Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

SWP, Isis and the Kurdish Struggle: Two Weights, Two Measures.

with 45 comments

Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Ozcelik. Photo: ANF.

Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Shilan Ozcelik: No Backing from SWP.

Right whip up Islamophobia over Isis  reports the latest Socialist Worker (17th March).

by Annette Mackin

Detainee rights campaign group Cage and its director Moazzam Begg have been the target of more Islamophobic smears.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed it had evidence that Moazzam visited the camp where Londoner Mohammed Emwazi allegedly trained as an Isis fighter.

It quotes unnamed “official sources” speculating over the identities of men wearing balaclavas in a photo from around 2012.

The paper had already attacked Cage and Moazzam for saying that it was Western imperialism and state terror that helped make Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, into an Isis fighter.

Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee, the solicitor for the students from east London who have allegedly travelled to Syria to join Isis, has also come under attack.

Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph newspaper said that he is an “extremist” with links to “terror apologists” Cage. This was after the solicitor criticised police handling of the case.

The sisters of the students also now face “radicalisation” tests as the tide of Islamophobia grows higher around such cases.

This week three teenagers from Britain were arrested in Turkey on “suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks”. They were bailed pending further inquiries.

Is the SWP complaining that those who go to support Isis, a murderous reactionary group, are arrested?

That nobody should do anything to stop people – enthused at the idea of participating in their ethnic cleansing, and genocides – joining them?

This contrasts with the complete absence of any Socialist Worker coverage of the plight of Shilan Ozcelik (from the Kurdish news site Rudaw).

LONDON – Demonstrators converged outside London’s Holloway prison in support of Shilan Ozcelik, a British girl of Kurdish descent who is believed to be the first UK citizen to be arrested for trying to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Saturday’s demonstration followed a statement signed by various Kurdish organizations, among them the Roj Women’s Association, the Kurdish Youth Assembly and the Kurdish People’s Assembly.

”The Kurdish community and supporters of the Kurdish struggle are incensed at the arrest and imprisonment of 18 year old Shilan (Silhan) Ozcelik, who is accused of wanting to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS),” the statement said.

”The UK government has been criminalising the Kurds for at least 13 years, yet not one Kurdish individual has been charged and convicted of being a PKK member, despite many raids, arrests and intimidations,” it added.

”The case of Shilan Ozcelik is the most recent chapter of this story and the Kurdish community are now concerned that the UK government will once again criminalise the community who have been the biggest supporters of the international fight against ISIS terror and fascism,” Friday’s statement declared.

The PKK, which is in peace negotiations with the Turkish government after a three-decade guerrilla war for greater rights for the country’s large Kurdish population, remains banned in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States.

However, calls have been growing for months for a reappraisal of the group, since its YPG affiliate in Syria has had a frontline role in fighting ISIS and has been backed with limited arms supplies and airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

Firat News, which is close to the PKK, has called the charge against Ozcelik a “scandalous decision.”

Ozcelik has been charged with a terrorist offence under the UK’s 2006 Terrorism Act.

The teenager from London was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to try to join the YPG or its women’s YPJ wing. She was arrested on January 16 as she returned from Brussels.

Neither the YPJ or YPG are themselves banned in the UK.

Campaigners have condemned the charge against Ozcelik and launched a petition, writing to British Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Office Minister Theresa May to call for the immediate release of Ozcelik.

Several foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and neighboring Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces battling ISIS.

Last week, Ivana Hoffman, a native of South Africa with German citizenship, was killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria in the war against ISIS, according to agency reports.

Before that, a British man, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, and an Australian Ase Johnson, were reported killed while battling ISIS.

Foreign fighters also have joined the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, which remains a staunch US and Western ally in the war against ISIS.

All the SWP has to say about ISIS (Ignoring completely the heroic struggle of those fighting them, above all the Kurds), is this: Isis – the real problem is Western imperialism.

There is no need to read any more.


45 Responses

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  1. Both arrests are wrong. Should the volunteers who went out to Spain in the 1930s have been arrested on their return, just because the British government refused to join the Republican fight against Franco & his Fascist allies? No – the entire European Left supported the International Brigade. Now wind forward to the present and the only ones not arrested are the white British mercenaries who are fighting alongside the Kurds. The SWP can’t be everywhere and neither can any Left group. You are so quick to become the keyboard warrior who tries to find anyone on the Left to attack from your lofty, self-appointed judicial stance.

    John Tummon

    March 19, 2015 at 1:46 pm

  2. ISIS are nothing like the International Brigades, Tummon. Your ‘progressive’ Calipahate is committing genocide against Yazidis and Christians, enslaving people, committing mass rape, mass murder, the execution of children for watching football matches and the execution of homosexuals. All of which seem to be acceptable lesser evils under your grotesque notion of ‘anti-imperialism’.

    Of course, when you and your family supposedly receive death threats following awareness of your sick views, that’s suddenly an awful thing which you expect sympathy for. You are a callous, evil hypocrite, Tummon. I hope we don’t have to hear from you for much longer.


    March 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm

  3. Anyone who compares people who go to fight for ISIS with the International Brigades (or indeed – as Mehdi Hasan did recently in a New Statesman article – George Orwell) is either an ignoramus or a deliberate, cynical demagogue unconcerned with historical accuracy or simple matters of truth and fact. They’re, in effect, saying that fascist sympathisers are the same as anti-Fascists.

    Jim Denham

    March 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm

  4. Is it possible to devise laws or regulations which would prevent people from going to fight for ISIS but allow them to go to fight against them? Laws have to appear to apply to everyone, and if going abroad to take part in wars is criminalised, that will necessarily also affect people seeking to go and fight in “good” wars.


    March 19, 2015 at 2:52 pm

  5. … and Mr Tummon: what’s your basis for calling the anti-fascist volunteers “mercenaries”? Are you claiming that they did it for the money?

    Jim Denham

    March 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

  6. @ Jim Denham,

    “Anyone who compares people who go to fight for ISIS with the International Brigades (or indeed – as Mehdi Hasan did recently in a New Statesman article – George Orwell) is either an ignoramus or a deliberate, cynical demagogue unconcerned with historical accuracy or simple matters of truth and fact.”

    You left out: “… or simply a supporter of the mass murder, enslavement, rape and persecution of innocent people by Wahaabists. Like John Tummon, for instance.”


    March 19, 2015 at 3:49 pm

  7. Francis

    M Begg was charged under the same laws, I believe, and the case was dropped. His proposed defence, that he went to assist in self defence, has consequently not been tested. It may well with regard to this brave young woman, and some case law established. It would certainly be possible for some CPS charging guidance to be issued making the clear difference between going to join ISIS and the Kurds apparent.

    The IB comparison is inaccurate with regard to the latter but gross and offensive regarding the former.

    Boleyn Ali

    March 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm

  8. “The IB comparison is inaccurate with regard to the latter”

    How is it inaccurate?


    March 19, 2015 at 4:12 pm

  9. The spanish republicans were the legitimate elected government displaced by fascists in a military coup and subsequent civil war. The Kurds are a stateless oppressed people defending themselves ,and others, from a pan national barbarous hoard. Not the same.

    This does not mean that we should not support the Kurds and revere the IB we should do both.

    Boleyn Ali

    March 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

  10. In both cases, volunteers are going to help secular democrats resist theocratic fascists. The fact that the two cases are not identical (how could they be? It is not the 1930s and this is not taking place in Spain) does not make the analogy ‘inaccurate’. Analogies by their nature cannot be exact. There are sufficient resemblances to say they are similar causes.


    March 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm

  11. ” white British mercenaries who are fighting alongside the Kurds.”

    Andrew Coates

    March 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm

  12. Yes, Andrew, but she didn’t endorse enslaving and raping teenage girls, ethnically cleansing non-Muslim and non-Arab groups of people and throwing gay people off high buildings.

    In fact she fought to oppose those who were taking these historically necessary measures in the fight against imperialism. So obviously for John Tummon and co her socialism was not real because it was tainted by bourgeois moralism. thus making her a ‘colonialist subaltern’ etcetera, etcetera.


    March 19, 2015 at 7:27 pm

  13. that’s a fucking disgrace for anyone pretending to be at the left.

    Ane Ônyme

    March 19, 2015 at 11:33 pm

  14. @Ane Ônyme – i would agree with you, apart from I find the definition of ‘left’ has changed. the meaning of ‘right’ has also changed. I mean, who would have thought that a Conservative like Cameron would bring in LGBT marriage equality? and that allies of the SWP would be against it?

    left and right are not fixed terms. i guess the swp/counterfire consider themselves ‘left’ because they see immigrants and Muslims as the most oppressed, while you think of the ‘left’ as being around certain committments to certain principles, including secularism. (i guess)

    or is it just me thats confused about ‘left’ and ‘right’? I mean, there are ‘right’ wing economists that do not believe in border controls, and are for free migrations of peoples, and there are also ‘left’ anarchists and swp etc that also advocate the same, and you’re a racist if you disagree…

    the swp may have some hang ups about supporting ‘stalinist’ Kurdish secular nationalism, as well as a desire to keep their Muslim allies on board. the swp have collapsed to an extent, i think this line is coming from counterfire, who despite their small size and their non existence outside of the capital, still have important media connections. there kind of like the new RCP (Frank Furedi), and work in a similar way. Like Furedi, Rees and his group have moved quite far from marxism into something else.


    March 20, 2015 at 1:40 am

  15. Obviously the whole context of Left-Right politics has changed fundamentally since the iron thrones fell for the second time in the last century.

    Still think there’s something creepy about the SWP/Counterfire tendency, though I can understand Roger McCarthy’s argument that it’s the only halfway electorally practical stance for such groups to take (which certainly doesn’t equate to a Neil Clark-esque active endorsement).


    March 20, 2015 at 2:25 am

  16. Remember John Tummon is standing for a leading post in Left Unity….

    Andrew Coates

    March 20, 2015 at 1:26 pm

  17. I don’t know much about the english left, but reading someone associating ISIS and the International Brigades or ISIS and th YPG/J makes me want to puke. I just imagine the same supporting Franco in 36 and spitting on the foreigners who went to fight for the spanish republic.

    Ane Onyme

    March 20, 2015 at 1:36 pm

  18. even the worst scum of the bnp are better then john tummon and his ilk, il take a neo nazi bonehead over a isis supporter


    March 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm

  19. if swp cant be everywheere at once why aint the protesting the kurd who got arrested for trying to go fight isis instead of protesting for a person who tried a join a group that is commiting genocide, murder of homosexuals,cutting people fingers off for smoking ,using chorline gas attacks and burning people alive in cages and thats just a starter.

    Its the eloquent if you would have protested a british person in ww2 who would have been arrested for trying the iron guard in romania(they were so extreme and violent even the nazis told them to town it down)

    With jackasses like tummon, “anti fascists” like the uaf who have a theocratic fascist as its vice chairman(azad ali),
    A”anti war collation” that drools over puting and assad and leftwing parties that ally them self with holocaust denying antisemities(Gilad Atzmon) like the swp its no wonder the left in the uk is destroyed.


    March 20, 2015 at 3:03 pm

  20. Left Unity will never achieve what its name implies, a unity of the left. its impossible.


    March 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm

  21. Well, Andrew, some of your crew on here are swearing sectarians with blood rushing apoplectically into their faces, which gets in the way of their brains. For a final time, can I make this clear to all of the bloodthirsty zealots following you who treat me as some kind of latter day Emmanual Goldstein – 1) I DO NOT SUPPORT ISIS and made that clear to the LU conference; 2) The concept of the Caliphate has become vaguer than vague due to the ups and downs of Islamic history, so it is nowadays more of a symbol than anything else; 3) Many Sunni Muslims in the Middle East call for ‘the Caliphate’ in a symbolic outburst of their frustration with being dragooned into nation states with borders set out by imperialism and the use of this framework to foist dictators and exploitation of resources on them; 4) Those same Muslims are largely against ISIS because it has abused their call and I am with them in 5) wanting to see a pan-Middle East polity established which provides protection for autonomous peoples within it, values diversity and forbids discrimination on any and all grounds.

    I could not be clearer, so can this feeding frenzy be ended, please, and rational debate take its place?

    John Tummon

    March 20, 2015 at 5:28 pm

  22. But you still called the Caliphate a progressive idea and backed it, not to mention a load of stuff about atrocity stories, which turned out to be exactly what the Caliphate has been carrying out.

    Now you’ve been calling the heros fighting with the Kurdish comrades ‘white mercenaries’.

    Incidentally, what is an “autonomous people”? And how exactly do you propose to run the Middle East on the model of a Community Relations Council?

    Andrew Coates

    March 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm

  23. In the best case the caliphate is an imperialist theocracy, which sane leftist would advocate for it ?

    Ane Ônyme

    March 20, 2015 at 6:53 pm

  24. JT: “I am with them in wanting to see a pan-Middle East polity established which provides protection for autonomous peoples within it, values diversity and forbids discrimination on any and all grounds.”

    Is there any significant political force in the region which is seriously working for that? If so, please tell us more – we never seem to get to hear about it.


    March 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm

  25. Kurdistan, including Rojava, is more than some vague symbol, it’s an actually existing example of 1. erasure of the lines of imperial geographers, 2. throwing off the bonds of dictators and exploiters, 3. struggle against clerical fascism, 4. working class self-organisation which recognises the rights of all citizens whether Kurd, Arab or Yazidi, male or female.

    There’s a long way to go but signs are hopeful.

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    March 20, 2015 at 9:24 pm

  26. The pro-Fascist appeaser Tummon: “I could not be clearer, so can this feeding frenzy be ended, please, and rational debate take its place?”

    No, you scum-bag: you’re a liar (maybe a pathological self-liar),, but you apologise for ISIS. You have no place in the workers’ movement. Our movement will not be cleansed until apologists of fascism like you are driven out.

    Jim Denham

    March 20, 2015 at 9:48 pm

  27. Andrew, can’t you moderate some of your followers like Jim Denham and Lamia? Anyway, in answer to the other responses. Like you, I have fought the Fascists and to be called one by some avatar makes me want to weep for the Left:

    1 I think the call for the caliphate is a symbol of the urge to crate something else to the current framework, under which minorities like the Kurds are always going to have to suffer exclusion – read Andreas Wimmer’s “The Waves of War” to see the massive evidential link between the nation state and all types of wars based around th way minorites are excluded within such states. Yes, my initial take on the early atrocity stories was sceptical, for reasons given at the time, but the evidence has since become overwhelming and, for me, clarified the need to distinguish clearly between ISIS and the demands of Middle Eastern Sunni Mulsims in general.
    2 There are white mercenaries fighting out there – ex-professional soldiers who have fought as mercenaries as well as in regular armies.No British mercenary has ever been punished by a British government, despite their long involvement in African wars on the sid eof dictators. Not all outsiders who join the Kurds are mercenaries, though; there are idealists, too.
    3 I haven’t got a blueprint for running the Middle East, so that is a daft question. You know what autonomy means (devo max or the affirmative initiatives taken by the USSR towards its ethnic minorities.
    4 The caliphate has been much better historically than an imperialist theocracy; the Ottomans had some very progressive periods and in general treated non-Sunnis very well compared to the nation states that succeeded them. The Moghals in India went even further in promoting diversity under Akhbar and Iran had similar periods. These progressive periods are there to be built on in 21st century, however vague the caliphate is as a symbolic cry.
    5 No there is not yet a significant political force in the region seriously working for a progressive caliphate – political space has been closed down by the current conflict, and the one before that and the one before that.
    6 There are a lot of progressive things coming out of the Kurdish struggle, but if anyone thinks the Kurds will gain their autonomy once ISIS is defeated, with the nation states still in place, does not understand how the straightjacket of the nation state framework has prevented this in the past and will continue to do so.

    John Tummon

    March 20, 2015 at 11:19 pm

  28. I just left a 6 point post on here and posted it. Now it isn’t there! What on earth is going on behind the scenes?

    John Tummon

    March 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm

  29. ISIS is a CIA/Zionist construct. these british jihadi’s are just patsies. Iran and Assad are the most anti imperialist. John Tummon is on the right track, but Ian Donovan got it completely right. Ian Donovan should be the leader of the CPGB, and these ideas should become the orthodoxy on the left.

    Jim Denham has been exposed already, and his own support for Zionazi Israel.


    March 21, 2015 at 1:55 am

  30. jackson

    March 21, 2015 at 1:56 am

  31. Israel? Who mentioned Israel? Fuck off back to Stormfront.

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    March 21, 2015 at 7:32 am

  32. There is a filter on this site, to avoid racist and fascist comments.

    Obviously it is only working erratically – as Redkorat says, casse-toi Jackson.

    Andrew Coates

    March 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm

  33. JT: “The caliphate has been much better historically than an imperialist theocracy…” Debatable – but entirely irrelevant. The present-day “caliphate” is just an idea which is useful for organising gangs of men with guns. Whenever the state collapses, gangs of men with guns take over, and they organise around whatever identity (religious, political, local, whatever) comes to hand. State power has broken down over large parts of the Middle East, and religious sectarian identities are now serving as the basis on which the men with guns can organise. The Sunni “caliphate” is necessarily violently hostile to all and any non-Sunni minorities, because it is nothing more than a convenient fiction around which gangs of Sunni men with guns can organise in conditions of general bloody chaos. By the same token, it is likely to be very violent towards any rival groups of Sunni men with guns – and any women and children unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.


    March 21, 2015 at 11:53 pm

  34. If the uk mercenaries are not arrested it’s not because they are white it’s because they don’t blow up buses when they come back….

    Ane Ônyme

    March 22, 2015 at 1:05 am

  35. Is there any evidence that westerners fighting for the Rojava Socialist Republic, YPG and PKK *against* the fascist racist and islamophobic Da’esh have been recruited as mercernaries?

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    March 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

  36. THE JEWS,THE JEWS! shut up you stupid antisemite


    March 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

  37. redkorat: all the evidence i have point to the fact that the foreign fighters are there for ideological reasons (mainly to fight IS). I’ve read that the peshmergah don’t accept foreign fighters (or very little) and neither the YPG/J or the smaller group have the money or the need for them. They lack heavy weapon not people.

    My comment on the mercenaries was general and not syria/iraq related

    Ane Ônyme

    March 22, 2015 at 6:29 pm

  38. @ John Tummon

    “Yes, my initial take on the early atrocity stories was sceptical, for reasons given at the time, but the evidence has since become overwhelming and, for me, clarified the need to distinguish clearly between ISIS and the demands of Middle Eastern Sunni Mulsims in general.”

    1. The ‘reasons you gave at the time’ were that atrocity stories had been invented about ISIS by people trying to ‘demonise’ them (your own choice of word). Even at the time, it was pointed out to you that ISIS themselves had already proudly put plenty of evidence of their own barbarism on the internet. You dishonestly ignored that then and you are dishonestly ignoring that now. There was no good reason for anyone to be ‘sceptical’ about the ISIS atrocity stories, and even on the nastier part of the far left you were almost alone in seeking to do so. That made you either unusually ignorant or unusually scummy.

    2. “the demands of Middle Eastern Sunni Mulsims in general…” And you are still talking as if only the demands of Sunni Muslims count, and as if Shias and other religious and ethnic minorities are of secondary, if any, consideration.

    By your own admission have picked up your idiotic notions of the wonders of a Caliphate from Hizb ut Tahrir (don’t deny it, it’s on record and I am happy to produce it if you try to lie your way out this). Hizb ut Tahrir oppose democracy, freedom of speech, equal rights for women, and the basic human right of apostates from Islam, Jews and gay people to even live. How on earth someone who claims to be a socialist can consider that a handy basis for a progressive society is beyond comprehension. You claim that you are an anti-fascist – why then are you touting, rather than dismissing, the aims theocratic fascists?

    3. “the affirmative initiatives taken by the USSR towards its ethnic minorities…”

    This is beyond satire. Who knew that genocide, the banning of languages and culture, transportation of entire ethnic populations, scapegoating of Jews, annexation of territory and the settlement of other countries historical lands with ethnic Russians, constituted ‘affirmative intitiatives’? Still, it goes someway to explaining the mindset of someone who thinks a Caliphate could be a good deal for the groups of people who would get to be second class citizens or simply murdered under it.

    Here are your own words again:

    “why should we be shy of supporting ISIS’s attempt to provide a new, overarching settlement in the northern Middle East?”

    I could go on, but I’ll just finish by saying it’s sad that because of people like yourself the left loses the support of those of us who are rightly alarmed by a creepy left wing infatuation with Islamists who would persecute or kill us. But that’s how it is. I would have to be suicidally stupid to still support such a left, so I won’t be doing so any time soon.


    March 23, 2015 at 4:49 am

  39. A pretty comprehensive demolition Lamina.

    Tummon is naturally just making explicit what many of the old crew on the left thought about the radical ‘potential’ of Islamism.

    These ideas are visibly falling apart.

    Hence the hysteria about ‘Islamophobia’ (used to cover all forms of very well grounded hostility to an ideology en bloc) and the rest.

    There’s plenty of us who’ve read stuff for years and years from groups like the Worker Communist Parties (Hekmatists), other Iranian leftists, North African and Middle Eastern secularists, not to mention our Kurdish and Turkish comrades, which has shown why Islamism (in its various shapes and forms) is the enemy of the left – not to mention all well-intentioned humanity.

    Not to mention that many of us actually know people from countries where Islamist regimes are in power, or Islamist movements are in action.

    The world is, as they say, ‘globalised’.

    “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute” – might well be said of every single apology for Islamism except that their politics are a crime and at fault.

    Andrew Coates

    March 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm

  40. In relation to Lamia’s response:

    1My reasons given at the time were in 1.5 of my motion and read “The current hostility to the IS from the US and UK is in part due to several cases where US and UK citizens have been murdered at the hands of the IS, whilst the US and UK governments hypocritically ignored the murder of Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish people by the IS, as well as the broader picture of atrocities perpetrated by every other organised force operating in the Middle East, including the UK, EU and US. The selective view and portrayal of atrocities by the western media and western governments built a broad political consensus”, so your claim that I argued that these stories were invented is false – withdraw it if you want your viewpoint to be taken seriously by people who can make rational judgments! I was sceptical about several stories because truth is usually the first casualty in war and the track record on modern atrocities gives me good grounds for retaining scepticism for some time. I stopped being sceptical, as I said, when the evidenc ebcame overwhelming.
    2 If I though Shi’a and Kurdish concerns did not count, why do I cite the need for tolerance of minorities as my main reason for wanting a break with the nation state framework? I have 3 books on the Caliphate, 1 read already, by academic experts. I don’t need HUT’s views to make me want to investigate this further; I quoted them because they had the most detailed policy on the caliphate of any islamist group, so it was worth including. I don’t endorese everythign I quote unless I specifically say so – those are the normal rules of writing. Don’t read things into what others have written!
    3 Thanks for your prejudice. Read Terry Martin’s “The Affirmative Action Empire”, (Associate Professor of History at Harvard) or just admit you are ignorant of this part of Soviet history!
    Islamism is a very broad concept and includes widely different shades of opinion. You seem to be a propagandist, first and last, so you are only interested in the ones that you think provide you with low-hanging fruit for your own soapbo!

    John Tummon

    March 23, 2015 at 7:31 pm

  41. As a postscript, I want very much to add this:
    Prior to the internet age, people on the Lefr developed policy through internal discussion bulletins and in internal meetings & these policies emerged for wider debate only when a consensus had been reached. Because the LU website, despite my suggestion, has no internal area where this can happen, when I was first developing the idea of looking differently at the Middle East, explicitly in order to begin a debate around these ideas, this was instantly public. This means that, unlike in the past, early thoughts are there on the public record and Lamia and others on this blog have consitently acted like bourgeois politicians in finding this early stuff and using it as evidence of my ‘guilt’, exactly like the witch-hunting “you said this in 1994” exchanges that pass for debate between Labour and the Conservatives.

    The political effect of this is the development of a fear among people who see the need to think outside the box about politics that setting out early ideas and trying to develop them via discussion papers and so on will result in being drummed out of parties, being vilified and being demonised in a moralistic feeding frenzy.

    This website is not alone in promoting such witch-hunting; there are people inside LU, too, who trade in it. It is a pernicious development within the Left which, if it goes unchecked, will result in socialism becoming just a set of hand-me-down ‘certainties’ drawn from the past, with no updating of analyis or practice in response to changes in capitalism. The Left will die like th Dodo died if this goes on. Please think on that before your next posting about this.

    John Tummon

    March 24, 2015 at 12:19 pm

  42. Are you honestly trying to suggest that your ‘ideas’ were simply those that came to you, passing feather-footed through the plashy fen as a questing Red Mole?

    You were involved in community relations for hell’s sake.

    As for the Net, well, get used to it.

    Perhaps you might have come across people who have less fond memories of past Caliphates, starting with the inhabitants of large parts of Europe, the Arab peoples, and indeed the Turkish left.

    As for the wonders of the left in the past…..

    Andrew Coates

    March 24, 2015 at 1:37 pm

  43. I definitely think elements of the Left have failed to update their analysis and practice in response to changes in capitalism.

    But I’d apply that to the delusion that liking rock music is still “rebellious”, and all that goes with it. I’m not sure how that fits with ‘Islamic State’. Indeed, British capitalism is if anything much more universally condemnatory of such a group than it would have been in the pre-pop-culture, Tory-wet days.


    March 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

  44. Andrew, my 27 years in race relations work culminated in a final decade in which the Bush II War on Terror brought attacks on British Mosques, Muslim women, attacks on wearing the veil, a rise in racial attacks and inter-ethnic conflict, 7/7, a government clampdown, tightening as we speak, on all forms of islamism and a selective reduction of civil and judicial rights. None of this has worked but, together with the war in Iraq, it radicalised a lot of Muslim people I met and provides the background for understanding why some British Muslims have sought jihad in various forms. At first I responded with the usual leftwing argument about oil driving western imperialism rather than Osama’s notion of a western crusade, but this lengthy and intense dialogue prompted me to carry on trying to understand all aspects of this and I am still committed to doing so. My attempts have resulted in you and some others trying to shut me up by demonising me as some misogynistic, terrorist-supporting, Kurd-hating zealot who is seriously deluded about things you and your closed-minded followers regard as self-evident and beyond argument. Well, you know what? – stay in your dogmatic blog world, take me off your subscription list, don’t send me any more emails, Goodbye and thanks for the fish!

    John Tummon

    March 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm

  45. I first knew about how reactionary Islamism is from comrades – Iranians, Kurds, Turks, Magrebians – in Paris circa 1982.

    Obviously Khomeini, the Iranian regime, the gaoled, tortured and murdered comrades, and the rest, passed you by.

    Andrew Coates

    March 24, 2015 at 6:26 pm

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