[Marxism] Muslims (Jose & Mike)

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Tue Jun 22 19:27:26 MDT 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom O'Lincoln" <suarsos at alphalink.com.au>
To: <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 2:15 AM
Subject: [Marxism] Muslims (Jose & Mike)

>I have little concrete knowledge of Muslims in Britain but will make some
brief comments based on my modest knowledge of other places.

>For the record, I don't think it was helpful to toss the "white chauvinist"
label at Mike. It's one thing to say that he, or I, or any white person on
the list needs their consciousness raised, but that can be done by calm

>On the other hand, Mike's facts (which I'm in no position to dispute) don't
entirely convince me of his position. Even if a group has little base and
is "communalist", does that really make it *reactionary* to "link up" with
them? Does this mean we shouldn't have the MAB on the platform at an
anti-war demonstration? We certain had religious figures speaking in
Australia. And how is an electoral pact different in principle?

>It's true that there's little sign of a "Muslim community" in Australia
(though I still use the expression for want of a better one). People I met
at the Islamic Council here (supposedly representing all Muslims) did not
seem to have deep roots of any kind. They were quite "assimilated" and
indeed some of them were intellectual white converts to Islam. They
volunteered the information that their "community" base was really a
disparate set of ethnic communities.

>All true, but on the other hand a few years back at the height of the
second Intifada I went to a Palestine demonstration. They are seldom large
in Melbourne, but this one was an exception, and the reason was a general
mobilisation of Muslims. Other demos had been Arabs and whites; this one
had many ethnic groups including Somalis. I spoke to an Indonesian who told
me he had heard about it through the Mosque. There was some sense of
"community" there and I didn't have a problem linking up with it.

It is surely best to try and draw a wide range of people with some levels of
sympathies into a mass movement, and conduct the debates with them inside
such a movement rather than from without.  Limited alliances with those who
are already 100% devout Marxists (and pure in terms of the ideals of one
particular faction) leads to the sort of embattled fringe factionalising
that we are all so often prone to.

In the Respect movement, the alliance between long-term Marxists, Muslim
associations and simple peace campaigners was not without its own problems,
but was still productive and almost certainly played a part in radicalising
the consciousness of many affiliated to the movement.  Those white people on
the left would be callous if they denied the possibility of enriching their
own consciousness by entering into dialogue with Muslim men and women whose
consciousness is in part determined by factors that others of us can at
first only hope to understand in a superficial manner.


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