Re the New Irish PM

I can’t claim to follow Irish politics closely, but the recent election of Leo Varadkar, the openly gay son of an Indian father and Irish mother, as head of the ruling center-right Fine Gael party has been hard to miss. (As party leader, Varadkar will also take over the role of Taoiseach – prime minister – later this month.)

Predictably, all of this is being hailed in some quarters as a victory of the “new” multicultural Ireland over the insular and prejudiced “old”. I had thought to write my own reflections on this, but after reading The Irresistible Rise of Leo Varadkar at the National Party’s web site, I decided to take the easy way out and just point you there for the best thing on the subject I’ve read so far.

On the Left and “Fascism”

“…most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.” – Diane Johnstone – The Main Issue in the French Election: National Sovereignty

The collapse of the virtually the entire left into at best a mere loyal opposition within the capitalist order becomes clearer every day. Its recent and nearly unanimous rallying in support of the system’s candidate for the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is yet another sad example.

The notion that Marine Le Pen was ready to install a Hitlerian dictatorship on France is absurd on the face of it and in fairness most commentators on the left acknowledged this however grudgingly, – usually just before arguing that she was still, however, so dangerous (a “canny fascist“, for example) that the left must unite behind  the candidate of the transnational elites instead (1).

In fact, there are a few on the left who dissent from this groupthink.  In addition to Johnstone, for example, James Petras argued in Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen

Macron’s pro-war, anti-working class and ‘supply-side’ economic policies leave us with only one conclusion: Marine Le Pen is the only candidate of the left. Her program and commitments are pro-labor, not ‘hard’ or ‘far’ right – and certainly not ‘fascist’….

Le Pen is above all a ‘sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

Unfortunately, however, the Johnstones and Petras’s are rare and to the extent that their efforts have been noticed, they have generally been denounced(2).

What characterizes the bulk of the left today is its ahistorical (and decidedly un-Marxist) approach to the populist movements of the right.  The left insists on understanding these movements in terms of a social reality that existed almost 100 years ago and is particularly unable (or unwilling) to recognize that the class content of movements and discourses changes over time – reflecting both the circumstances of a particular conjuncture and the overall arc of capitalist development.

Until roughly World War II capitalist classes in each country were fundamentally national.  In the moments of extreme crisis faced by certain of these countries, a sector of the ruling class opted for alliances with mass movements of the right in order to crush insurgent workers’ movements of the left, overcome the impasse created by non-functional parliamentary systems and better assert themselves internationally against their foreign rivals.  Once their radical wings were domesticated, in certain countries the fascist movements of the ’20s and ’30s suited the needs of much of the ruling class – at least for a time.

Unlike the interwar years, however, today’s ruling class has largely transcended national boundaries and is fundamentally globalist.  It is fundamentally committed to the multiculturalist ideology that is the natural world view that accompanies this.  Its fundamental enemy is nationalism and rootedness is all its forms.

In the current period the opposition to the ruling order is again based a sector of the popular classes and the ruling class is again mobilizing to destroy this opposition.  The difference is that today it is the so-called “fascists” who represent authentic resistance and it is the “left” that is being mobilized to stamp it out in the service of big capital and its globalist project.

In an typical article, which appeared on the blog Shiraz Socialist The Front National and fascism the author quotes Leon Trotsky’s description of fascism as:

“… a plebeian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat and even to a certain extent, from the proletarian masses… with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. This is necessary for the creation of the mass movement.”

Although this apparently did not occur to the author, one is struck by how much more accurately this describes today’s left than today’s national populist right.

More than anything else, the left needs to learn to look in the mirror…

(For more on these issues see my previous posts Trump as National Bourgeois and On the Left and 2016 – Part 2. and Part 1.)

(1) The examples are endless but see here and here for a couple of representative samples from Jacobin.
(2) Thus, for example, Johnstone’s fellow CounterPunch columnist Louis Proyect denounced “Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism” in an article on his blog last year. More recently Tendance Coatesy attacked both “the notorious” Johnstone and Petras for their comments on Le Pen.

From Ireland

Vdare recently posted an excellent article from Ireland’s recently-formed National Party.

The party’s site is great – definitely worth the binge-reading I gave it this morning.  However, it isn’t just that it says all the right things.  What’s even more gratifying is that the organization  appears to be a real thing – or at least more than just a couple of guys with a grand-sounding name and a web site.

Here are a few samples of what the National Party has to say:

We contend that the first duty of an Irish government is to an Irish people and that this duty can only be served by the National Idea. Ireland cannot simply be a transport hub for a global citizenry. It must be rooted, coherent and authentic to itself.About

And:

The organising unit of society must be a social unit. And that social unit must be as organic and cohesive as possible. The family, the parish, the nation. It is a social communitarian ethos which is the organising basis of everything human-beings create. – #WeAreIrish – Twitter Hashtag Reveals the Contradictions in How Liberals View Ethnicity

And:

… to a liberal and a globalist, nationalism is always something lurking in the shadows. It is a kind of Other. A kind of Id. Something monstrous and irrational which constantly threatens to plunge an ordered society into chaos. It is associated with darkness and danger. Nationalism, one might say, is the foreign element in a globalist society. What does globalism exclude if not nationalism?Is Irish Nationalism Dead like Dan O’Brien Says?

Where do I sign up?

More on the National Party:

For a hostile take on the party see Who is National Party leader Justin Barrett?.

For a selection of videos (mostly) on the party, see Mashpedia.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

Wishful Thinking?

Yes, I’m afraid so, but the article is still worth reading:

… the single possible alternative to the bourgeois world can only occur through the sacred union of reactionaries and progressives. A union of reactionaries, whether monarchists, Catholics, Hellenists, Muslims, but all attached to a certain classical order, with the progressives, all enemies of the bourgeois world, whether they come from the PCF of Marchais, today’s Worker’s Party, the Serbian resistance, or Venezuelan Chavismo. A union of reactionaries who are often right and progressives who have often been screwed over, against the liberals who dominate the world today and who have always divided in order to rule. Against this empire engaged headlong in the destruction of our human societies and nature. Against this world singularly devoted to the cult of Mammon and increasingly causing problems of overproduction, pollution, inequalities, which lead to catastrophe. – Alain Soral What Alternative to the Bourgeois World?

More on all of this is coming up soon…. I promise.

(Thanks to the Institute for National Revolutionary Studies for the translation of the 2007 speech which appeared on Soral’s website Egalite et Reconciliation.)

Meanwhile, Across the Ocean…

The divide is not between the left and right anymore but between patriots and globalistsMarine Le Pen

The news here at home has been so engaging that one (or at least this one) is tempted to ignore events nidroitenigauche1in the rest of the world. However, with the first round of the French presidential elections approaching, with hopes raised by Trump’s victory in the US and Brexit’s in the UK, with Marine Le Pen and the FN running stronger than ever, our attention inevitably turns to France.

It seems clear at this point that Marine will win the first round and will probably confront – and lose to – centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second.  Still, hope springs eternal and there are frequent references to Trump’s improbable victory in discussions of the elections.  Thus, for example:

The counties that voted for Trump have the same sociological profiles as districts voting for Marine Le Pen — deindustrialized, rather lost, very socially vulnerable…. Paris and Lyon vote for the left, because they’re wealthy. Guys from Hayange vote for the far right, because they feel forgotten. The only one who’s taking up their cause is Marine Le Pen. – Stéphane Wahnich quoted in How Leftists Learned to Love Le Pen – Foreign Policy.

And if anything will allow Marine to repeat the Trump miracle, it will be outbreaks like the rioting which began early this month in the almost entirely immigrant banlieues (and which brought back memories of the massive disorders of 2005), although apparently some of the usual ultra-left types apparently got into the act as well. Combined with the memory of 2015 and 2016’s numerous Islamist terrorist attacks, such disorders will doubtlessly swell the ranks of FN supporters, just as the cycle of violence and disorder seen in this country in the years since Fergusson undoubtedly pushed some (probably significant) number of whites into the Trump camp.

(And, yes, it would be a bit cynical to say “worse is better,” but at least such events have the virtue of opening the eyes of some to things as they really are.)

Note:  In looking around the web for more on the rioting I came across an excellent blog – GalliaWatch – devoted to covering events in France. The author – Tiberge – seems to be a conservative Catholic who is generally (but not blindly) sympathetic to the FN.  I suspect that I will be relying on her a lot over the coming months for her invaluable coverage of French developments.

Trump – Old Wine?

There’s an interesting piece on our new president, Trump Revives the Fordist-Keynesian Pact at the Spanish blogs La Torre de Marfil and Hispaniainfo.

In it the author, Gabriel Garcia, asserts that Trump is no revolutionary, explaining that he is merely attempting to re-establish the economic-political order that reigned in the US from the end of World War 2 until roughly 1973, while arguing unpersuasively that Trump’s motivation stems directly from the fact that his own businesses (casinos and hotels) require a relatively well-paid population of consumers in order to prosper.

There’s no question that Trump’s economic populism aims to recreate something like the prosperous post-war years of increasing working class incomes and stable employment. However, Mr Garcia misses the national elements at work in the Trump movement. Explicitly, Trump espouses a civic nationalism deeply at odds with the otherwise-prevailing elite globalist discourse from both left and right. Implicitly, Trump’s movement and sub-texts represent the beginnings of an identitarian/national awakening on the part of middle America.  In the current world these elements are profoundly subversive in essence even if not in form since:

– The ruling class is globalist in its basic nature; nationalism in its ethno- or even its civic form is in fundamental opposition to the logic of capitalist development.
– The Fordist-Keynesian form was in the interests of the ruling class at the time – now it is not.
– Trump’s nationalism, while not revolutionary on its face, calls into question the current neo-liberal system itself – like “Peace, Land and Bread” did to the existing order in 1917.
– Neo-liberal globalism includes an assault against the prosperity and even the being of middle America.
– The demonization of middle American whites as racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc works to paralyze resistance on our part, while mobilizing various minority communities as troops in the struggle against us.
– While Trump is no revolutionary himself, his refusal to accept the political limits of the dominant discourse opens the door to much more radical movements.
– As Garcia acknowledges, these revived nationalist projects are taking place in the US – the center of the globalist system – rather than in some relatively peripheral country.

None of this is to argue that we will be building barricades any time soon (or even ever) or that Trump will really attempt to push his agenda a significant distance toward its logical conclusions (although the evidence of the past couple of weeks gives one hope). Rather, he represents a least the possible opening of a new political age.

Notes: Mr. Garcia’s post is centered on an extensive quote from a recent book by Laureano Luna – La lucha obrera en la era del capitalismo global.  Luna is an interesting figure who originated the term “autonomia historica,” expressing a recognition that the Spanish anti-system right needed to break with its addiction to LARPing the 1930s.  He was involved in the formation of what seemed to be a very promising enterprise, a party called the National Left in 2010 or 2011, which unfortunately seems to have gone nowhere. The book sounds like something worth reading if I can actually put my hands on a copy.

Talking about Mr. Luna’s book, I was once again reminded of how irritatingly expensive all of those interesting-sounding Spanish magazines seem to be – things like Nihil Obstat (at 20€ for the latest copy) or Revista de Historia del Fascismo (at 18€) – and when you add in shipping… How about some e-versions?!