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What you want to say – 30th September 2015 September 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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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. EWI - September 30, 2015

Gov want to get rid of developer levies on new building; so, I guess it’s back to toll booths for all new roads as the free market magically provides…? The promised funding from property taxes and water charges has been diverted elsewhere.

The fact that the local authority system in Ireland is being systematically dismantled ought to worry more people.

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2. Ciaran - September 30, 2015

Anyone notice Newstalk have Irish Life virtually sponsoring their output for pretty much the whole week, attempting to ‘raise awareness’ to get a private pension? Needless to say, a representative from said company seems to crop up on more than one programme in order to tell us about the urgency of the need to start a pension, without any challenge from their interlocutors. I’m pretty sure, even taking into account the media orthodoxy concerning the existence of private pension companies, that this is in gross breach of broadcasting guidelines?

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EWI - September 30, 2015

Only if you’re Vincent Browne.

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3. Alibaba - October 1, 2015

The latest concerning endorsement of a referendum on abortion and revision of legislation on abortion too.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/abortion-referendum-endorsed-by-human-rights-commission-31572711.html

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4. Gewerkschaftler - October 1, 2015

Yet another dirty deal at the European level in favour national capitalist interests and against the health and well-being of the people of Europe.

Glimpses of the high-stakes deals done over emissions regulations – whether NOx or CO2 – are occasionally seen. In 2013, Germany was reported to have gone “rogue” in attempts to sideline greener car regulations that would impact its huge car industry, threatening Ireland over its Euro bail-out, Hungary with car plant closures and the Netherlands with cuts in plant investment.

A month earlier, Germany had offered to derail an EU cap on bankers’ bonuses, which the UK opposed, in return for UK support in sidelining the stricter car regulations. Those regulations were duly kicked into the long grass and the lobbying has not stopped. Germany, France and the UK have all lobbied recently against reforms to flawed emissions tests.

Bankers keep raking it in, while we choke to death on diesel fumes.

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5. Andrew - October 1, 2015

Interview with Syrian President on RT


They say that if the president went things will get better. What does that mean, practically? For the West, it means that as long as you are there, we will continue to support terrorism, because the Western principle followed now in Syria and Russia and other countries is changing presidents, changing states, or what they call bringing regimes down.

On the refugee crisis:


Regarding the refugee crisis, I will say now that Western dealing in the Western propaganda recently, mainly during the last week, regardless of the accusation that those refugees are fleeing the Syrian government, but they call it regime, of course. Actually, it’s like the West now is crying for the refugees with one eye and aiming at them with a machinegun with the second one, because actually those refugees left Syria because of the terrorism, mainly because of the terrorists and because of the killing, and second because of the results of terrorism. When you have terrorism, and you have the destruction of the infrastructure, you won’t have the basic needs of living, so many people leave because of the terrorism and because they want to earn their living somewhere in this world.

So, the West is crying for them, and the West is supporting terrorists since the beginning of the crisis when it said that this was a peaceful uprising, when they said later it’s moderate opposition, and now they say there is terrorism like al-Nusra and ISIS, but because of the Syrian state or the Syrian regime or the Syrian president. So, as long as they follow this propaganda, they will have more refugees. So, it’s not about that Europe didn’t accept them or embrace them as refugees, it’s about not dealing with the cause. If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists. That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees

On the makeup and roots of the terrorists:


Of course we have terrorist groups, but they are not an expression of society. In Russia, you have terrorist groups today, but they do not project Russian society, nor do they have any semblance to the open and diverse Russian society. That’s why if they tried to mint a currency or have stamps or passports, or have all these forms which indicate the existence of a state, it doesn’t mean they actually exist as a state; first because they are different from the people and, second, because people in those regions flee towards the real state, the Syrian state, the national state. Sometimes they fight them too. A very small minority believes these lies. They are certainly not a state, they are a terrorist group. But if we want to ask about who they are, let’s speak frankly: They are the third phase of the political or ideological poisons produced by the West, aimed at achieving political objectives. The first phase was the Muslim Brotherhood at the turn of the last century. The second phase was al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in order to fight the Soviet Union. And the third phase is ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and these groups. Who are ISIS? And who are these groups? They are simply extremist products of the West.

http://www.rt.com/news/315482-assad-terrorism-refugees-interview/

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

Is there any particular reason why you are treating us to the claims of a dictator as broadcast by a propaganda arm of an imperial power?

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6. Mark P - October 1, 2015
Andrew - October 1, 2015

If only mark were as discerning a reader of the guardian, he might not unthinkingly regurgitate the western media smear of the syrian government as “Assad regime”.

curious mark, do you believe the guardian is not a propaganda arm of an imperial power?

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

Are you suggesting that it’s unreasonable to refer to a dictatorship as a “regime”? Or are you seriously about to suggest that Assad is democratically elected?

The Guardian often serves as a conduit for propaganda. It is not however an integral part of the machinery of the British state.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Actually it is worth going further. I’m genuinely curios as to how calling the Syrian government a regime or indeed Assad’s regime is somehow incorrect or a smear. Or is this of a piece with the idea that one could state without question that the majority of Syrians support that state?

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7. The Devil - October 1, 2015

See Mark P’s like real informed init he like reads the Guardian and all the truth is in innit – he don’t need nothing in his ears like that from people who aren’t pure kosher like it ain’t – yeah Mark don’t read Chomsky, because he is so against everything everywhere until we get like his world revolution – keep on reading your Mi6 broadsheets you full throttle gimp – ever hear of Saddam WMDs? The Libyan rape troops? Or you just swallow it all?

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

It really is remarkable how much incoherent spittle flecked rage our Assad and Putin fans are capable of producing whenever the really very obvious and, outside of zombie Stalinist circles, in controversial fact that Assad is a brutal dictator is made.

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Ed - October 2, 2015

What is a ‘full throttle gimp’? A sexual deviant who is also a big Top Gear fan? (Actually that is probably a tautology)

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8. The Devil - October 1, 2015

No-one has said he is not a brutal dictator, however all governments are brutal to varying degrees and his happened to be probably the least brutal to people of the broad left and secular of any regime in the Middle East and you are calling for his over throw and the destruction of the existing state by ‘the West’ allied with religious fundamentalists, Libya should be lesson enough for any rational human being, but what’s the score out of the chaos will emerge a trot socialist state? or what a version of Saudi Arabia? Either give some rational answer to this or shut up. My rational answer is the best of the worse outcomes out of this is that a secular Syrian State will remain and Assad’s government is the only real world option for this, keep on blabbing Mark P but don’t expect others to not take a more serious approach.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Seriously? You’re demanding Mark P ‘shut up’ on an political internet thread because unlike some on this thread he points out the nature of Assad and his regime, and then you accuse him of saying something he didn’t ie calling for the overthrow of Assad. And all this support for the regime because hes not as brutal with the broad left? Brilliant. Beyond parody.

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

This gibberish is actually worth dealing with in a bit of detail, not because there’s anything of substantive interest in it, but because it serves as an encapsulation of most of the stupidities of zombie Stalinism in one paragraph.

1) “Nobody has said he is not a brutal dictator”.

Yet people have posted up an interview with him broadcast by a propaganda arm of the imperialist state he is a client of without comment. The Worker’s Party is busy broadcasting appeals by a puppet party that’s been integrated into the dictatorship for decades. When I post up an article about the torture his regime engages in, you spray your screen with spittle, raging about how this is akin to claims of Libyan rape brigades. And while you here generously avoid openly claiming that he’s “not a brutal dictator”, you immediately follow that half-hearted concession by downplaying that for all you are worth. Like so:

2) “however all governments are brutal to varying degrees”

So what if he’s at the head of a brutal dictatorship that has tortured, murdered and oppressed everyone from political opponents to national minorities, sure government’s are all bad.

3) “and his happened to be probably the least brutal to people of the broad left and secular of any regime in the Middle East”

This further attempt to minimise the grimness of the Assad regime rests on a really very peculiar bit of identity politics. If it were true, putting it forward as an argument seems to imply that we shouldn’t really care so much if religious people or nationalists or even liberals get tortured or murdered as long as “our sort” are mostly left alone. Now, I’m not exactly keen on religion or nationalism or liberalism, but even I find that sort of stance pretty clearly reprehensible and what’s more it’s a reflection of precisely the sort of accommodation to hated regimes that has helped erode secular leftist sentiment in much of the Middle East.

But, while that would be the case even if your claim was true, it isn’t precisely true. Assad and his father were no more tolerant of leftist or secular dissent than any other form of dissent. What they were willing to do is offer certain tame leftists incorporation in junior roles into the regime, an “offer” consisting of a choice between serving the dictatorship or being viciously repressed by it. The majority of the Communist Party accepted incorporation into the National Progressive Front four decades ago. This involved agreeing to support the Assad dictatorship and accepting the permanent “leading role” of the Ba’ath Party.

This was accepted by the SCP majority as the local version of the usual Stalinist fantasies about some local strongman being the representative of the “progressive bourgeoisie”. At first, the SCP was still a real party, albeit one in service to the dictatorship, and Assad senior even changed course and unleashed a burst of repression against it in the early 80s (presumably you don’t think that it’s Western lies when I tell you that this involved torture), before deciding in the mid 80s that his point had been made and he didn’t want to antagonise his Russian allies further. Whatever remaining independence it had having been knocked out of it, the SCP (now two SCPs) settled down for three decades of fully pliant service.

But the SCP majority weren’t the only leftists in Syria. Take for instance the SCP minority, who didn’t want to sell their souls to Assad. I hate to break the news to you, but Assad wasn’t terribly tolerant of those communists. Their main leader was relatively lucky – he just ended up as political prisoner for twenty something years. Many lower profile members weren’t so lucky. Not that this, or the repression of other more minor leftist groups, caused the SCP leadership any problems.

4) “you are calling for his over throw and the destruction of the existing state by ‘the West’ allied with religious fundamentalists”

This is purest fantasy. I have never, anywhere, for any reason, supported the military invasion by any imperial power of any country or the bombing of any country. I haven’t called for it, argued for it, backed it, justified it, or uttered one word that provides even the slightest evidence for that smear. In fact, when issues related to “humanitarian intervention” and other liberal justifications for imperial interventions have come up on this site, I’ve always been amongst the hardest line opponents of any such action. Nor, of course, have I ever advocated support for “religious fundamentalists” anywhere.

But beyond the obvious and crude intent to smear, there is also an underlying logic to this sort of claim that’s worth examining. It’s the same “pick a side”, you are with us or against us, sort of logic that underpinned liberal imperialist insinuations that critics of the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan were really supporters of Saddam Hussein or the Taliban. If x and y are fighting, then disapproving of x, to this way of thinking, means that you must approve of y. And there, in fact and unfortunately, always are a few fruitcakes who actually do adopt that way of thinking. There were a few people who did think that opposing Western intervention meant prettifying their opponents, but there was, fortunately, not much of it and they were constrained in how far they could go in polishing obvious turds. There seems to be much less restraint when it comes to our zombie Stalinists and Assad.

What makes this kind of lobotomised anti-imperialism, the anti-imperialism of simpletons who simply cheerlead for whatever force they imagine to be annoying the US, so remarkable in this case is that it goes further than just cheering for some brutal dictator. It now involves supporting, or at best ignoring, an actual direct military intervention as well as massive arming of one local faction by a different imperial power. Howls of outrage at the US offering training to various rebel groups, silence or open approval of Russian bombs.

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The Devil - October 1, 2015

Lets take the vitriol down a bit so. Mark P you posted a link to a article rehashing claims that emerged two years ago and have been dealt with elsewhere with strong evidence stating that they amount to a propaganda exercise – including at the UN – if they are, or are not that is for elsewhere – war is horrific and brutal and I would have not doubt that horrific reprisals will accompany any sides victory in this war – I would however believe that as the Syria state has attempted to maintain its functioning even in rebel held areas and has some basic belief in a concept of a legal process based on secular law as well as an aim of once more establishing a functioning state its grim reprisals are preferable to the genocidal religiously inspired massacres which would follow any victory by any of the rebel factions – these include the ‘moderates’ which Russian has amazing managed to kill more of in 24 hours, if you believe western disinformation, than the US managed to find and train in three years.

What we have here is a choice between less grim scenarios – Mark what is your honest, and I think we all deserve to hear it, appraisal of this situation, offer us what you think is a possible outcome which would most favour the maintenance of a functioning society in Syria?

I have just read the SCP statement you refer to above, I take it you understand the people writing that statement probably have sons fighting with the Syrian Army do you expect a statement less bold in the circumstances of a war for survival? I also note at the end it calls for dialogue to end this war? Are similar statements emerging from the western backed factions?

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Just to address a point, Mark P has covered much of what I had intended to say, I think the idea that there is a realistic prospect of the maintenance of a functioning society in Syria, such less one that has any real belief in a concept of legal process based on secular law is unfeasible. That ship has sailed. The Assad regime isn’t one that is really based on a legal process or secular law. Sure, if you keep the head down, or at least pre-uprisings, one could get along, and there was, even by the account in the Guardian – less repression and by some way, but that’s faint praise. The reality is these aren’t left regimes. They’re sort of kind of secular but they’re not progressive in any really meaningful sense – the elite keeps the lid on stuff and gives as little to the people as it thinks it can afford while harbouring power to itself and fending rivals. And now even if you do keep the head down you’re in danger. Any state that is willing to put sections of its population to the fire, or to ignore them when they are collateral damage or whatever is a state that immediately loses legitimacy. And that doesn’t mean, and here again Mark P is correct, that anyone here is seriously arguing for interventions, though it seems to me fair enough to argue against interventions by any and all actors.

Of course all this is moot, no one of any significance – and this is perhaps important to keep in mind, is following this thread. Indeed a bit of realism in that regard would be no bad thing. All the actors will continue on their way whether cheerled or not. The balance of power on the ground, such as it is, will determine outcomes.

But that’s what makes it doubly irritating to hear people told to shut up (and all the Trot socialist state stuff which just seems diversionary – I’d be the first to criticise Mark P in relation to the Stalinist stuff which was unhelpful, but in a way, and I say this as someone from de facto a euro-communist perspective so with a foot however residually in the orthodox Marxist camp, it’s not entirely wrong. There’s a sense of people mapping onto Assad or whoever what they want rather than what those regimes actually are. That mistake has been made time and again and in almost every single instance its the left which loses out).

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

I’ve generally been sticking with “zombie Stalinism” rather than “Stalinism” when discussing leftists who currently admire Assad or Putin.

Stalinism is the accurate and appropriate term to use to describe the decision of SCP majority to sign up to Assad’s NPF coalition. There was a simple element of not wanting to be tortured pragmatism involved, but theoretically it was justified in specifically Stalinist terms, with Assad senior cast as the representative of the progressive bourgeoisie. But that would be decades ago.

But what I’ve been encountering from some people in the Workers Party milieu now isn’t really Stalinism in the traditional sense. The Soviet Union is gone. The Eastern Bloc is gone. They aren’t acting as supporters of what they imagine to be a socialist motherland and its allies against Western imperialism.

It’s, to be frank, much more stupid than that. They are adopting similar positions in defense of foreign military intervention by a major imperialist, capitalist, state in defense of client dictatorship. And in so doing, they have ended up adopting the same arguments made by advocates of Western imperial interventions around the world. Right down to the insistence that anyone who opposes that intervention or views the client ruler as a brutal dictator must really be an admirer of takfiri zealots. It’s an “anti-imperialism” so lobotomised that it ends up cheering for imperialism.

Which, to be honest, took me aback coming from people in or around the WP. Given that they spent decades arguing against “all hail whoever an imperial power hates and don’t bother me with nuance” anti-imperialism on the international left, they should really be the last people to be coming out with this gibberish.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

I don’t know In fairness that any of those arguing here are WP connected. They seem to be sole traders of one sort or another albeit of a Maoist or Stalinist bent.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

By the way and broadening the conversation, the Syrian regime was run of the mill brutal up to the risings (as indicated in that Guardian piece on the photographer). Pretty dismal but probably marginally less so than other states in the area ( and do I recall correctly that western states rendered detainees there? ) but the response to the risings to me demonstrates just how grim it was and how tenuous it’s hold or ability to retain a critical mass of loyalists to it. The extremity of the response both exacerbated and was a symptom of that tenuousness. These things are clues.

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

I’m not sure if “Think”, “Andrew” or “The Devil” are WP connected.

Think is a throwaway pseudonym and could be anybody. I’ve no idea of Andrew’s affiliation, except to note that the twitter account he links to is full of retweets of the cluster of ultra-Stalinist “everything is a psyop” paranoiacs around twitter-famous oddball Phil Greaves. Including one recent retweet of a claim that Russia’s intervention doesn’t count because it was “invited” by a “democratically elected”[!] government. The Devil I was guessing to be WP, given the reference in the name.

But in any case, when I mentioned the WP I was mostly talking about the Look Left page, which other than the three people here is the only Irish source of this stuff that I’ve encountered.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

It’s the internet, isn’t it? 😦

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

“Lets take the vitriol down a bit so.”

You were the person who introduced the bulk of the vitriol into this thread. I quite enjoy your having your cake and eating it too response on the issue of torture – it isn’t true, but sure so what if it is true, it’s a war, bad things happen.

It is a complete fantasy to argue that a brutal dictatorship which has been murdering political opponents for decades “has some basic belief in a concept of a legal process”. The only legal process the Assad’s have ever believed in is the quick disappearance of any and all opponents into hellhole jails and torture chambers.

The bulk of killings of civilians have thus far been carried out by pro regime forces – despite the enthusiastic attempts of carpet chewing takfiri zealots amongst the opposition factions to keep up with the regime’s rain of barrel bombs. Regime strategy depends on continuing the depopulation process of Syria, so as to reduce the now almost completely alienated Sunni majority to a more manageable size, at least in what it regards as key strategic areas. This is necessary for much the same reason it has been relying on Hezbollah and other foreign (Iranian backed) Shi’a militias for manpower – the base of the regime is too narrow and too sectarian. If the Assad regime, with its foreign backers and imperial sponsors manage to reconquer the bulk of the country it will be a bloodbath. If they reestablish a functioning Ba’athist state it will be a monstrosity with no popular support, installed as a puppet of an imperial power and presiding over a semi-empty country.

It is not Western disinformation that the Russian imperialists have been bombarding rebel factions other than ISIS and al-Nusra. It is a fact that the West has been using for propaganda purposes, but it is still a fact. That again is a key part of the regime’s strategy – if it’s a battle between Assad and terrorists, everyone who fights Assad is a terrorist. That this is echoed by zombie Stalinists abroad is not surprising, however.

I’m quite aware that the “people writing the SCP statement” probably have “sons” fighting for Assad. It would be shocking if they did not, given that the SCP is a minor but fully integrated part of the Assad regime and has been for decades.

I do hope your realise that your support for Russian imperialism’s intervention and hope for the victory of Russian imperialism’s client as the least worst option is a precise mirror image of the arguments used by supporters of military interventions by Western imperial powers in various places around the world.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

I was going to use the term ‘fantasy’ rather than unfeasible in relation to the same sentence.

Just on your last point that puzzles me no end. The reification of US imperialism above all else is curious. It robs everyone of agency, excuses everything, allows for anything.

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

Yes, exactly. It’s like it’s forever still the 1980s in their heads. Turn up the Red Army Choir and watch the bombs drop.

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Andrew - October 1, 2015

Can you provide any sources for these claims?

The bulk of killings of civilians have thus far been carried out by pro regime forces 

Regime strategy depends on continuing the depopulation process of Syria, so as to reduce the now almost completely alienated Sunni majority to a more manageable size

It is not Western disinformation that the Russian imperialists have been bombarding rebel factions other than ISIS and al-Nusra

Will you name these other “rebel factions”?I assume these are the long looked for “moderate” rebels…

What this “zombie stalinist” smear serves to obfuscate is any actual evidence for these claims. Mark simply takes for granted the western propoganda narrative of the evil assad dictatorship. Despite the fact these are made by, as you put it, the propoganda arm of several imperialist states. You just need to say it often enough.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Do you genuinely believe the Guardian, for all its faults is simply the propaganda arm of the British state (or western imperialists).

Does that even make sense in the context of how it has functioned in regard to wikileaks, etc?

But beyond that why would you assign any real weight or credibility to Assad’s words? I’d be curious as to your assessment of the nature of the Syrian polity.

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

If you look at his twitter account, most of his last few dozen tweets are retweets of a frothing Stalinist lunatic called Phil Greaves or the small coterie of people around him. That crew basically believe that everything is a “psy-op”, controlled by Western intelligence agencies, including everything carried by every mainstream media outlet, except the occasional thing they agree with. They are particularly obsessed with anything remotely connected to Slavoj Zizek or a not very notable American painter turned self-publicist writer for Vice called Molly Crabapple.

So yes, the short answer is he probably does think that the Guardian is merely a propaganda arm of British imperialism. The people he retweets over and over again specialise in reducing Marxist arguments about control of the media and the production and reproduction of ruling class ideas to crude conspiracies.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Ah, that explains the Zizek stuff. As I kept saying at the time, I’m not really a fan of the man, too much noise to signal, but wow… Must check out Crabbapple. Greaves too.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

Is Greaves a member of any particular formation?

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Mark P - October 1, 2015

If he is, it’ll be some two man and a dog sect of an “anti-revisionist” bent. I don’t recall him particularly advertising one. It’s just page after page of everything being fascist, imperialist and/or a psyop, with an occasional all hail Stalin thrown in. He also, if I recall correctly, thinks China is socialist and has interesting views on 9/11. He’s quite entertaining for about 10 minutes, but then it sinks in that there’s nothing else to his routine.

As for Crabapple, she’s just an ex-Occupy liberal of a particularly entrepreneurial self-publicising variety. The most entertaining thing about her is the fixation this bunch developed on her, as a mouthpiece for shadowy imperialist manipulators.

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Andrew - October 2, 2015

Should have made this point earlier, but Mark’s smearing of Phil Greaves as a “frothing lunatic”, despite the fact he’s not even on the thread to defend himself is completely wrong.

There isn’t even a point to it, its just one long ad hom.

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

Greaves is a frothing lunatic, though I note you don’t deny the Stalinist part. I’m not smearing him, or his tin foil hat friends, by saying that. Nobody here has even heard of him bar you and me. I’m explaining your views, by giving people who’ve never encountered that particular twitter crew in full chasing after cars and growling mode some context.

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Andrew - October 2, 2015

Stalinist is a smear only in your head I’m afraid Mark.

Phil is a “frothing lunatic” because you say he is. How very clever.

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

It is at least entertaining to have a Stalinist here who is proud to be a follower of the old monster. Most of them get all sulky when the word is used these days.

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

“Should have made this point earlier, but Mark’s smearing of Phil Greaves as a “frothing lunatic”, despite the fact he’s not even on the thread to defend himself is completely wrong.

There isn’t even a point to it, its just one long ad hom.”

Curious you didn’t extend that courtesy to Zizek when you went on your own ‘ad hom’ agin him, but, as is fairly clear from your approach there’s one rule for those you agree with and an entirely different one for those you don’t.

And really, in all honesty, online in 2015, who seriously (again that word) thinks its a winning point in an argument to demand the presence of someone who is being discussed, whether tangentially or not. Should we ring Francis if we go hammer and tongs about his meeting that insipid lifer state employee, Enda Kenny if I take his policies in a raft of areas to task? Zizek if someone accuses him of being racist…ooops!

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

You expressed an interest in Greaves above WbS, well we may be lucky enough to receive a visit from the great man soon. Andrew’s been sending out the Bat Signal on Twitter.

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andrew - October 3, 2015

You guys actually cannot argue honestly. Its just childish point scoring. 

You’ve written more speculating on your interlocutors politics than the arguments made. I can see why this would be attractive to you as you labour under the belief name calling / smearing are legit repostes. Which saves you the trouble of making any coherent arguments. 

The sentence zizek wrote, both of us agree is racist. 

You just argue -Despite the strong tradition in the English language for this to mean oneself and others- zizek is employing some sophistry to assign his ‘we’ to un-named/un-specified “others”.

Please do point me to something phil greaves has written, which we will both agree is “frothing & insane”.

Your point that no one should be mentioned unless posting on a thread themselves is a straw man argument with yourself.

I can see you enjoyed it very much. As its one argument at least you’ve won.

As are the rest of your points elsewhere on the thread.

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WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2015

I feel that you don’t quite get where we’re coming from – I use the ‘we’ very carefully in this instance. Yes, Zizek’s sentence is racist, but writing a racist sentence in the context of his piece.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetorical_device

In rhetoric, a rhetorical device or resource of language is a technique that an author or speaker uses to convey to the listener or reader a meaning with the goal of persuading him or her towards considering a topic from a different perspective, using sentences designed to encourage or provoke a rational argument from an emotional display of a given perspective or action. Note that although rhetorical devices may be used to evoke an emotional response in the audience, this is not their primary purpose.

Just as if I write a sentence – All Irish are thick, that’s what us Brits think – in the context of a piece on – say UKIP, would clearly be for effect, a rhetorical device despite being racist. Writing about racism, deconstructing racist attitudes, etc, necessitates engaging with racism and the attitudes that underly it head on.

I’m surprised by how you don’t seem to be able to acknowledge this, again I’d ascribe that to your dislike of Zizek. Fair enough, but hang him for the right crime, that’s my opinion.

Just on Phil Greaves – I’ve no particular opinion on him a a person one way or another – though I’m not convinced by his ‘Resistance’ argument, but that’s for another day. I think that’s a discussion you’re having with MarkP, I was simply pointing up the inconsistency in that particular instance in your approach. That doesn’t mean that all or the majority of your thoughts are inconsistent.

I don’t think I’ve won. I don’t think you’ve lost. In some ways we just have to agree to differ.

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Andrew - October 4, 2015

We: (used to denote oneself and another or others)

Also your own moderation policy states:

Comments will also be deleted that are offensive and insulting about individuals

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WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2015

You return again and again to a sort of un-nuanced literalism in relation to ‘we’. Again Kriss, or whatever his name is, specifically noted that the use of the term by Zizek was rhetorical despite him disagreeing with the piece. Again, I get it, you don’t like Zizek. But this sort of (very expedient) literalism you’re engaged in – particularly given Zizek’s propensity to use elaborate, declamatory and bombastic rhetoric, is utterly unconvincing. Now you’re not going to persuade me so perhaps it’d be better to give it a rest.

That guideline is in relation to comments by or directed to individuals engaged in discussions on the site – not third parties who aren’t on the site – otherwise how could I have permitted your comments about Zizek, or numerous comments about Enda Kenny or Shane Coleman or indeed comments about multiple people who never darken our door or are public or semi-public figures, given that they could be construed as insulting, offensive or worse? People beyond the site are fair game – within reason, people interacting here are different. Again, that’s another example of curious literalism. It’s meat and drink to this site that there’ll be some lee way given on people writing about others not here – others who by dint of being in the public eye on one issue or another – or putting themselves there will have a public profile of sorts, are in a different category. I don’t want people calling you or me an effing this or that, or for example mentioning say a member of the SWP who has no public profile by name. And there’s an element of reason about it too. Mark P’s language is bombastic too, but it’s almost too exaggerated to be wounding – and if whatsisname came on here he would, like yourself or anyone else, be given a fair hearing and any discourtesies would be stopped.

That said I’m glad you reminded me, I’ll edit out Dr. X’s stuff about you, as I said at the time his use of expletives was out of order.

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Andrew - October 4, 2015

so perhaps it’d be better to give it a rest.

I will if you will 😉

That said I’m glad you reminded me, I’ll edit out Dr. X’s stuff about you, as I said at the time his use of expletives was out of order.

While I do appreciate that, I would point out that the examples you give are public/political figures. Who by either being a journalist or politician etc are as you say, within reason, open to ‘insult or worse’. (Though IMO an insult of insane in particular is never going to help your argument)

A random joe bloggs off of twitter is not the same.
While its yours and others mod rules to apply as you will, I would argue its out of order.

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WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2015

But let’s put it a different way. I disagree with your characterisation of Zizek’s speech as racist. Some might find your characterisation as offensive and insulting – I don’t as it happens. But I think you’ve the right to make the case as you see it on this site.

Do I think Mark P’s point about Greaves being insane is correct. Do I think it’s insulting and offensive? Not really, Mark P is saying it for effect. Do I think he’s the right to argue against Greaves, even in exaggerated language?

On here yes, but as I say, if Greaves arrived in person then that would be a different matter. And likewise if Zizek arrived.

People regularly use heightened language about political opponents who have a public profile. I’ve reined in Mark P on occasion, so I don’t think there’s hard and fast lines either. Context isn’t unimportant.

Of course you’ve also a right to think our moderation policy is incorrect, but you’ll find that we do try to rein in the insults on this site directly to people.

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Andrew - October 5, 2015

Slander someone behind their back, and therefore deny them the ability to defend themselves, and you approve.

Again so you don’t misconstrue my argument, we’re not talking here about a public figure but Joe Bloggs off the street, or merely mentioning them, but slandering.

At some point in the future when some how they discover they’ve been slandered on a blog for years, they can login and ‘things would be different’.

This is an outrageous policy.

Once again zizek wrote what we both agree is a racist statement. We disagree on the pov he is presenting.

I assume your search for what we will both agree is a “frothing insane” statement by Phil greaves is ongoing.

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Andrew - October 5, 2015

Also If mark had any interest in debating Phil’s politics he would take them to twitter where phil could actually read them & respond. For some reason he hasn’t done this…

The sole purpose of his post here was to slander Phil and by association me.

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WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2015

Brilliant. You still don’t see the inconsistency between you ‘slandering’ Zizek and complaining about Mark P’s comment (which by the way I wouldn’t stand over, but as I’ve made clear is part of robust political discourse on this site)? Or the inconsistency in finding one thing, that which others do, outrageous and that which you do not worth mention – even if in both instances by your own logic, not mine, they are offensive, insulting and potentially defamatory.

In any case I hope no one who pokes their head above the parapet on the internet is going to be particularly upset by that sort of a thing. I’ve long berated Mark P for going over the top, but… you know if someone came out and called me an childish reformist gimp on a website I don’t frequent I don’t think I’d be too worried. Any more than Enda Kenny might be by someone on here calling him a gurning Blueshirt loon. Now if they said it to my face, that’s a different matter – and I’d treat it as such.

In any event, there’s nothing outrageous about that policy at all. And if you don’t like it you can go away, set up your own website and best of luck to you. I don’t mean that snarkily, just as a matter of fact. No one forces you to interact here, no one is asking you to point out error as you see it.

And as to your last comment. Not sure that stacks up. Why should he have to debate someone’s politics directly with them if he doesn’t want to? I or you or he can have an opinion on anyone at all and their beliefs without having any wish to engage with people who hold those opinions. I don’t go to David Cameron’s twitter account or whatever benighted website or social media presence he may have because I think he’s vile reactionary pisstaker (naturally I’m not suggesting for a moment he literally steals piss). There’s no onus on me to do that whatsoever.

As for ‘slandering’ you? I don’t think so. It is though fair enough for people here to understand where you are coming from by those who you link to. I”m sure you do the same in regard to others.

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Mark P - October 5, 2015

For the record, I have no interest in “debating Phil’s politics” and have no desire to exchange endless tweets with his coterie of paranoiacs with too much time on their hands. I waste quite enough time arguing the toss on the internet as it is. I mention him solely to give some context to people who haven’t encountered someone with your particular set of fixations before.

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Andrew - October 5, 2015

Brilliant you still haven’t found a statement of phil’s we will both agree is frothing and insane.

If you wish to know ‘where I’m coming from’ as you put it, then ask me. And we can discuss my politics if it is relevant to the argument at hand.

You’ll note I’ve made no speculation upon anyone else’s politics and nor do I care.

Mark’s sole purpose was to close off debate by throwning *stalinist* around. Which saves him the trouble of making any coherent arguments.

If mark was interested in ‘robust political discourse’ then he would engage Phil with an argument where he can read it and respond.

Mark will you define for me what you mean by a stalinist?

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WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2015

Brilliant you still haven’t found a statement of phil’s we will both agree is frothing and insane.
If you wish to know ‘where I’m coming from’ as you put it, then ask me. And we can discuss my politics if it is relevant to the argument at hand.
You’ll note I’ve made no speculation upon anyone else’s politics and nor do I care.
Mark’s sole purpose was to close off debate by throwning *stalinist* around. Which saves him the trouble of making any coherent arguments.
If mark was interested in ‘robust political discourse’ then he would engage Phil with an argument where he can read it and respond.
Mark will you define for me what you mean by a stalinist?

But where did I ever say I was looking for any statement of his indicated he was a frothing Stalinist lunatic – you keep leaving out the Stalinist bit – which is what pitches it directly into political commentary rather than an actual analysis of the man’s mental and physical health. I’m not looking, I could care less.

And I think frankly it’s too much to expect in the context of internet communications where like minds are paraded on twitter as following and followers that some people won’t examine that in order to further deepen their sense of persons political and/or other identity. Sure we can discuss your politics – and by the way it was Mark P who went looking, not I, again I could care less – but given your identifier with your name is your twitter account which I can click to on every single comment you post it seems curious you’d find it odd that people would use that to get more of a handle on you.

But Mark throws Stalinist around all the time. He’s done it at me IIRC, indeed he and I have had very *robust* discussions about the very meaning of the term, and his and my meanings are *very* different – though I suspect yours and mine if we ever get to that would be different again.

As regards your last point, why should he *want* necessarily to engage a robust political discourse with someone? I’m broadly in sympathy with say the IWCA in the UK. I’ve never interacted with anyone from the latter org online or off. I’ve never had any inclination to. I’m far from in sympathy with Conservative Home and all who reside there. I’ve never ever interacted with them either. Why would I want to? What would I gain? Or to bring it closer to the left – I don’t think me and the Spartacists would have that much in common (though revolutionary programme who comments here sometimes I think is ex-Spart and a good person). Never crossed my mind to talk to them. Mark doesn’t appear to like PG very much politically, which is his or anyone’s right. I’m not surprised he can’t be pushed to knock on the door and step on in.

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Mark P - October 5, 2015

Andrew, the term “Stalinist” is a political categorisation. It has three interdependent meanings:

1) A set of ideas consisting of Stalin’s departures from Marxism, including for instance the idea of socialism in one country, the popular front and the stages theory of revolution in the colonial world. 2) A movement, consisting of parties and individuals which took Stalin’s side in the splits in the communist movement in the early days of the Soviet Union and those who later took inspiration from that movement. 3) A form of state organisation, consisting of a bureaucratic dictatorship sitting astride a command economy. It does not mean an admirer of Joseph Stalin, although, of course, most admirers of Stalin are also Stalinists.

In previous decades, while most Stalinists preferred euphemistic labels like “Marxist-Leninist”, they would not be particularly offended by being identified with the founding figure of their politics. Nowadays however, even people who subscribe to Stalinist ideas, support Stalinist organisations and admire (largely retrospectively) the Stalinist dictatorships tend to find the term embarrassing. So they whine about it being a negative characterisation or, better still, pretend not to understand the term at all. I hope I’ve adequately cleared up any confusion you may have been suffering.

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Andrew - October 6, 2015

Its very simple, if you cannot point me to a statement of phil’s which we both agree is frothing and insane, then your argument doesn’t stand.

frothing Stalinist lunatic called Phil Greaves or the small coterie of people around him.
That crew basically believe that everything is a “psy-op”, controlled by Western intelligence agencies,
including everything carried by every mainstream media
outlet, except the occasional thing they agree with. They are particularly obsessed with
anything remotely connected to Slavoj Zizek or a not very notable American painter turned
self-publicist writer for Vice called Molly Crabapple.

You’ve just characterised this as an accurate reflection of ‘where I’m coming from’.

Your dishonesty is plain to see.

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Andrew - October 6, 2015

Doh, didn’t close the italics tags, reposting for readability…

Its very simple, if you cannot point me to a statement of phil’s which we both agree is frothing and insane, then your argument doesn’t stand.

frothing Stalinist lunatic called Phil Greaves or the small coterie of people around him.
That crew basically believe that everything is a “psy-op”, controlled by Western intelligence agencies,
including everything carried by every mainstream media
outlet, except the occasional thing they agree with. They are particularly obsessed with
anything remotely connected to Slavoj Zizek or a not very notable American painter turned
self-publicist writer for Vice called Molly Crabapple.

You’ve just characterised this as an accurate reflection of ‘where I’m coming from’.

Your dishonesty is plain to see.

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WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2015

Huh? Who is that addressed to, Mark P or me?

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Andrew - October 6, 2015

Thanks for relieving the terrible confusion I was suffering under Mark.

A trotskyist definition, but fair enough. Would you count yourself as trot?

Also out of interest would the CPI fall under the stalinist label in your opinion?

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WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2015

Just rereading that Andrew it does look as if it’s addressed to me though why I can’t figure out.

Think it through – you’re saying I’m being dishonest because you suggest I have characterised Mark P’s words as ‘an accurate reflection’ of where you are coming from. I did no such thing on this thread – I didn’t even use the phrase ‘accurate reflection’.

What I did say was to make the entirely obvious point that anyone who wants to get a better sense of your politics above and beyond your comments here will click to your twitter account – as you have appear to be entirely happy to use as a link here with your name – and look at who you follow.

You do understand that I can accept the idea that who you follow on twitter offers an insight into your politics without at all agreeing with Mark P’s characterisation of those who you follow? It’s not a difficult concept to wrap oneself around. Who is being dishonest? Not me. So why put such loaded accusations out there?

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WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2015

Mark P, I do wonder if you applying an overly proscriptive framework in your definition(s) of Stalinism. For example, what you seem to describe as fundamental Stalinist ‘ideas’ appear to be very particular to a certain period of the history of the USSR and have much less currency after that.

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The Devil - October 1, 2015

Ignorance and an over dozing on uncritical reading of the some of the most bias propaganda that has been injected into the public narrative by the western press on Syrian over the last four years, as well as a commitment to only arguing abstract points rather than reality, is the basis to much of the commentary on this site on this issue. So be it. Hopeful in the fullness of time you will realise that boldly stating that a government which still provides basic services to over 70% of the Syrian population the majority Sunni, as well as fielding an army which is majority Sunni, as is the Government no longer has a right to rule, well that’s your view, which harbours in it the type of high handed colonial perspective that fired the madness of Blair et al. The division in Syria is not Sunni vs the rest or any such wish of the colonial powers, it Secular vs and those set on establishing a sectarian Religious state, with many people how opposed Assad now supportive of the Army, but keep on reading the Guardian (not part of the British establishment of course).
The claim about civilians killed by the regime, even a basic critical look at this data shows that the western intelligent assets which are claimed as sources for these figures indicates all militant fighters who are not defected military are in most cases included among the civilian deaths – also the religious background of the dead indicates that talk of regime massacring people is not the case. We still await Joe linking to the footage of indiscriminate killings by the regime in the first says of the conflict.
I won’t be posting on this again – so will leave you with the your still unanswered question, what is the option you have beyond support for the Syrian Government and Army which provides any hope to the Syrain people, options based in the real world?
And three more to all that post on this issue:
Did you support the ‘coalition’ invasion of Iraq?
Did you support the bombing of Libya?
Did you support the freedom fighters of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan?
No need to publicly answer them, but ask yourself that and then consider your view on those issues now and whether you should be expressing views on Syria in such a sure but unfortunately not adequately informed manner.

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

Is this gibberish a reply to me? It gives little or no indication that you’ve read my posts if it is.

Still though, don’t let me hold you up if this really is your final post on the subject. Your fellow Assad fans over on the Look Left page could probably do with your assistance.

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Dr.Nightdub - October 2, 2015

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has always, to me, seemed like a credible reporter on events since the ISIS siege of Kobane began in the autumn of last year. Their blog makes for depressing reading – particularly for regime supporters:
http://www.syriahr.com/en/category/news/syria-news/

From another human rights type source, covering autumn last year:
http://sn4hr.org/blog/2014/12/14/2096/
Of course, they could just be pissed off cos they got no kickbacks from the government….

From the same source, a snapshot of who did the killing in December of last year:

The critical question is: are all these just western stooges or just ordinary Syrian people who don’t want a barrel bomb landing on top of them?

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

Obvious jihadis or Western stooges, Dr Nightdub. The only evidence that our anti-imperialists for Russian imperial intervention will accept is an individual signed confession to each killing from Assad.

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Think - October 2, 2015

Both groups British based with long connections to the security services, information put out for gullible types like you.

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Think - October 2, 2015

This site would seem to be populated by smart arses and the type that believes all they read, sad really what ‘the left’ has come to. https://www.transcend.org/tms/2013/10/from-england-one-man-feeds-western-media-on-syria/
One man and his Mi6 handler

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

Dr. Nightdub, I’d tend to agree – though as Mark P notes, the credulity we’re all being exposed to here on the part of some people means that it doesn’t matter what the evidence is, it’ll never be good enough.

To be honest what some of the responses on here to us remind me of Mark P is nothing so much as 9/11 ‘Truthers’. The same certainty, the same ‘you know nothing, sheeple’ kind of condescending stuff, the same obfuscation and deliberate tilting of the argument away from rationality in favour of absurd argument – arguments that eventually lead them to an identification with the worst sort of authoritarian regimes.

Oh yeah, and also the drum beat of ‘you’re either with us or against us’. Nope, don’t think so.

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

Also, the above comment from TD, well, you know you could ask yourself if your approach – a government that provides basic services, etc… couldn’t be used by any number of governments of a stripe that we would find appalling. Franco? El Salvador? Chile under Pinochet? The Shah? Where does it end? What’s the bottom line. I made the point earlier that once we go down that route, of accepting everything we’re told by government sources, or dismissing out of hand everything else as being produced by stooges or dupes then we’re into a world where anything is allowed by a regime, anything can be done.

It’s just bizarre. And a further thought. One thing for the USSR to support client states in the 1960s and 70s or 80s, but just as El Salvador wasn’t exactly the platonic perfection of capitalism then while the US supported neither was Damascus either in relation to being particularly left wing. Alliances were made as much from opportunity or expedience. To see echoes of then, when it was pretty imperfect, manifesting now when it is utterly meaningless given the nature of Russia (or indeed any state like that, including the US) is risible.

Finally finally, there’s a real echo of the ‘decent’ left line here, that Cohen et al put about so much, that ‘we’ have to choose a side – albeit that the side is the opposite side to that the decents would go for (though who can tell at this point?). All nonsense of the highest order back then given that decisions were well out of our hands at all times. And still nonsense. I’ve got to choose a regime whose only purpose is the continuation in power of the ruling family? FFS, how is that different from Saudi or Quatar in functional terms? Simply because they wear their religion more lightly?

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Andrew - October 2, 2015

Please quote where any commenter has stated that you must choose sides?

Once again this is a convenient straw man to avoid the argument being made. Which is simple; If someone is to repeat the very serious claim that assad is an evil dicatator, responsible for most of the bulk of civilian killings etc, then they must provide evidence for this.

Otherwise they are thoughtlessely repeating the claims of war mongers broadcast by a propaganda arm of an imperial power.

The only sources for claims of syrian gvnmnt responsibility for

The bulk of killings of civilians have thus far been carried out by pro regime forces

so far are a blog, and SOHR, which is one bloke in coventry.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html?_r=0

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

“Please quote where any commenter has stated that you must choose sides?”

TD above explicitly asks ‘what option you have beyond support for the Syrian government and Army which provides and hope to the Syrian people, options based in the real world?’

That’s explicitly asking us not just to choose sides but going further and saying how could we not support the Syrian govt ‘side’.

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Andrew - October 2, 2015

Given that you’ve provided no evidence for any of the claims made against the syrian government, and the fact the opposition is made up of terrorists -funded and trained by the US and its clients- why would you not support Syria?

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Not the Guardian - October 2, 2015
WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

Why would I give any support to a hereditary dictatorship?

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Think - October 2, 2015

Because the only other options likely lead to genocide and extreme religious rule – and in reality always did. In the real world you have to sometimes accept that things can’t be as you’d dream them. I see none of the ‘perfectionists’ have outlined their realistic solution.

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

There is no ‘solution’, there’s no ‘answer’. it’s absurd to say there is one. All there is for the Syrian people, and the working class, is repression piled on repression. Genocide? Sure they suffer under a regime that is willing to ignore or tolerate them dying as collateral damage – and this a regime so ineffectual that it couldn’t even manage the situation when the Arab Spring broke out and had in preceding years lost the support of sufficient of the people to make its survival questionable. Extreme religious rule? Well, if you’re in a repressive state there’s not a lot between the two. One of the Cockburn’s had a thoughtful piece on just why people join ISIS. Perhaps you should read it. And speaking of ISIS, the likelihood of it being allowed to take control of the entirety of Syria, or having the ability to do so is minimal. Not when – as reported this week the US are willing to de facto deal with the Assad regime agin them. It’s unlikely that the regime supported in that way and by Russia faces anything like an existential threat, or ever has, from that source.

No one has to ‘support’ Assad. I don’t have to offer anything, tangible or intangible. Assad will do what he does – which is look after his family and his powerbase and with the Syrian people very much a distant afterthought. That leftists are arguing we have to support this crew is remarkable.

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Andrew - October 2, 2015

Do you genuinely believe the Guardian isn’t a propoganda arm of an imperial state? Have you read ‘manufacturing consent’? All major newspapers are propoganda arms of the ruling class. I foolishly believed this was a given on a left forum such as this.

Can you name a single conflict where it hasn’t been aligned with UK imperial interests? From iraq, afghanistan lybia and now syria its beaten the drums of war, and long before.

Its attacks on corbyn have been well publicised here, and have IMO more to do with his strong anti-war stance (refusal to vote for further UK bombing of syria, talk of leaving NATO, the disbandment of the Trident programme) as they have to his pretty weak keynesian economics.

In relation to wikileaks, the cables etc would have been made public in any case. By pubilshing them themselves, the guardian was able to exert a certain amount of control, and influence over which particular cables were published, what was exmphasised etc, and effectively spin these in the interests of NATO.

From just an economic pov I’m sure they sold a lot of additional papers/advertising also. And once they’d milked wikileaks for all it was worth they turned on assange and have been visciously attacking him since.

why would you assign any real weight or credibility to Assad’s words

This is my very point. If you treat the western media propoganda for what it is, *lies*. Then the words of the elected representitive of the syrian people are worth far more than any war propogandist in the guardian or elswhere.

If you disagree with his claims, please refute them.
thoughtlessely regurgitating war propoganda doesn’t count.

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

Before we go any further, Andrew, given that you will accept no mainstream media source as evidence and no source connected with Syrian organisations or individuals other than the regime, what purpose precisely do you think demanding sources serves?

Secondly, “Manufacturing Consent”, even if we were to take it as the be all and end all of left wing discussions of the media, does not say what you seem to think it says. You are reducing systemic critique to crude conspiracies. A newspaper like the Guardian is biased and for a whole number of reasons carries out what Chomsky called a system-supportive function. That is not the same thing as it being an arm of MI6 or it simply churning out whatever the latest state policy is.

Thirdly, you describe Assad as the “elected representative of the Syrian people”. Are you seriously suggesting that there has ever been a free election in Syria under the Assads? And do you think that anyone making that claim could ever be considered to have even the slightest credibility?

Fourthly, do you support the latest major military intervention by an imperial power into Syria, that of Russia?

Fifthly, while you are here, could you please tell us what your views on the destruction of the twin towers are?

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2015

MarkP, I had a post written that echoed precisely what you said – albeit at great length, so fair dues. As you say Andrew clearly buys into all this. Nothing we could ever provide would be okay. Everything from the regime or its allies is sacrosanct. It’s again like 9/11 truthers or anti-vaxxers.

I’d just add in a few thoughts that go in slightly different line. I think there’s a lot lot more nuance in the picture – particularly in regard to news media in bourgeois democracies. For example, the BBC was attacked during the Iraq War by armed forces personnel for a pro-Iraq bias. That’s simply unthinkable in a fully controlled media. And In the Guardian’s pages – and one has only to go back and look at them online numerous journalists were making the case that the Iraq war wasn’t a good idea. I’ve tried in vain to find an editorial from the time saying that it gave support to the war – it appears to have been evasive but predominantly sceptical. And the paper was consistent at an editorial level in plugging away at the rationale for the Iraq war etc subsequently. And still does. That’s clearly not alignment with UK imperial interests. Anything but.

As for Corbyn I don’t think animosity on its part indicates support for imperialism. There are more proximate reasons why people would – wrongly I think – take an anti-Corbyn line that have little or nothing to do with Syria, NATO or whatever. They don’t think him electable. They paint him as further left than he is. There may be some truth in that, but it’s the whole package, not just NATO or Trident. And politically of course it’s irrelevant because the centre of gravity in the LP is as demonstrated at the weekend one which is more pro-NATO and pro-Trident than Corbyn.

And the point re the Guardian and wikileaks just makes no sense at all. The obvious contrary argument is that the Guardian (and the NYT) because of its reputation was able to ensure that the release when it came was taken much much more seriously than had it been done from a website with no ‘traditional’ media support. As to spinning for NATO? In what serious way? Those with any great interest in the area can see that it was profoundly damaging to western interests both cosmetically and substantively. Furthermore Assange isn’t beyond criticism because of doing some service in regard to wikileaks. The important thing surely is the substance of the data leaked not the person who did it.

Finally, who is thoughtlessly regurgitating war propaganda on here – and straight from the horses mouth? Why it’s Andrew, taking Assad’s words as read. What others of us are doing is what any serious leftist (given that serious as a term is in vogue this week) being sceptical of both the regime and the opposition and the US etc. That’s a very different thing. Nor are we arguing for Assad’s overthrow – at least not as such, given that no one will listen to us.

It’s telling to me that Andrew consider sonly one side war propaganda. I’ve no stake in this bar the obvious. I loathe ISIS, I’d like Syria to be secular, more democratic, whatever, but Assad? Really? That’s the best we as leftists have?

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Dr.Nightdub - October 2, 2015

I’m guessing your question is rhetorical, WbS, but no, Assad is not the best we as leftists have. The Kurdish PYD / YPG / YPJ have been pretty inspirational in terms of combating ISIS and at the same time trying to build an alternative that is democratic, secular, gender-balanced and inclusive of all ethnic groups.

There is, however, an extremely awkward dimension to their success to date, which is that they have been hugely supported by US airstrikes and at times it is difficult to reconcile something being totally wrong in principle with being totally necessary in practice.I can’t say I really blame them for taking help from wherever they can get it though.

But as regards being presented with a choice between Assad, wingnut jihadis like ISIS and (I would’ve thought this last was surely an oxymoron, but some western commentators use the term with a straight face) moderate jihadis, then it’s perfectly acceptable to respond “None of the above, thanks” and hope that Arabs in Syria draw lessons from what the Kurds have been trying to do.

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Truth - October 3, 2015

You may not be aware that your choosen ones, the YPG, who currently live up to your purity test, have openly called for ‘Assad regime’ to remain until dialogue opens up, are fighting alongside regime forces and have asked to join the new Russia alliance – what do you make of that?

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yourcousin - October 3, 2015

Truth,
Are you aware that the YPG were working in concert with the US? I assume that means that they are western puppets?

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WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2015

“I’m guessing your question is rhetorical, WbS, ” very much so, Dr. Nightdub.

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Mark P - October 3, 2015

I don’t know about Dr Nightdub, but what I make of that is that it fits with the strategic interests of the YPG, just as their coordination with Western bombing fit with their strategic interests. And a quick glance at a map of Syria marked by factional control explains how.

There is also an underlying issue that the Assads were on again off again backers of the PKK, just as Kurdish factions in each of the countries controlling parts of Kurdistan were backed by the neighbours of those countries even while they repressed their own Kurds. This is very much a secondary factor though, as compared with their immediate strategic interests.

The YPG’s main immediate threat is ISIS and their next most significant threat is al-Nusra. Assad is not a short or medium term threat to their position. Further, as they can’t themselves can’t even conceivable spread their area of effective control over the bulk of Syria (ie far outside of Kurdistan), they, of course, don’t want any of the other factions to consolidate control of the rest of the country before a deal can be cut.

It is a very basic error to confuse a group’s interests with an objective political evaluation. The US for instance doesn’t have a record of arming takfiri maniacs because it subscribes to violently sectarian wahhabism. It sponsors such forces when their interests coincide.

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Dr.Nightdub - October 3, 2015

@Truth: I refer you back to “I can’t say I really blame them for taking help from wherever they can get it though.”

As regards “fighting alongside regime forces”, yeah that happened in Hassakah, but that was clearly a matter of tactical expediency when faced with an ISIS offensive. Worked out fairly well in the end in terms of ISIS being driven back.

Given that the regime has pretty much abandoned Rojava / northern Syria, I give the Kurds credit for recognising who represents the most immediate threat on their doorsteps – ISIS – and focusing on that in terms of survival, even if it means holding their noses to suppress the stench off who they have to fight alongside.

The fact that the YPG / YPJ on the one hand, and the US government on the other, share a common goal – defeat of ISIS – doesn’t mean the Kurds have suddenly become US puppets. It just means they’re coming at the same objective from different directions. Crack on, so.

As regards “purity tests”, if Assad passes yours, we’re not even talking the same language..

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Andrew - October 4, 2015

For those keeping count you’ll notice mark has provided zero sources for his ex cathedra claims.

The fact that NATO ‘s imperial propoganda arms predominantly use one bloke in Coventry as their only source for casualty counts, and attribution of blame for said casualties, isn’t my problem. It is however problematic for those regurgitating their claims.

The only unreasonable standard’s, are those you apply to a popular secular Syrian government under attack by the most heinous, violent NATO proxies.

This effectively amounts to social chauvinism.

On 7 May 2012, Syria held its first elections in which parties outside the ruling coalition could take part. Seven new political parties took part in the elections, of which Popular Front for Change and Liberation was the largest opposition party. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria#Politics_and_government

The syrian government put in place reforms which the opposition claimed were the causes of the initial protests. However the NATO proxies continue to wreak death and destruction.

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CL - October 4, 2015

-Syria is being torn apart by a genuine, multi-layered civil war with a multitude of self-interested players inside and outside the country….
So many crises and confrontations have their central focus on the battlefields of Syria that any return to a unitary state is impossible. Conflicts include a popular uprising against Assad, Sunni against Shia, Iran against Saudi Arabia, Kurd against Turk, and now US against Russia. ”
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-crisis-the-west-wrings-its-hands-in-horror-but-it-was-our-folly-that-helped-create-this-a6677621.html

-There are no simple solutions to this terrible war which has destroyed Syria…
Overall, it is better to have Russia fully involved in Syria than on the sidelines..
Syria is only one part of a general struggle between Shia and Sunni and, though there are far more Sunni than Shia in the world, this is not so in this region. Between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – there are more than 100 million Shia and 30 million Sunni…
Peace cannot return to Syria and Iraq until Isis is defeated, and this is not happening…
As with the Northern Ireland peace negotiations in the 1990s, an end to the wars in Syria depends on persuading those involved that they cannot win, but they can survive and get part of what they want.-
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-crisis-lets-welcome-russias-entry-into-this-war-a6678526.html

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Mark P - October 4, 2015

That Cockburn piece is notable for two reasons:

1) He is now completely openly cheering on Russian intervention.

2) Even while so doing, he is admitting that Assad’s barrel bombing is the main cause of the refugee crisis, that there is a “popular rising against Assad”.

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WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2015

I don’t understand this either:

“The Islamic militants have not collapsed under the weight of airstrikes, but, across the Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish regions, either hold the same ground or are expanding. There is something ludicrous about the debate in Britain about whether or not to join in an air campaign in Syria without mentioning that it has so far demonstrably failed in its objectives.”

Why are Russian airstrikes going to be more effective?

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CL - October 4, 2015

Doubtful if airstrikes alone can accomplish much (apart from killing innocent people) unless backed by ground forces. But a ground offensive of Russian allies may be coming.
“It points to an emerging military alliance between Russia and Assad’s other main allies – Iran and Hezbollah – focused on recapturing areas of northwestern Syria that were seized by insurgents in rapid advances earlier this year.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-mideast-crisis-syria-iranians-exclusi-idUSKCN0RV4DN20151001

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CL - October 4, 2015

U.S counter-insurgency has failed in the Middle East and Africa.
“With alarming frequency in recent years, thousands of American-trained security forces in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have collapsed, stalled or defected, calling into question the effectiveness of the tens of billions of dollars spent by the United States on foreign military training programs, as well as a central tenet of the Obama administration’s approach to combating insurgencies.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/world/middleeast/uss-billions-fail-to-sustain-foreign-forces.html?_r=0

To save Chechnya from the Chechens, Russia reduced Grozny to rubble and killed thousands of non-combatants. Putin might well be prepared to to use the same level of brutality to counter ISIS.
Putin’s intervention in Syria is popular in Russia, while in the U.S. Obama’s foreign policies are meeting ridicule and opposition. Russia might be moving to fill the counter-insurgency vacuum created by the U.S defeat.

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Alibaba - October 4, 2015

The obvious weakening of the US position as the sole imperialist superpower is most likely giving Putin’s Russia much delight. Obama won’t relish the prospect of appearing as a lame duck president, and Democrats’ hopes for victory in 2016 could diminish accordingly.

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yourcousin - October 5, 2015

The obvious weakening of the US position as the sole imperialist superpower is most likely giving Putin’s Russia much delight. Obama won’t relish the prospect of appearing as a lame duck president, and Democrats’ hopes for victory in 2016 could diminish accordingly.

The thing is though that any serious examination of the situation shows that Russia is not a superpower. Putin is leveraging all that he has into his international affairs while food police patrol grocery stores and steam roll French cheeses. All the while the economy which was never diversified when it should have been and is still corrupt as all get out is slowly crumbling. Look at the recent sacking of one of his cohorts who ran the railroads for a perfect example of this. I know folks like to think he got the better part of the deal with his Ukrainian antics but the reality is that Russia has to subsidize Crimea, and half of Donbas. And in return? He’s lost Ukraine and plunged his economy into a recession. Then there is also the point that just invading another country is just plain wrong.

The reality of it is that Americans don’t want to be in Syria. They are quite content to forget about it (though that is hardly unique to America) as long as they are not being attacked. Republicans may beat their chest a bit, but all it took was one college student to call Bush III down off of his high horse. So I wouldn’t expect the “war party” to quote Sakwa to really nail their flag to military operations when push comes to shove ala Bush II. That being said since there is a Democrat in the white house there will be plenty of sound and fury about what Obama is doing wrong (but then in fairness to Obama [which is not something I say often] no matter what he does it will be wrong to them). I fail to see how getting more involved in Syria would help Dems in 2016.

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Alibaba - October 5, 2015

I couldn’t agree more with your final sentence. But it is interesting to see how divided the Republicans and Democrats are over the terms of intervention in Syria (unlike the Russians perhaps).

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/04/us-political-parties-divided-over-syria

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yourcousin - October 6, 2015

Alibaba,
I somehow don’t think that Russian unity is based upon a national unity after long and thoughtful conversations between Putin and the Duma. I even hear that Motoralla is headed to warmer climes.

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Andrew - October 7, 2015


“THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA”

“AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME.”

The “supporting powers” are identified as:

“WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY.”

This is from a classified 2012 document by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Click to access Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf

At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed
in documents The Washington Post obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending
roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-move-to-curb-1-billion-cia-program-to-train-syrian-rebels/2015/06/12/b0f45a9e-1114-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html

These mercenaries are fighting/sharing arms etc with al-Qaeda according to the NYT:

The fighters advancing on that [northern] front were not from the Islamic State but from the Army of Conquest, a group that includes an affiliate of Al Qaeda
known as the Nusra Front and other Islamist groups, including several more secular groups that have been covertly armed and trained by the United States.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/world/middleeast/vladimir-putin-plunges-into-a-cauldron-saving-assad.html?_r=0

Why would the US/NATO want to destroy what it, along with its GCC clients, has created?

It does not. Its stated aims are not its real aims.

The real aims are likely along the lines of those outlined in the brookings institute document titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”

The idea is simple: Deploy US-backed “jihadi” proxies to capture-and-hold vast sections of the country thereby making it impossible for the central government to control the state.
This is how the Obama administration plans to deal with Assad, by making him irrelevant.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/05/the-brookings-institute-plan-to-liquidate-syria/

Its likely by entering the war when they did, Russia stopped US/NATO plans for a NFZ which worked out so well for lybia:

The Russian forces now in place make it very, very obvious that any kind of no-fly zone on the Libyan model imposed by the US and allies is now impossible,
unless the coalition is actually willing to shoot down Russian aircraft

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cee6fcba-69bf-11e5-8171-ba1968cf791a.html#axzz3nixtGCoA

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9. The Devil - October 1, 2015

Let’s rephrase that – put up or shut up. Can Mark P outline, in the most basic manner, his scenario for Syria? Also, the constant reference to people who disagree with him as ‘Stalinists’ is something that is less than helpful and what is he not calling for the overthrow of Assad?

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10. doctorfive - October 1, 2015

Flicking through a copy of the Irish Independent in town yesterday and noticed that they waited till page 23 before reporting news that no one will be charged for Jean McConville’s murder.

Funny how interest dipped so suddenly. As if the disappeared & victims of the troubles are picked up and cast aside depending on their usefulness.

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2015

That’s telling, and depressing as an insight into a certain part of the Irish establishment.

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Ed - October 2, 2015

No charges, is that true? I’d heard someone say Ivor Bell would be the only one to be charged.

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11. Mark P - October 2, 2015

@leedalyire @imoshedinheels @labour fleshing out details of what legislation would look like and a path to a referendum 1/2— Sinead Ahern (@sineadmahern) October 1, 2015

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

@leedalyire @imoshedinheels broad position is to repeal the 8th and replace with legislation with grounds for health, FFA & woman's life— Sinead Ahern (@sineadmahern) October 1, 2015

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

That’s one of the two people Joan Burton has said will have “stewardship” of Labour’s policy on repealing the 8th amendment, revealing that their plan will be to replace the 8th with somewhat less restrictive anti-choice legislation.

Remember that when some useless Labour liberal starts telling you that they are “pro-choice”.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 2, 2015

Said legislation would be equivalent to what is in place in the UK. Describing it as ‘anti-choice’ is hyperbole.

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Mark P - October 2, 2015

She was asked if there proposed legislation would effectively amount to abortion as a choice and immediately responded no.

Whether it does in practice allow most women access to an abortion will depend on the drafting and on the mechanisms included to decide whether health is at risk. At best, being as generous as possible to the useless weasels, it’s an attempt to play it both ways – hinting to pro-choice people that it will de facto amount to something approximating choice, while avoiding arguing for a woman’s right to choose and denying in public that it will allow abortion as a choice. At worst it will be another set of doctor panels, over ruling women’s choices.

Of course, all of this is somewhat irrelevant given that the Labour shitheels will be completely irrelevant after the election anyway, and all of this nonsense from them about an amendment they’ve already voted to keep is a desperate attempt to court whatever socially liberal votes can be garnered from people who don’t already loathe them.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 3, 2015

She was asked if there proposed legislation would effectively amount to abortion as a choice and immediately responded no.

I did check the Twitter feed and that is not quite what she was asked, was it? The question was ‘are you personally saying this is tantamount to abortions for all?’. I would call that a loaded question.

Anyway, she is not the final arbiter on what is and is not ‘pro-choice’.

As to the effect of the legislation depending on drafting, this is true of all legislation and complications can occur irrespective of the intent of individual legislators. Given that we know that many, many Irish women have been able to procure an abortion under the 1967 Act, and that this ‘solution’ is how the issue has been able to fly under the radar of polite society for so long, adapting the UK legislation would be rather sensible and accommodating.

One thing that confuses me is why health and life are separate grounds. The point was well made in R v Bourne that distinguishing between the two would be unworkable.

Still, the problem with the Labour proposal is that, like all Labour ‘commitments’, it is predicated on Labour obtaining a majority in the Oireachtas (per Pat Rabbitte). All bets are off if there is a coalition. And FG have little appetite for these divisive issues which only encourage people to throw FF or Lucinda Creighton & Co. A few votes.

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Alibaba - October 3, 2015

Fair dues. Let’s examine the facts.

Like it or not, we have Joan Burton putting herself (and the Labour Party) as the establishment champions of Repeal the Eighth Amendment. Some will think, well, cue the parody and getting the socially liberal vote. Others will disagree.

For sure, it is “an attempt to play it both ways – hinting to pro-choice people … while avoiding arguing for a woman’s right to choose …”. That’s what the pro-choice slogan does (and has done for decades): unmooring itself from the call ‘abortion on demand’. The slogan can be used hyperbolically to dramatise whatever meaning sits comfortably in the listeners’ minds.

I think that “Said legislation would be equivalent to what is in place in the UK.” is wide of the mark. I suspect that Labour will propose legisation for limited provision, with the hugger-mugger mindset ‘Let’s open the door wider’. That doesn’t make them “shitheels”; it makes them a) people who think this tactic is the best option and/or b) political cowards.

As for repeated ad nauseam reference to effluvia once Labour is mentioned, c’mon, wisen up.

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12. doctorfive - October 2, 2015

Some godless communism from the AP archives. The inter-party government got in just in time to see the houses completed. Won’t see the likes now, would we

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13. Gewerkschaftler - October 4, 2015

I went out on Saturday to do with weekly supermarket shop and found it closed. As were most other shops. It was ‘Unity day’ (Tag der Einheit), which I’d never before experienced on a Saturday.

So 25 years since the fall of the wall, and the process is still so heavily veiled within the official narrative that I still haven’t got my head fully around what went on, from both talking to ‘Ostis’ and from reading around the period.

Gareth Dale is new to me, and his piece here in Jacobin Magazine online clearly benefits from his presence in East Germany before and after the fall of the wall.

It’s well worth a read in full, but some salient points that are never part of the official narrative can bear quoting.

Firstly on the extent between West German capital and it’s political fixers and the DDR.

On this, the Stasi files have much to divulge — for example, on Western business leaders’ connections in the East. The East German market was not large but was nonetheless, in the words of one steel magnate, Berthold Beitz of Krupp, “of substantial importance to many FRG enterprises,” including his own.

In the early 1980s another Krupp executive confided to GDR politburo member Gerhard Beil that West Germany’s steel industry was in such a parlous state that “the consequence, in a ‘free market economy,’ would be bankruptcy.”

His firm was desperate for extra orders from East Germany and offered that payment could be made, in part, through GDR firms supplying Krupp’s projects in third markets. Joint ventures between Krupp and East German Kombinate existed in a range of countries, and East German officials were keen to beef up these links, noting that Krupp ”possesses very favorable terms” around the world “thanks to the political intervention of the FRG and finance from the World Bank.”

Secondly it’s remarkable how quickly West German capital moved to exploit lower East German wages and conditions. Take the example of Volkswagen:

Within the ruling party, those who favored stronger links with the West saw their position win out, hastily and by default. Already before 1989 several East German industries were operating as an “extended workbench” for West German firms, and the likes of Siemens and Volkswagen were actively considering enlarging their operations.

When the Berlin Wall fell, these plans went into action. Firm directors immediately sought Western partners. They reckoned that the combination of cheap East German labor with Western technology and markets would prove a winning formula. The GDR could establish an economic relationship with West Berlin similar to that of China’s with Taiwan: separate states with a shared national consciousness and thriving economic links.

Already in early December, Ifa and Volkswagen announced the first FRG-GDR joint venture. Assuming that East Germany would remain a protected market, they planned to produce together a range of cars, chiefly for domestic consumption. In the words of Ifa’s general director, the intention was to “control the East German automobile market, together with VW.”

Most import is how quickly the revolutionary Civil Society movements were sidelined, once they had served their purpose of undermining political legitimacy within the DDR. What they hoped for roughly was civil rights (especially the right to travel – that’s the one deprivation that people from the former East really resented, in my experience), and I kind of Scandinavian (1960s an 70s model) genuine social democracy.

What they got was quite different.

These developments destabilized the Communist Party, but the civic groups were just as discombobulated. They advocated parliamentary democracy and a “social market economy,” goals that the FRG could claim to share. When, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, demonstrating crowds began to call for unification, which appeared to offer the high road toward democracy and a “social market,” the civic groups did not respond with one voice. On unification, some said “yes,” some “no,” and others “go slow.”

Behind the oppositionists’ skepticism lay two factors. Over long years of courageous political engagement they had woven visions of an alternative GDR that they could help to shape. With unification, these plans and dreams would be unceremoniously dumped. They had developed a critique not only of Soviet-style communism but also of market capitalism. German unification conjured up specters of NATO, mass unemployment, welfare erosion, and an egotistic “elbows society” — with East Germans elbowed aside.

From rebels they were quickly transformed into supplicants:

A new tone infiltrated the demonstrations, a rather desperate, wheedling address to West German politicians to come to the rescue of their poor cousins. Demonstration banners turned from the ebullient to the imploring: “Herr Kohl, help us!” and “Only German unity can save us!” The change from “We are the people” to “We are one people” was shocking, commented Klaus Hartung, but not so much for its nationalism as for the dramatic decline in self-confidence. “We are the people” is a clear expression of the consciousness of power; “we are one people” is at best an appeal to the Federal Republic.

Then they lived through the naked corruption and asset-stripping of ‘Treuhand’:

The institution that performed that role was the Treuhand. It took over most of the East German economy. Usually translated as “trust agency,” its fictional representation in Günter Grass’s novel Ein weites Feld is more candidly named “Handover Agency.” Of the Treuhand’s assets, four-fifths landed in West German hands with only 6 percent going to East Germans.

Much of the Treuhand’s activity followed the usual protocol of legal corruption, but hundreds of deals fell on the wrong side of the law, including several involving Chancellor Kohl himself. “Don Kohleone” presided over a major operation funneling illegal donations from arms dealers into his party’s coffers, and he pushed through at least one decidedly shady purchase, of East Germany’s petrol distribution company (Minol) by the French corporation Elf Aquitaine

Amid the chatter of German nationalism, the pickings were taken by the rich. It was a relatively small group of owners of monetary and productive assets who creamed off the profits of unification.

The ruthless use of unification to benefit West German capitalism had a much wider and lasting effect on European politics:

The effects rippled through Germany and beyond. The low wages imposed in the former East were extended westward. The Germany’s current account surplus soared, as did its pendant, the entrenched deficits in the countries of the EU periphery — a process that culminated in a devastating crisis and the Berlin-led evisceration of Greece.

The bitterness of this disillusion of being used and abused by Helmut Kohl and collaborators in the former East (Merkel was prominent among them) still shapes political opinion in the former East.

Actually I’ve gone on a bit too much – perhaps Eds you might want to put this up as a post.

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Gewerkschaftler - October 4, 2015

with -> the

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Gewerkschaftler - October 4, 2015

I don’t think the 20% wage difference is valid any more, by the way, it has reduced, but is still not anywhere near parity.

For instance if you work in a shop in East Berlin you pre-tax pay will be 407 yoyos per year less than a colleague in West Berlin. And that’s Berlin – the difference is more significant ‘down the country’ in the former East in places like Brandenburg.

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14. CL - October 4, 2015

“In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.”
http://www.fastcoexist.com/3051448/why-sweden-is-shifting-to-a-6-hour-work-day

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15. Mark P - October 4, 2015

Here’s Labour TD Ged Nash, talking about the living wage should anyone urgently need to purge their body of fluids:

http://www.rabble.ie/2015/09/30/work-should-always-pay/

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16. CL - October 5, 2015

Writing from Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Eamonn McCann has a piece in the NYT headlined ‘The Troubles Are Back’

The plan of the GFA “was not to eliminate sectarianism, but to manage its manifestations”
But what’s needed says McCann is “a political system based on class and economic interests, rather than on community and identity”
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/opinion/the-troubles-are-back.html

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17. Mark P - October 5, 2015

The Portuguese election results are mostly being portrayed as a victory for the right wing coalition, but in fact they took a bit of a kicking. Their vote is down 11% to a 36.83% and they lost their parliamentary majority.

The Parliament is now split in three, with the coalition of the right the largest bloc, the “Socialist” Party in the centre with 32.38% of the vote, and the Left Bloc and the Communist Party on the left with 10.22% and 8.27% respectively. It is theoretically open to the SP to form a government with the left, but there is no real possibility of it seeking to do that, so the right will continue in power either as a minority or, it seems more likely, as part of a Grand Coalition involving everyone except the left.

The CP vote (technically the CDU, a coalition between the Communists and a very small Green Party), went up slightly, by a little less than half a percentage. The main gains were made by the Left Bloc, which almost doubled its vote.

There’s a certain “Greece in slow motion” aspect to this, at least on the surface. The troika parties need each other to govern, which makes their essential identity clearer. There is a strong CP, which has a solid support but seems unable to gather support from the growing number of discontented voters behind it. Then there’s a rapidly growing heterodox left party which seems to be more attractive to those people. Lets hope the similiarities end there.

http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4245

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Mark P - October 5, 2015

Yet another parallel: the Left Bloc suffered a split before the election, with less radical elements breaking away to found a new party (LIVRE) with a lot of media fanfare. Then that party bombed at the polls.

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Liberius - October 5, 2015

Just a minor bit of pedantry but the ‘Portugal Ahead’ coalition only ran as a joint list in mainland Portugal with the PSD running separate lists in Madeira and Azores and CDS-PP running solo in Madeira and joint with the ‘People’s Monarchist Party’ in the Azores.

So the results for the PSD/CDS-PP coalition are:

Portugal Ahead 36.83%
Social Democratic Party 1.51%
CDS – People’s party 0.14%

Total = 38.48%

And yes my haggard insomnia racked mind was infuriated last night by the dogmatic refusal of news sources to admit that the PSD/CDS-PP coalition had lost its majority, as if being the largest bloc was the only thing that mattered.

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Mark P - October 5, 2015

The main issue now is how stupid the PS are. How closely will they tie themselves to the right in government and how open will they be about it.

Let’s hope that they are very stupid indeed and formally enter a grand coalition.

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Liberius - October 6, 2015

This is a fairly ropey Google translation of an article in the Portuguese newspaper Publico about the possibility of a PS government supported by BE and PCP; my understand is that BE got hammered it 2011 (from 9.8% to 5.2%) partly due to their perceived closeness to the outgoing PS government.

“The PS is able to form government,” said Jerónimo de Sousa, then on Sunday night, commenting on the election results. It’s a long shot, but it does. Firstly, because the parties further to the left, BE, PCP and PEV guarantee with the socialists most Members. And they already know that they are available to enable a hypothetical socialist government.

As? Not presenting (as the BE has already announced you want to do to the coalition PSD / CDS) a rejection of motion of the Government program. According to the PUBLIC found, both parties may even vote against a rejection of motion filed by the PSD and CDS which is intended to derail a government of the PS.

Whether the PCP, whether the BE, show no prerequisite for this feasibility. It is a kind of “tacit approval” – that rule of the bureaucracy necessary to pass an application without any analysis. But this is the only valid warranty for a complex hypothesis.

This is not, however, that conditions are met for this event to take place, according to the criteria of António Costa. “No one tell us to just be a majority of the counter, unable to form a credible alternative government and to the right,” said the general secretary of the PS on Sunday.

This government to be “credible and alternative” need to ensure minimal stability. And this would require a larger commitment than the mere feasibility of your program. We need, of course, of an approved budget. So, things become even more difficult. The conditions placed by Catarina Martins at the televised debate he had with António Costa in the pre-campaign, are three: “If the PS is available to abandon this idea to cut 1,600 million in pensions, leave the court at TSU and abandon this idea the compensation scheme will be here on 5 October to discuss a government that can save the country. ”

The fifth day has passed, and the conversation, have been, it was not that far. There were contacts between the PS and the other left parties, but that the PUBLIC found are no scheduled meetings or any type of approach. However, it is possible to classify the probability of accepting the proposed PS BE: is low.

The cut in the TSU is the basis of “economic stimulus” of the PS program, from which to build the idea of ​​a recovery of household incomes. Since the freezing of pensions is even more difficult to revoke. Calls into question the budgetary commitments agreed with Brussels.

That is the point, for BE and PCP: the PS is unable to negotiate on the left, without jeopardizing the budgetary constraints imposed by the Treaty. And that’s why the viability of a budget becomes so improbable.

For this reason, none of the parties to the left of the PS seems to believe, truly, in the event of a negotiation. On the contrary. The victimization of the setting of the PS due to the impossibility of an agreement is seen as likely. Even more if the occasion dictate the calling of early elections. The significant electoral growth of BE (over 250 thousand votes, 2011 to 2015) is seen in PS, as the main obstacle to their own growth. So the door is only ajar.

No guarantees of parliamentary understanding (BE and PCP reject the idea of ​​integrating the Government) Costa would not even qualify for the approval to the left of your program.

And the original article in Portuguese for any lusophones hanging around CLR

http://www.publico.pt/politica/noticia/governo-de-esquerda-cdu-e-be-deixam-a-porta-entreaberta-1710209

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18. Mark P - October 5, 2015

It’s worth noting that three minor left lists between them gained 2.2% of the vote. 1.11% went to the PTCP-MRPP, a Maoist party, mostly famous as the original political home of Jose Manuel Barroso. That’s a pretty big vote, given the exotic nature of their politics.

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19. Joe - October 6, 2015

Meanwhile I was at a meeting of a ‘civil society’ group tonight where it was confidently stated that the General Election here will be on Nov 20th. Amn’t I glad I didn’t take Tawdy’s tip and put my money down on the 19th!

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Mark P - October 6, 2015

Is the “civil society” group one of Labour’s sinecures? Or to put it another way, what’s the apparent source?

20th is certainly the date doing the rounds of opposition parties, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

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Joe - October 6, 2015

No it’s not a Labour sinecure. It’s a representative group for people qualified in certain conflict resolution skills. The chap who gave the date hasn’t any inside track that I’m aware of. As you say, he probably heard it if it’s doing the rounds but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Enda knows … maybe.

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20. CL - October 6, 2015
21. Mark P - October 7, 2015

Is Direct Democracy Ireland effectively dead?

At one point DDI seemed to incorporate quite a lot of the freemanoid diaspora and related cranks. At about that time there was even a bit of scaremongering from “left unity” sorts about how DDI would gather support that might otherwise go to the left if the left didn’t unite. Then a whole series of seemingly personality based splits and splinter groups left it, as far as I could see only visibly operating in Drogheda (DIDdie central as an anarchist wag described it). Now the Drogheda crew have borrowed a logo from 1998 and launched themselves as “United People”.

So what’s left of DDI itself? Are any of the splinters showing any signs that they are capable of making any sort of progress? There was a bit of a facebook fad amongst anti-water charges people for using the National Citizens Movement logo as a profile picture, but that didn’t seem to translate into significant numbers actually in the NCM and, in any case, seems to have mostly disappeared.

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Mark P - October 7, 2015

Crap, wrong open thread. The last two have stuck around for so long (fueled in large part by Andrew’s indefatigability) that I keep accidentally clicking on the wrong one.

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