Socialist Worker (mealy-mouthedly) mourns bin Laden

Submitted by martin on 3 May, 2011 - 9:29

After 11 September 2001, Socialist Worker notoriously "refused to condemn" the massacre of three thousand working people in New York by bin Laden's followers.

It tried to hold that line of "refusing to condemn" in the Stop The War movement, until finally in early 2002 it had to retreat and say "of course" the massacre should be condemned.

Socialist Worker of 7 May shows the SWP still "refusing to condemn" bin Laden.

"Attacks like 9/11", says SW, "in reality... are a response to oppression, not an expression of 'evil'."

The effect of Bin Laden’s death, says SW, will be bad: "a newly confident US may feel emboldened to wage more wars and reassert its power on the international stage".

Bin Laden, says another article, was earlier on a "friend", but later on became a "foe of US imperialism". A good move, apparently. "Bin Laden's [grouping?] gained wider support as more people wanted to resist Western imperialism in the Middle East".

A small article "criticises" bin Laden, but in such a way as extensively to endorse him. "To rid the world of oppression and injustice requires not assassinations or blowing people up, but tearing up the roots of the capitalist system itself.

"Faced with the reality of imperialism, some people feel desperate enough to lash out and strike back in any way they feel possible.

"Socialists do not deny the working class and the oppressed the right to use violence against their oppressors.

"We know that the ruling class will not give up all their power, wealth and privileges without a struggle. But that struggle cannot be conducted by individuals or elite groups 'behind the backs of the masses'...

"The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky argued that terrorism arose because of the tyranny and oppression of our rulers. 'We understand only too clearly the inevitability of such convulsive acts of despair and vengeance'. he wrote. But 'individual revenge does not satisfy us'. Moreover, Trotsky argued that as a political strategy for change, Marxists were 'irreconcilably opposed' to terrorism..."

Nothing is spelled out clearly in the SW coverage. Analyse it, though, and a truly sickening abandonment of all socialist political or even moral norms, in pursuit of the "anti-imperialist" bandwagon, is apparent.

Trotsky was criticising Russian populist revolutionaries, who, under a stifling regime which allowed no legal political activity, tried to kill the Tsar or top Tsarist officials (and sometimes succeeded), hoping that their actions would disrupt the regime and rouse the cowed masses of the people.

Morally, Trotsky and the Marxists sided with the populist revolutionaries. Only they argued that their methods could not succeed. A Tsar or an official would be replaced by another. The masses would not be roused by heroes acting on their behalf.

Socialist Worker equates Al Qaeda's violence against working people - in New York, in Iraq, in the Middle East and North Africa - in the service of Islamist clerical-fascist reaction, with the Russian populists' violence against Tsar and top officials, in the service (as they hoped) of political liberty and socialism.

The equation is based only on the military technique - bombs - ignoring the class and political character of the activity! Bombing workers is the same as bombing Tsars, as long as it is done by people who dislike the USA...

It is as if SW have so little hope of socialist working-class action - despite their empty and obviously unconvinced agitation about general strikes - that they feel they must applaud, or semi-applaud, reactionary "anti-imperialism" as "at least something" against the powers that be.

The idea, which in typical weaselling SWP fashion is never stated outright and maybe is never even thought through distinctly in their minds, is that the mere fact that bin Laden become hostile to the USA made him progressive.

He was also, and more, hostile to workers, democrats, secularists, and women seeking equality, wherever he had influence? The SWP just fades that out.

The front page headline of Socialist Worker is: "West's leaders are bloody hypocrites". True, of course, but hardly this week's news.

SW uses no such strong term as "bloody hypocrite" for bin Laden, despite his combination of demagogy against oppression with murderous attacks on working people. And, as we've seen, they assess (or seem to assess) bin Laden's death as a bad thing: "a newly confident US may feel emboldened to wage more wars and reassert its power on the international stage". (Unlikely. There are no guarantees of the US being peaceful, but it will take more than the death of bin Laden to undo the caution-imposing effect of the US's Iraq fiasco).

Would-be socialists end up like SW, using the USA's compass in politics but just reading it in reverse - so that if the USA says no, they say yes - only if they have lost any compass of their own.

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