One of the more bizarre developments of the last year has been Russell Brand or, more correctly, the response that he has provoked across the political spectrum. Watching commentator after commentator froth at the mouth and seeing Cameron proclaim in the middle of an election campaign that a comedian was a “joke” was, to say the least, strange. It reached a (to use a word Brand would surely approve of) climax when it was proclaimed by the right that Ed Miliband was “getting into bed” with Brand – by having an interview with him. Seriously?
Sometimes the old ones are the gold ones. The attempt by the Irish state to damage the electoral chances of the Anti Austerity Alliance by hitting them where it matters - in the pocket - reminds us of how shallow parliamentary democracy is. The Anti Austerity Alliance is the political front the Socialist Party runs under but for the next elections its unified with the SWPs People Before Profit as the rather lengthy AAA - PbP.
It's broadly understood that cash determines who wins an election more than any other factor. Indeed with the US presidential election, for almost a century, the winner has always been the candidate who had the most money behind them. So in terms of influencing the outcome of an election denying a party the right to fundraise is probably the single most effective tactic short of banning them outright.
17th May and ISIS capture Ramadi and with it another huge stock of modern US weaponry. Something like 6000 US trained Iraqi soldiers have fled the city without putting up much of a fight. From all accounts the ISIS force was considerable smaller and reliant on a waves of suicide car bombs for its final attack. It’s not hard to see why ISIS had been successful in establishing the idea that it was indeed an unstoppable force carrying out gods will.
But on the same day to the north west ISIS suffer yet another major defeat at the hands of the YPG and YPJ in Rojava. The YPG/J unlike the Iraqi army is a force almost starved of heavy modern weaponry. Photos have circulated online of self constructed armoured vehicles, often tractors with steel boxes bolted on, that for all intents and purposes are identical to the home made anarchist armour of the 1930s Spanish revolution. And no match at all for the captured US armour ISIS have.
Austerity was never going to be defeated by the vote. We don't live in an economic democracy, we live in an economic dictatorship where only those with vast wealth determine its course. Parliament provides a useful illusion, one that limits our dreams and stops us acting to make them a reality. The real defeat in Greece will not be the capitulation of Syriza but rather if that capitulation is broadly accepted as the end of the road of struggle.
Last night (2 July) the IMF in effect put its weight behind the Syriza government and the call for a No vote (OXI) in the referendum. An image of Chile's socialist president Allende, murdered in the 1973 US coup 'backing' the No vote captured for us both the contradictions and dangers of Sunday's vote in Greece.
It now appears that the Syriza's insistence that the severe nature of what the Trokia demanded meant that the Greek people had to directly decide through referendum on whether or not to comply has been replaced with the more standard 'We can decide for you' of electoralist politics. That is unless the letter from Tsipras offering a deal that the Financial Times has leaked is a forgery, which seems unlikely.
According to how uncritical individuals and organisations are of Syriza they are currently taking one side or another in an argument as to whether this indicates a sell out or is some new master stroke. But it reinforces our criticism of the hopes placed in electoralism and Syriza. Once more the people who elected them and those in solidarity with them across Europe are reduced to being spectators in something akin to an episode of West Wing.
The ideas of each age tend to become that of the ruling ideology and we are seeing an extraordinary example of that at the moment. As a response the ECB/IMF attack on Greek democracy an online fund it campaign has been set up to fund the 1.6 billion interest owed and so far 1,863 people have contributed.
The first problem is the obvious practical one that the 1.6 billion if raised only represents the latest interest instalment on an unplayable debt over 300 billion. So even if successful such a project would only kick the ball down the road for a month or two.
Revolutions are seldom made in favourable circumstances. Russia 1917 emerged from the mass slaughter of WWI and the disintegration of an economy under the pressure of the supply demands of that war. Spain 1936 emerged from a well planned and executed fascist coup amongst a powerful military backed and armed by international fascism. Schemas for revolution that depend on quiet times and plenty may well be doomed from the start.
That said it’s hard to imagine more impossible conditions for revolution than that of Rojava. A brutal civil war, 3 small areas of territory that were kept in a state of low development by the previous regime and are not even linked to each other. A fanatic army of barbaric religious extremists armed with captured looted US heavy weaponry attacking from one side, a hostile state quietly backing that army and closing its borders to the good guys on another and waiting in the wings the old regime and its long history of brutal counter insurgency. And above all this the tactical and strategic intervention of an imperialist power whose manipulations have devastated the land to the South East over a period of almost three decades.
Today, across Europe, the left is excited by the likelihood of Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA). Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks. [Translation into Greek]
I’ve written a good deal about both the positive organisational opportunities created by social networking. Here I’m going to look at one of the strong negatives, the intensification and deepening of conflict as a result of online disagreement . This results in fracturing movements even resulting in people unable to be physically in the same space as each other, never mind work together in a sustainable way.
This piece has been written over many months, and I’ve delayed publication at several points to avoid what I’m saying being mistaken for a specific commentary on the latest flare up. Take my references here as being very general and drawn from a long exposure to political discussion on and offline. I’ve been arguing with people online since 1992. Where I’m referring to specific incidents I’ll make that clear, otherwise I’m talking about patterns I’ve observed rather than specific incidents. This is defientley not about you, dear reader even if I hope its relevant to you.