13 Mar 2018

Solidarity statement with Afrin from Hugo Blanco

Afrin by Hugo Blanco

At the same time as we write and read this, they have cut off the electricity and water in Afrin, Rojava, the area and territory of the Kurdistan Women's Revolution and Democratic Confederalism. At this same time the Sultan Fascist Erdogan intends to complete the genocide in Afrin. He started bombing on January 20, facing the heroic resistance of women and men in defence of collective freedom; of the dignified life.

Today they advance on the capital city of the canton (Afrin) where they have taken refuge civilians who have had to flee the bombs, after mass murders. Erdogan says he will return these lands to their owners, when they have always been inhabited by Kurdish majorities. He is a murderous fascist and is committing a genocidal massacre before the eyes of the world, before our eyes right now.

Here is a text sent to us from Afrin containing the firm, energetic, hurt and anguished words of Bruno Lima Rocha.

While the army of men and women fights and faces a disproportionately superior enemy, the powers of the world, watch in silence. Intentional and cowardly accomplices intend that this uprising for the life of and from the women ends in a bloodbath so that a minority can continue to accumulate and so that the many of us will continue to be subjected and submitted to our resignation, occupation and submission. Right now, the terrifying sound of bombs and shots is advancing on a city that has proclaimed dignity, freedom, life and justice in democracy, matriarchal and woven to the earth.

Here a text sent to us from Afrin and the firm, energetic, hurt, anguished word of Bruno Lima Rocha. Turkey is a murderous state. Erdogan, a fascist sultan. The world, complicit and silent as death advances on Afrin and the women and men of the Kurdish revolution defend us all and are the only protection, in this infamous world, for those girls, children ... for that people who have shouted and built freedom.

No to domination and dispossession. Pueblo in Camino

Hugo Blanco is the historic leader of the indigenous people of Peru.  He publishes Lucha Indigena (where this statement was originally published) This is my rough translation using google!

Original in Spanish

A esta misma hora, mientras escribimos y leemos esto, han cortado la electricidad y el agua en Afrin, Rojava, ámbito y territorio de la Revolución de las Mujeres de Kurdistán y del Confederalismo Democrático. A esta misma hora el Sultán Fascista Erdogan pretende completar el genocidio en Afrin. Empezó a bombardear el 20 de enero enfrentando la heroica resistencia de mujeres y hombres en defensa de la libertad colectiva; de la vida digna. Hoy avanza sobre la ciudad capital del cantón donde se han refugiado civiles que han tenido que huir de las bombas, tras asesinatos masivos. Erdogan asegura que va a devolver estas tierras a sus dueños, cuando siempre han estado habitadas por mayorías kurdas. Es un fascista asesino y está cometiendo una masacre genocida antes los ojos del mundo, ante nuestros ojos ahora mismo. Mientras el ejército de hombres y mujeres lucha y enfrenta a un enemigo desproporcionadamente superior, las potencias del mundo todas, observan en silencio. Cómplices intencionales y cobardes interesadas en que este levantamiento por la vida de y desde las mujeres termine en un baño de sangre para que unos pocos puedan seguir acumulando y para que muchas y muchos, todas y todos, sigamos entre-teniéndonos sometidas y sometidos en nuestra resignación, ocupación y sumisión. Ahora mismo, el sonido aterrador de bombas y disparos avanza sobre una ciudad que ha dicho dignidad, libertad, vida y justicia en democracia, matriarcal y tejida a la tierra. Acá un texto que nos envían desde Afrin y la palabra firme, enérgica, dolida, angustiada de Bruno Lima Rocha. Turquía es un estado asesino. Erdogan, un sultán fascista. El mundo, cómplice y silencioso mientras la muerte avanza sobre Afrin y las mujeres y hombres de la revolución Kurda nos defienden a todas y todos y son la única protección, en este mundo infame, para esas niñas, niños…para ese pueblo que ha gritado y construido Libertad. ¡Así No! Dominación y Despojo. Pueblos en Camino

4 Mar 2018

The System

Image via https://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/capability-systems-centre/research-themes/complexity-measures-systems-engineering

We need to move beyond 'my party is good' and 'your party is evil'. Instead we need to think about systems.  The proposal that Caroline Lucas is good and Jeremy Corbyn less so or vice versa, seems unproductive.  The notion that we have an elite with noxious intentions cannot entirely be dismissed when one thinks of how many innocent people are imprisoned in Britain.  However it is a far from adequate way of understanding what is going on.  A simple moralism is always going to be too simplistic.

  OK having stood as a General Election candidate for the Green Party against Theresa May, she kind of does represent evil for me.  It was instructive to complete a hustings with her (she dodged televised debates but under took a local hustings in Maidenhead).  Her support for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and her disdain for the Kurds in Syria who fight against ISIS, appalled me.  I could go on, one thinks of those who have died from benefit sanctions in the UK.

However we need to think not only of replacing 'bad' politicians with 'good' politicians or even of policies to make things better.  A society is a system and different elements tend to reinforce each other and to conserve the system.  A particular change of policy or leaders does not alone lead to systematic change.  Again the assumption that we are betrayed by leaders who are corrupted by power is inadequate, a society moves to a particular rhythm and changing this is very difficult indeed.

The assumption that politics is about understanding and changing systems provides a clear break with the usual way of doing things.  Quite radical policies tend to be mobilised to support an existing system.  Systematic change is extremely difficult to achieve, our society is a capitalist society, economics, ideas, politics, etc, etc. broadly reinforce the pursuit of profit.

There are no easy solutions to this, I certainly don't see capitalism as ecologically sustainable.  Introducing a land tax, nationalising major firms or introducing a basic income may or may not be desirable in themselves but each alone whether desirable or not, is not going to change the dynamic.

I tend to be critical of nationalisation and central planning for a variety of reasons.  Nonetheless what ever their virtues we can see how the nationalisation of the 1945 Atlee government, and its introduction of the NHS and welfare state, while bringing benefits did not transform the British system.

I am not proposing a reductionist view, economics may have a lot of weight but culture and a series of other factors are part of any system.  Neither I am a holist in the sense that the system can never be changed, however systems do tend to conserve themselves to a large extent.

Thus with the evolution of the world wide web and social media, we have seen fewer examples of wikipedia and more examples of platform capitalism of various types.  More profit from the sharing economy and less actual sharing, more concentration of power and wealth and less community gain, perhaps.

How we work with the systematic nature of a society to change the system seem to be a better way of framing the question of political action than simply condemning the ruling party as fools and knaves (although having debated with May I know there is something in this thesis!).

Massimo de Angelis's recent book on commons does tackle the issue of systems, the promotion of commons does not transform the economic system, even though commons have many positive features.

The notion of 'overdetermination' seems vital in understanding how causes inter act.  Ecology as a science studies relationships within systems, natural systems are different to social systems, but the systematic approach of ecology is likely to be instructive.  Cybernetics also relates to this.

I was also remind of the importance of a systems approach in my thinking in discussion with Graham Jones, I will be interested to see if his new book for Polity takes up this challenge.

His suggestions for an ecology of political action do look interesting!

Numerous commentators have called for a turn towards an ecology of organisations – Plan C’s theory of the Social Strike, and Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s counter hegemonic project in Inventing the Future both rely on this concept. However, an outline of the features of such an ecology, or how it might be built, has yet to be specified. We can combine ideas from social movement studies literature, with those found in the study of ecological resilience and complex adaptive systems, for lessons in how to create a growing, dominant and resilient network of resistance and alternatives. We have to be careful of course, because for all the similarities of dynamics found between social systems and ecologies, they are not one and the same. Social systems are fundamentally maintained through communication of symbols and the capacity for conscious reflection, unlike material ecological systems. But with that proviso in mind, we can nonetheless bring together a series of conceptual tools for some guidance on building counterpower in a network society.

This is from his shock doctrine of the left article which can be found here. 

Politics is about change and change needs to be based on deep thinking about how systems work and specific action to promote transformation.  The necessary change is multi faced.

29 Jan 2018

Statement from Jeremy Corbyn on #Afrin

(Photo from Newroz, a year or two ago!)

Statement from Jeremy Corbyn on Afrin
On Saturday's #DefendAfrin demonstration in London, Dan Carden MP read this statement from Jeremy Corbyn:
"I send my solidarity to the Kurdish people of Syria and all over the world. What is urgently needed is a ceasefire, de-escalation and a negotiated political solution - not further escalations and interventions in a conflict that has already led to huge numbers of deaths and refugees. Multiple interventions by outside powers have increased the suffering and destruction and intensified tensions in the region. Turkey's air and ground assault in the Afrin region is already causing civilian casualties including among refugees from other parts of Syria. The British government has failed to consistently oppose foreign interventions in Syria and is itself involved in the US-led bombing campaign. We have instead a moral obligation to throw our weight behind pressure for a lasting peace and political settlement in Syria, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces engaged in the conflict."

Jeremy has a very strong record of solidarity with Kurdish people and  is a patron of Peace in Kurdistan.

Some British volunteers called for a vote for Jeremy Corbyn during the 2017 General Election more details here

Jeremy has been subject to strong press attacks because of his support for Kurdish liberation, click here.

John Woodcock, an anti Corbyn Labour Party MP, has, in contrast, shown sympathy with Turkish armed forces, see here and been strongly criticised.

I would like the Labour Party to be making strong and regular statements opposing Turkish attacks on Afrin, as has Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, the Green Party co-leaders, here

Boris Johnson and Theresa May have, in contrast to Jeremy Corbyn and the Green Party, shown their sympathy for Turkish 'security', http://factcheckingturkey.com/syria/claim-us-and-uk-strongly-criticize-afrin-operation-433


25 Jan 2018

The Afrin Resistance will prevail!


     The AKP-MHP fascist rule, in collaboration with the anti-human gangs has launched an occupation attack against Afrin. They want to totally strip Afrin, an oasis of democracy for Syria and the Middle East, of the Kurdish population and replace them with these gangs. The AKP-MHP fascist rule has once again demonstrated its enmity towards the Kurds. Through this occupation attack, they want to shore up and nurture the reactionary forces in the Middle East. Knowing that a ground operation is doomed to fail, they began the occupation by using the Syrian air space, opened to them only after a dirty deals. They have attacked the city using approximately 100 fighter jets, an unprecedented case in the history of warfare. This occupation has faced the historical resistance of the people of Afrin and its self-sacrificing freedom fighters. The Afrin occupation attack has not only revealed the true anti-human nature of the Turkish state in the person of AKP-MHP fascist rule, but also has, at the same time, proved how a people empowered by democratic community principles can strongly resist. The people of Afrin and their self-sacrificing girls and boys, inspired by freedom and democracy ideals, have given the “no parasan” response to the occupation forces. They have rebuffed all the attacks during the last 6 days. We salute the people of Afrin and their self-sacrificing fighters who defend their homeland and democratic values.  We congratulate them in advance for the victory they will gain in the most rightful battle of history.
      The Afrin resistance is the resistance of all Syrians, the peoples of the Middle East, and all humanity. There is no difference between ISIS and AKP-MHP fascism and its collaborating gangs attacking Afrin. ISIS’s attack on Kobani and AKP-MHP’s attack on Afrin share the same goal. Recognizing this fact, all the peoples of the world and democratic circles have united around the historic resistance of Afrin. The attitudes of different states regarding this occupation may be driven by interests and have thus heartened it; However, regardless of these attitudes, the peoples all over the world have supported the Afrin resistance. We salute the democratic humanity and all the peoples for their support. Humanity’s conscience and sense of freedom and democracy united around the Afrin resistance have once again showed that humanity will not let fascism triumph. Afrin is a manifestation of the accumulation of humanity’s sense of freedom and democracy. Leftists, socialists, environmentalists, feminists, pro-labor circles and peace activists should organize their stance more effectively so that the sense of solidarity and the power of struggle needed for victory will emerge. Once AKP-MHP fascism is defeated, the wave of freedom and democracy, starting from the Middle East, will spread all over the world.
     The Afrin resistance provides the peoples of Turkey with a historical opportunity for achieving peace and democracy. Once this anti-democratic and anti-freedom fascist rule, joined by CHP, is defeated, the hurdles in the way of freedom and democracy will be removed and the peoples of Turkey will achieve fraternity, democracy, and freedom. We salute all the democratic forces who have opposed the AKP-MHP fascist attacks and resisted the anti-democratic and anti-freedom attitudes of CHP. We believe that tomorrow’s Turkey will be found on the basis of your honorable and courageous stance. We reiterate our commitment for staying in solidarity with your hard struggle.
     The Afrin occupation has once again had the Kurds see the anti-Kurdish nature of the Turkish state, as the vanguard of enmity against the Kurds. It has been revealed that unless this fascism is defeated, no part of Kurdistan will achieve freedom and democracy. Afrin resistance instantiates the unity, common stance and struggle of the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan and the diaspora. We congratulate our people in Kurdistan and in Europe for their stance. We would like to reiterate our commitment to a Free Kurdistan and democratic Middle East, goals to be achieved through the unity of the Kurds, their unity with other peoples, and their common struggle. We call on the Kurdish people and all the peoples of the Middle East and all over the world to unite and stand in solidarity with the Afrin resistance.
     The Afrin resistance will prevail, AKP-MHP fascism will be defeated, all Syrians and the peoples of the Middle Ease will achieve their freedom and democratic rights.

Co-Presidency of KCK Executive Council
25 January 2018

16 Jan 2018

Emergency Demonstration: Against Turkish attacks on Afrin! Friday 19th January

The Turkish armed forces are preparing to invade Afrin, a Kurdish canton in Syria.

We call everyone to join us and protest outside the Turkish Embassy in London . Date : 19/01/2018 Time: 12:00 Address: Turkish Embassy 43 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8PA Closest station: Hyde Park Corner Kurdish People Assembly Roj Women Assembly Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

14 Jan 2018

White Pendragons, Fabian Society and Conspiracy

image via http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/donald-trump-supporters-sadiq-khan_uk_5a59e1ace4b03c418965d116

A meeting of the Fabian Society addressed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan was heckled by a dozen or so member of the White Pendragons, a right wing group.  They shouted pro Brexit slogans, brandished US flags and advocated for Donald Trump.  So far so straightforward, a previous unknown group, they are part of the largely white, male, British far right, a movement made up of individuals moving between UKIP, the BNP,  the English Democrats and EDL.  In other parts of Europe similar individuals are in government, one thinks of Poland or Austria.

(image via http://whattrumpdidnext.com/2018/01/13/these-trump-supporters-built-a-gallows-and-tried-to-arrest-londons-mayor-people-laughed-at-them/)

It is distressing to see mock gallows erected with a rather frank threat aimed at London's first Muslim mayor.  In the 1930s they would have marched against Jews and I guess in a future decade Hindus or Jains might be the source of their alarm, equally if we go back to the 18th century and the Gordon Riots, Catholics would have been the sectarian target.

So far so bad but so predictable.  The white pendragon incidentally is said to be a reference to the flags of Hengist and Horsa who led the Saxons, Angles and Jutes who invaded Britain in the 5th Century AD.  In fact Hengist and Horsa landed in Herne Bay, from where the White Pendragon's spokesperson Davy Russell harks.  Davy, a former member of the English Defence League (EDL) has been described as 'the Herne Bay shock jockey'.

Islamophobia is a sadly mainstream hatred but the Fabian Society is vilified for more obscure reasons.  This centre left organisation has been seen as a mainstay of moderate or right wing or establishment Labour for decades.  Where those on the Corbyn wing of Labour may vilify Progress, the Fabians are seen as part of the party furniture and largely uncontroversial.  Indeed founded in 1884, the Fabian Society predates the formation of the Labour Party by decades.

In the 1950s and 1960s far from being a shadowy left wing group they acted for the Atlanticist right of Labour, advocating a pro US cold war foreign policy.  Pro nuclear figures like Gaitskell and Dennis Healy were notably Fabians and opposed by the left of Labour in often fierce polemical battles.

For the White Pendragons the Fabians are a virtually satanic group who aim to control society.  Part of a network of one world or new world order groups,  whose ultimate aim is the destruction of British society.

While advancing socialism the Fabians are part of a conspiracy staffed by an international banking elite.

The conspiracy thread in far right politics especially anti-semitic forms is disturbing and confusing.  The White Pendragon's objections to the Fabians, which seem to be a central part of their political world view, is incomprehensible to observers.  It is a standard on the British far right.

The first leader of the National Front, A.K.Chesterton, wrote an account of conspiracy entitled 'The New Unhappy Lords'.  The Bilderburgs, Rothschilds, Rockerfellers and, indeed, the Fabians, are part of a conspiracy to advance Soviet interests and destroy the British Empire.

The far right John Birch Society advanced related conspiracy theories in the USA during the 1950s and onwards.

The international far right have variously linked freemasons, socialist networks including the Fabians, bankers and Bilderburgs and the UN into a paranoid and mutating story of manipulation.

Typically a survey of the Australian far right in the 1970s noted:

In recent years Mr Butler has mellowed a little, and appears to have sought a more responsible image. But his League of Rights has continued to disseminate claims of a Communist conspiracy. One claim is that the Fabian Society and the London School of Economics are centres of operation for the International Jewish-Communist conspiracy. Mr Butler today claims that he no longer agrees with everything he has published—”Some of my best friends are Jews”, he has said. But his record speaks for itself. He has distributed anti-semitic and pro-fascist literature written by Sir Oswald Mosley, the British Fascist, and Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party

Often the conspiracies become mysterious and complex:

The American conspiracy theorist has always known that there were people out to destroy the paradise that was mythical America, land of the brave, home of the free. But they kept changing their minds about the identity of the evil conspirators. Was it the Catholics? The Masons? The Jews? The bankers? The East coast elite of 'old money'? Fabians? After 1917 they knew it was International Communism but they weren't sure if there was someone else behind the Red Menace. Some suspected that Communism was merely a front for international Jewry (weren't Marx and Engels Jews?). Sometimes all the suspects were amalgamated into one vast, muddled, fudge as in this early 1950s formulation in which the threat was a 'Fabian, Rhodes Scholar, Zionist, Pinko, Communist, New Deal, Fair Deal, Socialist-minded gang'.2

Stray facts are built into a comprehensive narrative. Hitler was another exponent and the far right wing conspiracy narrative can be traced back to Abbe Augustin Barruel's Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Jacobinisme.  Barruel's views were described by Nesta Webster, whose books were read by an array of far rightists including the John Birch Society.

Such conspiracies cannot, of course, be convincingly refuted.  To challenge them shows that one is part of the conspiracy.

The thinking is that any revolution or unrest is a product not of injustice but of the plans of a manipulative external group.

By demonising a particular group violence is legitimated.  Thus the gallows is symbolically put forward by the White Pendragon as the solution to treachery.  The alien all powerful enemy is the big 'other' targeted by the conspiracy thinker.

The anti-conspiracy organisation see themselves as the knights of good fighting against superhuman evil forces.  Fear is linked to moral certainty, despite the seeming incoherence and opaqueness of their views.

Sadiq Khan's religion was not the main target for the White Pendragons, instead they were challenging the Fabian Society who they view as a bastion of evil rather than a rather mild political group committed to discussion and compromise!

I will blog something critical about the Fabians another day, I am largely ignorant of the 'freemen' on the land aspect of the White Pendragons but will discuss if I have time to find out.

10 Jan 2018

Critical humanitarian situation in Mindanao – Urgent appeal for financial aid

The most important initiative of solidarity taken by our association, ESSF, during 2017 concerned the island of Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines, reports Pierre Rousset. Then it was a question of responding to the humanitarian consequences of the “Battle of Marawi” between government forces and jihadist movements – more than 600,000 people (mostly Muslim) had to flee the fighting and often found themselves totally destitute.
The battle of Marawi lasted 5 months. The reconquest of the city by the army did not, however, led to an improvement in the humanitarian situation in Mindanao. The situation is actually more critical than ever, for various reasons: a devastating typhoon, widespread fighting between government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) of the CPP, a new jihadist area, prolongation of martial law throughout the whole island, mountain populations directly threatened by the activities of forestry and mining companies and the impossibility for the majority of the inhabitants of Marawi to find decent living conditions …
This is why we are relaunching our solidarity initiative this beginning of 2018. The funds collected will be sent to:
Mihands coalition [1]with whom we have been working for years, specifically asking them to use the funds for the victims of humanitarian disasters, whatever their origin (whether as a result of the typhoon or of the military conflicts …).
The Tripod association [2], which is part of the Mihands network, specifically asking them to use the funds to help the mountain population.
As a result of the donations we received at the end of 2017 for our permanent Asian Solidarity Fund, we have already been able to send this month of January 4,000 euros to Tripod .[3] We thank all those who made this emergency aid possible.
Description of the situation
Typhoon Temblin (international name) Vinta (Philippine name) struck Mindanao on December 22 2017, crossing the northern part of the island from east to west and causing considerable damage: floods, landslides, etc. On December 24, we received a call for solidarity from Mihands, which was published here.
Climate change is having an effect on the area. Mindanao used to be hit by violent tidal waves, but not by the great tropical storms (typhoons), which crossed the Philippine archipelago farther north; they have now extended to the south where the people are poorly prepared for their violence. Besides, much of the devastation is due to economic activity, including deforestation –mostly illegal. This further explains why Temblin / Vinta has far more victims than this volume of rain would normally imply.
Figures from late December mentioned 670,000 people affected by the typhoon, 140,000 displaced, 2,600 homes damaged, 60% destroyed, more than 200 dead, many injured. However, the situation in many localities remained unknown. We will be receiving later assessments soon.
Mining and forestry lobbies are seizing new lands, aggravating the consequences of climate chaos Their activities also directly threaten to uproot of various lumad communities – that is the mountain tribes (or mountain ethno-linguistic groups) of Mindanao by penetrating into their ancestral domains.
The army and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) are now in total conflict (even if the CPP has participated in the current government of Duerte). Fighting is widespread across much of Mindanao and is often concentrated in mountainous areas. The pressure of the state of war is felt by communities everywhere, especially by the lumad communities. In areas where there is no active armed conflict, the population tries to preserve peace by avoiding being dragged into the spiral of militarization.
Martial law has again been extended throughout the island of Mindanao for the whole of 2018. Practically, this means that the army can do what it wants, even though the 1987 Constitution, drafted after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, supposedly limits their powers under martial law – and states that it should be an exceptional situation. The army acts unfavourably and with suspicion against Muslim refugee families from the Battle of Marawi, the self-organization of local communities, civic movements, and left forces from all tendencies… In these conditions, the military framework renders the action of humanitarian grassroots networks more difficult.
The various causes of misfortune have been superimposed on each other, creating a particularly critical humanitarian situation in a large part of Mindanao.
As soon as we receive additional information, we will let you know.
Thank you for your solidarity,

Continue reading at  http://socialistresistance.org/critical-humanitarian-situation-in-mindanao-urgent-appeal-for-financial-aid/11354

Solidarity statement with Afrin from Hugo Blanco

Afrin by Hugo Blanco At the same time as we write and read this, they have cut off the electricity and water in Afrin, Rojava, the ...