[Marxism] Re: Marxism Digest, Vol 8, Issue 62

RobBollard at aol.com RobBollard at aol.com
Wed Jun 23 21:14:33 MDT 2004

In a message dated 6/24/2004 1:27:09 PM AUS Eastern Daylight Time, 
neprimerimye at yahoo.co.uk writes:

> "Tom poses the question as to whether it is reactionary
> to link up with a grouping that is communalist and
> lacks any substantial base. In my view it is only
> sensble to ally with such groups as long as no
> concessions are made to develop that alliance. And
> here is the problem I have with the MAB involvement in
> the anti-war movement.
A more subtle and acceptable argument but not the one you originally made.  
You argued that the MAB was `communalist' and left it at that.  In any case 
there is only one useful meaning of the term `communalist' that I am aware of, 
and that refers to communalist politics in places like India, Mauritius, Fiji 
etc, not to organisations representing oppressed groups within imperialist 
countries (and by the way the debate about whether we should describe such groups 
as `communities' strikes me as a pointless abstraction).  If a political party 
tried so base it self upon exclusively upon one such group there might be an 
argument that it is commmunalist.  However Respect is clearly trying to build 
an alliance between Muslims, the left and the militant sections of the Trade 
Union Movement - a project that will surely help to break down barriers rather 
than reinforce them.

> That problem is not with the
> involvement of the MAB but with the concessions which
> the SWP made to keep them on board. hence Lindsey
> germans now notorious remark that womens rights are a
> shibboleth. Hence the undemocratic rigging of meetings
> in Birmingham that led to leading SWPers quiting that
> group in protest (I would recommend background reading
> on this from one of these comrades but her sites are
> at present unavailable due to censorhip by Brum Uni
> under pressure from Zionists)."

Unfortunately we can't read them.. The problem with this sort of gossipy 
allegation is 
that there's always lots of such allegations flying around the left, and 
they're more often than not sectarian fabrications (or at least distortions).  
Those of us who aren't in Britain can only judge a group like Respect on the 
basis of their published material and that doesn't contain, as far as I can see, 
any concession to Islamicism.
> Certainly the SWP is right to draw attention to
> Ummayad Andalus and to the achievments of Muslim
> scientists but imagine if the same attitude was
> displayed tooward Christianity. We would be told all
> about Liberation theology and the Missiones of
> Paraguay. The revolts of the Hussites would be retold
> and the wonders of Gothic Cathedrals endlessly
> described. All very true and so one sided as to
> distort historical truth which I submit is not an
> historical materialist methodology.
> Surely the point about Muslim history is 1. it isn't widely known in the 
west, and 2. it contradicts a racist stereotype of an oppressed group.  And this 
is the general methodological problem with your approach which makes so many 
people (myself included) suspicious of your specific claims about the 
misbehaviour of the SWP/Respect.  You just don't seem to get that Marxists have to have 
a different attitude to oppressed, national & religious groups.  I seem to 
remember that Lenin at one stage argued for the Bolsheviks to orient to oppressed 
minority religious sects in Russia (by, amongst other things, publishing a 
newspaper called `The Sectarian'!!).

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