Corbyn needs you to fight Labour

Walter-Wolfgang-removed-f-008 It’s hard to think of a better parliamentary member than Jeremy Corbyn to rally behind. That he has polled so well and campaigned so inclusively has turned many a head, and for good reason. Those of us used to disappointment are hard to instil hope in, especially in a country as trapped by finance as Britain is. But Corbyn is now one of the strongest rallying points of the left in my generation.

For those who are joining Labour to vote for him, something I cannot bring myself to do, it is important to consider your action as being a long-term commitment. In order for Corbyn to hold power and for the party to be rebuilt, a mass mobilisation is required. There is no way the establishment want Corbyn leading the country’s opposition party, especially if momentum continues to build. In simply holding his position, he sheds light on the continued credibility of the radical alternative that has been cloaked in Labour’s basement.

Corbyn entered parliament as Labour were obliterated in an election presenting the radical alternative to Thatcherism. Labour bitterly fought amongst itself, as much as with the Tories, before yielding to the onslaught of neo-liberalism as a consequence. That election determined both Corbyn’s trajectory and the Labour Party’s leadership. They cut radically different paths. Whereas for Labour the 1983 manifesto was the “longest suicide note in history,” necessitating Blairism, for Corbyn it was his mandate.

Over 30 years of time as an MP and Corbyn has campaigned consistently as an internationalist and a socialist. He has supported the rights of workers against finance and capital, been one of Labour’s most rebellious MPs and taken admirable positions on Palestine, Iraq, Venezuela, Mexico and Ireland (to name just a few). If Labour were filled with Corbyns, I’d be a paid up member already. However, the reality is that since 1983 the likes of Corbyn would never have been selected to hold a parliamentary seat.

Labour are no longer a left-wing party. Since scrapping clause IV (committing Labour “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”), Labour have given up on the idea of piece-meal reform towards socialism. Labour are a party ensnared by the City of London, they are beholden to their whims and play by their rules. This, we are told, is a political reality that must be acknowledged. To modernise is to continue to push through reforms that destroy the welfare-state, to create the market state. A state where, as Arun Kundnani puts it,

“The well-being of social groups is no longer the responsibility of the state; its responsibility is to maximise the choices available to individuals. Market-states engage in a Dutch auction for foreign investment, offering ever-worsening protections for their populations in the name of ‘competitiveness’. Public services shift from welfare provision to a focus on ‘enabling’ individuals to re-enter the labour market, through ‘welfare to work’ programmes, such as those pioneered by Bill Clinton and imported to Britain in the mid-1990s. Welfare rights are diminished while the responsibiiity of welfare recipients to adapt themselves to market demands is increased. And if markets cannot find a use for an individual, then neither can society.” (2007, 57)  

We are living in this political moment. We like to think of history as repeating, hence the references to neo-Victorianism, but things are very different now. For economies such as Britain, it is services (particularly financial) that predominate. Industry is offshored – globalised – and the political reality is shaped by the processes of financialisation. A reversal of these processes takes a hell of a lot. And yet, the struggle gets deeper. Labour are not just a party that implemented neo-liberal economic policies, they are a party that was on the front-line of modern imperialism, engaging in the warfare that is now ripping West Asia (the Middle East in colonial terminology) to pieces. Labour institutionalised Islamophobia. Corbyn was a rebellious MP amongst this, but to believe the politicians that fill Labour’s ranks will simply switch their allegiances is not just naïve, it is dangerous.

A Corbyn victory for Labour requires a radical move from below. If pressure is not applied in all areas, the fist of socialism will become a limp hand. Merely joining for the vote is not enough. Getting the voice of the radical alternative into the mainstream is hard. For the last two years, Britain’s populist leftism has found Russell Brand the centre piece; his inconsistency and embarrassingly naïve positions on key issues pushed him to the point of ridicule. Corbyn could be the real deal, but his party are not behind him. For Corbyn to achieve the ideal, a lot more is required than an online vote.

The position of Corbyn is not the position of Labour. The key unions back Corbyn, as, it seems, do the majority of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). The mood of the nation is ripe for a leftist push. Yet, with UKIP polling at 12.7% in the General Election, there is no time for complacency. The battle of finance against the interests of the nation favours the populist right, especially with the powerlessness felt as TTIP is implemented.

Corbyn’s power will be determined not only by the mobilisation of social movements in Britain, but across the continent. A push against neo-liberalism can only be made if an economic alternative can be practiced and implemented. The struggle is how to achieve social goals without driving the boot into the neck of the systematically underdeveloped countries. Freeing them is part of freeing ourselves. Corbyn knows this. To convince his electorate of it takes far more than £3 and an active social media account. If Labour be the vessel, it needs to be stripped, internationalised and re-energised. If that doesn’t happen, a split in the ranks will undermine Corbyn or a challenge from below will put another dent in the fight for a more egalitarian existence in Babylon. If this is seriously our greatest push, let us not engage in faith-based politics. If social justice can be realised in Britain, without mass exploitation domestically or in its periphery, wholly new political realities are needed and no one man can conjure them.

Kill Labour, pardon Corbyn

Labour are now on the verge of utter irrelevance and the thread by which they hang is Jeremy Corbyn – a man they nominated for leadership as a kind of art exhibit. That he has broke out of the confines is energizing for the left, but irrelevant – as even if he were to win the leadership – Labour is dead.

We know now due to the rumblings of the week that if Corbyn were to win, it would split Labour. The career politicians of Labour who think that by running the market-state they somehow determine its trajectory and therefore can do something for the destitute, are at a loss. Why have we not got it yet?

The problem for the political leadership of Labour is that the electorate hasn’t given up on the idea of a welfare state. Britain’s restructuring into the global economy may have rendered the boundaries of the nation-state progressively more meaningless, but within the body politic a spirit for strong public services, accessible to all at the point of need, still runs deep. So does care for those unable to work. But the conditions of Labour have changed and no matter how much moral or political sense it makes, it’s not politically achievable due to the economics that structure modern Britain.

The press use euphemism with this nonsense term to describe the right-wing of Labour – “modernisers” – hardly a derogatory term. What they mean by this is that the likes of Kendall – and as we’ve seen with the welfare bill Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham – are willing to accept and implement the diktats of the markets. This is neo-liberal polity and Britain is a paradigmatic example of it.

Corbyn rails against neo-liberal orthodoxy in almost all areas, but does so on the basis of bringing back the Labour of the post-WWII economic and political consensus. That time is over. Britain’s economy is now reliant upon financial services and speculation, to reorganise it takes a radicality that requires a party he does not have the support of who will likely never be convinced. All of that, assuming of course, that he is up to the task.

The long and short of the history of Labour and the labour movement more generally is that it was a product of industrial economies. As industrialism has globalised and the world economy has financialised, Britain’s political class have responded. The reality on the ground is that the condition of the working class is of less political importance. In an age of global workforces, it’s the assets that matter, not the material conditions of the workers.

Very radical steps are needed to organise society back in the interests of the majority. Labour is no longer the vessel of the worker pushing for higher wages and better working conditions. Labour is no longer the party that is willing to stand strong on welfare. In order to avoid “Osborne’s trap,” Labour have victimized the welfare dependent.

The saddest thing about all of this is that the poison of the neo-economy is being sold to us on the basis of our own wants. Apparently, it is the average worker who demands action to slice the welfare state to bits. It’s got nothing to do with the global economy and got everything to do about the shift-worker coming home from his night to see the scrounger sleeping!

The Labour leadership’s understanding of the working class comes from a mimicry of Channel 4 depictions. These patronizing wankers are not only lying, like true snakes, they are saying what they are doing is for the interests of the average Brit and not to bankers and financiers they are beholden to.

The greatest sell a Labour politican can make – and this includes Corbyn – is that they’d be a more humane technocrat of neo-liberal malevolence. They’d wince as the cut the support for homeless youths and cry when benefit sanctions led to the suicide of a parent. We only have to look to Greece to understand that you can be a true leftie, with the track record of a radical and still become the harbinger of doom. To escape from the pits of this stage of capitalism requires far more than one man, but good people are needed. What is of greater importance is the development of political project that is globally connected, but locally effective. That is not Labour, we all know this, it’s far better we accept its demise and organise.

The far-right are rising but have no vision

Our enemies are rising far too fast. The arguments of challenge are platitudinous for the most part and seldom have the sweeping narrative that the far-right can provide. The thing is though, there is compelling narrative to our histories. Europe is full of multiplicities and differences. Its professed homogeneity is false, as is its conception of race. There is not a point, an area or a type of argument in which I think it is necessary to concede ground to the right.

These bastards are beatable, it just requires an honesty about the world we live in. How the world economy was structured, how our governments capitalised upon the gulfs created by the empires and processes of underdevelopment and how globalisation made the underdeveloped economies the proletariat of the world and restructured the economies of the metropole to the benefit of the few. This devastated internal industry and changed class dynamics radically.

The easiest scapegoat are migrants. They are not the reason the factories, shipyards and mines closed though. They do not work in the phantom shells of industry. Industry was off-shored.

The times we are living through reflect the globalised system being challenged by the rising economies of the non-European powerhouses, like China. So, the forces of the West are restructuring labour conditions within the West, processes of proletarianisation. Migrants play a key role in that, in that they exist in precarious conditions and therefore have lower wage demands. This is not the reason for hate, it is the reason for solidarity and connected struggle.

The thinking of the right does not address the globalised systems that dominate us. Their analysis provides no vision other than a return to the great, white imperial projects of the past. Not only are these visions redundant, they are hopeless.

We must win.

DEATH ON THE MED OR CRASHED HOPES – BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS

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Moral indignation is in the air, and rightly so. At a time of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, when more migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean than any other time in recent history, the British government revoked funding for EU coastal ‘rescue’ services.Their reasoning – brutal in its intentionality – is that it encourages migrants to gamble their fates on the crossing. The UK government has decided that the greatest deterrent to migration is death itself. Lampedusa looms large over the hopes and prospects of the underdeveloped world. The dreams of a better life shall be crashed by the waves of the Med.

While this should morally outrage us, the situation is far more complex than it would first appear. With the unprecedented wave of migration that has hit the Italian coastline in the last year, a coastal service call ‘Mare Nostrum’ was formed. Mare Nostrum is an old Roman imperial and fascist term of Mussolini’s Italy, literally translated to ‘our sea.’ Funded through the European Commission, all European economies contribute to the service, accounting for around 90 percent of Mare Nostrum’s kitty. The rest, it seems, comes from Israel and Jordan. Mare Nostrum’s future seems uncertain with the EU’s FRONTEX agency taking more responsibility of policing the border.

Couched in the language of ‘search and rescue,’ the project polices the borders of Europe – already amongst the world’s most impenetrable. Throughout the EU and Israel, the position taken towards migrants is violent. Migrants represent an existential threat to the identities of the so-called ‘civilised world.’ Israel brazenly refers to African migrants seeking security in its territory as ‘infiltrators,’ threats to the purity of the settler-colonial state.

Migrants hoping for a better life across the sea find themselves on a perilous journey between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand, they face death at sea. On the other, they face the possibility of being picked up by border security services, detained indefinitely and in most cases deported back to their homeland. Those lucky enough to avoid capture or death enter into a world of uncertainty, where they are likely to work in unregulated labour, forming the under-class of Europe.

As European governments like the UK reduce their support for sea border control, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) forms. MOAS is a recognized foundation based in Malta and led by Martin Xuereb, a Sandhurst graduate with 26 years of military service throughout the EU to boast. The commander on the seas – or Onboard Operations Manager in bureaucratic parlance – is Marco Cauchi, an anti-terror expert coming from 20 years of service in the Maltese Army.  Ostensibly set-up for saving migrants after the Lampedusa disaster, this foundation is now filling the gap left by the states of Europe, who have left Italy overburdened by the growing migration crisis.

Watching MOAS at work is telling. Kitted-up as if they are dealing with a biohazard, the staff treat migrants as walking vessels of disease. They jetty the boat to the side of their rescue ship, take the migrants to the nearest coast and go back to port. What happens to the migrants next is not a consideration, for at least they ‘saved’ them from the perilous sea.

The spectacle of the overcrowded boat is not what it seems. To us, they seem to be a daredevil mission, so overcrowded it is as if they are just jumped upon. To those on them they are a gamble of the highest order. Whereas we would not be paid to take the risk, they often pay upwards of $1,000 to smugglers to get them a space on the criminally overcrowded vessels. So, to them, being picked up by the benevolent MOAS is not being saved, it is like dropping to the bottom of a pinball machine. Another chance lost, an even more risky gambit to attain their hopes and dreams if they have the will or ability to ante up again.

The migration crisis is not going anywhere. In our lifetimes, it is only going to get worse. The people who fill the boats do so in the hope of having the agency that life in the centres of capital provide. The underdevelopment of Africa, the protracted warfare in the Middle East and the effects of climate change are all causal factors for the crisis. And all of them have their roots in Europe and its settler colonies.

The short-term solution is bleak. The people who will risk everything to find a better life than what they’ve been born into will not be assuaged by the threat of death or detention and deportation. They remain trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. In the long-term, if Europe does not want to accommodate the masses of people who knock upon its door, it must start to address the underlying causes of migration. That entails making our governments break-away from the imposition of neo-liberal orthodoxy through international financial institutions, an active mobilization against our governments’ open and proxy warfare in the Middle East and a real attempt to limit the effects of climate change, vastly cutting our emissions. Any other solution is no solution at all.

Draft letter to MPs to vote for Palestine recognition

When parliament returns from recess on October 13th, you are faced with a vote of conscience: symbolic recognition of the statehood of Palestine. I ask that for this vote, you ignore vested interest and vote based upon reason, compassion and a sense of historic responsibility. As a backbench debate, this is a free vote and therefore how you vote will be taken account of as you seek re-election.

I am not going to condescend you. I assume you know of the inept administration of Palestine when it was mandated to Britain following the fall of the Ottomans. The mandate was hamstrung by the Balfour declaration; a promise to make Palestine a Jewish homeland that was made before WWI was even won. The long and short of Britain’s role in the historic land of Palestine is that it made incommensurable promises and in so doing stoked tensions that burn at this very moment. As Ernest Bevin acknowledged, the mandate of Palestine was the worst error of British de-colonisation as he foresaw the apartheid state-system that now determines the lives of Palestinians, whom Britain had a sacred vow to better under the mandate. 

Over the summer, we witnessed the devastating human consequences: over 2,100 Palestinians killed, even Israeli data acknowledges the vast amount of those were civilians. Out of the 72 people killed on the Israeli side, 66 were soldiers – meaning 91 percent of Israeli fatalities came in the battlefield. The disparity of this conflict is stark. The Palestinian people must have a voice on the international stage and the occupation of their lands must come to an end. A huge step towards this is recognition of Palestinian statehood. Given Britain’s role in the conflict, the symbolic importance of recognition cannot be overstated.

The basis for statehood is no longer the partition agreement of 1947, but the pre-1967 borders. This represents a huge concession to the state of Israel that speaks volumes of the Palestinian will for peace. Israel refuse to return to their borders under international law and continue to seize further land, with 988 acres of land taken to global disapproval in August.

Britain is a minority within the global community in not recognising Palestine, with 134 out of 193 UN member states already conferring recognition. Britain have many times affirmed the inalienable right of Palestinians to self-determination, the time to back our words with deeds is now.

Recognition is the first step to ending the cycle of violence and the first rung of the ladder to end the occupation, militarisation and oppression of Palestine by Israeli forces. A failure to use your free vote towards peace will be interpreted as a violent act. The sun has now set on the British Empire, but the blood has yet to dry. I trust that you will take the necessary action to redress the grave historical wrongs of the past.

Why Frank left and has now returned

writers blockFor years now, I have been unable to write. With many of the older posts on here, I was communicating the ideas of others. I was a young man coming to understand politics when I met the crew in London that guided me towards an anti-imperialist understanding of the world. With their help, I developed a cannon to fire. What I fired was loaded with their knowledge and understanding, I merely filtered their words and pegged on theoretical and philosophical overtones.

The arsenal I developed meant I felt I had made worthy interventions, but as particular issues manifested – particularly the ‘Arab spring’ – divisions emerged within my political group and I departed from the position I held. I dissolved Frank and withdrew from politics. I completely disengaged and threw myself instead at community work.

After two years, I had extinguished myself there. I ran into issues I had not even contemplated. I applied my theory, only for it to be taken as naïve. My kindness and will to understand was a weakness in the eyes of those I was helping and I was a perpetual outsider, easily manipulated and forever guilty. My conception of human-nature brutalized, the remnants of my idealism were trampled over.

So, I have now re-engaged with the political world and am once again feeling the need to communicate my ideas. What motivates me to write is lacking in so much of what I read.

At a time of universal deceit and co-option, the greatest act is that of refusal. All we have is refusal, the ability to negate. We must maintain the lens that shows us that what we are being sold is a product; a projection and not a reality. In the words of Theodor Adorno “wrong life cannot be lived rightly” – we must embody that negation and hold out for something better. If our generation are not going to be trail-blazers, we can at least be a ratchet that prevents power from enveloping us all.

We must slowly start to push back. For that, we need those with the ability to write, to intervene and to argue to play their role. So, Frank is back – with a slightly new angle. I have no consistency and am writing through a form of muzzle.  But, these are the early stages of re-engagement. In time, there will be growth from this. A more refined web-domain, run by myself and other minds that think alike is in the pipeline, as with a few greater projects that will emerge if I am disciplined enough.

The challenge of being a writer in our age is to learn and apply the lessons of history to our discourse. Being aware of the modern realities and historical legacies of prejudice and discrimination. Living and writing by a code that stops age-old privileges from emerging and asserting dominance within spheres of influence. The most important thing being a self-drawn boundary, which shows awareness of what is and is not my struggle.

Like Martin Luther King and Karl Liebknect, I recognize that the war is at home and not abroad. My beef is with Britain and the global system it operates within.  My cannon shall never point at any other than power of our time; the multi-nationals, the military industrial complex, NATO and the rest of the new global empire, run by the United States – but maintained by Europe and its settler colonies.

Whilst this moment of history predominates, the role of a writer is to deconstruct this. In the amazing words of Arundhati Roy: “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Oh dear! What are the British people thinking of?

Originally posted on Michael Roberts Blog:

The British people are not stupid.  They know that neoliberal, neoclassical ‘free market’ economics does not work, even if they don’t use those terms.  In a survey by YouGov, the leading public opinion pollsters in the UK, more than two-thirds of those asked wanted the railways, the energy companies (gas, electricity) and the postal service (Royal Mail was recently privatised for a peppercorn price and is now controlled by American offshore hedge funds) renationalised.

Support for nationalisation

The questions were: “Do you think the government should have the power to control prices of the following things, or should prices be left to those selling the goods or service to decide?”; and “Do you think the following should be nationalised and run in the public sector, or privatised and run by private companies?”. 84% wanted to continue the taxpayer funded National Health Service and did not want to move to a private insurance system as…

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In defence of Russell Brand

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The last thing us younger generations need is the dilution of our mood. By all means speak for yourself and if you wish to defend the spectacle of democracy that is the representative model that Britain employs, be my guest. We, however, do not see representation in our system and never have. Hence, the lowest voting rate in the last General Election was in our demographic, where a meager 40 percent of those eligible cast their vote, 20 percent below the national average.

We are pissed off, for good reason. The high water mark has been reached. Unlike those writing their editorials who suckled on the teat of the state in the post-war years, my generation have our roots in the legacies of Thatcherism. Corporate Britain reigns supreme. Housing is unaffordable and university a debt to bear for the rest of our lives, reduced to luxury we question whether we can afford. The dreams of our youth are chipped away and dredge of a life serving the interest of others predominates. Our reward is smaller property for startlingly higher prices that prices out the vast majority.

Inequality in Britain is astounding compared to our neighbours. Cynical economics employed by successive chancellors from both Labour and the Conservatives have used house price inflation to fuel the economy. Those who owned houses pre-boom saw their social position improve exponentially. Those who did not have ownership face being moved out of the job-filled cities either by circumstance or force. In their short-sightedness, policy makers have left us with social conditions that the generation who like to laud above us never had to contend with. Their pontification falls on deaf ears.

We know what Labour did. We know the positives and the negatives. But the Victorian era understanding of the deserving and undeserving poor was given roots by New Labour. Not only that, the education reforms, privatisation and even the loathed ATOS checks on incapacity benefit were brain childs of Labour’s neo-liberal modernisers. Class politics have returned in a huge way and knowing this full well, we exist under a state that relentlessly constrains all of the social vessels that we could once employ to get our voices heard. Radicalism is gone. The left has been decimated.

The victory of the US and its allies in the Cold war, spearheaded by Thatcher and Reagan, tore into the social structures that were in place to stem radicality as soon as the threat of revolt was controlled. Full spectrum dominance eviscerated the possibility of a world without US dominance, even if it is now being brokered by a semblance of multi-polarity.

Throughout Europe a crass, simplified, highly propagandistic narrative has been the hallmark of our education. America and Britain are the global policemen of our world, helping the free world. What we have seen in the news flies in the face of what we read in our textbooks. We know that the global corporations are bound to US militarism. We see the propping up of client states. We see the hypocrisy and geo-political interests that channel warfare, so we are receptive to the call for dissent, revolt and the return of a revolutionary spectre haunting Europe.

Ask a Greek, Cypriot or Spaniard what power they have at this moment in history. The neo-liberal orthodoxy has brought the war home and a whole new type of engagement is necessary to confront the difficulties of our time. The advancements and defeats of recent history mean the historical analysis offered by Marx and Marxists is now highly limited. We need to develop new ontologies, committed to core principles; a modern form of Chartism with an established series of demands that fuels social action. Riots, upheaval and instability are coming. Who knows what next?

Faced with the problem of political participation of our time, voting is an irrelevancy. Clung on to by the privileged, the cloak to throw over the pan that sets alight. The riots were a contained explosion that indicated the radical disavowal sections of my generation had and continue have with current orthodoxy. The next time will not be quelled by the re-introduction of what should have been basic rights. We have targets in our crosshairs. Those in power must heed the warnings and start to shift, else they’ll be pushed to. And that is what democracy is about.

Reflections on the Equality Movement’s Libya Discussion

We have an information gap regarding the beginning of the Libyan uprising. For a few days, the east of the country was destabilised. The eastern peoples and tribes believed that a new dawn had emerged and Gaddafi years were over. To many (whether the majority or not still remains unknown) this led to elation. However, this (mass) eruption was momentary, for Gaddafi’s crackdown looked to be ending all potentialities of change. Gaddafi seemed to be on course for a complete reclamation of power. The only thing standing in his way was the “International Community”. The imperial intervention is the only reason the armed conflict perpetuates. It is for this reason that the leaders of the rebels continue to reject the terms of ceasefire – for they know their only hope of power is shot from NATO planes.

The topic of discussion “Imperial Adventure or Humanitarian Intervention?” was inherently misleading, a false dichotomy and allowed the cancerous moral ambiguity to take hold of the room. Three of the panellists disagreed on the actions our government should have taken. Oliver advocated intervention, Ahmed supported it as the forces he is intimately connected with required intervention to continue to hope for change and Richard thought diplomatic routes could have been tried before intervention, which is never right.

Sukant Chandan took the position that needed to be taken; our problem is with the UK government, solely, and we must meet discuss, plan and act on how to stop their imperial aggression from the inside. As Andy Higginbottom, Ethesham Haque, myself and Fiona Edwards echoed from the floor – we must focus our attention on our governments and “get serious about British imperialism”. In case anyone missed it, the forum was the Equality Movement. A place where we collectively come to understand how we are living in the belly of imperialism and educate ourselves about our government’s machinations before we even begin to politicise about others. As this seemed to elude the majority of the room, one can only conclude that the equality movement, as it stands, is a forum for anti-imperialism at a time when the people it speaks to and with are not anti-imperialist. The moral supremacy of those who prescribe to the ideals of the West makes a straw man of the anti-imperialist position, so allow me to restate it.

Gaddafi is opposed on many levels and for many reasons. Libyan society has its own internal dynamics that only Libyans can truly know and overcome – it is not for us (i.e. those in the belly of the beast) to speak of their struggle to justify our own governments action, implicitly or explicitly. As most can see only too clearly – the pointing of the finger towards the third world is a diversion away from the brutality of our world, at this very moment in Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq… Moreover and most importantly, the fingerprints of our intelligence services are all over the murder scene that is Libya. Let us unite in opposition against the perpetuators of these crimes.

While one may feel that Sukant Chandan, like Ortega, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, Mumia Abu Jamal and many others have bent the stick too far in supporting Gaddafi, their general attempt to re-humanise the de-humanised is necessary. Anti-imperialist integrity demands relentless focus on the perpetrators of the current global order and the denial of their right to decide who is and is not human. One should never make other country’s leaders accountable to our government and our constructed and decrepit ethics of “human rights”, by proxy.  Cries for “dignity”, “democracy” and “equality” sufficed to find consensus within the room on Friday. However, it was fundamentally problematic as it was predicated not on rational argument – but emotion. Areas of disagreement were contested with screams from the floor. Two of the panelists (Ahmed and then Richard) demanded that Sukant “shut up!”, while Oliver constantly harassed Lowkey to stop him from talking. With such a departure from reasoned discussion, a basic and always banal point was missed.

The CIA employs people in Langley whose sole function in life is to work out ways of maintaining power. The most obvious conclusion, therefore, is that empire’s interests were in both Gaddafi’s basket and the bitter tribes of eastern Libya. This is not to say that the governments determine the cause of history. Rather it is consistent and well known policy to build diplomatic dams to ensure that any radical sentiment can be contained with reforms that conserve the general order and/or make strategic gains. Effective strategies are contingent upon planning and a feasible transitional power structure, such conditions require years of meticulous planning and negotiations.

There is now a mountain of evidence that French, US and British intelligence services were in play from the very beginning. So, we must posit the hidden fist that precipitates the market’s hand. As I have argued elsewhere, morality is never the catalyst for military force and to even humour the possibility is to fall into the realms of ideology. Likewise, as Sukant argued from the platform, imperial intervention is not engaged upon on a whim. The decision to engage in Libya was taken by our government not on the basis of caprice, but strategy. If one refuses to accept this, then it is a legitimate question to ask “how do you consider yourself anti-imperialist?”

If one holds that our government invaded the sovereign territory of Libya on the basis of unverified and unsubstantiated claims of “massacres” to prevent a “greater massacre”, then one accepts that our government is at war for reasons that include morality, compassion and a form of internationalism. Advocates of such a position, are, as far as I am concerned, are liberal.  The fundamental lesson of Iraq has not be learnt – don’t believe the words of leaders and embedded correspondents.

Holding such a position does not entail that the Libyan people are represented by those who seek to negotiate terms with imperialism. Never did Sukant or anyone undermine the legitimate grievances of the Libyan people, who are not all “contras”. The masses should not be forgotten, neglected or spoke past. The reason the anti-imperialist position is taken is not tokenist, foolish support for old leadership, it is because we must understand the liberation of the world’s people requires a true break with 500 years of imperial rule from the North European peoples and their settler colonies. We must also pay homage where it is due, for all Gaddafi’s faults (and, yes, there are many) he did fund, support and facilitate anti-imperialist struggles throughout the world. The Libyan crowd who attended the meeting and heckled Sukant non-stop exposed that they’ve little care for what Gaddafi does internationally, as they have such grievances with him domestically. Such a position is understandable, for a Libyan. Not supposed Internationalists.

The Libyan people stand in an intolerable situation. Once again, collective punishment is being administered by the forces of empire against the mass population for the power of their leadership. As I write this, the people are being bombed with depleted uranium infused rockets by a conglomerate of Western governments and their neo-colonial client states. Libya has tribal conflict grounds enough for civil war – and it is a battle of structural elites one ruled by a variable who the West hate (especially the tories), the others trusted figures who know how to do business. In between all of this are the Libyan masses – who lack proper representation and are stranded between a rock and a hard place.

The rebel’s leadership are strongly neo-liberal and represent sections of Libyan society, bitter at Gaddafi’s stifling of their interests, economic and otherwise. The “Interim Government” has been recognised by the French, Qatari, Italian and Portugese government and have begun a process of privatising the nationalised Central Bank and Oil industries. Just like in Iraq, the destabilisation of the regime is followed by the seizing of the countries assets through a scheme of privitisation. The language is more complex, the procedure more beauracratic, but the will remains colonial, and the architects remain Western.

There was nothing new in the build up to this war – anyone who is a serious about anti-imperialism did not fall into the trap of moral ambiguity. There is not a case of Western interventionism that was engaged in for compassionate reasons. The state cannot operate on such a level, to humour it is deeply naive. Seymour himself recognises this, as he sees the state as a structure composed of the interests of capital – neocons just call it realism. We call it empire and empire works to further its interests continuously.

However, empire’s time is coming to an end; it is freefalling and will have hit the ground before the end of our lifetimes. While hurtling towards the ground, austerity budget in hand, it is prone to lash out and attempt to reclaim its losses. We must not take our eyes off it and make sure the beast dies its long overdue death. The Libyan intervention is the containment of the Arab Spring, an attempt from empire to stifle third world momentum.  It is an ill conceived plan to make strategic gains. It could be a disaster, let us hope it is and that the Libyan people unite to slice the fingers off the imperial forces. Though, one at the moment must admit, the West may have a dream come true if the world remains enchanted. As Gideon Rachman articulated in the Financial Times other day:

“policymakers in Washington…have a dream. In this, the governments of Syria and Iran are toppled and replaced by much more moderate regimes. The Israelis, reassured by the disappearance of their biggest foes, agree to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Egypt stabilises and becomes a prosperous democracy. Colonel Gaddafi is defeated and the grateful Libyans hail the west as heroes. A new and legitimate Yemeni government takes up the fight against al-Qaeda. The Saudi government embraces reforms that defuse its internal crisis, and keep the oil flowing.”

The invasion was got through on the basis of an information gap, filled by international media and a diasporic Libyan community. Diplomacy was not extended, just arms. Now the imperial airforce controls the skies of another Arab country, bombs its people at will and our radicals want to perpetuate the moral ambiguity that this thrived upon. It is just like Iraq in this respect. Think about the amount of people queueing up to assassinate Saddam, both literally and metaphorically. When the time came to invade, there were thousands of Iraqis ready to sing to the tune of empire to kill their foe. With Libya it is no different. With the destruction of Iraq witnessed by all, one would think the world would have learnt a lesson, especially the world’s self-professed radicals. Instead, they deliver talks substantiated with moral ambiguity. As far as I am concerned, it is not possible at this moment in history to be neutral between forces – it is clear what the terms of this conflict now are and those who take the side of the rebellion, side with the imperialists. This goes some way to explaining why Richard Seymour has “far more in common” with a neo-conservative follower of Irving Kristol than a third-worldist.