This AWTWNS news packet for 17 November 2018 contains three articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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- Paris protests confront Trump and imperialists’ World War 1 “peacefest”
- France: Revising the legacy of WW2 Nazi collaborator
- Marshal Petain Germany: Art against the “renationalization of culture”
“Trump = war” – Paris protests confront imperialist war makers at World War 1 “peacefest”
November 11th marked the commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. In Paris more than 70 heads of state and government invited by French President Emmanuel Macron memorialized one of history’s worst crimes against humanity – a war among imperialists whose purpose was to forcibly resolve great power rivalries over zones of influence and colonies. Macron’s hypocritical plan to drape the weekend in talk of peace while honoring the imperialist war machine that ended in the slaughter of ten million soldiers, and featuring Donald Trump as the honored guest, triggered a call to protest.
Coming together under the overall slogan “Trump means war”, a coalition initiated by anti-Trump Americans living in Paris, a number of women’s networks and anti-war collectives brought together Palestinian activists, a local theatre troupe, “anti-fa”, anti-racists, pro-immigrant groups, AIDS and climate activists, Brazilian feminists, Kurds, local sans papiers activists and migrant associations, as well as by supporters in Europe of Refuse Fascism in the US. On the 11th, 2500 people came out in pouring rain to protest not just Trump, but also Macron, Israel’s Netanyahu, Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and others. One particular target was the monstrous regional wars fomented by these states that are now killing millions in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya and elsewhere. Many protesters saw these wars as part of a war on different sections of humanity, and how the rise of fascism in different parts of the world was threatening far worse. As supporters of Refuse Fascism in Europe put it, “Trump is a danger to humanity! The rise of Trump and the Christian fascist Pence is not just an American dilemma of the moment that elections and patience will wear down or reverse. Not only is Trump a 21st century American Hitler, he has nukes – imagine the repercussions for the rest of the world!”
A multinational group of supporters of Bob Avakian’s new communism from around Europe handed out thousands of leaflets, bringing out the need to drive out the fascist Trump-Pence regime in the US and fight the rise of fascist forces throughout Europe while sweeping away the capitalist-imperialist system in its entirety through revolution. They were joined by supporters of the Communist Party of Iran (MLM). They put out a call to attend a showing of Avakian’s new video presentation on Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.
Another group of protesters targeted the African neocolonial “dictators” operating within France’s stilll powerful zone of influence in Africa who were attending the imperialist peacefest, while thousands in their countries are caught in the cross-fire of local and regional conflicts and millions of others displaced.
Earlier, three women from the radical group Femen burst through security lines to confront the heads of state, and notably Trump’s armoured car, on their way to a military ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. The women had the words “Fake peacemakers, real dictators”, “Hypocrisy parade” and “Gangsta party” emblazoned on their naked torsos and held signs ‘Welcome war criminals’.
Despite frequent sharp criticism and even mockery of Trump, the French media were particularly complicit with the state and its police, who cancelled the protest’s right to march at the last moment, and issued repeated warnings that 10 000 security forces were deployed and evoked lurid tales of potential violence by anti-fascist black bloc protestors in order to discourage broader participation.
Many in France who look to the left parliamentary parties to stop the increasingly reactionary atmosphere in the country and the rise of the fascist National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, were bitterly disappointed that these forces essentially boycotted the protest. Like the reformist socialists in WW1 who called on the masses of their countries to go into the trenches to slaughter the oppressed of other nations, their leaders too showed their loyalty to the fatherland – after all, how could they protest the commemoration when “their nation” France had been on the winning side in the war! This shameful display should not be forgotten.
The commemoration was marked by sharpening disputes among world leaders. The fraught relationship between Macron and Trump during the weekend has to be understood for what it really is: mounting friction among imperialist thieves and murderers. What Macron lauds as “multilateralism”, in contrast to what he has called Trump’s “nationalism”, is the continued alliance among the Western great powers at the end of WWII. This refers to the joint effort by the Western imperialist powers to dominate the world, in which the US operated in partnership with other countries who in turn acknowledged its hegemony, even as each maneuvered within this partnership to secure its own imperial interests. Trump is both a symptom and a major driver of increasing turmoil among established allies, with words and actions meant to reconfigure and/or overturn the prevailing order in favor of his more aggressive pursuit of US imperialist interests even if this means sidelining or antagonizing some of these close European allies. The same basic workings of the capitalist-imperialist system and competition among the states and blocs of capital over the wealth produced by the world’s people continue to underlie today’s sharply escalating political, military and trade conflicts. – end item-
France: Revising the legacy of WW2 Nazi collaborator and WWI Army Marshal Petain
During the week preceding the imperialist WW1 commemoration in France, sharp controversy arose when French President Macron sought to glorify the man who headed up the government in France under the Nazi occupation in World War 2.
Just as with WWI, the Second World War arose from rivalry between the big imperialist powers and resulted in a reconfiguration of the global imperialist system and of neocolonial domination, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, which also gave rise to unprecedented anti-colonial struggles and for national liberation.
Before the weekend, Macron announced that in paying homage to France’s WWI generals, it was legitimate to consider France’s Marshal, Philippe Petain, “a great soldier”, separate from Petain’s role in WW2. This is the same Petain who was tried in 1945 for collaborating with the Nazis as head of France’s Vichy regime and actively deporting Jews from France to the German concentration camps. In WWI Petain was a key military leader in a bloody criminal war. He is most lauded for his role in beating back Germany as head of the French army at the battle of Verdun, where at least 300,000 men died and another 400,000 were wounded or disabled. When French soldiers in the trenches began a series of mutinies demanding an end to the war, Petain had some of them publicly tied to poles and shot as an example to others who might refuse to fight. Seven years later, Petain was sent to turn the tide of a war between Spanish colonial occupiers and Berber rebels in the Rif region of Morocco, bringing a large number of French troops and chemical weapons to put down a major rebellion against foreign control, where he befriended the upcoming fascist leader Franco of Spain.
The Petain of WW1 was no less a blood-soaked representative of the French capitalist ruling class than the Petain whose WW2 regime made “Petainisme” synonymous with fascism and France’s own participation in the genocide against Jews. With this reactionary attempt to distinguish between the “two Petains”, Macron legitimized the leading hero of France’s fascists today, provoking a widespread but far from unanimous outcry.
On the one hand, today Macron stands for France as it has been, a parliamentary democracy that still pretends to represent “liberty, equality and fraternity”, in opposition to the right, the extreme right and the fascist National Front party that is gaining in the polls and seeking to restore a violently patriarchal Catholic fascism guided by the virulently nationalist values that ended in genocide under Petain. On the other hand, while railing against “nationalism”, particularly, but not only, at Trump during the weekend, Macron tries to laud “patriotism” at home – but this has its own chauvinist values with nasty anti-immigrant politics and new repressive policies that coincide with and encourage the extreme right. Macron recently barred the Aquarius ship from docking in Marseilles as thousands demonstrated to let the immigrants in. While Macron opposes the open hate speech of Italy’s fascist leader Salvini, France has, like Italy, shown how little the lives of immigrants actually matter in this system and it has financially supported Libyan coast guards and other measures to prevent immigrants from crossing the Mediterranean into Europe.
The November 11th protest in Paris against Trump and today’s war criminals in association with so many injustices of this system was important, but not nearly as powerful as it needs to be given the colossal crimes — and wars – being committed by the imperialists in the world today and the looming threat of much worse to come. But not only must this opposition to imperialism and the rise of fascism grow in size, the more it breaks out of the normal channels of trying to improve the failing social democracy of France to which people have been accustomed and/or trying to make incremental improvements to the injustices of the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole, the greater impact this opposition can have throughout society, with repercussions beyond France’s borders. – end item-
Germany: Art world figures take a stand against the “renationalization of culture”
16 November 2018. A World to Win News Service. The last month has seen the emergence of a powerful and passionate movement among thousands of artists and other cultural figures and institutions in Germany against “German nationalism”. In opposition, many have adopted what they call the “immigrant flag”, the glittering gold and silver rescue blankets given to people rescued at sea.
This is an important counter-current to the legitimization of fascist politics underway in Germany since the entry of the new fascist party, the AfD (Alternative fur Deutschland), into the Bundestag (parliament), including through the extreme nationalist positions being taken by mainstream politicians and leaders in the country’s governing coalition headed by Angela Merkel.
Much of recent political debate has focused on Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a life-long extreme reactionary (he voted against a law prohibiting men from raping their wives two decades ago) who defended the September neo-Nazi-inspired anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz. More than 8,700 artists, curators, art gallery owners and others signed a petition demanding his ouster, calling his anti-immigrant position “outrageous” and “provocative, backward and undignified toward humans.” Their statement said he and others like him shared a great deal of the blame for the AfD’s rise. (Since then Seehofer has resigned, not in response to pressure from below but as part of tumultuous and complex maneuvering among the traditional parties provoked by the AfD’s electoral success. His rival partner in the governing coalition, Chancellor Angela Merkel, announced that she will bow out of her position.)
Especially over the last year, fascists have been targeting cultural institutions, sometimes violently. In October the Foundation that runs the Bauhaus Dessau, the building that housed Germany’s most famous arts school until it was shut down in 1933 as one of the inaugural acts of repression by the Nazi regime, canceled a scheduled televised concert by a notoriously anti-fascist punk rock group. This was a capitulation to demands from Seehofer’s party and street fascists who threatened to repeat a 2017 neo-Nazi action in front of the building. A petition launched by an architectural publication was signed by a hundred of Europe’s most prominent architects, artists, museum directors and other luminaries. It calls the Foundation’s surrender – with the pretext that it wants to be considered “apolitical” – an alarming danger to culture throughout Europe, and points out that the original Bauhaus decision to brand itself as “apolitical” in the face of Nazism did not save it when the Nazis came to power.
After that, leading cultural organizations in Berlin – including theaters, art spaces and the agency responsible for the city’s museums – put out a joint declaration that begins, “As creators of arts and culture in Germany we do not stand above things. Rather we have both feet firmly on the ground – the very ground upon which one of the worst state crimes against humanity was committed.” The statement is dated 9 November, a day today’s Nazis celebrate as the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 when Nazi-led attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned shops heralded the genocide against the Jews. While condemning attacks on cultural institutions seen as agents of a vision of society based on pluralism and tolerance, the statement goes on to say that that even more dangerous than threats and physical assaults on the “freedom of art” is the attempt to bring about a “renationalization of culture”. (https://www.dievielen.de/en/erklaerung-der-vielen/)
Similar pledges to build and support actions against today’s heirs to the Nazi regime were put out in Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfort and Darmstadt.
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