Workers Liberty

Paul Flewers paul.flewers at
Tue Aug 3 23:57:24 MDT 1999

Jim Monaghan mentioned the Alliance for Workers Liberty. Here's a snip
from a piece I've just drafted that's going (after some revision, no
doubt) in the next New Interventions as an autopsy of the Yugoslav war.
The reference to the SWP is about the British Socialist Workers Party's
refusal to call for self-determination for Kosovo.

Paul F


As stated above, the Alliance for Workers Liberty muted its opposition
to Nato’s assault to the degree that it was barely discernable. The AWL
refused to campaign against the Nato assault as it believed that nothing
should take precedence over the issue of self-determination for Kosovo.
The editorial in the July issue of Workers Liberty declared that Kosovo
was ‘the central issue’. And whatever it said about how the AWL ‘judged
the issues from an overall political assessment of what was going on’,
it is clear that in taking Nato’s intervention into consideration as a
whole, the question of Kosovo in and of itself was not the central
issue. This war was not about the plight of the Kosovan Albanians, it
was all about US foreign policy, the expansion of US influence in Europe
and into the former Soviet bloc, and the use of Nato to carry out the
punishment of a ‘rogue’ nation that had the temerity to refuse to submit
to the demands of the USA. As the British government was not merely the
most ardent supporter of the USA, but showed clear signs of getting too
enthusiastic about the war, it was imperative for left-wingers in
Britain to concentrate their fire primarily upon Blair and his pals. The
issue of Serb chauvinist policies in Kosovo could not be overlooked, but
the central issue in Britain was Nato’s war.

The SWP’s position came in handy, as it enabled the AWL to fit it in
with its long-running obsession with that party, and large tracts of
recent issues of Workers Liberty were devoted to this, be it over
Kosovo, state capitalism or anything else that laid at hand. More
disturbing was the clear evidence that the AWL’s fervour over Kosovo was
going its members’ heads, as one piece, Lucy Clement’s ‘Learn From
History? No! Repeat It’ in the July issue, quite frankly defied

Somewhat ironically, having realised that the left’s traditional stance
on Israel and Ireland left unanswered the question of their respective
Jewish and Protestant populations, and thus produced an alternative (if
in my estimation deeply flawed) position, the AWL promptly fell back
into knee-jerk support for the Albanian national movement in Kosovo, the
KLA/UÇK. Strange, you might think, when the oppressors in Israel and
Ireland (Zionism and Loyalism) are direct agencies of US and British
imperialism respectively, and Serbia is a small, relatively poor
country. No, the AWL discovered that Serbia was conducting a ‘genocidal
Dark Age imperial project’. Just what the world needed — a new category
of imperialism, and one that looks suspiciously like it was specially
concocted to avoid calling for a halt to Nato’s assault on Serbia.

Altogether, however, if the SWP’s downplaying of the plight of the
Kosovan Albanians was an opportunist blunder, the AWL’s refusal to
consider the imperialist onslaught upon Yugoslavia as the primary focus
of its activities, and its reluctance unequivocally to oppose Nato’s
war, constituted a serious concession to the pro-war brigade.

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