Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Caliphate Motion Mover Criticises Lack of ‘Empathy’ Chez Coatesy.

with 26 comments

Left Unity member says Tendance Shows lack of “empathy” with Isis. 

John Tummon writes, 

Andrew, your demonisation of me seems to know no bounds and the lack of grammatical grasp that has caused lots of people who say they are angry at this proposed amendment shows their political cowardice in denouncing any attempt to try to reach out towards a more strategic analysis of the Middle East shows the moralism ratehr than the politics of you and them and dependence on western media for your facts.”

“What do you know about what the concept of the Caliphate is, has been and might be apart from via propaganda?

Using secularist reflexes rather than engaging empathy and curiosity is the mark of Left dogmatism.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

26 Responses

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  1. Andrew is spot on – simple as that.


    November 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm

  2. “Toss-pot” didn’t really do this character full justice, did it?

    But what about all those on the “left” (SWP, Socialist Resistance, etc) who now recoil from ISIS, but gave thinly-veiled (if you’ll pardon the expression) support to the Taliban?

    Jim Denham

    November 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

  3. By “full justice” I meant, of course, that describing Mr Tummon in that way was to insult both toss and pots.

    Jim Denham

    November 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm

  4. I’ve been puzzling over John Tummon’s idea that the call for a caliphate has “progressive potential”. What does that mean, exactly? Socialists and communists used to use the word “progressive” to refer to anything which supposedly fitted their schemas of development from capitalism to socialism. Other political forces have used the term in even more meaningless ways, to suggest “newness” or “forward-lookingness”. None of that seems to apply to the caliphate idea, which seems proudly and explicitly backward-looking, to a mythical Islamic “golden age”. I genuinely would like to know more about this “potential”, and by what novel criteria it can be seen as “progressive”


    November 23, 2014 at 11:49 am

  5. I find the idea of these (searching for a politically neutral word here) religious fanatics, waiting at Dabiq for the Battle to End All Battles and the other side ie Us not showing up incredibly funny. Actually, there are signs that ISIL is unravelling, al-Quaeda in teh Yeman has complained that they don’t want ISIL poling its nose in their business and who made al-Baghdadi Caliph anyway? They were pushed back in Lebanon the other week, and if they attack Jordan I expect the Jordanians will fight. The problem is that pockets of malcontents can do a lot of damage, to both life and limb and the economy. I feel sorry for John Cantlie and the other hostages, but I would have thought there is nothing the West can do to save them.

    Sue R

    November 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm

  6. I always thought that ‘progressive’ was some nice word that members of the (former) CPGB said about somebody they wanted to suck up to in the quest for a “broad alliance of progressives and democrats”.

    Now it’s taken a whole different turn.

    Andrew Coates

    November 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

  7. One could accuse John Tummon of lacking empathy with ISIL’s victims. But, if you see them as standing in the way of progress, you won’t have much or any sympathy for them. Incidentally, they have wiped out whole villages of Sunni tribes to ‘encourager les autres’ and to submit to their authority. No doubt that involves collecting tribute.

    Sue R

    November 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  8. John Tummon is obviously extremely thick Sue.

    I say this in a kind, caring and empathic way.

    Andrew Coates

    November 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

  9. John Tummon is doing a great job at taking whatever Left Unity has down the pan. I bet his comrades are loving this. Previously they were almost unknown. Now they are slightly better known – as a bunch of scumbags.


    November 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

  10. If anyone wants a real debate rather than cheap playground slander, I recommend they first read about the Ottoman Tazimat in the 19th century, a reform movement which, between 1839 and 1876, passed loads of modernist reforms to ensure and support diversity and the rights of everyone regardless of religion, created thinkers who argued strongly for gender equality within an Islamic context – decades before the secular states of the West gave women the vote – and for a written consitution, which Britain still has not got.

    I am secular, but believe in the possibility (no, the necessity) of alliances with people of faith. I have been denigrated by so many people for my amendment on social media and Lefty websites, some of them attempts to use my amendment as a way of hitting at Left Unity, but most of the criticism is ill-informed grandstanding. I don’t support ISIL at all and my amendment makes this clear to anyone who is not grammatically challenged and ISIL is abusing the concept of the Caliphate, which is a symbolic call from Middle Eastern Muslims for a state for all Arabs and Muslims, wiht minorities within it entitled to full rights. HUT are the main organisation promoting this and they want the actual Capiphate to be answerable to a Shura – a consultative assembly. In other words, this kind of break with the imperialist status quo offers conditions in which democratic and socialst ideas, long denigrated after the fiasco of the 6 day war, can re-emerge. The idea that we can jump to that in one stage is not realistic in the Middle East.

    John Tummon

    November 24, 2014 at 9:01 pm

  11. The problem here, John, is that the only “actual caliphate” seriously being canvassed at the moment is the one which IS claim to be building. The idealised version of Muslim internationalism you outline – as distinct from the Sunni-sectarian warlord entity now calling itself a caliphate – seems to have little traction in the Middle East. There are of course other problems. Not every Arab is Muslim, not every Muslim wants to live in a state defined by religion, and historically the position of religious minorities in religiously-defined states has always been precarious at best. And, above all, there is nothing remotely democratic or socialist about even the most ideal schemes for a caliphate, whatever “consultative” assemblies its advocates may envisage. Do any of the remnants of the socialist forces in the Middle East support the idea?


    November 25, 2014 at 12:47 am

  12. The victory of ISIL’s caliphate, according to MrTummon, would represent a “break with the imperialist status quo (which) offers conditions in which democratic and socialst ideas, long denigrated after the fiasco of the 6 day war, can re-emerge”.

    The very fact that someone who claims to be some sort of socialist can put that forward as a serious proposition and not be simply laughed out of court, tells you a lot about the moral, intellectual and political bankruptcy of much of today’s so-called “left.”

    Jim Denham

    November 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

  13. Problem is John you originally did support Daʿish (Islamic State).

    You wrote on this theme at length on the Left Unity site.

    As for your claim that the Caliphate ” is a symbolic call from Middle Eastern Muslims for a state for all Arabs and Muslims, with minorities within it entitled to full rights.” I suggest you drop post-colonial studies and read some political history on Islamism.

    Beginning with Abdullah Öcalan and then perhaps some Mansoor Hekmat.

    Andrew Coates

    November 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm

  14. Andrew, I have read widely on the political history of Islam; I am currenlty reading “The History of Islamic Political Thought”. Whatever I put on the Left Unity site in the first place was on an internal discussion forum, because I wanted that debate before trying to finalise my own position. Using that to try to paint me in the way you want rather than on the basis of what I put to conference after that and an email debate with the LU International Commission is the same as judging any author by an early unproof-read draft – it is what dogmatists do, with the aim of shutting down debate. So much of the criticism of me boils down to finger pointing, Like Jim Denham’s harrange above.

    Francis, the position of minorities within nation states has a horrible history – the Versailles carve up of Eastern Europe was every bit as bad as imperialism’s partition of Africa and the Middle East and has produced all the civil wars of the 20th century. Yes, IS has picked up the flag of the Caliphate for its own tactical reasons, but not only Al-Qaeda but lots of ther organisations have publicly criticised them for abusing this call. Read Hizb-ut-Tahrir on the Caliphate. Nation states do not appeal to Muslims for well-documented reasons and, at bottom, the Caliphate represents a means of dispensing with them. The absence of a non-IS organised movement in favour of a Caliphate is not the way to assess this, because it is so fundamental.

    The reality is that both the nation state and the Caliphate are shells which have to be defined in terms of their political content; they are both subject to class struggle and other struggles once in place, so to argue ‘there is nothing “remotely democratic or socialist about even the most ideal schemes for a caliphate” is an ahistorical comment which assumes an unwarranted closure of possibility and ignores the fact that, to paraphrase Marx, people make history but not in circumstances of their own choosing. Removing the Versailles settlement would loosen up all sorts of forces, including democratic and socialist forces; just look at Scotland once the assumption of a centuries-old political structure no longer applies – it frees up and releases the political imagination – tens and tens of thousands have joined the SNP, RIC, Greens and SSP.

    John Tummon

    November 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

  15. John, are there any real, actually-existing socialists in the Middle East who share your enthusiasm for a caliphate? If not, why do you think that is?


    November 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

  16. But, look what ISIS have done since they have taken over: beheaded thousands, driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and livlihoods, enforced full-face veils, outlawed art, music, history, geography etc in the schools, even it has been reported ‘coloured pencils’ (too dangerously arty). I have read of people having to hide copies of Greek philosophy ie Plato, that they have in their house. They have taken slaves. I mean, how can anyone see this as remotely progressive? How is there going to be ay class struggle weher even a basic murmur of discontent will be met with death, and as for striking, it’s not going to happen. This is all very Hegelian really, seeing the Spirit as primary, total idealism, which of course all these religious ideas are. What’s the Islamic line on ownership of the means of production? I read once that they are against commercial enterprises growing beyond a certain size, which rather hampers their industrial development. Thank God for China in those circumstances, they can get all there commodities from there cheaply. But, what about land ownership? I read the wikipedia entry on ‘Tazimat’ and what occurred to me that it was indeed an attempt at modernization, but hardly democratization, only to be fair, Europe itself did not enjoy full democracy them. Interestingly, it was one of the things that led to the rise of Zionism. As farmers were now required to register their land to establish title, many peasant, being distrustful of the local Pasha, did not register which allowed other more cunning ones to take title of the land. It was these people who sold land to the very early Zionists per-First World War. The article also claims that ‘Tazimat’ provoked inter ethnic strife as Muslims believed that non-Muslims and non-Arabs ie Assyrians and Armenians, were being privileged at their expense.

    Sue R

    November 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm

  17. Meanwhile, elsewhere, (ok, as far as I know, in one place: Denmark) a left-wing regroupment project (Enhedslisten) is doing fairly well and looks set to be the biggest party in the next parliamentary elections (not just the biggest ‘left’ party). Of course, they’ve been ploughing along for a couple of decades and a half (and aren’t without their own ‘islamic’-related difficulties, see the link below, and their general attitude towards the EU certainly isn’t without complications) and haven’t come from nowhere, but I can’t imagine “Left Unity” existing in two years, let alone in twenty.



    November 25, 2014 at 10:56 pm

  18. It was a public forum.

    If Left Unity supporters are now going to claim some kind of SWP internal secrecy, well let you try!

    This really reminds me of some of the maddest stuff that came out of the 1970s far left.

    Like Alain Badiou’s backing for the Khmer Rouge – for which he also has not really explained away.

    Andrew Coates

    November 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm

  19. John Tummon,

    Evidently at a certain level you are aware that your position is morally indefensible, hence why you have lied here that you do not support ISIS when on Left Unity’s own website you have clearly and persistently called for such support:


    With weasel words you demans: “why should we be shy of supporting ISIS’s attempt to provide an overarching settlement in the Northern Middle East

    That ‘settlement’, as you whitewash it, entails, as you and your allies and critics alike know, the ethnic cleansing of Yazidis, Christians and Kurds, the mass murder of prisoners of war, the torture and mass murder of innocent civilians, the subjugation, rape and enslavement of women. In the face of all the evidence boastfully provided by the jihadists themselves you speak in denialist mode about “slimly-substantiated atrocity reports” and complain that ISIS are being ‘demonised’.

    You are a vile human being; indeed it is being generous to you to describe you as a human being at all, in view of your inhuman apologism for the aforementioned). The rest of your party should be duly ashamed of their association with you and the equally vile Mark Anthony France. You and France are on the same moral plane as apologists for the Nazis.


    November 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  20. Tummon has been banging the drum for Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s ‘Caliphate’ for some years now:


    It’s mind-boggling how a determined apologist for a group which advocates a state in which non-Muslims would not be allowed to hold public office or have any say in the electing of public officials, in which apostates from Islam would be executed, in which women are segregated and oppressed, which has stated on its own website “no one likes the Jews except the Jews,” and which indeed advocates murdering all Jews, and which in Britain regularly takes part in anti-gay demonstrations… is both the former chief of the The Oldham Race Equality Partnership (OREP), and the secretary of the Stockport branch of a supposedly progressive left wing party.

    Or maybe it’s not mind-boggling at all in 2014.


    November 30, 2014 at 1:39 am

  21. Interesting details about his background.

    Is he still a branch secretary of Left Unity?

    We await his comments on the progressive aspects of Boko Harem’s caliphate as well.

    Andrew Coates

    November 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

  22. Lamia, thanks for describing me as a vile human being, whoever you are behind your acronym. When I wrote the piece on the internal debate section of Left Unity’s website, I was in the early stages of working out a position, which is why I phrased the words you quote as a question and the entire piece as a basis for discussion. That was not my finished position, neither is the one I have, admittedly prematurely, put to LU’s conference.

    The ghetto mentality of most of the Left, particularly its keyboard class warriors, is high on sectarian bickering and always has been. The childish delight of you and others in quoting me out of context, spouting your self-evident pet certainties and demonising me has drawn the attention of the EDL to me once again. After several failed attempts in the past to identify me, as I am a lifleong anti-Fascist activist, they now have photographs, a good idea of where I live and that I am in LU. While my amendment started this off, the unthinking irresponsibility of people like you who live for pointing the finger has brought my family in danger once again.


    John Tummon

    December 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

  23. Hi John,

    In Mosul, to take but one example, Christian children have been beheaded or cut in half, mothers raped and fathers murdered – by your beloved ‘progressive’ ISIS, the scum you claim have been ‘demonised’ by ‘propaganda’, even when it’s the bastards themselves proudly posting photographic evidence of their crimes on the internet.. And you come on here bleating about your own family due to the almost universal contempt for your foul words. Do your family know what you are an apologist for? Go to hell, you sick, evil, bastard.


    January 23, 2015 at 1:28 am

  24. Lamia has summed it up very well. ISIS have absolutely nothing to do with socialism, anti imperialism and are not even a dash progressive. Left Unity, sadly, are going nowhere.


    January 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

  25. And here’s an update on the hell that is life in Mosul under your progressive Caliphate, Mr Tummon:


    Have you told your family why you are an apologist for such a barbaric and sadistic regime? Do they agree with you? If so, why should anyone else give a damn about you and your precious existence?


    January 23, 2015 at 1:29 pm

  26. I think that the Islamic State will collapse under the weight of its own brutality, but how long it will take I don’t know. They have a steady supply of psycopathic malcontents to do their butchering for them from the rest of the Islamic world. I can’t see it expanding terroridtorially, too many rival gangs known as national governments that would get a bit angry if they did that. This is why they are activating their sleeper cells in the West, to inflict maximum damage on us. It’s a sign of weakness. It stuns me about the Islamicists, they don’t have a clue what to do with power once they get it. No social policies (apart from repression), no economic development, no nothing. I suppose 7th century Arabia didn’t need a sophisticated government. Is the tale about the 12 football fans executed for watching a match on the television true? I do hope it isn’t.

    Sue R

    January 23, 2015 at 9:10 pm

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