Friday, 25 November 2011

The Labour Left's Red Book - The True Labour Party

Labour Left, The Red Book, 23 November 2011 (1)

Though I am not as of yet officially a member of the Labour Party, I identify with its historical and ideological stand for radical, progressive, socially liberal and libertarian democratic socialism, as defined by the writings, actions and words of figures such as Attlee, Bevan, Foot and Wilson. This intellect and activism is exemplified by GEER, who have complied this manifesto in a stand for a truly left-wing Labour Party.

George Orwell was a supporter of the Labour Party: though he wished it well in parliamentary successes compared to Tory rule, it is an important perspective that he organizationally left in greater favour of the anti-Stalinist Independent Labour Party. Even in the late 1940s, Orwell disdainfully found it hard to distinguish the homogenized opportunism of establishment Labour figures from that of the Conservatives. The current Labour leadership patronizes strike actionwith full rhetorical agreement from the right-wing government that has destructive contempt for the rights of workers—while the overwhelming majority of trade unionists and Labour grassroots members are evidently in favour of it. Many of my fellow left-wing travellers, general socialists or anarchists alike, completely disfavour any sort of cooperation or membership of the Labour Party, deeming the influence of New Labour neoliberalism to be completely ineradicable. I understand and can empathize with this viewpoint. I did so growing up with the betrayals and authoritarian tendencies Blair/Brown administrations. But they did achieve many great and positive things, and frankly, I'm certain we would have far, far preferred a decade of Brown compared to living through the policies of the ConDem coalition. Who did so many in the left flock to based upon these disillusionments?...the Liberal Democrats. Which is clearly a remarkable thing to consider now. Labour is a broad church. If we believe and derive anger from Labour's betrayal of its principles, then we can surely realize that those principles are our principles. If we believe in "#solidarity", we should consider to reclaim its direction accordingly.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Effective non-violence

Malcolm X said that non-violence is fine, so as long as it works. I agree with this sentiment. He is overwhelmingly misquoted as coining the principle of "any means necessary", a term originally paraphrased from Jean-Paul Sartre. There was factionalism in the African-American civil rights movement between those committed to Martin Luther King's pacifism and Malcolm X's justification of defense through physical force. But even Mahatma Gandhi, as I have noted before, advised Indians to take up arms and exert direct action against colonial rule. MLK derived his civil disobedience from Gandhi's; though Gandhi would have perfectly agreed with the sentiments of Malcolm X and Sartre, his non-violence was devotional and strict.

This casual pepper-spraying and beating of completely peaceful, non-resistant student demonstrators has swiftly become an iconic image of the Occupy movement. The footage on the face of it is horrifying. The psychopathic, emotionless riot cops inflict their violence like routine activity. The gas-brandishing officer in question sprays the faces of the evidently dehumanized students, who are occupying and striking against severe education cuts and tuition fee rises, as if doing a spot of gardening, as Russell Brand describes it. But actually watching the video is remarkably inspiring. Their clear intention was the tactic of enticing violence in attempt to discredit and justify state brutality against peaceful protesters. But instead, total non-violence was something they had no idea how to respond to. They retreat in shame and defeat.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Thoughts on the poppy debate

Though red poppies are worn with general intention to commemorate the sacrifices and service of war veterans, they specifically relate to the harrowing conflicts, solace, and eventual armistice of World War I. Though World War II succeeded it as directly consequential, we can discuss that "good war" as the fight against the fascism that was originally favoured to be appeasement by aristocratic powers.  I could elaborate that WWI embodied nothing but mass suffering, genocide and mass, expandable deployment of young men (my great-grandfather Thomas Richardson being one of them) in the name of nothing but imperialistic colonialism by pitiful and jingoistic political agendas (which it was), compared to the home front-style resistance movement pioneered by Michael Foot's Guilty Men and the speeches of Winston Churchill. But this would be intellectually and ethically dishonest. Though taking the side of Soviet totalitarianism was justifiable in the longterm, atrocity and abomination is inherent to all mass warfare. We have no need to mention the Holocaust. But we should put the bombing of Dresden or the U.S. nuclear obliterations of Japan on par with it.

When the commemorative red poppies were first introduced in 1926, socialist pacifists and war widows proposed that "No More War" be painted in their middles. When these efforts failed, they created their own white poppies, bearing "Peace" (which you can buy here). Of course, these are only matters of interpretative symbology. I choose to wear both the red and white poppy on the same lapel, in both warning and tribute to the crimes and liberations of armed struggles.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The ethno-cultural suppression of Palestine

For the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's mere acknowledgement of the notion of Palestine representing a cultural contribution in the world, the United States government has withdrawn all of its funding to the organization. For UNESCO's audacity to recognize the existence of a Palestinian culture on a slight and non-political diplomatic level, support for an institution that promotes historical understanding and education (including on the Holocaust and the strifes of the Jewish people throughout history), the arts and humanities, development of science and technology, and international human rights law. Along with the singularly pathetic, disgraceful and arrogant posturing of Susan Rice and her fellow diplomats against Mahmoud Abbas's peaceful efforts for the acceptance of Palestine to have some slight degree of political representation at the United Nations, exhibited once again is the extraordinary, laughable and institutionalized contempt the U.S. government has for Palestinian democracy.