    “Socialism in One Country” as a programme gets stick but it was the correct policy for the time.

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  147. George Hallam: #202 okay, I’ll ask an easier question.

    I wasn’t avoiding the question, just hadn’t seen it.

    The evidence I would offer would be their lack of capability, you have yourself documented the isolation and exile of Trotsky, other leaders of the left opposition crossed over to supporting Stalin.

    Cohen’s biography of Bukharin suggests a retreat away from any such serious ambitions, or capacity to cease power.

    From 1928 onwards, no opposition faction had the foundations to seriously pose a threat to Stalin’s rule, whatever their subjective rationales

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  148. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: I wasn’t avoiding the question, just hadn’t seen it.

    No problem.

    Andy Newman: The evidence I would offer would be their lack of capability, you have yourself documented the isolation and exile of Trotsky, …
    From 1928 onwards, no opposition faction had the foundations to seriously pose a threat to Stalin’s rule, whatever their subjective rationales

    Two points here:

    1. As you imply, seriousness (being in earnest, rather joking or half-hearted) is subjective. Obviously it helps if what you are trying to get is actually possible but there are lots of examples of people seriously committed to the impossible. Some people carry on because they are misinformed other are just stubborn . So, on its own, “lack of capability” is not enough.

    2. While there was no immediate prospect of defeating Stalin in the Party there were three possibilities that this would change:

    a. The balance of forces in the Party might change. For example, if a war with some combination of Imperialist powers which went badly for the Soviets. Trotsky floated this scenario himself in 1927 (the “Clémenceau thesis”);

    b. Bypassing the party altogether, e.g. insurrection, military coup d’état. We know that this last option had already been discussed by some in the Left opposition;

    c. Stalin might die either from natural causes or assassination. Bukharin proposed using individual terror to get rid of Stalin. In 1929 he put this solution to his friend Jules Humbert-Droz (a Swiss communist party member who worked with Bukharin in the Communist International). This interesting fact only came to light in 1971 when Humbert-Droz published his memoirs.

    Andy Newman: Cohen’s biography of Bukharin suggests a retreat away from any such serious ambitions, or capacity to cease power.

    There are a lot of problems with Cohen’s work, not least that he doesn’t deal with Humbert-Droz’s testimony.
    See Grover Furr ‘Stephen Cohen’s Biography of Bukharin: A Study in the Falsehood of Khrushchev-Era “Revelations”’ http://clogic.eserver.org/2010/furr.pdf

    Andy Newman: you have yourself documented the isolation and exile of Trotsky, other leaders of the left opposition crossed over to supporting Stalin.

    Yes, Trotsky was isolated in the Party.
    Yes, some other leaders of the left opposition did publicly renounce their views and apply to re-join the Communist party.

    Did they cross over “to supporting Stalin”?

    This is very doubtful. For example, Pierre Broue was sure that people in the group around Smirnov were just trying to “fool the apparatus” so they could organise with the Party.

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  149. George Hallam: Yes, some other leaders of the left opposition did publicly renounce their views and apply to re-join the Communist party.

    Preobrazhinsky, Smilga, Radek and 400 other left oppositionists published an open letter of support for Stalin’s policies in 1928, leading to a sharply polemical response from Rakovsky.

    It is unthinkable that at this critical juncture in the faction fight that this was a ruse, and the response from Rakovsky burned bridges.

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  150. George Hallam: Obviously it helps if what you are trying to get is actually possible but there are lots of examples of people seriously committed to the impossibl

    But people mired in Muggletonian irrelevancy are not organising for power, whatever their subjective views.

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  151. John Grimshaw on said:

    non-partisan,

    I’m not sure this answers my original point. Is there a difference between a fascist state and a state with fascists in it. There may be a state with fascists in it where some people still dress up and march around. I also think that non-partisan is right to draw us to a discussion of exactly what we mean by fascism. Is dressing up, marching around and punching people an adequate description? Are Isis fascists?

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  152. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: I don’t know if he’s actually moving very fast, but certainly his changed position on the EU would reflect this.

    You may be right in the first instance Evan. In the second, I think there is more evidence other than just Europe issues.

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  153. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: It is unthinkable that at this critical juncture in the faction fight that this was a ruse

    1. The categories ‘faction fight’ and ‘ruse’ are not mutually exclusive.

    The United opposition changed tack a number of times. It officially announced its formation as a faction in July 1926; having failed to gain any concessions from the leadership there was a drive to appeal to the rank and file. In October, it was clear that this had failed; Trotsky and Zinoviev then offered to dissolve the opposition as a faction but to continue oppose the leadership within the Central committee. It is doubtful that the debates about these tactics entirely amicable.

    What happen in 1928-9 was not so very different except that by then the only way to remain in the Party was to promise to stop making these criticisms and to carry out official policy.

    2. Broué was very clear that:
    “Everybody had known, from 1929 0n that people in the Smirnov group had not really capitulated but were trying to fool the apparatus..”
    Further, “ the fact was so universally known that Andres Nin..explained it openly to his German comrades of Die permanente Revolution who printed his declaration without apparent problem.

    Pierre Broué “Opposition to Stalin 1930-1932 and the first Moscow Trial” quoted in Grover Furr (2013) ‘The Murder of Sergei Kirov’

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  154. David Ruaune on said:

    Hi, John. I think the question can be precised and made more subtle even than that – What if a government receives some support from fascists on the ground, given that the peculiarity of fascism is its activist base? Trump seems to have been given support by outright fascists, but this does not necessarily make him a fascist.

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  155. John Grimshaw on said:

    David Ruaune,

    Hi David. Of course what you suggest is correct. That has also happened, although any such government may be making a riding a tiger. The fascists will try to gain enough support such that they can replace the government. Trump has been supported by fascists such as the KKK etc. But non of those groups have much support on the ground I think. Rather he seems to have got a lot of support from disillusioned workers.

    Apart from the obvious need for socialists to be clear about what a fascist is (and the descriptions given so far are rather vague in my view) there is another reason for me to labour the point. Some or maybe most of the people who appear on this blog either lean towards Stalinism or are Stalinists. This means they are supportive of the Assad regime and, for reasons I don’t readily fathom, Great Russian chauvinism. I mean I could understand them supporting the USSR but? They there fore have an interest in arguing that Ukraine is a Nazi state. I’m not convinced. Although I concede they could be right but I don’t see the evidence.

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  156. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: Some or maybe most of the people who appear on this blog either lean towards Stalinism or are Stalinists. This means they are supportive of the Assad regime and, for reasons I don’t readily fathom, Great Russian chauvinism. I mean I could understand them supporting the USSR but?

    I DEMAND AN APOLOGY!

    John Grimshaw: They there fore have an interest in arguing that Ukraine is a Nazi state.

    I’ve never seen anyone call Ukraine a nazi state, but certainly with a significant nazi support and glaringly disproportionate (to their electoral results) over-representation of nazis in the government..

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  157. <a href="#comment-716860"

    : This means they are supportive of the Assad regime and, for reasons I don’t readily fathom, Great Russian chauvinism. I mean I could understand them supporting the USSR but?

    There are a number of issues here.

    Firstly, there is a global attempt by US imperialism and its allies to regain the ground that it has lost in Russia through the policies pursued by Putin since he took the leadership there (the results of which policies being also the reason for his significant domestic popularity).

    Irrespective of the fact that the Ukrainian government is in the thrall to a significant extent of nazi/ fascist street gangs/militia and that their political representatives play a significant role therein, events in Ukraine both before and after the the overthrow of the previous government together with events in other parts of the former USSR represent a significant attempt by NATO/EU to isolate Russia and threaten it physically.

    Irrespective of how we might feel about Putin, there is nothing positive about Russia either being weakened by such pressure or about the risks of escalation of the risk of war.

    On a connected but separate note that there is no indication that any result in Syria involving the collapse of the Assad government would be positive either.

    This is not about Great Russian chauvinism or “stalinism”.

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  158. John Grimshaw on said:

    Great news regarding the liberation of Aleepo from Al Qaeda and it’s Salafist allies.

    And the murder of thousands of innocent civilians. Or is that just western propaganda?

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  159. John Grimshaw on said:

    I’ve never seen anyone call Ukraine a nazi state, but certainly with a significant nazi support and glaringly disproportionate (to their electoral results) over-representation of nazis in the government..

    This I believe is what myself and Dave Ruane have been trying to comment on, or part thereof.

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  160. Jellytot on said:

    non-partisan:
    Jelly I think you are right about the mass movement, but it needs to be mobilised and activated rather than just passive support, that is where the ‘streets’ come in. But ues its simplistic to view it as a battle for the streets, but about the ability to oragnise opposition.With both Brexit and Trump, there is no doubt there was a genuine reaction to poverty and lack of engagement, but the people w reacted by supporting these projects were I think conned into supporting a campiagns that move society and politics further right .

    Nonetheless, I think your comment does clarify things, what does that mean in today’s situation?Have NF in France, Wilders in Holland, Law @ Justice in Poland etc,moved away from, or are they the same fasc as ever?

    Re: an attempt to answer your last point.

    I think their instincts are still fascist – but their relative political success is to tailor their politics to the modern world in which they operate (particularly in the case of the FN in France). If they thought that they could get away with it, I would bet these parties would attempt a fully fledged fascist state. However France in 2016 is not Germany in 1932 and Holland today is not Italy circa 1920. We are not experiencing anywhere near the same economic collapse and there are not millions of pissed off war veterans kicking their heels having been demobilised from a recent catastrophic World War with all its attendant horrors (the latter was a major factor in the militarism of inter war fascist parties – a feature which would be a non-starter for groups wishing to be successful today – in Western Europe and the US at least – Ukraine is a different issue).

    What does work in the fascists favour is the growing political alienation of the Working and Middle Classes connected to the epoch defining adjustments and deep social anxiety caused by neo-liberalism.

    A France ruled by Marine Le Pen would certainly be nasty, but I think it would not be fascist in the true sense. Why ? She almost certainly couldn’t get away with it and does not command the social base needed to do it. Her government would be fairly weak – she’d probably be more Trump or Thatcher than Hitler.

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  161. Brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw:

    One death is a tragedy …..

    Yes the countless deaths in western Aleepo by Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies is a tragedy. Likewise the civilians they have held hostage and shot dead in eastern Aleppo when they tried to leave during the numerous Syrian Army ceasefires.

    Great news that this is coming to an end.

    Meanwhile the Iraqi army with the help of US airforce is and ground forces is trying to smash the rebel jihadists in the densely populated city of Mosul. Not a squeak from western liberals or pseudo lefties.
    Great news regarding the liberation of Aleepo from Al Qaeda and it’s Salafist allies.

    And the murder of thousands of innocent civilians. Or is that just western propaganda?

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  162. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    15 December 2016
    I see you have not posted my reply to jim mclean on “Scottish independence is now a necessary antidote to the reactionary beast of Brexit” which was posted on the 10 December. I was at the Scottish Parliament today at a demonstration organised by the trade unions against austerity organised by the tory Government and carried out by the SNP government in Edinburgh and passed on by the SNp and Labour Councils through-out Scotland. I was handing out SOCIALIST PARTY SCOTLAND leaflets calling on the Labour and SNP councils and the SNP Government to stand up to austerity and set no-cuts budgets. I do not know if Jim Mclean was there or not, but at least I was supporting the Glasgow Jannies who are on strike against their unscrupulous Labour Council employers

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  163. Brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    One death is a tragedy …..

    Yes the countless deaths in western Aleepo by Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies is a tragedy. Likewise the civilians they have held hostage and shot dead in eastern Aleppo when they tried to leave during the numerous Syrian Army ceasefires.

    Great news that this is coming to an end.

    Meanwhile the Iraqi army with the help of US airforce and ground forces is trying to smash the rebel jihadists in the densely populated city of Mosul. Not a squeak from western liberals or pseudo lefties.

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  164. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: Firstly, there is a global attempt by US imperialism and its allies to regain the ground that it has lost in Russia through the policies pursued by Putin since he took the leadership there (the results of which policies being also the reason for his significant domestic popularity).

    Thank you for your reasoned response Evan rather than some of the off the cuff stuff that some people specialise in. For the sake of clarity I share your hatred of western imperialism. I do not think the USA et al want to regain lost ground within Russia rather I think they want to regain lost ground in trying to contain and surround Russia. The problem that the USA has got is that it is also under Obama trying to face westwards into the Pacific out of growing concern about China. They are having intensive talks with Taiwan I believe and also sending F-22s and troops to Australia. It is not strong enough to face Janus-like in both directions hence the pressure on it’s allies to take up more of the load. This doesn’t mean they won’t try however. Today it is reported that Obama is accusing the Russians and specifically Putin of trying to interfere in the US elections via hacking etc. and he is threatening a retaliation at the time of his/their choosing. Interestingly he is accusing the Russians of interfering in support of Trump. What truth there is in this I don’t know but it may make sense IF Trump really is an old fashioned right-wing isolationist. I also think the Americans have had their machismo stung by their failure to intervene in Syria.

    All this being said Russian and Chinese expansionism also show that they too are Imperialist powers and although nowhere near as strong as the USA yet, if they were to act together could cause the Americans a lot of headaches. Even if they didn’t act in concert it’s still a problem for the US. A gigantic version of the two front war one might say. What’s my evidence for this you might say? Well for one the Chinese have built artificial islands in the South China Sea and have placed weaponry on them. This is not just directed against Taiwan, or passing US aircraft, it is also directed against the likes of the Philipines and Vietnam. Okay the Phillipines have always been a US client, but Vietnam hardly. It is reported today that the Chinese have been live testing their only carrier group in that area as well.

    Evan P: being also the reason for his significant domestic popularity

    Putin uses various time honoured tactics to keep himself in power. He has journalists arrested or assassinated and then finds convenient henchmen to take the fall, he projects a macho strong man image, he emphasises the importance of the greatness of Russia and Russians and he has the support of the extremely reactionary Orthodox Church. His intention, whether or not it is realistic, is to return to some Romanov/USSR crossbreed.

    Evan P: is in the thrall to a significant extent of nazi/ fascist street gangs/militia and that their political representatives play a significant role therein,

    Evidence? The reason why I said earlier I was relatively sanguine about the “occupation” of the Crimea was because it was really part of Russia and a high Russian population, although I would have thought that a peace loving nation could’ve found a better way to do what they did. I also think it significant that the Tatar minority in the Crimea were extremely anxious about the occupation. I think the clear Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine however is a different matter. The fact that there is a drive to the port of Maripol sounds suspiciously like Romanov foreign policy aimed at controlling the Black Sea. Putin continusously uses the issue of isolated Russians living in other areas as an excuse for intervention take Moldova/Trans-Denistra for example. Sound a bit like Hitler’s obsession with liberating Germans in other countries? That being said that the intention of the USA et al to use the Ukraine as part of their policy on Russian containment I don’t doubt.

    Evan P: there is nothing positive about Russia either being weakened by such pressure or about the risks of escalation of the risk of war.

    I’m for all imperialisms being weakened.

    Evan P: On a connected but separate note that there is no indication that any result in Syria involving the collapse of the Assad government would be positive either.

    The Assad government will do anything to stay in power including slaughtering large numbers of civilians. His father did it before. However he is also now being played by his Russian allies and by a Shiite axis. Hezbollah funded by Iran were in the forefront in Aleppo. Clearly the Takfiris are to be opposed also but I see nothing but a lose/lose situation at the moment.

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  165. John Grimshaw on said:

    Brianthedog: One death is a tragedy …..

    ?

    Brianthedog: Yes the countless deaths in western Aleepo by Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies is a tragedy. Likewise the civilians they have held hostage and shot dead in eastern Aleppo when they tried to leave during the numerous Syrian Army ceasefires.

    I have no love for Takfiris/Salafists they are savages who are completely anti-working class. Equally I have no love of the Assad regime which is completely anti-working class. That the Takfiris may have held civilians hostage may very well be true, although it is difficult to get any clear evidence out of Aleppo, equally it could be Assad regime propaganda. Interesting that even if it were true that the response of Assad and it’s Russian allies is to bomb the fuck out of the civilians in order to liberate them. I see no clear evidence of “numerous” Assad ceasefires but even if this were true we have no idea who broke them.

    Brianthedog: Great news that this is coming to an end.

    It isn’t.

    Brianthedog: Meanwhile the Iraqi army with the help of US airforce and ground forces is trying to smash the rebel jihadists in the densely populated city of Mosul. Not a squeak from western liberals or pseudo lefties.

    Do you not find the whole situation weird? I mean the US et al airforce is helping to bomb ISIS and the majority of the Iraqi forces are Shia, ably supported by the Iranian leader of the Revolutionary guards. But you are against ISIS so shouldn’t you be welcoming this western military intervention? After all in Syria you are constantly polemicizing about how good it is that the Assad regime and allies including Hezbollah and the Iranians, are also bombing Islamic militants? We could also include the Yemeni situation in this if you want. The Saudis, notorious Takfiris armed to the teeth with weapons from the USA/UK, are using them to bomb Shia rebels and slaughter civilians. And then to add to the mix there are the Kurds who are supported with arms by the US, and those who aren’t, and then there’s the ones who are fighting in Turkey who are “terrorists” and Turkey is a NATO member. This is the same Turkey that we know has supported Jihadis in the past despite the fact that it is an ally and that the west is bombing Jihadis in Iraq but not we are allegedly told in Syria pff. The same Turkey that doesn’t like Assad most of the time but occasionally does? Do you not see that apart from the asymetric weirdness of the situation that the only people are losing out are the civilians and the working class movement? By the way I notice this morning that Russian “protected” coaches are ferrying fighters and civilians out of Aleppo. I could’ve understood them taking the fighters to Idlib but not the civilians. So presumably once they’ve got to Idlib the whole bombing process can be re-started?

    Brianthedog: Not a squeak from western liberals or pseudo lefties.

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune….I can’t speak for western liberals or pseudo-lefties I’m not one. I do know you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball.

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  166. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    John, with respect I think you’re bunching a lot of separate issues together and making a bit of an assumption along the lines of ‘…everyone who thinks ‘x’ therefore also thinks ‘y’ and ‘z’…’ when reality doesn’t actually work along those lines.

    With regard to the Syria situation, I’d say the vast majority of people don’t really know much about the different sides in what is a complex and multi-sided conflict, with various competing agendas, and that the vast majority of people simply take the view that, yes let’s try to help refugees and support UN peace-making efforts, but no, we really will not support military intervention by the UK.

    That’s broadly my view and I’d suggest that’s the view of most.

    Nothing ‘stalinist’ about that.

    On the margins, there are a small number of people, organised as the “Syria Solidarity” movement, who actively want the UK to intervene militarily.

    They call military intervention variously a ‘no-bomb zone’ and a ‘no-fly zone’, but both are, in reality, extraordinarily reckless and irresponsible calls for UK (and US) military intervention, which would, inevitably, spark direct conflict between the US and UK on one side and Russia on the other.

    This is the organisation that Tatchell was with last Saturday. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was broadly sympathetic to them until I became aware of their calls for military action. But they’re certainly not what they seem at first glance and their warmongering position should be exposed.

    With regard to the former Ukraine SSR, (and I don’t call it that through any sentimental nostalgia, but just to make clear I’m referring to the total area including the current majority Kiev-ruled area, Crimea, and the People’s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk), again, one does not necessarily need to be a ‘Stalinist’ or a ‘Putin supporter’ to recognise the hugely central role played by organised Nazi groups played in sparking the crisis that erupted in early 2014.

    In a society in which notions of ‘nationhood’ and cultural identity were both ambiguous and varied – most people speaking both Ukrainian and Russian and/or the “Surzhyk” mix of both and all varying in the degree to which one of those identities predominated – it shouldn’t be difficult for the outsider to appreciate that the sudden coming to power of a movement dedicated to ruthlessly establishing a monocultural identity across the whole territory – irrespective of the differing cultural balances and sensitivities – would inevitably provoke a backlash.

    This was the reason why the people of Crimea, who had not previously expressed a strong desire to ‘leave’ The Ukraine, then firmly swung to the view that a return to Russia was the only option for them.

    It was also the reason why similar feelings came to the fore in Lugansk and Donetsk – as well as in Odessa, Mariupol, Kharkov, and to a certain extent in parts of Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya.

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  167. Jellytot on said:

    It is, in practice, impossible to be a Stalinist or Trotskyite or Communist or Maoist in the context of British politics in 2016. These are meaningless labels people attach to themselves. Essentially they are an act of posturing. What does a self declared communist or a revolutionary actually do? He or she pretty much acts the same way as a reformist. You can be a Social Democrat or a Scots Nationalist. That is tangible and means something concrete. Anything more extreme is pointless.

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  168. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw: All this being said Russian and Chinese expansionism also show that they too are Imperialist powers

    John, on what basis do you claim that China is ‘expansionist’ and ‘imperialist’? This is a very bold claim and it needs convincing evidence to support it.

    On this theme, have you seen John Pilger’s latest documentary ‘The Coming War on China’? http://thecomingwarmovie.com/

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  169. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: I can see why the urbane and cultured Bukharin appeals to liberals in hindsight, but it is hard to see that the right opposition’s plans could have worked.

    I agree.

    By 1928 NEP, as it is popularly understood, was unsustainable in three ways:
    economically, politically and militarily.

    Economically – NEP had restored production to pre-war levels but this was done using existing capital equipment. New investment had not been enough to cover depreciation. Machinery was wearing out so it was only a matter of time before production would fall.

    Politically – the Communists were losing the battle in the villages. The supply of grain depended on the richer peasants who had a surplus to sell. As memories of the civil war and the threat of a restoration of the landlords faded, this section of the peasantry had become more self-confident and began to assert its leadership over their poorer neighbours. Police reports indicated that the kulaks were looking for a confrontation with the government.

    Militarily – compared with the Tsarist military, the Red Army was small and run on a shoe string. This cut in the military budget had allowed funds to be diverted to other areas but it left the USSR weak. This weakness was exposed by the war scare of 1926-7. As the international situation deteriorated the need to rearm became increasingly obvious.

    Given these problems, doing nothing was not an option.

    The investment problem might have been solved by an inflow of funds from abroad but given the international situation this was unlikely to happen without significant concessions both political and economic. However, such concession would have further weakened the position of the government.

    The other ‘obvious’ solution was to tax the peasantry more heavily, but this was likely to precipitate the expected conflict with the kulaks. At the very least, such a policy would have reduced incentives and lead to lower grain production.

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  170. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: These are meaningless labels people attach to themselves.

    I broadly agree. It is seldom a good idea to take labels at their face value.

    Jellytot: What does a self declared communist or a revolutionary actually do? He or she pretty much acts the same way as a reformist. You can be a Social Democrat or a Scots Nationalist. That is tangible and means something concrete. Anything more extreme is pointless.

    If you like, everyone is a reformist, but oddly not all reformists agree on either what reforms they want or the best method of achieving them.

    Take a concrete issue like the role of PFI in the NHS.

    Now compare what some reformists, say the Labour Party, says and this proposal from other reformists
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/private-finance-initiatives-are-disastrous-for-the-nhs-lets-nationalise-the-assets-not-the-debt/

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  171. Petter Matthews: John, on what basis do you claim that China is ‘expansionist’ and ‘imperialist’? This is a very bold claim and it needs convincing evidence to support it.

    Yes, where are the Chinese military bases in Africa and Latin America?

    I note that John G referred to Chinese military activity in the South China Sea. Perhaps the clue John lies in the word “China”?

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  172. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: This is not just directed against Taiwan,

    The Chinese government (and the vast majority of Chinese living in the PRC), regard Taiwan as being as Chinese as Beijing or Shanghai.

    A lot of foreigners simply do not grasp this – East Asia generally is a mystery to the Eurocentric Left and Right in the West.

    Any attempts at independence by the Tapei government (with their recent cocky telephone calls to Donald Trump) would be met with a nationalist groundswell among the PRC populace of such a magnitude that it would probably lead to military intervention, regardless of the views of the current bunch of leaders who happen to be in power in Beijing at the time.

    The PLA too sees itself as guardians of the Constitution , the central tenet of which is the ‘One China’ policy. It too is eager for military action (it has not been in a real fight since the Vietnam intervention in 1979 – where it performed poorly) and is desperate to get beyond exercises and war gaming and into a local “hot” war where it can test its systems and tactics (the PLA is acutely aware of the vast experience the American military – which is almost constantly engaged in operations globally – has built up since 1945). And again, I stress, this is independent of the views of the Chinese civilian government – the leadership of which is replaced every ten years or so anyway.

    In short, the Tapei government had better think very carefully before continuing with any in mischief making with the new Trump presidency. You can pull at the tale of a tiger for only so long.

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  173. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam: If you like, everyone is a reformist, but oddly not all reformists agree on either what reforms they want or the best method of achieving them.

    You can be a reformist because reforms are possible and achievable (whatever those reforms may be and the ongoing debate about them).

    Being a Revolutionary is a pointless pose because there is zero revolutionary consciousness among the populace of the UK and almost certainly never likely to be.

    If it didn’t happen in 1919 (and the magnitude of the consciousness even back then has been vastly overstated subsequently in pamphlets like the SWP’s “Britain on the Brink”) it sure ain’t gonna happen in the early 21st century.

    Or am I missing something here?

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  174. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: Or am I missing something here?

    Yes, I’m afraid so.

    Jellytot: You can be a reformist because reforms are possible and achievable (whatever those reforms may be and the ongoing debate about them).

    Either trivially true or false.

    Jellytot: Being a Revolutionary is a pointless pose because there is zero revolutionary consciousness among the populace of the UK and almost certainly never likely to be.

    Without endorsing “Revolutionary” politics, you are just asserting that a revolution is impossible. More work is needed here.

    Jellytot: If it didn’t happen in 1919 (and the magnitude of the consciousness even back then has been vastly overstated subsequently in pamphlets like the SWP’s “Britain on the Brink”) it sure ain’t gonna happen in the early 21st century.

    I don’t give much weight to anything that the SWP says.

    The situation in 1919 is neither here nor there in terms of the problems we face today. So you need a stronger argument.

    Say what you like about ‘revolutionary’ politics it does have the effect of putting the fear of God into the powers that be.

    One of the side effects of this is to make them beam upon ‘reformist’ measures.

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  175. Jellytot: It is, in practice, impossible to be a Stalinist or Trotskyite or Communist or Maoist in the context of British politics in 2016.

    Are there in fact any Maoist (my emphasis) groups in existence in Britain today?

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  176. Petter Matthews on said:

    Jellytot,

    Acceptance of the ‘One China’ principle is not confined to the mainland. The Guomindang, which has ruled Taiwan for the majority of the period since 1949, also embraces it. For many years its slogan was to ‘retake the mainland’, although this has been moderated of late.

    Why do you claim that the PLA is “eager for military action”? In my experience the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’ which sets out the PRC’s policy of of non-interference are deeply ingrained in state institutions including the PLA.

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  177. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam,

    There is no fear of revolution by the British State. To claim otherwise is wishful thinking on your part. MI5 are rather dull, poorly paid civil servants in bad suits….and always were.

    Anyway, while erudite and knowledgable, you have never struck me much as a man of action. Unless action means sitting in the Dentist’s waiting room purusing the Readers’ Digest.

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  178. Jellytot on said:

    Petter Matthews:
    Jellytot,

    Why do you claim that the PLAis “eager for military action”? In my experience the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’ which sets out the PRC’s policy of of non-interference are deeply ingrained in state institutions including the PLA.

    From talking to my Father in Law…a former PLA officer (latterly a cop and judge, now retired….a common career progression in that field in China)

    And from chatting to a table of (admittedly drunk) retired PLA colonels and generals at the wedding of my sister in law.

    But it may have been the ale talking?

    Also there was a law passed in Beijing that authorises military force should Tapei secede. The PLA were one of the main pushers for this.

    P.S. Take your point about the KMT. Sadly they lost the recent election and are not at present in power in Chinese Tapei.

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  179. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: Yes, where are the Chinese military bases in Africa and Latin America?

    I note that John G referred to Chinese military activity in the South China Sea. Perhaps the clue John lies in the word “China”?

    Evan this deserves a longer response but until later I’m stuck with an iPad. As far as I’m aware there are no military bases yet in Southern Africa. However that is not yet the nature of Chinese imperialism. They have to tread carefully. Some of my closest friends live in Botswana white, mixed race and black. Their views on the Chinese are interesting. To summarise they say there are pros and cons of Chinese involvement in their region. The Chinese are considered to be arrogant and isolationist, in the sense that they don’t mix. They are considered to be exploitative of the local populations. They are particularly interested in agricultural production. I wonder why? That being said unlike say the British of the last centuries at the moment the Chinese do seem to be investing in infrastructure. In Zim which I haven’t been to in a while the Chinese are shoring up Mugabe’s last gasp attempt to safeguard his regime. Admittedly the western imperialists probably would like to see the back of him for their own reasons but Mugabe has become a stereotype and a sad embarrassment.

    On your last point. I believe South China Sea was a name coined by western imperialists rather than by imperial China itself. Does the label English Channel mean that everything in it belongs to England? Or the phrase Celtic sea mean it all belongs to the celts? Etc.

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  180. Jellytot on said:

    Evan P: Are there in fact any Maoist (my emphasis) groupsin existence in Britain today?

    I hope that there are !

    Are they training in the Chiltern Hill in order to one day surround High Wycombe !

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  181. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam: More work is needed here.

    “More Work is needed here” ?!

    Were/Are you a teacher/lecturer ?

    I suppose I get an “F” for my recent efforts and what do I have to do to get a Gold Star ?…..and keep it clean !

    BTW Woody Allen came out with the best line on the teaching profession;

    “Those who can’t do…Teach….and those that can’t teach…teach Gym !”

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  182. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam: The situation in 1919 is neither here nor there in terms of the problems we face today. So you need a stronger argument.

    I have recently returned to the UK after many years abroad and I love Britain and being British (am I allowed to state that?) however observing the British with a fresh (ish) pair of eyes has confirmed my opinion that they basically are a bunch of small ‘c’ conservative, hidebound worryworts.

    A revolution is technically possible in the UK – just as it is possible anywhere – but is it even remotely likely ?!

    C’mon !

    And Is it worth spending time, money and energy arguing for it?

    British State Institutions are incredibly solid – from the monarchy down – they are not going anywhere George.

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  183. Jellytot on said:

    George Hallam: Say what you like about ‘revolutionary’ politics it does have the effect of putting the fear of God into the powers that be.

    Reforms were/are enacted to make the State/Capitalism run better – little or nothing to do with fear of Revolution, despite that silly quote from Quintin Hogg – There is a debate among the Elite about the necessity and magnitude of the reforms. At the moment, in the West, the opinion in favour of a vast scale back are in the ascendency.

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  184. Petter Matthews on said:

    Jellytot,

    Like you I have Chinese family through marriage. My views are shaped in part through interacting with them and I haven’t picked-up on those attitudes in the PLA, but that doesn’t man of course that they don’t exist. There are occasional reports of a growing sense of nationalism, exemplified in the publication a few years ago of ‘Unhappy China’, but again, at least in terms of anecdotal evidence, I don’t get much sense of it being widespread.

    My wife informs me that Pilger’s ‘The Coming War on China’ is being widely discussed on Chinese social media. The Chinese people would benefit from seeing it, but I doubt it will be broadcast on national TV.

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  185. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    You claimed that China is an imperialist power. I know from my own experience that people in Botswana (any many other countries on the continent) have mixed views about China’s role, but that isn’t evidence of imperialism. The fact that China does not criticise Mugabe (or any African leader) is evidence that its policy of non interference is being exercised,

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  186. Jellytot on said:

    Petter Matthews: There are occasional reports of a growing sense of nationalism

    Chinese Communism is essentially nationalist in character and always was – as befits a nation humiliated and ravaged by imperialist carve up (both Japanese and European) for a century.

    If there is one thing the Chinese take f*cking seriously it is their territorial integrity.

    They have been remarkably patient and indulgent on the issue of both Taiwan and Hong Kong down the years (there was pressure from below to take back both during the Cultural Revolution that the leadership resisted). Both of those qualities have never been a feature of the Western powers in their international dealings and they point to the Chinese qualities of essential decency and cautiousness.

    The R.O.C. regime in Taiwan was only saved because of the necessity of PLA intervention to bail out the North Koreans in 1950 (Without the PLA volunteers the North Koreans would have collapsed). At the end of the Civil War the PLA had cleared Hainan island of the KMT forces and were about to move on Taiwan when the overextended North Korean army was thrown back to the Yalu necessitating the prioritising of Korea by Beijing to the detriment of the Taiwan operation (Mao Zedong was of the opinion that Taiwan could be regained easily later)

    By the time that was cleared up (with the PLA performing heroically under the leadership of Peng Dehuai ) the Cold War was in full swing and the opportunity at reunification was, for all intents and purposes, lost.

    P.S. Will take a look at Pilger’s book. Thanks for the heads up on that.

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  187. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot: I have recently returned to the UK after many years abroad and I love Britain and being British (am I allowed to state that?)

    Of course you’re “allowed” to say that JellyT. Why would it even occur to you to ask that?

    Have you been reading too many “political-correctness-gawn-mad” stories in the Daily Mail?

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  188. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I came out of the 80’s – Many on the Left genuinely used to think you were a Tory (or even a Nazi) for saying stuff like that.

    Good to know that people are more chilled and open minded now.

    P.S. Avoid the DM like the plague.

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  189. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot,

    I’m an old git from the 80s too and no they didn’t.

    But the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Express and Sun told a lot of lies about “left-wingers banning Christmas” and “Barmy Bernie bans black bin bags” and “RedKen says you have to be gay” and “Arthur Scargill ate my hamster”.

    Rubbish like that that was the precurser to the “politicalcorrectnessgonemad” rubbish of more recent times.

    No-one’s ever tried to ban Christmas, or say you can’t say you’re English (these days), or any of that.

    The right have always tried to ridicule the left – we shouldn’t buy into their crap.

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  190. Karl Stewart on said:

    Funny though, how none of these “fearless and free” newspapers managed to uncover the fact that the icon of the establishment, the great friend of Thatcher and the Royal Family, Jimmy Saville, was raping young girls all through those years.

    There was never a story about any of that was there?

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  191. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’m an old git from the 80s too and no they didn’t

    In the Trot circles that I mixed in, in London, they did.

    I recall getting so much shit for declaring that I supported England in the 86 World Cup.

    Maybe you hung with a better type of Lefty – ones more rooted in the Working Class ?

    I was in a peripheral sect.

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  192. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: By “interesting” do you mean racist ?

    Ouch. That’s a bit unfair since you don’t know the people I’m referring to. Know they’re not racist. I just have sensible conversations with people I like. Obviously I don’t have their experience as I live in Blighty. My point was, as I understand it, that there are some positive sides to Chinese “investment” in Southern Africa unlike say the bollocks all that the Brits left them with. But also there are negative sides as well. There’s a lot of ambition sloshing around now in sections of Chinese society and the money to go with it. Shanghai spfc signing Oscar for £60 million and paying him £400,000 a week is probably evidence in some way of the changing nature of China.

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  193. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    The observation in your orginal post that Chinese stick to themselves and don’t mix suggests insularity even inscrutability. Both of which are racist stereotypes ascribed to East Asians in general and Chinese in particular.

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  194. Jellytot:
    John Grimshaw,

    The observation in your orginal post that Chinese stick to themselves and don’t mix suggests insularity even inscrutability. Both of which are racist stereotypes ascribed to East Asians in general and Chinese in particular.

    And not just in places they are alleged to be engaged in neo-colonialism or imperialist incursion.

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  195. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    John Grimshaw,

    The observation in your orginal post that Chinese stick to themselves and don’t mix suggests insularity even inscrutability. Both of which are racist stereotypes ascribed to East Asians in general and Chinese in particular.

    I think you are getting over excited. And also misreading what I was saying. First of all I wasn’t expressing an opinion rather I was relating what I have been told. I have no opinions per se about Chinese people simply by virtue of them being Chinese. Also (sadly) I have very little dealings with Chinese people apart from my friends at the take away who inevitably are Hong Kong people. On the other hand my Black friends from Botswana do have dealings with Chinese officials and I don’t for one minute think that they are racist or susceptible to stereotypical views. My friend is white Mancunian and his wife is black Zambian and his two sons are therefore mixed race. As I’m sure you noticed their view about Chinese “imperialism” or “investment” was mixed. They think that the black view of China’s involvement in Southern Africa is that they are arrogant and potentially racist towards black people. On the other hand they respect the Chinese because they seem to be investing whereas the Brits did not.

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  196. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: The observation in your orginal post that Chinese stick to themselves and don’t mix suggests insularity even inscrutability.

    I think you could argue that when the British upper classes were in control in Happy Valley or Zim that they also didn’t mix and were insular. Of course I wouldn’t say that the Chinese presence in Southern Africa is anywhere near as bad as the British Imperialists of a hundred years ago.

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  197. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: And not just in places they are alleged to be engaged in neo-colonialism or imperialist incursion.

    This comment is a bit confusing Evan. Care to elaborate? We are obviously by the way going to disagree on this because you don’t think it’s possible for the PRC to be “imperialist” whereas I do. And I’m trying to provide you with the evidence. 🙂

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  198. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    China does business with any country irrespective of its politics. That’s not a position that i consider particularly admirable, bit it is at least a consistent position given its principle of non-interference. Pointing this out isn’t silly. That criticism would be better leveled at those who claim China is an imperialist power without being able to provide a scrap of evidence to support it.

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  199. Jellytot on said:

    Will reply longer later but for those interested this is a good book:

    The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

    by Deborah Brautigam

    (Professor of Political Economy, Director of the International Development Program, and Director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).)

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  200. Jellytot on said:

    Petter Matthews:
    John Grimshaw,

    China does business with any country irrespective of its politics. That’s not a position that i consider particularly admirable, bit it is at least a consistent position given its principle of non-interference. Pointing this out isn’t silly. That criticism would be better leveled at those who claim China is an imperialist power without being able to provide a scrap of evidence to support it.

    This is a pertinent excerpt from an Amazon review of Prof. Brautigam’s book

    Ms. Brautigam’s thesis is simple: Chinese aid to Africa is modeled on the Chinese experience receiving aid from the Japanese after 1978. The Chinese state received technology and infrastructure aid from Japan after the Cultural Revolution; in return, China paid Japan by providing mineral concessions to Japanese companies. Chinese aid then was not based on compassion, but on complementarities of needs: the Chinese wanted technology and machinery while the Japanese wanted natural resources.

    In short, what China is doing in Africa ain’t imperialism, more a case of, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”

    John Grimshaw may have a rather strange and simple (Trot?) view as to what constitutes imperialism in the early 21st Century.

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  201. John Grimshaw: This comment is a bit confusing Evan. Care to elaborate? We are obviously by the way going to disagree on this because you don’t think it’s possible for the PRC to be “imperialist” whereas I do. And I’m trying to provide you with the evidence.

    Yes it’s pretty simple. The idea that Chinese people living outside China tend to keep themselves to themselves (irrespective of whether this is true, confined only to the Chinese or a racist myth) is not confined to Africa.

    People say that about them in Manchester. There are those of course who suggest that Britain is becoming subject to Chinese neo-colonialism / imperialism but I suspect that you wouldn’t subscribe to that theory yourself.

    Whether you are or not your experience of people saying it in Botswana does not exactly constitute evidence that the PRC is an imperialist power.

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  202. Jellytot on said:

    Evan P: People say that about them in Manchester.

    People have said that about them since they settled in Limehouse and Shadwell 130 years ago.

    But at least there has been some progress in that they are not charged with tempting White women into Opium Dens anymore – that accusation now seems to be leveled at Pakistani Taxi drivers.

    Same tropes – different targets.

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  203. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot,

    John Grimshaw may have a rather strange and simple (Trot?) view as to what constitutes imperialism in the early 21st Century.

    Jellytot may have a rather strange and simple (Stalinist?) view as to what constitutes imperialism in the early 21st century.

    As it happens Jellytot I may hold that view but not all trots do some still think the PRC is something else. Just.

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  204. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: Yes it’s pretty simple. The idea that Chinese people living outside China tend to keep themselves to themselves (irrespective of whether this is true, confined only to the Chinese or a racist myth) is not confined to Africa.

    People say that about them in Manchester. There are those of course who suggest that Britain is becoming subject to Chinese neo-colonialism / imperialism but I suspect that you wouldn’t subscribe to that theory yourself.

    Whether you are or not your experience of people saying it in Botswana does not exactly constitute evidence that the PRC is an imperialist power.

    That wasn’t what I meant Evan as I have already explained. And you’re right I wouldn’t subscribe to that theory. I wasn’t just using the example of Botswana if you remember I also referred to Zimbabwe and the South China Sea. Etc. I was admittedly being anecdotal but the evidence builds up.

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  205. John Grimshaw on said:

    But at least there has been some progress in that they are not charged with tempting White women into Opium Dens anymore.

    I thought that was the British who were responsible for that.

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  206. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P,

    🙂 hee hee. I’m definitely inscrutable. At least I think so. Mind you I’m from Stockport so maybe it’s not possible to be inscrutable from there? But my dads from Gorton so maybe he is?

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  207. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    More or less anywhere north of the River is pretty much foreign land to us English my friend.

    Northlanders may have different names for it – ‘The Midlands’, ‘Camden’, Yorkshire’, – but to us it’s all ‘The Inscrutable North’.

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  208. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    John Grimshaw,

    Please unpack the hows and whys you beleive the PRC is Imperialist and we can have a debate.

    Fair comment jellytot. Lets unwheel this a little. What do you think Russia is? I have Trot friends for example who think Russia is but China isn’t.

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  209. John Grimshaw on said:

    Mao Zedong once argued that the Soviet Union had itself become an imperialist power while maintaining a socialist façade. Moreover, the ideas of imperialism were widely spread in action on the higher levels of government. Non-Russian Marxists within the Russian Federation and later the USSR, like Sultan Galiev and Vasyl Shakhrai, considered the Soviet Regime a renewed version of the Russian imperialism and colonialism.

    From Wikipedia. Not to be trusted obviously.

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  210. John Grimshaw: Mao Zedong once argued that the Soviet Union had itself become an imperialist power while maintaining a socialist façade.

    And the consequences of the Three Worlds Theory which flowed from this argument were things like China taking the wrong side in the struggle between the MPLA/SWAPO/ANC against Apartheid South Africa and its reactionary Angolan allies.

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  211. Jellytot on said:

    I will reply longer later re: Imperialism but , while a great man before 1949, Mao Zedong was more wrong than he was right in the latter stages of his rule, especially after the disaster that was the Great Leap Forward – after which he should have been pensioned off into quiet and dignified retirement and full power transition to the great Liu Shaoqi (a truly decent Socialist if ever there was one). Instead we had the machinations of his truly venal wife and her clique and the utter catastrophe that was the Cultural Revolution (my mother in law was a senior Red Guard in Beijing who personal organized the overthrow of the teaching staff at her university) and China’s “20 lost years”.

    In short, don’t quote Mao as a back up to your arguments.

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  212. John Grimshaw on said:

    I accept your view of Mao. Well I would wouldn’t I. In my view his politics was some form of nationalism rather than socialism. In the context its kind of understandable. Rather I bunged the quote up to show that there can be a difference of opinion on the nature of “actually existing socialism” amongst the “actually existing socialists”.

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  213. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Mao was a Revolutionary with a Capital ‘R’. It was in his political DNA. I have always thought that the “toytown” Revolutionaries here would be better lionizing him than the likes of Trotsky (but their essential Eurocentrism obviously precludes that – their heroes need to be White or at least operating in the West – Malcolm X for example).

    Mao was never really happy and content actually ruling. He hated it and it bored him. He liked the struggle.

    A good illustrative example is during the height of the Cultural Revolution (1966 to 68) he instructed his (shocked and surprised) bodyguard unit not to prevent the more crazy Red Guard factions from bursting into Zhongnanhai and carrying him away if they wanted to.

    Paraphrasing him; “Maybe they will take me into the mountains of Hunan where I can lead a new Revolution – that is where I am best and happiest”

    A good English bio of this fascinating man is ‘Mao: A life’ by Philip Short

    Far superior to the Chang/Halliday mess – although her “Wild Swans” is obviously great. She just has too many political axes to grind.

    I will get onto the Imperialism question – it’s party season – I hope you understand.

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  214. Petter Matthews on said:

    Jellytot,

    The Chinese Communist Revolution was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Whilst we shouldn’t ignore Mao’s mistakes, neither should we downplay his accomplishments. China’s extraordinary period of economic development began not in the 1980’s as is often claimed, but in 1950 and under Mao’s leadership. The CCP undertook agrarian reform, improved the lives of women, built vital national infrastructure and established free education and health provision. This resulted in rapid human development (even taking into account the famines that resulted from natural disaster) and established the foundation for China’s current economic superpower status.

    We also need to be cautious about dismissing the cultural revolution as an unmitigated disaster. The work of Mobo Gau has helped show (see his ‘The Battle for China’s Past’) that this popular narrative reflects the views of an “elite intelligentsia” who lost power and influence during that period. For many peasants (whose views have been largely unrecorded) it was a time of great excitement and new opportunity.

    Certainly Mao made mistakes, western propagandists never relent in their efforts to remind us, but let’s take care not to help them denigrate the extraordinary achievements of the Chinese people under his leadership.

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  215. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw: China does business with any country irrespective of its politics.

    Victorian Britain does business with any country irrespective of its politics.

    I wasn’t sure if you were serious when you offered this as ‘evidence’ of Chinese imperialism, but I have concluded that you are. Suffice to say that this and the ‘New Yorker’ article that you provided a link for are pretty thin gruel.

    A criticism that can be leveled at China is that its reluctance to extend military power to protect its investments puts it in a very vulnerable position relative to the US and its allies. Libya is the most striking example where China had made significant investments prior to the US/NATO attack and was forced to withdraw tens of thousands of workers and absorb huge losses. There was a similar situation in Sudan where the US and its allies armed the South Sudanese rebels to destroy oil and gas infrastructure and attack Chinese workers. Whilst a US-China arms race would be bad for the whole world, China’s continued development is extremely vulnerable to US military aggression preventing its access to resources and markets as Pilger’s recent film makes clear.

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  216. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: .. it is hard to see that the right opposition’s plans could have worked.

    Much the same could be said of the Left’s plans, or at least those proposed by Trotsky. This is because they were remarkably similar. As far back as the early 1970s Richard Day and Misha Lewin were arguing that Trotsky’s writings showed that he was keen both to use the world market and that be wanted develop the Soviet economy within the limits of NEP.

    This poses problems for Andy’s summary.

    Andy Newman: a party leadership split between the moderates who rested on the prospects of improving trade and stability, a centre who rested on the party bureaucracy, and a left who were prepared to recklessly gamble with the lives of millions of people by having a punt.

    It seems that far from “having a punt”, the Left position converged with that of the “moderates”.

    This makes the bloc in 1932 between the Left (Trotsky, Zinoviev and others) and the Right (Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, etc) a lot more understandable.

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  217. Jellytot: The Chinese
    government (and the vast majority of Chinese living in the PRC), regard Taiwan as being as Chinese as Beijing or Shanghai.

    That is also the view of the Koumimtang in Taiwan. It is important for foreigners to understand that the relationship between China and the mainland is an internal, domestic matter

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  218. George Hallam: This makes the bloc in 1932 between the Left (Trotsky, Zinoviev and others) and the Right (Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, etc) a lot more understandable.

    It is a mistake liable to lead to wrong conclusions, to conflate political positions of 1932 with those of 1927. By 1932 the opposition forces were all a busted flush.
    It is also a mistake to overstate the commonality between the economic policies of the left and right oppositions, as they predicated accumulation on different economic and social forces.
    It is also important to consider the way the opposition groups in the party were themselves coalitions, and there was evolution in their thoughts. As I point out above, the shift to supporting Stalin by Preobrazhinsky, Radek, Smilga and others in 1928 was a key turning point, and coincided with Stalin adopting positions which many of the left supported. Stalins policies of collectivisation and increased appropriations from the countryside over the next few years echoed some of the policies of some of the left.

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  219. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: I get the sneaking feeling that you don’t know much about this subject.

    Well I was referring to the two opium wars but if you don’t agree and think it was the imperial Chinese who were responsible please provide the evidence.

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  220. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: That is also the view of the Koumimtang in Taiwan. It is important for foreigners to understand that the relationship between China and the mainland is an internal, domestic matter

    And one particular foreigner should be a certain Donald Trump……or it will be an interesting four years.

    P.S. Bet you a dime for a dollar the Trots, including the SWP, will side with Tsai Ing-wen/Trump.

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  221. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: Well I was referring to the two opium wars but if you don’t agree and think it was the imperial Chinese who were responsible please provide the evidence.

    ….And I was referring to the so-called “White Slave Trade” – a racist trope once attributed to Chinese men, among others, living in the West.

    The late, great, and much missed Iris Chang discusses it in her excellent “The Chinese in America”

    Nothing to do with the Opium Wars.

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  222. George Hallam on said:

    Thank you for your post. I think we agree on a lot of points.

    Andy Newman: It is also important to consider the way the opposition groups in the party were themselves coalitions, and there was evolution in their thoughts.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Andy Newman: It is a mistake liable to lead to wrong conclusions, to conflate political positions of 1932 with those of 1927.

    I would go further; positions changed over shorter periods. In 1927 Bukharin was fighting the opposition in 1927; by 1928 he wanted to make an alliance. In 1928 Zinoviev rejected an alliance with Bukharin; in 1932 he joined a bloc with him.

    Andy Newman: By 1932 the opposition forces were all a busted flush.

    Which would explain why they turned to assassination.

    Andy Newman: It is also a mistake to overstate the commonality between the economic policies of the left and right oppositions, as they predicated accumulation on different economic and social forces.

    Agreed. It is always a mistake to overstate things.

    Andy Newman: As I point out above, the shift to supporting Stalin by Preobrazhinsky, Radek, Smilga and others in 1928 was a key turning point, and coincided with Stalin adopting positions which many of the left supported. Stalins policies of collectivisation and increased appropriations from the countryside over the next few years echoed some of the policies of some of the left.

    As I said, it is always a mistake to overstate things.

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  223. jim mclean on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    Merry Christmas as in Liberated Aleppo Russian Troops celebrate Christmas Mass (Not Russian Christmas yet but) in Saint Elias Cathedral, a mass banned by the fleeing forces. Assad has always been a part of the dictatorship of the minnows, and if he loses remember, those minorities are finished. (I’m Sober)

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  224. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean,

    Thankfully Assad now looks safer and safer and the Wests plan to turn Syria into another Libya in a pincer grip between Turkey and the Zionist Entity has failed*

    One positive by-product of a Trump presidency is that intervention against Assad looks less likely although that depends on if Trump can resist the inevitable Republican neo-con counterattack (which will coalesce around his Vice president Mike Pence). Given Trump’s naiveity of machine politics this sadly may be too much for him to resist. There is talk of him not lasting the four years.

    * The latest SW talks of a “Lost Revolution” in Syria. What a joke ! There never was one.

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  225. jock mctrousers on said:

    Jellytot: The latest SW talks of a “Lost Revolution” in Syria. What a joke ! There never was one.

    Well, at least the SW has been consistent – consistently awful! Even more depressing for me was finding this short interview with Noam Chomsky, which suggests he really should consider an honourable and well-earned retirement:

    Syria’s Grim Alternatives
    By Noam Chomsky and Saul Isaacson
    https://zcomm.org/zmagazine/syrias-grim-alternatives/

    Mostly it’s evasive, or ‘diplomatic’ , but this is a bridge too far for me:

    ” there’s simply no realistic alternative, short of destroying Syria, to having some kind of transitional government with Assad certainly involved, maybe in power. It’s ugly, but there’s no alternative. My good friend Gilbert Achcar has an article in The Nation that says as long as Assad remains in power, the opposition will continue to fight until the death of Syria. So he says we have to do something to get Assad out of power, but that can’t be done. That’s the problem.”

    HAPPY BOXING DAY!!!

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  226. jock mctrousers on said:

    This is the Nation piece Noam refers to above.

    The Syrian Truce and Obama’s Exit Strategy By Gilbert Achcar, which is much what you’d expect if you know of Achcar.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-syrian-truce-and-obamas-exit-strategy/

    One commenter summed it up neatly:

    ” yet another nauseating attempt to sell us the official mantra “Assad must go”

    Please, please Noam – put your feet up, you’ve done enough. Don’t blow it!

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  227. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    How about some new articles?

    It’s Christmas and New Year Karl….plus a certain Mr. Wight is no longer contributing.

    A Happy New Year to the SU board and readers from Sunny Sukhumvit, Bangkok !! 😉

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  228. jim mclean on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    How about some new articles?

    Well we could divert this thread to the tragedy that is Venezuela, in particular Bolivar City, Between the 16th – 18th of December the city was sacked, by the poor, to find that their money was worthless led the dams to break. The Chinese stores were all destroyed, the police looked on as they accepted that the riots were organised by the “Pran” who controlled the area, that is the equivalent of the Godfather I assume. Oil prices falling hit Venezuelan harder than most due to the low quality of the nations product. Chavez has been replaced by a madman, the paramilitaries that sweep the streets are in the main State. Venezuela is no Cuba and it has collapsed,

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  229. jock mctrousers on said:

    jim mclean,

    Sources for all this ?

    jim mclean: Chavez has been replaced by a madman, the paramilitaries that sweep the streets are in the main State


    Whether that’s a fair picture or not, there’s certainly a massively funded propaganda campaign to frame the situation so.

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  230. Evan P on said:

    #327 Sorry, that sentence doesn’t make sense. Perhaps something to do with the time and date it was posted.

    In any case I don’t quite see how what lefties in Britain ignore or don’t ignore is going to make a huge amount of difference in terms of a positive outcome.

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  231. jock mctrousers on said:

    jim mclean: the decision of those of us who supported Chavez to ignore what is happening

    Thanjs for the links, but they’re very poor stuff.
    What is it that you think we’re ignoring?

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  232. jock mctrousers on said:

    jim mclean: Chavez has been replaced by a madman,

    CARAMBA! HE CRAZEEEE!!!! I thought there were rules about impugning people’s mental health round here?

    jim mclean: the paramilitaries that sweep the streets are in the main State.

    i,.e the army is on the street as you’d expect in a riot. They seem to be very restrained.

    VENEZUELA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN:
    http://www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk/venezuela-govt-and-opposition-agree-to-fight-economic-war/

    “ The fact that the opposition agreed to work with the government to address shortages could also be interpreted as a de facto acknowledgment that there is indeed an “economic war” being waged against the government, a fact often disputed by leading members of the opposition. “

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  233. jim mclean on said:

    Evan P:
    #327 Sorry, that sentence doesn’t make sense. Perhaps something to do with the time and date it was posted.

    In any case I don’t quite see how what lefties in Britain ignore or don’t ignore is going to make a huge amount of difference in terms of a positive outcome.

    Designated Driver Duties 100% sober but tired. What the UK left does will make zero difference to what has happened, another experiment is over, but when Len McCluskey made political capital out of Maduro’s victory he should at least offer some explanation about what has happened and why UNITE are spending their diminishing resources promoting Maduro in the UK through the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign (VSC) when the VCS is operating from within the UNITE offices in Moreland Street. While UNITE carry on supporting a dead movement international financiers are buying up Venezuela’s debt. Things are actually going to get worse, I’m Just having a hangover from 2016 maybe but it pissed me of to see a VSC press release full of BS and knowing it was released from UNITE offices

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  234. Jock mctrousers on said:

    What Maduro victory do you refer too? How did Len make càpital of it? Without YOUR ” explanation about what has happened”, your statement just seems like a private joke
    or a dig at Len.

    ALL major trade unions and the TUC support solidarity campaigns, so I guess your problem is with Maduro. Do you have a critique of Maduro that isn’t (coincidentally I’m sure) identical to USA and comprador slurs? Do you have a remedy, someone else to support? Or do you seriously advocate just writing Venezuela off as just another failed socialist experiment, and abandoning them to their comprador fascists? Sounds like you do.

    Well, you could be right about one thing: that YOU, at least, are an arsehole! Only joking. Happy New Year.

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  235. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Be good to get some new articles up on this site…

    Yes. but it would be a pity to close down this thread before some of the very interesting questions you asked have been answered more fully.

    For example #34:

    Karl Stewart: Why do some on the UK left continually feel the need to attack Cuba and Fidel?

    and #96

    Karl Stewart: Lots of aspects of Trotsky’s history have always puzzled me.

    Why didn’t he resist being exiled, or attempt to return?

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  236. jock mctrousers on said:

    Happy New Year, Andy!

    Back to Venezuela: ” Despite historical weaknesses in its trade union organisations, the Venezuelan working class has won key victories under Chavez and Maduro, which will almost certainly be rolled back with any change in government. …

    Following their whitewash in the parliamentary elections in December, the local opposition in Venezuela has had to show its hand.

    Proposals such as a sweeping amnesty law which includes corrupt bankers and terrorists; privatisation of the public housing sector, schools, health, transport; the dismantlement of regional bodies such as Celac, Alba and Unasur; and the opening up of the country to IMF economic projects are what are in store should the balance of forces not be able to resist efforts to overthrow Maduro.”

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-d7e4-Five-reasons-to-show-solidaritywith-Venezuela#.WG7AQctRhr_

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  237. jock mctrousers on said:

    ” The majority of Venezuela’s imports and distribution networks are in the hands of the elite… Many of the goods needed for Venezuelan consumption are diverted to Brazil and Colombia. We are experiencing manufactured scarcity, a crisis deliberately induced as a means of destabilization against the government…This is psychological war waged against the people of Venezuela in an attempt to intimidate them into abandoning the government and the socialist project entirely. ”

    Venezuela’s Opposition: Attacking Its Own People by Eric Draitser
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/20/venezuelas-opposition-attacking-its-own-people/

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  238. jock mctrousers on said:

    “…the US government would no doubt delight in seeing one of its few regional rivals collapse. Yet in reality, Venezuela’s current economic crisis can mostly be chalked up to one of life’s most dreary technicalities: bad currency management.”

    Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work? by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/25/does-venezuelas-crisis-prove-socialism-doesnt-work/

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  239. jock mctrousers on said:

    Jock mctrousers,

    However, I admit I find this VERY critical look at Maduro’s reign, persuasive, Why didn’t you just say so? Only joking. You can tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, and you’d be right; I think few are up to speed with what’s going on there. YOU, Jim McClean, seem very confident in your grasp of what’s going on. I understand like me you have limited energy and by the time you can muster it to fully expound your views the threadwill be long dead… but if you can get round to it, I’ll remain all ears, In a spirit of comradely self-criticism, cos I usually agree with you.

    Meantime, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign know more than me, so in the absence of any irrefutable reason not to, I’ll support their support for Maduro, as long as they feel that he is the best chance of holding off the fate the compradors have in store for their plebs.

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  240. jock mctrousers on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    woops, forgot the link!
    Venezuela and the Future of the Latin American Left by John Feffer
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/10/venezuela-and-the-future-of-the-latin-american-left/

    ” Last December, the political opposition to Maduro … won the legislative elections.Unfortunately, Maduro has gotten around these electoral results in a classic autocratic manner by declaring a state of emergency and then expanding and extending this period until at least the end of 2017. The Supreme Court, which Maduro allies in parliament packed with supporters just before they lost control of the legislature in December, nullified the election results in Amazonas state and prevented the opposition from acquiring a sufficient parliamentary majority with which it could, for instance, remove Supreme Court justices. The court has granted Maduro his emergency powers and prevented the opposition from having much influence at all over the country’s direction. ”

    So far so good. I’d go along with him that far to keep the compradors at bay till he pulls a rabbit out the hat..

    But
    ” In early May, the opposition put together a petition demanding the removal of Maduro from power. Nearly 2 million people signed (out of a population of 30 million).”

    Serious enough, BUT:

    ” Indeed, two-thirds of Venezuelans want the president to resign this year before his term is up .”

    i note that the author doesn’t give a source for this claim. There’s an increasing amount of shady stuff creeping into Counterpunch.

    And at last ” the turn against Maduro has little to do with any rejection of the left. Maduro is a populist with autocratic tendencies, and the opposition coalition consists of parties across the entire political spectrum, including Radical Cause, the Progressive Movement of Venezuela, Progressive Advance, and several social democratic parties. ”
    Party names that could cover a multitude of sins.

    And he ends of course ” Hugo Chavez is dead. Chavismo, which was more of a cult than a political ideology, is on its last legs. Before Venezuela succumbs as well, it’s time for a radical restart in the land of Bolivar ”

    A restart with the progressive compradors? I don’t trust this author an inch. I’ll stick with the Venezuela solidarity campaign. Chavism a cult? Not a program of practical improvement in the lives of the poor? NO! You can’t have that!

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  241. jock mctrousers on said:

    Here’s a much more positive view. Of course it must be mad, because the USA has spent countless millions to promote the ‘real news’ in the MSM

    October 11, 2016
    Animals Included: Hating Venezuela by Maria Paez Victor
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/11/animals-included-hating-venezuela/

    ” There is palpable odium against Venezuela in the international media. It seems that no statement by those opposing the government of President Nicolás Maduro is too outlandish. Their words are never questioned but taken at face value. The opposition is deemed honest, whereas the voices of the government are ipso facto questioned, derided and lumbered with the adjective “alleged”. The latest canard has been the unsubstantiated statements, disguised as news, that there is famine in the country, that desperate citizens are killing horses to eat them and are abandoning their pets.

    First of all, there is no famine or widespread hunger in Venezuela. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations rejected the opposition stance and assured that there is no famine in Venezuela and no need of “humanitarian” aid. There is scarcity of some products, especially imported ones, but the FAO attests that Venezuela cut in half the percentage and the total number of people suffering from hunger. In 1990 there were 2.7 million Venezuelans suffering from hunger, today the percentage is below 5% of the population. It is one of the 18 countries that managed to achieve both the Millennium Nutrition Goals and the World Food Summit goals.[9]

    Several European countries are in worse economic situation than Venezuela yet the international leaders and media commiserate with them rather than spread wild rumors about them. One key economic indicator is the rate of unemployment. In April 2015, the unemployment rate in Spain was 22.7%, in Greece 25.6%, in Portugal 13% in Italy 12.4%. In Venezuela, in December 2015 the unemployment rate reached a historic low of 6.7% (comparable to that of Canada). [10]

    There is a scarcity of products or exorbitant prices for others in Venezuela. Most of the production and distribution of foodstuffs is in hands of the private sector as the country has a mixed economy. The leaders of the private sector have attempted to destabilize the government using their considerable economic power through the illegal warehousing of goods, corporate smuggling and high prices. These ills are in fact, consequences of the actions of the private sector, not the public sector. Yet the government is laid to blame.”

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Got that?

    The rest of the piece is very worth reading.

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  242. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean:
    jock mctrousers,

    If I cannot say your talking shit when I’m gone, might as well do it why I’m here, too old to lie for the cause anymore.

    Genuine question and I have always been curious.

    Are there any contributors or regular posters on this site who are not middle aged/elderly White men??

    I thought Karl Stewart may have been a young ‘un but had my hopes dashed a few weeks ago when he revealed he was as old as me.

    Any women? BME’s?

    Just curious.

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  243. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: Genuine question and I have always been curious.

    Are there any contributors or regular posters on this site who are not middle aged/elderly White men??

    I thought Karl Stewart may have been a young ‘un but had my hopes dashed a few weeks ago when he revealed he was as old as me.

    Any women? BME’s?

    Just curious.

    Fair comment. I also notice that in recent months there seems to be only a limited number of contributors to this site full stop. If you go back as far as say 2012 there is a more varied number of contributors with a more varied political outlook.

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  244. unclealbert on said:

    John Grimshaw: a limited number of contributors

    Bring back John Wight. Whether you agreed with him or not, at least he wrote about politics as if it were a matter of life or death – which it is.

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  245. Karl Stewart on said:

    unclealbert,

    No, it was Wight who did all the damage. Makes me laugh you saying “…whether you agreed with him or not…” with him there was no “or not”. If you disagreed with him, you were either banned or abused until people left.

    It was Wight’s fault that Mark Perryman and Kevin Ovenden stopped contributing for example.

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  246. Jock mctrousers on said:

    unclealbert: unclealbert on 8 January, 2017 at 12:51 pm said:
    John Grimshaw: a limited number of contributors

    Bring back John Wight. Whether you agreed with him or not, at least he wrote about politics as if it were a matter of life or death – which it is.

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  247. Jock mctrousers on said:

    Woops. Last post above was a. misfire.

    No I agree John was treating this place with contempt, like he had better gigs so he could just palm us off with no effort wind up pieces… but the arbitrary censorship that accompanied it long preceded him. I’m afraid I don’t know if Tony is still an administrator – and don’t get me wrong I quite like Tony – but that’s where it started. Fair enough the place was jammed up with Harry’s Place types before that, but it went way beyond that to a regime where there was an in crowd and anyone who disagreed was likely to be barred or censored on whim – I’ve suffered it and am still reluctant to engage in argument – so most of the ‘leftists’ have taken their self-respect out the door with them, and we’re left with the thoughts of a good old lad who seems to be in a union for the free junkets & beer and thinks the BBC is the last word…

    Fair enough this is one of very few blogs I still bother with, but could I recommend it?

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  248. Jock mctrousers on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    unclealbert,

    No, it was Wight who did all the damage. Makes me laugh you saying “…whether you agreed with him or not…” with him there was no “or not”. If you disagreed with him, you were either banned or abused until people left.

    It was Wight’s fault that Mark Perryman and Kevin Ovenden stopped contributing for example.

    I’m not sure John Wight is any great loss – even when he’s good mostly he’s just regurgitating the work of much better and braver journalists (say Consortium News, Moon of Alabama) 2 years later when it’s safe. I recall John crowing about 6 months ago how ” You heard it here first ” re the fact that there is no moderate opposition in Syria, just jihadists funded by and working for the coincidental aims of the Gulf States, Turkey, USÀ, whereas 2 years ago he called me a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for saying that ISIS works for USA – I remember Omar chipping in that he’d just returned from the Mid È and that EVERYONE there was saying that ….

    Anyway he got it right eventually, and for all that I quite like John, but it was mostly padding ( or shite when it comes to nationalism for Scotland and the EU for the ÛK, or open borders…)

    But if John could ‘keep it clean’, I’d welcome him back.

    I’m afraid I don’t consider Mark Perryman or Kevin Ovenden to be any loss at all. Enough said on why.

    But I think Mark is still posting occasionally here.

    Ovenden I have to pull you up about. I distinctly recall his irate departure but I can’t remember the specifics. But I thought that was before John Wight started writing here and Counterpunch and RT and the Morning Star all at the same time funny that…

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  249. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jock mctrousers,

    Both MarkP and KevinO stopped contributing after being abused by Wight – he had a hissy fit when they disagreed with him.

    Wight has zero principles by the way.

    He attacked Scots Nats as “Nazis” during the Scottish referendum campaign and then after our EU referendum he suddenly started singing their praises.

    He attacked all left-wing anti-EU voters as enablers of Nazism, and yet he’s currently positively retweeting Donald Trump and agreeing with him.

    I’d far rather have some interesting articles from people like Kevin and Mark on here – two excellent writers.

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  250. Jellytot on said:

    I don’t want to see anybody go from here. More the merrier….including my old arch nemisis ‘The Undertaker’ !! Lol

    However John Wight did completely lose it as a reaction to Brexit. He “Jumped the Shark” politically and began likening the English White Working Class to White Southerners living in Dixie circa 1955 !!

    That said I always liked him and his articles despite him being Scottish *

    * Joke

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  251. Karl Stewart: He attacked Scots Nats as “Nazis” during the Scottish referendum campaign and then after our EU referendum he suddenly started singing their praises.

    Liar.

    Karl Stewart: Wight has zero principles by the way.

    Just for the record, Andy Newman and Tony Collins were in complete agreement with me on banning you from this site.

    Indeed, during one of our last conversations before I departed this place Andy and I agreed on two key points:

    1. Karl Stewart is a prick
    2. Karl Stewart is a prick

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  252. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    John Wight’s agreement with Trump probably has a lot to do with his employment by RT.

    Although I myself will welcome if Trump is less neo-Con in regards to Middle East intervention and cooperation with Russia….although Trump should not get into any mischief making regarding Taiwan and the South China Sea.

    Historically America experiences a shit storm when it involves itself militarily in the Far East.

    It needed to drop nuclear weapons on Japan to get it to surrender. It lost as many troops in Korea as it did in Vietnam and did not win there….and we all know what happened in Vietnam.

    It would do well to remember this.

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  253. Jellytot: John Wight’s agreement with Trump probably has a lot to do with his employment by RT.

    John Wight’s agreement with Trump is on his foreign policy towards Russia, nothing more. I don’t take positions based on anything other than what I believe. Kindly desist from insinuating otherwise. And for the record I have had articles on RT that have been less than laudatory where Trump is concerned.

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/366883-trump-liberal-us-split/

    The inference behind Stewart’s comments of course is that he would rather have Hillary Clinton in the White House, a woman who clapped and laughed at the news of the brutal murder of Gaddafi, who was intent on carrying on NATO’s provocation of Russia, etc., etc.

    The man is as bright as a blackout.

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  254. Evan P on said:

    There’s a lot going on at the moment that we could be discussing.

    The NHS crisis, the rail issue, the scandal about the Israeli embassy spy. Not volunteering but there’s plenty of articles about all the above and other things.

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  255. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,

    You may be embarrassed about it now Wight, but it is true that you did make that comparison during the Scottish referendum campaign.

    In response to calls from some within the pro-independence camp for punitive measures to be taken against businesses who made financial threats about what they might or might not do in the event of independence winning the vote, you likened those who advocated such punitive measures to “brownshirts”.

    Clearly, you’ve changed your opinion here, but that was what you argued at the time.

    As for the US election, yes of course Clinton was the lesser evil. That’s not positive support, that choosing the lesser evil.

    (And of course, she did in fact win the vote by a margin of almost three million.)

    It just shows what an utterly unprincipled opportunist you are that you’re happy to cut the white supremacist Trump some political slack.

    As for your well-crafted and nuanced argument that “Karl Stewart is a prick” well, you’ve got me there Wight.

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  256. Jellytot on said:

    John: John Wight’s agreement with Trump is on his foreign policy towards Russia, nothing more. I don’t take positions based on anything other than what I believe.

    I genuinely like people who refer to themselves in the third person.

    The great Marvin Gaye used to do it too in interviews so you are in good company.

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  257. Evan P on said:

    The idea that Hilary Clinton was a lesser evil than Trump is of course problematic.

    However, rather more difficult to swallow is that Owen Smith (supported by Tony Blair Clinton’s partner in war crimes) was a lesser evil than Jeremy Corbyn because of the EU.

    I would suspect that the logic there emanates more from Holyrood than the Kremlin to be honest.

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  258. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    It is not about cutting Trump any slack but if his much lauded desire not to intervene in the Middle East and to seek rapprochement with Russia saves thousands of lives, how can that be a bad thing?

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  259. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot: I genuinely like people who refer to themselves in the third person.
    The great Marvin Gaye used to do it too in interviews so you are in good company.

    And Her Majesty The Queen (except she doesn’t tend to burst into tears and have so many hissy-fits)

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  260. Jock mctrousers on said:

    No, Hillary no lesser evil – she cheated Bernie out of the popular vote! Remember that leaky hacky thing? O right that was the Russians…

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  261. Jellytot: …if his much lauded desire not to intervene in the Middle East and to seek rapprochement with Russia saves thousands of lives…

    If it does, then all well and good. But we should not give out peace prizes in advance of any good deeds. Leave that to the Nobel committee. At the moment, we have the prospect of a rabble-rousing, gun-loving, thin-skinned, hard right billionaire property speculator with his twitchy finger on the button of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. And the issues which divide the US and Russia aren’t going to go away the moment there’s a change of occupancy in the White House. I predict a brief Trump/Putin honeymoon and then a deterioration in relations when real conflicts of interest arise. Will Trump handle those conflicts any better than Obama?

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  262. Evan P on said:

    Francis King: If it does, then all well and good. But we should not give out peace prizes in advance of any good deeds. Leave that to the Nobel committee. At the moment, we have the prospect of a rabble-rousing, gun-loving, thin-skinned, hard right billionaire property speculator with his twitchy finger on the button of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. And the issues which divide the US and Russia aren’t going to go away the moment there’s a change of occupancy in the White House. I predict a brief Trump/Putin honeymoon and then a deterioration in relations when real conflicts of interest arise. Will Trump handle those conflicts any better than Obama?

    I tend to agree.

    Clearly however the fact that Trump has declared his wish to have good relations with Russia is one of the very few positives about his presidential victory.

    But at the end of the day the US president is a figurehead for an establishment that will only tolerate him deviating from the script to a certain degree.

    And that script includes attempting to maintain US hegemony and a unipolar world, however vain that may increasingly become.

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  263. Karl Stewart on said:

    Excellent speech by Corbyn this afternoon. He’s now starting to set out a more robust and substantive Labour Brexit plan.

    As a suggestion, how about posting the copy of his speech on here and spark a debate on the subject?

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  264. John Grimshaw on said:

    hard right billionaire property speculator with his twitchy finger on the button of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

    Marcus Licinius Crassus?

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  265. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    hard right billionaire property speculator with his twitchy finger on the button of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

    Marcus Licinius Crassus?

    Do you really think Trump can unilaterally launch Nuclear weapons?

    Without disappearing into the conspiracy manhole, the POTUS is probably not the most powerful person in that set-up.

    The State machine would have the deciding say.

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  266. Karl Stewart on said:

    This was his speech below:

    ————————————————-

    Thank you for that introduction.

    Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, you voted for a better future for Britain.

    One thing is clear, the Tories cannot deliver that. So today I want to set how Labour will deliver that vision of a better Britain.

    This government is in disarray over Brexit.

    As the Prime Minister made clear herself they didn’t plan for it before the referendum and they still don’t have a plan now.

    I voted and campaigned to remain and reform as many of you may know I was not uncritical of the European Union. It has many failings.

    Some people argued that we should have a second referendum. That case was put to our party’s membership last summer and defeated.

    Britain is now leaving the European Union. And Britain can be better off after Brexit. But that’s far from inevitable and it certainly won’t happen with a government that stands by whilst wages and salaries are driven down, industry is hollowed out and public services are cut to the point of breakdown.

    Because while the European Union has many problems so does Britain in the hands of Theresa May after six years of Conservative misrule.

    Our social care system is failing to provide essential care for people with disabilities and over a million of our elderly people.

    The NHS is in record deficit; nearly four million people are on waiting lists, the Red Cross is describing the state of our emergency health and social care as a “humanitarian crisis”.

    Our jobs market is being turned into a sea of insecurity, six million workers in Britain earning less than the living wage, nearly a million people on zero hours contracts, record numbers of people in work living in poverty while in fat cat Britain, the chief executives had already received more than most people will earn all year by the third day of January.

    My point is this, I don’t trust this government with social care, or with the NHS or with the labour market.

    So do I trust them to make a success of Brexit? Not remotely.

    Only a Labour government, determined to reshape the economy so that it works for all, in every part of the country, can make Brexit work for Britain.

    And there can be no question of giving Theresa May’s Tories a free pass in the Brexit negotiations to entrench and take still further their failed free market policies in a post-Brexit Britain.

    The Tory Brexiteers, whose leaders are now in the government and their Ukip allies had no more of a plan for a Brexit vote than the Tory remainers, like Theresa May.

    They did however promise that Brexit would guarantee funding for the NHS, to the tune of £350m a week. It was on the side of Boris Johnson’s bus.

    What’s happened to that promise now the NHS and social care are in serious crisis? It’s already been ditched.

    And it’s not just on the NHS. We have had no answers from the government about any of their plans or objectives for these complex Brexit negotiations.

    At no point since the Second World War has Britain’s ruling elite so recklessly put the country in such an exposed position without a plan.

    As a result they are now reduced to repeating “Brexit means Brexit”. They are unfit to negotiate Brexit.

    That is why Labour has demanded the government come to Parliament and set out their plan before they present it to Brussels and explain what they want to achieve for our country.

    But in the glaring absence of a government plan Labour also believes it’s time to spell out more clearly what we believe the country’s Brexit objectives should be.

    People voted for Brexit on the promise that Britain outside the European Union could be a better place for all its citizens. Whatever their colour or creed. A chance to regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives.

    But beyond vague plans to control borders the only concrete commitment the government has so far made is to protect the financial interests in the City of London. Though maybe that’s hardly surprising from a government that has already slashed the bank levy and corporation tax.

    In the last budget there was not a penny extra for the NHS or social care but under the Tories there’s always billions available for giveaways to the richest.

    As far as Labour is concerned, the referendum result delivered a clear message.

    First, that Britain must leave the EU and bring control of our democracy and our economy closer to home.

    Second, that people would get the resources they were promised to rebuild the NHS.

    Third, that people have had their fill of an economic system and an establishment that works only for the few, not for the many.

    And finally, that their concerns about immigration policy would be addressed.

    Labour accepts those challenges that you, the voters, gave us.

    Unlike the Tories, Labour will insist on a Brexit that works not just for City interests but in the interests of us all.

    That puts health and social care, decent jobs and living standards first and a better deal for young people and the areas of this country that have been left behind for too long.

    First, we will open the way to rebuilding our NHS by ending the under-funding and privatisation of health care.

    Leaving the EU won’t free up the £350m a week that Boris Johnson claimed but savings in EU contributions could help close the gap.

    And we will reject pressure to privatise public services as part of any Brexit settlement. Just as we oppose the attempt to give special legal privileges to corporate interests as part of the EU’s CETA or TTIP trade deals.

    This government could have given the NHS the funding it needs but it has chosen not to. Their tax giveaways to the very richest and to big business hand back £70bn between now and 2022.

    That is more of a priority for the Tories than elderly people neglected in their homes, patients dying on trolleys or millions waiting in pain to get the treatment they need.

    Labour created the NHS, and it is only safe under a Labour government. We will give the NHS the funding it needs. The British people voted to re-finance the NHS – and we will deliver it.

    Second, we will push to maintain full access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs.

    But we will also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a genuine industrial strategy essential for the economy of the future, and so that no community is left behind.

    Tory governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. They did so again last year when the steel industry was in trouble. Other governments in Europe acted and saved their industry, the Tory government here sat back.

    But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs and living standards.

    Labour will use state aid powers in a drive to build a new economy, based on new technology and the green industries of the future.

    That’s why Labour has set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with regional investment banks that will decide the priorities for their areas. A massive programme of investment that will be needed to rebuild regional economies.

    This country is far too centralized. So we will take back powers over regional policy. And instead of such decisions being made in Brussels or in London, we will make sure they taken locally wherever possible. Taking back real control and putting power and resources right into the heart of local communities to target investment where it’s needed.

    Third, we will use the huge spending leverage of taxpayer-funded services to massively expand the number of proper apprenticeships.

    All firms with a government or council contract over £250,000 will be required to pay tax in the UK and train young people.

    No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it, or its parent company, is headquartered in a tax haven.

    And we will not buy outsourced public services, such as care for the elderly, from companies whose owners and executives are creaming off profits to stuff their pockets at the expense of the workforce and the public purse.

    Finally, a Labour Brexit would take back control over our jobs market which has been seriously damaged by years of reckless deregulation.

    During the referendum campaign, many people expressed deep concerns about unregulated migration from the EU.

    In many sectors of the economy, from IT to health and social care, migrant workers make an important contribution to our common prosperity, and in many parts of the country public services depend on migrant labour.

    This government has been saying it will reduce migration to the tens of thousands. Theresa May as Home Secretary set an arbitrary political target knowing full well it would not be met.

    They inflamed the issue of immigration. They put immense strain on public services with six years of extreme cuts and then blamed migrants for the pressure caused by Tory austerity.

    And last week a government minister who voted “Leave” told an employers’ conference, “don’t worry, we’ll still let you bring in cheap EU labour”.

    Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants because we know where that leads. The worrying rise in race hate crime and division we have seen in recent months and how the issue of immigration can be used as a proxy to abuse or intimidate minority communities.

    Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.

    When it comes to border controls, we are proud to say we will meet our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution.

    To those EU citizens who are already here, we will guarantee your rights.

    And we continue to welcome international students who come to study in this country.

    We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

    Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations.

    Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.

    At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.

    Of course migration has put a strain on public services in some areas that’s why Labour would restore the migrant impact fund that the Tories scrapped.

    Sarah Champion is leading for Labour on our policies to ensure better integration and more community cohesion and part of that again will be about restoring funding for English language lessons.

    Let’s not forget it was this Tory government that slashed funding for learning English as a second language. As we’ve seen with the Prime Minister talking about the need to strengthen mental health care, while cutting funding by eight per cent it seems the government’s second language is hypocrisy.

    It is the ripping up of workplace protections and trade union rights that has allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit both migrant and British labour, and help to keep pay low, and drive down conditions for everyone.

    But let’s be clear, public services are not under pressure primarily because of immigration – especially since many migrant workers keep those public services going.

    They are under pressure because this Tory government has cut them to fund tax break after tax break to the super rich and big business.

    That is the Tory game – low taxes for the rich, low pay for the rest, underfund public services, and find someone to blame , It’s brutal and it’s not working.
    Labour will break with this failed model and offer solutions to problems, not someone to blame.

    Labour will demand that the Brexit negotiations give us the power to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being used and exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work.

    We need a drive to provide British people with the skills necessary to take up the new jobs which a Labour government and the new economy will generate. I’ve already set out at the CBI and TUC conferences that this means asking companies to pay a bit more in tax to fund more and better access to education and skills training, and government contractors always providing decent skilled apprenticeships.

    We will end the race to the bottom in pay, working conditions and job insecurity, setting up a new Ministry of Labour to get a grip on the anything goes jobs market free-for-all.

    Labour will ensure all workers have equal rights at work from day one – and require collective bargaining agreements in key sectors in a properly regulated labour market, so that workers cannot be undercut.

    That will bring an end to the unscrupulous use of agency labour and bogus self-employment, to stop undercutting and to ensure every worker has a secure job with secure pay, that’s why we’ll set the minimum wage at the level of the living wage, expected to be £10 per hour by 2020.

    Those changes should be made to benefit the whole country.

    But while we tackle low pay at the bottom, we also have to address the excess that drives that poverty pay that leaves millions of people in poverty even though they work.

    In the 1920s, J.P. Morgan, the Wall Street banker limited salaries to 20 times that of junior employees.

    Another advocate of pay ratios was David Cameron. His government proposed a 20:1 pay ratio to limit sky-high pay in the public sector and now all salaries higher than £150,000 must be signed off by the Cabinet Office.

    Labour will go further and extend that to any company that is awarded a government contract.

    A 20:1 ratio means someone earning the living wage, just over £16,000 a year, would permit an executive to be earning nearly £350,000. It cannot be right that if companies are getting public money that that can be creamed off by a few at the top.

    But there is a wider point too. 20 years ago the top bosses of the FTSE 100 companies earned just under 50 times their average worker, today that figure is now 130 times. Last year alone, the top bosses got a 10 per cent pay rise, far higher than those doing the work in the shops, in the call centres, in the warehouses.

    So what can we do?

    … We could allow consumers to judge for themselves, with a government-backed kitemark for those companies that have agreed pay ratios between the pay of the highest and lowest earners with a recognised trade union.

    … We could ask for executive pay to be signed off by remuneration committees on which workers have a majority.

    … We could ensure higher earners pay their fair share by introducing a higher rate of income tax on the highest 5 percent or 1 percent of incomes.

    … We could offer lower rates of corporation tax for companies that don’t pay anyone more than a certain multiple of the pay of the lowest earner.

    There are many options. But what we cannot accept is a society in which a few earn the in two and a bit days, what a nurse, a shop worker, a teacher do in a year. That cannot be right.

    This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.

    We cannot have the CEO paying less tax than the cleaner and pretending they are worth thousands times more than the lowest paid staff.

    So this is Labour’s vision for Britain after Brexit.

    Labour will not block the referendum vote when the time comes in Parliament, we will vote for Article 50.

    But as the Opposition we will ensure the government is held to account for its negotiating demands.

    At the moment they are in total disarray, on Brexit, on the NHS and social care, on the pay in your pocket.

    Labour will build a better Britain out of Brexit.

    That will start with the refinancing of the NHS and the creation of a more equal country, in which power and wealth is more fairly shared amongst our communities. A genuinely inclusive society with strong and peaceful relations with the rest of the world.

    This is Labour’s New Year pledge to the British people.

    —————————————————————-

    What do people think about it?

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  267. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    “Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle”

    He basically nailed it with that.

    Excellent speech from a leader serious about actually gaining power and not doctrinaire posturing for the Hackney set.

    And the latest SW are slagging him off over it so he must be doing something right.

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  268. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot,

    My favourite part is this:

    ———————————-

    “Some people argued that we should have a second referendum. That case was put to our party’s membership last summer and defeated.

    Britain is now leaving the European Union. And Britain can be better off after Brexit. ”

    ————————–

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  269. jock mctrousers on said:

    Jellytot,

    Yes, we have to get shot of the ‘open borders’ lot, the most vocal of whom are at my guess on the Special Branch payroll, to keep the left unelectable.

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  270. Jellytot: Are there any contributors or regular posters on this site who are not middle aged/elderly White men??

    Does it matter?

    SU is only an Internet forum where people enjoy discussing politics, and as long as we are still enjoying it, then does it need a bigger purpose?

    As it happens I have learned a very great deal for the debates on SU over the years, and still continue to do so. It is also the case that there are far more readers than active participants in the discussions.

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  271. George Hallam on said:

    Jellytot: Are there any contributors or regular posters on this site who are not middle aged/elderly White men??

    You mean like the character described below?

    The Honorable Galahad Threepwood, .. was a dapper little gentleman on whose grey but still thickly covered head the weight of a consistently misspent life rested lightly. His flannel suit sat jauntily upon his wiry frame, a black-rimmed monocle gleamed jauntily in his eye.
    Everything about this Musketeer of the ‘nineties was jaunty. It was a standing mystery to all who knew him that one who had such an extraordinary good time all his life should, in the evening of that life, be so superbly robust.
    Wan contemporaries who had once painted a gas-lit London red in his company, and were now doomed to an existence of dry toast, Vichy watery and German cure-resorts felt very strongly on this point. A man of his antecedents, they considered, ought by rights to be rounding off his career in a bath-chair instead of flitting about the place, still chaffing head waiters as of old and calling for the wine list without a tremor.

    Heavy Weather (1933) – P.G. Wodehouse

    Wodehouse informs us that Threepwood was “in his fifty-seventh year”.

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  272. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers:
    Jellytot,

    Yes, we have to get shot of the‘open borders’ lot, the most vocal of whom are at my guess on the Special Branch payroll, to keep the left unelectable.

    Don’t talk bollocks jock I’ve normally got more time for you than this.

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  273. John Grimshaw on said:

    The referedum was clear but posh boy Cameron fucked it up. He expected to win and didn’t there was no plan B. The referendum is not legally binding but it probably is morally so. The process and the narrow result are divisive. We will all have to live with the rejection of eu membership whatever that means but I don’t think we should be under any illusion that the matter is settled. I think the Brexit proposals should be rapidly finalised and then, with various options, put in place for parliament to vote on. I do not see how it can be May’s right and her cabinets right to push through whatever is going to happen, whatever that is.

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  274. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: Does it matter?

    SU is only an Internet forum where people enjoy discussing politics, and as long as we are still enjoying it, then does it need a bigger purpose?

    As it happens I have learned a very great deal for the debates on SU over the years, and still continue to do so. It is also the case that there are far more readers than active participants in the discussions.

    Well you did use it as a vehicle to expose “comrade delta” which was quite serious. So in that sense it is not just a “game”.

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  275. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman,

    No it doesn’t matter Andy.

    The opinions os middle aged White men are just a valid and vital as anyone else’s so please do not get defensive on this. It’s not an implied criticism.

    And I am the last person to get all “Hackney Social Worker” on this issue.

    It was just a genuine point of curiosity.

    This blog carries articles on female and BME issues from time to time. It would be interesting to find out it there were actually any commenting.

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  276. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    The referendum is not legally binding but it probably is morally so.

    And it’s politically binding.

    There would be a shit storm in Middle England if they went back on it. The Establishment are terrified of the so called White “left behinds” especially since the Trump win (and they are looking nervously at France).

    It would be a brave set of politicians to renege on it…..and this lot ain’t brave.

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  277. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: Well you did use it as a vehicle to expose “comrade delta” which was quite serious. So in that sense it is not just a “game”.

    If this blog did one good thing it was that.

    The far left’s “Dirty little secret” of cultism and sexist explotation needed exposing and Andy and the team can feel proud of their role in that.

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  278. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: in Middle England if they went back on it.

    Jellytot I don’t give a shit about “middle England” whatever that means. I do care about the working class, the poor and the dispossessed. I’m sure you agree?

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  279. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    All fine….but middle england vote in governments…..governments that directly affect the poor, dispossessed etc.

    Plus middle england ain’t all that middle anymore.

    The Middle Classes have been throughly proletarianised (is that even a word?)…are all living off tick and ever dependent on the rising value of whatever property they own. The recent byelection in Richmond Park was about how Brexit has affected property values there the local collapse in the rental market.

    A middle class person today is very different from one in the forties or fifties. It’s a reason why Trotsky’s class analysis of fascism no longer applies in The West.

    If you don’t give a shit about them John….you should…and quickly.

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  280. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    John Grimshaw,

    All fine….but middle england vote in governments…..governments that directly affect the poor, dispossessed etc.

    Plus middle england ain’t all that middle anymore.

    The Middle Classes have been throughly proletarianised (is that even a word?)…are all living off tick and ever dependent on the rising value of whatever property they own. The recent byelection in Richmond Park was about how Brexit has affected property values there the local collapse in the rental market.

    A middle class person today is very different from one in the forties or fifties. It’s a reason why Trotsky’s class analysis of fascism no longer applies in The West.

    If you don’t give a shit about them John….you should…and quickly.

    Okay perhaps I was a little over the top t I have issues with your original post so perhaps you’ll indulge me. The phrase “middle England” usually refers to the more well off middle classes not those lower ones scraping along that you refer to. Also as regards Brexit. You can’t have it both ways. Either it was the middle classes who voted remain or it was them that voted out? Which do you think? You take my point. My understanding is that the Brexit vote was complicated. It was a combination of pissed off working class people and southern relatively well off people outside of London (although people on the coasts are not necessarily we.ll off) who voted out for different reasons. You can’t ignore the Scottish national question and the fact that young people voted remain in much larger numbers where they bothered to vote.

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  281. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot if there is such a thing as a proletarianised middle class then they are working class. If it swims like a…….etc. Also the strength of Trotsky’s analysis was that it recognised that the middle classes could both be (temporarily?) impoverished but also cling to their middle classness. Hence the reason why they swing rightward scored a national solution.

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