Tuesday, 2 November 2010

One Born Every Minute

So said the American showman, Barnum. He should know. Every day, he had the evidence, in front of his eyes, of the large numbers of people who were taken in by the various con men at the local fairs, or who were prepared to willingly believe that what they saw in the numerous sideshows was actually real. That was what struck me watching BBC 2's programme last night Tea Party America. One of the leading lights, Fox News' Glenn Beck, is reported to have made $35 million. His self-righteous preaching, and inclination to bring forth tears every few minutes to punctuate the vacuousness, and cheesy content of his orations, is the stuff of dozens of self-styled evangelicals, who have got rich from putting on such shows, and coining it in from the masses. Barnum would have recognised the techniques only too well. Of course, in the US such showmanship fits well with a political system where no one has a chance unless they are multi-millionaires of getting elected, and where the lack of any political difference between the two parties has to be made up for in the vitriolic personal abuse that candidates whip up against each other through repeated glossy ads, and TV slots. It fits too, in a system where one of the main reasons for trying to get elected appears to be, far more than in Europe or elsewhere, motivated by the desire to use elected office to further your own personal gain. An example of that was a comment made by some contributors to the programme who said that following the last Presidential race, Sarah Palin had begun to coin it in, and one reason that she might not stand was that it would mean having to curtail her current activities.

Of course, the US has a history of this sort of thing, and it seems a very paradoxical situation that in the world's most technologically advanced society such a large number of people are susceptible to believing such complete drivel as that put out by the Christian fundamentalists about the origins of the Earth and of Man. There may be common roots to this. The term “Snake-Oil Salesmen”, is often used to describe politicians and others who put forward completely unsubstantiated, and fallacious ideas, but who, like a good con artist, have the charisma, the confidence, and the spiel to be able to convince enough gullible people of what they have to say. It is the stock in trade of the demagogue. But, as the con men say, to some extent people have to be susceptible to being conned, they have to want to believe the easy answers, to believe the get rich quick schemes, and so on. Con men, mostly succeed by playing upon people's weaknesses. That indeed, is what the real snake oil salesmen did. They travelled from town to town in their covered wagons, producing various bottles of potions that they were able to sell to gullible people with the promise that they would cure everything from baldness to impotency. Of course, the US is not the only place where there are such gullible people. You only have to look at the tens of thousands of people in Europe who waste lots of money on pointless trips to Lourdes to sample the snake oil solutions of the Catholic Church. Or look at the large numbers of people who believed that crop circles were the work of ET when it was obvious to anyone with a brain that they were the work of practical jokers, and farmers quick to recognise what Barnum had pointed out, and how easy it was to make a few quid. Even when some of those involved in producing the circles have come forward, and shown how they did it, there are plenty who prefer to believe that it is still the work of aliens, and still plenty of TV programmes ready to pander to their daft illusions.

But, the US does seem to have a concentration of people prepared to be gulled. It has the highest number of weird sects, and people prepared to look to all kinds of hokum than anywhere in the world. A look at the elections is an example. Could you imagine a candidate – other than perhaps someone from the Monster Raving Loonies – starting one of their election addresses with the words - “I am not a witch”. Yet that is precisely what Tea Party activist, and Republican candidate, Christine O' Donnell did, in Delaware. She was moved to make this comment, because, in the US, no candidate is ever likely to be elected if they are a known atheist. In fact, for Tea Party candidates, it is almost a necessity to be a Christian Fundamentalist. Some of its candidates have come out to oppose abortion even for women who have been raped, and sitting Republican candidates have been unseated by Tea Party insurgents, if their standing on these issues is not considered zealous enough. Oddly, they have many similarities with one of the things they are most opposed to the fundamentalist zealots of regimes like Iran. The problem for O'Donnell was that someone dug up a TV interview she did some year ago, no doubt also part of an attempt to gain media exposure, which is one of the quickest routes to fame and fortune in the US, in which she admitted to having been to a satanic ritual. This again seems to be one of the common features of all these snake oil salesmen, they tend to be deeply hypocritical. A large proportion of the TV evangelists, as well as living high on the hog – which none of the tens of thousands of frequently poor people, who send them money, seem to think is odd – have been found to be adulterers, drug addicts and so on. Yet, what is amazing is the willingness of the dupes to forgive them, when they are found out, and to continue sending them money!

Why might this be? Perhaps, one thing we should remember is the origins of the US itself. In Europe, from the Middle Ages onwards, the science that the Ancient world had developed, and which during the Dark Ages, had largely been kept alive in the civilisations in Persia, India, and other parts of Arabia and North Africa, began to be rediscovered and developed. It did so in a very contradictory manner. It was often religious scholars who were at the forefront of this development, or else it was people like Galileo or Da Vinci, who were themselves dependent upon the riches of the Church, or of Princes themselves inseparable from it. Yet, the discoveries they made, inevitably began to undermine the teachings of the Bible itself. It is not surprising that European religious dogma, began to develop in a pragmatic manner, and that religious divisions developed more on the basis of schisms based upon how to worship than on the basis of the absolute truth of the Holy Book. That process took a qualitative step forward during the Enlightenment, and it was upon that basis the the ground was already prepared during the 19th Century, alongside the industrial development, which itself imbued a scientific, and practical mindset in populations, for the ideas of Darwin etc. But, the Pilgrims who embarked on their voyage to the US, did so at a time when that process was only beginning. Moreover, the reason for their voyage was because they were not prepared to reconcile their own religious bigotry with the growing religious tolerance in Europe at the time. In other words, these were already people who were of that kind of gullible mindset, in which they could hold these irrational views with such conviction that they were prepared to relinquish all, and risk a hazardous journey rather than compromise, or to adopt that kind of pragmatism that was to mark religious development in Europe. And the conditions they landed in were conducive to reinforcing those ideas.

We don't really know where religious ideas come from. Marxists have tended to argue that the idea of a God is merely a reflection of Man. Man attempts to make sense of the world around him by externalising his own ideas. The idea of perfection is given a form in the shape of a God, almost always male, reflecting patriarchal society. Yet, anthropological research seems to indicate that the need for some kind of spirituality is deeper than this, and that one reason that rationality has been unable to defeat religious sentiments, is because it is this need for a spiritual existence that fulfils some inbuilt human need. Having said that it is clear that it is the attempt to provide explanations for what we find around us that provides a basis for the idea that the world and everything within it was created. Moreover, the greater the inability to exercise control over that world, the greater the temptation to rely upon some supernatural power to come to the rescue. When, the Pilgrims landed in America, the potential for their survival was not good. Had it not been for the Native Americans who provided them with food and Turkeys during their first Winter, they would have starved. It is all too easy to see how already impressionable people, having prayed for their salvation, would interpret the actions of the Native Americans, as being their prayers being answered by a merciful God. And, of course, that interpretation, is kept going going even today, because it is the basis of the US celebration of Thanksgiving.

And, of course, those very Native Americans lived in an environment where all of that development of European civilisation was missing. The Native Americans that the Pilgrims and those after them came across were not short of their own mysticism, their own Medicine Men, and snake oil salesmen. In fact, the later snake oil salesmen were able to latch on to that, and sell their remedies to a gullible public partly on the basis of selling old Indian remedies, just as today there are those prepared to buy small bottles of water on the belief that such homoeopathic solutions are in some way based on ancient traditional remedies. In almost all societies, religious ceremonies and beliefs have developed on the basis of a need to influence the weather, or other natural conditions in order to sustain agriculture, or food collection. Even by the time that the Pilgrims set off for the Americas, Europe was seeing the development of towns, and a growing influence of merchants. By the 18th Century, the application of scientific methods was beginning to occur in agriculture.

One of the reasons, according to Engels, that, other than in a few places, North American tribes did not develop beyond hunter-gathering is that there was no necessity. Huge tracts of land, with ample livestock, and available roots and other foodstuff, meant that, apart from occasional crises, food was readily available, and nomadic tribes could escape the worst of the weather if they so chose. But, those same factors meant that when Europeans, used to settled agriculture, moved there, they could quickly establish their own self-sufficient peasant farms, and communities. But, everywhere that this kind of peasant society exists and dominates we see the development deeply held religious convictions. In fact, the kinds of peasant farms and communities that developed across America are a close resemblance to the kinds of Libertarian peasant communities that Rousseau describes, and it is not surprising that they breed the kind of Libertarian ideas, of self-reliance that dominated the 18th century, and into the 19th. It is these factors that play into the ideology of the Tea Party movement.

Watching the various programmes on this movement, and reading some of the material about it, as well as having spent some time in the past debating with US Libertarians, there is, however, another aspect, which flows from this, and which has not been picked up on by many commentators other than peripherally. It is a factor that has some reflection within right-wing populism in Europe. It is that the Libertarians attack on the big state in the US, is not just about those things we tend to think about in the UK. It is not just about the Federal Government being involved in Healthcare, or its Tax take, or Welfare and so on. When the US Libertarians talk about the role of the Federal State what they are also addressing is the nature of the settlement achieved in the Civil War. The American Civil War, is usually portrayed as being all about a struggle against slavery. It was nothing of the kind. All wars are fought in the name of something completely different to what they are really about. If the real reasons were advanced, those that have to fight them would not go. The First World War was fought in the name of opposition to German militarism, the second on the basis of a fight against a fascism for which most western leaders had not long before displayed their admiration. Slavery fulfilled the same function in the American Civil War. The real reason for the war was to complete, the process of the bourgeois revolution that the War of Independence had begun but could not finish. It was a War waged by Northern Industrial Capitalism to create the kind of centralised nation state it required, and which required the assertion of its dominance over the individual states. The Libertarians argue this victory of the Federal State is essentially against the Constitution, and subsequent developments have simply continued that process of centralisation, and undermining of the Constitution. A look at the people who support the Libertarians, and in large part the Tea Party, shows that they are concentrated in those mid-western areas, where that old peasant lifestyle is still powerful, and amongst those sections of the middle classes where those Libertarian values of self-reliance can also be found. Not a few come from those sections of bourgeois society not directly dependent upon industry, the stock market traders, for instance. But, the irony, as with all ideology that is founded upon these kind of 18th Century values relevant to peasant economy, and societies, is that they are inimical to modern bourgeois society. Having fought a Civil War to create a centralised nation state, the industrial bourgeoisie in the US, and those other sections of Big Capital related to it, have no desire to see it, undermined by people whose ideas are drawn from the needs of a society long since confined to history.

The Tea Party is described by some of its supporters as a revolution, but what it really is, is an attempted counter-revolution to undo the achievements of the bourgeois revolution from the Civil War. Twenty years ago, faced with growing economic pressures, Yeltsin carried through a counter-revolution in Russia, as Stalinism was unable to resolve the contradictions of Soviet society. Today, the US, faced with similar economic pressures, is showing signs of similar coming apart at the seams, and of its own counter-revolution. As I wrote, in A Tale Of Contradictions, part of the reason for the problems facing Europe is precisely that it did not achieve the kind of transformation that the US did in its Civil War. It does not have a centralised Federal State, and Big Capital, which needs such a State, has not been prepared to wage the kind of struggle against the remnants of those reactionary ideas that is necessary to create such a state. It has preferred to proceed by bureaucratic means, which only act to build up the underlying contradictions, and to provide the seedbed for populists and demagogues to utilise those reactionary ideas. An example, of that is the agreement between the current British Government and the the French Government signed in the last couple of days to combine their military forces. This is a Tory Government that professes its opposition to EU federalism, and its general Euro-scepticism, yet the logic of this agreement is to bind the British State more closely to other EU states, the logic of which has to be the establishment of a single EU military force. But, rather than come out and argue for such a solution, which would mean confronting those reactionary ideas, it maintains the façade, and simply does a partial deal behind closed doors.

But, it is one thing not to be prepared to wage a determined struggle to carry through the bourgeois revolution consistently, and another to sit idly by, whilst a counter-revolution turns back the achievements of that revolution. We will have to see exactly what success the Tea Party has. Its already been said that Christine O'Donell looks set to lose what is traditionally a safe Republican seat, and other prominent Republicans have left the party to stand as Independents. The Tea Party do not have sufficient candidates to be able to exercise a majority even within the republican Party, let alone within Congress. But, they are openly talking about waging an extra-parliamentary struggle. Marxists in the US might need to dust off their copies of Permanent Revolution, and to examine Marx and Engels activity in the German Democrats. The Tea Party certainly seem to have learned some of those lessons in deciding to act as a wing of the Republicans rather than attempting to establish their own counter-revolutionary party.


Jacob Richter said...

"It is the stock in trade of the demagogue. But, as the con men say, to some extent people have to be susceptible to being conned, they have to want to believe the easy answers, to believe the get rich quick schemes, and so on."

"But, the US does seem to have a concentration of people prepared to be gulled."

Have you looked at the class composition of the "concentration of people prepared to be gulled?"

Because what I'm thinking here is a left approach that may be outlandish but necessary. I'd welcome an extensive debate on this.

Lassalle, Bebel, all the way down to Chavez were/are seen by some circles as "demagogues." According to Jules Guesde, there will always be more backward sections of the working class, where education and organization won't work.

In these cases, should agitation take on the form of conspiracy theories? Let's formulate conspiracy theories about all Chambers of Commerce, for example, as a way for conspiracy-theory workers to scapegoat the bourgeoisie instead of merely the "greedy bankers" and "corporate executives." Let's formulate conspiracy theories about all Federations of Small Businesses, for example, as a way for conspiracy-theory workers to shed any illusions in the petit-bourgeoisie and their rhetoric of being "homegrown, community-oriented, etc."

Boffy said...

I don't believe for a Marxist that if you want to defeat Religion you should turn your politics into a competing religion just because it is easier to win over religious workers by that means. The working class, like all other classes and social groups, is not homogenous. It has layers, and some workers will be more advanced etc than others, beause as Engels pointed out to Bloch every individual is subject to a myriad of different experiences that shape their will, not just the experience of belonging to a particular economic class.

But, the answer to those sections of the class who are more susceptible to being gulled by demagogues and others, is not to accommodate to that, but to address the basic material foundations. That is why Marx placed such an emphasis on education, and not just any old education, but an education provided by workers themselves independent of Church and State, and connected to the day to day material conditions of work.

The basic premise of Socialism is that ultimately workers can only arrive at a fully rounded Socialist and then Communist ideology under the material conditions that will prevail under Socialism and Communism. They will only fully shed the ideas of individualism, for instance, that lead to the idea that the choices forced on them by material shortage preclude the idea of "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need", when all material shortage has disappeared, i.e. until that time Bourgeois Right will continue, and individuals will retain a bourgeois mentality, and the State will continue to be a bourgeois State enforcing that Bourgeois Right.

But, Marx and Lenin make clear that this is a dialectical understanding. The Bourgeois State, bourgeois ideology even after the victory of the bourgeoisie were no more pure, but in a process of becoming. Even today the bourgeois revolution and victory over feudal ideas has not been completed. That in part is the reason that these reactionary ideas continue. For their victory Big Capital would have to make an alliance with the working-class to complete the bouregois revolution against those sections of the middle classes and small Capital who act as the reservoirs of these ideas from feudalism. But, that is not going to happen. The task will fall to workers alone.

But, precisely because of this dialectical understanding, the task of changing those material conditions cannot be left until "after the revolution". The social revolution is a process not an event. It is now, and the speed and success of that revolution depends upon the conscious intervention into the process by Marxists. As a dialectical process the success we have in changing material condiitons by advocating independent working-class organisation and action - be it establishing Co-operative factories, establishing Co-operative democratic forms within estates, establishing independent workers schools, however, primitive to begin with, and so on, changes workers consciousness, and in the process builds the forces within the working class to change those material condiitons even more. Oddly, by such a process it will be some of those more "backward" elements who may be more quickly developed, precisely because large swathes of the working-class have been deformed by a debilitating reliance and dependency upon the State. I find the resistance of many workers in the US to the idea of State Healthcare a positive. Their hostility to the bouregois state is precisely what many Marxists claims to want to promote within workers. We should rejoice in their hostility to the bouregois State, and distrust of it, rejoice in the fact that they retain the spirit of independence and self-reliance, and build upon it to build collective working-class solidarity, and collective-self reliance. It is the failure to do that, which enables the Right to access these "backward" workers.

Jacob Richter said...

I'll respond to your post separately. I just wanted to remark that you've inadvertently continued an older topic by another poster:

http://www.revleft.com/vb/does-far-left-t131472/index.html ("Does the far left need its own Glenn Beck")

The poster who replied just before I did said:

"Who slanders the right with misleading comments, out of context quotes, half-truths and lies.

As a tactical maneuver, yes. But also, representatives of the left should distance themselves from such figure."

Then I came in and said (with rep points for my two cents):

"This thread shows the disconnect between agitation and education.

I'm OK with having a bad cop 'demagogue' or two with agitational skills, so long as such persons are subordinated to more educated elements."

Then another poster said humourously:

"The problem isn't that the left doesn't have loudmouthed idiots. The problem is that our loudmouth idiots don't get the same platform to air their views as Glenn Beck."

Jacob Richter said...

Now, for my own non-FYI response:

"But, the answer to those sections of the class who are more susceptible to being gulled by demagogues and others, is not to accommodate to that, but to address the basic material foundations."

The suggested worker demagogy does address basic material foundations. Material foundations helped set the stage for Hitler's rise to power, but it was the added rhetorical edge to the Nazi scapegoating that pushed him and his gang over the finish line.

A national Chamber of Commerce is the main lobby group of the bourgeoisie. Now just extend the "conspiracy" from a mere cabal (the leadership and bureaucracy of the Chamber) to the funders and "fellow travellers," and you've got a different but more backward-appealing way of saying "bourgeoisie."

[There are also associations for big investor advocacy, but they have not yet replaced Chambers of Commerce as the main lobbying vehicle for the bourgeoisie.]

I'm saying all of this because *traditional* left agitation hasn't worked. It looks too plain, dull, dry, and so on.

In education I do think there's lots of room for improvement, but again education is separate from agitation.

Boffy said...

You are right education is separate from agitation, but agitation should merely be a condensed popularised version of the content of the education not contrary to it! You are also right that, in general, the Left damagogues do not get the same stage as the Right demagogues such as Beck. To be honest, I can only be thankful of that fact.

The truth is that the Left demagogues such as Chavez, Galloway and even a Crow and so on do immense damage to an already immensely damaged Left. The less publicity these people get, for my money the better.

Jacob Richter said...

You call Chavez a demagogue? WTF?

[Oh, and I don't consider Galloway and Crow to be demagogues. One is a clown, while the other is too damn try in his speeches.]

Boffy said...

Yes, of course I describe Chavez as a demagogue! A look at some of the reactionaries he is involved with, such as Ahmedinejad - who even Castro has now attacked for his awful reactionary politics and anti-semitism - demonstrates that like Galloway and otehr demagogues, he is driven not by political principle, but purely opportunism, and an attempt to latch on to any kind of populist bandwagon - populist in this case only to the extent of a bandwagon of unthinking "anti-imperialism", amongst a large section of largely petit-bourgeois "Leftists" who having given up on the working-class have instead made their focus a whole series of "movements" from Third Worldism to Environmentalism whose politics are usually anti-working class, and definitiely anti-socialist, but which have the attraction for sects looking for soem justification for their existence, and attempts to recruit to their organisations of appearing "oppositional". They focus only on what they opposed to, and ignore the reactionary objectives these movements are for!

That is part of the central problem of your politics of "agitation" against whatever you are against, rather than a politics of building a positive movement for Socialism. Galloway may be a clown, but he got elected. Demagogues often are clownish. In fact, the behavious of Chavez at the UN had many aspects of clownism to it.

Jacob Richter said...

Chavez's dealings with Ahmedinejad are no different from Soviet Russia's dealings with Ataturk while he butchered Turkish communists.

"They focus only on what they opposed to, and ignore the reactionary objectives these movements are for!"

Liberal "democracy" did that too during the Cold War. The European imperialists did that with Hitler, too. It's called realpolitik. Why are you applying a double standard to those who identify themselves to be on the left?

My approach to the dealings with Iran is this: keep it to the level of state relations and do not involve the PSUV. Unfortunately, the PCV has been egging Chavez to do this in his "Fifth Socialist International" construction effort. If Chavez goes down this road, well:


The potential for a new workers’ international in between the two proposals (ie, ideologically positioned like the International Working Union of Socialist Parties) as a result of bold initiative on the part of Die Linke’s international commission, headed by Oskar Lafontaine.

Beyond this letter, I should note that "in between" refers to being in between ultra-left ambitions for the pareconist Participatory Socialist International to be a World Social Forum Mark II (anti-partyism) and the FSI being on the opportunist right on "anti-imperialist" geopolitical issues (most notably the Iranian regime).

P.S. - There's a difference between being folksy and being clownish:

"The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of... Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the President of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world."

Boffy said...

To be honest I'm amazed that a principled socialist let alone a Marxist would have to ask the question why we should expect the leaders of Socialist organisations to be more principled than bourgeois politicians!!!!

There is also a massive difference between having to "deal" with the heads of state of reactionary regimes, and giving support to them! The only purpose there would for spedning time and energy trying to build a new "International" would be if this International actually stood on the solid ground of a revolutionary programme. The reality is that none of the individuals or organisations involved in these ventures have even decent principled socialist politics, let alone revolutionary socialist politics.

They remind me of the front organisations such as the Peasants International, and so on that the Stalintern set up.

Jacob Richter said...

"To be honest I'm amazed that a principled socialist let alone a Marxist would have to ask the question why we should expect the leaders of Socialist organisations to be more principled than bourgeois politicians!!!!"

Did I ask such a thing???

"There is also a massive difference between having to "deal" with the heads of state of reactionary regimes, and giving support to them!"

Guess what:


It's my position on the Iranian regime as it is now and nuclear weapons.

"The reality is that none of the individuals or organisations involved in these ventures have even decent principled socialist politics, let alone revolutionary socialist politics."

I beg to differ. One of them said personally that "we want to overthrow capitalism." Something like the Second International but with only pacifists at the most right-wing would be a great improvement over the lack of organization now. Hence my reference to the International Working Union of Socialist Parties, which had Bernstein and not Ebert at the most right-wing.

It's not revolutionary, but it is principled.

Boffy said...

You appeared to justify the unprincipled politics of left demagogues by referring to the actions of unprincipled bouregois politicians. My standard is neither but that of a principled socialist.

I wasn't asking about your own position, but that of Chavez, which you were defending. Whatever you think socialists attitude to reactionary regimes like Iran should be the point is that Chavez supports butchers like Ahmedinejad. Not only should principled socialists have no truck with acting as apologists for such people, but they should be the most principled opponents of them!

Saying you want to overthrow Capitalism does not at all signify that you have principled politics. Pol Pot claimed he wanted to overthrow Capitalism too. If something similar to the Second International existed it would indeed be a big step forward. But, the Second International represented tens of millions of people. These organisation represent nothing other than the handful of unprincipled demagogues and their hangers on. The closest thing we actually have to the Second International remains the various mass workers parties across the globe that do still represent hundreds of millions of workers, and continue to organise millions of them alongside the Trades Unions.

That is why the task of Marxists is not to demean themselves by acting as foot soliders of those unprincipled demagogues, but to associate themselves with the millions of workers in those workers parties, and trades unions - despite and against their leaders - in order to follow the advice of Marx and particularly Engels of goin in for real movement, and attempting to get the class to move together as a class.

Jacob Richter said...

"You appeared to justify the unprincipled politics of left demagogues by referring to the actions of unprincipled bouregois politicians."

I guess this goes back to the original point of the article, if you are indeed referring to my remarks on conspiracy theories.

Chavez is in no logistical position to really support Ahmadinejad (and more importantly those who wield real power), and vice versa. Forgive me for not being clearer on this earlier. Relations with Iran on the level of state relations isn't enough for support. Now maybe Chavez is trying to change this by first trying this out with ex-sovkhoz director and now-Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, but even there the attempt at genuine support has logistical issues (oil transport).

On the level of political parties, however, the hurdles to support are much lower. I'm sure that's concerning to you, and it sure as hell is concerning to me. The PCV suggestion of turning the Fifth Socialist International into an "anti-imperialist" international is absurd, to say the least.

Speaking of Ahmadinejad, I'm sure he's personally involved in repressing worker strikes there, which is to be opposed. Chavez might not be aware of this, though, because of the information he gets specifically on foreign relations.

"Saying you want to overthrow Capitalism does not at all signify that you have principled politics."

Oskar Lafontaine, whom I consider to be a political Uncle of mine, bolted out of the SPD and radicalized outside of a revolutionary period. It took lesser issues for "Onkel Oskar" to bolt out than the continuance of WWI, unlike his political equivalent back in the day, Hugo Haase.

I've seen his speeches, and "Red Oskar" emphasizes key things:

1) Capitalizing on popular resentment with the financial sector, to the point of calling for bank nationalizations
2) Staunch opposition to liberal labour market reform
3) The inclusion of political strikes and general strikes within a democratic framework, plus anti-lobbyist rhetoric
4) Peace and foreign policy, through replacing NATO with a European collective security framework inclusive of Russia, and in the here and now opposing attempts to turn the Bundeswehr into an interventionist army (such as in Afghanistan)

And he's in the fight against Ossi coalitionists who'd sell out their own moms for bourgeois cabinet positions.

That's hardly the politics of a demagogue. I prefer him over Hugo Chavez because of the "anti-imperialism" question.

"The closest thing we actually have to the Second International remains the various mass workers parties across the globe that do still represent hundreds of millions of workers, and continue to organise millions of them alongside the Trades Unions."

Not quite. Today's "Socialist International" is hardly as radical as the original Socialist International, hence the need for a new world workers organization. I've been in correspondence with the World Federation of Trade Unions, and my criticism of it is its unwillingness to become a World Federative Trade Union.

Boffy said...

Are you actually being serious with any of these comments? Are you really asking us to beleive that Chavez does not even have the political nouse or even information that an ordinary worker has? Are you asking us to believe that he does not have the information about Ahmedinejad's comments about the Holocaust that Castro has? Is Venezuelan State TV so biased that it does not cover the issue of the stoning to death of women in Iran?

To be honest the rest of your comments do not rise to much higher level to be worth my time responding to.