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Signs of Hope – A continuing series, Week 6, 2017 February 9, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

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1. GW - February 9, 2017

It’s very fuzzy but I detect that the ‘successes’ of Trump and Brexit are working against fascist-spectrum parties and movements in Europe, rather than for them as was possible. The AfD have suffered no boost, and Le Pen doesn’t seem to be making much headway.

This has also probably to do with the so-called migration crisis having been out-sourced to Turkey and North-Africa.

I also very cautiously would posit a fairly rapid erosion of US soft-power in Europe as a consequence of Trumps first however-many days (it seems like months now).

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GW - February 9, 2017

Sorry – that should have been ‘the AfD have lost a couple of points in the polls’.

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2. GW - February 9, 2017

A campaign has started to get the 1 million signatures needed to hold an EU-wide referendum aimed at banning the use of Glyphosate (Roundup) in Europe.

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soubresauts - February 9, 2017

Roundup is evil, but Ireland is utterly addicted to the stuff. A ban would be very interesting…

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soubresauts - February 10, 2017

I guess this too is a worthy petition — to stop the Monsanto-Bayer merger:
https://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_merger_sus_loc/

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soubresauts - February 10, 2017

In case you didn’t know how bad Bayer is… I wish I had known all this in 2009 before the Lisbon Treaty referendum:
http://www.eu-facts.org/en/ireland/from_auschwitz_to_brussels.html

It’s almost incredible that Hallstein became the first President of the European Commission. Were lefties pointing out the Nazi origins of the EEC back then (because I missed it)?

Well, I know now, and that’s a sign of hope for me.

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3. benmadigan - February 9, 2017

the SNP whistling/singing the EU Anthem as Westminster voted against all amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
What a Celtic gesture of defiance at the moment of defeat for EU nationals in the UK, Scottish requests for compromise in the Brexit approach and Westminster’s refusal to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement !!!

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GW - February 9, 2017

Brilliant. Missed that.

Beethoven s Ode to Joy. That would go over most of the Brexiteers heads.

Foreign musical muck.

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CMK - February 9, 2017

Maybe those SNP MPs could do a tour of Greek hospitals and schools. I’m sure the ‘Ode to Joy’ would be just the ticket to take Greek minds off things.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

I wonder what your views on the historical experience of the USSR are? I’m deeply convinced at this stage that it was largely a cul-de-sac, some significant achievements but also profound embedded problems. But one thing I’m convinced of is that the manner of its dissolution exacerbated the problems of workers in both Russia and Eastern Europe for many years subsequently. Delivering people into the hands of some of the most cynical ex-Communists and millionaires and so on and so forth led to massive social and political dislocation that still has to be settled.

I fear those who support Brexit in whatever form are in a way paralleling the mistakes made then and in a context where it much less difficult to avoid the worst possible outcomes.

And again while I take your point re Greece it seems to me that saying ‘Greece’ as if that is its own justification for Brexit is far too simplistic. The woes inflicted on Greece were by the Commission and by the national states within the EU, not everyone else – you, I, the left, millions of millions of citizens dissent from it. Nor is it something that cannot be pushed back against, indeed the imperative to do so is all the greater because Greece is going to be within the EU for the foreseeable future (whatever about the Euro) and it will need all the allies it can get. A Britain outside the EU is in no position at all to assist the Greek people. It’s an irrelevance both politically and in all other ways to their plight.

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Ed - February 9, 2017

TBH WBS, I voted Remain, dismissed the Lexit argument, but that was still my first thought about the SNP’s intervention there. When I see people going on these anti-Brexit marches in London and waving EU flags, I try to grit my teeth and tell myself it’s a confused expression of internationalism against the likes of Farage, it’s not meant to be an insult to people in Greece who’ve seen their country torn to bits. But it still gets my hackles up. A lot of the anti-Brexit stuff from middle-class liberals in Britain seems just as parochial and Anglocentric as the Daily Mail crew; they’ve just turned it inside out.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

I have a similar feeling when I see the English middle class EU flag waving. Still, hard though to dismiss the SNP MPs as middle class liberals. And I have the odd thought that they might also have been slightly taking the piss – given the SNP’s own attitudes to the EU as recently as the 70s/80s.

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EWI - February 10, 2017

It’s my impression that the real significance of both the major post-war international structures (the UN and the EU) was to safeguard against a return of fascism.

Note that the nascent fascism emerging in Europe and the US is utterly opposed to those institutions, and is actively seeking to dismantle them as obstacles to their ideology.

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CMK - February 10, 2017

EWI, you need to explain, though, the paradox of how fascism is resurgent across a Europe where the EU has been the dominant political model since the early 1950s. Yes, the fascists hate the EU but they wouldn’t be surging across Europe without the economic conditions which the EU have brought about.

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2017

I think that’s a very dubious proposition that it is the EU that has cultivated the circumstances that have brought about the popularity of fascists in some limited contexts (And how do you explain the situation in Putin’s Russia, or Trumps USA? Is that different or the same or what? Is it true of all 27 states in the rEU?). After all if that’s the case how do you explain the fact there are six avowed (seven actually) Trotskyist TDs in Ireland. Or the lack of fascists in any number in most of the states in the EU? If the EU is responsible for one why not the other? Or perhaps you’re cherry picking the data and it’s not responsible for either in any meaningful way, or only to a limited degree, and technological change, political and policy decisions at international and national levels, etc, etc are as much if not more responsible (certainly local conditions seem to explain the Brexit vote in the UK much more than anything the EU did or didn’t do – not least a state of mind locked into post-imperialism). And if the EU (and really now we’re stretching the history to breaking point) has been in place since the 50s then why haven’t we seen this phenomenon prior to now to any great degree if this is, as you seem to implicitly suggest, an intrinsic aspect of the EU?

One last point on this particular area – there’s the question of what part Brexit itself has had to play in this ratcheting up of fascist morale and support (and beyond that conservative and reactionary support)? After all it was championed by the far-right and fascists before the referendum vote and has been overly welcomed by Le Pen, the AfD, Wilders, et al as a model which they can now follow (and a certain Mr. Trump has been hugely supportive of the break up of the EU). And it has certainly given them a fillip. Is that simply to be ignored, and what is the blame of the EU in that regard?

There’s also an element of hyperbole about it. In France today it seems that Le Pen will lose. She might not but it seems reasonable to suggest on current polling data that she will. Wilders in Holland may get the largest number of MPs but won’t find any parties willing to deal with him. After that what is there? The AfD is simply not going to have the numbers in Germany. If the EU was indeed responsible one would expect it to have done a better job.

Also it is unclear how it is that the EU is responsible but as you say yourself – fascists hate the EU. Indeed the current incarnation of the far-right is predicated on a rupture with the EU. One has to then ask why do fascists hate the EU because there must be something about it that they fundamentally disagree with – despite your suggesting that it itself is responsible for them gaining any degree of profile. And if there is such disagreement/hatred then what does that tell us about the EU or indeed fascists – what is it about it that they feel constrains or limits or whatever them? And is their analysis correct in that respect?

By the way, on reflection I’ve a small bone to pick with you – in a nice way – re your contributions on this thread and the other one. From the off rather than engaging with the substance of what SonofStan wrote and the quote he gave which summed up Lexit sentiment, you were haring off first suggesting that people were, incorrectly, euro-enthusiasts, and secondly referencing Greece and finally complaining that – wrongly in relation to this site, people called all those who support Brexit bigots. But at no time have you actually engaged with the content of the quote, i.e. what was said as a Lexit position as against what has actually happened. Indeed it’s been noticeable that you haven’t once actually sought to explain the variance between that rhetoric of Lexit and the policy and other outcomes of the actual processes taking place. I’d certainly be very interested in your thoughts on what is taking place, how it varies from what was suggested by proponents of Lexit prior to the event would occur and how it relates back to your belief that this is somehow better than the status quo ante.

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CMK - February 9, 2017

WbS, I think this discussion is emblematic of the problems dogging the whole Brexit on the Left, broadly defined. GW seemed to be implying that Brexiteers would not grasp the significance of the ‘Ode to Joy’ due to being knuckle dragging Neanderthals who hate foreigners along with every other cliché of a Brexit voter. And shouting ‘Greece!’ at arguments about why it might have been better, on balance, to remain in the EU are, I admit, probably equally politically futile. Though, of course, the EU treatment of Greece does tell us all we need to know about it as an institution. I get the Remain arguments and respect them but I don’t agree with them. What I don’t respect is the forced dichotomy that lumps everyone who voted to leave into the ‘bigot’ camp and the remain voters being on the side of the Angels. There were plenty of scumbags Tories and Lib Dems on the remain side.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

Obviously not everyone in the Leave camp is a bigot – I’ve considerable sympathy for the reasons some voted Leave – and agreed a fair few on the Remain side are to put it mildly problematic but that’s not an argument you’ll hear on here, that Leavers were all bigots. What you will hear though is a basic working through of why – whatever peoples attitudes or beliefs or reasons for voting – the actual practical outcomes are so deeply problematic that it wasn’t just not worth it but is actively negative for workers here on this island and in Britain, and I’d argue in Europe as well. Not because we love the EU but because this is a process driven by the right.

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ivorthorne - February 10, 2017

Not everyone who voted for Brexit was a bigot. Some were just ideologues (not used as a slur) who would have just as quickly voted against the continuation of the UK or the UN as it is not what they consider their utopian system of government or international organisation. Having said that, they played into the hands of the bigots and vulnerable people will suffer as a result.

In the run up to the “marriage equality” referendum, I would have found the myself in a similar position. I do not believe that legal marriage is a “good” institution. It ultimately privileges some over others, some types of families over others and is unnecessary (civil unions cover the more practical aspects). However voting against the “gay marriage” would not have made the situation any fairer or better. And voting in favour at least helped some oppressed people.

Post-Brexit, all of the EU will hurt. The bullshit arguments of UKIP have been legitimised within the national conversation. The agendas that the oligarchs and fascists promote have been forwarded and will most likely accelerate. Leftists who voted for Brexit may not have voted for these agendas but their votes helped enable Murdoch and Farage, and this was the predictable outcome.

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botheredbarney - February 10, 2017

I like Beethoven’s 9th, but the Rhodesian white UDI government adopted Ode for Joy as the racist state’s national anthem. Beethoven’s music was also electronified as background to a vicious assault and rape season in the controversial film A Clockwork Orange.

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botheredbarney - February 10, 2017

*rape scene*

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4. Aengus Millen - February 9, 2017

Sappy (and used for market purposes) but given the world we live in can’t help liking it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2017

It’s getting to the point that any positive stuff is a welcome reprieve from the rest.

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ivorthorne - February 10, 2017

Yes. Can’t help but like it.

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5. soubresauts - February 10, 2017

We were all against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, weren’t we? And now Trump has killed it.

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oconnorlysaght - February 10, 2017

Collateral constructiveness.

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EWI - February 10, 2017

Unfortunately, Trump has killed such things because he’s convinced that it wasn’t weighted enough in favour of the US and his corporate buddies; he’s clearly going to pursue worse bilateral deals where the US can throw its weight around more.

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oconnorlysaght - February 11, 2017

He will try, but can he succeed? The TPP was a projected single agreement. Unless he can get a new TPP (and I think his sparring partners in old one are likely to be reluctant to accept the necessary worse terms), he will have to negotiate and get approved a series of commercial treaties. Instead of one thread, he will have to manipulate a slew of them. Does he have anyone with the skills necessary? Ask me another.

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CL - February 11, 2017

-“On December 21, 2016, Navarro was selected by President-elect Donald Trump to head a newly created position, as director of the White House National Trade Council….
Laurence Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics at Boston University, describes Navarro as starting, together with President Trump, a new school of economic thought — “Stupid Economics.”-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Navarro

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