How the left enabled fascism.

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How the left enabled fascism.

[Original Source = https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2018/10/how-left-enabled-fascism]

By David Winner, UK New Statesman Magazine, 3 October 2018.

[Start Article]

Ernst Thälmann, leader of Germany’s radical left in the last years of the Weimar Republic, thought the centre left was a greater danger than the right. We should remember his miscalculation.

The leader of the left, adored for his “authenticity” and destined for cult status, saw himself as a fighter for radical change. His transformed party was the biggest of its kind in Europe, and bursting with youthful vigour.

On the other side of the political spectrum lay the far right and its sinisterly absurd demagogues, thugs and ideological lunacies. Naturally, the leader of the left regarded these people with contempt and viewed his party as the only authentic resistance to them. For strategic reasons, however, he was willing to help them achieve a key part of their dream, which he shared. The dream was to break the loathsome old liberal order. Such a break, reasoned the leader, would create conditions under which the left would sweep to power and transform the country for the better.

Any similarities to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are far from coincidental. But the leader in question is Ernst Thälmann, chief of the German Communist Party (KPD) in the final years of the Weimar Republic. Thälmann is a tragic and disastrous figure. Dogmatic, passionate, stubborn and stupid, the former Hamburg dockworker divided the left and became one of the right’s first victims. Within weeks of Hitler’s takeover in 1933, he, along with thousands of other communists, was arrested and tortured. Unlike many of them, he survived in prison for 11 years before being murdered on Hitler’s orders in 1944.

After the war, the leaders of Communist East Germany built a personality cult around Thälmann, erecting statues and naming streets, a Berlin park and a metro station after him. The cult depicted him as the bravest and noblest of working-class heroes, Germany’s supreme anti-fascist martyr. That he had also been one of the Nazi regime’s unwitting enablers was erased.

History never repeats itself exactly, and there are obvious and big differences between conditions and politics in Britain now and those of Germany in the run-up to the Nazi dictatorship. But there are a few uncomfortable parallels.

For one thing, even our relatively mild versions of far left and far right seek momentous change – in this case a destructive Brexit – for ideological reasons. For another, the far left’s current mindset is reminiscent of one that had unintended consequences – and is doing so again.

In the 1930s, fear of Bolshevism persuaded many middle-class Germans to support Hitler (and led the Catholic Church to throw in its lot with fascism in Italy, Spain and elsewhere). These days, fear of Corbyn buttresses the worst Tory government in living memory. Worse, although we again face danger from the far right, the far left refuses to work with potential allies in the centre and centre left. Again. Instead, it spends much of its energy attacking them. The obsessive hatred for “Blairites”, “red Tories” and “centrists” is reminiscent of the KPD’s hatred of “social fascists” during the years when Nazism could have been stopped. If the phrase is new to you, you’d be forgiven for thinking it signified some form of fascism. It didn’t. “Social fascism” was the communist term for social democrats – and it helped pave the way to catastrophe.

In the words of Theodore Draper, the American former communist fellow traveller who turned against the party and became a historian, “the so-called theory of social fascism and the practice based on it constituted one of the chief factors contributing to the victory of German fascism in January 1933”.

The theory, developed in the early 1920s, favoured by Stalin and established as Communist orthodoxy by 1928, held that reformist social democracy was the worst enemy of the proletariat – worse than fascism – because it created false consciousness and made revolution, the party’s overriding goal, less likely. This notion derived from the left’s misunderstanding of the dark forces about to overwhelm it.

Thälmann and the KPD regarded fascists and Nazis as products and tools of capitalism. Since social democrats were also capitalists, it followed that social democracy, fascism and Nazism were simply different facets of the same oppression. To further the dream of a Soviet Germany, the party was willing to help the Nazis destroy democracy, thinking it could beat the Nazis easily in the aftermath.

Unlike the modern Labour left, the KPD’s antipathy to their centre-left rivals derived in part from memories of a recent crime against them. In January 1919, after Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the fall of the Kaiser, the new Social Democratic Party (SPD) government led by Friedrich Ebert used the far-right Freikorps militias to help suppress the Spartacist uprising, led by KPD founders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In the process, Freikorps men tortured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht.

In the first part of his Hitler biography, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw describes these killings as “the symbolic sealing of the rift within the working-class movement that throughout the Weimar Republic prevented any united front being formed against the growing threat of National Socialism”. By the late 1920s, though, the KPD had largely purged itself of Spartacists and become a Stalinist party. Thälmann took his instructions from Stalin and his hatred of the SPD was essentially ideological.

With hindsight, his relaxed attitude to the threat of Hitler seems astonishingly foolish. For example, as Russel Lemmons shows in his 2013 book about Thälmann, Hitler’s Rival, when the Nazis made their electoral breakthrough in the Reichstag elections of 1930 (winning 18 per cent of the vote to become the second-largest party) Thälmann insisted that if Hitler came to power he was sure to fail and this would drive Nazi voters into the arms of the KPD.

Foreshadowing the 2017 claim that Labour actually won the general election it lost, the KPD newspaper the Red Flag even hailed the KPD’s defeat in that election (up by 2.5 per cent to 13.1 per cent) as a victory on the grounds that communist voters were ardent revolutionaries (“one communist vote has more weight than ten to 20 national socialist votes combined”). The 1930 election left the Social Democrats and KPD with almost 40 per cent of the seats in the Reichstag between them. In November 1931 the SPD suggested the two parties work together but Thälmann rejected the offer and the Red Flag called for an “intensification of the fight against Social Democracy”.

Along the way Thälmann made any number of tactical blunders. In 1925, for example, against the advice of Bolshevik leader Grigory Zinoviev, the KPD leadership refused to stand Thälmann down in the second round of the German presidential election. This split took enough votes away from centre candidate Wilhelm Marx to give the First World War general Paul von Hindenburg a narrow victory. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor, then signed the decrees enabling the Nazi terror against the left after the Reichstag fire.

As the Nazi menace intensified in the early 1930s, Thälmann continued to be sanguine. As late as February 1932, he was arguing that “Hitler must come to power first, then the requirements for a revolutionary crisis [will] arrive more quickly”. In November 1932, just three months before Hitler’s takeover, the KPD and Nazis even worked together in the Berlin transport workers’ strike.

——–

Is it fair to speak of this in the same breath as Corbyn’s de facto alliance with the right on Brexit? The stakes are less high, and the specifics are so different it’s hard to compare.

Corbyn’s lack of enthusiastic campaigning may have hampered Remain in the referendum. He has made a damaging Brexit more likely by failing to oppose it, and by whipping his MPs to abstain or vote with the government at key moments since 2016. But this isn’t the same as seeking a Soviet Britain, or enabling Hitler. Corbyn isn’t trying to end democracy, or co-operating with Nazis, or taking orders from Stalin. He hasn’t even created a party paramilitary wing.

The Labour left’s assault on the liberal centre is driven by a quite different political agenda to that of the KPD. But it runs a similar risk of hollowing out the political constituency best capable of resisting the radicalism of the right.

History teaches us that it is dangerous and naive to expect only the radical left to benefit politically from the kind of economic chaos and social upheaval a hard or no-deal Brexit would bring.

Thälmann was at least open about his objectives. Corbyn rarely explains his strategy, and even talks blithely about a “jobs-first Brexit” while backing a course liable to wreck the regions, damage the NHS and blight the future of the young.

Thälmann’s approach was also contradictory and ambivalent. On one hand, his Communist militias fought bloody and often lethal turf battles with Nazi stormtroopers and police. On the other, he refused to provide effective political opposition to the Nazis. There were some half-hearted attempts to work with SPD rank and file, but Thälmann never stopped regarding the SPD leadership as anathema and refused to co-operate with them in any significant way until it was far too late.

Only in February 1933, by which time the battle was already lost, did Thälmann finally grasp the situation and propose a united front with the SPD and the free and Christian trade unions – under his own leadership, of course – to prepare for a general strike to bring down the new regime.

When the Nazis started rounding up leftists, Thälmann escaped but his hiding place on the Kaiserallee (now Bundesallee) in Berlin was revealed by a tortured comrade and Thälmann was arrested on 3 March and taken to prison. In 1939, Stalin could easily have had Thälmann released as a condition of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, but he didn’t say a word. In August 1944 Hitler ordered Thälmann “liquidated”. SS officers drove him to Buchenwald, shot him in the courtyard of the camp crematorium and burned his body immediately.

Lemmons argues that Thälmann “went to his grave believing that the SPD represented the forces of ‘social fascism’ and was no better than Hitler’s party”. That, and his subservience to Stalin, meant Thälmann “failed his people in its greatest hour of need”. The KPD did “nothing to stop the Nazi seizure of power – indeed they had welcomed it as what they considered to be the dying breath of German imperialism”.

Even if the worst Brexit predictions come true Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to suffer so terrible a fate. But if a disastrous Brexit does occur, the verdict of history is unlikely to be much kinder.

[End Article]

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Questioning Corbynism Group.

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Questioning Corbynism Group.

[Posted By Lara Keller 15/10/18 UPDATED 13/11/18]

Articles questioning the nature of the popular UK political movement centred on radical  UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (“corbynism”). There are concerns about his  connections to the far-left, the Putin regime and groups like “Stop The War UK” that appear to favour anti-Western dictatorships. The UK economy by GDP is according to the IMF the fifth largest economy in the world in 2017. Possible political and economic chaos looms with Brexit (UK leaving EU), high level of total debt in the UK and a reaction by world money markets to a possible radical Corbyn government.  Therefore the nature of “corbynism” matters as it will exposed by crisis. [or see whole category Questioning Corbynism Group].

Articles 2018:

9. Jeremy Corbyn [id=40-j13]. Assad Apologists

8. How the left enabled fascism

7. What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it

6. TWITTER SCANDAL: Moscow mules: the left’s long romance with Russia

5. Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn

4. How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army

3. While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole. By Anne Applebaum 2015

Articles 2017:

2. James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn (2015)

1. Jeremy Corbyn’s silence over Aleppo shows how he has become a lobbyist for Iran (2016)

Anti-Zionism Group.

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Anti-Zionism Group

[Posted By Lara Keller 14/10/17 UPDATED 24/10/18]

Articles presenting  anti-zionism. None of these posts are anti-Israel and certainly none are anti-semitic. The overall argument is against the effective implementation of political Zionism as a racially exclusive political philosophy. There is no intention to include cultural Zionism.  [or see whole category Anti-Zionism Group].

Articles 2018:

5. Good Advice to UK’s Jeremy Corbyn on Antisemitism Controversy.

Articles 2017:

Articles 2016:

4. Share and Protest against the Zionist Lobby part 2.

3. Share and Protest against the Zionist Lobby.

Articles 2015:

2. Surprise Anti-Zionist Outburst By UK Prime Minister David Cameron [20th July 2015].

1. Israël: Comment Créer Un Etat Raciste Moderne.

1. Future of Europe: Can the EU resist a far-Right, nationalist takeover?

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1. Future of Europe: Can the EU resist a far-Right, nationalist takeover?

[Source= https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/10/future-europe-can-eu-resist-far-right-nationalist-takeover/ , UK Telegraph, by Peter Foster, 10/9/2018]

[ Posted by Lara Keller 9/10/18 ]

“With Brexit now less than a year away, the European Union finds itself under assault from a new populist revolution. This six-part series examines the major challenges facing the continent. From immigration to defence, economy to enlargement and, indeed, to the very meaning of democracy itself: ‘The Future of Europe’ is now at stake….”

It could be called the most conservative village in Poland: a clutch of low houses 100 miles north-east of Warsaw, where even the shop and tiny, two-seat hairdressing salon have a crucifix hanging above the door.

People have been settled in Kobylin-Borzymy since the 1400s, but this village in Poland’s old east only gained fame in October 2015 when it voted more overwhelmingly for Poland’s nationalist-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) than anywhere else in the country.

Some 85 per cent of the villagers cast their votes for a party that promised a mixture of cash handouts for the poor and an unapologetic defence of Poland’s “thousand year-old Christian heritage” against a rising tide of liberalism and uncontrolled migration.

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[With anti-immigration populism now spreading north to Sweden and south to Italy, and with neither Warsaw nor Budapest showing any signs of backing down in the East, the EU is in a quandary.]

This, then, is that “other” Europe – monocultural, conservative and deeply Christian – that the multicultural, liberal and secular Europe had assumed would quietly fade away after the Soviet empire crumbled and its satellite states voted to join the EU in 2004.

But history did not “end”, as Francis Fukuyama predicted. Instead over the last decade in Europe it has been reawakened with a vengeance.

First, the 2008 global financial crisis, then the 2011 eurozone debt crisis and finally the 2015 migrant crisis have all worked to drive a wedge into the heart of the European project, reopening an ancient ideological fissure that now threatens to cleave the union from east to west.

Poland’s government is facing a formal investigation in Brussels for failing to uphold the “rule of law” while Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, revels in his role as cheerleader for a new brand of “illiberal democracy” that defends Christian Europe from a Muslim “invasion”.

With anti-immigration populism now spreading north to Sweden and south to Italy, and with neither Warsaw or Budapest showing any signs of backing down, the western half of the European Union is now openly wondering: what shall we do with these turbulent nations?

The great migration divide.

More than the financial crisis, it was the long lines of men, women and children from the Middle East and Africa pouring through the western Balkans in October 2015 and congregating in Budapest’s Keleti railway station that reopened Europe’s east-west divide.

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[Migrants march from Budapest’s Keleti station to the Austrian border in 2015, many were met with violence Credit: AFP/Getty.]

For nationalist leaders such as Mr Orbán [in Hungary], Jaroslaw Kaczyński in Poland and Robert Fico in Slovakia the migrants were a convenient political tool, cast as a menacing physical expression of what separates the two Europes.

There are no migrants or liberals in Kobylin-Borzymy, whose skyline is dominated by a massive twin-towered church, built in 1904, bearing testimony to the enduring political and social power of Catholicism in Poland.

For residents of places like this, it was not just Angela Merkel welcoming Syrian refugees that shocked and concerned them, but the liberal, multiculturalist assumptions that underpinned that decision.

“For us, it just seemed completely unbelievable that Germany would throw open the borders to people who are totally different, from Africa or Syria and Iraq,” says Wojciech Mokowski, the mayor of Kobylin-Borzymy, whose sparse office contains yet another crucifix.

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[Kobylin-Borzymy mayor Wojciech Mokowski reflects many in his constituency in his rejection of multiculturalism Credit: Piotr Malecki for The Telegraph.]

“What did they expect would happen? That people would just mix together? These people, we know they just don’t want to mix.”

That is a view widely shared throughout Eastern and Central Europe, says Bogdan Zielenski, the local PiS district chief, who argues that the EU needs to accept that countries like Poland and Hungary have fundamentally different experiences of multiculturalism than the West.

“This does not mean we are not European,” he adds, “Poland has always looked to Rome, not Constantinople. But we have no colonial past like the Western countries, we just have no experience of this. The EU has to accept the need for diversity”. [LK: see far-right concept multipolarism]

Money doesn’t talk.

That fundamental difference in outlook between East and West persists despite the EU working hard to narrow the economic gap, transferring billions of euros from richer western and northern countries in the form of farm subsidies and structural development funds.

In economic terms, time has certainly not stood still in Kobylin-Borzymy since Poland joined the EU 14 years ago. But in many respects questions of value and national identity have not moved on.

When Western powers tried to force migration quotas on the East in 2015, the rebellion from Warsaw and Budapest allowed politicians to highlight differences on other value questions including gay marriage and abortion, and even – now – the definition of democracy itself.

In Kobylin-Borzymy, the impact of the EU cash is plain to see. Traditional Soviet-era wooden houses are being replaced by modern two-storey concrete homes with brightly coloured roofs, often paid for with money saved by residents who left to work in Sweden, Britain or Germany.

At regular intervals the main street echoes to the thunder of trucks laden with building supplies and milk-tankers doing the rounds of still small, family-owned dairy farms with about 25-30 cows that attract EU subsidies of 25,000 złoty (£5,100) a year.

Even so, villagers and their leaders are adamant that they will not sell their souls (a phrase not used lightly in these parts) for EU cash.

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[Kobylin Borzymy, where voters overwhelmingly backed the PiS (Law & Justice) party during the elections in 2016 Credit: Piotr Malecki.]

“People feel the West is trying to interfere in our internal affairs. They don’t know us, but they want a say over us,” says Leszek Mezynski, 61, local politician and a medium-sized farmer with 25 cows.

“We look up to the West and see how modern it is, but we see it is also without values. So if we have to give up our values to join the West, that leads us down a blind alley. Economy alone is not enough for society to exist.”

An elderly woman tending the flowerbed in front of her farmhouse puts it more bluntly.

“The EU has brought a lot of good, but now they keep picking on our government in Brussels,” says 77-year-old Krystyna Danikowska , who seems to parrot many of the lines she hears on Radio Maryja, a popular Christian radio station on which Polish government ministers appear almost daily.

“Other countries want us to abort babies and have gay marriages, and I pray to God that never happens. We believe in God and the Holy Catholic Church,” she says defiantly.

Poles apart.

Away from Poland’s liberal urban enclaves, there is also a sense that when it comes to values the goalposts have moved since EU accession. In 2004, when Poland voted to join the European Union,  Kobylin-Borzymy was one of only three areas that voted to stay out, for fear of surrendering Poland’s distinct national identity.

As part of its joining papers, Poland signed up to Article 2 of the Treaty for the European Union, which binds EU members to respect democracy, the “rule of law” and concepts such as “pluralism”, “non-discrimination” and “tolerance”.

But the evolving definition of those concepts in an era when Ireland votes 2:1 to legalise abortion, and gay marriage is viewed as a human right puts a keener edge on Europe’s East-West divide.

Hungarian diplomats now speak openly of developing the “Hungarian model” of democracy, the latest phase in the “cultural counter-revolution” that Mr Orbán promised in 2016, while in Poland PiS is seeking to revise the constitution explicitly to “protect” Poland from liberal advances.

As the Bulgarian thinker Ivan Krastev observed in After Europe, the assumption that the European project was on an inexorable path to “ever closer union” now feels like a strange 1990s delusion.

“When we joined the EU, multiculturalism and gay marriage were not on the agenda,” says Mr Mokowski, the Kobylin-Borzymy mayor. “We were told that on these matters the view of the national government would stand above that of the EU. Now that is apparently not so.”

Here to stay.

The notion that Christian Europe is under threat has allowed politicians like Mr Orbán and PiS’s ageing chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczyński, to foster a siege mentality over migration and social values, harnessing those issues as a potent political force.

The language demonising migrants and Jews is deeply discomforting, and reminiscent of the darkest parts of Europe’s recent past.

Mr Kaczyński once warned of migrants carrying “parasites and protozoa”, while Mr Orbán openly peddles anti-Semitic tropes, conjuring images of the “wandering Jew” in his battle with the liberal Hungarian-American financier George Soros.

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[Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban.]

“We are fighting an enemy,” Mr Orbán told one election campaign earlier rally this year, “not straightforward but crafty, not honest but base, not national but international, [one who] does not believe in working but speculates with money, does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”

The language shocks, but the uncomfortable reality for Brussels is that Europe’s new nationalist governments are popular at home because of it, and they are using their political power to further entrench control over the media and the apparatus of state.

At the same time, a growing EU economy fuelled by quantitative easing, coupled with populist economic policies such as Law and Justice’s programme handing parents 500 Polish złoty for every child, are creating mini investment booms that help to ensure re-election.

In Kobylin-Borzymy’s hairdresser’s, the political value of PiS’s “500+” programme is clear. “Now at the end of the month I don’t worry if I am going to run out of money,” says Marlena Sikorska, a mother of two children, aged nine and two. “I can buy nappies or milk or clothes for the kids without borrowing off my mother.”

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[Victor Orban remains popular among the locals in Kobylin-Borzymy’s hairdresser’s Credit: Piotr Malecki.]

It is not a surprise, then, that Mr Orbán won a landslide majority in this year’s parliamentary elections while [Poland’s] PiS, which was the first party in the post-Communist era to win an outright majority, continues to ride high in the polls. There seems little immediate prospect of a return to the social democracy of the 1990s and early 2000s.

What to do?

The question that now faces the founder members of the European project is how to deal with these “illiberal” Eastern democracies whose message, particularly on migration, is starting to resonate more widely across the union.

Until recently it was common to hear senior EU diplomats play down the threat posed by Mr Orbán, describing him as a “pragmatist” whose attacks on Brussels would always be limited by his need to keep investment flowing and protect Hungary’s economy. Not any more.

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[Italy’s Eurosceptic new interior minister Matteo Salvini, has promised to work with Viktor Orban to ‘change the EU’. Credit: Luca Bruno/AP.]

Now, says one senior German foreign ministry official, Mr Orbán appears “determined to export his ideas”, most recently making common cause with Italy’s new populist coalition where Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega party, is pushing hardline anti-immigration policies.

These in turn are backed in Vienna, where the far-Right Freedom Party (FPO) now sits in coalition with Sebastian Kurz’s centre-Right Austrian People’s Party. It is not lost on officials in Brussels that in 2000, when the FPO went into government in Austria for the first time, put sanctions on Vienna and more than 150,000 Austrians took to the streets to protest. Now the FPO enters government with barely a murmur of dissent.

In Sweden, the far-Right Sweden Democrats command 18 per cent of the vote after riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, and in Italy the hard-Right Mr Salvini openly makes common cause with Mr Orbán against the liberal Emmanuel Macron.

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[Jimmie Akesson of the Sweden Democrats celebrats after his nationalist party turned the general election on its head. Credit: AFP.]

Even Germany, where the hard-Right Alternative for Germany made major gains in last year’s parliamentary elections, is not immune. The interior minister, Horst Seehofer, from the Christian conservative Bavarian CSU party, openly rebels against Mrs Merkel, echoing the calls in Budapest and Vienna to shut the borders.

Against this backdrop of open division, old Western Europe now faces three choices when dealing with opposition from the east: it can either “confront” it head on, look to “accommodate” it or – in the spirit of the classic EU fudge – it can try to “check” their growing influence and then play for time.

Confront.

For liberals like Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of ALDE, the main liberal grouping in the European Parliament, the only way to tackle what he says is the “threat” from Poland and Hungary is to confront it head-on.

“The situation in Poland and Hungary is serious and worsening. Those who defend liberal democracy and the rules-based international order have an obligation to speak out against rule of law-backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe,” he says.

The Verhofstadt argument is that without action now against Hungary and Poland, the EU will undermine its own legal foundations by simply appeasing them.

“This is a battle about the character of our society and the EU itself; whether or not we are able to preserve the EU as a space of freedom and democracy, kept together by rule of law, or not,” he says.

The difficulty is that for the residents of places like Kobylin-Borzymy, Mr Verhofstadt’s version of the EU is not their EU. Forcing Western definitions of “tolerance” and “pluralism” on the East risks deepening the divide, not closing it.

Still, Mr Verhofstadt has his supporters in the European Commission. Frans Timmermans, the EU first vice-president, has been leading calls for Poland to be punished under Article 7 for reforms to the legal system that the Commission says undermine the independence of the judiciary.

But Article 7 is a very blunt instrument. It could ultimately lead to Poland being stripped of its EU voting rights, but such a draconian sanction can only be taken by a unanimous vote of member states – which Mr Orbán has already promised will never happen on his watch.

Internally in Brussels, there is therefore political opposition at the highest levels, reportedly including Jean-Claude Juncker himself, against picking what is seen as an unwinnable fight which will only serve to advertise, and not fix, the EU’s divisions.

It is not even clear that there is a two-thirds majority among EU member states for enforcing Article 7 proceedings against Poland, with eastern states uniting in defence of Warsaw, the British likely to abstain and some Baltic states nervous about such an attack on another member’s sovereignty.

Check.

A softer approach would be to try to check the ambitions of leaders like Mr Kaczyński and Mr Orbán before they run out of control.

One option is to file more legal cases against policies that break EU law, as in a 2012 case that was taken against the Hungarian government for mandating the early retirement of hundreds of judges, in a move that was widely seen as an assault on the judiciary.

The weakness is that such cases take a long time to mount and are often of limited impact, since governments can pay fines or simply find alternative legal ways of achieving the same goal.

More draconian is the suggestion, backed by some Western capitals, to link the payment of EU funds to good behaviour and the adherence to the “rule of law”.

The problem with this idea, even its supporters acknowledge, is that there is a strong risk it will backfire, handing political ammunition to the likes of Mr Orbán and Mr Kaczyński to stoke up nationalist sentiment.

In Kobylin-Borzymy, the idea of withholding EU funds seems obviously counter-productive. “That will be a big mistake,” says Mr Zielenski, the PiS district chief, “Many people would become disillusioned with the EU and they would go to the arms of even more Right-wing parties, like the League of Polish Families. People will become afraid the EU wants to punish us for being Catholic, too.”

Accommodate.

For the French president, Mr Macron, as he outlined in his seminal Sorbonne speech, accommodation might ultimately mean the creation of an inner and outer Europe that enables “the driving ambition of some while allowing others to move ahead at their own speed”.

For liberals and federalists, accepting the idea of an outer Europe would spell the beginning of the end. Learning to live with illiberal democracies would be to accept that the advance of liberal social democratic values is neither inexorable nor axiomatic to EU membership.

But while liberals like Mr Verhofstadt warn that the EU’s “political paradigms” are now shifting away from liberal democracy to nationalist illiberalism, for the populist Right this is a joyous statement of fact, not a cause for alarm.

It is also, liberals warn, being aided and abetted by a grand hypocrisy in the heart of the EU’s own centre-Right political establishment.

The attempt to censure Poland for backsliding on democracy is undermined by the fact that, according to Freedom House’s latest democracy rankings, Hungary (and Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania) score far worse than Poland when it comes to defending democratic norms.

The only difference between Poland and Hungary is that Mr Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party is a member of the powerful centre-Right European People’s Party (EPP) grouping in the European Parliament, which affords him protection from censure.

This piece of hypocrisy is clear even in faraway Kobylin-Borzymy. “The elite sees Poland as a naughty child, but there are other, naughtier children than us in the EU, and they don’t get punished,” says Mr Zielenski, the PiS district chief.

As the EPP splits over whether it is safer to keep Mr Orbán inside the tent or kick him out, Mr Verhofstadt urges the grouping to confront the Orbán cuckoo in their nest.

“Each of the current EPP member parties need to ask themselves whether they want to be part of a decline to illiberalism by continuing to provide political cover for Orbán and his allies, or make a stand before we pass the point of no return,” he says.

Whether that happens will partly be determined by next May’s European elections, which are shaping up to be a battle royale between the liberal forces of Mr Macron’s En Marche party and the conservative wing of the EPP, which includes the CSU [German more conservative “Christian Social Union”] chairman, Mr Seehofer, who has made common cause with Mr Orbán over migration.

Put another way, says Andrew Duff, a former [UK] Liberal Democrat MEP now at the European Policy Centre, the May 2019 European elections will polarise around Mr Macron and Mr Orbán in a battle “for and against liberal democracy and ever-closer union”.

Prosperity and security are key.

That fight will not, of course, be settled in a single round. Europe faces a decade of grinding east-west conflict whose outcome will ultimately be determined by the EU’s wider ability to generate prosperity and deliver security in the face threats from migration, Russian meddling and a crumbling transatlantic alliance, say regional analysts.

For now the illiberal vision of Central and Eastern Europe countries feels in the ascendant, but long-time watchers of such countries, including Otilia Dhand at Teneo Intelligence, caution that democracy has always ebbed and flowed in the east.

In the past, populist movements have tended to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions, over-promising and under-delivering to the point where the voters reject them. For now, she argues, direct East-West confrontation is likely only to feed the siege mentality that sustains them.

The real crunch for Brussels, Ms Dhand predicts, will actually come in the next major economic downturn and whether this time the European Union can play the role of saviour – rather than source – of that crisis when it hits.

“The last three European crises in 2008, 2011 and 2015 have all exported problems to eastern EU countries after initially bringing prosperity and the hope of a better future,” she observes. “Sooner or later they will hit another crisis. They always do. Then old Europe will have its chance.”

Next parts of Europe Future Series in the UK Daily Telegraph:

2. Future of Europe – defence: can the EU actually protect itself against Russia?, 11/9/18, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/future-europe-defence-can-eu-actually-protect-russia/

3. Future of Europe: EU’s liberals are losing their grip in the struggle to solve its migration crisis, 12/9/18, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/12/future-europe-eus-liberals-losing-grip-struggle-solve-migration/

4. Future of Europe: Can the EU save a lost generation left fighting for its life in an economic maelstrom?, 13/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/13/future-europe-can-eu-save-lost-generation-left-fighting-life/

5. Future of Europe: is the EU’s dream of expansion to the east dead?, 14/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/14/future-europe-eus-dream-expansion-east-dead/

6. Future of Europe: Why in Emmanuel Macron the EU has its greatest saviour – and biggest liability?, 15/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/15/future-europe-emmanuel-macron-eu-have-greatest-saviour-biggest/

———

Fascist racism in Czech regional elections shows the path to dictatorship.

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[ Posted by Lara Keller 6/10/18 ]

Fascist racism in regional elections in struggling regions of the Czech republic revealed by UK’s C4 Far right in Czech Republic: the politicians turning on Roma. They are not only turning on the Roma which is bad enough. The language is vague and is about difference. Speaks of the “rabble”, and the “maladjusted”. Turning people into problematic objects. These objects can then be more easily destroyed, socially by being contained as a threat, or biologically by being murdered, or both. In one poster the “others” also include the “homeless”.

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The highly respected Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit (who works actively against Zionist racism) would see this as contradictory:

“My central claim is that humiliation typically presupposes the humanity of the humiliated. Humiliating behavior rejects the other as nonhuman, but the act of rejection presupposes that it is a person that is being rejected.“ (The Decent Society, Margalit 1998, pp 109)

If only everyone was a philosopher worried by contradiction. Western countries, like the Czech Republic, turning to racism show a possible path to authoritarianism.

  1. Identify sections of the population as surplus, describe them humiliatingly as problematic objects.
  2. Attempt to clean up the problem up, by constraining and humiliating them.
  3. Provoke and facilitate acts of destruction by the so called surplus population.
  4. Justify further oppression in the name of security.
  5. Identify more surplus people.
  6. Repeat………
  7. Install a fully authoritarian government, to protect the. minority from the enraged surplus population.

Some people claim that this process requires a severe mismanaged economic crisis like the Great Depression, or a society that is deeply divided and so can easily provide a ready made detached group of oppressors. The truth appears to be that people can easily be convinced to turn against each other, if they see no economic future, see no effective progressive political leadership and live in modern societies in small isolated groups. The truth appears to be that there are wealthy elites inside democracies and outside them (esp Russia-China) queuing up to turbo charge this decay.

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Jeremy Corbyn [id=40-j13]. Assad Apologists

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Jeremy Corbyn [id=40-j13]. Assad Apologists.

[Original Author = Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Posted,Amended & Updated by Lara Keller 26/9/18]

[Range of Assadist opinion see here.]

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[Start]

“Jeremy Corbyn is being openly disowned by his own MPs amid accusations that he has sided with President Assad and Vladimir Putin over military intervention in Syria.” [UK Daily Telegraph,16/4/18] ….

“On Sunday the Labour leader called for a ‘war powers act’ which would seek to ensure that all planned use of force would have to be signed off by the Commons, to hold all future governments ‘for what they do in our name’. He has described airstrikes on Syria as ‘legally questionable’ and refused both to directly blame Assad for the chemical weapon attack in Douma and Russia for the suspected nerve-agent attack in Salisbury.”

The article included some tweets from UK Labour MPs critical of Corbyn’s stance on this topic [LK: Note: Daily Telegraph is a conservative newspaper, whose journalism is accurate but often selective on focus]:

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The UK left-wing newspaper “The Guardian” also covered this story: Corbyn calls for ‘war powers act’ as check on military intervention. UK Guardian Newspaper [15/4/18].

“Asked whether he [Corbyn] would back military action if the OPCW found the Assad regime was responsible for the Douma chemical weapons attack, he said: ‘I would then say, confront Assad with that evidence; confront any other group that may be fingered because of that – and then say they must come in and destroy those weapons, as they did in 2013 and 2015.’ The Labour leader’s critics have questioned the plausibility of achieving a diplomatic solution, particularly one backed by the UN security council, in which Russia has repeatedly used its veto in defence of the Syrian regime. But he called on the UK government to ‘work might and main to bring Russia and the US together on this so that we do get a political process in Syria, as well as the removal of chemical weapons’. He added: ‘it can be done. It’s hard work and it takes patience – but surely that is better than the escalation of this conflict.’ “

Jeremy Corbyn perpetually equivocal attitude may be partly explained by his choice to be briefed about Syria by the Assad regime propagandist the nun Mother Agnes Mariam in November 2013. An event organized by the extremist  Declan Hayes, with the help he claims of the the “British conservative Party”. Hayes associates himself with Katehon, the Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianist fascist website. Mother Agnes was on a world propaganda tour following the Ghouta Chemical Attack in August 2013 – where the Assad Regime outraged the world by murdering 14,000 Syrian civilians with Sarin gas – she used her apparent vocation to give credence to disinformation about this attack —

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The right-wing UK tabloid Sunday Express newspaper, covered this episode in January 2018, only 5 years later. ‘Dangerous’ Assad apologist claims he briefed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Syria.

Jackson Diehl, Why hasn’t Britain been able to stop Putin? Ask Jeremy Corbyn, Washington Post, March 18 2018. Includes comments on Corbyn’s attitude of obsessively doubting Putin’s use of “Novichok” in a careless assassination attempt by his regime in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn is closely associated with “Stop the War Coalition UK” who are actually only interested in stopping any intervention that might constrain Putin and Assad’s ongoing genocidal war on Syrians. Corbyn was chairperson between 2011 and 2015, and is still an active member. His anti-war activities in support of fake far-left or fake anti-imperialist dictatorships goes back to the 1970s.—

According to left leaning journalist James Bloodworth in the conservative UK Spectator magazine (which also takes some pieces with left-wing perspective) in 2013 wrote:

“The Stop the War Coalition is  a curious organization. It isn’t so much opposed to war as has accrued a sorry reputation for supporting the other side in every conflict it has pretended to oppose.” [Mother Agnes has pulled out of the Stop the War conference. And yet she would have fitted in so well, Spectator,18/11/2013]

The STWC always actively opposes military intervention by the West which it always labels “Western imperialism” and either apologizes or makes token complaints against corresponding “Russian-Chinese” intervention-imperialism. Nato is a favorite target of STWC. That a supporter of such a conflicted nominally anti-war organization could become prime minister of the UK is worrying.

@GCINEWS Tweet on Putin sponsored mentor’s alliance with STWC: Note STWC’s Russian mentor Kagarlitsky in the middle carrying the anti-Nato banner. He’d also been actively promoting Scottish separatism since 2010, if not before. Doing so with a known close Corbyn/STWC associate.

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STWC defended Kagarlitsky in a statement: StWC Statement on Andrew Gilligan’s Sunday Times Article & Boris Kagarlitsky’s Response – 19/10/16. The “untruths, half-truths and obfuscations” of this stament were then corrected comprehensively by Simon Pirani in Stop calling warmongers “anti-war activists” Kagarlitsky (who runs IGSO and Rabkor.ru) is a supporter of Russian military action in Ukraine, he has been associated since 2014 with Russian fascists (ie Dugin), he has been given grants since 2004 by Putin regime to research left-wing groups and produce propaganda.

@JBickertonUK Tweet on Russian & Assad Flags at STWC 2018 demo. Both Syrian regime and Russian flags at the Stop The War Protest outside Downing Street. Can’t say I’m surprised.

[Note: LK: Assad Regime flags and symbols have repeatedly appeared at STWC demonstrations since 2011. Have not observed as many Russian flags.]

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The Stop the War Coalition is more interested in fighting the West than fighting for Syrians. by Peter Tatchell, UK Independent Newspaper, 10/12/2016.

“Stop the War Coalition’s annual conference in October [2016] was heckled by protesters who condemned the organisation – and its keynote speaker, Jeremy Corbyn – for not mobilising against the indiscriminate bombing of Aleppo, and other war crimes, by Syria’s president Assad and his Russian allies. Just before the conference, an open letter to Corbyn, signed by Labour party and Momentum activists, criticised his failure to condemn these war crimes and to push for humanitarian aid to the besieged civilian populations.”

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During 2016 the attitude of Corbyn and the leadership of UK Labour Party became openly shameful. In February 2016, the UN issued a report describing the political genocide being committed by the Assad regime in Syria, UN report: Syrian government actions amount to ‘extermination’ [UK Guardian 8/2/2016]

“Detainees held by the Syrian government are dying on a massive scale amounting to a state policy of extermination of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators has said”.

In September 2016 the Assad Regime with Russian airpower started a campaign to retake Eastern Aleppo. In a HRW report (Russia/Syria: War Crimes in Month of Bombing Aleppo,HRW,1/12/2018) the blitz in September and October 2016 was described: The Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian civil monitoring organization, documented that the bombing campaign killed more than 440 civilians, including more than 90 children. Airstrikes often appeared to be recklessly indiscriminate, deliberately targeted at least one medical facility, and included the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions and incendiary weapons. Satellite imagery that Human Rights Watch analyzed shows more than 950 new distinct impact sites consistent with the detonation of large high explosive bombs across the area during the month.

By this time the siege of Eastern Aleppo had created an acute food shortage. On the 20th September 2016 Russian aircraft destroyed an authorized UN aid convoy attempting to provide desperately needed resources. While these crimes were being committed in Syria, the superpower supporters of the Assad Regime, Russia and China were continuing to use their veto in the UN Security Council to prevent legally sanctioned international action.

On the 11th October 2016 the UK Foreign Minster Boris Johnson criticized STWC for not protesting outside the Russian embassy in London, probably motivated by the political opportunism of Jeremy Corbyn being a leading member. The response of the Labour Party Spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn was widely reported: Syria: US as much a target for protests as Russia – Labour, BBC [12/10/2016]

“He told journalists that a number of foreign powers, including the UK, were involved in the brutal conflict and Russia should not be singled out. While condemning Russian ‘atrocities’, he said civilians had also been killed by the US-led coalition’s bombings……’There are multiple foreign interventions in the Syrian civil war and we’ve emphasised that there needs to be an end to that and those powers need to be part of a negotiated settlement, which is the only way to stop the conflict.’ ……Asked whether he was suggesting a moral equivalence between US and UK actions against so-called Islamic State and Moscow’s support for the Assad regime, the spokesman said he was not “in the business of allocating blame”…..But he added: “The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities – which is absolutely correct – sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place……’The intervention of foreign powers in the conflict has no doubt escalated and fueled it throughout,’ he added.”

This sloppy statement denied the reality that more than 90% of the causalities in Syria since 2011 have been caused by the Assad Regime and its allies, particularly Putin’s regime who has supplied a weapons conveyor to the Assad Regime from the start, as well as bombing opposition areas directly from 2015. Endless peace talks had been going nowhere, while Russia and China used their veto on the UN Security Council to block any enforced international solution. In October 2016 this denial from Corbyn’s spokesman was a clear statement of a strong bias towards Putin’s Regime, and was condemned by some Labour MPs.

This is part of a long preference for the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union and other related dictatorships by Corbyn, which helps to explain his inability to objectively criticize the Putin or Assad Regimes: @TimesCorbyn: This thread will examine chronologically (nearly all) Mr Corbyn’s mentions of: Russia/Soviet Union/USSR in Hansard (1984-1998):

Many comments made by Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons when he was just a far-left fringe Labour MP show that he never believed in the military threat posed by the Soviet Union, from the rule of Stalin onwards, here is an example:

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LK: It is understandable to oppose the “Cold War” as a disastrous response to the threat of communist totalitarianism. The West’s approach was ineffective (led to a new Cold War), costly, inhumane, authoritarian (often encouraged viciously brutal right-wing dictatorships) and hypocritical (used as cover to impose obsessive globalized liberalism). However Corbyn like many of the far-left takes the extreme position that the Soviet Union never posed a threat. A stance that he repeated at length in 2011 in a seven page introduction to a reissue J.Hobson’s (1902) “Imperialism: A Study”. Corbyn uses half of the introduction to chronicle imperialism after Hosbson’s time.

According to Corbyn’s hyperbolic rhetoric just after the Second World War the US reoccupied Europe under the “guise of Nato”, and then set out to control the minds of the captured populations (he wrote this in 2011):

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Corbyn then continues with a claim that Soviet influence was benignly different. He ignores the reality of the experience of people living in Soviet satellites in Central Europe, Central Asia and Afghanistan. He ignores Soviet propaganda, that privately outsourced foreign policy to its satellites while denying this in public, and so sought to protect its reputation and avoid direct confrontation with the West. The Soviet Union’s policy was to make Cuba totally economically dependent, and a showcase for the benefits of Soviet style authoritarianism. Cuba was very influential in spreading communism, not always successfully, to Latin America and Africa. The propaganda of Cuban so called “independence” included Castro rigging farcical show trials in 1968 for surplus comrades accused of being “microfaction” Soviet agents. Corbyn just repeats the far-left party line below:

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Even the mainstream UK Labour Party supporting UK tabloid Newspaper the “Mirror” is baffled by Corbyn’s bias towards Russia. Why does Jeremy Corbyn love Russia so much? It’s not very nice. The Labour leader thinks he’s defending the ideals of the Soviet Union, UK Mirror, 16/3/2018.

“Now, I’m not calling the man [Jeremy Corbyn] a Communist, because he’s clearly a democrat [LK: ?]. I’m not calling him a spy, a double agent, or a traitor because he’s none of those things. He just appears to be someone for whom every day since March 1968 does not seem to have actually happened.”

“Because in August 1968 the USSR sent 250,000 troops to invade and occupy Czechoslovakia because there was widespread public support for ending censorship and liberal reforms; a softening, not an overthrow, of Communism. Around 500 people were injured and 137 killed. That would be enough, you would think, for a reasonable person – Lefty, Righty or otherwise – to dislike the aggressor.”

“It wasn’t enough to convince Corbyn. At the time the USA was busy in Vietnam so there was little international condemnation. And in 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan for precisely the same reasons. That time, 2m people were killed in a 9-year war which led to the radicalisation and extensive military training of not only Osama Bin Laden, but all his principal lieutenants, Hook-Handed Abu Hamza and thousands of others who went on to become the Taliban, which is not only still active in Afghanistan but guilty of trafficking, heroin production, massacres and murders of aid workers.”

“Yet on July 6, 2011, Corbyn told the House of Commons: ‘There is a huge memorial movement within Russia today on behalf of those [Soviet soldiers] who are still not recognised for the sacrifices they made.’ He’s criticised the Taliban, but blamed it on the USA when the truth is it’s an organisation born of two superpowers, not one………………………..”

“He has said that he is no supporter of Putin or Russian foreign policy, but he attacks all those who attack Russia. He argued against NATO, the EU, Barack Obama’s foreign policy. He has made the same arguments as Russia when it comes to the attack in Salisbury, and is, like Russia, claiming to be victim of a smear campaign by his enemies. ………………..”

“I can understand why Corbyn loved the Soviet Union. I can stretch that into understanding why he is reluctant or unwilling to recognise its failures, and even his wilful blindness of just what sort of a monster the modern Russia has become under the control of a clever, vengeful, killer.”

“But that multi-billionaire has seized assets and wealth from others. He degrades and denigrates those who have been historically oppressed, his business dealings are so opaque they cannot be properly assessed or taxed, he presides over a state where police brutality is witnessed by 1 in 4 people, he has cracked down on freedom of expression and assembly, he’s helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad bomb his own people to smithereens, he’s influenced democratic votes and is thought to be in a position to blackmail the current president of the USA.”

“All that remains of the Russia that Corbyn loves is a distrust of organisations of those allied against it. And while once they were anti-Russia for ideological reasons, they are anti-Russia today because that state is run by criminals, thieves, killers, oppressors, anti-democrats and the sort of people who see no reason not to wave chemical weapons around on either a battlefield, hotel, football stadium or civilian street.”

“Jeremy Corbyn is entirely right to demand evidence of all that. The problem is that there is PLENTY, and he can’t see it.”

Corbyn with a group of credulous liberals visiting Assad in 2009, whose regime is one of the fruits of Soviet-Putin foreign influence that Corbyn so admires:

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Jeremy Corbyn And The Left Have Been Shameless On Syria: Solidarity should be with Assad’s people and not the state institutions of Syria itself, Rabbil Sikdar, HuffPost Blog, 18/4/2018:

“As I’ve written before, the handling of Syria by Jeremy Corbyn has been disappointing. He signals to political solutions though Assad has adamantly rejected them where they involve him leaving power. Corbyn mentions UN resolutions as a means of stopping the conflict but the Russians have vetoed everything. He calls for investigations into source of chemical weapons but then ignores their findings where they have incriminated Assad. Rather than explicitly condemning Assad, he says he abhors violence on all sides, drawing some sort of equality in power between a police state and the rebels, and refuses to ever explicitly condemn Assad. It’s a legitimate accusation that his foreign policy is increasingly shaped by an appeasement of the Russian regime. Was Boris Johnson really wrong to call him a ‘useful idiot’ for the Kremlin?”

“There are some in Labour reclaiming humanitarian intervention as a defining principle of Labour and it runs all the way from Clement Attlee to Tony Blair. They have bravely offered their voices in a party swamped by those who prefer inaction to the point of closing their eyes at the genocide of the Syrian people.”

“It’s time to stop listening to the Stop the War Coalition and listen to actual Syrians , like the Syria Solidarity UK and refugees like Hassan Akkad who have been calling for action of some kind against Assad for years now.”

[End]

What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

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[ A new book traces Jeremy Corbyn’s ideology from its roots. Clockwise from top left: Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, a Stop the War protest against bombing in Syria and a steel factory in operation (Photo: Getty) ]

[ Source= https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/what-is-corbynism-the-author-of-a-new-book-explains-why-even-some-left-wingers-have-problems-with-it/ By: Karl McDonald 27/9/18 ]

[Posted by Lara Keller 28/9/18]

What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

The ‘critical’ book traces the ideology that informs the Labour leader’s policies.

Everyone knows who Jeremy Corbyn is, and most of have an idea of “Corbynistas” too – but relatively little thought has been put into what Corbynism really means as a political ideology.

It’s forgivable for the casual follower of the news to be confused. In the right-wing press, we hear about Jeremy Corbyn the Soviet bloc spy.

On the left, Corbynism tends to be romanticised. And in the centre, we’ve lived through the great punditry crisis of 2015-17, as the unelectable dinosaur did better than anyone could have imagined.

But little of what we read day today deals with what he actually believes and why. One effort to get to grips with this comes in the form of Corbynism: A Critical Approach, a book by Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts.

“The origins of the book lay in our frustrations with the way that Corbyn is critiqued or examined across the spectrum,” Bolton told “iNews” [Newspaper]. His book is heavy on theory – it’s certainly not afraid of discussing the “substantialist strand of value theory” for example – but it’s also filled with criticisms that we don’t often hear, coming from left-wing academics.

Here are some of the conclusions they’ve drawn:

1. Corbynism is not just one thing.

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[ Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton, authors of Corbynism: A Critical Approach. ]

“You’ve got the traditional left strand, which is kind of a mixture of Bennism and bit of Trotskyism,” he says. “There’s a kind of residual Stalinism there as well, represented by Corbyn himself, (shadow Chancellor) John McDonnell, (former Guardian writer and now strategist) Seumas Milne, (special adviser and former Communist Party member) Andrew Murray and (adviser) Andrew Fisher.”

Next, you’ve got the Momentum strand – still a little Bennite in its older members, but driven mostly by the energy of younger people radicalised after the 2008 crash.

“Then you’ve got the (Derby MP) Chris Williamson, Squawkbox,Canary thread, who I’m increasingly interested in,” says Bolton. “They’re really coming from a much more conspiratorial point of view.”

On top of that, there are postcapitalists, cultural theorists and more.

“All these different groups with different traditions have fed into Corbynism – and there are tensions between them,” says Bolton. “They come out from time to time with Brexit and with the anti-Semitism row over the summer – McDonnell was intent on shutting that down, but the more extreme elements were keen on pushing it. ”

Corbyn’s major achievement, he says, is that the Labour leader keeps things vague.

“When he talks about socialism, he says it’s just natural, it’s people being nice to one another. And because he doesn’t express himself in clear political terms, it allows other groups to project what they want on him.”

2. We wouldn’t have Corbynism – or as much of a left resurgence – without Corbyn himself.

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[Jeremy Corbyn on stage at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Photo: Getty)]

The vagueness goes some way towards explaining why Corbyn’s rise happened when it would have seemed impossible to an observer wondering whether Corbyn, McDonnell or Diane Abbott would emerge for a leftwing tilt at the leadership in 2015.

“Would Corbynism have been possible without Corbyn? The ideas were there, and we had the upsurge starting in 2008, but we’re doubtful that any other figure from the left would have been able to do it,” says Bolton.

“Would John McDonnell have done it? He’s too clear, almost, on his positions.”

“George Galloway? In a lot of ways he’s similar to Corbyn, they share a lot of positions and Galloway is close friends with Seumas Milne. But it seems implausible to me that he could have done it.”

3. Corbyn sees the world as good vs evil.

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[A Stop the War protest near Downing Street demands bombing of Syria stops (Photo: Getty)]

When Bolton and his co-author Frederick Harry Pitts use the term “Stalinism” in relation to Corbynism, they’re not talking about gulags. They’re referring to a particular world view that splits countries into two camps: the American “imperialist” camp on one side, and those who resist American dominance on the
other, led in Stalin’s time by the Soviet Union.

“If you look at Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray, both of whom were very influential in the Corbyn circle, they have an explicitly Stalinist background,” says Bolton.

“Andrew Murray was a member of the Communist Party until 2016. And the way that that feeds in to the Corbyn movement is mainly influencing foreign policy through a particular form of anti-imperialism which we call ‘two-campism’.”

He adds: “Any group that opposes the states that are seen as the embodiment of capitalism through the lens of imperialism, is seen as anti-capitalist.

“You can see this in particular with Syria. Because they view Assad as anti-American, they see any opposition to Assad as a proxy for the Americans. So these Syrians fighting basically for liberal democracy gets dismissed either as a jihadi thing or as stooges of American democracy.

“That world view has its roots in Leninism and Stalinism.”

4. He’s a Bennite – and Bennism is economic nationalism.

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[Jeremy Corbyn is keen to subsidise industry – including steel – in the UK (Photo: Getty)]

When it comes to policy at home, however, it’s not Soviet policy that the Labour leader reaches for.

Bolton and Pitts links Corbyn to Tony Benn’s Alternative Economic Strategy which emerged in the 1970s and early 1980s – the last time the left was a serious force within the party.

“On the one hand you have the notion of workers’ control of production, which you can see in the stuff they were talking about at conference with workers on boards,” Bolton says. “Lots of that is good stuff, we don’t disagree with everything.”

But the other side of Bennism is the idea that the British economy and industry were “under attack” from finance – and that Britain needed to build a “siege economy” to throw off the shackles of the bankers, Bolton says.

“We think that’s a form of economic nationalism – protecting British jobs and British industry from foreign intruders,” he says. “That’s dangerous. It’s politically ambivalent.”

5. It’s a short jump from ‘rigged economy’ to antisemitic tropes.

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[Fire and fury: former Trump adviser Steve Bannon (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)]

Bennism’s sense of attack from the financiers leads Corbyn to describe the economy as “rigged” – something that might be intuitive to a lot of left-wingers. But left-wingers aren’t the only people who use it, Bolton points out – Donald Trump, Bannon and even Michael Gove have adopted it too.

“The political ambivalence of the ‘rigged economy’ term alongside the economic nationalism is quite dangerous,” he says.

It’s this sort of thinking that leads Corbyn into his anti-Semitism rows.

“If you see capitalism as something that’s imposed on workers rather than something more general, it’s not inevitable that you end up with anti-semitism, but the potential is there.

“The combination of that and the good vs bad world view, you can end up repeating or stumbling into antisemitic tropes.”

6. He had his chance to oppose Brexit and missed it – probably on purpose.

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Jeremy Corbyn during the Remain campaign (Getty) ]

There’s a reason Jeremy Corbyn is “anti-EU by instinct”, as it’s presented in the media. In the Bennite tradition, the EU stops Britain building a “siege economy” and growing its industrial base without restriction, according to Bolton.

“They don’t want to be in the single market because they think it restricts their ability to provide state aid for national industry,” he adds – meaning he wants to be able to put public money into nationalised businesses in a way that might be illegal under EU rules.

Of course, Corbyn campaigned to Remain, and even if he did want to change his post-referendum position on Brexit, he had a chance to do it when Theresa May lost seats in the election. “They could have said you’ve had your chance, you’ve lost the election, let’s have a re-think. But they want Brexit, I think,” says Bolton.

7. The Corbynite intellectuals are losing control of their own fringes.

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Labour MP Chris Williamson is a leftist – but has been combative since leaving the shadow cabinet ]

Corbynism is open to many different left-wing ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t clash.

One particularly difficult subgrouping is what Bolton calls the “conspiratorial wing” – or the “Chris Williamson- Labour Against The Witch Hunt-Canary strand”.

“You’re starting to see a split between them and the intellectual leadership,” he says. “They’re starting to turn against them.”

“You can see the tension between the radical-but-sensible thinkers at the core of the party and their zealous outriders on social media and elsewhere when the latter turn against the leader’s perceived enemies.”

“Jon Lansman has done more for Corbynism than almost anyone apart from John McDonnell, maybe,” says Bolton.

“But once he does one thing to contradict the leadership’s position, which is put himself forward as General Secretary against Jennie Formby, instantly the Chris Williamson wing started to turn against him.”

“Suddenly it become, oh he’s a Zionist, he’s power-mad, it’s a secret Israeli agenda.”

————————-

International Assadists Reference Directory

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International Assadists Reference Directory

[Author = Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[ Posted & Amended by Lara Keller 21/9/18 Updated 29/10/18 ]

A references directory on 171 (?) public figures who have expressed support and/or whitewashed the Assad regime, with examples and references.

The purpose of this list is to facilitate finding the references to see and to show people who genuinely don’t know what is true and who to trust about Syria why the people on this list should not be trusted as sources. I am not expecting anyone to read the whole thing, at least not in one sitting. I suggest you use Ctrl+F on a Windows computer or ⌘+F on a Mac to easily find the name(s) you’re looking for. There may be an online database facility in future.

Each time there’s an incident in Syria which breaks through into international public attention (only nerve toxin gas attacks or >1000 civilians killed in a week seem to trigger 1–2 weeks of international attention now), we get a week or two’s rush of people who have not been paying attention to the daily reporting from Syria before then sharing articles, videos and memes from pro-regime propaganda sources, often without knowing that’s what they are, and we are busy re-finding and copy-pasting the links around to show them why they shouldn’t trust those sources. I hope this reference list will at least make that easier and more efficient next time, because unfortunately there will be a next time, as we have still not done anything to make “never again” a reality.

I decided to spend quite a lot of time in introduction articles defining terms, because otherwise what happens is the other side just call this “propaganda”, as if words have no objective meaning independent of partisanship anymore.

I cut into a separate article my attempt to understand how it happened that so many mostly good people came to believe so much evil bullshit, which I think is more due to authoritarian regimes exploiting the built-in vulnerabilities in the structure, as it has been designed so far, of the social media part of the Public Sphere than it is due to the inherent moral frailties of human nature.

How have so many people become so seriously misled about Syria?
It is tempting but probably untrue to attribute malice to most people who believe narratives about Syria which are…medium.com

[ LK: It is important to understand what is meant by Assadist, and anti-Assadist, appreciate the range of opinions these terms cover and how people develop these stances. The original author provides essential prerequisite material on this in four  parts. It is important to realize Assadist is not meant by the author as a term of abuse. This directory could be used to understand why the Assad Regime is so hated, journalists to research sources, provide information on the range of people willing to apologize for a very violent and oppressive dictatorship or to study the variety of pro Assad propaganda and its intended audiences. There is no intention to provide or encourage the access to or inappropriate use of personal information. Content is limited to public sources. ]

Prerequisite material:

I will now continue the rest of the list in alphabetical order by second name. Corporate entity names I’ve alphabetised by the first letter of the first word.

A–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • shortArrow - CopyDiane Abbott  [id=1-a1]
  • shortArrow - CopySarah Abdallah (also known as ‘Sahouraxo’, formerly aka ‘Jnoubiyeh’ and ‘Muqawamist’) [id=2-a2]
  • shortArrow - CopySarah Abed [id=3-a3]
  • Ali Abuminah [id=4-a4]
  • Mother Agnes [id=5-a5]
  • Nafeez Ahmed [id=6-a6]
  • Tariq Ali [id=7-a7]
  • Louis Allday [id=8-a8]
  • James Allsup [id=9-a9]
  • Kevork Almassian [id=10-a10]
  • Tim Anderson [id=11-a11]
  • Paul Antonopolous [id=12-a12]
  • Andrew Ashdown [id=13-a13]

B–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Steve Bannon [id=14-b1]
  • Arron Banks [id=15-b2]
  • Gérard Bapt [id=16-b3]
  • Ajamu Baraka [id=17-b4]
  • Yahya Barakat [id=18-b5]
  • Eva Bartlett [id=19-b6]
  • Thierry Baudet [id=20-b7]
  • Vanessa Beeley [id=21-b8]
  • Jens Bernert [id=22-b9]
  • Richard Black  [id=23-b10]
  • Christian Blex [id=24-b11]
  • Max Blumenthal [id=25-b12]
  • David Bromwich [id=26-b13]
  • Aisling Byrne [id=27-b14]

C–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tucker Carlson [id=28-c1]
  • Mike Cernovich [id=29-c2]
  • Noam Chomsky [id=30-c3]
  • Neil Clark [id=31-c4]
  • Alexander Cockburn [id=32-c5]
  • Patrick Cockburn [id=33-c6]
  • Elizabeth Cocker ‘Lizzie Phelan’ [id=34-c7]
  • Stephen Cohen [id=35-c8]
  • Gerry Condon [id=36-c9]
  • Alistair Crooke [id=37-c10]
  • Jonathan Cook [id=38-c11]
  • shortArrow - CopySheila Coombes [id=39-c12]
  • shortArrow - CopyJeremy Corbyn [id=40-c13]
  • Pierre le Corf [id=41-c14]
  • Alain Corvez [id=42-c15]
  • Ann Coulter [id=43-c16]
  • Baroness Caroline Cox [id=44-c17]

D–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sevim Dagdelen (*1975) [id=45-d1]
  • Clare Daly [id=46-d2]
  • Golden Dawn [id=47-d3]
  • Zlatko Dizdarevic [id=48-d4]
  • Jimmy Dore [id=49-d5]
  • Bob Dreyfuss [id=50-d6]
  • Tom Duggan [id=51-d7]
  • Wierd Duk [id=52-d8]
  • David Duke [id=53-d9]

E–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • European Solidarity Front for Syria (ESFS) [id=54-e1]
  • Pepe Escobar [id=55-e2]

F–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Leith Abou Fadel [id=56-f1]
  • Robert Fisk [id=57-f2]
  • Sara Flounders [id=58-f3]
  • Peter Ford [id=59-f4]
  • Benjamin Fulford [id=60-f5]

G–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tulsi Gabbard [id=61-g1]
  • Uli Gack [id=62-g2]
  • George Galloway [id=63-g3]
  • Tim Gionet ‘Baked Alaska’ [id=64-g4]
  • Marco Glowatzki [id=65-g5]
  • Glenn Greenwald [id=66-g6]
  • Joachim Guilliard [id=67-g7]

H–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Declan Hayes [id=68-h1]
  • Tim Hayward [id=69-h2]
  • Patrick Henningsen [id=70-h3]
  • Seymour Hersh [id=71-h4]
  • Peter Hitchens [id=72-h5]
  • Katie Hopkins [id=73-h6]

I–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • David Icke [id=74-i1]
  • Laura Ingraham [id=75-i2]
  • Robert Inlarkesh [id=76-i3]

J–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Ken Jebsen [id=77-j1]
  • Simon Jenkins [id=78-j2]
  • Adam Johnson [id=79-j3]
  • shortArrow - CopyBoris Johnson [id=80-j4]
  • Caitlin Johnston [id=81-j5]
  • Alex Jones [id=82-j6]
  • Owen Jones [id=83-j7]

K–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Leila Khaled [id=84-k1]
  • Rania Khalek [id=85-k2]
  • Janice Kortkamp [id=86-k3]
  • Dennis Kucinich [id=87-k4]
  • Harald Kujat (*1942) [id=88-k5]

L–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tomi Lahren [id=89-l1]
  • Joshua Landis [id=90-l2]
  • Adam Larson [id=91-l3]
  • Paul Lauradee [id=92-l4]
  • Carlos Latuff [id=93-l5]
  • Gregory Lauder-Frost [id=94-l6]
  • Régis Le Sommier [id=95-l7]
  • Christian Lindgren [id=96-l8]
  • Joe Lombardo [id=97-l9]
  • Michael Lüders [id=98-l10]

M–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Jeff Mackler [id=99-m1]
  • Abby Martin [id=100-m2]
  • Aaron Mate [id=101-m3]
  • shortArrow - CopyTara McCormack [id=102-m4]
  • Ray McGovern [id=103-m5]
  • Gavin McInnes [id=104-m6]
  • Paul McKeigue [id=105-m7]
  • Barbara McKenzie [id=106-m8]
  • Kerry-Anne Mendoza [id=107-m9]
  • Guy Mettan [id=108-m10]
  • Günter Meyer (*1946) [id=109-m11]
  • Thierry Meyssan [id=110-m12]
  • David Miller [id=111-m13]
  • Seumus Milne [id=112-m14]
  • Stefan Molyneux [id=113-m15]
  • Craig Murray [id=114-m16]

N–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sharmine Narwani [id=115-n1]
  • Donna Nassor [id=116-n2]
  • Ben Norton [id=117-n3]
  • Forza Nouva [id=118-n4]
  • Paul Nuttall [id=119-n5]

O–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Eoin Ó Murchú [id=120-o1]
  • Ken O’Keefe [id=121-o2]
  • Carla Ortiz [id=122-o3]

P–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Marcus Papadopolous [id=123-p1]
  • Robert Parry [id=124-p2]
  • Rand Paul [id=125-p3]
  • Ron Paul [id=126-p4]
  • John Pilger [id=127-p5]
  • Jaap Plaiser [id=128-p6]
  • Jurgen Pohl [id=129-p7]
  • Gareth Porter [id=130-p8]
  • Theodore Postol [id=131-p9]
  • Casa Pound [id=132-p10]
  • Vijay Prashad [id=133-p11]

Q–Surnames-or-OrgNames

[No Entries]

R–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Michel Raimbaud [id=134-r1]
  • Sami Ramadani [id=135-r2]
  • John Rees [id=136-r3]
  • Paul Craig Roberts [id=137-r4]
  • Piers Robinson [id=138-r5]
  • Dana Rohrabacher [id=139-r6]
  • Kris Roman [id=140-r7]
  • Pierre-Yves Rougeyron [id=141-r8]

S–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Susan Sarandon [id=142-s1]
  • MP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser [id=143-s2]
  • Elham Shaheen [id=144-s3]
  • Pearson Sharp [id=145-s4]
  • Fares Shehabi [id=146-s5]
  • Alain Soral [id=147-s6]
  • SOS Chrétiens d’Orient [id=148-s7]
  • Richard Spencer [id=149-s8]
  • Jonathan Steele [id=150-s9]
  • Jill Stein [id=151-s10]
  • Rick Sterling [id=152-s11]
  • Maram Sulsi ‘Partisan Girl’ [id=153-s12]
  • “Swedish Doctors for Human Rights” (SWEDHR)/Marcello Ferranda De Noli [id=154-s13]
  • Le Club Suisse / Swiss Press Club [id=155-s14]

T–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Emily Thornberry [id=156-t1]
  • Hans-Thomas Tillschneider [id=157-t2]
  • Jürgen Todenhöfer [id=158-t3]

U–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • US Peace Council [id=159-u1]

V–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Beatrix Von Storch [id=160-v1]
  • Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) [id=161-v2]

W–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sahra Wagenknecht[id=162-w1]
  • Roger Waters [id=163-w2]
  • Paul Joseph Watson [id=164-w3]
  • Ian Wilkie [id=165-w4]
  • Asa Winstanley [id=166-w5]
  • Ann Wright [id=167-w6]

X–Surnames-or-OrgNames

[No Entries]

Y–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Milo Yiannopolous [id=168-y1]
  • Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan [id=169-y2]

Z–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Slavoj Zizek [id=170-z1]
  • Zwart Front [id=171-z2]

———-

Ten Point Scale and Common Features of Assadism (By Kester Ratcliff)

assadApologist - Copy

Ten Point Scale of Assadism (By Kester Ratcliff)

[Author = Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18]

What it means to identify someone as an ‘Assadist’.

This is a progressive list of relatively less committed gradually through to the most committed Assadist statements. People who only repeat points 1–4 are more likely to be recoverable than people who are assert 4–9. Point 10 is where they clearly cross a legal line from nonfactual and morally repugnant to a criminal act of incitement of a crime against humanity (explained below).

  1. ‘There are no good guys left- there was a civilian uprising in 2011, but there are only Islamist jihadis now.’ (this claim debunked here)
  2. ‘It’s Assad or the Islamist extremists. The Assad regime is secular and the protector of minorities.’ (debunking)
  3. ‘Assad is the legitimate President of Syria, and the Russian and Iranian forces were invited by him so their intervention is legitimate, but any other foreign intervention to limit mass atrocities is illegitimate.’
  4. ‘There was no genuine civilian uprising or revolution, it was a foreign regime change conspiracy. Assad is resisting imperialism.’ (videos)
  5. ‘The Assadi-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian regime’s atrocity crimes are not real but are exaggerated or fictitiously created by Western propaganda.’
  6. Victim blaming — ‘the Syrian revolutionaries and political opposition, civilians and combatants, are to blame for rebelling against legitimate authority and they are ‘terrorists’ for rejecting the government.’
  7. ‘The Assadi-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian regime has not used CWs’ / ‘if they did it was justified’ (the latter is almost exclusively found in Assadist domestic propaganda in Arabic, see examples).
  8. ‘Al Qaeda and ISIS are supported or controlled by the West / by Israel.’
  9. ‘The White Helmets are fake humanitarian aid workers and are associated with / are terrorists.’
  10. ‘The White Helmets are legitimate military targets and should be attacked.’

The distinction between points 9 and 10 is abetment vs. incitement of a crime against humanity. Most Assadists say point 9, very few go as far as 10, but almost all associate themselves with one who does say 10, Vanessa Beeley.

Recently, Bashar al-Assad has also publicly announced in RT that the regime targets the White Helmets as “terrorists” — I think this is military targeting following propaganda, rather than propaganda following military targeting.

In listing these 151(171?) people as Assadists, I am not saying that they are all equivalent. It is not a 0/1 binary, it is a scalar variable. Especially for the milder cases, who might otherwise legitimately complain about being lumped together, I have tried to specify where I think they are on my 1–10 scale. But I think people who only repeat the milder points on the scale of Assadism and frequently associate with the more overt or extreme Assadists play an important role in mainstreaming and legitimising the more extreme people.

 

Common features (roots?) of all varieties of Assadism.

In my opinion the following four features are common to all varieties of international Assadism, from the far right to far left (the meaning of the distinction ‘right’/ ‘left’ breaks down when it is applied to Assadists).

1. Objectification.

Objectification (Naussbaum, 1995, p.257) of an imagined ‘Other’ group of people, reduced to blocs, moved by the hands of imagined more powerful agents, which are typically more like the self. Such imagination of other people is both expressed and transmitted in linguistic framing metaphors such as ‘chess’ or ‘international players’, i.e. game metaphorical framing of counter-revolutionary and genocidal mass atrocities, in which people are imaginatively reduced to ‘remote-controlled pawns’ (Maher Arar’s term). The form and perhaps the origin of this objectification is the Western-centricism that even when it is anti-Western still renders the Oriental, Arabs and Muslims, as imaginary objects rather than as persons with agency. [LK: The denial of effective agency by powerful external countries is the principal reason for the survival of the illegitimate brutal Assad dictatorship.]

Extract on Western-Centrism (“The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism”):

objectification - Copy

2. Islamophobia / Anti-Muslim prejudice.

International Assadists, as much as I have seen, all share the trait of negative stereotyping of Muslims, or even all brown skinned people, as “jihadis” or “Islamist terrorists”. This is the most prominent common feature of all varieties of international Assadism; in some cases it’s more subtle, but I think it’s always there at least implicitly. Some of the far right Assadists call all brown skinned refugees and other migrants ‘jihadis’ (even Eritrean Christians), yet they are willingly blind to the Shia regimes and militias allied with the Russian regime and international fascist groups. In my observations, hardly anyone who says ‘Islamist’ is clear what even they mean by it; in most uses, it’s a label projected onto people just to demonise them.

The function of such stereotyping, and why it occurs so commonly in populist nationalist groups, is to create an imagined, idealised enemy group to negatively identify themselves against, and to lay the guilt of the internal differences, rivalry and conflicts of their populist nationalist community, which they ideologically presume must be united, onto a scapegoat group to be sacrificed, to take away the guilt of their community’s differences (Girard, 2001).

Leftist Assadists also identify ‘jihadis’ by signs such as — exclaiming ‘God is greater!’ (“Allahu akbar”), showing the one finger gesture of tawhid — testifying to the one-ness of God, having a beard while brown, or having a sticker of the Shahada on a vehicle’s rear windscreen (this was one of Vanessa Beeley’s ‘proofs’ that ‘the White Helmets are Al-Qaeda’), which of course are just signs of being Muslim, not at all particular to extremists or terrorists. I have never seen anyone who was interested negatively in ‘Islamists’ ever even attempt to define exactly what they mean by ‘Islamism’, since the term is more useful to them kept vague. [LK: Secularism inconsistently applied is a feature of far-left mindset]

Example of Islamophobia on Twitter (DR+MW have 1000s of followers):

deplorableRocky - Copy

3. Phobia of “mainstream media” and “experts”.

Assadists as far as I have seen commonly share the Populist strategy of cultivating distrust of the home society’s specialists and institutions, and rejection of ‘mainstream media’ (some Assadists literally call the mainstream media ‘lügenpresse’, echoing Hitler), accompanied by a willing credulity about the sources which are delegitimising the institutions of the home society and an unwillingness to consider whether those criticising are really more trustworthy or are actually even worse.

apologistsGuardian - Copy.jpg

[LK: Interesting their target is the only serious mainstream left-wing newspaper in the UK.]

Attacking the credibility of democratic institutions and specialists also creates an echo chamber — a group who distrust all outsiders, who only believe what members of their own echo chamber tell them, and who collectively attack any source of information that threatens their group identity. The Populist strategy can almost be defined as the process of generating an echo chamber.

Populism and echo chamber generating tactics (including ‘audience segmentation’) and conspiracism are inherently inter-related, because conspiracy theories’ main effect is to persuade the audience to reallocate trust and political authority away from the home society’s institutional specialists and to the new populist leaders (and their geopolitical backers), so almost all populists frequently use conspiracy theories in their legitimation narratives.

As C Thi Nguyen says, it is as difficult to leave or to recover people from a political echo chamber as to leave or to recover people from a religious cult — Escape the echo chamber: First you don’t hear other views, then you can’t trust them, then your personal information network entraps you just like a cult.

4. Authoritarianism.

‘Solidarity’ in Assadist ideology is imagined to mean solidarity with States, not people. Far right and left Assadists (even those who self-identify as anarchists) share an authoritarian and Statist attitude to political relationships — politics is what States do, not the collective decisions and actions of people. When they say ‘Syria’ they invariably mean the Assad regime, not the Syrian people. The only Syrians represented personally in international Assadist narratives are regime spokespersons, or subjected to implicit threats by their Mukhabarat minders to say only what they know is expected. It would be suicidal to say anything unexpected to someone on one of the regime-minded tours without being completely certain that they would not reveal any identifying information which could lead the Mukhabarat to find out who said it. Leila al-Shami develops these points fully in this article — The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots.

The Anti-Israel theme is frequent but not fully common, as far as I have seen. There are some otherwise seemingly centre-right public figures who are, at least – as a stance they must perform for their own political gain – pro-Israel. [LK: All serious anti-Assadists also appear to be anti-Zionists, but not of the rabid anti-Israel sense]

How or why people become useful idiots for violent tyrannical regimes is an hard and intriguing question I’ve struggled with for years. I assume that the difference between a useful idiot and an agent is a slippery scale, not a dichotomy. I think James Bloodworth has done a good and concise job of trying to understand how different types of useful idiots develop, here — Six types of ‘useful idiot’: The Seeker, Uptopian, Power Worshipper, Relativist, Stability-Fetishist and Nostalgist.

——————-

Definitions of terms and scope (Assadist Reference – By Kester Ratcliff).

Definitions of terms and scope (Assadist Reference – By Kester Radcliff).

scopeDefinition - Copy

[Author = Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18]

‘International’ — I’m categorising the propaganda circulating among Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian and Russian direct participants, political or armed, in the war in Syria as ‘domestic’ propaganda, mainly to limit the scope because otherwise I would never finish this, but also because I lack the linguistic skills to research those directly myself. I hope some colleagues may join me to work more on that later. I have done a little bit of comparing and contrasting ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ sides of Assadist propaganda narratives here.

‘Assadist’ — I chose primarily this term rather than the narrower term ‘pro-Assad’, because some of the public figures in this list explicitly deny being pro-Assad but still persistently repeat core lines of regime propaganda narratives. I have used both terms, as distinct but overlapping categories—all pro-Assad people are Assadists (they repeat Assadist propaganda claims), but not all Assadists are in their own view pro-Assad; e.g. Joshua Landis denies being ‘pro-Assad’, however he persists in repeating some core elements of the regime’s propaganda narratives and in associating himself with Assadists.

‘Propagandist’=a source or a major repeater of propaganda claims. I include both sources and major repeaters as ‘propagandists’, because a) separating them would require an arbitrary definition of the boundary which would probably tend to let a lot of ‘sources’ perceived as sources by their followers off the hook, because they are really mostly just repeaters; and b) I believe that the habit of careless speech, including repeating propaganda, even if the person lacks a conscious intention to lie or cause harm, is morally culpable, because it is neglectful of moral duties to others in speaking about them.

Limitation: In this references directory I focused mainly on individual public figures who create or repeat propaganda, not corporate entities or media sites, mainly because others (1,2,3,4,5) have already worked more on network analysis of media sites already, as there are fewer of them and it is somewhat easier to collect the data, and because otherwise I would never finish.

Corporate Assadist propaganda example (3):

faleFlag - Copy.jpg

Propaganda and disinformation I think can be defined as distinct phenomena, but with a large overlap. Disinformation is one way of doing propaganda, but not the only way. I think of disinformation as concealing false fact claims in a complex layered mixture of truths and falsities. Propaganda usually includes disinformation but also uses other unreasonable means of persuasion, coercion, and erosion of the public goods necessary to resist totalitarianism.

‘Propaganda’ in this context I think means mainly unreasonable persuasion tactics, but I consider the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s DIDI definition of ‘information influence activities’ (p.9) also highly reasonable.

fakery0 - Copy

Reasonable means and attempts to persuade people are not propaganda.

Strategic communications can include propaganda, but strategic communications can also be entirely reasonable and ethical in its means as well as its objects. Strategically selecting which news to report can also be reasonable persuasion when the purposes of selectively reporting, the intention to persuade and the limited scope are fairly clear and upfront.

‘Reasonable’ in this context I think means acting with a basic minimum standard of respect for the people represented in news or opinion and for the audience, not objectifying and instrumentalising the subjects, and not trying to persuade the audience of points which they would probably not accept if they were presented with the same factual, causal or moral claims explicitly and with at least some evidence or proper reasoning. Propaganda, I would say, by definition, attempts to persuade people by hiding the most relevant and important factual, causal and moral claims among true but not logically relevant facts or with irrelevant but emotionally stimulating verbal padding.

It is true that the UK FCO has funded some Syrian civilian opposition media organisations, and that is strategic communications, but in general I don’t think media funded by a State or regime, even if it has broad strategic purposes, is necessarily ‘propaganda’ — e.g. cases where State funding of public broadcasting would not be propaganda — a) a functioning democracy requires at least a minimum degree of commonality of the public sphere, I think that is a valid fundamental reason for publicly funded broadcasting, and if, or to the extent that, it does not practice unreasonable, dishonest or coercive means of persuasion, it is not propaganda; b) post-conflict transition from a society subjected to totalitarianism for 40+ years, as in Syria or Libya, requires growing civil society institutions, including developing a genuinely free democratic media, and in that sense it is strategic to fund civil media in transitional societies trying to emerge from conflict, without the funders necessarily even aiming to persuade people of anything in particular.

‘Disinformation’ means a complex strategic combination of truth and lies, designed to seem more credible than simple misinformation. Disinformation always starts with an element of truth that is used as an anchor to make the lies mixed in seem more credible. ‘Disinformation’ is not the same thing as ‘misinformation’, which is rather simply false. Disinformation is always a layered mixture of truth and lies, so it is to be expected to find some truth in it. The difficult problem with disinformation is that readers need to be more knowledgeable about the specific subject than what they’re presented with in order to be able to pick apart the truths and lies as they’re woven together. Many people imagine they know enough to be able to filter disinformation programming for real news, but that is mostly a Dunning-Kruger effect. [LK: ie “usually we do not know enough to know we do not know enough”]

Examples may make it clearer than further abstract definition at this point —

Disinformation, e.g. — Da’aesh obtained about 12% of its military equipment when they captured Mosul and obtained weapons that had been supplied by the USA to the Iraqi army —this part is true (Conflict Armament Research report, Weapons of the Islamic State, 2017; and a brief summary of that report, by Joanne Stocker in The Defense Post), but quickly layered up with — ‘America (and regional allies) secretly instigated, supports and controls Da’esh’ — this part is false (references);

Propaganda, e.g. — “NATO’s Islamist jihadis” — this is concealing a moral judgement into the terminology describing people, rather than justifying that judgement reasonably. There is a grain of truth in each of the three terms used but overall the description is very misleading. To dissect exactly how much of this description is true and how much is factually false or an unjust judgement on the people it refers to requires a long, complicated discussion with another reference list(s), [LK: author’s links here all appear to be informed arguments against given propaganda example] but ‘a lie can be halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on’, so simple propaganda repeated often has a competitive advantage in the consumerist ‘marketplace of ideas’, which is also a competition for the commodity of attention, since information now is only valued inasmuch as it agrees with consumers’ subjective preferences, or if it is entertaining, without any sense of duty to be fairly objective about the Other. [LK: author elsewhere points to lack of interest in ordinary Syrians among consumers of pro-Assad propaganda, and so lack of interest in researching issue]

————-