Today is the international day of action against fascism, an initiative called from Athens where the thugs of Golden Dawn have been trying to capitalise on their electoral breakthrough in the country feeling the sharpest edge of Eurozone austerity. Left Flank extends its best wishes to the ordinary Greek people fighting the twin horrors of economic catastrophe and the rise of Golden Dawn.
As we noted in a recent post, there have been and will be solidarity actions across the world. Sydney was first with a small but lively protest outside the Greek consulate in stifling 45°C heat. It is worth having a look at the protest’s Facebook page, especially to watch the video of NSW Greens MP John Kaye’s passionate speech condemning the Greek state’s collusion with the fascists, and linking the rise of the neo-Nazis to the crisis of capitalism.
There will also be a solidarity protest in Canberra tomorrow, outside the Greek embassy from 1pm. More details can be found here.
For ease of reference I have copied and pasted a debate on the connections between women’s oppression and the capitalist mode of production that started with a blog post by Richard Seymour at Lenin’s Tomb. I have copied that opening post as well as my reply, Richard’s rejoinder and a further reply from myself. The debate ranged more widely on some Facebook threads, with some fascinating contributions, but I’ve limited myself to mine and Richard’s direct exchange here.
Seymour: Patriarchy and the capitalist state
I have recently had cause to invoke the concept of ‘patriarchy’ a few times, in the context of the Saville scandal, and the Iowa supreme court’s decision to back sexist employers. At first, I suggested that marxists should annexe the concept of patriarchy as a regional theory of which historical materialism is a general theory. Subsequently, I modified the concept by referring to ‘capitalist patriarchy’. This is in the spirit of bell hooks’ coining of the concept of ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’, which is a way of acknowledging the tremendous variety of historical forms that patriarchy has taken, and the fact that it is already articulated with, intersecting with and overdetermined by the other types of social relationship that it emerges alongside. In this case of the Iowa Supreme Court, I was indicating that the relationship between traditional patriarchal types of authority, in the church and family, and capitalist and state power, was not merely incidental. I want to take this process of refining and modifying the concept further still, to some extent prompted by the ‘Damina’ case.
Call for day of international solidarity with anti-fascist Athens
SYDNEY ANTI-FASCIST DEMONSTRATION IN SOLIDARITY WITH GREECE
12:30pm Friday 18 January, Greek Consulate, 219-223 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
Event Facebook page / Initiated by Solidarity & endorsed by We Are All Greeks Sydney / To endorse the demonstration, get more information or media call Amy on 0430 554 263
One of the key political developments of the past year has been the growth of far Right and fascist organisations across Europe. Preying on the long-term crisis of authority of traditional political establishments and linking this to growing bitterness against austerity, several of these parties have consolidated past gains and at least one — Greece’s Golden Dawn — has made a major electoral breakthrough in two consecutive elections. This experience has not been uniform, with fascists doing poorly in recent elections in Spain and the English Defence League falling into disarray in the face of consistent anti-Nazi campaigning (with a particularly strong role being played by Unite Against Fascism).
The rise in Golden Dawn associated violence against immigrants, the Left and other minority groups — often with more-or-less open backing from sections of the police — has provoked some hysterical media coverage implying that the neo-Nazis are unstoppable in the context of the deep social crisis being inflicted on the Greek people. Yet reports from activists on the ground suggest that despair is not warranted, and the radical Left has been central to working with migrant communities to build opposition to the fascists. While it is early days, it is clear that there is a very large groundswell of resistance to the threat posed by the far Right, and that this is seen as a central part of taking on the austerity agenda of the Samaras government and the Troika.
As part of this, a call has come from Athens for an international day of action against fascism, next Saturday 19 January. Already protests are planned across a range of cities, as the poster above indicates. You can see Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism sending solidarity to Athens in the video below. Left Flank is not aware of any specific actions being planned here in Australia — but if there are, we would love to publicise them here.
Immigrants protest against Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn
Just before 2012 closes out, I’m reposting my last Overland blog of the year, which originally appeared here. In some ways it is a summing up of themes we have developed at Left Flank since we started in mid-2010; chiefly in our attempts to present not just a general ideological or theoretical approach to the topics we covered, but to concretely analyse actually existing politics — something that we thought had not been focused on enough by the Australian Marxist Left in recent years. We hope readers have found the blog and our writings elsewhere stimulating because of that focus, and we look forward to developing these ideas more next year. Thanks to all of you for your readership, comments, criticisms and support.
The political prediction business is not one you should engage in unless you’re either willing to repeatedly admit erroneous forecasts (one of Ben Eltham’s most endearing qualities) or to march on obliviously ignoring them (most of the rest of the commentariat). It’s even worse for us Marxists, as we’re notorious for having accurately foretold five out of the last two recessions. The problem is that history unfolds dialectically in the real world, and not simply through a logical derivation from some initial starting point.
In just a few weeks we have gone from the near-unanimity of Australia’s political class in refusing to clearly support the people of Gaza from a brutal Israeli military attack, to the “humiliation” of the prime minister over Australia’s vote for Palestinian observer status at the United Nations. What is it that has driven this remarkable political shift?
Today we’re posting a follow-up piece by British-based socialist and leading pro-Palestine activist Kevin Ovenden, addressing some of the debates that are beginning to emerge in the wake of the Gaza ceasefire.
The Gaza War — initial thoughts on the outcome
By KEVIN OVENDEN
It is far too early to provide a comprehensive account of the impact of the latest Gaza War on the prospects for the Palestinian struggle, Israel and the region as a whole.
But it is clear that the seven-day war demonstrated both Israel’s continuing preparedness to seek to solve its ongoing crisis and internal political impasse through war, and at the same time the tighter constraints that exist on account of the Arab revolutionary process and continued resistance to imperialism and Israeli aggression.
In response to questions from and out of conversations with many friends, however, here are some schematic observations and opinions that may stimulate a wider discussion.
Egyptians protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza
Left Flank is very pleased to be able to post this extended analysis of Israel’s war on Gaza by British-based socialist Kevin Ovenden, set in its regional and international context. Kevin has been a leading activist in Viva Palestina and narrowly escaped death at the hands of the IDF as part of the first Gaza Flotilla. We previously published his analysis of the UK riots here last year.
What means this war?
By KEVIN OVENDEN
The response from Western capitals and their allies to Israel’s latest war on Gaza was as expected.
There was no hand-wringing about a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians; no clichéd demarche from Paris calling for “humanitarian corridors”; no emergency London or Doha conference to agree “non-lethal” defence supplies to the people of Gaza; no total or even token sanctions on Israel; no calls for Binyamin Netanyahu to step down; no media castigation of the “regime” in Tel Aviv; no arms or billions in largesse flowing from Western allies in the Persian Gulf and Turkey to those fighting an illegitimate, murderous aggressor.
Instead, there was full-throated support for Israel. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague led the pack in laying “principal responsibility” for the aggression on its victims — the Hamas government in Gaza and those who elected it. His subsequent advice that Israel risked “losing international support” through a ground invasion merely indicated the West’s preferred parameters for this bout of slaughter.
All predictable, perhaps wearily so. Why then rehearse this litany of hypocrisy? Because if we become inured to it, let it stand as a harsh fact of life in a cynical world, then unwittingly we allow the West and its allies to shift the narrative in the Middle East, to frame events and to determine which questions will be asked and which buried. And not just there.
The Australian Greens are deeply worried about the civilian death toll in Israel and Palestine, and urge both sides of the conflict to put down their weapons and respect a ceasefire.
“The human suffering is too great and the continued recourse to violence has done nothing for peace,” Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
“We support a two-state solution and urge the Government to support Palestine’s bid for a UN non-member statehood status.
“Now that we have a seat at the UN Security Council, Australia needs to step up to this role and take a more considered and independent position. Calling for ‘de-escalation’ is not enough – a ceasefire is what is needed.”
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
—Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, in the Jerusalem Post, 18 November
In case you thought that Australian politics was all about interminable partisan sledging between the Right (a.k.a. Tony Abbott) and the Left (a.k.a. Julia Gillard and her Greens allies), along comes Israel’s attack on Gaza to unsettle things. Not because it has reproduced the same Right-Left divide, but because it reveals the near-unanimity of our political class in refusing to condemn Israeli aggression.
We’re reposting below a piece I wrote for Overland’s site in September, drawing connections between the themes in the most recent Bourne movie and the WikiLeaks project. There is much more to be said about Assange and the politics of WikiLeaks than is covered here. Recently my attention was drawn to an interview with American business magazine Forbes that Assange did in late 2010, in which he outlined some of his market libertarian views:
Perhaps more than for a long time, the US presidential vote earlier this week was dominated by a clear message to the Left, the working class and minority voters: the absolute necessity to vote for the “lesser evil” in Obama. Compared with the sense of hope that pervaded Obama’s election in 2008 (for one of the best accounts, read this New Left Review piece by Mike Davis), this time the claims of progressives around the Democratic Party that the President would deliver a bright future were more both more muted and less believable. At the heart of Obama’s inability to deliver is a combination of the intractability of the capitalist crisis and the Democrats’ continued fealty to the 1 percent and an aggressive foreign policy.
The issue is not whether Obama is the “lesser evil” compared with Romney. He may well be. The problem for the US Left is that it has not been able to find a way to break out of the straitjacket of seeing the Democrats as its main political hope, even if that is only on the basis that the other side would be worse. This has been an issue for many years, and it prompted the US Marxist Hal Draper to write an article in 1966 called, “Who’s going to be the lesser-evil in 1968?” on the problem of looking to the existing capitalist parties to channel the Left’s hopes politically. It repays reading today for its sophisticated treatment of the question (and to note the cameo appearance by a Romney of another generation!).