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What you want to say – 8th February, Week 6, 2017 February 8, 2017

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. GW - February 8, 2017
dublinstreams - February 9, 2017

the idea that under any president something like the ‘Privacy Shield’ could offer protection for European citizens’ data on US-based servers run by US-based companies is looking even more far-fetched.

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2. Starkadder - February 8, 2017

It’s likely the racist oaf Jeff Sessions will be made AG, thanks to the
Republicans. They also censured Elizabeth Warren for trying to read out the Coretta Scott King letter warning against Sessions:

Would the Republicans legalize paedophilic rape as long as they got their precious privatized education and repeal of Roe. V. Wade? I’m starting to think they would.

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3. Jolly Red Giant - February 9, 2017

Best laugh in a long time in the Dail today watching the angry LP’s indignation.

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4. sonofstan - February 9, 2017

I think there has been general revulsion of Theresa May’s intended approach to Brexit and cosying up with Trump. This offers Labour/the Left to put forward an alternative position, which in my opinion must be a socialist federation of Europe based on workers’ democracy, not bourgeois institutions. We can defend migrant rights in this country but that will be down to the working class taking collective action

Lexit. A fantasia in 5 impossible movements

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Jolly Red Giant - February 9, 2017

And your alternative SoS?

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sonofstan - February 9, 2017

Starting from the facts.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 9, 2017

Or maybe your ‘alternative facts’

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

That’s a bit glib JRG. Any objective analysis of the balance of forces in the UK would suggest that Brexit has pushed the prospect of Labour (let alone the ‘left’) so far into the margins as to be irrelevant.

It took forty years for the EU to develop. How long for a ‘socialist federation’ to supplant it – particularly while the EU still exists? There’s no sign of bourgeois institutions failing any time soon. And the working class defending migrant rights through collective action – when a portion of that class has gone over to UKIP and detached from the LP precisely because of Brexit?

It genuinely is fantasy. Not worth a moments serious consideration.

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sonofstan - February 9, 2017

Thanks WBS. Saved me the trouble.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

You’re welcome SoS.

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CMK - February 9, 2017

If Lexit it in the realm of ‘fantasy politics’ then it has good company in the fantasy ‘Progressive European Union’. I think it is equally glib to dismiss the Lexit position.

The whole situation is a gigantic mess but it is only one of several gigantic messes relating to the EU ‘project’ right now. The EU may well have taken 40 years to develop but over that 40 years whenever that project has encountered an electorate it has as often as not been voted down. The Irish treaties Nice 2001, Lisbon 2008, the EU constitution in 2005 etc. The EU’s sharp neo-liberal turn since the early 1990s, accelerated after enlargement, mean it is nowhere near the kind of project voted for an endorsed by electorates in the 1970s and 1980s. I think that is the problem, which I have not seen a single advocate of the ‘Progressive Europe Union, let’s stay in and work to make it worker friendly’ position seriously engage with the colossal democratic deficit that is driving Brexit type situations, and will drive many more.

Indeed, we’re soon going to be treated another demonstration of EU benevolence as it pushes an already destitute Greece to the brink again. I hope we get a Grexit as it is about the only hope the Greeks have at this stage.

And by this time next year we could have Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen in the EU Council of Ministers and the fiction of the ‘Progressive EU’ will be harder to keep up, though that won’t be for want of trying.

Brexit is a symptom of much wider Europe wide processes – see today’s poll which shows a majority of Europeans in favour of a ban on Muslims entering their countries – which see increased polarisation. That process is being driven in large part precisely by the policies and positions of the ‘Progressive EU’.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

You’re presenting two views on the matter as if they’re the ones held by people here. But they’re not. There’s no contradiction in think Brexit is a catastrophe for workers in the UK and elsewhere and simultaneously being deeply critical of the EU. One can hold the latter position without arguing that the former is an improvement or any sort of solution at all and also not believing guff about a progressive EU. So your argument is unintentionally diversionary and doesn’t address any of the actual problems driven by Brexit which are a further set separate to the ones you outline in relation to the EU.

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Michael Carley - February 9, 2017

WBS, SoS are right: Lexit is now finally exposed as complete fantasy. When Corbyn goes, and it looks as though he will, the Labour Party will be in the hands of people who believe we need to talk about immigration. However bad the EU might be, it is cretinous to believe that removing it as a restraint on the Tories can be in any way progressive. We did not have a choice between Schauble and Corbyn, but between Schauble and Cameron and then May. Voting out released all the savagery of the Tories, and of people worse than them, and it’s deteriorating. This was all perfectly predictable except by a bunch of voluntarist fantasists.

Remember this prognosis?

An ‘out’ vote would strike a mortal blow at the government. It could lead to the calling of a general election and the downfall of the detested Tories from power. So voting ‘out’ is particularly important.

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/22262

How’s that working out?

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GW - February 9, 2017

The Greeks are being punished as a personal vendetta by a certain Herr Schäuble. Europe currently has no force or culture sufficiently strong to oppose him on this.

Schäuble not only wishes to punish the Greeks for daring to stand up against him, he also wishes to see a shrinking of the EU to the area that German imperialists have always considered their ‘natural’ sphere of influence – i.e the surrounding East European states.

I fail to see why socialists would want to support him in the project.

The prospect for a change within the EU is small and will be hard-fought but is from my reading of history less likely to land in nationalist and fascist-spectrum disaster for the working class than is the ‘return to the national’.

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CMK - February 9, 2017

GW, that an individual politician of a core member state of the EU can prosecute a vendetta against the entire population of another member, in the name of all 500 million citizens of EU member states, tells you everything you need to know about why things like Brexit are happening.

I fail to see how you think any socialist is supporting Schauble in his agenda? The Greek crisis, the core existential crisis for the EU not Brexit, has been dormant since late 2015 and is about to blow up again.

To use Michael’s phraseology the ‘full savagery’ of the EU will be brought to bear on Greece. That savagery that Micheal sees the Tories and UKIP unleashing in the UK has already been unleashed and worse by the EU in Greece. The EU establishment and the Tories are more or less the same in my view and are worker to very similar agendas.

But as I said, the whole situation is a mess, no-one knows how it is going to end up in 2, 3, 5 years time. It is less than a year since the Brexit vote and predictions made prior to it or at the time could still transpire. No-one knows. Things are moving so fast.

I take the point that one can hold to the ‘Progressive EU’ position and see the latter as, on balance, preferable to a Brexit in a Tory dominated polity. But the former view is failing to dealing with political reality as we know and with the emerging prospect of real live fascists in the EU Council of Ministers, which will be supplemented by layers of officials in the Commission and other EU institutions, the current Right surge will mark the EUs institutions for decades. The idea that any ‘progressive’ space can be staked out, with radical institutional change to the EU, including at treaty level, is where the real fantasy is taking place, in my view.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

Cmk just to be clear again no one here is arguing the ‘progressive’ EU line. That’s a crucial point you seem to miss. Its much more a view that Brexit is worse than an admittedly bad EU.

Logically though why would from what you say yourself that the IK is going through a potential Greece like situation with Brexit be tolerable? And politically what sense does it make given that a Corbyn led BLP in the EU could make common cause with Greece and bring pressure to bear on the EU commission whereas outside it it can’t. Moreover to talk of fascists in the Commission seems a bit self serving when it is a process directly aided by Brexit (assuming it comes to pass and I font think its a certainty, but then what if it doesn’t and Le Pen and W are beaten back? What does that prove?).

But even more to the point the predictions of those supporting Lexit have been by every yardstick they, not us they, chose demonstrably incorrect. All very well to say early days but the dynamics of a UK where the LP is shut out of Scotland, ukip and Tories command over 50% of the vote, fptp is the system, the left and LP is grievously divided and none if that going to change in realistic timescales.

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GW - February 9, 2017

It may turn out to be utopian, but a better chance IMO of having a positive outcome than a return to the national. Looked at coldly the chances are that the EU will fail to be shifted away from neo-liberalism and austerity and will fall apart anyhow. I don’t see any reason to hasten this decline before we have succeeded in building a transnational movement for an alternative.

It was always part of the Brexit/Grexit schtick to project on the EU the vicious neo-liberal consensus of national governments. In practice EU policy is much more determined by national horse-trading and fudging than by the treaties.

Varoufakis has shown us how the Euro-Group – a body with no legal status within the EU – determines what happens to Greece. And how this group is led by the nose by Schäuble and his side-kicks, and how, for instance, the Irish finance minister acts as a yes-man for this clique.

DiEM25 has also pointed out how existing EU mechanisms could be used for a significant anti-austerian investment programme. The will and popular support is potentially there in various nation states – it needs to be mobilised and not distracted into nationalist diversions like Brexit.

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GW - February 9, 2017

By transnational I mean here something that transcends the two anglophone islands in question.

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Ed - February 9, 2017

In fairness, it’s much too easy to blame Schauble (or even the German government as a whole) for everything that’s been done to Greece. In a way, that was precisely the mistake the Syriza government made when they came to power; they took at face value all the grumbling at the German position that had come from various quarters, the French and Italian governments, the Obama administration, the IMF, and they expected to be able to make some alliances or at least drive a wedge between their opponents. When it came to the crunch, though, they faced a united front from the other side. The IMF may have muttered a bit about the need for debt relief, but if anything they’re pushing for harder austerity policies at the moment.

And I’m afraid that line—‘Schauble wants Greece to leave the euro, why would you support his position?’—is precisely the sort of demagoguery that Tspiras used back in 2015 to sell his capitulation to the Troika, trying to make out that people on Syriza’s left wing who were willing to consider a break with the euro were in some way stooges of Schauble and the Germans. It helped him win reelection in autumn 2015, but now, after a year of Syriza slumping in the polls with the hard-right opposition way ahead, does it really seem like such a clever argument? It seems like they’re drifting back towards the same position they were in two years ago, but with much less political capital and reserves of popular mobilization to draw upon in any confrontation. The Troika will fancy their chances if they push this to the limit, if fresh elections are held Syriza will lose, barring some dramatic shift.

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GW - February 9, 2017

Fair points Ed.

Yes Syriza (and Varoufakis) did wildly over-estimate the internal opposition to Schäuble & co. within the EU – and misunderstand how the Euro-group works.

But you learn from your mistakes.

And yes, there’s a good chance that they may be able to force a general election and the return of ND.

There’s a degree of German electioneering in this – Schäuble and the wider party knows that hammering the Greeks again plays well among conservative / national-chauvinist German voters, and would love to chalk up a Syriza defeat during the election campaign.

To what extent this is going to help the CDU/CSU who are at their lowest point of co-operation for decades, and compensation for the fading of the Merkel-effect, is another question.

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CMK - February 9, 2017
dublinstreams - February 9, 2017

where is that quote from?

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sonofstan - February 10, 2017

Presentation at our local Labour Branch meeting by one of the younger members (he sent me his notes afterwards). Probably the sort of guy the right would consider, incorrectly, as a ‘trot’ entryist.

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Ed - February 10, 2017

Clunky language aside, what’s the alternative? We’re not talking now about how people should vote or campaign in the referendum; it happened, and people voted for Brexit. Do you think Labour’s position should be to try and stop it altogether, or to put forward an alternative to May’s version of Brexit? I think the first of those options would be madness; the second doesn’t have great prospects either, but at least an outside chance of working. If there is a popular backlash against May’s cosying up to Trump, that would increase the chances of it working.

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Michael Carley - February 10, 2017

Labour are screwed, mainly because they’re caught between demands to be “electable” and their years of pandering to the “controls on immigration” crowd.

To be “electable”, they need to deal with the fact that many of their bedrock seats look vulnerable to UKIP, so they can’t directly oppose Brexit at the moment. Because previous leaders, or leadership candidates, wouldn’t directly oppose anti-immigrant rhetoric, they’re distrusted by the metropolitans.

If they’d stuck to some kind of principle in the past, instead of chiselling dogwhistles into stone, they might be in a better position now, at least politically. But they didn’t, and they’re not.

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5. crocodileshoes - February 9, 2017

I was surprised that Glenda Jackson welcomed the replacement of Cameron by May, describing the latter as a ‘grown-up’.

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6. Aonrud ⚘ - February 9, 2017

Entertaining to see that Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) have become Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance (CISTA). Clearly It’s a Seriously Transmutable Acronym.

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dublinstreams - February 9, 2017

co-founder of Bebo Paul Brich putting his money and effort into CISTA in UK and Ireland and lobbying group Help not Harm http://www.helpnotharm.org/ said to be involved in Gino Kenny’s bill. lobbying re medicinal cannibis and magazine that occasionally does Irish stories http://volteface.me/ http://stillwater.ie/our-work/help-not-harm/

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7. CL - February 9, 2017

Trump and Brexit are reactions to market fundamentalism. But these wins for nationalism have only added to the unease. Right-wing populism continues to grow across Europe. The outcome everywhere is uncertain. The Left struggles to develop an adequate response, but there is still time…..

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8. CL - February 9, 2017

“While the region’s economy is finally recovering, more than half of all new jobs created in the European Union since 2010 have been through temporary contracts.”

Given the collapse of social democracy this extreme commodification of labour power attracts a populist nationalist response.

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9. oconnorlysaght - February 9, 2017

The trouble with Brexit was not the formal issue (Britain v.Europe) but the way it was played: neo-liberalism v. metropolitan nationalism. It is probable that the coming struggle for the workers’ republic will involve vanguard states withdrawing from the EU, but this will be a retreat on the international front in order to preserve the gains in the nationstate, from which to advance to the desired federation of European Workers’ Republics.
As an hypothetical case: if Syriza had defied the banks and brought in socialist legislation and then, if threatened with sanctions voted to leave the EU, that would have been a good Grexit. In the real world, the contest between two camps both with identical austerity politics, but one using immigrants and the EU as their scapegoats against a stick in the mud neo-liberalism produced a bad Brexit.
Two final points. It is worth remembering that so far from Britain being forced into neo-liberal policies by the EU, its successive governments, from Thatcher onwards, whether Tory or new Labour have been pace-setters for such abominations within the union.
Secondly, I notice that that old Blairite and Brexit-Lexiter, K Hoey voted against directing the Brit government to take Ireland into account during the coming negotiations.

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dublinstreams - February 9, 2017

metropolitan nationalism http://www.dictionary.com/browse/metropolitan metropolitan of, noting, or characteristic of a metropolis or its inhabitants, especially in culture, sophistication, or in accepting and combining a wide variety of people

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GW - February 12, 2017

Syriza would have been in a position to realistically threaten this if they had done the groundwork for, for instance, putting in place the technology and infrastructure for a return to the drachma or a concurrent alternative currency to the Euro.

That’s the thing about Grexiteers – they refuse to allow us a glimpse over the revolutionary event-horizon to convince either possibly sympathetic leftists or a sceptical population that they have a plan for transition that isn’t going to be an even worse disaster for the Greek working class than the current slow catastrophe.

A case could be made but it would involve convincing a majority that a decade of even more hardship would be worth it.

Just off the top of my head apart from the currency transition problem the following questions pop up:

– Presumably they would have to refuse to pay debts that will continue to be denominated in Euros. Which is fair enough, given that a large proportion of their national debt, like ours, was basically the socialisation of bankster’s gambling debts. But it means that at least for a couple of years they won’t be able to sell government bonds. How do they propose to raise foreign currency?

– How to prevent capital flight in an age of Bitcoin?

– How does Greece feed itself after the rupture?

– What plans are there to accommodate the many Greek citizens currently living in and working in the rest of the EU?

I could go on…

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oconnorlysaght - February 12, 2017

Probably you are right about the practicalities of Grexit, tho’ you ignore the real possibilities that it would produce outside and reinforcing a grexiting Greece. it might have found allies among the peoples if not the governments elsewhere, and been able to reduce its own working peoples’ immiseration. I would see the lesson of the Syriza disaster not as one of accepting whatever the bums at the top give you for fear of something worse but of the necessity to organise beyond one’s country’s borders, something Syriza preferred not to do, relying on its arguments to move the bums.
i might add that a certain amount of honesty about prospects would have helped that cause. (Blood, Sweat and Tears, anyone?) I always remember the cartoon of the French revolution be that talented gangster Gillray which showed one panel of a Frenchman gnawing on a root whilst praising his government whilst stout John Bull stuffed his face whilst denouncing his own counter-revolutionary rulers. Revolutionary change will occur if there is a popular will for it. Syriza refused to try to rely on this at home or abroad.

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10. Starkadder - February 9, 2017

Perhaps someone interested in dream psychology and politics could study this….I’ve noticed lots of people seem to be having dreams about Donald Trump. I know I did-I dreamt I was watching the news and that Trump slipped and broke his leg while getting out of a car.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisrodley/trumpmares?utm_term=.maLmpOGNy#.qpX46mGzN

Interesting that no-one seems to be having dreams about, say Enda Kenny or Theresa May.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

That’s really interesting. Sort of May and Kenny just don’t function on a level that would psychologically trouble people unconsciously? Though May is no slouch in being grim.

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Starkadder - February 10, 2017

There were reports of people dreaming about Barack Obama a few years ago. Maybe it;s just a US thing?

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Dr. X - February 10, 2017

Isn’t people dreaming about the Queen quite a common thing in England?

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11. ivorthorne - February 10, 2017

Predictions on when O’Sullivan resigns as Commissioner?

Fascinating to see the way the powerful think they can get away with anything – even after they’ve effectively been caught.

And poor Enda, after the way he nudged Callahan and Shatter aside with no small amount of force, he can’t really do the same with O’Sullivan.

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irishelectionliterature - February 10, 2017

It’s horrendous stuff, imagine being subject to the same “cut and paste error” Maurice McCabe was?
The problem is what to do with O’Sullivan….
She cannot be put on a desk job as lower ranks can … We cannot have two Garda Commissioners.

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sonofstan - February 10, 2017

We need a new police force. They could do it in the North, in the face of a culture just as obstructive to fairness and transparency,

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ivorthorne - February 10, 2017

As bad as things are, I don’t think we can compare the Gardai to the RUC in respective of fairness at least.

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CMK - February 10, 2017

Are you f**king serious? The Gardai are not involved in counter insurgency warfare, true enough, but there are so many scandals across so many divisions that there is no way these are not reflection of systemic dysfunction. SoS is dead right. The Gardai need to be disbanded and replaced by a new force under community control.

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ivorthorne - February 10, 2017

The RUC allowed Catholics to be burned out of their homes, colluded with loyalist terrorists, generally harassed nationalists etc.

That’s not to say things aren’t bad – they are – but the RUC was one of the worst police forces in modern history. It’s a different level.

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CMK - February 10, 2017

It was no ‘error’, I think we can be 100% certain of that.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 10, 2017

If it was an ‘error’ it was perfectly timed for maximum effect

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12. CL - February 10, 2017

The New Resistance.

“The spontaneous surge of protest that has marked much of the country’s response to the new president seems fueled not only by his policies, but by the aura of eager cruelty emanating from the White House and a collective intuition that a severe threat to the country, and to the world, is at hand”
https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/02/08/the-new-resistance-against-trump/

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13. botheredbarney - February 11, 2017

2017 is the centenary of the Russian revolution, and doubtless we’ll get lots of retrospective analysis as we approach October. However, 1917 was also the year of the Miracle of Fatima, and the launch of the first recording of a jazz record in the USA. Interestingly, it was a jazz-blues number, with a high-pitched brass trumpet. No wonder jazz came to be dismissed by music conservatives as ‘jungle music’.

Here is a link to that Livery Stable Blues recording, scratches and all:-
http://www.openculture.com/2017/02/hear-livery-stable-blues-the-first-commercial-jazz-record-which-launched-the-jazz-age-1917.html

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GW - February 12, 2017

Wow – that’s great quality sound.

My grandad had a bunch of old 78s of original US jazz releases of the twenties and thirties that he got from an older relative over there and I always regret that I didn’t rescue them.

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14. GW - February 12, 2017

On the issue of taking the border through Ireland into account at least the EU negotiators seems to be determined to make this an issue even if the Brexiteers want to fudge it or use it as a neo-colonialist lever.

BTW someone (I can’t find it) accused me of thinking that Brexiteers were knuckle-dragging Neaderthals. But I didn’t have time to respond to ‘someone’s wrong on the internet’. 🙂

It’s always useful to be able to read the minds of those who disagree with you.

No, I don’t consider Brexiteers to be ‘knuckle-dragging Neaderthals’. (BTW there’s not evidence now that Hom. Neadertahlis (sp.?)was any less developed than Hom. soi-disant Sap. Sap.) and the two sub-species probably interbred.

But I do suspect the Brexiteers in the chamber of the British parliament of being insular and narrow-minded and lacking the cultural equipment to appreciate that significance of what was reportedly Edward Said’s favourite passage of music.

I remember first hearing it on the radio when I was about 9 and being blown away by it, but only later became familiar with it’s historical context as a call to a universalist humanism.

If some of the left can’t any longer respond to that call, then that’s their loss.

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15. ar scáth a chéile - February 12, 2017

Looking like an emphatic win for Iglesias over Errejón at the
PODEMOS congress

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bvgsurfer - February 12, 2017

Source? Details.

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CL - February 12, 2017
16. Dr. X - February 12, 2017

Regarding the issue of police corruption, which I see has reared its ugly head at home (and not for the first time):

I would recommend a listen to these Australian podcasts, especially the one about the role of Aussie special branch in political policing:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/new-document/5840008

A direct link to the special branch ‘cast should be here:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/special-attention/5855212

I can also recommend, for those who find New Zealand a more agreeable antipodean address, this podcast about the New Zealand newspaper, ‘the Truth’:

[audio src="https://nzhistory.govt.nz/files/sound/hg-talks/redmer-yska-nz-truth.mp3" /]

I used to see that one in the corner dairy when I was in NZ/Aotearoa. I never read it, because it looked like a cross between the Sunday Sport and the Daily Mail. According to that podcast, it seems to have had very, very dodgy links to the NZ right in general, and the NZ security organs in particular – who were quite happy to use it as a political cudgel.

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Dr. X - February 12, 2017

Can someone fix that second link, please?

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17. Michael Carley - February 14, 2017

Brilliant piece on the author’s father, one of the leaders of the air traffic controllers’ union broken by Reagan.

n September 4, 1981, the Associated Press quoted my father speaking at a labor rally in support of PATCO. Reminding his audience of Reagan’s pedigree as a union boss (Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947 to 1952, and in 1959 and 1960), my dad told the sympathetic crowd in Elizabeth, New Jersey, “We want to send a message to the former union president who occupies the Oval Office. If you crush PATCO, we know our union could be next.” That month, speaking to the Socialist Worker, one of the few papers still supportive of the by now abandoned strike, his tone was similarly prophetic:

The vast majority of the people have to understand what’s going on here—union busting tactics being used against 12,000 highly skilled workers. If they don’t, it sounds the death knell for unionism. I mean what’s being done right now will be the precedent for all labor/management struggles.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-cost-of-defying-the-president

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18. CMK - February 14, 2017

A sensible analysis of where now after Brexit, well worth reading:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/brexit-uk-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may-labour-ukip/

And the future of the EU? Well, chaps, we’ll have a rich core EU and a poorer periphery, we can’t all have decent living conditions, now, can we?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/14/plans-for-two-speed-eu-risk-split-with-peripheral-members

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2017

I tend to agree with much, perhaps most, of what Finn writes (though I’m not entirely convinced that pro-EU – or perhaps more accurately pro-the status quo ante – sentiment is a “mirror image” of anti-EU sentiment, and as I noted in discussions with Ed, hard to argue that the SNP are offering a mirror image of that anti-EU sentiment, nor do I think Greece is a sufficient riposte to all else and while there’s no massive vote gain for far-right parties in Europe post-referendum nor has it done their cause any harm and they themselves argue it has been of positive impact – one wonders what a Brexit referendum loss would have done to their pruojects, even if only marginally). But then I would, from the off I’ve argued against any effort to prevent the UK leaving the EU or against efforts to stymie Article 50 being invoked (although I’ve also argued the UK could join EFTA) precisely because the vote has a certain weight.

And in truth there’s no correct solution for Labour or the left – though I do agree that the BLP should push for as soft a Brexit (albeit an actual Brexit with the UK leaving the EU, and perhaps joining EFTA or a bespoke position similar to that). Brexit is an identity politics issue in many ways, lining people on different sides not according to political inclination (left/right) but on different axis. Perfectly sincere and good leftists take starkly divergent positions on it. And unfortunately its centrality as a defining issue over the next five to ten years in British politics suggests to me (along with the loss of Scotland to Labour) that the hopes of a Labour (let alone left) return to power aren’t even close to being at the races.

Quite frankly – bar the democratic dictatorship of the vote being imposed on areas of the UK which did not vote to leave, i.e. Scotland and Northern Ireland and a fraternal solidarity with UK workers I’d not be happy but instead accepting of England slipping out of the EU in whatever way they chose. To a certain extent that’s their business and while I think its a catastrophic and epochal error both for that state and one which will have abysmal impacts on workers there as links with the rest of Europe are severed and a hard right Toryism imposes its view unlike Dev I think people have the right to make the wrong decision.

But that is in a slightly less imperfect world… unfortunately it is directly in relation to Northern Ireland that my concerns are greatest and I find it telling that as perceptive a commentator as DF doesn’t mention the situation on this island in a piece so long when that is of central importance to the Brexit process, I know, we all do, that his analysis is much deeper and presumably it was due to space constraints. But nonetheless the fate of the British Labour Party is hardly the worst collateral damage in all this (notable too that the implications of the loss of Scotland aren’t mentioned either in relation to the LP).

The sheer scale of the problems that Brexit seems to have for this island, and the lack of centrality of that to the debate on this site for example by those who support Brexit, or in that article, suggests a certain amount of fighting the last war, viewing everything in a rather London centric fashion at a time when Scotland alone (and now NI) should have altered that perception rather than facing up to the consequences of what has happened and the likely impacts of what is to come.

Thinking about it in total I’d put it this way. Brexit would be fine as a sovereign decision – or at least tolerable, if one could somehow mitigate the impacts on Ireland and Scotland and on workers in the UK. But that’s not going to happen.

Just on the other article, it is possible that it is proposing a closer rich core/poorer periphery, and just to be clear I’m not in favour of a federal EU, but that’s not how it is currently stated and I imagine there would be a significant pushback were that the case – and rightly so. If however some states do want to merge themselves much would depend on how that was framed. It would presumably need such a massive overhaul of the EU institutions i.e. parliament etc that it is difficult to see how it would be feasible any time soon.

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CMK - February 15, 2017

A lot to think about there but Finn is to be commended for at least being blunt that the task of the Left in the UK is to now get on with Brexit and try to shape it to some sort favourable, in a very difficult situation, outcome or at least partial outcome for workers in the UK.

Personally I don’t think Scotland can claim that they’re being subjected to the imposition of a ‘democratic dictatorship’ with Brexit. They were give a chance to leave in 2014 and chose to stay. Of course, no-one knew Breit was on the horizon then but 50 years of their natural resources being sucked in the Treasury to underwrite the class war agenda of the Tories and New Labour, coupled with four years of a hard Right Tory government, would have persuaded a majority to go. I suppose that’s the problem with referenda they are such blunt instruments with such long lasting effects. A wedding is not the same as a marriage!

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WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2017

Ain’t that the truth. Still, that’s a good point that they weren’t to know that the constitutional basis on which the union was predicated was to be whipped away within a few short months (and much the same prevails in respect to the North too). I think at the least that does call into question the fact that England simply by dint of numbers outweighs all else. And there’s a further point that they have had a slightly different dispensation since the 2000s with their own devolved administration which blunted some of the Tory and New Labour stuff (as well of course as having a significantly different legal and other systems). Might have diluted independence sentiment. But anyhow, that’s a battle lost until its won.

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dublinstreams - February 15, 2017

“no-one knew Breit was on the horizon then” Under pressure from many of his MPs and from the rise of UKIP, in January 2013, Cameron announced that a Conservative government would hold an in–out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, on a renegotiated package, if elected in 2015 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21148282

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WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2017

But – as the saying goes, that was an election promise, or rather a pre-election promise, and… of course look at the actual conduct of the Scottish referendum campaign and see whether it was fought on the constitutional position of Scotland post an Out win in a Brexit referendum.

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CMK - February 15, 2017

OK, fair enough, ds, but I don’t think the magnitude of what Brexit would mean was understand at that time or during the Scottish referendum. I’ve seen the argument made that the result of the latter emboldened Cameron to go for the Brexit vote on the presumption that he would win it. There is something strange talking about Cameron given he was still PM this time last year and is now out of parliament altogether and seems to been dropped down a well somewhere never to reappear.

What the Brexit vote does illustrate is the whole basis of the ‘union’ cannot withstand sustained political pressure such that it has arguably not been under since the Irish revolutionary period from 1913-1923.

Can it hold together? If it doesn’t what is the basis, then, for Ulster unionism?

The Scottish assembly has been able to dull the edges of some of the more extreme Tory policies since 2010, but don’t exaggerate it: they still are privatising council functions like councils in England.

While many Tory voters and those whose opinions are putting the Tories at 40% obviously support May’s approach do they really, really in their heart of hearts, support the idea of turning post Brexit Britain into a gigantic Singapore? Many Tory voters are nett beneficiaries of the welfare state and NHS, they will suffer when both are dismantled, as they will have to be to replicate Singapore and a society suffering 10% wage drops over a ten year period is not going to be stuffed full of people who can afford private provision.

My prediction is that post-Brexit Corbyn will be gone and whoever succeeds him will be forced to adopt a policy platform either the same as Corbyn or to the left of Corbyn’s, under the weight of the backlash against attempts to place the burden of Brexit exclusively on the backs of the British working class.

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dublinstreams - February 15, 2017

yes I don’t remember Europe being mentioned *that* much but if the Scottish referendumm wasn’t fought on the premise most of England wanted to leave Europe, it should have been.

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19. sonofstan - February 14, 2017
oconnorlysaght - February 14, 2017

Fortunately so: thir strength is drawn from a genuine constituency and brighter political leadership could make it really formidable.

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sonofstan - February 14, 2017

From what I hear about them round here, they have no activists as such; a few refugees from the tories with some experience end up doing everything, but they can’t get people to be agents or to canvass – and yet they win council seats….

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2017

That explains the weird inconsistency of their approach. Carswell is the only one who presents an half decent image.

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sonofstan - February 14, 2017

Because he came from a real party. No coincidence he knows how to get and stay elected.

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2017

+1 He’s also, for all his oddities in terms of belief one of the few who sounds relatively human.

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