Bureaucratic collectivism and the British AWL

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Tue Jul 1 18:33:57 MDT 2003

>>I think Matgamna/AWL vitriol that the British SWP (and anyone else 
who places emphasis on supporting the Palestinians against the Israeli
state) are 'anti-Semitic' is despicable.<<

I didn’t know they’d used that phrase; I hadn’t encountered it here. 

I believe the original Shachtmanites were drawn into sympathy for Israel,
as so much of the American left was, but by the time I knew Hal Draper and
Co they were quite clear on supporting the Palestinians. The problem arose
when it came to whether you took sides in the 1956 -1967 – 1973 wars. On
that topic they said: both sides are evil and we must reassure Israeli
workers that we don’t support King Hussein (or whoever). I know this line
of argument quite well because I was initially trained in it. Whereas the
British IS/SWP had what we used to call the “Fourth International
position”: that Israel is the main stalking horse for imperialism and we
support the resistance waged by the Arab states on anti-imperialist grounds
(while of course agreeing that the rulers are rotten). I moved to this
point of view in the course of the 1970s.

(Without wanting to make a big issue of it here, I don’t think it’s
accidental that the “state capitalists” had a better line on this than the
“bureaucratic collectivists”. It's one reason why I resist the tendency on
this list to mix the two up.)

Later I had the experiencing of travelling from Jordan to Israel and saw
the contrast: it was immediately obvious that Israel was an extension of
the imperialist west, whereas Jordan was a 3d world country. From that
point on I became very hard against anyone who defended the “rights of
Israelis”. You might just as well have defended the rights of Americans or
Australians during the Vietnam war.

>>in the Middle East, the British AWL seems to be more driven by
Muslimophobia than anti-imperialism (which links with the Stalinophobia). I
hope that the Australian AWL doesn't share this approach.<<

I think the Australian AWL has the same theories. In fact the last I knew,
Martin Thomas was permanently living in Brisbane. But as I mentioned
earlier, and consistent with Alex’s correct remarks more recently: this
does not mean that they behave badly in all spheres. My experience of Riki
Lane is that he’s a very constructive and sensible comrade.

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