The bickering, backstabbing and pseudo-intellectual debate of student socialism.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Lebanese Communist Party hails the heroic resistance fighters and calls for opposing the entry of NATO forces

Statement of the Lebanese CP from Lenin's Tomb

23 July 2006

The Political Bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party reviewed the dangerous repercussions of the Zionist aggression against Lebanon and its people that has continued for 12 days and noted the following:

First: The Political Bureau hails the noble resistance heroes in the ranks of the patriotic and Islamic resistance who are writing with their blood the most splendid pages in the history of our people and our Arab Nation. It sees in their heroism the rays of a new dawn of freedom for all the peoples of the region suffering under the yoke of the United States and Israel at a time when the Arab regimes have abandoned their places to link themselves entirely with America's plans.

Second: The plans for a solution proposed by the George Bush administration, in particular the "New Middle East," and the drive to introduce NATO troops into our south are plans aimed, not only at protecting the borders of Israel and liquidating our people's resistance and ability to reject the surrender settlements that it aims to impose on our region, but opens the way before the Zionists to wipe out the Palestine issue displacing its people once again and pushing he Arabs into a maelstrom of partition and endless conflicts.

Condoleezza Rice's trip to the region is only for the purpose of marketing this plan, which we reject in whole and in part. We demand that the Lebanese government take a resolute stand rejecting the entry into our south of forces from the western alliances – forces with which we had bitter experiences during the Israeli aggression of 1982 and the events that followed it. We also demand that the government call for a comprehensive national meeting to lay out plans for putting an end to the aggression and for dealing with the internal problems in a way that preserves Lebanon and its people, not one based on the interests of the aggressors.

Third: It will not be possible to confront the new stage in the Zionist-American plan in an effective and comprehensive way if we fail to pay adequate attention to those who have been displaced by the aggressive war and thrown once again on the roads of exile. It is the duty of the state, as represented by the Supreme Relief Council and all the service ministries to guarantee appropriate dwellings for those now sleeping on the sidewalks, in addition to insuring that food, medicine, and medical care be provided them and all those who still live in the areas exposed to daily bombardment by the Zionist forces.

Fourth: The Political Bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party calls on all leftist, progressive, and democratic forces in the world to broaden the scope of their solidarity activity with Lebanon, not only by organizing demonstrations and protests in front of the embassies of the United States and Israel in their countries, but by sending delegations and committees to Lebanon to investigate the facts and to see up close the crimes that Israel is committing against the Lebanese people, beginning with its massacres of peaceful residential districts and up to its use of internationally prohibited weapons (including poison gas; phosphorous bombs; cluster, fragmentation, and vacuum bombs; as well as depleted uranium).

The Politbureau also calls on the Arab peoples to press their governments to take real action in support of Lebanon, and calls on the peoples of Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco to close the embassies of Israel in their countries.

Eternal glory to the resistance fighters and the heroic martyrs!

Lebanon will triumph over the aggressors!

Beirut, 23 July 2006.

The Political Bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Get yer Independant only 70p

With most of the press so far up Israel’s propaganda machine its made the history of Palestine invisible Oren Ben-Dor’s article really stood out as telling it like it is. With so few voices speaking out for Lebanon and Palestine in the press lets celebrate the few we have…

What exactly is being defended by the violence in Gaza and Lebanon? Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state? I suggest the latter. Israel's statehood is based on an unjust ideology which causes indignity and suffering for those who are classified as non-Jewish by either a religious or ethnic test. To hide this primordial immorality, Israel fosters an image of victimhood. Provoking violence, consciously or unconsciously, against which one must defend oneself is a key feature of the victim-mentality. By perpetuating such a tragic cycle, Israel is a terrorist state like no other.

And in the same issue the always brilliant Mark Steel,

“But this is the fault of Hizbollah, for using the rabbits as shields of fur. You tell me how we are supposed to distinguish between civilian rabbits and terrorist rabbits. Let me show you evidence of terrorists being hidden in safe hutches.”

And a front page on why we should celebrate immigration. If it wasn’t for the bit on fish it’d almost be a socialist paper.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Spirit of the che..

Well the demonstrations are over according to the police estimate over 1000 pro-Palestinians marched in Manchester yesterday, reports say 20’000 in London and I don’t know how many in Scotland. The Manchester demonstration was greeted by a Zionist demonstration of about 30 slightly worrying individuals who went on to film demonstrators in a way I’ve only previously seen by BNP thugs.

Most importantly though it was on of the most impassioned demo’s I’ve seen in a long time due to the large numbers from the General Union of Palestinian Students. Large numbers also marched from the Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity campaign, Respect, University of Manchester and the Palestine Forum (an organisation connected to the Mosques.) As one speaker commented their were more Jewish people on our march then the Zionist counter demo showing the moral bankruptcy of the Zionist movement which once exercised more or less total hegemony in the Jewish community.

Increased awareness of issues in the Middle East from resistance to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has created far greater popular awareness of Israel’s crimes. However much propaganda the UK media throws down painting the invasion of Lebanon as at worst a war against “mad mullahs” (copy right the Sun) or as a “plague on both your houses” from the liberal press it doesn’t wash. The Zionist movement is so disconnected from society in general the mass of pro-Israeli coverage simply doesn’t connect with what is in peoples heads – people, as during the attack on Iraq, can see through the bullshit. This is doubly true for people coming out of education whose entire political awareness has been shaped by western lies and wars in the Middle East.

The strength of the protests was that it brought back into contact the genuine but disconnected forces doing solidarity and campaigning work for Palestine. Popular opinion is consistently moving in our direction but our networks are patching and disconnected making it difficult for us to carry the arguments in wider society effectively. Especially when the Zionists are considerably better organised (and in the student world better funded.) The path from here must lead through the 23rd of September in Manchester but it must also contain the pulling together of our movement for a Free Palestine with a series of jointly called meetings vigils and demos. Without a united movement we will be unable to challenge UK support for Israel’s mass murder in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

For Peace in the Middle East...

Lebanon’s government has referred to the Israeli offensive as a massacre today as Israeli troops cross the boarder and Lebanese causalities reach over 300. Half a million Lebanese have been displaced and God knows how many injured. Compare this to the 15 Israeli civilians and 14 soldiers killed then British press coverage looks more and more scandalous. Foreign nationals have been evacuated in their 10’s of thousands but the British government still hasn’t called on Israel to stop its invasion instead calling for a “UN force” to be sent to the region, giving Israel a green light to continue while their war crimes mount. Even the UN is forced to admit their response is disproportionate and the Lebanese President saying,
"Israel is bombing everything, even little streets, even ambulances, even lorries which are taking the food supplies,"
Israel hasn’t behaved like this since the 70’s and surely can’t get away with it when awareness about the Middle East is as high as it is today. Global opinion seems to be gradually turning against Israel as its actions are demonstratively racist. No amount of media coverage can cover up that this is an immensely one sided “war.”

That aside it has to be remembered that Hezbollah are the only army to inflict a defeat on the IDF and are anything but a push over as well as Israeli actions nullifying any Lebanese resistance to Hezbollah’s presence. Israel has in effect shot itself in the foot. Attempts by the US and UK to draw in Syria and Iran also seem to be flawed as Israel simply can’t risk wider involvement. The number of questions raised by the situation is simply immense and the cost in lives of the region being on a knife edge even bigger.

It’s easy to forget that this whole situation was started by Israel holding Gaza and 1/3rd of the Palestinian Government hostage. The issue of a free Palestine and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon are intimately linked. For this reason the question of solidarity in the UK is key for us and the mantra of keeping the movement broad and radical is essential. The Palestinian solidarity movement must unite and march as one on Saturday. If we are to end this crisis one step closer to a free Palestine it means inflicting a political defeat on Israel. The blame for this invasion must lie with Israel for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank and for its disproportionate use of force in Lebanon.

March with us on the 22nd in Manchester, London and Edinburgh.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Class War in the Commons?

After talking about this the other day with students involved in the Babar Ahmed must stay campaign. The fact that it takes 3 bankers (no euphemism intended) getting extradited to make this a public issue is a disgrace. I can’t confirm this but apparently this is the first emergency parliamentary session of this sort not to do with declaring war. Anyway here is Galloway’s response in the commons,

The country will not have missed the fact that Ministers, who a couple of weeks ago were wrapping themselves in the flag, are, on this occasion, wrapping themselves in quite a different flag—a point to which I shall come. The class warrior clothes no longer fit Ministers and they should not attempt to adopt them.

Equally hard to take was the contribution from one Conservative Member of Parliament—not others—who said that he had supported the unequal treaty because he thought that it was all about terrorists. He did not know that bankers, rich people, upper-class people, and white people might be caught up in this unequal relationship.

British citizens accused of terrorist crimes are entitled to exactly the same protection and standards of justice as British citizens accused of white-collar crimes—not least because the reason why the Senate has not ratified, and I predict will never ratify, the treaty is because of the power of the lobby in the United States, in a state of perpetual election and re-election, in relation to the supporters of Irish republicanism in the United States of America.

Of course, as has been asked many times, why will the Senate have to ratify the treaty if we are already operating our half of it? Can the Minister not see that the absolutely logical conclusion from the national concern about these matters is to withdraw temporarily from our obligations under the treaty by whatever measures can be taken until the Senate has ratified it and we have reciprocity—it will be of an unequal kind, but at least reciprocity in that America will have signed the treaty and not just us.

That is clear to everyone in the country except those on the Treasury Bench. It is clear to every newspaper and it is made clear on every radio phone-in show. It is clear in every one of our inboxes and postbags, and everyone in the House knows it—only those on the Treasury Bench resist it.

The most revealing thing of all in this whole debate was the near apoplexy of the Solicitor-General at the very idea that anyone in the House would suggest abrogating a treaty with the United States. He almost had a seizure. He asked the Conservatives to repeat the statement slowly so that people could hear it. The very idea that we would abrogate a treaty with the United States was quite beyond his ken, and that is the problem.

We all want a special relationship with the United States. I am the great-grandson of probably the only woman in the entire 19th century who emigrated from the United States to Scotland. She may have got on the wrong boat, but that was what she did—[Hon. Members: “Send him back.”] I am probably theonly man who will not be asked back to the United States, because the last time I went there I gave them a bloody good hiding.

All we want is a special relationship that does not resemble that between Miss Lewinsky and a former United States President: unequal, disreputable and with the junior partner always on their knees. That is not the kind of special relationship that we want, but as the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) powerfully made clear, it is exactly the kind of special relationship that most people in Britain think that we have with the United States of America, whether that is true or not.

What does the Minister think that the public deduce when they hear that a treaty was agreed between British Ministers and the Government of George Bush in secret? What does he think that the British public think when they hear that the agreement that was secretly reached between George Bush’s Government and new Labour was then passed on the royal prerogative without debate in this House?

Does he think that the British people regard that as their Government standing up for them, or does he think that the British people imagine that that is just another example of the obeisance of the Government when it comes to the United States of America? I am absolutely sure what public opinion is on this matter and that the Government are absolutely isolated on it.

Had I been able to talk about other cases, as the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) was, I would have gone much further down this road, but in view of your strictures, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I cannot. However, I say this: we are talking about sending our citizens—these three and two others, McKinnon and Babar Ahmad—into the maw of a US justice system that stands condemned around the entire world. There is no point in soft-soaping this.

One cannot separate the facts of Guantanamo Bay, orange jump suits, cages in the tropics, people being hooded, manacled and forcibly injected with drugs, Abu Ghraib, Bagram air base and extraordinary rendition—by which people are flown around the world to be tortured by the United States Government, although we do not even know who those people are, or the jails in which they are hanging upside down, being water boarded and tortured—from the proposal to send our citizens casually into that maw. The British people do not separate them. Last night, the other place spoke for Britain. Would it not be good if this place could speak for Britain on this, too?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Five days, two conferences...

It’s looking like a good year for the younger part of the SWP based on this years Marxism. I’ve never seen such a high percentage of young people at the event (or such a small percentage of bald/grey heads.) Which I happy to say isn’t because the old guard didn’t turn up but because over 1700 students were registered (i.e. had paid 25 quid) to attend. What a stark contrast to the big parties with a declining and ageing membership base.

Somewhat frustratingly my choice of meetings seemed to appeal more to me then the newer people attending but I suppose that’s to be expected. When I did make the effort to attend with new comrades the meetings were completely transformed on the simple basis that people knew they were speaking to a new audience. The best meetings by far (for me anyway) were the meetings on France and Bloody Sunday. Eamonn McCann is simply brilliant and the meeting on France was made by the interventions of French comrades from the floor. Talking to people at the event was an experience in itself with the level of theory far higher then when I became involved a few years ago and the non-members attending from Uni’s seemed to be significant people we'd pulled closer with our new strategy. It hit home when one of the non-members we had brought down from Manchester commented after the SWSS organising meeting (well over 100 people) that he already knew our strategy from last year.

Three people warrant particular mention for their appearance the most surprising being Gemma Tumelty the NUS National President but also Dan Glass Sussex SU President and Brian Duggan President Warwick Union (and newly elected chair of the Aldwych group.)

Straight after Marxism was Aldwych’s hand over and first meeting. Aldwych for the uninitiated (almost everyone) are the “Student Unions of the Russell group” which are the 19 leading research universities in the UK. Fascinating stuff you might well think… To be honest having next to no knowledge of Aldwych before going my preconception was that it was. 1) A ladder for Labour Students to climb onto the NUS NEC. 2) An old boys club for the top Unions to push their weight about in NUS 3) A gathering point for Unions like Southampton who would happily smash our national Union. It is too early to be proved entirely wrong on any of these but the meeting did at least have some pointers in the other direction. Primarily as unlike at certain NUS events the officers attending seemed to have some desire to fight for free education and a reasonable level of competence. Competence in the student movement is something it is almost impossible to assume even across entire executives it seems… Anyway before I end up naming names (and not even names from the Aldwych meeting) I have to say that a reasonable amount of discussion went into the education campaign.

The suggestion to link the question of funding/free education to University Research and investment went down well as did the question of discussing Nuclear Research and the CAAT campaigns more generally. The idea of mass campaigns seemed a bit distant from a lot of the discussion but amongst a group of sabbaticals (full time union officers) this is essentially par for the course. However, some genuinely new and innovative ideas for campaigning were raised by individuals that could well help the campaign take off. Significantly the group selected Brian Duggan from Warwick as its chair who seems to be both quite dynamic and to have a good grounding in socialist politics. The officer from Bristol elected Media Officer and Vice chair and Glasgow got Secretary; neither gave away a great deal about their politics from their speeches. An officer called Helen (from Oxford or Cardiff I think?) stood for Vice-chair on what seemed to be good politics but with 5/6 candidates lost out. Gemma and Wes Streeting (VP Education – Labour Student) also made an appearance on behalf of NUS. It’s too early to venture any solid opinions online or impressions of what other people seemed to think as the meeting went on but its is safe to say the group does at least seem to have both a point and a direction.