The Leave / Brexit vote in the referendum came in the end as a surprise, a narrow win for Remain was expected. This may be because the core Leave vote was in the run-down white working class communities of the now desolate English and Welsh industrial zones. A population trapped in conditions of long-term unemployment and poverty who no one really pays much attention to anymore.
Some on the left have seized on the makeup of this core vote to suggest that there was some progressive element to the Brexit vote despite the campaign being led by racist hatemongers and wealthy US-oriented neoliberals. Mostly that’s a mixture of wishful thinking and post hoc justification for having called for a Leave vote in the first place, but it is true that a section of the working class, C2DEs in marketing speak, voted to Leave in close to a 2:1 ratio. Is the class composition of that vote enough to automatically make it progressive regardless of content? And what does it tell us that a section of the radical left seems to think the answer to that question is yes, that it is enough to be anti-establishment?
1. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union demonstrates that even weak parliamentary democracy is incompatible with escalating neoliberal inequality. In the UK as elsewhere a tiny segment of the population have taken a larger and larger share of total wealth in the last decades. Particularly under austerity almost everyone else has seen their share of the wealth they produce decline massively.
2. The Remain campaign was headed up by the political class of the neoliberal establishment and backed by model neo liberal corporations like Ryanair. But because the anger against rising inequality was successfully diverted through scapegoating already marginalized people, in particular migrants, the Leave campaign was also lead by wealthy elitist bigots whose variant of neoliberalism looks to the former colonies and the US rather than Europe.
ANARCHISM AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY
1. Anarchists are generally hostile to decision making mechanisms that demand people put their faith in others to make decisions on their behalf without mandate or recall. We favour systems of direct democracy where the people either discuss and vote on an issue directly, or delegate other people to meet up for such discussions but these delegates are both mandated and recallable.
The 129 people killed in the attacks in Paris last night were murdered by Daesh, the self proclaimed ‘Islamic State’. On June 25th this year a much larger ISIS suicide force of about 80 attacked the city of Kobane using a similar mix of suicide bombs, guns and the taking and murdering of hostages. Some 223 civilians were murdered, many when ISIS broke into homes killing everyone inside. Around 40 Kurdish militia were killed in the process of stopping the slaughter. (1 - Read more)
On October 16th ISIS suicide bombers attacked a pro-Kurdish peace rally in Ankara, killing 102 people. Although the bombers were from ISIS many understood that this bombing and the earlier Suruc bombing which killed 33 was accomplished with the aid of the Turkish state. ( 2 - Read more ) The October bombing was seen as part of the process of deliberate polarisation of the AKP government enabling them to once more win a majority in the parliament. Between the Suruc and Ankar bombings the US military had done a deal with Turkey where in return for the use of a major airbase they would turn a blind eye to Turkish airforce attacks on Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (3- Read More)
The cartoon on the left is from a few months ago but expresses how Kurds saw the role of the Turkish state towards ISIS and the conflict in Syria. Considerable evidence of support for ISIS from the Turkish state has been published in the international media over the last months. An ISIS commander told the Washington Post on August 12, 2014, "We used to have some fighters -- even high-level members of the Islamic State -- getting treated in Turkish hospitals."
This Sunday the Observer revealed details of a US Special forces raid on an ISIS compound. “One senior western official familiar with the intelligence gathered at the slain leader’s compound said that direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now “undeniable”.” Oil smuggling was what that ISIS leader was co-ordinating with the Turkish officials and ISIS were getting an “estimated $1m-$4m per day in oil revenue”
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.
“Ed, that’s soldier’s headed our way, we’re gonna have to move”. Sure enough the soldier is trudging down the road towards us, unshouldering his rifle and looking, even from this distance, distinctly narked. Ed doesn’t directly acknowledge my warning, except with a barely discernible movement of the head, focussed as he is on his camera shot. He knows I know that he’s heard me and he knows that as I haven’t yet added the “...now!” intensifier, that he has a few more precious seconds to finish the shot, as the camera pans over the ruins of Eastern Kobane against the backdrop of Mishtenur Hill. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon of Thursday 19 March on the Turkish side of the border with Syria and Kobane.
The text below is translated from the poster at the centre of this image of the destruction of Gaza by the Israeli state. But it refers not to this horror but another in 1943 when the Nazis crushed the Warsaw ghetto, wiping out the poorly armed organised resistance that operated out of a warren of bunkers & sewers hidden beneath the ghetto. This poster was by one of the armed factions that defended the Ghetto, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB)
All people are brothers;
Yellow, brown, black, and white.
Talk of peoples, colors, races -
Is all a made-up story
For the size of its population Ireland has seen very large Gaza solidarity demonstrations. It is also one of the few places in the world outside the USA where there has been public displays of support for the Israeli military assault. Internationally there are many variations of this map where activists present to their population what the expulsion of the Palestinians from much of the land they once occupied would look like in a local context. One of our members prepared this but we soon realised its an impossible image to post without some reflection on our own settler colonialist past.
People in Ireland have been protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza in every city and many towns across the country. Online polls show a majority want the government to take action through expelling the Israeli ambassador. Yet the southern government abstained on a crucial UN vote to set up an investigation into Israeli war crimes. We’d suggest when you include a look at the map above it becomes very clear that this is yet another example of the Irish state putting its alliance with the imperialist countries that have imprisoned the majority of the worlds population in misery ahead of the wishes of the population.
This isn’t new. During the American invasion of Iraq over 100,000 marched through the streets of Dublin demanding an end to our participation yet the government continued to allow US warplanes to refuel at Shannon. When hundreds of people threatened to physically enter Shannon to stop the refuelling ‘our’ same government deployed riot police and even the army against ‘their’ people’. Last month they sent 80 year old Margaretta D’Arcy to jail for a second time for refusing to stop protesting against that same refuelling, a decade on. And a few days ago they even arrested two TD's for daring to try and inspect a clearly visible US military plane that was on the runway for weapons or prisoners.