[Marxism] Respect in split

Lenin's Tomb leninstombblog at googlemail.com
Wed Oct 31 06:46:08 MDT 2007

On 10/31/07, Jscotlive at aol.com <Jscotlive at aol.com> wrote:And they are no
less oppressed or vilified today. I refer you to Mohammed

> Atif Siddique's recent sentencing to 8 years for the crime of looking up
> certain
> websites and articulating certain views.

It's one non-sequitur after another, isn't it?  I don't deny that Muslims
remain oppressed and still need defending.  I usually get the Islamofascist
label for making this damn argument.

But it appears that
> the SWP  have decided to make this less of a priority.

I don't think so: we are doing what we always have.  I mean, supporting
Sultana Begum (for instance) was hardly a kick in the balls to the Muslim
vote, was it?

>  The problem, as I have heard it,
> is that the  SWP always viewed Respect as nothing more than an electoral
> front.

Yes, I know that's the line, but we don't simply see it as that.  It's a
'united front of a special kind', which embraces both electoral and
non-electoral activity.

>  This idea  of an electoral front is fatally flawed. Galloway saw that,
> saw
> that this was  the orientation of the SWP, and has reacted against that.

I'm sorry, but I don't think you have interviewed Galloway or even spent
much time looking at the arguments from his quarter.  The underlying issue
is the way in which Respect should approach electioneering: should it
*subordinate* its politics to electoral considerations or not?  Now, that
would have been a legitimate issue for resolution at conference, but
unfortunately, Galloway decided to try and mount a putsch against Rees.  If
he believed that the problem is our conception of Respect, then this should
have been an issue for internal discussion and organisation and thence a
decision by the membership.  Instead, by launching an open attack and then
having his supporters demand Rees' resignation, and then by publicly
attacking the SWP, he has done everything to polarise this argument.

Galloway's continuance  as an MP, his profile, has to be a vital component
> of any
> left orientation in  the UK at present. He is by far the most prominent
> anti-establishment figure in  the UK and an anti-imperialist of
> international
> repute.

I don't think anyone denies Galloway's immense gifts or the strengths of his
politics (we have always defended him, even when he made mistakes, as with
Big Brother), and we would have been among those campaigning for him in
Fitzpatrick's very difficult constituency, but we are now threatened with a
mass, unconstitutional expulsion on the say so of a minority, mere weeks
before the national conference.  This can't be the way to resolve this.

> On the other hand people like John Rees and Lyndsey German are hardly
> known
> inside their own house. This is no insult. It is simply a fact that at
> this
> juncture Galloway, despite any faults he may have, is more important to
> the
> Left  than the SWP leadership's whims.

Well, no one in politics is quite as famous as Galloway, but I'm sure this
isn't the basis for his value to the Left.  Respect needs both the SWP and
Galloway.  Anyone who thinks that the removal of the largest far left group,
who provided many of the shock troops of GG's election campaign, leaves a
viable organisation in place is mistaken.

> What an unbelievable flip-flop this is. For the past three or four
> years  the
> SWP have defended themselves against accusations of siding with
> reactionary
> Muslims and now here you are saying exactly that.

No, I'm not.  Once again, we are in the territory of the non-sequitur.  I
said that your position, writing off the working class, leaves you in the
position of focusing only on Muslims and not attempting to systematically or
seriously relate to the remainder of the working class.

> Again, this dispute has
> nothing to do with principles, it has everything to do with the hubris and
> attempt by the SWP to seize control of Respect.

If the SWP is trying to 'sieze control of Respect', why are we the ones who
insist on handling this dispute democratically and constitutionally?  Why
should it be Galloway's supporters who try and buy memberships for dozens of
people on the door of a meeting?  Why should it be they who dispense not
only misleading but absolutely false accusations with the intention of
declaring a de facto split before the national conference?  Why not let the
members decide?

> Not only a flip-flop but a contrary analysis proffered in two succeeding
> paragraphs. First it's reactionary to side with Muslims. Next it's
> reactionary
> filth to think that Muslims can't be left wing or socialist. Truly
> amazing.

The only amazing point here is your inability to hear anything other than
you want to hear.  I did not say that it is reactionary to side with
Muslims.  I have never made an argument resembling this - in fact, I have
always argued the reverse.  I did say that it is reactionary to write off
the remainder of the working class and focus on Muslims.

Of course, Muslims, anyone, can be won to socialist arguments. But it takes
> time, it is a process, requiring sensitivity to their cultural traditions,
> religion, etc. The SWP have done some great work in this regard, I would
> be the
> first to acknowledge that. But suddenly they've turned their back on it
> and
> run  for cover behind the familiarity of Marxist dogma. This is a major
> blunder.

You acknowledge our 'great work', but don't appear to understand that our
ability to win the argument in Tower Hamlets Respect involved winning over
most of the members, including a huge chunk of Muslim members.

Oh really? So the fact that British troops have been forced to begin
> withdrawing, the fact that the US military hasn't been able to pacify
> the  country,
> all that is due to the antiwar movement?
> Come on, eh, be serious.

I didn't say that it is "all" "due to the antiwar movement".  Once again,
the real world bites you on the arse: I in fact said that the resistance
alone would not have produced this crisis.  The antiwar movement was
central.  Without it, Blair would not have had to resign early, and that's a

I know you'll understand me if I say your argument is pessimistic.  In some
quarters, that alone is enough to rule it out, but I think what has
proceeded above suggests that the problem is much deeper than that.  You
aren't following my argument, and you aren't following the facts of the

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