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”.
The article regrets that the Brotherhood has softened: “The higher ranks of the Muslim Brothers are getting more bourgeois, in the sense of accepting totally reformist methods”.
But: “They are no longer openly hostile to the left. We do not hide our positions at all on the issues where we disagree with the Muslim Brotherhood, whether it’s Copts or whatever. But we cannot refuse to work with them over issues like Palestine or Iraq or the Cairo conference against imperialism, which is due to take place in late March. Other sections of the left hate us for this...”
The previous number of ISJ contained an article on Islamic fundamentalist Iran, likewise slamming the Iranian left for alleged “sectarianism” because “most left wing groups do not support the reformist movement in Iran” — the “moderate” Islamist wing of the regime.
The article claims it is “racist” to say that Iran is a “theocratic state, dominated by medieval mullahs”. On the contrary, it “still has the critical support of the majority of the population. They see the state as defending their nationalist, religious and cultural aspirations against Zionism and Western economic, political and cultural domination”. The article seems to concur with that critical support.
“What is important is that the improvement in lran’s social conditions and standard of living since the mid-1990s [has] opened up the political system”. Does the SWP see any problem with the position of women in Iran? Well, “women’s oppression is universal”, so not all is perfect there. Nevertheless, the way the SWP see it, “women in Iran exercise more rights than in US-backed states in the region”.
* The British Humanist Association approached political parties for their position on separation of church and state. The only party that refused to participate was Respect.
Galloway yes, Radcliff no?
According to the CPGB’s Weekly Worker (28 April), all Socialist Green Unity Coalition candidates were worthy of votes — except for Pete Radcliff of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.
Ouch. Pete must have done something pretty awful to deserve this treatment. So what was it? Is Pete perhaps a supporter of New Labour’s privatisation mania? Is he in favour of the racist war against refugees and asylum-seekers? Does he back city academies and the creeping privatisation of education?
Did he support the US-UK imperialist invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? Maybe he crossed a picket line?
Nope — it’s none of these things. On all of these issues Pete has always been absolutely solid. So what was his terrible sin? It’s that he opposes the use of the slogan, “Troops out now”, to summarise policy towards Iraq, preferring an orientation to solidarity with working class forces fighting the occupation on the ground.
Pete is in now way positively in favour of the presence of the troops. But along with everyone else in the AWL he thinks that helping the Iraqi workers’ movement build up and develop fighting organisations is better than shouting “Troops out now”.
In the same issue, the CPGB explained that it would be calling for votes for only four Labour candidates. Are they, perhaps, the only four candidates fully committed to the idea of independent political representation for the working class? No — apparently they’re the only four candidates who have demanded “Troops out now”. Tough luck, Jeremy Corbyn or Katy Clark.
The CPGB also lent support to candidates of the rump Stalinist Socialist Labour Party and the nationalists of Forward Wales. Never mind that these candidates have no perspective of solidarity with the Iraqi working class, never mind that they have little or nothing to say about what should happen when the troops do leave, never mind that many of them appear entirely indifferent to the fate of the Iraqi workers’ movement — as long as they use those three little words often enough then they’re okay by the CPGB.
For some reason, the CPGB has completely recalibrated its political compass. Its central dividing line for politics is no longer class and labour representation, but just one issue: the occupation of Iraq. And on Iraq, the CPGB does not even base its political judgement on candidates’ attitudes to our class brothers and sisters in Iraq, or to the occupation as a whole (it backs, for example candidates of the Alliance for Green Socialism — an organisation which supports UN intervention). The CPGB’s judgement is based simply on how prominently the candidates use the word “now”.
As a consequence of this nonsensically anti-Marxist perspective, those who keep a keen eye on the left will have witnessed the bizarre spectacle of the CPGB — a self-proclaimed revolutionary socialist organisation — wholeheartedly supporting George Galloway while making propaganda against Pete Radcliff — a committed fighter with a proven record in class struggle — simply because he has objections to the use of a particular slogan.
Stop the war and vote Tory?
Stop the War activists in the Constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood ran a campaign to urge voters not to vote for Tessa Jowell, Government Minister and supporter of the war on Iraq. The leaflets they distributed to homes in the area called for a tactical vote for Lib Dem, Green or Tory candidates, who had all pledged opposition to the war!
In the 2001 election, the Conservatives were second after Labour with the Lib Dems some way behind. The 2005 result saw a swing of 9% against Labour, with the Lib Dems increasing their vote by 9%. Turnout was up 4%.
When challenged by Southwark anti-war Labour Representation Committee activists about their incitement of voters to support anti-war Tory candidates, the Stop the War activists defended the call for tactical voting.