Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Antonio Negri: Diary of an Escape – Review

“The recent days have shown the enormous gap that exists between our capacity to produce truth and the court’s inert expression of its unbelievable desire to repress it.” Antonio Negri.

Diary of an Escape is Antonio Negri’s version of truth. Negri was accused of conspiring with the Red Brigades, of creating conditions for an insurrection in Italy, as well as charged with seventeen murders and the murder of Aldo Moro, which he deems, “A high level accusation, sustained by lies, and one which cannot be criticized once it has been consecrated by justice.”

Placed in preventive detention for four years, Negri was released from prison in July 1983, after being elected to the House of Representatives. His release and foray into politics created a frenzied debate, which was exploited by the media. A few months later, he was stripped of parliamentary immunity and took up residence in France.

Negri’s book is at once a narration of philosophy, politics and personal memoir. Departing from Marxism as opposed to oppressive democracy, the concepts of truth, justice and exile resonate throughout the book. The experience of the oppressed political prisoner divests the courts of their own web of rationality, exposing the system, which upholds the semblance of justice. Negri portrays justice as a procedure, which disrupts the reason behind the trial.

The necessity of vilifying communism went beyond the objectives of the trial. A spectator as well as participant, Negri discerns the court’s motives; the mandatory expectation of morality to be upheld through the immoral culture of power. The court’s sanctioning of the ‘pentiti’ – people in the communist movement who defected to gain some semblance of immunity from prosecution was a reminder that courts consider themselves to be above all definitions of justice. “…this is just what one would expect: that corruption, dissolution and decadence should give each other a deformed reflection in this infamy.”

Justice manages to deform reality beyond its own illusion. “Democratic prison and democratic political trials – democratic exploitation.” The consequences of conspiracy charges tarnish the eloquence of language and actions. Viewed from the democratic bench of justice, truth and exile become terms, which represent a distorted image of the oppressed person’s reality. To the political prisoner, truth is entwined within the revolutionary struggle – it is not to be separated, forged or diminished because to do so would mean annihilating the concept of revolution. Truth was the weapon, which flung the conspiracy theories back to the mahogany benches.

Once released from prison, Negri hardly had time to savour freedom. Each time he visited his comrades in prison, whom he had left with the promise of campaigning for their release, they urged him to flee Italy – the threat of re-arrest remained relevant. Negri ponders the spectrum of freedom and exile.

Once stripped of immunity, he decides to flee to France out of the desire to safeguard his freedom from the hypocrisy of the courts. Also, Negri realises that mediation with regard to political prisoners is destined to fail. Here again, exile is destined to be mangled by the court’s power. But for the political prisoner, exile is a means of regeneration. An escape which defies the torture of corrupt justice and, even then, it is a last resort, when one realises that to remain within the confines of a country results in deterioration of identity. Therefore, exile is preservation of freedom, a transformation of survival.

Through the book, Negri maintains the fact that courts are frequently irrational and out of contact with society. Due to the strict interpretation of defining guilt and innocence within their own parameters, as well as within the laws that function in favour of power, resistance, especially Marxist and communist ideologies of resistance are considered subversive and therefore negativity accumulates in their regard. With the distinct ideology of class struggle, justice is tasked with forging a strategy, which seeks to accommodate society. It fails to identify the minorities or else seeks to engulf them through forced assimilation.

Negri’s language and philosophy is brimming with revolutionary consciousness. In a simpler reflection towards the end of the book, the regeneration of ideals and humanity is pondered upon, as a means to combat the cycle of vengeance found in the halls of justice and oppressive politics. “There is no struggle between nature and liberty – there is a continuity of struggle and of continuous building, of the one and the other.”

Irish Left Review

July 29, 2011

Antonio Negri, Diary of an Escape. Polity Press, 2010.


North Atlantic Alliance of Neo-Fascists

Common to the informal North Atlantic neo-fascist coalition is the hatred of Islam, the radical opposition to immigration and to multicultural society, the belief in white racial supremacy and in Christian fundamentalism, the unconditional support of Israel, sympathies for the U.S. ‘Tea Party’ movement, and contempt for democratic institutions.

Sympathetic to these neo-fascist groups are extreme right wing parties functioning in practically all European countries, from the Norwegian Progress Party, the Sweden Democrats, the True Fins, and the Danish People’s Party, to the French Front National (FN), and the Italian Lega Nord. The perpetrator of the massacre on Jul. 22 was a long-standing member of the Norwegian Progress Party.

Further evidence of the pervasiveness of extremist right wing views is the fact that 14 of the 27 countries represented in the European Parliament have at least one MP who defends xenophobic views and calls for stern anti-immigration policies.

While some of the parties – such as the FN in France, the Freedom Party in Austria, and the Lega Nord in Italy – have a relative long history, most of them were founded in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in reaction to the growing multiethnic character of European communities and to immigration, especially of Muslims.

Leaders of all these parties and groups, including the Norwegian Progress Party, are trying to disassociate themselves from the mass murders in Oslo and on Utoya Island.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, who has reached global notoriety thanks to his speeches against Islam, and who recently faced legal proceedings under charges of instigating racism and for having called Mohamed “a child abuser”, described Behring Breivik as “a psychic ill, violent man”. Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate of the French FN, also called the Norwegian killer “a crazy guy”.

Siv Jensen, head of the Norwegian Progress Party, called Behring’s deed “abhorrent” and said her party was “an innocent victim” of the tragedy.

All these parties have become popular in their respective countries precisely for attacking migration policies, and for expressing openly racist views. Typical of these parties is the Swedish Democrats’ repeated description of Sinti and Roma and other minorities as “parasites”; and immigration, multiculturalism, and Islam as “Europe’s worst dangers”.

Meanwhile, blogs and Internet forums expressing extreme right wing views emerged practically simultaneously with the popularisation of the Internet, and multiplied and became stronger after the terror attacks against New York and Washington in Sep. 2001.

“Right wing extremists were among the first political groups to use the new media,” said Rick Eaton, researcher for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. “The first neo-Nazi website ‘Stormfront’ appeared 1995, that is shortly after the emergence of the World Wide Web. By now, there are more than 10,000 forums and blogs on the Internet in the U.S.”

Contrary to the established parties, the moderators of extremist right wing forums and blogs adopted an ambiguous position towards Behring Breivik. The German forum Politically Incorrect (PI), which describes itself as “a bastion against Islam”, endorsed Behring’s 1,500-page strong manifesto saying, “Most of what he writes could be published in this forum”.

Elsewhere, though, PI calls Behring “a psychopath” and his crime “an abhorrent, inhuman deed”.

At the same time, some of the authors who publish their views in such forums tried to trivialise the mass murder in Oslo and Utoya. “While some 17,000 terror attacks by Islamist groups have killed more than one million people, one single Christian terror attack just killed 90,” one author wrote in another blog. The author also called the mass murder of Oslo and Utoya “the beginning of the civil war against Islam in Europe”.

Such forums “set the blaze for [racist] violence, even though they do not explicitly call for terror acts,” said political scientist Sabine Schiffer who is a researcher on anti-Islamic movements and media and the director of the German Institute for Media Responsibility. “The repetition of phrases such as ‘when will we [Europeans] start to defend ourselves’, or ‘let’s do something against Islam in Europe’,” constitute an implicit appeal to terror, she said.

Schiffer is joining political leaders in calling for a redefinition of freedom of expression, to “set a clear line between legitimate criticism and commentary and racial and religious hatred,” she said.

But some conservative politicians are using the mass murder in Oslo and Utoya to repeat past calls to censor Internet. “The mass killings in Norway were born in the Internet,” said Hans Peter Uhl, who is in charge of home security for the conservative Christian Social Union party. “Although Behring appears to be a lonely killer, he had numerous contacts with likeminded people through the Internet.”

“What should the state do in such cases, when there is a clear violation of laws that criminalise sedition and racial hatred,” Uhl asked. “Should we be perplexed in the face of such crimes? No, we must better control the Internet,” he said.

Eaton warned that the attacks in Oslo and Utoya “surely were not the last acts of terror in the name of the armed fight against Islam”.


Julio Godoy


July 27, 2011


Glasgow: The battle of George Square (1919)

On Friday 31 January 1919 upwards of 60,000 demonstrators gathered in George Square in support of the 40-hours strike and to hear the Lord Provost’s reply to the workers’ request for a 40-hour week. Whilst the deputation was in the building the police mounted a vicious and unprovoked attack on the demonstrators, felling unarmed men and women with their batons. The demonstrators, with the ex-servicemen to the fore, quickly retaliated with fists, iron railings and broken bottles, and forced the police into a retreat.

On hearing the noise from the square the strike leaders, who were meeting with the Lord Provost, rushed outside to restore order. One of the leaders, David Kirkwood, was felled to the ground by a police baton, and along with William Gallacher was arrested by the police.

After the initial confrontation between the demonstrators and the police in George Square, further fighting continued in and around the city centre streets for many hours afterwards. The Townhead area of the city and Glasgow Green, where many of the demonstrators had regrouped after the initial police charge, was the scene of running battles between police and demonstrators.

In the immediate aftermath of ‘Bloody Friday’, as it became known, other leaders of the Clyde Workers’ Committee were also arrested, including Emanuel Shinwell, Harry Hopkins and George Edbury.

Government concerns about industrial militancy and revolutionary political activity in Glasgow reached new heights after the events of 31 January 1919. Fears within government of a workers’ revolution in Glasgow led to the deployment of troops and tanks in the city.

An estimated 10000 English troops in total were sent to Glasgow in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of George Square. This was in spite of a full battalion of Scottish soldiers being stationed at Maryhill barracks in Glasgow at the time. No Scottish troops were deployed, with the government fearing that fellow Scots, soldiers or otherwise, would go over to the workers side if a revolutionary situation developed in Glasgow.

On 10 February 1919 the 40-hours strike was called off by the Joint Strike Committee. Whilst not achieving their stated aim of a 40-hour working week, the striking workers from the engineering and shipbuilding industries did return to work having at least negotiated an agreement that guaranteed them a 47-hour working week; 10 hours less than they were working prior to the strike.

Red Clydeside
July 26, 2011

Europe: Rising Extreme Right-Wing Ideology

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) has expressed its utter condemnation of the bombing and mass murder that took place in Oslo and surroundings last Friday, resulting in the violent death of more than 90 innocent civilians.

“As it appears that the main perpetrator of those horrible acts is linked to and influenced by the extreme-right ideology, ENAR urges the European mainstream political leadership to consider this as an urgent wakeup call,” it said in a statement.

“Indeed, most of the people from the European majority community have remained relatively insensitive to the numerous victims of extreme-right movements that often stemmed from minority communities: Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Roma, among others,” it noted.

“However, the Oslo killings dreadfully demonstrate that extreme-right ideologies are a danger for the whole society and not only for minorities. Anyone can become victim to the violence of extreme-right fanatics, intent on wiping out diversity from our societies,” it warned.

ENAR is a network of NGOs working to combat racism in all EU member states and represents more than 700 NGOs spread around the European Union.

Political leaders who shamelessly borrow from the extreme-right narratives with a view to winning some of the extreme-right electorate not only trivialize the heritage of democracy but also share responsibilities for extreme-right violence in Europe, it added.

European Network Against Racism (ENAR)


July 26, 2011

Storming the Prison: Bastille

The storming of the Bastille is the beginning of the French Revolution. No longer are the angry peasants defying local lords, but are now striking at the symbolic heart of the monarchy. The Bastille, a hated emblem of control and domination, becomes the war cry for hundreds of thousands of scorned and maltreated people.

Taken from the French word ‘bastide’, meaning fortress, the Bastille is constructed to defend the eastern wall of Paris from hostile forces in 1382. With walls over eighty feet high and well-stocked and supplied arsenal, the Bastille quickly gathers the reputation as a secure military strongpoint.

Under Cardinal Richelieu, acting under King Louis XIII, prisoners are arrested by a secret warrant called a lettres-de-cachet. Not allowed a trail tells what their offence is, or what their punishment is to be. These enemies of the King are quickly taken away and imprisoned in one of the many high towers of the Bastille.

Famous prisoners include Voltaire and Marquis de Sade, well-known French writers.

When prisoners are released from the walls of the Bastille, they are allowed to go only if they agree never to tell what they had seen or what had happened inside the feared prison. This lack of knowledge about the Bastille helps to create a mystique of horror and terror that the King could use to coerce the people.

In 1789, when people break through the walls and storm the Bastille they find only seven prisoners inside: four forgers, two lunatics, and a young noble. However, it was not to free the prisoners inside that the battle is fought. Instead, it is to bring down the single most important symbol of the King’s power.

The Governor of the Bastille, De Launay, has his head cut off and paraded around the streets of Paris on a pike.

Since 1880, July 14th, Bastille Day has been celebrated to commemorate the storming of the Bastille and the end of the French monarchy.

Commmunist Party of Greece (KKE) denounces persecutions in Denmark for “supporting terrorism”

The KKE denounces the particularly dangerous persecution and the judicial decision of the Danish authorities to sentence to 6 months imprisonment without parole Anton Nielsen, president of the Resistance Fighters’ Organization “Horserød Stutthof Foreningen”, a member of FIR ( International Federation of Resistance Organizations) and Viggo Joergensen cadre of the Construction Workers’ Union of Denmark on the charge of “supporting terrorism”. This dangerous indictment is a political persecution and considers people’s organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to be terrorist organizations. Their conviction, which constitutes the implementation of the modern terror laws promoted by the EU and the plutocracy of every country and their governments, must not pass.

The anti-imperialist struggle, the solidarity to the struggle of every people to determine their own future cannot be criminalized, the peoples themselves must call into question the power of the monopolies in every country and render the European terror laws useless as well as every bourgeois mechanism of repression of the popular movement.


International Section of the CC of KKE


Die KKE verurteilt die Verfolgungen in Dänemark wegen “Unterstützung des Terrorismus”

Die KKE denunziert die besonders gefährliche Verfolgung und das Urteil der dänischen Behörde, das den Vorsitzenden des Verbandes der Widerstandkämpfer, Horserød Stutthof Foreningen (Mitglied der Internationalen Föderation der Widerstandskämpfer) Anton Nielsen und das Kader der Bauarbeitergewerkschaft Viggo Joergensen zu 6 Monate Haft ohne Strafaufschub mit der Anklage „der Unterstützung des Terrorismus“ verurteilt hat. Diese gefährliche Anklage ist eine politische Verfolgung und betrachtet die Volksorganisationen wie die Revolutionäre Streitkräfte Kolumbiens (FARC) und das Volksfront zur Befreiung Palästinas als terroristische Organisationen. Ihre Verurteilung, welche die modernen Terrorgesetze umsetzt, die von der EU, der Plutokratie in jedem Land und ihrer Regierungen gefördert sind, soll ohne Erfolg bleiben.

Der antiimperialistische Kampf, der Kamp jedes Volkes um seine Zukunft selbst zu bestimmen kann nicht kriminalisiert werden. Das Volk in jedem Land wird die Macht der Monopole in Frage stellen und die EU-Terrorgesetze und jede bürgerliche Mechanismus für die Unterdrückung der Volksbewegung unbrauchbar machen.


Internationale Abteilung des ZK der KKE


Europe Sowing the Seeds of Hunger

Europe is facing a hungry future unless it changes agricultural policies and makes farmers the main participants in agriculture research, a new report has found. And there is little hope of meeting Europe’s recently announced goal of reducing the loss of biodiversity in ten years without making those changes.

France is suffering a severe drought but Europe’s seed laws prevent farmers from using a wider variety of seeds that could help them cope, says Michel Pimbert of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), non-profit research institute based in London.

“Our seed laws enforce uniformity. France can only plant approved seeds and those new varieties need a lot of water,” Pimbert, the author of the report told IPS.

“Farmers’ freedom to choose the seeds they plant and to use them to develop improved crop varieties and biodiversity-rich farming will be key to Europe’s response to climate change,” says Pimbert.

“Europe’s agriculture policies are preventing us from adapting to climate change. They are also bad for biodiversity since they force farmers to use an increasingly narrow range of seeds and animal breeds,” he says.

Farmers are handcuffed by a system of seed laws that enforce uniformity and protect patents and intellectual property. In practice this means only the most advanced varieties can be sold on the market. But under intellectual property laws this means farmers must pay for the right to use patented genes and proprietary technologies, mostly owned by large corporations.

Scientists are in the same trap and unable to utilise the full range of seed diversity, says Pimbert.

The net result is dramatic reduction in genetic diversity across a wide variety of crops, finds the Farm Seed Opportunities report released earlier this month. The report is based on findings of the EU-funded Farm Seed Opportunities project, which includes public-sector research institutes, peasant networks and organic farmers’ associations from six European countries.

Experts agree that diversity can build resilience in a food production system that will be hard hit by climate change. A diverse combination of plants, trees and animals doubled the yields in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the last ten years according to a recent report by Olivier De Schutter, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food. De Schutter calls this form of agriculture ‘agro-ecology’. Not only does agro-ecology produce more food at lower cost, it improves the health of the soil and also dramatically lowers farming’s carbon footprint.

“It is fair to say that between 45 and 50 percent of all human emissions of global warming gases come from the current form of food production,” De Shutter said in a previous IPS interview.

The current global food production system is “threatening to kill us all,” writes biologist and author Colin Tudge, in the report’s foreword. “The kind of farming that makes most money in the shortest time is absolutely at odds with the kind of farming that could feed us, and that could continue to feed us,” Tudge writes.

Agro-ecological farming works the way nature works, with a wide variety of living things acting synergistically. There is much evidence demonstrating that such methods produce more food and are more sustainable, he says.

Europe’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is a success but only in terms of making money for large agri-business corporations and producing large quantities of food at the cost of enormous carbon emissions, pollution, degradation of farmland, dramatic cuts in the numbers of farmers and dumping cheap food onto poor countries, undercutting their farmers says Pimbert. The average age of a farmer in the UK is over 60. “There is a fraction of the number of farmers in western Europe, they all been replaced by machines and captial.”

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is the European Union’s system of agricultural subsidies and programmes and is to be reformed in 2013. Currently the CAP is driven by neo-liberal economic policies and that has been a failure, says Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food International.

“Every community should have the right to choose what to produce without being subjected to external influences dictated by international markets,” Petrini said in a statement.

Strengthening support for local farmers must be part of the new CAP, says José Bové, French farmer, activist and vice-president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. “If rural communities do not have the chance to take hold of their destiny, then the situation cannot improve,” Bové said in a statement.

The new CAP needs to shift research and policy priorities from a near exclusive focus on monocultures to whole farm agro ecological approaches and to safeguard the biological diversity upon which our food supplies depend, says Pimbert. “Scientists are not trained to deal with complex systems, so that’s a challenge.” Farmers also need to be central in that effort with the freedom to exchange seeds and utilise diversity he says.

As it stands today Europe is ill-prepared to cope with climate change. “So far we’ve been buffered from significant impacts but what is coming is beyond our experience,” concludes Pimbert.

Stephen Leahy
LEIPZIG, Germany

May 26, 2011