Counterpunch columnist Diana Johnstone defends Le Pen

April 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm (Andrew Coates, anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, elections, Europe, fascism, France, identity politics, immigration, reactionay "anti-imperialism", stalinism)

Andrew Coates draws attention to the supposedly “left wing” commentator Diana Johnstone’s defence of Le Pen – a warning to all those on the idiot-left (eg the UK SWP, Socialist Party and CPB/Morning Star), who think there’s something potentially progressive about an anti-EU, pro-sovereignty stance.

Johnstone has form, and has previously been backed by the likes of Chomsky and Pilger, as her Wikipedia entry describes:

“After the 2003 publication of her Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, Johnstone became the centre of controversy over her claim in the book that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that the Srebrenica massacre of the Bosniaks was genocidal.[2] The historian Marko Attila Hoare called it “an extremely poor book, one that is little more than a polemic in defence of the Serb-nationalist record during the wars of the 1990s—and an ill-informed one at that”.[3]

“The book was rejected by publishers in Sweden,[3] prompting an open letter in 2003 defending Johnstone’s book—and her right to publish—that was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali and John Pilger. The signatories stated, “We regard Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition.”[4][5] Ed Vulliamy, who reported for The Guardian during the Bosnian War, called Johnstone’s book “poison” in response to the letter from Chomsky and the others.[6] In her own defence, Johnstone has said her critics “reduce [her] book, as they reduce the Balkan conflict itself, to a certain number of notorious atrocities, and stigmatise whatever deviates from their own dualistic interpretation”.[7]

“Richard Caplan of Reading and Oxford University reviewed the work in International Affairs, where he described the work as “a revisionist and highly contentious account of western policy and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. [… It] is insightful but overzealous […] well worth reading—but for the discriminating eye.”[8]

“In April 2012, she wrote about the first round of the French Presidential elections a few days earlier and identified Front National leader Marine Le Pen as “notably” “basically on the left” while also labelling Le Pen as “demagogic”.[9] She also rejected claims Le Pen is antisemitic: “There is absolutely nothing attesting to anti-Semitism on the part of Marine Le Pen. She has actually tried to woo the powerful Jewish organisations, and her anti-Islam stance is also a way to woo such groups”.[10]

Johnstone: Cannot “reduce” Marine Le Pen’s anti-Immigrant stand to “racism”. 

Diana Johnstone is a columnist for the American left site, Counterpunch.

She has, to put it mildly, ‘form’ on French Politics saying that the Front National is “basically on the left”. And indeed on British Politics, where she warmed to UKIP’s views on European immigration (Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism) (1)

In her most recent contribution (21st of April)  to the favourite journal of ‘wise-guys’ who want the ‘low down’ on politics, this is her view on tomorrow’s French Presidential election.

The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty 

Johnstone is torn in the French elections,

A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen.  Both speak of leaving the euro.  Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command.  Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.

Left-wing internationalists may protest at this side of Mélenchon’s politics (La chevènementisation de Jean-Luc Mélenchon Philippe Marlière).

She ignores such critics

The main divide appears to be racism.

But…

In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.

So that’s all right then.

Human rights bleeding hearts and internationalist globalisers  might remarks that giving national preference to the French in jobs and housing, chanting “on est chez nous”, claiming that the French have fewer rights than foreign residents(,les Français ont parfois moins de droits en France que des étrangers, même clandestins) restricting free schooling to French citizens, and systematically linking terrorism to immigration is about as racist as you get.(Immigration et terrorisme : Marine Le Pen multiplie les intox.)

Then there is this,

The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her.  Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.

Against the views of the “globalist media” Johnstone concludes,

By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty.

That  Counterpunch claiming to be on the left, publishes Johnstone’s  defence of the ‘nation’ against the EU is, well, not unexpected.

A section of the former French ‘republican’ and anti-EU  left has moved from  ‘sovereigntism’ to active involvement in the Front National. From the “regulation” heterodox economist Jacques Sapir (a former supporter of the Front de gauche) to Thibaut Garnier (former youth secretary of the  Mouvement républicain et citoyen (MRC) and many others, they have found in Marine Le Pen a defender of National Sovereignty (Ces chevènementistes séduits par le FN).

This little gang obviously has its admirers in the US.

*******

30 Comments

  1. Mick said,

    Ah well, someone on the left is corrupt. Wake us when a man-bites-dog story comes up, especially when antisemitism ceases to be flavour of the month.

    Mind you, stopped clocks are right a few times. There IS a conflict between the EU and national sovereignty – the EU eats that to grow. College government and politics syllabi even take that for granted. Only Remoaners live in denial.

    Islam isn’t a race but actually a death cult (read the books), there’s nothing invalid in prioritising resident taxpayers for housing and services, plus sovereignty is the greatest badge of freedom a nation can possess. Without it, there’s no democracy without bloodshed. And we’re supposed to be past all that.

    As with Oriana Fallaci, a card-carrying leftist can say the ‘wrong’ thing on just a single issue and the Left tear them to shreds. But that’s what you get when you mix with a bunch of pack animals, they type demanding the public be ‘re-educated’ to vote Labour!

    • Santa said,

      “Islam isn’t a race” + “but a death cult” + “read the books”(!) makes you really contemptible.

      • Mick said,

        I enjoy being found contemptible by the Left. They throw stones in glass houses.

        The Hadith says Muhammad said ‘Kill every Jew under your power’. That on its own is enough. And of course you know how to check for yourselves.

      • Santa said,

        I know that people like you, even without what some “Hadith said”, will always find “enough” reasons to spew hate and racism.

  2. Santa said,

    She replaced Milosevic with Putin.
    But isn’t she cried her heart out with crocodile tears over break-up of Yugoslavia, and described and defended Milosevic as the knight-protector of this land of Brotherhood and Unity, where different people lived together, I suppose opposite of “forcefully”, while decrying war-crime and genocide charges against him, Karadzic, Mladic and the rest of the barbarian throng, and so on and so forth ?!
    And now, EU is suddenly the Peoples Dungeon ?
    Who knows, maybe Merkel could be EU’s Milosevic, but Johnston certainly won’t end in her corner ?

    • Mick said,

      Well if we don’t want to be in it, yes.

      And Jean-Claude Juncker used very dungeon-master language when he said he wanted our Brexit deal so punitive, other nations wouldn’t want to leave either.

      So other EU citizens want to leave the paradise, too? Oh, Left! What a wrong side of history you find yourselves on again!

      • Jim Denham said,

        You, Mick, like other nationalists and racists, seem to think the biggest threat to democracy at the moment is the EU: wake up, and get real you pillock!

        It’s the pro-Putin semi-fascists like Le Pen, Farage and Trump, backed by the enraged petty bourgeois and their press, the Daily Mail, who threaten bourgeois democracy just at the moment. Some idiot-“leftists” (like Johnstone) have been taken in by this: so, evidently have sections of the deranged nationalist and racist right, like you.

    • Mick said,

      Hmm, three more names for my I Spy book of socialism: deranged nationalist, pillock and racist.

      When did I say the EU was the biggest threat? It’s our most immediate proxy to handle our sovereignty until further notice in peacetime, though. And it’s certainly more powerful than the Daily Mail.

      A paper which can sure can trigger the left, that’s all that’s ‘wrong’ with them!

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        The defeated French left now aligning themselves with Macron the capitalist and banker apparantly groomed by the Rothschild group.
        Good looking articulate bloke just in from the cold. Everthing a French woman would like! Not British friendly.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Let’s hope Macron beats the fascist. Do you agree, Mick and Glasgow?

      • Mick said,

        Some question! Vote for Le Pen or another ‘Blairite’ character giving her the chance to come back later again! He could get more votes but won’t actually beat her, so I can’t answer the question.

        How will he crush Islamic fundamentalism? We don’t know, if he still won’t talk about it. He doesn’t talk much about anything that I’ve seen, except wanting more mass immigration and saluting someone else’s flag instead of the French one. That’s no way to beat a fascist!

      • Mick said,

        Oh and it turns out that the far-left are having a nice big juicy Paris riot, where before huge numbers of socialists gave their thumbs-up to previous Islamic orgies of destruction there.

        This is exactly what I mean too – opposing Le Pen but ending up on the same side as these psychos.

      • Santa said,

        OK

  3. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Hey Jim lets hope fascists are beaten if they exist. Are you talking about real fascists or do you mean NAZI. Do you have a problem with the deportation of islamic fascists? Macron is not going to give the French an election on the EU do you support that?

    • Mick said,

      That’s the problem with the left, they can’t tell apart their own cliches, plus they remain inconsistent. Even if they’re just being cautious to assume that the daughter is still the same as the dad, we’re still supposed to assume the Communist Party can change its spots since the Cold War.

      Also, Marine is noticeably leftist when it comes social issues. I’m no friend of hers if she’s prejudiced against Jews but the left can do themselves a favour to see where they are like her in other respects.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Seems to me Mick it is the left that have a problem with Jews.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Sounds to me as though you two would vote for Le Pen …

      • Mick said,

        Ah left, those who protest too hard probably have their own latent tendencies.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Jim, I would not vote for any frog. I am British.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Too racist to vote for the frog Len Pen: brilliant!

  4. rotzeichen said,

    “The book was rejected by publishers in Sweden,[3] prompting an open letter in 2003 defending Johnstone’s book—and her right to publish—that was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali and John Pilger. The signatories stated, “We regard Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition.”[4][5] Ed ”

    It should be obvious to those on the real left that the reference above identifies an arrogance that purports to be left yet castigates anyone on the real left as some sort of malignant disease.

    Opinions expressed as fact are not necessarily factual, and the more I read on this site the more convinced I become that it is more concerned about disseminating propaganda than real information.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Please yourself. Frankly I don’t even understand what point you’re trying to make – nor am I concerned as you seem to be an ignoramus.

      • rotzeichen said,

        Thank you Jim, you make my point perfectly.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Yup: you don’t care about a so-called leftist supporting a fascist, eh?

    • Makhno said,

      Yes, clearly all those on the “real left” love the idea of a querfront with the far right. Treating with actual, existing fascism and the authoritarian nationalist right and making excuses for them is clearly the responsibility of every “real” socialist.

      Hairy fucking Christ the world has gone stupid.

  5. Glasgow Working Class said,

    You losing it Jim! Frogs are French I am British.

    • Makhno said,

      It doesn’t matter if you’re British, French or Ruritarian. What you are is a fucking wanker, son.

  6. LeoXamine said,

    There is obviously a division in many quarters of the todays Left.

    There are the globalists, i.e, both the financial imperialists and military interventionists who believe there is no value to a given people’s history or sovereignty. If those people are starved or bombed into oblivion that is fine because they never had a right to assert borders or nationhood. True, the wholesale destruction would be performed by a larger country that would never yield its sovereignty, but that is always left to consider at some unspecified future date. And that predatory nation will no doubt put into place things which the left doesn’t favor – resource plundering and commercial projects; nevertheless, some glorious point was made. Somehow.

    Then there are those on the Left who always believed in the right of nations to define their uniqueness and diversity in the world. That viewpoint has come in and out of favor before in France’s history. Jean Paul Sartre, for example, was virtually alone in condemning France’s colonialist war on Algerians; twice the French government tried to assassinate Sartre. Even the French communist party supported the government. Sartre said every French citizen was responsible for the crimes done against Algerians. I doubt if he would today be blaming Greece’s destruction on anything but a eurotized drachma. He would probably also condemn many on the Left for supporting the true fascists of today, in the form of ISIS and Ukrainian torchbearers of the Third Reich.

    • rotzeichen said,

      I believe there are people that call themselves socialists and on the left that are neither socialist or left.

      Why certain people troll on this site for example has more to do with disrupting genuine socialist discourse than it has to do with building ideas or support.

  7. LeoXamine said,

    Here is where – again, Diana Johnstone can be of service. See “What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say?”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/07/what-to-say-when-you-have-nothing-to-say/

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