The “Trojan horse” hoax has morphed into an anti-Muslim witch-hunt in Birmingham which risks spreading further. Shame on those responsible
Left Socialist Blog
“Germans! Defend yourselves! Do not buy from Jews” (“Deutsche! Wehrt Euch! Kauft nicht bei Juden!“).
The Respect MP told a meeting of party activists in Leeds on Saturday that Israeli tourists were not welcome in Bradford. West Yorkshire police said they had received two complaints and were investigating the Bradford West MP’s comments.
Reports the Guardian.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign more generally known as the “Don’t Buy Yid‘ movement, has yet to comment.
Alex Callinicos begins and ends his latest assessment of the “present situation” by resigning himself to the weaknesses of the “radical left”(1). A paradox, given, apparently, the SWP leader asserts, that capital is also weak.A feeble economic recovery after the Bank crisis of 2008 is not met by any renewed left. Indeed there is a “weakness of credible anti-capitalist alternatives.” Not only in the larger continental European organised parties, he modestly cites his own small group the SWP’s ‘troubles’, a subject which his article addresses.
The King’s College academic stops short of advocating the “communist pessimism” of Pierre de Naville or Walter Benjamin,. But he finishes by citing Daniel Bensaïd need for “a slow impatience”—in other words, “an active waiting, an urgent patience, an endurance and a perseverance that are the opposite of a passive waiting for a miracle”. This implies, an ” effort to intervene in and shape the present …”
Callinicos claims that there was a time when all seemed sailing towards a renewed radical left. This was, “the era of good feelings (1998-2005) the impulse of a growing movement was to play down or finesse political differences in the name of unity.” Not everybody will recall the creation of communalist groups like Respect, and the part played in its formation, and self-destruction, by the megaphone Ego of George Galloway, in the same way. The “Split” in this lash-up, in 2007, was apparently of great importance, though only the SWP (the splitters) took it as the milestone it apparently was – for the SWP. The subsequent misadventures of this ‘party’ are passed over, as if they had been written out of history.
Nor is the judgement that, “The radical left began to have an impact on the bourgeois political scene” quite as secure as it might appear. The May 2005 French referendum on the European draft constitution, lost by the neo-liberals backing it, was certainly significant. But the effect this had on the French left, notably the scission of what is now the Parti de Gauche from the French Parti Socialiste, and the formation of the Front de Gauche, are apparently (for Callinicos) of less significance than the fact that the LCR/Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, lost three tendencies (he does not bother to name them or describe their politics) to the FdG, one at its formation in 2009 (Gauche Unitaire) the other two in May 2005.
Callinicos manages to avoid discussing the mass basis and actions of the Front de Gauche (which has plenty of its own problems, starting with Jean-Luc Mélenchon) not to mention its election results (11,11 % for Mélenchon in the 2012 Presidential election’s first round, 10 MPs, and 4 MEPs this year) . He does however devote space to criticising the much more successful electorally Greek left bloc/party Syriza (26.5% of the vote in the 2012 European elections), apparently on the slippery slope to neo-liberalism after backing Juncker as European Commissioner.
Let us state clearly. This analysis of left retreat is lop-sided. The results of the May European elections indicate that the ‘radical left’ did not do badly at all. Indeed in Spain they reached historically high levels of support, adding to the weight of the Greek Syriza. In France (FdG) and Germany (Die Linke) left groups remained at stable levels of support. But the Front de Gauche (for all its internal problems) remains a player in the political and social game. These observations would be extended across the continent. Only if we take the ‘revolutionary left as a measure of left influence can we reach Callinicos’s conclusions about weakness and marginalisation.
Callinicos observes that for some parties may be in crisis, but the movements are fine. On the basis of some well-publicised protests (beginning with Callinicos ‘ high moment’ Seattle protests of 1999, though this remains firmly stuck in the – good – period of “good feelings” ) there has been a ” panorama of decentralised horizontal struggles that simultaneously subvert capital and outflank the ‘old left'”. These (initially referring to Paul Mason’s wildly over- enthusiastic, Why its All Kicking off Everywhere 2012 – really? ), “started with the Arab revolutions (rebellions as much against the polarising and impoverishing effects of neoliberalism as against autocracy) and the echoes it gained in the North with the 15 May movement in the Spanish state and Occupy Wall Street and its numerous imitators.Other protests—somewhat earlier (British students, 2010) or later (Brazil and Turkey, 2013)….”
Callinicos does not discuss the view widely circulated by commentators, that these are protests of the liberal middle class, or their inability to effect any substantial change in any government’s policies- a serious balance-sheet. They have all, in other, words, been kicked into the long grass, if not brutally suppressed. The sole exception, Tunisia, looks increasingly, a ‘normal’ democracy, a welcome result compared to the alternatives. As with the mass ‘centrist’ parties (see definition of the ‘radical left below) this is carried our without any serious examination of these movements, in all their diversity. Above all there is no serious attempt to grapple with politics of the ‘movement’ that has become the focus of British activists, trade unionists, and the grass-roots left: the People’s Assembly. Instead it is largely dismissed on the basis of the strategy of the union, UNITE, to “reclaim Labour”.
Instead, the SWP theorist reminds us of the timeless truth, “The trouble is that the state, the broader political process of which it is the focus, and the parties that struggle over it remain fundamental determinants of the social, whatever autonomists and neoliberals fondly claim. ” Furthermore, “The wager of Leninism is that a revolutionary party can intervene in the political field in order to help bring about the overthrow of capital. From this follows, as Bensaïd also stressed, the centrality of strategy—of the determined, persistent, organised effort to relate specific tactics to the overarching aim of socialist revolution. ” There views are bolstered, by appeals to Gramsci. One might say that citing Leninist aims does nothing to answer those who see Leninist practice, or rather the SWP and other groups, in the multiple crises Callinicos only begins to sketch.
Callinicos finally gets to some genuine meat, ‘anti-politics’. “The structural divorce of the political class from the citizens it is supposed to represent and its integration into the moneyed world encourages popular rejection of all parties, summed up in “¡Que se vayan todos!”—All of them must go!—the slogan of the Argentinian revolt in 2001-2. This rejection—which can be called “anti-politics. He continues, “on the whole the right-populist currents that have been most successful in exploiting this mood are not themselves “anti-politics”.” This is not new. Known in France as “anti-system” parties, these are have been a long-standing feature of European politics, going (in the case of the Hexagone) back to General George Boulanger’s at the end of the 19th century.
If this is fast becoming a commonplace – a much better starting point for looking at the May European elections, and the rise of groups like M5S (Italy) and UKIP, as well as the Front National, there are some systematic difficulties with Callincos’s analysis. One certainly does not have to accept a neo-Foucaulean analysis of the articulation of a neoliberal subjectivity to see that these materialised policies have sapped the basis of left politics. Thomas Picketty is a better guide to the ideology of justly reward success – underpinning the growth of the share taken by owners of capital, and high earners – offers an indication of how the “losers” despair at overcoming their inequality by collective action.This is a structural feature of Capital in the 21st century, a deeper causal mechanism behind economic restructuring, and the inability of the workers’ movement to oppose neo-liberalism. The transformation of the state into a gigantic renting operating – by which most of the population pay rent to private owners of public services – is a greater challenge than the venality of the political class.
Significantly Callinicos does not discuss the one leftist bloc, the Spanish Podemos, which has attempted to combine ‘anti-politics’, new methods of organising, with electoral participation and the building of a ‘broad party’.
Attacking the claim that the Leninist ‘model’ has had its day is a necessary task for a leader of the SWP. Awareness of the largely forgotten writings of Alain Badiou on the new “political organisation” that will replace Leninism, or John Holloway’s writings, at least indicates an awareness that Lenin is not an unchallenged authority. It would take longer than this brief notice to discuss Lars Lih’s reconstruction of Lenin’s political ideas. The same applies to Callinicos’ observations of feminism – which others will not doubt discuss in detail.
But one point stands out in Thunder on the Left: what is wrong with broad parties of the left? Why, given the present ideological and political diversity of the left, are they not the ideal vehicle (wide enough…) to work out differences? What is wrong with broad democracy – on the network model? Those who have elft the SWP, engaged in such groups inside Left Unity, are unlikely to be convinced by a few warm words about feminism, and criticism of the tortuous liberalism of “intersectionality”.
Why does a Leninist ‘Combat Party’ – to all the evidence in terminal decline, riddled with problems, from democracy onwards – still fascinate people like Callinicos? Some of us, who recognise strengths in Lenin’s analysis of political conjunctures, have never adopted the model of the Leninist ‘party’ in the first place. Even the Acts of the Apostles were never much of a guide to historical Christian practice. Hankering after a party’s glory years, whose first acts on taking power were to suppress opposition groups – an ever-widening number – raises more problems than it solves. All the evidence is, that we will have to hang around for a long time for a new revolutionary Party that fulfils the role of a Messiah that can do better than these imperfect, “centrist” (as the Leninists call them) broad left parties.
But then the leader of the SWP shows every sign of waiting, impatiently, a very long time in Perry Anderson’s Watchtower.
This is worth reading,
Alex Callinicos: take a look in the mirror Louis Proyect.
It ends with, “Displaying a shamelessness on the order of a Washington bourgeois politician, Callinicos spends a thousands words or so defending his party’s understanding of the “woman question” against Sharon Smith of the ISO who views Tony Cliff’s analysis as lacking to say the least. If Callinicos can’t make the connection between a certain theoretical deficiency in the SWP and the commission of inquiry that asked the female rape victim about her drinking habits, then he is beyond help.
In his conclusion, Callinicos writes:
The present crisis is much more diffuse, but in some ways more threatening, because the revolutionary left is much weaker than it was in 1979. This makes the attempts to split and even to destroy organisations such as the NPA and the SWP so irresponsible.
Now I have no idea what is going on in the French NPA since the comrades are not particularly engaged with the English-speaking left (who can blame them?) but I doubt it has anything to do with a rape investigation that had more in common with those conducted in the American military than what we would expect from a Marxist party. In terms of attempts to destroy an organization, my suggestion to Alex Callinicos is that he takes a look in the mirror at his earliest convenience. There he will find the miscreant most responsible.”
As can be seen above, we do know what happened in the NPA and Callinicos is talking bollocks.
People left it because they saw the Front de gauche (which the NPA denounced – as they memorably described their politics, “between us and the Parti Socialiste, there is nothing“) as the best way forward for broad – mass – left politics.
(1) Callinicos, “By “radical left” I mean those currents that reject neoliberalism, whether on an explicitly revolutionary basis or in a manner that avoids the choice between reform and revolution or even embraces some version of left social democracy. This is the spectrum from the NPA and the SWP to the Front de Gauche and Die Linke, with Syriza somewhere in between. In this article I concentrate mainly (though not exclusively) on Europe.” On this definition alone his claim that the left has precipitously declined is false. Taking the crisis of the remaining ‘Leninist’ groups for the left is, of course, just one of his solipsistic errors.
I know it’s a different league but; the Trojan Horse-shit is running out of the same stable as Iraq war. Pols/media/agencies zero in- BOOM
The “Trojan horse” hoax has morphed into an anti-Muslim witch-hunt in Birmingham which risks spreading further. Shame on those responsible
Who will line up with George Galloway?
Salma Yaqoob makes this bold, but more reasonable, claim,
She has called on Mr Gove to “listen to the voices of the children, parents and community in Birmingham”.
“We are standing up for multicultural education in this diverse city which is inclusive of all our children,” she said.
“We totally reject Ofsted’s actions and conclusions.”
There is indeed little doubt that Gove’s motivations (he supports the institutions which allow faith to intrude ever closer into education) are suspect.
He is no friend of secular freedom.
Even the Guardian’s John Harris admits,
Much as it may not have amounted to an exercise in so-called radicalisation, there are certainly questions to be asked about “an extended Islamic assembly” held at Park View in November 2013. Publicised in the school’s official literature, it was addressed by Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, a Muslim cleric who has views running from adultery to geopolitics that a lot of people would find offensive, let alone if he was speaking at a school funded from general taxation – something politely summed up in Ofsted’s finding that “external speakers have not been vetted properly”.
And at Oldknow Primary School – another academy run by a charitable trust, the EFA found that classrooms had been segregated, with girls sitting behind boys, that there was “no evidence that governors have been chosen based on their skills”, and that “staff told us that during Friday assembly occasionally words have been used such as ‘white prostitute’ which they felt were inappropriate for young children”.
At the risk of reopening old wounds on the liberal left, for all the noise from those on the right of culture and politics, it is no good crying “witch hunt” and averting your eyes from this stuff. It should have no place in any state school, and most of it is an offence to any halfway liberal principles. It’s right to point out that there are other state-funded schools which engage in comparable philosophies and practices most of them clustered in the so-called faith sector, but that should not absolve the state schools currently under the spotlight.
The flaw in official ‘multiculturalism’ is that is that is based on an uncritical acceptance of ‘difference’.
Such as the views of Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman and gender segregation.
In this context far from being liberal or left-wing it is an apology for reinforcing fixed cultural and religious identities.
We might say no tolerance for the intolerant!
The Guardian Editorial contains one good section,
This is not to say that the problems Ofsted uncovered in Birmingham were not potentially serious, only to dispute the notion that they are uniquely Muslim. Indeed, if the most damning individual details from across all 21 schools inspected are picked out and lumped together – youngsters hearing about “white prostitutes” in assemblies, private investigators snooping on staff emails – it is possible to paint a very frightening picture indeed, as Mr Gove did in the House. But if what the Guardian saw on the inside of the now infamous Park View academy last month is any guide, the overall picture is different.
It then descends into the habitual Guardian liberal meandering: on the one hand….. on the other…
Faith schools have been a fact on the ground since the Victorian beginnings of state education. Education with a religious flavour is sometimes very good, but disputes between clerics and pious parents on the one hand and politicians and academics on the other about what teachers should teach are inevitable. What seems to be emerging in Birmingham is not a plot to instil jihadist values, but a more familiar tussle between “rational” and religious teaching, in the novel context of non-Christian faith. But where politicians could set boundaries and guide communities calmly through a new form of a familiar dilemma, they scream in panic.
Charges of ‘extremism’ have muddied the waters: the real issue is the role of religion in education.
Instead of British values and any faith whatsoever, education should be based on universal values, of freedom, critical thinking, and the development of every student’s abilities.
If that sounds a bit goody-two-shoes, than Cameron’s call for schools to teach respect for British “institutions” sounds frankly idiotic.
Conservative Home asks,
“Is it Conservative to believe that “the Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity”?
They report on events in Newham, ,
” in which local Conservatives have issued a leaflet aimed at what it describes as “the Muslim community” which has been translated into Urdu, Gujurati and Bengali.
The fourth of the leaflet’s ten pledges is “respect for religious beliefs and needs when making planning decisions, while point eight is “opposition to any further betting shops in Newham”.
At least one of the Tory candidates running in the council elections will endorse this view wholeheartedly. He is Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who has called for a Muslim political identity.
“We have to create a revolution for our rights,” he is recorded as saying. “The gays can get their rights…but when Islam is being abused we can’t even save it. We have 50 million Muslims in Europe, we are good for nothing. The Jewish community, they have their anti-Semitism, they have this Holocaust. The gays got these gay rights but any Tom, Dick, Harry can make a movie, Satanic Verses…but we are 1.5 billion Muslims but we are not politically powerful. Block the roads of Newham just like Tahrir Square.”
Other statements by Sadruddin reportedly include the following: “Even Britain has a blasphemy law. We are sleeping, brothers…The greatest threat to Islam is through the removal of Islamic politics. The Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity. Only politics can unite the Muslim Ummah [brotherhood]. Politics is the tool which can unite the Muslims and the Ummah.” Shah reportedly organised and was certainly present at a rally for George Galloway last year. Two other Conservative council candidates in Newham are former candidates for Respect.
The Express adds,
An ISLAMIST leader of the campaign to build a “mega mosque” near Britain’s Olympic Stadium is standing as a Tory in this month’s council elections
Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who believes in the notion of Islamic states, has no known previous links to the Tories, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of Respect MP George Galloway.
The Conservative party in the east London borough has also selected two other candidates who have previously stood for socialist Respect..
Galloway for PM: Somewhere.
George Galloway wants to be the first prime minister of an independent Scotland, should the Outspoken Respect MP fail in his campaign to have Scots vote against the referendum on September 18. The 59-year-old, who represents Bradford West in the Commons, said he would prefer “a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain” but would settle for the role of Scottish PM should the vote go against his position.
Reports the Huffington Post.
He also said the saner following,
“I would fancy being prime minister of Scotland but I would rather we had a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain.
“I want to avoid the break-up of the country which I think will beggar people on both sides of the border, will lead to permanent Tory rule in Westminster and thus the Bank of England which will control the Scottish economy.
“Unleashed will be a race to the bottom with England cutting taxes, regulation, public spending, and Scotland having to follow it. So everyone on both sides of the border will be worse off.”
Mr Galloway took to the stage to the strains of Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You, saying he chose the song for its chorus “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. “Flag wavers don’t like me very much, whether they’re Saltire flag wavers or Union Jack flag wavers,” he said.
“That’s fine. There are a small number of Union Jack wavers who are opposed to my stand on war and occupation abroad, and my identification with religious minorities that they hate. “If they weren’t protesting against me then I think I would be doing something wrong.”
Mr Galloway said he believes in “united countries” including a united Ireland, saying he would support Northern Ireland’s exit from the UK, in contrast to his bid to prevent Scotland from leaving.
“I don’t believe in breaking countries up as I think we have too many countries in the world, not too few,” he said.
“The Irish people were denied their right to unity and independence. The Scottish people never have been, and could have voted for independence at any time that they liked in the whole era of universal suffrage of nearly 100 years.
“People say that they want Scotland to have self-determination but they have self-determination, and always have, and will exercise that self-determination again in September.
“If it chooses to become independent then it will become independent, but I think it would rue the day.”
He said he would contemplate becoming an MP of an independent Scottish Parliament in the “hypothetical” event of Yes vote.
He added: “I am confident that the vote will be No, and I just want to make sure that it’s a decisive result because otherwise the kind of hatred and division that this campaign is at risk of sowing will be a permanent feature of Scottish politics and public life.”
Pat Smith, secretary of the Edinburgh Radical Independence Campaign, said: “Tonight’s protest is about showing that another Scotland is possible, one where racist, Islamophobic views like those perpetuated by the SDL have no place and where George Galloway’s cavalier attitude to politics is a thing of the past.
“Galloway’s celebrity status may bring attention to his bizarre and often sectarian brand of unionism, but we know that people in Scotland will see straight through this attempt to feign interest in the referendum as simply another bout of self promotion.
“The Radical Independence Campaign offers a real alternative to the corruption and self-interest of Westminster politics which Galloway seems so comfortable with. We want to see a Scotland run for and by the people – a people’s democracy, a society of equality, a great welfare state, a good neighbour, and pioneer of a just economy.”
Indeed why not – unlike the nationalists who call themselves ‘radical’ – we don’t want mild social democracy and pro-business government in one state, but socialism in Europe.
So why not Galloway for European President?
Make a start: Stand for Respect in Hampstead and Kilburn.
Respect will take the Hampstead and Kilburn fight right to rancid Maajid Nawaz and the New Labour apologist for Awami League…
” Applications are invited to be Respect candidate at the General Election in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency.”If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We have already applied…