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Hong Kong protests demand democracy

Hong Kong protests demand democracy

HONGKONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY

By MICHAEL SCHREIBER

Hong Kong is witnessing the most massive street protests in its history. Many thousands of people have stood up to police repression while maintaining an Occupy-style presence in the streets. The protests have become known as the “Umbrella Revolution” for the umbrellas that demonstrators have employed to help shield their faces from tear gas thrown by police.

The protesters’ main demand is for democratic suffrage rights—for citizens of Hong Kong to have the full ability to choose their chief executive, in opposition to the Aug. 29 edict of the Chinese government that would require any candidates for the office to be vetted by Chinese authorities. The protesters are also demanding the resignation of the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, since he has presided over the police attacks on the demonstrations.

The mobilization began on Sept. 22 as a student boycott of classes. Two days later, about 10,000 students marched from the university of Hong Kong to the major government buildings. There is no doubt that the violent police attack on the demonstrators, over the weekend of Sept. 27-28, only served to swell the number of demonstrators, since popular outrage quickly mounted. By Sept. 29, crowds estimated as approaching 180,000 people, predominately students, were in the streets. In some localities, barricades were erected for defense.

Sean Starrs, an assistant professor at the City University of Hong Kong, wrote an eye-witness account of the police violence in the Canadian on-line publication The Bullet (http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/1042.php): “The main organizer of the week-long boycott of classes, the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), had planned on ending the strike and sit-in in front of the government buildings on Friday evening [Sept. 26], but late that night some 200 or so students stormed a police line and fence to occupy a square within the government complex. The police reacted violently with batons and pepper spray, making over 70 arrests, including one of the most high profile student leaders, 17 year-old Joshua Wong, co-founder of the mostly high school student group Scholarism.

“As news of the violent police repression swiftly spread, masses of students and other supporters poured into the whole area, eventually blocking major roads (on Monday afternoon there were still some abandoned BMWs and public buses in the middle of the road surrounded by throngs of students).”

Starrs wrote that “the riot police were formally taken off the streets by noon Monday, officially because the ‘illegal protesters’ have ‘mostly calmed down.’ In reality, the riot police were the ones that calmed down once they realized they could not defeat the students. During the climax of repression on Sunday night, I was in one area that was tear gassed around 4-5 times (each barrage with multiple canisters) in only two hours. The police formed two lines and fired tear gas in order to advance toward the epicenter in Admiralty [an area of government buildings], after which most of the crowd would flee and then quickly regroup, surrounding the police on both sides with hands in the air to show non-violent intent.”

The gesture of hands in the air, together with the chant “Hands up!” was borrowed by the demonstrators from the scenes that they witnessed on social media of people in Ferguson, Mo., and other U.S. cities who were protesting the police murder of Michael Brown.

Some unions responded with calls for workers’ solidarity actions. Starrs reported, “The Confederation of Trade Unions and the Professional Teachers Union both called on its members to strike in support of the students. At least 1,000 social workers, high school and university teachers joined the strike, as well as pupils from at least 31 schools. HKFS extended the student class boycott indefinitely. The Chairperson of Swire Beverages Employees General Union, distributor of Coca Cola in Hong Kong, announced to cheering students in Admiralty that more than 200 workers joined the strike, while 100 more reduced their hours. There were also reports of some taxi drivers striking.”

In calling for its members to participate in a Sept. 29 strike, the Confederation of Trade Unions demanded that police release all of the demonstrators who had been detained. The federation’s statement read in part: “Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) strongly condemns the police for their violent attack on unarmed students and people. We strongly condemn the government for suppressing the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly in Hong Kong. HKCTU calls for all workers in Hong Kong to strike tomorrow, in protest of the ruling of the National People’s Congress, as well as the brutal suppression of peaceful protest by the Hong Kong government. Workers and students must unite to force the totalitarian government to hand state power back to the people. …

“Workers must stand up against the unjust government and violent suppression. Workers must stand up, as the totalitarian government has to back down when all workers protest in solidarity. To defend democracy and justice, we cannot let the students fight the suppression alone.”
Hong Kong’s current governmental system was established in 1997, when the former British colony was restored to China. The official mantra at the time was “one country, two systems.” This slogan could be understood in two ways: first, that Hong Kong might remain relatively “democratic” (in bourgeois terms) as opposed to China’s authoritarian regime, and secondly, in reference to the fact that the Chinese economic system had been that of a Stalinized and highly bureaucratized workers’ state, while Hong Kong was a capitalist financial center.

Even by then, however, the “Communist” bureaucrats had already begun a restoration of capitalism in mainland China, with bargain handovers of state resources and industry to the burgeoning capitalist class together with a steep reduction of social services to working people. The Chinese rulers saw the advantages of using Hong Kong’s financial institutions as an open door to facilitate the entry of foreign capital into the mainland.

Today, there is no real difference in essential economic terms between the systems of Hong Kong and the rest of China, while the fiction of Hong Kong’s being “democratic” has been torn away for all to see. Nevertheless, the current protests come at a worrisome time for the Chinese Communist Party, whose top echelons are concerned over indications of economic slowdown and increasing popular discontent.

This has magnified the fear of party bureaucrats that the Hong Kong protests might get “out of hand” and spread to workers throughout China. This was reflected in the editorial issued by Beijing’s official People’s Daily on Oct. 4, which stated, “For the minority of people who want to foment a ‘color revolution’ on the mainland by way of Hong Kong, this is but a daydream.”

Sean Starrs points out, “With President Xi Jinping’s ‘anti-corruption campaign’ so far targeting only his rival factions, the CCP is currently in the midst of the one of the most serious tests to its unity in decades. More broadly vis-à-vis the Chinese people, the CCP is increasingly using nationalism and China’s ‘glorious’ past, including reviving Confucianism, once reviled by the CCP as a product of feudal and patriarchal authoritarianism, in order to replace ‘communist’ ideology.

“Indeed, the CCP announced that class struggle was officially over in China, and therefore removed the right to strike from its constitution in 1982. Yet, since especially the Nanhai Honda strike in 2010, there have been hundreds if not thousands of increasingly daring strikes across China, the largest of which was earlier this year when 40,000 workers at a Dongguan shoe factory went on strike, less than 100 km north of Hong Kong. …”

“Hence, especially over the past ten years, burgeoning social unrest in China seems to be increasingly rattling the upper echelons of the CCP. Since 2009 China spends more on domestic security than external military defense. And the CCP has reacted to the Umbrella Revolution with record Internet censorship on the Mainland, banning many search words such as “Class boycott,” “Occupy Central,” “Hong Kong police,” and “Hong Kong tear gas …”

While Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung has raised the threat of police action to completely clear the streets, Beijing appears hesitant to go further by sending Peoples Liberation Army units into Hong Kong, fearing that brutal repression would only spread the revolt. Their hope is that moderate elements among the protesters might be utilized to “calm things down.”

Participation in the pro-democracy demonstrations surged in early October in response to counter-demonstrations that had been whipped up by the media and violent attacks by thugs and criminals. By Monday, Oct. 6, however, the ranks of protesters appeared to have thinned considerably. Civil service employees were allowed to pass through barricades and return to their jobs.

Liberal and authoritative figures have been utilized to urge the protesters to dismantle their camps and go home. For example, in a commentary for Radio Free Asia, Bao Tong, the most senior Chinese official jailed over his sympathy for the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, praised the protesters but told them: “The seeds have already been sown, and they need time to lie fallow … Take a break, for the sake of future room to grow. For tomorrow.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 5 that leaders of the movement are certainly feeling the pressure: “For much of Sunday, leaders of two student groups and activist movement Occupy Central were holed up in meetings to form a strategy on whether to call off or continue protests before the start of the workweek Monday…

“Late Sunday evening [Oct. 5], the Hong Kong Federation of Students [HKFS], one of the organizers, said the pro-democracy demonstrations would continue but that it would start discussions with the government to prepare for official talks.” At the same time, in an attempt to distance itself from more determined protesters, HKFS leaders made it clear that in their view the “Umbrella Revolution” was “not a revolution” at all.

In the meantime, the United States has brazenly inserted itself into the situation, with high-level U.S. officials backing the call for “dialogue” between Hong Kong authorities and protesters. Hoping in the process to score a few points against Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “As China knows, we support universal suffrage in Hong Kong … We believe an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.” Of course, in other situations around the globe, Kerry has had no difficulties in hobnobbing with dictators who flout the principle of universal suffrage.

U.S. imperialism has nothing to offer the people in the streets who are fighting for democratic rights. Democracy can only be won by resolute and uncompromising struggle against both the governmental authorities and the international corporations and banks that control Hong Kong.

What has not yet come to pass in Hong Kong is the formation of a central leadership that can unite all the disparate groupings within the protests, and proceed with a clear perspective of how to advance the struggle. Ultimately, Chinese workers and their allies both in Hong Kong and the mainland must build a mass working-class party, armed with a full program for the working class to take political power in a socialist revolution.

Photo: Hong Kong protesters raise their hands in the “Hands Up!” gesture popularized in U.S. protests over the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting of Michael Brown. Alex Ogle / Getty Images

Second life sentence handed down to Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain

Second life sentence handed down to Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain

 

Wednesday 29 October 2014, by Farooq Tariq

 

For instigating prisoners to protest against inhuman conditions, Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain get second life imprisonments.

Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain were sentenced for a second time to life imprisonment by the Anti Terrorist Court in Gilgit today in another case.

They were charged with instigating prisoners in Gilgit Jail to protest against inhuman treatment of jail authorities while Baba Jan was in jail for two years.

This was a fact.

He led a movement of the prisoners to demand just treatment for all those in jail according to he jail manual for prisoners. He demanded to provide healthy food, meat twice a week, milk, fresh bread and tea twice a day and all that was written as a right of prisoners.

He also demanded proper health facilities and doctor visit to all bantams on regular basis.

After the successful upsurge in the prison during 2011, which united for the first time Shia and Sunni prisoners, the jail authorities were forced to accept the demands and for weeks prisoners were provided food and health facilities according to the jail manuals.

He and Iftikhar Husain were framed in another case while they were in prison for instigating prisoners under terrorist laws.

Today both got the second life imprisonments in this case.

Baba Jan is known as Bhaghat Singh of the valley. Bhaghat Singh, a freedom fighter against British colonial rule also led a movement for prisoners right to decent treatment.

May be Baba Jan and Iftikhar are the first political prisoners in Pakistan and Gilgit Beltistan history who got a life imprisonment for taking up the case of worsening prisoners rights.

He led the peaceful movement in which no physical attacks were made on any prison officials. Prisoners just refused to cooperate.

Awami Workers Party condemns this second life imprisonment to Baba Jan and Iftikhar. We want to make it absolute clear, there is no going back.

The PPP regime in Gilgit can go to any length hand in hand with scaled judiciary to punish the political activists but this will not break the will of Baba Jan and his comrades to change the system and with setting up examples of hardship and sacrifices.

Long live Baba Jan, Iftikhar Hussain and their comrades !

We will not leave you alone !

A national and international solidarity campaign will continue!

Farooq Tariq

Farooq Tariq is the general secretary of the Awami Workers’ Party formed in 2012 by the coming together of three existing parties. He was previously the national spokesperson of Labour Party Pakistan, http://www.laborpakistan.org/.

What Ghulam Azam Wrought

What Ghulam Azam Wrought

Sushovan Dhar

The struggle against the Razakars is shifting to a new phase; the outcome will profoundly affect Bangladesh

A year ago, Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years of imprisonment. Turning down prosecutors’ appeal for the death penalty, he was spared due to his age. However, age did not spare him a year later. The death of this persona terrible raises several pertinent questions about the future of his brand of politics.

What would its impacts be in the short and medium terms? What ramifications are likely to extend across the South Asian region? His death has, of course, not orphaned his political child. And, its too premature to predict its course, since much of it depends on collective efforts more than Ghulam’s demise.

Many a protester, primarily the students and the youth, were seen triumphant, organising sporadic marches celebrating Ghulam’s passing. That was certainly not unnatural or unexpected given his role during the Bangladesh liberation war. He evoked memories of the massacres which killed countless people, raped thousands of women, rendered many homeless, and turned innocent children orphans.

The Butcher of Bangladesh would have put any butcher to shame. Certainly, the young, celebrating brigade, at times exhibiting signs of zealotry and hyper-jubilation, can’t be held responsible for being unruly towards this particular deceased. They are expressing a sense of relief about those dark days and the shadows of the horror which Ghulam Azam essentially symbolised. Even so, a deeper concern still exists about the malady that he was able to successfully strengthen and spread. The current euphoria surrounding his death must gear up to resist it appropriately.

The religious-right asserts

Historically, religious politics surfaced immediately in the post-liberation days, gaining momentum after Ziaur Rahman’s coup d’etat, and acquiring complete ascendancy during the Ershad era. It can hardly be doubted that this dire emergence of Islamic fundamentalist forces has wedged the country towards an extremely grievous situation that is capable of pushing the nation towards an ugly civil war.

This painful journey from Bengali nationalism to an Islamic state has included endless attacks and hostility towards religious minorities, women, and also against the progressive and secular sections of the society; all in the name of religion. Savage actions have claimed lives. The innocent and the lower strata of the society have been the worst victims. And to add to this, the rise of religious fundamentalism has had severe impacts on the overall security of the country and the region. This insidious growth of religious fundamentalism has violated the four cardinal founding principles of Bangladesh: Nationalism, socialism, secularism, and democracy.

Bangladesh is caught in a mess from which it needs to extricate itself. The death of Ghulam Azam or a few others would not reverse the situation automatically. Neither would the hanging of leading collaborators bring any short-term solution. There is a need to seek a long-term solution to this problem which is deeply afflicting Bangladesh as well as the South Asian region. Competing fundamentalisms raise mutual hostility but emerge with reciprocity, jointly victorious.

South Asia

Pakistan’s 2013 elections brought Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League to power. His victory legitimised right-wing politics, and religious fanatics took advantage. Radical Islamic groups and networks, which were earlier banned, resurfaced once again – both covertly and overtly. The Pakistani state, which had earlier been an onlooker, is now a bystander. Women, human rights, and secularism activists, and free-thinking individuals including journalists are bearing the worst.

There are thousands of Malalas in the North-West Frontier Province now, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, where fundamentalists have gained control. The country is sitting on a simmering volcano ready to erupt. In the midst of this sinister condition, people are left alone to bank on their fate. Lives are squeezed out mercilessly, and the living are lumped with the dead.

A reinforcement of right-wing politics afflicts the big brother, India. Narendra Modi’s ascendancy at the helm of national politics vitalised Hinduvta which had earlier been in the sidelines. A series of attacks on the members of the minority communities had set off after the elections. People were polarised along communal faultlines and exclusive religious identities provide fertile grounds for Hindu religious fundamentalism.

Camouflaged under a nationalist garb, the Hindutva brigade attempts to break the founding pillars of multiculturalism though various means: Manipulation of socio-cultural identities, defining nationalism using communal identities, and using the media and exploiting civil society organisations and institutions.

The rank corruption and inefficiency of the previous Congress-led government added fire to the fuel. While we witness the resurgence of fascist Hinduvta politics, the BJP-led government is the latest protagonist of neo-liberal politics trying to wipe out previous gains made by the poor, the marginalised, and the working class.

The common feature in all religious fundamentalisms across the region is that it stresses on a dogmatic adherence to tradition and “glorious” history as a way out of the poverty and drudgery that millions of sub-continental masses are trapped in. We frequently hear about a certain mythical “golden era” to which society must return.

Upholding orthodoxy that breeds inflexibility and a rejection of modern society, Islamic fundamentalists utilise the imagery of the “golden era of Islam” as a respite from the misery, the poverty, and other social problems we face.

What is to be done?

While religious fundamentalists, and the dangers posed by them, walk the ramps, we can’t afford to sit back, limiting ourselves to commentary and watch society be torn apart. Our inaction will only embolden them. Let us remember that fundamentalism is a political challenge that can’t be countered administratively only. While condemning violence, terror, and the attacks it unleashes on society we must develop strategies to respond to it.

Along with opposing fanaticism and defending victims of religious fundamentalism, an alternative agenda to empower the toiling masses needs to be brought to the centre-stage. Religious fundamentalism, or any other type of extreme communitarian politics, and exclusive cultural nationalism use the already existing discrimination and graded inequalities as fertile breeding grounds to further their interests.

A punitive measure alone would hardly suffice. Sincere considerations and remedies of distress, misery, and the penury in which the masses are immersed, are long-term antidotes which can effectively work.

The state should have no business with religion, as religious states can never handle religious fanatics meaningfully. The struggle against the Razakars is shifting to a new phase; the outcome of which will profoundly affect the future course of secularism, justice, and freedom in Bangladesh and elsewhere. This struggle is important. Let’s do it now.

 

Da’esh - Golem is turning against its creator

From International Viewpoint

Tuesday 14 October 2014, by Michel Warschawski

The United States is once more experiencing the reality of this old Jewish saying. Supporting the most fundamentalist Muslims in Afghanistan in the hope of putting and end to Soviet influence, finding itself a few years later confronted with a total war against al-Qaida and its cloudy international, and whose result will be far from being a victory. In the background is the, always mistaken, idea that the enemies of my enemies are my friends. Back in the 1930s, the “democratic” countries thought that Hitler could be an ally against the communist danger. We know what happened then…

The State of Israel has also played this game, encouraging in the 1980s the growth of the Hamas Islamists against the nationalists of the PLO. We know what happened then as well. Today it is with Da’esh (IS, ISIS or ISIL) that the USA and their allies are having the same experience: this by-product of al-Qaida has taken on an importance which has surprised the Pentagon strategists and CIA experts, and is threatening to destroy the architecture of the Middle-East, put in place almost a century ago, by Messrs Sykes and Picot, at the time when the Ottoman Empire had become the “sick man of Europe”.

It is important to underline that it as Saudi Arabia, great ally of the United States in the Middle East, that created al-Qaida – and thus, indirectly, Da’esh – in its war against increasing Iranian influence in the Middle-East. Its radically fundamentalist Wahhabist Islam was the ideological school of this movement. The Golem has now turned against its creators.

Recently on the far left in Europe, I have heard expressions of support for Da’esh. There again, the enemy of my enemy (USA) supposedly would be my ally. A serious mistake: there is nothing progressive in Da’esh, even when they are fighting against the United States and their allies. It is a barbarian invasion that not only sows death and the destruction, but commits itself publicly and openly to imposing an Islamic regime, in its most rigorous interpretation, with all that that implies in terms of public freedoms, women’s rights and non-observance of the rights of minorities.

Political combat is not a football game, where one must support a team because one does not like the other one. There are cases where we are facing two plagues, of which neither is better than the other.

The United States stop carrying out their dirty wars in the Middle East, the international community stops being an accessory to Israel’s colonial policy, and Da’esh will lose the popular support it has in certain layers of the Muslim world. It is as simple as that .

Published in the Courrier de Genève (October 2014)

Making sense of postcolonial theory: a response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Making sense of postcolonial theory: a response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Vivek Chibber

(Originally in Cambridge Review of International Affairs online 3 Oct. 2014)


I will respond as best I can to Gayatri Spivak’s criticisms of Postcolonial theory and the specter of capital (Chibber 2013) (hereafter PTSC), though, as I will suggest below, the task is not an easy one, owing to Spivak’s peculiar style of
engagement.1


Spivak begins by castigating me for focusing narrowly on Subaltern Studies, even while I claim to critique postcolonial theory. Why do I leave out so much of what has been produced in the field? In reality, I offered an explanation in the book’s opening chapter, but, since Spivak does not address my reasons, please allow me to repeat them. The decision to focus on Subaltern Studies was not arbitrary. I was fully aware that postcolonial studies has generated a wide and varied universe of scholarship, expanding across many disciplines. My goal was to assess its contributions in the more empirically oriented fields such as history and anthropology, where it has exercised considerable influence. Hence, right at the outset, I signalled that the focus of the book was a somewhat delimited portion of what the field has to offer. I chose to focus on these areas because my interest
was in what postcolonial scholarship has to say about the social structure, politics, and historical evolution of the Global South, since its claims about these phenomena are of considerable interest, and they have been extremely influential across the academic universe.
To examine postcolonial studies in the empirical disciplines, the next challenge was to locate a central cluster of arguments that are associated with it and could be taken to embody a theory, or a research programme. In other words, I had to see if
postcolonial studies has generated a theory that explains the specific dynamics and evolution of colonial societies, or of the Global South more generally. The arguments I would focus upon not only had to have some theoretical and empirical content, but also had to have two other characteristics, if the project was to succeed—they would have to resonate with the claims being made in the wider field, even in cultural studies, and they would have to be arguments that wielded actual influence in scholarly work. Hence, focusing on arguments that had little influence, or which could not prove their bona fides as genuinely ‘postcolonial’, would undermine the project right at the outset. On these criteria, there can be little doubt that Subaltern Studies was not only a legitimate target for my project, but the most natural one.


First, it is recognized as a legitimate, even central, current of scholarship within postcolonial studies. Works by its founding members are included or discussed in the most widely used textbooks on postcolonial studies, and, just as importantly,
its members routinely describe their work as belonging to the field. Secondly, Subaltern Studies has remained committed to a stable and remarkably coherent set of propositions about the dynamics of the (post-)colonial world, its evolution over time, and the ways in which that part of the globe differs in its structure and culture from the West. In other words, it has generated a core set of arguments that can be taken as a theory and a research programme. While it is conventional to mark a break of sorts between the ‘early’ volumes in the series and the later ones, this distinction is misleading in some ways. The real core of the programme—the idea of the bourgeoisie’s failure to speak for the nation and hence of the subaltern sphere remaining a domain separate from elite culture—was announced famously in the very first volume, and has continued to serve as the foundation for the rest of the project. Much of the subsequent evolution of Subaltern Studies can be understood as a very
ambitious project to tease out the consequences of this momentous fact about colonial history.
Thirdly, the arguments associated with the Subalterns do in fact resonate with much of the larger field. Some of these are: .
An insistence on locating the specificity of the East and on examining how and why its evolution differs from that of the West.
A focus on culture and forms of consciousness as objects of study and a source of historical difference. The insistence that subaltern groups in the East operate with their own political calculus and forms of consciousness, different from that of elite
groups and from what is projected on to them by Western theory. The insistence on purging social theory of its Eurocentric bias and the claim that Western theories are heavily imbued with this bias, Marxism included.
A boilerplate scepticism towards universalizing discourse, and hence towards many of the theories emanating from the Enlightenment tradition. Scepticism towards modernizing discourses, and their defence of rationality, science, objectivity, etc.
These are all absolutely central themes for Subaltern Studies, and they are also at the very heart of postcolonial studies more generally. Indeed, the Subalternists have probably done the most of any group to give real historical and sociological
ballast to postcolonial studies. Rather than just asserting that there is an ontological divide of some kind dividing East from West, they try to provide real historical arguments for its plausibility. And the arguments they have developed have been enormously influential, especially since the late 1990s. By the turn of this century, the Subalternists were widely recognized as being the most influential of all the empirically oriented streams within the field—to the point that many of their arguments achieved the status of being encapsulated in new buzzwords, instantly recognizable—nationalism as a ‘derivative discourse’,
rescuing ‘the fragment’, the task of ‘provincializing Europe’. One could even hazard a guess that certain key concepts, which they borrowed from others, like ‘subaltern’ or ‘dominance without hegemony’, are as much associated with them as with the terms’ originators.2


In sum, while Subaltern Studies does not itself comprise postcolonial theory, it is one of the best exemplars of the latter’s core arguments. In other words, while it does not exhaust the field, it is very much representative of it. Indeed, it is more than that. I did not randomly select Subaltern Studies as but one of many exemplars of postcolonial theory. I settled on it because it is actually better argued, more coherent and more consistent than much of the rest. Thus, it is hard to find more careful arguments in postcolonial studies explicating why capitalism, and hence modernity, in the East is taken to be fundamentally different from the West, or for why the claims of universalizing theories ought to be resisted.


All this was in the introductory chapter of PTSC. Spivak may object to my reasoning, but the decision was not arbitrary, as Spivak seems to suggest. If she feels that it lacked warrant, then she is obliged to at least offer some reason for this
judgement, which she does not. The reader is left with a sense that I closed my eyes and plucked a random assortment of theorists out of the basket.


Ranajit Guha and the status of primary texts


A most significant contribution of Subaltern Studies to the development of postcolonial theory is its historical argument for why the political culture of the East is fundamentally different from that of the West. I argue that Ranajit Guha’s work is the pivot on which this argument turns, and Spivak seems to agree with my placement of him. Guha argues, famously, that the source of East – West divergence can be found in the divergent characters of the bourgeoisie in the two settings. In the paradigmatic Western experience of England and France, the bourgeoisie led a successful project to capture state power and then create an
encompassing, inclusive political culture based on the consent of the dominated classes—it strove, in his words, to ‘speak on behalf of all the nation’. In the East, however, it abandoned any such ambitions and chose to sustain its rule by political coercion, perpetuating the division between the elite and subaltern spheres. This historic failure on the part of the bourgeoisie signalled a structural mutation in capitalism as it left Western shores—a stalling of its universalizing drive. Capitalism in the colonial world failed to properly universalize, evidenced in its failure to create a consensual, liberal political order. Other Subalternists derive from this their famous conclusion that this break in capital’s universalizing drive is why theories built on the assumption of that universalization—liberalism and Marxism—cannot find purchase in the (post-)colonial world.
The argument for capital’s failed universalization is the foundation on which much of the Subalternist project rests. I show in some detail in PTSC—over the course of five chapters—that it is deeply flawed and cannot be sustained in any form. Partha Chatterjee (2013) has responded to my arguments with a quite brazen falsehood—that Guha simply does not say what I attribute to him, even though Guha makes it clear in the first 25 pages of his book that this is exactly what he is arguing, and then confirms it throughout the course of his text.3 Spivak now joins the fray with an even more novel stratagem, one that I could never have anticipated—she censures my criticism of Guha not because it is mistaken but because Guha’s work has the status of a ‘primary text’, and one does not criticize primary texts.


I read and carefully re-read Spivak’s argument here, because it seems impossible to imagine that anyone could believe what she so cavalierly announces. But there is no other way to interpret her—Spivak thinks that there is a class of scholarship, which she calls ‘primary texts’, whose members are to be are to be memorialized and interpreted, but never assessed. The task of criticism is to be reserved for something called ‘secondary texts’. What the difference is between them we are never told. But, whatever it is, Guha falls on the protected side of it. To drive the point home, Spivak asks us rhetorically, ‘Would Chibber
correct Rosa Luxemburg and DD Kosambi? No, because he knows they are primary texts’ (Spivak 2014, 190). I am not sure what to say here. Not only would I feel free to criticize Luxemburg and Kosambi, but I would be obligated to do so if their theories or their scholarship were flawed. And not only would I respect this obligation, but so have generations of scholars and activists the world over. The distinction that Spivak urges upon us, and the attitude to it endorsed by her, would shut down most of the academy. It is an essentially theological mindset, properly belonging in a church or temple, not a university.


Spivak does propose one other justification for why my criticisms of Guha are misplaced, which needs to be taken seriously. She suggests that my criticism rests on a category mistake. I criticize Guha’s argument for being empirically and theoretically flawed—his historical account of the bourgeois revolutions is unsustainable, and his understanding of capital’s universalizing mission is mistaken. Because of this, his explanation for the colonial world’s political dynamics also largely fails. Spivak offers that this is like criticizing Du Bois for calling the exodus of slaves a ‘general strike’, or criticizing Aristotle’s Poetics as
‘illogical’ (2014, 186). The Aristotle example suggests that certain kinds of criticisms are misplaced because they misunderstand the very nature of the text they interrogate. The text is not vulnerable to the criticism being levelled at it
because of the nature of its project. Spivak i right that criticism of this kind is jejune. But it should be self-evident that such is not the case in my treatment of  Guha. Guha’s arguments are eminently subject to both empirical and theoretical assessment, because they are claims about how the world works, and about the character of historical events. Hence, this defence is no more successful than the call for deference to primary texts.

Capital and capitalism, bourgeoisie and capitalists


Spivak further contends that my criticism of Guha elides the difference between capital and capitalism, and erroneously equates capitalists with the bourgeoisie. Let me start with the claim that capitalists cannot be identified with ‘the
bourgeoisie’. This is the same argument that Partha Chatterjee used in his riposte, and I will respond to it only briefly, referring the interested reader to my fuller treatment of his argument elsewhere (Chibber 2014a; 2014b).
Here is what is at stake. Guha castigates the Indian bourgeoisie for failing to integrate the subaltern domain with that of the elites, and, in this, falling short of the historic achievements of the bourgeoisie in Western Europe. I show that the
bourgeoise in England and France never aspired to, or strove for, the goals that Guha ascribes to them, and that, in fact, they were as contemptuous of subaltern interests as their later Indian counterparts. The question here is: what does Guha
mean by ‘bourgeoisie’? I show in PTSC that he means ‘capitalists’, and I offer more evidence for this in subsequent work (Chibber 2014a). Spivak now claims that ‘bourgeoisie’ means lawyers, and intellectuals, not capitalists. But, however
Spivak may wish to define the concept, it is abundantly clear that when Guha uses it he simply refers to capitalists. Spivak is creating an entirely fictitious Guha here, one who only exists in her imagination.


As to my elision of the difference between capital and capitalism, let me start by cautioning the reader that, pace Spivak, there is no established convention regarding the distinction. Usually, ‘capital’ is taken to mean ‘capitalists’, people whose actions propel the accumulation process, whereas ‘capitalism’ is used to denote the properties of the social structure in which these actors are located. But there is plenty of room for theorists to take some licence with how they use these terms. So when scholars intend to deploy the two as distinct concepts, they usually alert the reader to what each one is supposed to convey. Otherwise, one usually has to glean the intention of the writer by more indirect means, attending to the context, the apparent intention, the place of the argument, etc. It is not uncommon for the two to be used interchangeably.
Guha nowhere introduces the distinction in a systematic way and hence never tells us what he means by the two terms. The reader has to infer their meaning by attending to the context. What we do know is that the entity that is supposed to have had its universalizing mission derailed is ‘capital’. But, depending on the context, this expression can mean either capitalists or capitalism. So, for example, it can mean, ‘When capitalists came to India they did not pursue the same goals as they did in England’; or it can mean, ‘The capitalism that took root in India did not expand in the same way that it had in England.’ Guha usually has in mind the first claim when he makes his argument—he is usually referring to political or economic aspirations of the capitalist class. But sometimes he means the second. More importantly, since the two are closely related, the gap between them is not
that large. None of this is either very deep or mysterious. If Spivak feels that I have misunderstood Guha because I elide the distinction, she needs to show that such is the case. In normal academic discourse, when such an accusation is made, the critic offers some evidence to substantiate it by adducing key passages that have been misunderstood, showing how the
argument has been distorted through the elision. Spivak clearly acknowledges that I am aware of the distinction between capital and capitalism, so she cannot think that I am blind to it (2014, 191). Which of its subtleties, then, do I miss? I
confess that her argument here is almost impossible to understand. The only clear instance she adduces of an apparent elision is when she quotes me as asking: what does capitalism universalize? She then quotes me answering it with reference to
capital, not capitalism (Spivak 2014, 187). So apparently I have substituted one for the other. But I am not doing any such thing. What I say is: capitalism imposes a certain logic upon capital, and by ‘capital’ I mean capitalists. Hence, the structural
location of certain actors forces a particular strategy of economic reproduction upon them. I am not ignoring a distinction here; I am in fact utilizing it. The only confusion here is on Spivak’s part.


‘Little Britain Marxism’


Spivak’s only other significant accusation is that my book is a defence of a narrow, boxed-set kind of Marxism which refuses to budge from its orthodoxies. This has become a quite common refrain from postcolonial critics of the book. It is not
unusual to see my case against the Subalternists as being that they ‘are not Marxist enough’, or that they are wrong because they have the ‘wrong kind of Marxism’. The idea is that I simply hold up their arguments to a fixed set of orthodoxies, and
in instances where they deviate from the latter I reject them out of hand. So the battle is apparently between open-ended, creative Subalternists, trying to expand received theory to make sense of a complex reality, and the stolid, unyielding
Marxists who cast out anyone who dares to question Holy Writ. But the accusation is nonsense. In PTSC, I do not make a single criticism of the Subalternists on the grounds that their work is a deviation from Marxist orthodoxy. Nor do I defend any of my own by proving its closer fidelity to Marx. Each and every argument I make—whether against the Subalternists or in defence
of my own views—is defended on independent grounds, whether empirical or conceptual. There is only one chapter that takes up Marx directly, chapter 6, where I take up the question of abstract labour. Even in this case, I apologize for having to
descend into Marxology (see Chibber 2013, 130), and then try to show that it is worthwhile, not because it was developed by Marx, but because it captures some interesting facts about capitalism. The only other instance in which I bring up
Marxology is in chapter 4, where I criticize Marx for his credulousness towards liberal historiography. Every other argument I make is developed by reference to facts about the world, or conceptual clarification. And every criticism of the Subalternists issues from the same criteria. The arguments offered by Subaltern
Studies are to be rejected because they are wrong, not because they stray from
orthodoxy.
Spivak knows this, and it is why she is worried enough to write her long attack. If the book had just been a Marxist screed against the heretics, it would have died a quiet death. The reason it has attracted attention is precisely because it is not the ‘Little Britain Marxism’ that Spivak accuses it of being, but an examination of Subalternist arguments on their own terms—by attending to the empirical and theoretical strength of their claims. As for Marxism, there is in fact plenty in the received orthodoxy that is either mistaken or questionable. To give some examples: .
.
The orthodox theory of historical materialism is almost certainly wrong (Chibber 2011).
The labour theory of value may very well be wrong, and if it is not, it can only be defended in modified form.
The traditional theory of bourgeois revolutions is definitely wrong, as I explain in great detail in PTSC.
.
Marxism still has a poorly developed moral theory, though that situation is now greatly remedied.
There is quite an extensive literature on these subjects, and I have contributed to some of it, all of which acknowledges and seeks to remedy deep flaws in orthodox formulation. There are plenty of other weaknesses in the theory but I have listed
these only because they are considered to be at the very heart of Marxist orthodoxy. So it is not that Marxist theory is not in need of serious modification, or that it does not have severe weaknesses. It is just that, whatever weaknesses it has, they are not the ones targeted by postcolonial theorists. The biggest problem with postcolonial theory is that it seeks to undermine the very areas of Marxist theory that ought to be retained, that are in fact its strengths—the reality of capitalist constraints, regardless of culture; the reality of human nature; the centrality of certain universal aspirations on the part of the oppressed, which issue from this human nature; the need for abstract, universal concepts that are valid across cultures; the necessity of rational, reasoned discourse, etc. And the reason these propositions need to be defended is not that they comprise a doctrine that Marxists seek to uphold, but because they are defensible on their own merits. It has long been a tactic of postcolonial theorists to offer their framework as not only a direct lineal descendant of Marxist theory— which it is not—but also as the only sustainable version of Marxism—which it is emphatically not. Any criticism of their arguments is thereby impugned as an
unthinking adherence to orthodoxy, or a search for doctrinal purity. Spivak’s characterization of PTSC as ‘Little Britain Marxism’ is but the latest incarnation of this, and readers should not be misled by it.


Conclusion


The sad fact is that, apart from the few points that I have taken up above, there is very little in Spivak’s essay to which one can respond. To be sure, there is no shortage of accusations, some pertaining to exegesis, others to logic or theory. Spivak certainly seems to feel strongly that PTSC is guilty of many sins. But this makes it all the more curious that she expends little or no effort doing what any honest critic would do—taking the time to read the text carefully, locate its flaws, demonstrate to the reader that the argument is indeed guilty of the mistakes of which it is accused.
Indeed, what stands out most about the essay is how it eschews the normal protocols of scholarship in favour of other, less savoury tactics. And I would be remiss to say nothing about it, since it is so egregious. There is a very powerful authoritarian thrust in Spivak’s essay. It is not just the deferential attitude that one is supposed to display towards certain texts and authorities. It is not just the exalted status of ‘primary texts’. A required genuflection to authority pervades the text. It is surprising to find repeated references to someone’s age—the fact that Guha is 90 years old—or to their storied past, or to their fame in the intellectual world, or to their social work during the summer. These are not random facts that Spivak offers the reader; they are bits of information doled out to contrast the worthiness of some people—Guha and Spivak in this case—in contrast to the
brash, ‘boyish’ critic who is obsessed with ‘correcting everybody’, a ‘correct-fetishist’, as she refers to me. Spivak seems genuinely perturbed, not by the substance of my criticism, but by the very act of it. I am upbraided for not being reviews
sufficiently awestruck by the distinction of those whom I have targeted for criticism. The imperious tone, the constant reminder of status, whether based on age or of academic and social standing, is quite shocking to witness in an academic paper. The only place I have ever seen it before was while growing up in India, where it was used with servants and children to remind them of their place in the order of things.


Perhaps this may explain why Spivak does not bother to base her arguments on evidence or logic. Evidence matters if you are trying to persuade someone through argument, not appeals to authority. Spivak, however, writes in the manner of someone long accustomed to treating those around her as supplicants, not colleagues. One would not be much concerned with this, were it not for the fact that at least two generations of students have been socialized into this kind of practice. I doubt that Spivak’s style of engagement would be tolerated in any other discipline. So much the worse for postcolonial studies.


References


Chatterjee, Partha (2013) ‘Subaltern studies and capital’, Economic and Political Weekly, 14 September, 69 – 75
Chibber, Vivek (2011) ‘What is living and what is dead in the Marxist theory of history’, Historical Materialism, 19:2, 60 – 91
Chibber, Vivek (2013) Postcolonial theory and the specter of capital (New York: Verso)
Chibber, Vivek (2014a) ‘Revisiting postcolonial studies’, Economic and Political Weekly, 9 March 2014, 82 – 85
Chibber, Vivek (2014b) ‘Subaltern studies revisited—a (longer) reply to Partha Chatterjee’, ,http://sociology.fas.nyu.edu/object/vivekchibber.html., accessed 9 June 2014
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorti (2014) ‘Review of Postcolonial theory and the specter of capital’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 27:1, 184– 198
Vivek Chibber q 2014 New York University
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09557571.2014.943593
Notes on contributor
Vivek Chibber (PhD, University of Wisconsin) is a professor of sociology at New York University, and the author of Postcolonial theory and the specter of capital (Verso, 2013).

 

1 This essay is a author response to a review previously published by this journal (Spivak 2014, 184– 198).

2 Both concepts originate in Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.

3 See Chatterjee (2013). For a rebuttal of Chatterjee, see Chibber (2014a) and especially
Chibber (2014b), where I provide detailed textual evidence against his claims

Hong Kong Massive rally “Citizens Stand Against Violence/Peaceful Resistance” called in Admiralty

Hong Kong

Massive rally “Citizens Stand Against Violence/Peaceful Resistance” called in Admiralty

Protesters are still continuing to occupy the streets in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay

Sunday 5 October 2014, by Bai Ruixue

After the attacks of yesterday and further threats by anti-Occupy groups to attack the protesters, large numbers have still turned out today undeterred. One pro-Beijing group, Caring Hong Kong Power, had earlier put out a call to its members to again go to Mong Kok. The message says that the use of violence against the protesters is necessary and that if necessary the PLA (People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Army) should be mobilised.

Despite yesterday, however, protesters are still continuing to occupy the streets in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. Furthermore tens of thousands were once again in Admiralty this evening, where a rally “Citizens Stand Against Violence/Peaceful Resistance” had been called. At the rally there were speeches from protesters who were attacked yesterday, as well as other students, lawyers, teachers, performers and Occupy Central leaders. Some performers also sang songs.

Meanwhile this evening the Hong Kong Students Federation have also issue another statement saying that it would meet to discuss with the government, provided the government meet two conditions: Firstly that the government promise to investigate the enforcement of the law over the last few days concerning the thugs (who attacked the protest), and secondly that they will only meet with the Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, and not Chief Executive CY Leung who has only continued to ignore public opinion and use the police to violently suppress the peaceful demonstrators.

I was only able to attend part of the rally, but below is a summary of some of what was said when we were there:

One lawyer, who was attacked yesterday in Mong Kok, said that when peaceful protesters are attacked by pepper spray or when a mob attack protesters it is an insult to the rule of law. He also reported how a friend was pushed to the ground in a supermarket for wearing a yellow ribbon. He said that he has never seen anything like this before in Hong Kong and that he was previously proud of Hong Kong for having the rule of law and giving high priority to civic values.

Another lawyer spoke of how on learning of yesterday’s attack, lawyers lit 800 candles and held a vigil to symbolise how the light of democracy could not be blown away by any violence. He said that lawyers will continue to defend the students who are attacked and arrested and called on everyone to come out and defend the students.

Meanwhile a third lawyer appealed to the international media and described what we are seeing tonight as “the purest form of courage that you will ever see on this planet.” He said that the presence of the media was extremely important in keeping the Chinese government from harming the students.

Academic Wong Wai-gwok read out a statement signed by a group of academics, condemning yesterday’s attack. We want to tell the police that they shouldn’t just fold their arms and we demand that the government respond to the citizens’ aspirations for democracy. Only this can solve the crisis.

Chua Hoi-wai, the head of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services, said that he was moved by all the people who were there sharing their experiences. Yesterday when he watched TV he was distressed about what he saw happening in Mong Kok. He thinks that we should condemn the violence. However he then went on to appeal to the Hong Kong Federation of Students to review their decision not to talk to the government anymore. He said that leading a social movement is not easy as not everybody has the same idea, however he appealed to the protesters to follow the decisions and advice of Occupy Central, HKFS and Scholarism even if they decide it is time to call off the action.

A film director commented on how while there are lots of people in the performance arts who support the students but there are also those who are against their actions. He reported on how he had heard someone remark that it would be easy to get rid of the occupiers. All that would be required is to ask the communications companies to cut off their connections. He has also heard another actor express how he thought it would be good if the protesters were adversely affected by the weather, while another had complained about the occupation having a negative effect on the economy. He reported how he had felt very emotional when he heard this as they are his friends. However he then reported on a forth actress who had said that even if it seems useless to fight for democracy, we should still do this anyway.

A teacher, who said that she hasn’t taught any classes recently as her students are boycotting classes, spoke about the two Hong Kongs that she has seen in the last few days; the beautiful Hong Kong, where everything is clean and tidy, there are poems written on protesters’ banners, posters written in different languages, where educated people are sitting here and technically breaking the law by blocking the road, and the very ugly Hong Kong witnessed yesterday in the attacks.

One speaker spoke of how the road to democracy is very long and winding, but that the number of those who are awakening are huge and growing. “Now with so many people coming out we fear no more. I think the awakened citizens, young and old, should hold our hands together and confront the government.”

Another speaker, who said that he had been at Admiralty since the early morning after hearing that the protesters might be attacked again, made the comment that in 1989 Zhao Ziyang had come out to meet the students but how today none of the high officials have ever greeted the students.

Amongst several singers who had come to perform songs at the rally, one commented on how they wanted to pay tribute to the young people who are not afraid to sacrifice their future careers to fight for the people. Despite foreseeing bigger difficulties in the future they appealed for the protesters not to be afraid. “Now there is lots of discussion about whether we should retreat or not. But in the long run there are still many tasks for us to do together. The silent majority, including my family do not understand. I want to abandon all the language used by the mainstream media, academia and politicians and instead use human language. It is simple. The present package is evil. If we use simple language then everybody can understand more easily.”

4 October 2014

Solidarity with Kobanê – an urgent task

Solidarity with Kobanê – an urgent task

Tuesday 7 October 2014, by Sarah Parker

Latest reports are that ISIS fighters are entering Kobanê. The Guardian.

Update

The situation in Kobane is getting tougher by the hour – fierce fighting around the outside and in the outskirts between the defenders of the Kurdish town and ISIS forces. Protesters are still contesting the border held by the Turkish army, the Kurdish leadership has called for millions of Kurds from Turkey to go to the border. Kurds are protesting all over Europe. [1]

People on the net keep predicting the fall of Kobane –of course Kobane might fall quickly, but the resistance has been astonishing so far, and there must be quite a few thousand fighters in there, plus the whole remaining population is mobilised. They are preparing to fight street by street, ISIS won’t find it easy.

So it is very important for us not to take the fall of Kobane as a foregone conclusion, but to keep making protesting and demanding weapons for the defenders. The more protests there are, the more pressure there is on the coalition to restrain Turkey and provide effective military assistance to Kobane, and the longer it goes on, the more people support the Kurds and understand how disgusting the coalition tolerance of Turkey’s behaviour is, so the higher the price the coalition countries will pay whatever the upshot in Kobane. Foreign Minister Davutoglu has said they don’t want Kobane to fall (not) – but nothing is being done to stop that by Turkey or its allies, in fact the opposite, as Turkey is more and more blatantly supporting ISIS, moving in new weapons, treating wounded fighters in Turkish hospitals.

Millions of people are seeing the battle on TV – anyone who has Hotbird satellite can watch it. If there is a terrible massacre, millions of people will know that this has been tolerated by the coalition because they politically support Turkey against people who want independence. Six months ago nobody had heard of Kobane, but now half the world is watching and seeing that the coalition is doing nothing to assist Kobane against ISIS. This will not be forgotten, by the Kurds or by other people. If you don’t have Hotbird, you can find footage on the Kurdish TV websites – Google Med Nuce, Sterk, Ronahi, Newroz. The BBC and Al Jazeera can get live stream and pictures from the Kurdish channels that are there, even if there are no foreign correspondents there.

People should be joining Kurdish demos, posting stuff, as you are, writing to MPs and councillors, whatever is possible. There are thousands of people in Kobane, and if the town fell, who is to say that Turkey wouldn’t also fall back a bit and let ISIS loose among displaced people and refugees who are inside Turkey and not far from the border. Anything to justify Turkish army action when it suits them.

Today’s news is that PYD leader Salih Muslim was in Ankara for talks with security officials and requested that Turkey open the border to allow the passage of Kurdish fighters and weapons into Kobane – quite a good move since it puts Turkey and the coalition and indeed the South Kurdistan peshmerga forces on the spot. Presumably he is asking for PKK, KDP and PUK forces to be allowed to come through – hard to imagine Turkey will agree to PKK, but KDP and PUK have been feebly saying they would send people but cannot because of the security situation. It would give them a chance to put their money where their mouth is and, in the case of the KDP, recover a bit from the disgrace of telling people in Shangal and the Plain of Mosul that they would protect them and then abandoning them to ISIS.

Lastly, if Kobane falls, ISIS will be free up more forces to take more of Syria and Iraq; while doubtless leaving Assad free to reassert control of Aleppo.

6 October 2014 Socialist Resistance


The city of Kobanê in Aleppo province, northern Syria, is being heroically defended against ISIS by local people and by the People’s Protection Units (still mainly Kurdish but including Arabs and Assyrians). A high proportion of the fighters are women, mainly young but also middle-aged, and some Free Syrian Army forces who have moved to Kobanê are also fighting there, but the defenders have no heavy artillery and only a few home-made armoured vehicles, while ISIS have all the heavy weaponry and vehicles they captured in the summer from the Iraqi army and possibly from the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), as well as weapons and vehicles given them by their sponsors. ISIS is able to shell heavily from great distances, and have concentrated most of their Syrian forces round Kobanê, so for some days the situation has been critical, although the defenders are very determined and seem to be just about coping.

Since 15 September ISIS has been staging its heaviest attack so far on 3 sides of Kobanê, one of the Kurdish three autonomous regions in Syria (the fourth side is partly covered by Turkish army). ISIS is receiving ever more blatant assistance from Turkey, which the US and its allies seem to be doing nothing effective to hinder. Recent More than 100 and villages in the enclave have had to be evacuated to reduce the number of civilian casualties and to allow the self-defence forces a clear run and by now more than 130,000 non-combatants have fled into Turkey. The remaining population, normally 200,000 but doubled in size by refugees from Sinjar and Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria are at risk of massacre if Kobanê falls.

Mass protests by Kurds on the border at Kobanê have been taking place, and sometimes people have managed to rush the border at Pirsus /Suruç to go into Kobanê to aid the defence effort. One report from villagers who came through to Kobanê said that they had seen about 3000 men escorted over the border into Syria in the middle of the night by Turkish soldiers, presumably to reinforce ISIS. This follows previous reports that the old Berlin-Baghdad railway line is being used by the Turkish army to resupply ISIS. Protesters, some having travelled from distant parts of Turkey, are patrolling the border, watching out for Turkish soldiers helping ISIS recruits to cross the border. Some clashes have broken out, including near the Iraqi/Turkish border in Kurdistan. So the Turkish army does not have full control of the border, which means there is some hope that people can get in with ammunition and more weapons.

YPG forces from the next autonomous canton along to the east, Jazira, are also fighting ISIS around Serekani to try to get through to the west relieve the siege of Kobanê. On 30 September news agencies reported fighting around Rabia in Northern Iraq; it sounds as if peshmergas and YPG (Kurdish People’s Defence Forces) have jointly driven ISIS out of Rabia, which in theory will make it easier to clear ISIS out of the rest of Shengal and to allow Kurdish fighters to go from Iraq to Syria, into the Jazira autonomous area. This will allow reinforcements to Jazira, which will make the task of breaking through to the west more likely.

Public and diplomatic pressure on Turkey is key to restraining its actions around Kobanê. Far left leaders from Turkey including leaders of ODP (Freedom and Solidarity Party), EMEP (Labour Party) and HDP (People’s Democratic Party) visited a couple of days ago. Kurdish politicians from Turkey have visited several times. The Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leaders in Syria, in the Qandil mountains in Iraq, and in Turkey are calling for actions to demand that NATO restrain Turkey from helping ISIS in Kobanê. Kurds have been stepping up their demonstrations throughout Turkey and all over Europe, including occupying Schipol and Franfurt airports, and increasing numbers of hunger strikes, including outside the European Parliament, where Salih Müslim, co-chair of the PYD in Syria, is holding meetings with European politicians this week to ask them to put effective pressure on their governments to push Turkey to change its lethal support for ISIS. We need to support the Kurdish actions, as the situation in Kobanê is extremely serious, and predictably a deafening silence is coming from governments and most politicians around the coalition, as Turkey is a key ally, and imperialism does not like the radicalism of YPG in Syria or its ally PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party).

1 October 2014 Socialist Resistance

Footnotes

[1] Oxford Circus was closed this afternoon by Kurdish protestors demanding assistance for Kobane:Huffington Post.

 

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3649

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