Macron’s Victory is Not a Relief

When Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen in the French election on May 7th, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Macron was not the best candidate, but the danger of Marine Le Pen’s fear-mongering, hard-right politics was the overriding priority. The Economist, a prestigious magazine which leans towards right-of-centre political narratives, tweeted an article about the French election to the effect that Macron’s success proved that pro-European, centrist, ‘reasonable’ politics was still capable of challenging and defeating the troubling phenomenon of nationalist populism. The mainstream Left, as well as the centre, took heart from this in their own way – in the era of Trump and Brexit, a victory for ‘reason’ and ‘moderation’ is something positive.

To me, such thinking is dangerous. It is a matter of course that Marine Le Pen’s brand of neofascism must be opposed – the glorification of an abstract concept of French national identity, often drawing on narratives of an idealised past which never existed for the majority of French, can only lead to the effective criminalisation of ‘difference’, not to mention the dehumanisation of large sections of France’s own population (migrant workers, people of colour, political progressives, etc.). It ends up tearing families apart, boosting the legitimacy of belligerent racism, and providing both a shield and a sword for the very cold, impersonal financial institutions it claims to oppose.

However, rallying around Macron’s style of politics is not the answer. Macron’s ‘pro-European centrism’ is not the heartening response to far-right populism that The Economist would like it to be. On the contrary, it is the very same neoliberalism whose failure to adequately manage the social tensions & polarisation generated by de-industrialisation, sweeping privatisation and the swollen importance of the speculative and unpredictable financial sector produced Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage & Donald Trump in the first place. In other words, Macron is not the response to Le Pen – Le Pen is the response to decades of ‘Macron’, or of Macron’s economic politics.

You cannot cure the symptoms of a disease by perpetuating its cause. Today’s neofascism and neoliberal centrism are not the polar opposites which the prevalent political & media narratives make them out to be. They are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. If we continue with the already tired narrative that the only alternative to the ‘ultra-ideological’, populist zealotry of the far-right is the apolitical and technocratic centre, then that is what we will be reduced to in every election – we will not be able, we will not even allow ourselves to think about politics as an exercise in questioning society or mass participation (whether belligerent, as in the case of social movements, or tacit as in the case of voting) in leading society in a certain direction. Politics will become a bland matter of fear and hysteria – fear of immigrants, of finance, of difference represented by the Marine Le Pens of our respective countries, and fear of fear, fear of ideology, fear of fascism, represented by our Macrons. As far as I am concerned, this is a bleak prospect. It is neither politics nor democracy, but spectacle, and as a spectacle is how it should be treated.

Throwing our support behind the Macrons of this world is no way to put the Le Pens in their graves and bury their threat. Many have already said, “Macron 2017 = Le Pen 2022”. Even if a Le Pen doesn’t win in 2022, we will again be faced with the false choice, a neoliberal technocrat or a neofascist. My view is that we should be brave enough to refuse to participate in this spectacle, which does not empower people, which does not “grant people a voice through their vote” but, on the contrary, exerts the moral and political pressure of fear and hysteria on them – which makes it very easy for the supposedly democratic institution of universal suffrage to become the plaything of obscure and dubious forces in the realms of ‘high politics’ that most people (no matter the ‘respectable’ newspapers they read) neither see nor understand.

To reject this false choice, this false ‘politics’ and refuse to legitimate it by casting a vote is not laziness or apathy, but an act of courage, the only truly political act within the limits of electoral politics one can make these days. What is needed is not to champion the neoliberal, whether Macron or Hillary, whose platform (we are seeing in the United States) is often adopted in large part by the ‘hideous’ neofascist candidate anyway – what is needed is a popular, strong, viable left-wing alternative capable of overturning politics as we know it. This might sound grandiose, idealistic, even naïve, but sometimes, the ‘big’ and ‘radical’ solutions really are the only ‘realistic’ ones.

Labour from the Left…

The Labour Party is heading into its first election under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a host of left-wing groups are rallying in its support. Momentum, which describes itself as a “grassroots campaigning network” says that it’s “mobilising the mass campaigning movement that we need to get Labour into government”, while the Socialist Workers’ Party (whose _1aSWPsigns & slogans are a familiar sight at protests) believes that “an insurgent Labour election campaign” can defeat Theresa May’s government and boost the fortunes of Britain’s scattered Left. Even the Communist Party has said that it will field no candidates and throw what little support it has behind Labour.

However, in spite of the support it can count on from students (55% of whom apparently plan to vote Labour) and left-wing activists, Labour’s electoral prospects are looking bleak. Opinion polls are predicting a landslide victory for the Conservatives on June 8th, and although such polling has lost a lot of credibility lately, the results of the local elections on May 4th, in which Labour lost control of many of its most reliable strongholds including Glasgow and the Welsh heartlands of Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil, seem ample evidence that Corbyn’s Labour will take a battering on June 8th.

The question of why people are turning away from Labour is not a simple one. Some political analysts suggest that national issues such as Brexit are undermining traditional party alliegences, and that Labour doesn’t appear credible or capable of delivering a beneficial Brexit deal in the eyes of the electorate, while the Conservatives offer a strong hand in the UK’s negotiations with Brussels. This is, at the very least, questionable – while Theresa May continues to take a confrontational stance against the 27 countries of the EU, and with inflation already outstripping wages and eating into long-stagnant real incomes after the fall of the value of Sterling, it seems unlikely that May will be any more capable than Corbyn of delivering a ‘favourable’ Brexit deal. Most of the evidence points to the opposite being true – that the little England mentality which drives the Conservatives towards advocating a ‘hard-Brexit’ will lead to considerable hardship and insecurity for the majority of working people in the UK. That is not to say that the EU itself is a guarantor of economic security or prosperity (after all, it is still dealing with the consequences of the 2008 economic crash it failed to predict, and Greece is likely to be crippled with unsustainable debt for the next seventy years because of EU policy there); simply that the illusions of Conservative voters and politicians alike will soon unravel as the UK sinks deeper into poverty and crisis.

The cracks in the Conservative Party’s narrative notwithstanding, Labour is not heading into the election in a position of strength. An overwhelming bias on the part of the country’s major televised news channels and newspapers directed against Jeremy Corbyn has apparently (as far as the local elections indicate) taken its toll on public opinion and presented Labour as a party at war with itself, incapable of offering ‘strong & stable leadership’ (which is conveniently the Conservative slogan for the election). A not insignificant number of people who usually support Labour, it seems, are turning away from the party because they do not see Corbyn as capable of leadership.

The problem with this narrative is clear: it assigns blame for Labour’s disunity to Corbyn and ignores the evidence that it is the parliamentary Labour party’s refusal to rally behind their elected leader which is responsible for creating this disunity. Corbyn’s supporters recognise this, but they refuse to acknowledge that Corbyn himself isn’t free of blame. _1Elect

In 2015, when Corbyn won the Labour leadership election by a landslide, he found himself in a position to change the nature of politics in the UK. He and his supporters could’ve offered the British people a radical alternative to both the populist hard-right, represented at that time by UKIP under Nigel Farage, and the impersonal, careerist, neoliberal mainstream the failure of which had accelerated the political turmoil not only in the UK, but throughout Europe. Both the UK and the rest of Europe are torn today between far-right populism (Le Pen, Wilders, Farage until his resignation, etc.) which sees migrants as less than human and offers a false sense of community by measuring people against an abstract, idealised ‘identity’ (‘Britishness’, ‘Frenchness’, etc.) penalises deviations from that identity, on the one hand, and the impersonal, neoliberal establishment whose failure to manage the social contradictions which have arisen since the 1980s produced far-right populism in the first place. The UK is bizarre, because Theresa May and her Conservative Party seem to represent both, the hard-right insurgency and the institutionalised establishment. Nevertheless, rallying around one is insufficient opposition to the other – the situation desperately cries out for a viable left-wing alternative.

Many of the young voters who flocked into the ranks of Labour and Momentum in support of Corbyn hoped that he would be this alternative. But the hope and enthusiasm soon dissipated as folks realised Corbyn wasn’t offering what they had hoped for. He has shown that he lacks the political will to be the insurrectionary he needs to be – after all is said and done, he instructed Labour councillors to implement the Tory austerity measures he was supposedly dead-set against, he climbed down over Syria and Trident in a vain effort to maintain the unity of Labour’s disparate factions, and he offered policies insufficient to meet even his own declared aims of reducing the influence of the finance sector and improving the well-being of the majority. While his core of support continues to champion him as a radically progressive option, the rest of us recognise that Corbyn’s Labour is ju_1aStopLabourst about staggering along and is not capable of being the mass, popular, democratic and socialist opposition which the UK needs so badly.

The Blackmail

Whenever election-time comes around, the overriding priority of the political left becomes the removal of the Conservative Party from office. This implies campaigning for Labour as a matter of course, because it is the only vehicle with any prospect of unseating the Tories and, therefore, must be supported in spite of its ‘imperfections’.

The language with which this position is articulated has changed since Corbyn’s election as leader. Before September, 2015, it was said that the Labour Party must be supported ‘reluctantly’ or ‘critically’ as the only available alternative to the aggressive policies of the Conservatives. After Corbyn’s election, Labour was framed by the numerous, splintered left-wing groups as a genuine progressive alternative, a ‘new kind of politics’. As I explained above, however, this was not so. In fact, Corbyn represents not a new politics, not a break with the established and failed norms, but, on the contrary – because of the passionate support, opposition and general discussion & debate he provoked – a revival, a re-legitimation of the same tired old politics the failure of which is why people were crying out for change when Corbyn appeared on the scene in the first place. The language changed, but the position remained the same: whether reluctantly or enthusiastically, whether as an imperfect shield against the Tories or as a progressive socialist party, the left must support, campaign and vote for Labour.

This is political blackmail. The narrative that any leftist who criticises or refuses to support Labour is complicit with the politics of the Conservatives, that failing to vote against the Conservatives is tantamount to voting for them, must be refused and resisted. Simply casting a vote for Labour under current circumstances is harmless enough, but urging left-wingers to support and campaign for Labour is counterproductive. I agree with Slavoj Zizek, when he says that the most useful thing for the left today is not to “stop talking, start acting”, is not to scramble to ‘do something’ because the Conservatives are so cruel and their policies creating such hardship, deprivation and discrimination, but the opposite – stop rushing to ‘do something’ and start talking seriously again about mass democracy and popular, unconventional alternatives to the existing model & framework of politics.

Isn’t the demand that we ‘stop talking, start acting’ nothing more than a rephrasing of ‘stop thinking and do something’? Politics throughout much of the Western world has brought itself to crisis point. In France, the United States, and much of Europe right-wing populists are drawing on and spreading the apprehension many people feel at the state of things today, directing it against everything from impersonal financial institutions, immigrants and ‘unpatriotic’ people. It offers a false vision of restoring the ties of community, tradition and stability (drawn from the idealised image of a past which never really existed) which have been dislodged, disjointed or outright destroyed by changes in the economic structure of the wealthy countries towards post-industrialism, atomisation (that is, destruction of ties of class and community solidarity in favour of cold individualism, or, more accurately, fend-for-yourself-ism) and sweeping privatisation & marketisation without, however, changing the fundamental economic organisation of society and, therefore, turning the concept of community into a cannibalistic and racist on_1aMacronLePene. Meanwhile, the neoliberal establishment presents itself as the champion of superficial ‘tolerance’ and ‘respectability’ while continuing to champion the very speculation, sweeping privatisation, technocratic and business-centred model of politics of which today’s far-right populism is a bi-product.

This political situation – like the spread of the speculative and unpredictable marketisation which produced it – is multinational and deeply complex. In its midst it is perfectly legitimate for the serious leftist to see campaigning for an institutionalised, dyed-in-the-wool establishment party in a national election – a party which offers no substantial alteration of the political climate but a mere set of moderate reforms it would struggle to pass given its internal disunity, no less – as the waste of time and effort it is. It is time to stop scrambling to do something immediate, to act in the short-term, and start thinking and talking seriously about alternative models of politics. This might mean surrendering to the prospect of a Tory government in the immediate future (as if this wasn’t inevitable anyway), but if we refuse it in favour of Labour campaigning we shall never extricate ourselves from the predicament in which people are uttering the phrase, “If Macron wins in 2017, Le Pen will win in 2022”. Do we want to be perpetually returned to the predicament of “Macron 2017 = Le Pen 2022” to which politics will be reduced if we continue to neglect serious thinking, talking, debating about alternatives in favour of our current strategy of never looking beyond the next election? No. At the moment, there is no alternative to the false choice between neoliberalism or neofascism. As long as removing the Tories, and not radically changing British politics and society remains the priority of the left, no alternative will ever emerge. We must build one, it is imperative that we build one, and that starts with resisting the blackmail, the moral pressure, the “vote Labour or be complicit with the Tories” pessimists and nay-sayers. It starts with resisting the urge to stop thinking and start acting, and taking up serious, critical thinking again.

 

May or Corbyn?

On May the 4th, 2017, local council & mayoral elections were held in England, Scotland & Wales. The results are the first indicators for both commentators and the electorate at large which way the General Election of June 8th might swing. It seems that the Conservatives are making considerable gains across the board, while Labour is struggling to cling onto its own heartlands and UKIP, a party essentially without a purpose post-Brexit, has lost every seat it had been defending. Many are now suggesting that, come June 8th, Labour will be ‘annihilated’ in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise of ‘strong & stable leadership’, though of course Corbyn’s young and idealistic supporters remain hopeful.

Strong and Stable Leadership?

This is what Theresa May is promising. The Conservative Party is advancing two main appeals to the electorate. The first is that Theresa May is the only candidate who can be trusted with the Brexit negotiations. Only Theresa May, it is argued, can extricate the UK from the EU with minimal harm to the British economy or society and lead it into a strong position, with its economy intact and its options open. The other parties would botch, and perhaps even try to reverse, Brexit – so goes the Conservative Party’s narrative.

The second appeal is that the election is a simple matter, a choice between two candidates for the office of Prime Minister: Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn? In this case, Theresa May should be trusted to lead the country in a decisive way and in the national interest, because Jeremy Corbyn is finding it difficult enough to keep his own party from falling apart at the seams and would preside over a return to the factional warfare and political-social anarchy of the ’70s should he enter No. 10 – so goes the Conservative Party’s narrative.

This Conservative narrative must be questioned. May is arguing that neither Corbyn nor anyone else can be trusted to deliver a favourable Brexit deal, but we must ask, is she so trustworthy? I am personally opposed to the EU, I do not think it is a viable project for many reasons. However, reading my country’s Prime Minister accuse the EU of meddling in the General Election with a straight face, and some of the stuff coming from hard Brexiters to the effect that “we want the EU’s trade benefits but not its freedom of movement”, it seems to me that May and her party are suffering delusions of grandeur with regard to the EU. The UK, after all, is one country whose economic strength is due in large part to its position as a centre of finance, a position which has been, to say the least, thrown into question by Brexit, while the EU is 27 countries and one of the most significant economic entities on the planet. Theresa May promises to “fight for Britain” and deliver a clear Brexit deal in Britain’s national interest. But we must ask, what is she going to negotiate with? How is she going to persuade the EU, which forced Greece to sell off its national assets and demanded billions of Euros worth of cuts in return for useless and even harmful loans (which support not the relief, but the increase of the country’s unsustainable debt) to be lenient and give the UK a beneficial deal? The EU’s negotiators might not be inclined to go easy on Britain when they hear how they’re being attacked by its politicians. Frankly, anyone who thinks that Britain’s Brexit deal will come on any terms other than those dictated by Brussels is deceiving themselves and will soon get a bitter dose of harsh reality, when the talks go sour. Britain has nothing to negotiate with, and Theresa May’s bombast will make the country’s hand in the negotiations weaker, not stronger.

The Conservative Party’s other claim must be questioned as well. Theresa May claims that a Corbyn government would be a “coalition of chaos” unable to unite the country and carry it through these difficult and crucial times, while a Conservative government with a renewed mandate would do just that. However, the Conservatives don’t exactly have a rosy history when it comes to the well-being of the country’s ordinary, working folk – after all, last year DWP figures showed that 2,380 people declared ‘fit to work’ had died between 2011 and 2014, while underemployment and in-work poverty have soared and the housing crisis has deepened. The NHS is at breaking point, with neither enough beds nor enough staff to handle an increasing burden and the staff that remain overworked and underpaid, while across the country real incomes have stagnated and are beginning to be outpaced by inflation.

These are hardly the hallmarks of a government that has the interests of the “just about managing” and the working class at heart. Working class people shouldn’t delude themselves and buy into the Tory rhetoric about Brexit and Britain – her government stands opposed to them, will squeeze them hard, and will, eventually, either land them in or drive them to the brink of a disastrous new recession. Continued Tory governance would be a tragedy.

The Labour Party’s Agony

The actual choice to be faced by the electorate on June 8th is not entirely clear. The Conservative Party’s narrative is that the choice is between ‘strong & stable leadership’ with a clear objective and direction, the sort of leadership which can carry the UK through the Brexit negotiations in a dignified way and deliver a deal favourable to British economic and social interests (as the Conservatives define those interests), on the one hand, and the chaotic and weak leadership of Jeremy Corbyn who cannot even keep his own Labour Party united and, therefore, cannot be trusted to lead a government in the national interest or muster the political will to ‘stand up for Britain’ as Theresa May supposedly will.

Personally, this reminds me of an intensified version of the ‘stability or chaos’ rhetoric utilised against Ed Miliband in 2015. The most important press outlets in the UK, including both televised news and printed newspapers, tend to share and support the Conservative narrative. Several academic studies have found media coverage of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to be ‘overwhelmingly negative’, and this is of course an important factor in shaping public opinion against the Labour Party and in support of the Conservatives. Furthermore, while outlets such as the BBC consistently turn a critical eye towards Labour, they just as consistently fail to mention outstanding weaknesses or failings of the Conservatives – such as, for example, the fact that several Conservative MPs were under investigation for electoral fraud prior to the announcement of the General Election, as well as some newspapers’ attempts to associate Labour’s Corbyn and MacDonnell with communists & ‘Stalinists’ because of their appearance at the same May Day event as the latter, despite the fact that the actual communists present tend to shout anti-Labour Party slogans throughout that demonstration (I know, I attended last year and witnessed it first-hand).

However, the blame for Labour’s electoral retreat cannot rest solely at the feet of the press, or even the admitted rightward shift in the British political climate which allowed a party like UKIP to enter the national conversation just as it has successfully painted Corbyn’s relatively moderate left-wing views as extremist. Corbyn himself has failed to provide effective leadership of the Labour Party, for a variety of reasons. His supporters would emphasise the consistent attempts of Labour’s MPs to destabilise his leadership; some have publicly denounced him, and then there’s the ‘coup’ that they attempted to stage in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. It is not only the internal conflict within the party which undermines Corbyn’s prospects of a successful election, though – the man who was once considered a saviour of the British left-wing has failed to convey his political and social message to the electorate. The large rallies of enthusiastic supporters we’ve seen on the television since he became leader haven’t translated into electoral success, and Corbyn’s own politics remain dubious.

Corbyn’s supporters among the Labour membership see him as a man of principal and vision, a leader with a human touch who represents a rupture with the cold, impersonal, careerist politics of the past. However, there own politics is anything but clear, and it is somewhat problematic. It is undeniable that Corbyn’s election in 2015 was the beginning of a leftward turn for a Labour Party that had been dominated by Blair’s ‘third way’ brand of politics for two decades, but this turn was less radical than the enthusiasm with which left-wingers, fatigued by a lack of alternative to neoliberal centrism, greeted it made it seem at the time. It was, at best, a cautious attempt to take a few steps in the direction of a more labour-centred politics, not an outright departure from the capital/business centred politics which the Conservatives and Labour shared and, to some extent, still share.

Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters on the left-wing of the Labour Party are struggling to define their political position at its root. After having spent decades in the movement of opposition and protest, they suddenly find themselves having to manage a political party within the framework of electoral politics and electoral contestation of power. They are faced with a choice, a dilemma they cannot resolve – if they resign themselves to their penchant for protest and opposition, they will condemn their Labour Party to permanent opposition and therefore exclude themselves from the possibility of winning political office, which alone would give them the opportunity to implement a progressive programme on a national scale. If, however, they choose to step into their position of leadership in the Labour Party, to play the political game and go along with the prioritising of electoral contests and parliamentary opposition, then they will have to choose also the politics of conciliation between the left, centre & right of the party in order to keep it together and present a united opposition in parliament. This, in turn, would mean the watering down of their left-wing, social democratic principles and the reversal of even the few cautious step towards labour-centred politics they have taken.

The question for the left in the UK, then, seems to be, ‘which road’ – resignation to permanent opposition and conflict within the party in the name of ‘principle’, or the politics of conciliation and reduction of the Labour Party to the old, dull, uninspiring opposition it once was in acceptance of the narrative that ‘there is no alternative’ to the choice between neoliberalism and the proto-fascist right?

The Left’s Only Option

The problem with this question is clear, but difficult for some to acknowledge or even understand. The problem is that both options, both choices, centre on the idea that the Labour Party is the left’s main political vehicle. The Labour left often finds itself equally opposed to the Conservative Party and the ‘Blairite’, ‘moderate’ Labour MPs, but advocates voting for and working with the Labour Party because it alone gives the left even a slight chance of entering government and removing the Conservatives. Removing the Conservatives from government at the first possible opportunity is its most important, unifying priority of this ‘left’ – more important than building a viable political alternative, more important than the neoliberalism and incapability of challenging the vested interests of finance capital Labour invariably displays in office.

This is a harmful policy, because it focuses political strategy on the short-term. The necessity and moral pressure of either removing the Conservatives from office, or keeping them from it, overrides everything – including the actual policies, ideological, political and institutional weaknesses, and political and social objectives of the Labour Party itself. There is always an excuse for the Labour Party, and it invariably boils down to, ‘opposing the Conservatives is the most important thing, it overrides everything’. But opposition to the Tories, though necessary, does not override everything – the left must resist its own pressure and recognise this standpoint for the self-defeating twaddle it is.

To the Labour Party’s narrow electoralism must be opposed the long-term and difficult work of infiltrating working class communities and organising a popular, democratic network of institutions centred upon mass participation and a decidedly socialist programme. The strategic goal of such organising efforts is not to win elections, but to create “dual power”: instead of winning elections and inheriting existing institutions, we must build new institutions organised around the central principle of mass socialist politics, capable of challenging and eventually superseding the entire existing political structure.

This programme sounds, under present circumstances, idealistic, it seems little better to many left-wingers than wishful thinking: Of course, they tell us, such a programme sounds very nice, but it cannot be done without surrendering government to the Tories, or to a Labour Party dominated by its Blairites. Our answer is that the masses of working folk, the victims of capitalism and neoliberal rapacity, must leave their position as observers of the electoral spectacle and step onto the stage of history as participants, not as voters but as political actors in their own right. Until this happens, until the left starts organising for it, we will be stuck in a perpetual trap: The Labour Party no matter what, no matter who leads it, no matter what its policies are, no matter how capable it is, because short-term opposition to the Tories overrides all other priorities. The left must stop telling itself electoral fairy-tales and vying for the inheritance, through parliament, of existing institutions, which have perfected over centuries of operation their functions in defence of the social, economic and political power of capital, and would not allow a dent in this power. Instead, we must build new institutions, popular, democratic, mass and revolutionary institutions which alone can transform the country and lead it in a genuinely progressive and socialist direction.

The choice this election is not May or Corbyn, not Tory or Labour – it is General Election, or people’s democracy?

 

Beautiful Images of Burning Cops Come Out of Paris May Day

On May Day, 2017, crowds of anti-racist workers and militants rallied in Paris to protest against the hard-right Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen. Subsequent clashes with the authorities, a traditional feature of demonstrations in the French capital, produced images of riot police engulfed in flames which a notorious, if predictable, British tabloid ‘newspaper’ has called “horrifying” in an article.

Unsurprisingly, this police-cheering article failed to mention the recent murder of Liu Shaoyo or the (supposedly ‘accidental’) assault and rape of a young black man by Parisian cops earlier this year, and left out the Paris Police Department’s extreme violence during last year’s months-long uprising against a draconian labour law.

The proletarian population of Paris – the people of colour, migrant workers, poverty-stricken youth of long-neglected suburbs – see the police as their enemy. The incidents mentioned above are just some of countless proofs that their view is correct, and that the defence of “law and order”, which alone justifies the maintenance of police, is in reality nothing but the defence of the State and the class of rich, property-owning tyrants which bolsters it against the popular initiatives of the masses.

It is true that the anarchist line of fetishizing immediate, short-term violence and hitting out blindly against police and bank windows must be opposed. This is because such an approach, unaccompanied by solid, long-term and difficult organising work, cannot possibly bear fruit. However (and this must be emphasised), the placing of peaceful protest on a pedestal, the denouncing of violence against the police with greater vigour than the denouncement of the police themselves, the “shake-hands-with-cops” line of ‘moderate socialist’ posers and liberal charlatans must be opposed much more determinedly. This approach is not a neutral, respectable, peaceful approach as the ‘official’ Left would have us believe. It is, on the contrary, actively anti-socialist, anti-people and a shameless and quite disgusting signification of the collusion between moderation and respectability on the part of ‘socialists’, on the one hand, and the oppressive bourgeois State, the dictatorship of wealth, on the other.

Images of police engulfed in flames are not horrifying, they are not regrettable – they are beautiful. As a comrade said, speaking of the photographs, “there’s nothing horrifying about it. This is art”.