Counterfire

A visit to Putin's camp

Workers’ Liberty members attended the “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine” meeting on 4 June, organised by the SOAS Marxist Society (Socialist Appeal).

On the panel were Russian leftist Boris Kagarlitsky, Sergei Kirichuk from the Stalinist Borotba via Skype, Richard Brenner from Workers’ Power, Lindsey German from Counterfire, Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain, and Alan Woods from Socialist Appeal. It was chaired by Joy McCready, a member of Left Unity.

Workers’ Liberty members attended the “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine” meeting on 4 June, organised by the SOAS Marxist Society (Socialist Appeal).

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“Third camp” or no camp?

Many responses from the left to the Ukraine crisis have ignored, sidestepped, or downplayed the right to self-determination of the Ukrainian people.

Many responses from the left to the Ukraine crisis have ignored, sidestepped, or downplayed the right to self-determination of the Ukrainian people.

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Hands off Ukraine! Russian troops out!

Ukraine got independence only in 1991. Ninety per cent of its people, west and east, voted to separate from Russia after the old bureaucratic command-economy regime collapsed.

They had been under foreign rule, Russian or Polish, for centuries. By 1991 they had been under especially vicious foreign rule — Stalinist terror, deliberately-sustained famine, then police-state bureaucratic “Russification” — for six decades (east) or five (west).

Russia’s creeping invasion of Ukraine is a drive to restore that foreign domination.

Socialists should support Ukraine’s right to self determination. We should support its right to political independence and freedom from invasion.

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Next after Assembly?

The People’s Assembly, held at Central Hall Westminster on 22 June, backed the demonstration called by the Unite and Unison unions for the NHS at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 29 September.

It also called for a “day of civil disobedience, everywhere” on 5 November and “local People’s Assemblies in every town and city”.

The People’s Assembly held at Central Hall Westminster on 22 June called for a “day of civil disobedience, everywhere” on 5 November and “local People’s Assemblies in every town and city”.

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"Anti-imperialism" no excuse to back Assad

The latest campaign by the Stop the War campaign, the remnant of the group which ten years ago organised big marches against the invasion of Iraq, is to prevent Western intervention in Syria.

The Stop the War campaign organises a meeting "against Western intervention in Syria" - in fact, to support Assad

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Left unity must be linked to real action

The crises and splits in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Respect have spurred more talk about left unity. The left needs systematic unity in action where we agree, and honest dialogue where we differ, in order to reinstate socialist ideas as an option in the working class.

The crises and splits in the Socialist Workers Party and Respect have spurred more talk about left unity. The left needs systematic unity in action where we agree, and honest dialogue where we differ, in order to reinstate socialist ideas in the working class.

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Film protests: any “struggle” will do?

Like many others, I watched The Innocence of Muslims thinking it must be some kind of satirist’s joke — that this couldn’t possibly be what all the fuss was about. It was too ludicrous, too obviously amateurish and awful, for anyone to take seriously.

I had precisely the same experience reading articles by the International Socialist Group (Scotland) (which is linked to the English splinter from the SWP led by John Rees). Someone, I thought, has written a parody of playschool “anti-imperialism”.

Egyptian socialist: “Almost everyone I know was against the protest from the start. Who supports any of this?”

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Finkelstein's change of heart on Israel boycott

Anti-Zionist writer Norman Finkelstein has broken from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, denouncing it as a “cult” and saying that it is based on “eliminating Israel” but is too dishonest to say so.

Prominent anti-Zionist writer Norman Finkelstein has broken from the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement, denouncing it as a “cult” and saying that it is based on a politics of “eliminating Israel” but is too dishonest to say so.

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Down with Assad! For liberty and democracy in Syria!

The revolt in Syria began in March 2011, in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. So far at least 8,000 people have died, largely from regime violence as peaceful protesters came out onto the streets to demand freedom.

The pace of the killings is increasing as armed opposition grows, the rebellion spreads and the regime becomes more desperate. According to the the Local Coordination Committees opposition network, since 4 February almost 700 people have been killed, including more than 400 in Homs.

The revolt in Syria began in March 2011, in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. So far at least 8,000 people have died, largely from regime violence as peaceful protesters came out onto the streets to demand freedom.

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Back our enemies' enemies?

We need a new Marxist left. The one we have is largely degenerate.

We need a new Marxist left. The one we have is largely degenerate.

What other conclusion can we draw from the following:

At the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts conference on 28-29 January, members of the SWP, Counterfire and Socialist Action voted against a motion opposing war and sanctions on Iran — originally proposed by Counterfire members — because their motion had been amended to include the words:

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Rewriting the history of the Stop the War Coalition

The Stop The War Coalition has declared: "The terrorist attack that destroyed the Twin Towers ten years ago was a crime which Stop the War Coalition condemned at the time, and it reaffirms that condemnation today".

There is plenty more in the STWC statement to query politically, but that first sentence demands comment just in the name of putting the record straight.

The organisers of the Stop The War Coalition rewrite history.

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Strauss-Kahn and Assange

Counterfire have published an article by Lindsey German questioning what it says about the French “left” (or, rather, Parti Socialiste) that a man with the reputation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn might be considered an acceptable Presidential candidate.

It’s perfectly valid to discuss what the emerging picture of Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour tells us about the French political system and the sweeping under the carpet of vile sexist behaviour towards women in case it damages the cause.

While much of the left is happy to discuss what the emerging picture of Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour tells us about the French political system, it is unable to apply the same analysis to the Julian Assange case.

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Gramsci with the feet cut off

Counterfire
Counterfire's Gramsci is a Gramsci with the feet cut off.

SWP splinter group Counterfire has launched a series of forums in London, and started on 19 May by inviting Peter Thomas to speak on Gramsci.

The meeting showed that Counterfire's Gramsci is a Gramsci with the feet cut off.

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Counterfire says: go for broad "resistance", not the labour movement

Around 100 people attended the Counterfire conference in London on Saturday 7 May. Although this turnout was smaller than I had been led to expect, the event was staged in a very slick, professional way. I arrived 20 minutes late but was directed and greeted by several people before I entered, and given a glossy leaflet urging me to join Counterfire.

Counterfire orients itself to broad "resistance", bad-mouthing a labour movement orientation as "sectarian party building and syndicalist politics".

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The Quinlan Terry of Marxism



The architect Quinlan Terry designs buildings to look classical from the outside, but be modern (structure, materials, floorplans, cabling, ventilation) inside. Above: his 264-7 Tottenham Court Road building. For a revolutionary socialist party, however, Marxism should be not just a "classical" exterior, but the defining structure of politics.

The veteran Trotskyist Bill Hunter chose a good title for his autobiography: "Lifelong Apprenticeship". For Callinicos, an appropriate biography title would be: "Lifelong Professorship".

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Ex-SWPers form "International Socialist Group (Scotland)"

The 38 members of the SWP in Scotland who recently resigned from the SWP together with Chris Bambery have put out a statement launching themselves as “the International Socialist Group (Scotland)”.

The 38 members of the SWP in Scotland who recently resigned from the SWP together with Chris Bambery have put out a statement launching themselves as “the International Socialist Group (Scotland)”.

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The left: slipping towards Qaddafi?

When the revolt against Qaddafi started in Libya, hardly anyone on the left — however broadly defined — could say anything in defence of Qaddafi.

With the start of the "no-fly zone", many on the left started to sideline the issues within Libya and focus their efforts on denouncing NATO.

Now the denunciation of NATO, in turn, is acting as a lever to introduce defence of Qaddafi and denunciation of the rebels into broad-left discourse.

With the start of the "no-fly zone" over Libya, many on the left started to focus on denunciation of NATO. That in turn has now led to a defence of Qaddafi and denunciation of the rebels.

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Stop the War Coalition's pro-Qaddafi demo

Today's Stop the War Coalition protest outside Downing Street, against Western military intervention in Libya, was attended by about a hundred people. It was heavily dominated by Stalinists, with a definite majority from groups including the CPB, Socialist Action, the Greek Communist Party and the CPGB-ML - the last of which was distributing a leaflet saying "Hands off Libya! Victory to Qaddafi!"

On 20 March a hundred people, mostly hardcore Stalinists, demonstrated outside Downing Street against Western military action in Libya.

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Coalition of Resistances focuses on 26 March

At the Coalition of Resistance conference on 15 January, there was an enormous emphasis on building for the March 26 TUC demonstration that at times tipped over into fetishisation.

The first meeting of the Coalition of Resistance National Council was held on 15 January.

The main political blocs on the Council (which is over 100 people) are Counterfire (the key animating force behind CoR), Green Left and Socialist Resistance. There is a handful of SWPers, a few from Workers’ Power, individuals from smaller left groups and a scattering of independents.

The first session consisted of speaker after speaker making long, windy speeches that reminded us all that cuts were bad and that we needed to fight back.

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Coalition of Resistance national council meets, attendees learn cuts are bad

The first meeting of the Coalition of Resistance National Council did not indicate a particularly bright future for the campaign. The main political blocs on the Council (which is made up of over 100 people - everyone who stood, in fact, given the unilateral announcement at the founding conference that there was “no time” for elections) are Counterfire (the key animating force behind CoR), Green Left and Socialist Resistance.

A democratic deficit and confusion over the campaign's identity hamper the first national council meeting of the Counterfire-inspired Coalition of Resistance.

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Coalition of Resistance conference: potential, but too much hot air

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Daniel Randall

The immediate fact of the Coalition of Resistance conference was that over 1,000 people, some of them young, attended a (mostly) radical anti-cuts conference where they heard many speeches that communicated militant class-struggle politics. In the context of an upturn in struggle – led by student direct action – the conference may well have been an inspiring experience for some. That should be welcomed.

Over 1,000 people attended the CoR conference and are right to have come away feeling inspired; however, the event's problems need discussing and overcoming.

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Guided by the light?

Author: 

Tom Unterrainer

Tom Unterrainer reviews Strategy and Tactics by John Rees (Counterfire).

At a time when the abject disarray of the British left is its overwhelming feature, we would normally appreciate some – any – effort to ‘think things through’. But when the ‘thinking’ is little more than a screed of dishonest mysticism and self-congratulation – as is the case with John Rees’ new book – we should be wary.

A review of 'Strategy and Tactics', a new pamphlet by John Rees.

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