Category Archives: Communism

Politics also plays in the African Cup of Nations

By Francisco Centauro of Grada Roja

There are two faces to this beast; on the one hand the clamor that represents a continental tournament organized by FIFA, which brings together different countries in Africa to share the values that football transmits. On the other hand, also visible are the many factors that have led to the social and economic decline of the whole continent. In the 19th and 20th Centuries it was the shared experience of the imperialist yoke that gave the African nations the by-product of a fighting heritage. Now FIFA and those in political power in Africa try to provide cover for the continuing poverty and inequality of the continent with showcase tournaments. Nothing to see here, move along please…

The host country for the 2017 edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations is Gabon. Similar to Brazil at the last World Cup, a large percentage of the population of Gabon lives in dire poverty. The dissatisfaction at the amount of money invested in organizing the tournament permeates the population and has manifested itself in widespread discontent and protest on the streets.

The riots in Gabon commenced in the aftermath of the re-election of Ali Bongo of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) whose victory is widely considered to be corrupt and fraudulent. Gabonese opposition candidate Jan Ping leads the protests and the social upheaval is ongoing, in spite of the African Nations Cup tournament. The capital Libreville, is the epicenter of both the sporting event and popular discontent. But the Cup must continue because the economic interests of the organizers in this era of commercialised soccer are a priority – they have match timetables to fill and profits to make, because ‘time is money’.

The first game of the Cup, on January 14, saw host Gabon play Guinea Bissau. Inside the stadium the encounter takes place with a certain normality, contrary to the scenes on the outside, where the population is immersed in episodes of violence, culminating in the protesters setting fire to the National Assembly as a sign of their discontent. Revolts, riots and mass arrests are the reality of the African Cup of Nations that is not reported by the mainstream media. It is obvious that, as in Brazil, the interests pursued by the government, the African Confederation and FIFA, is considered to be more important than responding to the demands of the protesters. No matter that public resources have been diverted to fund a lavish opening ceremony, the basic needs of the population can wait, because it is the priority of those in charge to show the world that Gabon is up to the task of organizing an event of this type. Most likely, after the tournament, stadiums will become abandoned properties, due to the inability of the government to finance their maintenance. Just look back and observe the countries that have hosted a tournament of similar character in other continents. In Brazil, those stadiums that were built after long days of exploitation and brutal effort for the workers, now lie abandoned. They remain as the silent witnesses of the socioeconomic consequences of being a World Cup host, Gabon will be no exception to this rule.

Looking beyond the facade of this tournament, it is important to celebrate the tradition of resistance that is demonstrated by the protests on the streets of Gabon. These protests recall the examples of struggle that led to the national liberation of several African countries, as well as the heroic characters who fought colonialism and achieved independence for their nations. Today these achievements are overshadowed by interventionism and betrayal.

So we remember Thomas Sankara and his legacy in the liberation of Burkina Faso, President Nasser’s Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the revolution of Patrice Lumumba. The many liberation struggles in southern and central Africa that saw the colonialists overthrown. And, of course, the Algerians as authentic warriors both on the pitch and on the barricades of the National Liberation Front. The revolution in Africa continues because, as has been proven by experience, national liberation in and of itself does not automatically lead to social liberation and freedom from poverty. Football and Politics remain intertwined and reflect the social context of the time and we will continue to report the political as well as the sporting.

This article first appeared in Spanish on the Grada Roja website.

Translated & Edited by Talman, with thanks to F.C. and Grada Roja

REVIEW: Dare Devil Rides to Jarama

Dare Devil Rides to Jarama dramatizes Clem “Daredevil” Beckett’s life and sacrifice during the Spanish Civil war, and celebrates the 80th anniversary of the creation of the International Brigades.

Clem Beckett lived briefly, but what he made of his 31 years on this earth is quite extraordinary. A proud working class lad born in Oldham in 1906, a blacksmith by trade turned speedway rider during the depression of the 1920s, he was quick to identify the damaging nature of capitalism, leading him to embrace solidarity, anti-fascism and revolutionary socialism. He never shunned fighting the good fight and when the biggest fight of all against fascism in Spain started, he joined the International Brigades and died in 1937 in the battle to stop Franco from reaching Madrid.

Daredevil Rides to Jarama is a wonderful piece of working class theatre, with a brilliant script and an incredibly clever way of using cheap props and lighting to convey time, place, situations and moods. A wooden panel at the back of the stage is a wall of death, a factory gate, a door to a lovenest, a cinema screen, a wall in Spain; some steps are a podium for a political speech and for an award ceremony, a writing table, and a workshop bench. There are no special effects. Musical instruments appear and are played to accompany the singing of fighting ballads. And you never realise how bare and simple the stage is because with just a few props, some poetry, some songs, lighting, and above all an extraordinarily well-crafted script and two seriously talented men create more magic and evoke more reality than you ever thought was possible with so little.

David Heywood brings back to life a brave, determined, compassionate, cheeky and sharp Clem Beckett and leaves everything he’s got on stage. He really empties the tank. Neil Gore, who wrote the play, is everybody else, from the greyhound stadium owner who exploits young riders’ inexperience on deliberately dangerous dirt tracks for sensational shows that cause injury and death, to the landowner who tries to keep ramblers off the land, and many other characters, including Christopher St John Sprigg (aka Cauldwell), the upper middle class writer and poet who became Clem’s unlikely partner and died with him on February 12, 1937 in the Jarama Valley.

Offering inspired, nuanced performances and a genuine connection with the audience, David and Neil are also the stage hands, as they operate the lights and reorganise the stage between the two acts. The play is an intellectual and emotional tour de force through a compassionate life of political commitment in the fight against capitalism and fascism. Clem’s is the story of one of the many heroic men and women who understood what was at stake in Spain and decided that the ultimate sacrifice was not too high a price to pay and joined the International Brigades to fight on the side of the Spanish resistance.

Catch it if you can from January.
http://www.townsendproductions.org.uk/home

For more information about Clem Beckett, go to http://spartacus-educational.com/SPbeckett.htm.

‘SILENT WHITE’ – HOW THE LEFT RACIALISED THE POLITICAL DEBATE

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By Independent Working Class Association

On Sunday night, one of our IWCA facebook page admins was accused – while defending the newly published article ‘Trump: consequence not cause – of implying the word ‘white’ although not stating it when referring to the working class. The term ‘white working class’ is not one that was coined by the IWCA, but there appears to be an attempt to deliberately ‘bad jacket’ us with responsibility for it. The aim, we presume, of those pushing the politics of identity, is to politically bracket us with the racist right.

Such revisionism and deliberate falsification appears to be all pervasive on the left these days. This morning a trades union friend of the IWCA unwittingly shared what he thought was a progressive account of an interview given to Truthout by Noam Chomsky. The interview was also reported by the supposedly leftist website of Telesurtv under the title: ‘Trump Won Because Democrats Abandoned the Working Class.’

One paragraph in the Telesurtv report read:

“The exit polls and post-election data show that the majority of Trump voters are “the angry and disaffected” white working people who “are victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation,” Chomsky said.”

The Chomsky quote above, broken in the middle, made us suspicious, so we decided to check the source, Truthout, to read what he actually said.

And lo and behold, Chomsky did not refer to the working class or working people with the prefix ‘white’. The ‘silent white’ was inserted into the middle of a quote from him by whoever edited the piece and whose motive appears to have been to attribute it to the professor in order to further the identitarian agenda of a lunatic section of the middle-class left. In fact, Chomsky did not use or imply the phrase ‘white working people’ at all, it is a complete falsehood.

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The actual comment of Noam Chomsky to Truthout was:

“[Many of] the angry and disaffected are victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation…”

So where did this ‘silent white’ come from?

It was middle-class liberals who invented the term ‘white working class’ in order to separate out the core of the working class from everyone else. Moreover it is the ‘working class’ and the idea of working class unity – not the ‘white’ bit – that repels them. Which is why, having colour coded one part of the class, you never find any reference to the Black, Asian or Latino working classes. They employ the substitute ‘community’ instead. A classification deliberately devoid of distinct political identity, the ‘community’ can be used as a political pawn to be moved around the board at will.

One of Anti-Fascist Action’s street fighting legends of the 1980’s and 1990’s was an American called C.J. who had been a youth member of the Black Panther Party (BPP), in relation to this point about community and class, he stated:

“There is no more a homogeneous Black community or Asian community than there is a homogeneous White community. The idea is a construct to divide the working class.”

 

Cable Street 1936 – ‘They shall not pass and they did not pass’

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By Independent Working Class Association (IWCA)

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, where an attempted 3,000 strong march through the East End of London by the British Union of Fascists, under police protection, was forcibly prevented and broken up by thousands of fighting anti-fascists and upwards of one hundred thousand demonstrators. It remains the most significant single domestic episode in the history of British anti-fascism.

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Within the Communist Party itself, the leadership were hell bent on having a demonstration in support of the Spanish Republic at Trafalgar Square on the day, but rank and file pressure forced them to change plans at the eleventh hour to defend the East End.

Cable Street was not a spontaneous, apolitical revolt by salt-of-the-earth Londoners outraged at the presence of fascist provocateurs in their midst. The driving force was working class militants – largely, but by no means exclusively, within the Communist Party – armed with a class analysis, rooted in their own communities and often working against prevailing ‘left’ structures. Within the Communist Party itself, the leadership were hell bent on having a demonstration in support of the Spanish Republic at Trafalgar Square on the day, but rank and file pressure forced them to change plans at the eleventh hour to defend the East End. The Labour Party’s role in Cable Street is predictably shameful: its representatives at the time tried to persuade anti-fascists to stay away from the demo, and Herbert Morrison – then leader of London County Council, and Home Secretary four years later – afterwards condemned anti-fascists alongside fascists for causing the trouble, while praising the police for their actions.

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The Labour Party’s role in Cable Street is predictably shameful: its representatives at the time tried to persuade anti-fascists to stay away from the demo, and Herbert Morrison – then leader of London County Council, and Home Secretary four years later – afterwards condemned anti-fascists alongside fascists for causing the trouble, while praising the police for their actions.

Despite this, Labour are front and centre in today’s official Cable Street commemoration, along with their conservative ‘anti-fascist’ allies and non-political ethnic/religious grouplets: elements that oppose fascism not because it threatens the working class, but because it threatens the political status quo. One wonders what the activists of ’36 would make of this, or how the result might have turned out had the anti-fascist forces been so constituted back then.

L-R) Matteo Salvini – Italy’s Lega Nord; Harald Vilimsky, – Austria’s  Freedom Party (FPOe), Marine Le Pen – France’s National Front, Geert Wilders – Dutch Freedom Party (PVV); Gerolf Annemans – Belgium’s Flemish Vlaams Belang

Surveying the scene now, we see every possibility of Europe seeing the election of its first far-right head of state since 1945 in Austria in December, Marine Le Pen consistently leading the polling for the first round of the 2017 French Presidential election, UKIP eating into Labour’s core vote in England and Wales, the AfD as the biggest working class party in Berlin and the populist right climbing all over the furniture across northern, western and central Europe. The financial crash of 2008 and subsequent chronic economic crisis has stripped the political centre of its vestigial credibility, but it is the right who are filling the vacuum in working class political representation.

The antecedents of the IWCA – Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) – had as their mission statement ‘to oppose fascism physically and ideologically’. Cable Street was one of the inspirations for the physical struggle, a struggle that has been won – for now. If the current wave of populist nationalism is to be beaten back, the struggle now has to be political: no less than to reconstitute the working class as a political fighting force and the prime agent of radical political change, independent, democratic and beholden to no-one but itself. The challenge is considerable, but the risks of failing to meet it are clear.

Labour Leadership Election: Time To Fight The Tories

 

Local politics has in large part become another system of management. Councilors, Members of the Scottish Parliament and Assembly Members (in Wales & NI) manage the funds that they are allocated by central government and work within the guidelines laid down to them by the Tories. There is little possibility of ‘fighting’ municipalities providing a lead against the cuts as there was in the 1980’s. Local government has been largely stripped of any real powers and the psyche of those involved in politics appears to have switched entirely into a middle-management mode. Our contributor Klaus Stoertebeker provides a couple of examples of where Labour is in power which suggests that the ‘new dawn’ envisaged by many on the left after the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader might be short-lived.

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By Klaus Stoertebeker

Before anybody gets too excited by the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, consider these two examples of the Labour Party in power at a local level:

Political control in Greater Manchester and Bristol is wielded by the labour party. What else do those areas with a combined population of nearly 4 million have in common? The political masters in both are attempting to implement cuts in budgets and services and to reduce their workforce.

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In Greater Manchester this involves bullying, blackmailing and threatening Firefighters with the imposition of a new (inferior) contract of employment. You know, imposing contracts, just like the Tories are with the junior doctors.

In Bristol the Council and its shiny new Labour Mayor are about to cut around 1,000 jobs with the consequent impacts on services.
In both cases Labour politicians are invoking the hoary old alibi that they ‘have to do it’ because the government is making them. They often add that it’s better that they implement the cuts because they will be more ‘humane’ about it than other parties would be.  A more humane blow of the axe? Feck off!

Well, they have a choice; fight the government, or attack their workers and the people who rely on their services. Their choice is clear, it is the latter. Cowardly betrayal doesn’t even begin to describe their actions. They think we are the line of least resistance, but we have to show them that there will be a fight and that there will be a high price to pay for that betrayal.

So Labour Party, wherever and whenever and for as long as you attack the working class as you are in Bristol, Greater Manchester and elsewhere, I will continue to attack the political positions and practice of the Labour Party.

Until or unless this shit stops and you get the bottle of Poplar or Clay Cross in the local authorities you control and defy the government and the law, I don’t care who your leader is… don’t knock on my door for anything other than a fecking row.

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Green Brigade Statement: Flying The Flag For Palestine

 

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Prior to last night’s match with Hapoel Beer Sheva a collective of Celtic fans and Palestinian activists in Glasgow called on fans to show our support for the Palestinian people and fly the flag for Palestine. Like many fans throughout the stadium, the Green Brigade answered this call. From our work with grassroots Palestinian groups in the West Bank and the refugee camps of Bethlehem, we know the positive impact international solidarity has on those living in the open prisons of the Occupied Territories. We also know that their suffering cannot be ignored by the international community and last night’s actions also sought to raise awareness of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign which seeks to challenge the normalisation of the Israeli occupation.

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Some have argued that football and politics do not mix, including European football’s discredited governing body. In Palestine, however, there is little dispute. The occupation has seen the Palestinian national stadium destroyed twice by Israeli bombs and footballers killed, maimed and imprisoned. In 2013 we were proud to welcome Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian international footballer detained without crime or trial for three years in an Israeli prison, to Glasgow. Mahmoud had only recently been released from prison after a 96-day hunger strike and widespread international protest.

The BDS campaign builds on the success of earlier anti-apartheid campaigns. In the 1980s fans and citizens protested against South African sports teams and ultimately shamed the authorities into excluding apartheid South Africa from sporting activity. The late anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, whose death was marked by a minute’s silence at European matches on UEFA’s instructions, famously remarked that ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’.

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Mandela was right, and like the wider Celtic support we will continue to fly the flag for Palestine.

The response we have had since last night has been overwhelming, with messages of support pouring in from our fellow fans, human rights organisations and the global Palestinian community. We would like to thank them sincerely for their backing and tonight re-iterate our support for justice and freedom in Palestine.

We also understand that a downmarket tabloid newspaper may tomorrow run a story suggesting our group in some way mislead Celtic plc and told them that we would not be displaying our support for Palestine. This is a complete fabrication and we condemn anyone who spreads smear stories attacking football fans to The Sun.

Until the last rebel.

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Defending The Indefensible – Sinn Fein Meets Likud

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Sinn Fein is defending its decision to meet ‘under the radar’ with the political representatives of the right-wing Likud Party, the party of government in Israel, the facilitators of illegal settlements in the West Bank  and the architects of the destruction of Gaza.  By meeting with Likud, Sinn Fein has in effect broken the international campaign of the BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israeli government,  economic and cultural institutions.

That Sinn Fein can try to re-spin this betrayal as ‘critical engagement’ with the Israeli regime demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the principles of ‘solidarity’.

What is it that the Shinners do not understand about the principles of the ‪#‎BDS‬ campaign? Here, in the words of the BDS Movement website, are its stated aims:

WHAT IS BDS?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

Ongoing injustice

For nearly seventy years, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law.

Israel maintains a regime of of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people. This is only possible because of international support. Governments fail to hold Israel to account, while corporations and institutions across the world help Israel to oppress Palestinians.

Because those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, Palestinian civil society has called for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – it’s self-explanatory and it is the campaign that is supported and promoted internationally by the Palestinian liberation movement. Sinn Fein didn’t get an exemption to engage in talks with Netanyahu’s Likud party so their claims that they are working in solidarity with the Palestinians are disingenuous.

It’s apparent that Sinn Fein is a political party that is completely self-absorbed and which operates only in its own self-interest. It has continually used the so-called ‘peace process’ as a means of closing down political debate in the north of Ireland and as a means of enhancing its own inflated view of itself as an arbiter of peace in other conflicts.

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In reality, Sinn Fein’s leadership have chosen a ‘side’; they’ve chosen the side of neo-liberalism against progressive liberation movements around the world. As if to prove their reliability and usefulness to the imperialist/colonialist powers their spokespeople and party apparatchiks tour the world’s hotspots preaching the gospel of ‘peace without liberation’ to the struggles of the Basques, the Colombians, the Tamils and the Palestinians, absurdly suggesting that they have a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to the complex problems of national and social liberation.

When Sinn Fein  leaders refer to ‘conflict resolution’ it is code for the counter revolution that the party has presided over for the last two decades.  It is the export of the counter revolutionary Trojan Horse of ‘conflict resolution’ that Sinn Fein is trying to sell to its former international partners in the liberation movements.

That they put their own self-interestand the potential of economic contracts for the devolved ‘NornIron’ Assembly with the Israeli government and Israeli companiesbefore the liberation of the Palestinian people is an indication of just how low this party has now stooped and how much it has moved away from the struggle for genuine social, economic and national liberation.

Meanwhile the Palestinian political prisoner Bilal Kayed is on the 56th day of his hunger strike…

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