Gerry Downing Bumper Issue in the Weekly Worker.
Bumper Issue: Fun for all.
The Saga continues:
Gerry Downing movingly pleads:
This anti-democratic procedure (no hearing before expulsion; no right to appeal) was initiated by the Labour Party leadership of Tony Blair, which was involved in extensive criminality against working class people at home and abroad. Such as, most notoriously, the Iraq war, where the Labour Party leadership bore responsibility for over a million deaths, caused by the unprovoked invasion.It was also involved in terrible abuses of democratic rights, such as torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’, and even complicit in the American sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. So it is hardly surprising that a party whose leadership did things like this evolved procedures that show contempt for the seemingly more mundane democratic rights of ordinary Labour Party members at home.
The tone is set.
But what does Comrade Tony Greenstein have to say?
Socialist Fight is an organisation that is causing much amusement to the right. However, Downing’s defence, or “understanding”, of al Qa’eda’s 9/11 attacks and the actions of Islamic State are anything but amusing. His playing with anti-Semitism is also no joke and his actions have been used to discredit the wider left.
Unfortuantely cde Greenstein has not the slightest intention of analysing Daesh, its totalitarianism, its class basis, and its genocide, in its own terms.
Instead we get this,
IS, for example, is known to be controlled militarily by ex-Ba’athist officers who have adopted Islam as a convenient justification and legitimation for their barbarous rule. How any socialist can support or “understand” – not as a means of analysis, but as a form of apology – an organisation which enslaves young Yazidi women, whilst slaughtering all the men and older women, defies belief. A group which openly uses rape as a weapon of war. This genocidal group may indeed be a reaction to the US’s imperialist slaughter in Iraq; it may have come into conflict with the US and its sectarian Iraqi regime (although being supported by the Turkish regime); but what type of reaction is it? Do we support any opposition, however reactionary, to US capitalism?
Perhaps those less inclined to dismiss the religious basis of Daesh would disagree: it is a genocidal variant of Islamism, with clear roots in the internal development of that current. How it sprang into political power is a related issue, but it cannot be reduced to this.
Greenstein also makes an extraordinary claim,
It is no accident that Israel is known to support al Qa’eda’s al-Nusra in Syria and it is widely suspected of supporting IS (it is known to be the largest purchaser of IS-produced oil). Opposing Zionism is not on the agenda of IS or al Qa’eda.
It is with relief that we turn to this:
Jim Grant writes, “We must oppose the expulsion of Gerry Downing, but fight to expose his political errors. ”
Gerry’s anti-imperialism is, needless to say, confused in the extreme. The confusion stems from exactly where Gerry says it does: Leon Trotsky’s policy of critical support to anti-imperialist nationalist forces – most notably Haile Selassie in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion – and his argument that, instead of joining the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang in the 1920s, the communists ought to have fought separately but alongside them against the Japanese. This policy ultimately stems from the anti-imperialist united front advocated by the early Comintern.
The trouble is that Trotsky’s judgements were straightforwardly incorrect, and Gerry’s later ones also wrong for much the same reasons. Selassie was a British client; Trotsky’s support effectively meant supporting British imperialism against Italian imperialism. (His vigorous pursuit of this policy inside the British labour movement was thus particularly misguided.) As for China, it is difficult to see how the communists could have suffered less except by fighting the KMT and the Japanese, as they ended up doing anyway.
Leftist Trainspotters will note that the Weekly Worker here attacks some of the most cherished ideas of Trotksyism.
The mad Bob Pitt was fond of citing Trotksy on Haile Selassie in defence of his own principled position in defence of the progressive potential of feudalism, sorry Islamism.
We forget exactly the details about the line of the Kuomintang but know it is an issue that continues to burn today in the halls of orthodox Trotskyism.
The Tendance hopes a stern rebuke, from an unimpeachable sources, such as the World Socialist Web Site, will be winging its way to the Weekly Worker forthwith.
Cde Grant concludes:
When the Labour Party is cleansed of warmongers, city shills and cabs-for-hire, there will be time enough to deal with people whose anti-imperialism leads them to idiotic political conclusions; and with those, like the AWL, whose horror of the latter leads them to worse errors in the opposite direction. Hopefully the comrades will learn along the way. Until then, we deny the right of the Labour right to police the left tout court – no exceptions.
It is hard to see that what could be worse than Downing, from his support for Assad’s chemical weapons programme, his claim that the ‘anti-imperialist’ forces of the genocidal Daesh has to be backed “against” the US and this pile of steaming manure: “ISIS, no matter how reactionary they are, should be supported only in these circumstances (NOTE: of ‘imperialist’ ‘attack’) and only against imperialist attack.”
We therefore, as a matter of principle, support the right of indigenous forces in such countries to resist imperialist attacks. We also say that it is the duty of the workers’ movement in imperialist countries to assist them in defending themselves when possible. This is the meaning of the phrase about ‘tactical military assistance’ that has been so often quoted, again out of context. In the current situation such assistance would most likely take the form of political strikes against a given war. In a developed revolutionary situation, more might be possible.
Be afraid, be very afraid!