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What you want to say… Open Thread, 3rd May, 2012 May 3, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left, US Politics.

As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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1. impatientexplanation - May 3, 2012
Mark P - May 3, 2012

Christ that Sheridan article is enough to make me puke in my mouth a little.

2. LeftAtTheCross - May 3, 2012

I’ve given up watching TV, more or less. I don’t know if it’s a decision that I’ve actively taken as a statement of protest, or that I just find there’s less and less on it that I’d be bothered to watch, and I have a fairly low threshold in that regard. Even the stuff I used to actually enjoy watching, the odd VinB show, BBC2′s Review show on Friday night, Jonathon Ross. QI is about the only show that makes me laugh these days. Apart from that, really there’s not much on. And I say all of this after spending the best part of my life as a couch potato.

So last week, inspired by the last piece of interesting TV I watched, the first episode of “The 70s” on BBC2, I sat down on a comfy chair in front of the PC and watched the following:

The Filth and the Fury: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuWGrAGKt-c

Punk Rock Movie: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4101813390428941237

I also downloaded “Sid and Nancy”. Grim story. Great film though, Gary Oldman was excellent in the lead role.

That’s it. Just thought I’d share that with you all.

yourcousin - May 5, 2012

Congrats on unplugging the idiot box. Did it years ago mainly because I was broke at the time but think it was one of the best decisions I made.

WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2012

QI is great. Haven’t had cable in three years now. No great statement, just didn’t get it reconnected after a connection was severed. It’s a bit hard in terms of having to get box sets, but internet/RTE player, etc, etc do the trick perfectly.

Thanks for the link.

Completely agree yourcousin. It sort of frees up the day for other stuff. And it’s a great way to avoid media shaping ones thoughts.

LeftAtTheCross - May 5, 2012

Thanks YC.

QI is great

Like any ‘aholic I broke last night and watched QI followed by BBC2 Newsnight followed by Later with Jools. As relapses go I think that’s not the worst. No more for the week now, I’m back on the wagon again.

And it’s a great way to avoid media shaping ones thoughts.

That’s true. I more or less gave up reading the IT last year as it was annoying me so much, and as you say it’s a withdrawal from the mainstream media sedative in that respect. But there’s a danger to it too, I find sometimes I get so worked up about stuff that other people just take in their stride, their daily medicine if you like, that there becomes a danger of developing into a total crank who can’t engage in what passes for normal conversation! Somewhere in there is a balance to be found.

WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2012

That’s a very interesting thought. is the smoothed down/modified delivery of news through the media in and of itself something that induces a passivity amongst consumers. I wonder what the nature of that effect?

LeftAtTheCross - May 5, 2012

I suppose you could answer that by thinking about what the effect might be of an overtly radicalised and polemical delivery of mass media “news”, exhorting people onto the streets in protest about whatever, urging mass mobilisation. The sort of “news” that might have been the norm during say the Chinese cultural revolution or the Iranian revolution or whatever. Passive reception of sedative by individualised consumers wasn’t the goal there, and not the end result either. So I’d imagine you’re right, that sanitised generalisms are purposely constructed in order to sedate rather than provoke.

Just slightly on that, there’s a good interview here with Scott Millar and Paul Dillon about the absence of a Left
balance in the Irish media, which talks about Liberty and LookLeft as projects to build upon in that regard:


WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2012

Big time re how media shapes responses. Still, it is telling how passive things are. Cheers re the link.

3. Alan Rouge - May 3, 2012

There’s an interesting set of talks organised for the month of May here: https://www.facebook.com/events/406742546007056/442849852396325/

The first one last night on hedge schools was interesting. It’ll be shown on DCTV tomorrow.

Also, some peple might find this interview on inequality with Danny Dorling of interest http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2012/05/danny-dorling-on-inequality/

4. ghandi - May 3, 2012

I foresee huge taxes on light sabres, is that what they were called


John Goodwillie - May 3, 2012

Since the 2006 census recorded 1691 pantheists, 1515 agnostics, and 929 atheists, the CSO clearly doesn’t limit itself to “recognised” religions, whatever they might be. And there could be Jedi knights hidden in the 8576 other stated religions (that’s 8576 people, how many religions is not published).

FergusD - May 4, 2012

So, in the whole of the RoI only 929 said they were atheists! Doesn’t that mean a lot of SP, SWP, WP, CPI, etc must be religous believers? I’m ahocked.

21stcenturypartisan - May 4, 2012

atheism is not a religion. The norm for the non-religious people would be to tick the ‘no religion’ option

5. ejh - May 3, 2012

Hey, we’re going to get a bad bank in Spain! How did that go round your way?

soubresauts - May 4, 2012

The bad bank is not going to save Ireland, though it might help Chelsea get a new stadium!

Spanish football is great, but not great enough to save the Spanish economy. Would a bad bank take over clubs mired in debt like Atletico Madrid and Valencia?

ejh - May 5, 2012

It might for political favours. Real Madrid were the beneficiary of a deeply iffy deal some years ago in which, if I have the details right, their huge debt was paid off by selling land to the city council.

6. Starkadder - May 3, 2012

If you need a bit of quality escapism, Joss Whedon’s
“Avengers” movie is well worth a look. Great dialogue
and performances, especially from Downey Junior, Hiddleston
and Evans. :)

7. CL - May 3, 2012

President Michael D. speaks on New York Radio. We’re back to what we do best!

8. FDR - May 4, 2012

Saw this & thought it might amuse you folks. Is Conard Romney in disguise?


9. seedot - May 4, 2012

A shameless plug
Its the audio of the first hour or so of the 5 Wednesdays lecture about Hedge Schools. On the telly tonight and repeated over the weekend.

On a related matter – does anybody have a link to the Culture talk in Connolly books. I listened to the Republican talk from a couple of weeks back – well worth sticking on the mp3 player and going for a walk with. Thanks to whoever recorded it and have you got any more?

10. irishelectionliterature - May 4, 2012

Might be of interest to some of you. Leaving Cert History book ‘Modern Ireland’ online.
This is how all these schools with Ipads etc will be teaching. Links to relevant websites, youtube clips etc. Different times.

11. Mark P - May 4, 2012

There’s an interesting interview with Allen Blighe of the Spook of the Thirteenth Lock in the (fucking) Irish Times today, with some brief comments about Irish folk and politics:


Michael Carley - May 4, 2012

He’s right about Italian music as well: there are some excellent political or political-ish Italian bands knocking around.

CMK - May 4, 2012

Like who? That sounds interesting.

Michael Carley - May 4, 2012

Too late to be doing the searching (remind and I’ll dig out particular tracks) but:

99 Posse are Neapolitan anarchist/Marxist ragga merchants. I don’t normally like rap, but their first album (Curre Curre Guaglio’) is lovely bouncy lefty Neapolitan dialect work coming out of the centro sociale scene;

Bisca are a Neapolitan ska/two-tone band who made a great album, Guai a chi ci tocca, with 99 Posse;

the Modena City Ramblers are what the Pogues would have sounded like if they had been communists from Emilia Romagna The first album, Riportando tutto a Casa, is especially good, but the others all have a couple of stand out tracks;

Giorgio Gaber is harder work, and harder to classify politically and musically, but Qualcuno era communista, with Autumn Journal, is the reason I do politics.

If you want something more folky, though high quality music, the guy to try is Riccardo Tesi. His music isn’t political especially, but his record label is run by Il Manifesto.

CMK - May 6, 2012

Cheers, thanks a million for those points. Bisca and 99 Posse are right up my street, Modena City Ramblers less so but their version of ‘Bella Ciao’ is brilliant. I’ll have to see where I can get this stuff either on download or CD. Thanks again.

12. Mark P - May 4, 2012

Speaking of Irish music, I suspect that this forthcoming compilation of Irish post-punk and electronic music from 1980 – 1983 is of relevance to the interests of some here:


Mark P - May 4, 2012

Track listing:

1. Dogmatic Element – Just Friends
2. The Threat – High cost of living
3. Chant! Chant! Chant!- Play Safe
4. Virgin Prunes – Twenty Tens (i’ve been smoking all night long)
5. Operating Theatre – Austrian
6. Stano – Town
7. The Peridots – No Water
8. Choice – Always In Danger
9. Ph – Last Days
10. Major Thinkers – Avenue B
11. SM Corporation – Accentuate
12. SM Corporation – Fire from above
13. Tripper Humane – Discoland
14. Operating Theatre – Eighties Rampwalk (Fanning Session)

Dogmatic Element is the best Irish band name ever.

WorldbyStorm - May 4, 2012

Hah, that’s a coincidence. Tomorrow’s TWIMBLT features one of those bands. I’ll say nowt as to which one…

Mark P - May 4, 2012

I didn’t actually realise until a moment ago that the Peridots included a certain regular commenter here.

LeftAtTheCross - May 4, 2012

A coincidence indeed, I was just listening to Chant! Chant! Chant! there yesterday, after a 30 year interval.

13. ivorthorne - May 4, 2012

Is it just me or does the letter to Osama Bin Laden regarding Ireland seem fake?

EWI - May 5, 2012

Who’s it from, “J. Waters”?

que - May 5, 2012

Was it in the Irish Times letters section on Friday. Must look that up

ivorthorne - May 7, 2012


“Osama bin Laden was urged by a fellow leading al-Qaeda member to send a message to the Irish people persuading them to support Islam.

According to new declassified documents seized from his hideout in Pakistan following his death last year, bin Laden was advised that there was a possibility of converting Irish people because of their disenchantment with the Catholic Church and anger over the economic crisis.”

I’m not familiar with how Islamic terrorists speak to each other, but the arguments made would be at home in the mouths of a Fox News or Israeli right-wing pundit.

14. EWI - May 5, 2012

Anyone else listening to Pat Rabbitte sadly shaking his head about the RTÉ Authority and the priest libel, and recalling that the current Authority (iirc) is FF-appointed?

15. Roasted Snow - May 5, 2012

From the UK local elections. I didn’t win but increased Labour vote by 100% in safe Tory seat fighting as a Labour Socialist. Elsewhere in our city we took 6 seats of the Tories with now two Socialist Appeal (Militant) councillors in place despite TUSC and a (SEP Dave North)WRP rump candidate running against us. TUSC took 103 votes (SP) and Socialist Equality Party (40). Labour Left in the ascendancy, a good day, but pity about Ken. Trounced the Tories well and truly in some places who are now fighting each other and the race card is being played. Let this government implode and bring on the General! Labour is ready!!!

WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2012

Fair dues – obviously will make it that bit easier if you decide to contest next time and who knows, what’s ‘safe’ in this day and age. It’s always good to see the Tories and LD’s pushed back, one way or another, and the BNP’s dismal day was sweet.

LeftAtTheCross - May 5, 2012

Well done RS. Onwards to the next one!

tomasoflatharta - May 5, 2012

Which City? Any chance of the real results – for example saying “increased the labour vote by 100%” is open to interpretation : it could be an increase of 30 to 60, or 300 to 600.

WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2012

Just on that topic I was sorry to see the last remaining Independent Working Class Association Cllr didn’t stand this time out.

ejh - May 5, 2012

And so ends a curious episode in socialist history, and one on which I just missed out, since I was living in Blackbird Leys in Oxford just before the IWCA were founded and won council seats there.

Roasted Snow - May 6, 2012

You’re right of course tomas.., Peterborough and NW Cambs. Tory stronghold.

Roasted Snow - May 6, 2012

Our MP Stewart Jackson might be Cameron’s stalking Horse. As the media tell it. He sidled up to me at the early morning count to let me know he wrote to me supporting one of my petitions re; Ramblers rights. He did. But reminded him he didn’t support Stella Creasy (Labour Walthamstow) on Loan Sharks amendemnt to Finance Bill and that his party got a bloody nose in the city. Another year of this Tory nightmare and coalition imploding we are back in power. Good!

ejh - May 6, 2012

And then what?

Jolly Red Giant - May 5, 2012

Would you be interested in giving the names of the two Socialist Appeal councillors in the Britain. Also can you please indicate who are the ‘Labour Left’ that are in the ascendancy?

Last year Socialist Appeal was praising six LP councillors for defying Tory cuts. One of these so-called ‘left’ councillors, Linda Kelly, defected to the Tories two months after SA praised her to the hilt for opposing the cuts – the remaining five ‘left’ councillors actually backed the cuts when it came to a vote.

The last LP councillor that I am aware of that was openly declared as a ‘supporter’ of Socialist Appeal was Perry McMillan in Southampton who actually stood as a candidate for TUSC last Thursday.

In fact the sum total of Socialist Appeal’s analysis of the local election results was the scoffing at the fact that Dave Nellist lost his seat in Coventry.

16. CL - May 5, 2012
17. paraffinalia - May 6, 2012

Glad to be of service. You might like another Neapolitan outfit, Alma Megretta:


The front man, Raiz, also appeared in a great Sicilian western which has never been released on DVD, even in Italy.

18. tomasoflatharta - May 6, 2012

The real results : http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics/elections No mention of any candidate called “roasted snow” [I wonder why?] and any 100 per cent swing to a Labour Candidate is hard to find.

19. Feta Pope - May 6, 2012

Good news from Greece – Left parties will take more votes than New Democracy and Pasok between them – at least according to early polling. Even in alliance with the Nazis the
pro-Troika parties will not be able to form a government.

Talos (SYRIZA supporter) has a good rundown here at eurotrib of the parties and their expectations.

I predict Merkel, Weidmann, Schauble and their provincial governers in these parts will wake up with a bit of a headache.

20. ejh - May 7, 2012

Remarkable line in the Guardian report:

Greek TV channels are reporting that the country’s electoral earthquake has been met with “stunned silence” by officials at the International Monetary Fund in Washington. “Our sources at the fund are telling us they had no idea of the extent of the anger and anti-austerity feeling in Greece. They are amazed,” said Alpha TV’s Washington correspondent.

21. RosencrantzisDead - May 7, 2012

I do not know if this has been posted here:

“Dublin is lobbying Paris against pushing for changes to the core treaty text or anything that could be considered “constitutional” in character and require a second Irish referendum for ratification.”

Found via Irish Economy, but source is here: http://blogs.ft.com/the-world/2012/05/european-elections-reaction-live-blog/#axzz1u8CxfHJv

I am scratching my head. Would the government really screw over the populace in so obvious a manner?

Dr. X - May 7, 2012

Yes. They would. Yes.

Dr. X - May 7, 2012

It occurred to me as I hit the “Post Comment” button that that would have been funnier if I had posted it as “Molly Bloom”.

EWI - May 7, 2012

Beacuse it’s a right-wing shopping list of everything they’ve ever wanted?

And, consider the Bush example: cut taxes on the rich, and then use the resulting deficit (which you created!) to cut social welfare programs. Twofer!

RosencrantzisDead - May 7, 2012

Agree. But the rules always wasthat you did so by stealth or you did so while loudly protesting having to do so. Actually going out of the way to not get a better deal is sharp departure from this.

RosencrantzisDead - May 7, 2012

Excuse the typos. Was posting via mobile.

22. fergal - May 7, 2012

Anybody here confused by comments from Enda and Gilmore over the need for growth and the election of Hollande.Enda claimed that this is what he had been lobbying for in the EU over the last 12 months,Gilmore made a similar claim but ;where is the evidence of this.?I’ve heard Ministers boast of how we’met met all our Troika targets but none seeking a stimulus.No stimulus as we have a small open economy,no stimulus as we can’t afford one,no stimulus as the money invested would leave the country are arguments of this govt and their cheerleaders.Hollande wants to hire 60,ooo teachers Fine Gael and Lab want to reduce the public service here by 23,ooo.Hollande wants to raise the minimum wage no talk of that here.There’s talk of a tax by Berlin and Paris on financial transactions absolutely no talk of that here. Plenty of talk about an export led recovery.So why are Enda and Gilmore so happy about Hollande’s victory?
An aside; in the week when Clare Daly tried to introduce some kind of sensible legislation on pregnancy terminations one candidate in the French presidential election raised the issue of abortion that one candidate was Marine Le Pen

23. Roasted Snow - May 7, 2012

@EJH: We kick the Tories out. As we politicise the party which is moving so much to the left. Lots of room for cooperation with other left comrades. A left government first. New Labour is dead, Peoples’ Labour on the agenda. Britain is not in isolation and we would trounce the Tories tomorrow in a GE. Sorry for being such a Menshevik comrade! Our time has come!

ejh - May 8, 2012

New Labour is dead

In fact a very substantial proportion of the Parliamentary party is New Labour, as you must surely know.

Jolly Red Giant - May 8, 2012

In all honesty – I wouldn’t have believed the IMT were so delusional if I hadn’t seen it myself.

24. RosencrantzisDead - May 8, 2012

I would be interested to hear a few thoughts on this:

Of late, we have had a slew of articles telling us that voting ‘No’ to the Fiscal Compact will have no effect, and will not increase austerity, because the Fiscal Compact re-iterates what we have already agreed to with the ‘Six Pack’.

(For our purposes, I shall assume all of this is correct.)

As a result, a ‘No’ vote would not avoid austerity or indeed bring in any policy changes and would only make things worse because we would be denied funding by the ESM.

This raises a point – why do we need this Fiscal Compact? If it simply demands what we have already agreed to, what purpose does it serve? And why is access to the ESM predicated on signing up to something that you have already signed up to? Surely, the threat is doubly unnecessary – much like threatening to kill someone unless they continue to breathe. One argument is that the Treaty is required because it is the only way the Central Powers can sell a bail-out fund to their citizenry, but why can they not sell the identical ‘Six Pack’? A very curious state of affairs.

It must be that there is something qualitatively different about this Treaty as opposed to the already existing and operational ‘Six Pack’. The question is what? I am currently trying to unravel the compact and see what these differences might be, but I would be interested to know if anyone else has thoughts on this.

WorldbyStorm - May 8, 2012

That’s a series of questions I don’t have an answer to. When you put it like that it certainly seems to be odd.

25. John Cunningham - May 8, 2012

Is it not remarkable that the Labour Party has withdrawn from its own centenary celebrations, scheduled for Clonmel on 27 May? The stated reason: the ‘close promixity [of the centenary] to the EU Fiscal Treaty referendum vote.’ One supposes that the protests at the party’s recent conference in Galway had nothing to do with it. A meeting of the parliamentary party due to be held in Clonmel has been cancelled, Brendan Howlin has pulled out of the opening of an exhibition on Labour’s history, and the lettering of a commemorative plaque (stating that it was unveiled by Mr. Eamon Gilmore in the presence of the Labour Parliamentary Party) will have to be erased.
According to the local Nationalist newspaper, South Tipperary councillor Bobby Fitzgerald was very critical of the decision: http://www.nationalist.ie/news/local/labour-party-leadership-slammed-for-pulling-out-of-clonmel-celebrations-1-3806860
‘I would seriously question as to whether Labour has forgotten its own constitutional commitment to democratic socialism and to represent the interests of ordinary working class people as they seem to have become pre-occupied with pandering to European interests rather than its core electorate and Labour values… It’s another indication that the Labour party leadership is losing its identity, is out of touch with grass roots in not honouring its origins and thereby insulting the founding fathers of the party and its core values, which they stood for…’
Evidently busy with matters European, Labour Party headquarters in Dublin failed to provide a comment for the Nationalist.

26. Paddy Healy - May 8, 2012

The Labour Party has but one councillor on Clonmel Borough Council. The Workers and Unemployed Action Committee, a component of ULA, is the biggest party with 5 councillors. Fianna Fail also has 1 councillor on the body.
Gilmore chickened out!

27. Oireachtas Retort - May 8, 2012
28. PoisonQuill - May 8, 2012

Some F.O.I. figures I acquired today regarding housing allowances and the RAS scheme, (that I find shocking):

2011 – Total National Expenditure on
Rent Allowance Supplement Euro 502,600.00
(There are 96,803 recipients, nationally).

In County Waterford (the only one that I have
the F.O.I. figures for), the scheme that is run through/
by the Local Authority, the Rental Accommodation
Scheme ‘RAS’ (pronounced ‘Razz’) was increased
in 2011 by almost 33 percent;

Waterford County – RAS scheme, 2010: Euro 1,101,189.06

Waterford County – RAS scheme, 2011: Euro 1,598,383.12

So, an increase in one County, of: Euro 497,194.06

I find this incredibly cynical. Literally, and so shockingly obviously
this Government is lurrying money to private investors, using local authority housing applicants as the conduits. And also, the local authority oversee completely the scheme, all issues/problems being handled by them; and they pay the private investor for this privilege.
For tenants: definite insecurity. For investors: definite profit.

The above figures do not include Waterford city.

WorldbyStorm - May 8, 2012

It’s entirely mad, PQ. If you’d like to shape that into a post, would you ever email me at the contact email in the right hand side… it’d be very welcome.

Oireachtas Retort - May 9, 2012


Tel - May 9, 2012

That is important stuff as Rent Allowance Supplement is being slashed at the moment apparently to save money while Rental Accommodation Scheme is being wheeled out as in part a replacement.

PoisonQuill - May 9, 2012

Figures at the end of March 2012 “show that there are 94,990 recipients of Rent Supplement and 18,232 recipients of Mortgage Interest Supplement.”

In 2010, Euro 516,861 (97,260 recipients) was spent on Rent Supplement.

In 2011, Euro 502,600* (96,803 recipients) was spent on
Rent Supplement.
* Provisional Outturn at Year End 2011.

In 2010, Euro 65,657 (17,974 recipients) was spent on Mortgage Interest Supplement.

In 2011, Euro 67,894* (18,988 recipients) was spent on Mortgage Interest Supplement.
*Provisional Outturn at Year End 2011.

(Figures from Dept.of Soc.Welf. – Sligo).
(071-915 7100)

But, is this deflecting from where the real action is taking place? i.e. The Annual Budgets of each Local Authority?

Obviously, in one County (Waterford): The RAS (‘Raz’) scheme has increased dramatically, in just one year:

2007 : Euro 83,386.67
2008 : Euro 326,556.64
2009 : Euro 760,974.70
2010 : Euro 1,101,189.06
2011 : Euro 1,598,383.12

That is a huge increase (Euro 497,194.06); and (this is the bit I cannot get my head around) – the reality is that this ‘Raz’ (Rental Accommodation Scheme) is given from the Local Authority directly to …… the private investors.
The RAS in not even long-term; it can be terminated at any time, by the investor (or tenants?).

If that is the increase in one sparsely populate County; what are the increases via other Local Authority Annual Budgets in all other counties? Clearly, this is where the action is?

PoisonQuill - May 9, 2012

Please note: these Dept. of Soc.Welf. figures are ‘Millions’-

i.e. Rent Supplement, 2010 : Euro 516,861,000.00
” ” 2011 : Euro 502,600,000.00

Mort.Int.Supplement, 2010 : Euro 65,657,000.00
” ” ” 2011 : Euro 67,894,000.00

Tel - May 9, 2012

The increase can be accounted for by new policy directing people in long term housing need (which I presume means single parents, disabled people, retired people) towards the Rental Accommodation Scheme rather than Rent Allowance Supplement.

PoisonQuill - May 9, 2012

Or, even worse, they just kicked the bucket, for ‘waiting’ for local authority housing.
It is, though, being only 457 people (or households), small decrease in numbers of people receiving rent allowance between 2010 and 2011.
The decrease in monies paid in 2011 (from 2010) is Euro 14,610,000.
But there may be no decrease at all, whatsoever, in State monies spent on ‘rented’ housing; as I just wonder if that
Euro 14.6 millon they ‘saved’ on rent allowance, was given to the various local authorities (and, I would wonder, added to?); to increase the local authorities’ RAS schemes. These schemes are not all that ‘long-term’, they can be terminated at any time, by the investor, if/when he wants his place back; or by the tenants.

The new scheme they are promulgating now is the ‘Long-Term Leasing Initiative’; and these seem to be signed long-term leases of 10 or 20 years.
So, you are a 10 year or 20 year ‘cash cow’ for an investor.
The entire situation is chronic.

29. Mark P - May 9, 2012

I’m surprised that Garibaldy hasn’t already posted the KKE’s statement on the Greek results as an article! For those who are interested, here it is:

I have to admit that I found myself chuckling a couple of times when reading it. They don’t mince their words. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly they are taking a completely sectarian approach to SYRIZA – arguing that its advances represent a recomposing social democracy and slinging invective at it rather than making any kind of appeal to it or to its ranks and supporters.

The infuriating thing is that SYRIZA is all over the place politically and could be pulled to the left by the KKE if the KKE wasn’t so determined to wall off supporters of the two parties from each other.

As an aside, I could read KKE statements all day. There’s just something intoxicating about the bombast.

ejh - May 9, 2012

SYRIZA is all over the place politically

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

It is.

ejh - May 9, 2012

Not really. it depends on the way in which they are, the reasons for this being so – and for that matter, the way in which one might be otherwise and the reasons for that.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

That may or may not be true, although you’ve posed it in such an abstract fashion that it’s impossible to say either way.
In the specific case of Greece, the election results and SYRIZA it is very much a bad thing.

ejh - May 9, 2012

Though as they’ve achieved a really good result by being what they are rather than what they are advised to be, much of the evidence would seem to be in the opposite direction.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

I’ve a feeling you could be eating those words in the not too distant future.

ejh - May 9, 2012

Not really. The point I’m making is that whatever happens in the future, they’ve got to where they are by not being what you’d like them to be. And there is not a lot to suggest that they’d have done better by being otherwise.

An awful lot of far-left commentary does involve very small organisations (or adherents thereof) giving their advice to rather larger organisations while missing the not insignificant point that those larger organisations are larger precisely because they take a different approach to the rather smaller ones.

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2012

I’d second that ejh. I get the point neilcaff is making but it does seem to me that SYRIZA’s ability to push forward while still being left of social democracy is precisely because it is a big tent operation, but one with fairly clear approaches about eschewing austerity etc. Look by contrast at the KKE which is becalmed (or indeed right of SYRIZA at the Democratic crowd who split from them) and one can see how ideological rigidity has not served them well (and in the case of the Democratic op how cosying rightwards hasn’t served them well either). Or putting it another way, I think it unlikely that had SYRIZA a more ‘disciplined’ for want of a better word message that they’d have got 17 per cent plus.

All that said a long way to go.

LeftAtTheCross - May 9, 2012

WbS, what you’re saying is correct in terms of popular appeal but at the same time what you’re describing in negative terms as “rigidity” could otherwise be described as “principle”. Ok, electoral politics is a game and the rules are that the winner is the most popular, but equally there’s little point in winning the game if the price to be paid is an abandonment of principles. Now I’m not accusing SYRIZA of that by any means, clearly the noises they’re making are relatively hardline in terms of opposition to where Greece has been taken by the Troika and PASOK / New Democracy, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any acceptable compromise which might result from the post-election discussions. If I was in the shoes of the KKE I think I’d be looking a few moves ahead and sticking to those principles, the process isn’t at the endgame just yet by any means.

ejh - May 9, 2012

The Campaign Against the Misuse of Chess as a Metaphor is looking carefully at that last comment…

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2012

Sure, but principle for its own sake is meaningless detached from context. I mean I know lots of principled rightwingers, but that doesn’t make them correct. Moreover what principles are these at work? Won’t work with others? Well, when do they expect the Greek working class to gift them 50 + 1 per cent of the vote? Won’t work with other leftwingers? They did it in the past. Presumably they’ll do it in the future.

I understand why KKE has developed the line it has, but it seems to me to be self-defeating in many respects (as well as being pointlessly hostile as was their post election statement).

LeftAtTheCross - May 9, 2012

But the context is that the first step away from popular support for austerity has been registered electorally, with little likelihood of the numbers stacking up for the anti-austerity forces, where the only likely result is a national government between PASOK & ND and which clearly doesn’t have any mandate in terms of the popular vote. The context is that a compromise which satisfies the SYRIZA position is unlikely to be acceptable to the Troika. The context is that another round of elections is likely, and the same questions will be put to the Greek electorate. If the same answer is returned, what happens then? Does the EU run out of patience as it were and impose a technocratic dictatorship? Or does Greece default because the Troika won’t release funds? What happens then? The KKE are holding it up to those forces who believe there is some compromise solution to all of those questions. They don’t believe there is a solution. Many of us here don’t really believe there is either I suspect. Ok, maybe to our tastes here in this part of the world the KKE may seem a bit “rigid” or rough around the edges, but they have their eye on the ball there.

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2012

Does that address why KKE stayed static in support and why SYRIZA did so well. Or why KKE is so antagonistic to SYRIZA. SYRIZA is clear there’s no solution in the present context (and it’s refreshing to see a left wing party post an election do what they say they will when engaging more broadly), and the limits of their compromise appears to be an acceptance that Greece would remain within the Euro (though one could also see that as putting it up to the ECB et al). Isn’t that having the eye on the ball too? And an approach that’s reaped dividends.

TBH, I think that when push comes to shove the EU will implement some sort of measures be they a softening of ‘austerity’ or whatever in order to entice ND/PASOK to work together or a right of centre coalition. I don’t believe that’s a ‘solution’ but I think that if it kicked the can down the road the EU would do it. What one has to hope is that this isn’t in advance of a second election where SYRIZA might further open up greater support.

BTW, in a weird kind of way I think that KKE’s stance actually benefits SYRIZA in the short to medium term, particulary in detaching what support remains for PASOK (and perhaps from other left forces) to the latter. I also wonder if there’s a danger that KKE may suffer too as some of its support detaches to SYRIZA too.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

No need for the false modesty, I’m sure you’re not that old.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

Bah, my replies seem to be all over the place, I should be the SYRIZA finance spokesperson!

Mark P - May 9, 2012

There are some faintly silly comments above.

SYRIZA have achieved 16% of the vote, which is an impressive accomplishment. It may well be that ejh is correct and their, well, lets be polite and say ambiguity about key political issues – the EU, the euro, breaking with capitalism, little things like those – gave them an edge over their rivals in the KKE in these particular set of elections. I’d be the last to deny that a bit of a soft focus, a range of voices so that everyone can hear what they want, can help gain votes.

But studied ambiguity is incompatible with questions of power and government, particularly government in a period of crisis. Gaining 16% of the vote is not an end in itself, it’s a step towards a set of ends – and SYRIZA simply cannot avoid making hard choices. The issue is not whether they can keep being ambiguous forever, whether or not they would like to, but what choices they will make when they absolutely have to make choices.

The notion that because they got 16% of the vote once that they therefore should keep doing whatever it is that they are doing indefinitely, is completely abstract as well as completely lacking in political ambition. We are not talking about a party slowly building itself into a stronger voice of permanent opposition in a stable parliamentary system, like say for instance Die Linke. We are talking about a party for which questions of power are immediate, short term ones, against a background of crisis.

This is a key reason why the KKE’s sectarianism is so counterproductive – they should be putting immense pressure on SYRIZA, pulling them to the left at a time when enormous pressure, from the establishment parties, from the media, even from the federation of Greek entrepreneurs (which wants SYRIZA in government), is being put on the to resolve those ambiguities in a less radical manner. They should be putting it up to the leaders of SYRIZA, rather than allowing the SYRIZA leadership to dismiss them as irrelevant fossils.

As an aside, not directly connected to the points made above, it should be noted that despite getting 4% more than PASOK and 8% more than the KKE in these elections, SYRIZA is a smaller, much less well rooted party than either. In activist terms it is no bigger than it was when its predecessor split from the KKE.

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2012

I think in these discussions it’s essential to understand what groups are and what they are not. In the case of SYRIZA people seem to assume it is somehow further left than it actually is, and to ignore the reality that it’s a composite of a number of groups rather than a single one. The first means that rather than revolutionary left it is radical left – clearly left of so called social democracy but right of self-ascribed revolutionary socialism (whether of the KKE variety or other). That means that it will per definition not necessarily take the line that people may want of it as regards the euro, the EU and even the break with capitalism (at least in not in the sense of seeking a revolutionary moment for such a break). The second means that finding absolute clarity as regards these matters may – for entirely unmalign reasons be difficult if not impossible.
And that means that ‘hard choices’ simply will not be addressed in the way some might like.

I’m all for criticising SYRIZA over things it says it will do that it then doesn’t. But so far it’s done pretty much what it said on the tin, right up to the decision not to play the game according to the diktats of the Troika (and I think it’s telling how much simply saying the bailout had to be torn up has scared the markets). Given that that broke PASOK – simply to offer rhetorical opposition for one or two days re the referendum that never was – it’s hard to see what more could reasonably be expected of them. As for putting ‘immense pressure’ on SYRIZA from KKE? Does that sound remotely realistic given the relationships at play? Is SYRIZA likely to listen to a word from that quarter given the history of (often) mutual antagonism.

Regarding a lack of political ambition. Well, who can say what ambitions they may have. But quadrupling their vote share at an eleciton doesn’t speak of a lack of ambition. Presumably next they want to grow beyond almost 17 per cent or so. But the same point as the KKE kicks in. Is it reasonable to expect them to get 50 +1 in the near future? And if not (and that would appear to be a sensible assessment) then what must they do to increase past 17 per cent? That’s a tricky one. They may seek to cannibalise some KKE support (and as I noted previously I don’tthink the KKE is necessarily doing itself favours by its rhetoric). But what they presumably must do is pull votes from what remains of PASOK too. Even if we put together the totality of the four largest ‘left’ parties including PASOK we come to 44.55 per cent. Maybe I’m just a sceptic, but despite the years of austerity so far that doesn’t strike me as indcating – necessarily – a revolutionary moment and it would seem to indicate a difficult hill for SYRIZA to climb further.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

You do love your empiricism in the IST don’t you?

Ed - May 9, 2012

Eh? I don’t think there’s anyone from the SWP / IST posting on this thread.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

Ejh is (or was?) an adherent to the IST. Forget my last comment, I wasn’t being entirely serious.

My serious point is this. We can argue about whether SYRIZA’s eclectic politics got them to where they are now or not. I do not think it is the main reason or even the most important. That wasn’t what the original thrust of Mark P’s comment was.

To paraphrase Mark P, in the context where Greece is now at crisis point, where any deviation from the austerity orthodoxy not only leads directly to a clash with the local ruling elite but also with international finance capital then having woolly politics, as SYRIZA does, becomes a very big problem indeed when the leadership of the anti austerity movement is seen to pass to you.

The issue of debt repayment is not something that can be fudged by passing it off to an “independent” inquiry.
Dealing with the practical consequences of defying the Troika is not something that can be fudged either.

In that sense the criticisms the KKE level at SYRIZA are absolutely correct. The problem is I believe the KKE uses those criticism, not as a constructive base to put forward it’s vision of what an effective anti-austerity alliance would look like, but as a method of avoiding the need to co-operate with other forces.

in fact I would go further and say I now do not believe the KKE leadership is really serious about it’s policies of cancellation of the debt, withdrawal from the EU, NATO etc. If they were really serious they would have presented, some or all those demands as the condition of their co-operation with SYRIZA in government.

ejh - May 9, 2012

Ejh is (or was?) an adherent to the IST

Before you were born, perhaps.

LeftAtTheCross - May 9, 2012

Neil, maybe they will, but just not yet. The time may not be yet ripe for such arguments or positions to be convincing to either the SYRIZA constituent groups or their supporters.

neilcaff - May 9, 2012

No need for the false modesty Ejh, I’m sure you’re not that old.

ejh - May 9, 2012

I was so much older then.

Ed - May 9, 2012

A couple of interesting pieces on Greece from Red Pepper (one article, one interview with a SYRIZA activist). The mainstream press has been more than usually awful in its coverage of Greece in the past few days:



TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - May 9, 2012

“The mainstream press has been more than usually awful in its coverage of Greece in the past few days”
There was a disproportionate focus on the Golden Dawn party imo. Don’t get me wrong it’s worrying that they got that much support but theres no chance of them going into government. ND are not that power mad (besides Mutter Deutschland wouldn’t allow it).

Ed - May 9, 2012

Aye, that’s one of the main things I was referring to – RTE’s report on Saturday night was diabolical, it included an interview with an ND leader and another with someone from Golden Dawn in their party office, no mention of the radical left, no hint of a suggestion that the polls were giving SYRIZA and the KKE a vote several times larger than the fascists.

It’s as if they just don’t have the mental capacity to recognise the existence of the radical left, even when it’s set to get 30-40% of the vote. Hopefully the next few days and weeks will drum that out of their heads for good.

30. sonofstan - May 9, 2012

‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will? Not anymore: because optimism is now a political tonality indissociable from the promises of consumption. ‘Future’ exists only in the stock exchange plural. Hope is no longer given to us for the sake of the hopeless: it has mutated into an endless political and economic Micawberism’

from TJ Clark – For a Left With No Future. NLB 74

31. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - May 9, 2012

Most of the times you’ve got to laugh at the English and political corectness.
Not in this case. Doctors are being told to lie to patients in my opinion.

32. dry cough treatment - September 18, 2012

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with
the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

33. ejh - September 18, 2012

Old communists may wish to know that Santiago Carrillo has died.

34. meaxackackept - October 29, 2012

Approvo del tutto insieme le idee espresse fino ad ora. Andate avanti cosi.

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