Looking left: SWP and clerical fascists; CPGB; Stop The War and Tories

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 10:23

The SWP and the ‘clerical-fascists’

In Britain the SWP usually claims that it is a “slander” to say that their allies, Muslim Association of Britain, are an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest Islamic fundamentalist party in the Arab world.

But the latest number of the SWP’s magazine IS Journal carries an article saying that the left in Egypt should work with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, which SWP founder Tony Cliff, when he was still active in the region, called “clerical-fascist”.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2005 - 14:47

I'm puzzled as to why anyone in Iran would feel threatened by zionism. I know there are Israelis who want to expand beyond the official borders of Israel into the occupied territories, but surely they don't intend to go as far as Iran?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 10:24

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

umm why would Iran fear Israel- oh gosh i have no idea why this state would fear the most heavily funded USA client state in the world- I mean the USA poses no threat to Iran at all. Mr Bush has not threatend Iran - no course not. This is the logic of the AWL- perverse pro Israel imperialist apologists.

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 10:46

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

This response simply runs "Israel" into "USA" with very little logical explanation. As I understand it, your argument goes "The USA is threatening Iran, and the USA funds Israel, ergo Iran has got very good reason to fear Israel".

Maybe, but then it would also have very good reason to fear many other states that receive funding and support from the USA, wouldn't it? So why single out Israel?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/05/2005 - 00:26

In reply to by Janine

oh no there is no connection between Israel and the rest of the middle east????? why single out Israel - well Janine if you hadn't noticed Israel happens to be in the middle east and is the 4th largest military power with the population of wales- why is that??? Perhaps the funding of America has something to do with it. Perhaps Israel uses its military might to defend amercian imperialist interests. But then Janine perhaps this is to marxist an explanation for you.
What is your reply to the above post that says Iran should not be worried?

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 18/05/2005 - 09:58

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I think that if I lived in Iran, then I would (as I do) oppose Israel's repression of the Palestinains. I would also fear the prospect of a US war against Iran in which I might be killed.

I would also fear and oppose the Iranian state. And, given that I am a socialist, a trade unionist, a secularist and a feminist, I would have very good reason to.

I probably wouldn't put 'Zionism' at the top of the list of things that I fear.

I think the main points of contention here are:
(a) the conflating of "Israel's military strength / repressive actions" with "Zionism", which is (at best) unhelpful; and
(b) the elevation of "ant-Zionism" on to a pedestal way bigger than opposition to other nationalisms, and of opposition to Israel to a level way higher than opposition to other repressive states. After all, the last country that Iran was at war with was Iraq, not Israel.

PS. Marxism is about understanding things in class terms, not about seeing everything in terms of US imperialism. So no, not "too Marxist" - not Marxist enough.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/05/2005 - 11:21

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Perhaps you could explain how Israel uses its military might to defend American imperialist interests. Israel does use its military might aggressively to serve its own national interests in a way that brutally oppresses the Palestinians. In that respect, it should be opposed - although it does have the right to defend itself. It is hardly unique in middle east on the count of brutally oppressing people.

Israel has roughly the same population of Wales and also not much more land area than Wales. It's territory (even including the occupied territories from which it should withdraw) is dwarfed by neighbouring Arab states such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Israel has no oil resources and it doesn't use its military might to try to seize territory rich in oil resources from its Arab neighbours. When the USA launched the invasion of Iraq they used military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey (for example) but not Israel (the fact that Israel is a Jewish state makes it a less useful ally for such imperialist actions than Arab and mainly Muslim states).

The USA does heavily fund Israel. It also heavily funds Egypt. Israel is highly militarised but perhaps Israelis also have their fears. After all, for decades the Arab states refused to recognise Israel's existence - in other words, if they had been militarily strong enough (and if Israel was weak enough), they would have invaded Israel and held its people under brutal oppression.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 23:51

What an excellent piece. The rise of "mumbo-jumbo", as Frances Wheen puts it, particularly among elements of the left, is an extremely worrying development.
And, similarly worrying, is the naive view that all of the woes that imperialism can inflict upon a country will disappear when the last of the occupation troops leaves.

Add new comment

Against the Stream - a Discussion between Trotsky and CLR James

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 10:18 Author: Trotsky/CLR James

European Stalinism began to collapse with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The former USSR satellites on whose people Russian Stalinism had imposed totalitarian dictatorship for nearly 50 years began to free themselves from Russia overlordship. Stalinism in the USSR itself collapsed completely when an inept hard-line Stalinist attempted coup failed, in August 1991.

Add new comment

Solidarity, not boycott

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 10:15

John Strawson is a law lecturer at the University of East London, and also teaches at Bir Zeit University, in the occupied West Bank. He spoke to Solidarity about the special council (conference) which the Association of University Teachers (AUT) has called for 26 May after protests from its members about the decision of its regular conference, on 22 April, to impose an academic boycott on two Israeli universities, Haifa and Bar-Ilan.

What would you like to see come out of the AUT special council?

Add new comment

Left wins in fire union

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 10:08

A grassroots activist, socialist and outspoken critic of the current FBU leadership has been elected General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, defeating incumbent Andy Gilchrist. Matt Wrack beat Gilchrist by 12,833 votes to 7,259, in a poll which saw 40% of the union’s membership voting, a high turn-out for a union election.

The “old guard” around Gilchrist are continuing their efforts to smear Wrack, and others, for their involvement in “Grassroots FBU”, a rank and file body formed after the union collapsed to defeat in the pay strike last year.

Add new comment

Academic boycott of Israel: yes or no?

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 9:46

On 26 May the Association of University Teachers (AUT) will hold a special conference to debate a recently-decided policy of academic boycott on two Israeli universities, Haifa and Bar-Ilan (at an ordinary conference on 22 April). The recall discussion is being held after protests from members. Below a supporter of the boycott and two opponents of the boycott present their different views.

We need positive links

Robert Fine, Warwick University

Add new comment

Bad results for the left

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 9:43

All comment on new possibilities after the election is mere wistfulness unless we also register just how bad the election was, and just how badly the left did.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 10:31

so RESPECT only did relatively well!!!! talk about bullshit. Salma's result was stunning as even the right wing would concede- to go to 2nd place and be only 3000 odd votes behind is fantastic. If one of your candidates got this it would be plastered as the best thing since sliced bread. You appear bitter and twisted. But then you did support the pro war, pro privitisaytion, pro buisness candidate in Oona King.

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 10:50

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

... and in other places got less than 1%, and in most places somewhere between these extremes. In my constituency, Respect got virtually an identical vote to the Socialist Alliance at the last General Election. So overall, mixed picture, "relatively well" sums it up quite nicely.

Mind you, the SWP is a habitual user of superlatives. Everything it is involved in is brilliant, stunning, fantastic, earth-shattering, a sea change in British politics etc.

Come on, when was the last time SWP/Respect reported that one of its events/intiatives was "OK", "not bad" or "reasonably good"?

Oh, and even if Respect's election results are "relatively good", or even "stunning", it doesn't make the politics right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/05/2005 - 10:52

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

In 2001 the Socialist Alliance stood in two constituencies in Tyneside and a four or five more seats in the region.

This time Respect stood in one place in the region. The resources of the SWP and ISG who were the two candidates in newcastle last time could be focused in one place, and with support from outside the region.

In 2001 the Socialist Alliance got 485 votes (1.9%) and the Socialist Labour Party got 533 votes (2%) of the vote. In total 1018 people voted for a candidate calling themselves socialist.

In 2005 Respect appealing for votes on a more communalist basis got 440 votes (1.6%) of the vote. 40% of the vote for socialists in 2001.

Whereas the BNP who had not stood in 2001 now got 1072 votes.

Socialists in 2005 did not try and offer working class voters an alternative to the capitalism, they did not challenge the BNP in white working class areas? Because the target for their campaign was a communalist block vote. I wonder if Respect and BNP leaflet different streets.

The said thing is what we started in 2001, in a very limited way could have really been an opportunity to challenge the BNP in working class communities in newcastle with a political 'socialist' alternative. Respect went for a artificial quick fix to get communal votes.. with a few exceptions it generally didnt work, but worse still in has set back independent working class politics another 5 years.. Thanks George and Lyndsay.... but do it properly next time and lash up with the Lib dems (you've already dropped the word socialist from your election campaigning )and be done with it, then those who want to can start building "the socialist alternative"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/05/2005 - 12:35

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I wish people would follow an argument and reply on the basis of having followed the argument. The article said:

"The victory for George Galloway and the relatively good results for the Galloway-SWP coalition Respect in one Birmingham constituency (Salma Yaqoob) and on Galloway's coat-tails in some constituencies near his Bethnal Green and Bow, do not disprove the trend. They were not victories for the left. They were victories for a tactic whereby socialists turned themselves into leafleters and apologi sts for a demagogue capturing Muslim votes on a communalist basis."

Some Respect candidates did very well according to their own lights, their own campaigning strategy — appealing to voters, pretty much, on a communalist basis. We don't think very much of that, so we are not going to get very excited about it!

For us it is about deciding what you think is in the best interests of the working class — that's the working class as a whole by the way. Appealing to an oppressed working class community on the basis of their "special interests' as Muslims, as Respect did, is not socialist. Relating to people as members of the working class people, who will have to fight a capitalist system, to win a better life, is a better way to advance the interests of a poor working class community and to unite the working class. It also happens to be in the socialist tradition, something that the SWP leadership seem to have conveniently forgotten.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/05/2005 - 18:29

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Have any of you "socialists" ever thought about the meaning of the term "communalist"? It implies that all Muslims (in this case) will do whatever they are told, without minds of their own.

So what are you saying?

Galloway, a defender of the rights of minorities, struck a chord with many Muslims in the area. But, as someone who canvassed, I can tell you that it was NEVER "OK I'll vote for you like the Mosque told me to", but instead an in depth debate about privatisations, workers rights, the selling off of the local fire engine, environmental destruction and so on. The main issue was, of course, the war, but not in itself. And it's worth noting that there was a very positive reaction from the non-Muslim voters, black, white, Irish, Jewish, and every other minority group.

If you people got off your high horse about Galloway you'd understand just what we have achieved, and what we are achieving. If you don't want to associate yourselves with where the movement against war and capitalism is, then try and do it on your own and miss out on this unique opportunity in history.

Whatever you think, it's amazing that we came third in Poplar, second in East and West Ham and Birmingham and, of course, got the first left-of-Labour MP in over half a century elected. You must at least be a little surprised that the likes of the SWP's Lindsey German came second in Respect's FIRST general election...?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2005 - 15:00

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

don't forget bernadette devlin! ... and is g.g. left-of-eric heffer or left-of-tony-benn or other left labour mps? I don't think so.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2005 - 16:41

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Communal from Oxford Dictionary online...

2 (of conflict) between different communities, especially those having different religions or ethnic origins.

so ... if you choose to stand in the main constituencies of the country which had the largest muslim communities, to adapt your politics and views of what are important issues to appeal to this community, rather than to appeal on the grounds of class or class struggle...

then that i suppose is what is being meant by communalist...

if you are trying to say Galloway and Respect are not communalist, and instead stood on a working class socialist platform.. then say this .. and counter the arguments..

it is an achievement for respect to have won a seat for Galloway.. the question is in what way is Galloway a socialist or pro workers rights

.. in iraq he was other with Saddam rather than the workers of iraq or the kurds

.. in parliament he was not an opponent of blair other than over the war as many other labour MPs and lib dems were..

.. he made the SWP drop the Workers Wage platform and much more from the respect platform (because he needs £300,000 a year to operate .. his words in the scotsman.. no mine)

.. he is against secular education in the UK

.. he has and not denied used funds from undemocratic governments around the world to support his work and fund his travel..

so yes... you got him elected.. so what? you ditched the Socialist Alliance, put back left unity, dropped socialist politics... and are not misleading layers of young activists?

or is Galloway's politics now the politics of the SWP?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2005 - 17:38

here: http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentRespectVctoryANewDawnForTheLeft.html

Add new comment

Labour should get rid of Blair and Brown

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 9:40

6 May, the day of the General Election results, was another day for the sober maxim of the Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci: “The emancipation of the proletariat is not a labour of small account and of little people: only they who can keep their heart strong and their will as sharp as a sword when the general disillusionment is at its worst can be regarded as fighters for the working class or called revolutionaries.”

Add new comment

Iraqi workers plan to fight privatisation

Submitted by AWL on 11 May, 2005 - 1:10

May 25-26 will see Iraqi trade unionists and civil society activists gather at the Oil Institute of Basra for a two-day conference aimed at fighting the privatisation of Iraqi oil.

The conference is organised by the General Union of Oil Employees, a union strong in Iraq’s south but unaffiliated to any of Iraq’s main union federations. Six papers written by professors from Basra University on the subject of privatisation will be presented and discussed on the first day of the conference. The following day will be dedicated to international contributions and messages of solidarity.

Add new comment

Matt Wrack wins FBU General Secretary election

Submitted by Janine on 7 May, 2005 - 8:32

Fire Brigades Union press release
6 May 2005

Matt Wrack has been elected General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union. He defeated Andy Gilchrist in a secret postal ballot conducted by Electoral Reform Balloting services in which over 40% of members voted.

The result:
Votes cast: 20,663
Spoilt 571
Matt Wrack 12,883 (63.9%)
Andy Gilchrist 7,259 (36.1%)
Matt Wrack said: “I am enormously proud to be elected and thank everyone who participated in the ballot. I congratulate Andy Gilchrist on a hard fought campaign.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.