Posts Tagged ‘Gerry Downing’
Grassroots Momentum, “packed out” meeting says Monster Raving Greenstein Party.
Many people on the left have been wary of Grassroots Momentum and its Conference.
A clear indication of why comes in this report from the Monster Raving Greenstein Party,
Despite opposition from the Zionist Trotskyists (!) of the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the original statement to the conference opposing ‘unjust’ expulsions was amended to make it clear that fake allegations of anti-Semitism should be resisted.
As the said “Zionist” AWL have commented,
An amendment was carried which was written down on a flipchart on the platform (illegibly to many) as “opposition to the antisemitism witch-hunt” and read out (inaudibly to some) as “opposition to the false antisemitism witch-hunt”.
This was done without debate, and with a fair scattering of abstentions, votes against, and people just not voting.
Why? Most people surely voted for the amendment because they oppose the Compliance Unit’s arbitrary ways, know that some charges of antisemitism have been invented or inflated arbitrarily, and anyway believe that prejudice is best dealt with primarily by discussion and education.
However, the term “antisemitism witch-hunt” is ambiguous and slippery. In some of the arguments elsewhere of those backing the amendment, it is taken to mean that any charge of antisemitism against anyone on the left must automatically be assumed to be witch-hunting invention motivated by hostility to the Palestinian people.
That is not true. There have been streaks of antisemitism in the left throughout our history – and, where Stalinism has been influential in the left, more than a streak – and the best sections of the left have sought to clean up that antisemitism and educate ourselves, rather than wave away all concerns as fabrications by the right wing.
We have called for an amnesty for all those summarily suspended or expelled by the Compliance Unit. We have opposed the suspension of Jackie Walker. Those stances can and must be combined with a proper recognition that the left must put our own house in order on antisemitism, and that someone being targeted factionally and arbitrarily by the right does not make everything they have said automatically ok.
There was another problem with the amendment. A number of people have been suspended on charges to do with antisemitism. Mostly they will get a hearing with at least some rules and safeguards. Some have had their suspensions lifted.
The far bigger section of the victims of the Compliance Unit are those excluded just for being left-wing, for allegedly sympathising with Workers’ Liberty or Socialist Appeal or Left Unity. Almost all of them have been denied a hearing, or an appeal, or even what would in any halfway fair system be considered definite charges.
That is the larger part of the Compliance Unit’s work. An amendment which just said “opposition to the witch-hunt”, reinforcing the already-included “opposition to unjust expulsions and suspensions”, would have been much better.
Tony Greenstein and Gerry Downing – in their different ways, the most vocal advocates on the web of the view in which the core of politics is about the heroic resistance of “anti-Zionists” such as themselves to the supposedly all-powerful, all-pervading, ever-conspiring “Zionists”, and the most strident denouncers of leftists such as Rhea Wolfson (“Zionist ally of Jon Lansman”) – stood for election to the committee. We are glad to report that they both failed, with Downing coming bottom.
Greenstein and Downing stood for election…
The Monster Raving Greenstein Party got 49 votes, and Downing got 11 coming last in the poll, but he still stood.
Greenstein, as the above article states, has denounced Rhea Wolfson.
Denounce is perhaps too weak a word.
This is what he says of her support for Momentum’s Jon Lansman’s exclusion of Jackie Walker from her position..within Momentum, “a White woman who supports the racist Israeli state scapegoating a Black woman.” (Blog)
Comrade Rhea is not the only person individually targeted for Monster raving abuse.
There is a long, a very long list, but we will limit this post to a special case, in Momentum...
“Lansman has embarked on rehabilitating Zionism and the State of Israel“, (June 2016), “I could also ask Jon Lansman a few of those questions that Tony Benn once suggested, such as ‘who put you there’ ‘from where does your power derive’ and the clincher ‘how do we get rid of you’? There is a reason that dictators have always loved plebiscites. That is because they get to choose the questions and to frame them in such a way that they get the ‘right’ answer. Most people won’t remember Hitler’s plebiscites on the Rhine and the Saarland but they haven’t had a very good reputation ever since.” (January 2017).
Here is how he attacked the Jewish Socialist Group: Bundists behaving like Stalinists – JSG Leaders Remove Critics of Lansman from Jews 4 Jeremy FB Group (February 2017).
Here is the most recent raving limits of Greenstein, a call to create a separate ‘democratic’ Momentum, “The fight for democracy is not a split. Lansman’s coup should be resisted by founding a democratic Momentum, urges Tony Greenstein (Weekly Worker. 23.2.17)
Small wonder that he was suspended from Labour, the old charge of bringing discredit on the party would alone be enough.
Gerry Downing, be it noted, is famous for his writings, and those of his comrade, Ian Donovan, on the Web site Socialist Fight, on the ‘International Jewish Bourgeoisie”.
This is located Donovan writes, in Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism 6-9-2014.
Jewish overrepresentation in the US and other ruling classes. For the United States, which is the most powerful state in human history, you can easily find informed Jewish sources that place the representation of Jews among billionaires, the most powerful elements of the capitalist elite, at between 40 and 48% – nearly half (for example see http://www.jewishworldreview.com/joe/aaron101007.php3). This is the only logically coherent explanation for the power of the so-called lobby. It must be faced fearlessly by Marxists, irrespective of any discomfort that may result from confronting the widespread prejudice (for that is what it is) that to mention, let alone try to analyse, such factual matters is in some way racist. To ignore them in this way is itself an act of betrayal of those on the receiving end of the crimes that result from this state of affairs, and in that sense a chauvinist position.
After a lengthy ‘analysis’ he concludes:
The Jews are not a nation, but they have a pan-national bourgeoisie that had national aspirations and wanted a territorial asset to give expression to that.
This pan-imperialist Zionist bloc within the bourgeoisie plays an active role in the oppression of the Palestinians.
Downing has been expelled from membership of the Labour Party.
Few would be bothered to read the above drivel but they will look at what the right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes revealed.
“An unbylined article on Downing’s Socialist Fight website, which Downing himself tweeted, is headlined: “Why Marxists must address the Jewish Question”. The piece speaks for itself:
“The role Zionists have played in the attempted witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign is glaringly obvious… Since the dawning of the period of neo-liberal capitalism in the 1970s, elements of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, from Milton Friedman to Henry Kissinger to the pro-Israel ideologues of the War on Terror, have played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers.”
Downing appears to have an obsession with “Jewish” people”
Given this background it is not surprising that Downing was thrown out of the Labour Party, and claims about “witch-hunting invention” are distasteful, to say the least.
Is Grassroots Momentum going to campaign to get him back?
Then there is this, which is equally serious, politically if not ethically.
Socialist Fight recently helped organise this pro-Assad meeting on Syria:
To continue on last Saturday’s meeting.
The candidate for this group, Labour Party Marxists, Stan Keable, got 13 votes.
The Latest Labour Party Marxists Bulletin describes the conflict within Grassroots Momentum.
Against Jon Lansman, but for what?
The outline three tendencies (how far they are organised factions is left open):
- Some want a clean split from Momentum – the sooner, the better. There are, naturally, differences over with whom to split, to form what exactly and on what political basis.
- Some want to continue to work in Momentum for now, while at the same time almost replicating the official body – with parallel structures and similar political limitations, but on a lower level: similar campaigns, similar leadership elections, etc.
- Some – and LPM belongs to this third group – agree that we should continue to work within Momentum for the time being, but with a clear understanding of its limited shelf life, openly criticising its exceedingly pinched political outlook and subordination to the politics of Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 pledges.
But essentially it boils down, apparently, to two.
Tina Werkmann of Labour Party Marxists, the New Steering Committee, and, I am not spilling any beans, the group that produces the Weekly Worker, gives an overview.
Are political differences between the two groups?
Definitely. This is reflected in Grassroots Momentum as a whole: Those left on the old steering committee included Alliance for Workers’ Liberty supporters Michael Chessum and Jill Mountford (plus Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack and Jackie Walker); the CAC is made up of Jackie Walker, Alec Price and Delia Mattis (Josie Runswick resigned early on and was replaced by Lee Griffiths). The CAC took control, chaired the whole day and managed to almost totally sideline the AWL.
Jackie Walker and her supporters hate the AWL with a passion, of course.
And I totally understand why. The ugly truth is that AWLers have actively participated in the ‘anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt against her. They supported Jon Lansman in sacking her as Momentum vice-chair in September 2016. In effect, this was a dry run for the next coup – the ‘big one’ on January 10 – when Lansman crushed any democracy in the organisation and simply imposed a new, crassly undemocratic constitution.
It was clear at the GM conference that the AWL has really made a lot of enemies in all of this – just to add to those of us who already opposed their pro-Zionist social-imperialism. There was a great deal of hostility against them on display – and it only increased during the day. I must confess, I almost felt a bit sorry for them. Almost …
Because the few proposals on display were presented so out of context and in a truncated manner, AWL members tried to make various ‘points of order’ throughout the day. Some were more useful than others; some were presented more coherently than others. The AWL’s Rosie Woods, who had taken up a position near the stage, was greeted, after she’d been on her feet a few times, with a rather sectarian chorus of “Sit down, sit down” (led by Gerry Downing, of all people – he’s been on the receiving end of people’s displeasure a few times, so probably should know better). But to claim that they “disrupted” the conference, as some comrades have since done on Facebook, is seriously misleading and excuses the CAC’s role in the often disorganised and muddled way conference was planned and conducted.
Actually, it reminds me of the way Jon Lansman, Owen Jones and Paul Mason have tried to blame ‘the Trots’ (ie, the left) for the failures of Momentum to take off. Not a healthy response …
I happen to be one of those who thinks that the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have sane politics on a variety of issues, from Europe (they are pro-Another Europe is Possible), the Middle East (as for their ” pro-Zionist social-imperialism“, they are for a democratic ‘two states’ solution to the Israel/Palestine issue, and back democratic secular forces against both Islamists, genocidal or ‘moderate’, and tyrannies like Assad’s), and on the need for radical democratic socialist politics in the UK.
Many of us hold these views, without a need to ‘join’ anything more than pressure groups within the Labour Party.
We want to see a Labour government and are intensely aware of the difficulties that presents at the moment.
To that end wish to co-operate with the full range of party members, to reach out to the electorate, while trying to promote ideas of democratic socialism.
The above reports on Momentum Grassroots confirm that we are right not to get directly involved in this particular war, which involves those of the stripe of Greenstein and Downing, however much on the margins.
Regardless that is, if “Our comrades elected to the leadership of this new network will try to work seriously, constructively, and in cooperation with others, to make that happen” this will, I suspect, be the attitude of many on the left.
Meanwhile this is taking place in a couple of days:
More information: Momentum conferences are like buses. Andy Stowe. (Socialist Resistance).
Gerry Downing Unanimously Booted out of LRC.
Gerry Downing was this afternoon expelled from the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), by unanimous decision of the national committee, on grounds of his antisemitism.
From D. O. Saturday 2nd April.
Now that Downing has been kicked out, not just from the Labour Party but from the left-wing LRC, where does his campaign stand?
His pretend Fourth International has called for a united campaign to defend him.
This is their latest statement.
Tony Greenstein partially defended Downing, on narrowly democratic grounds, while solidarising with the witch-hunters on the substantial allegation of ‘anti-semitism’ despite testifying that our comrades are not ‘personally’ racist. This inherently contradictory stance, which coincides with the capitulatory politics of the CPGB whose sympathiser he is, nevertheless did not save him from being witchhunted himself. We welcome his support as far as it goes but continue to demand a proper united front campaign with full freedom of propaganda for the left tendencies to argue their views.
We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that are of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences
We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that is of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences.
He is the latest victim of the renewed onslaught by the supporters of Tony Blair in the Parliamentary party and in the bureaucracy of the Labour party. Whatever our political differences with him for over thirty years he has been the foremost advocate and fighter for the cause of the oppressed Palestinians against their Zionist oppressors in the British labour movement.
This document usefully highlights the fact that now it’s the case of Cde Greenstein that is coming to the fore:
Telegraph 1st of April.
Activist who derides critics as ‘Zionist scum’ admitted to Labour in latest anti-Semitism scandal to hit Party
Labour admitted a previously barred activist who refers to his critics as “Zio idiots” and “Zionist scum”, and claimed that Jews supported the Nuremberg laws, it has emerged.
Tony Greenstein, a prominent campaigner from Brighton, was barred from entry to the Party last summer when vetting of new applicant was stepped up during the leadership contest to prevent a surge of “entryism” from groups who did not share the “aims and values” of Labour.
However, following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, Mr Greenstein slipped back into the party unnoticed.
Evidence compiled by Labour’s compliance unit when Mr Greenstein attempted to join the party last summer, seen by The Telegraph, included his claims in online forums Margaret Thatcher was an “obviously legitimate” target for the IRA and that “Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”.
John Mann MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee into Anti-Semitism said that it was “hugely inappropriate” for Mr Greenstein to have been admitted to the Party.
For those on the left who have not been in a cave five hundred metres underground for the last ten years Tony Greenstein is a familiar figure.
He writes for the Weekly Worker, almost entirely on Zionism and Israel.
Although that paper has many articles worth reading – and I say this not just because many of the authors are friends – Greenstein’s obsessive works are not amongst them.
Greenstein’s activities, as an ‘anti-Zionist’, but more significantly within the labour movement and left have earned him an impressive number of enemies over the years. Those who cordially loathe him include not only union ‘bureaucrats’ (hard-working and respected employees of the TUC and Northern Unemployed Workers’ Centres), but also people from every section of the left right up to a members of an array of anarchist and libertarian groups.
About his only admirers appears to be New Left Review. In 2013 published a strange article, denying that anti-Semitism was a problem in France, and giving a long list of people with Jewish names who are apparently the intellectual ‘gatekeepers’ of the country’s media. It cited Greenstein’s blog (Tony Greenstein’s Blog) as an authority on something to do with Israel (Gabriel Piterberg Euro-Zionism and its Discontents.)
Greenstein, to his honour, does not deny that anti-Semitism is a problem and that some people can use the issue of Israel for a racist anti-Jewish agenda.
He has campaigned against the ‘anti-Zionist’ Gilad Atzmon precisely on this issue.
On the Downing case he has had this to say (last week).
I have no doubt that neither Downing nor Donovan are anti-Semitic in a personal sense and that is why I would not support their expulsion. But at a time when the anti-Zionist left is under attack in the Labour Party and I am under threat of expulsion personally, I would want to have nothing to do with any campaign Gerry might mount against his expulsion. His behaviour and his politics are insupportable and have weakened the position of anti-Zionists in the party, myself included.
The Times and the Telegraph are therefore completely off the ball.
Recently Cde Greenstein joined the Labour Party.
Because of his past -standing as a candidate in Brighton local elections against Labour, and ‘difficult’ (to say the least) relations with Brighton Labour Party, not to mention the kind of antagonism outlined above, it is hard, even with the best will in the world, which I do not have, not to see this as a self-serving stunt.
We intend to treat it as such, and could not care less about the outcome of the Labour Party’s internal review of his membership.
To get involved is to to get entwined.
More importantly it is to divert attention from the cases of serious left-wing activists caught up in attempts to remove them from the Labour Party.
Compare and recall:
Tony Greenstein on Andrew Coates:
However none of that is to justify Andrew Coates chauvinism and racism either. Coates has repeatedly given support to the Israeli state and its claims there on the basis of some Biblical ‘return’. In other words he justifies the colonisation of the West Bank in much the same way as he justifies Israel’s colonisation of Israel behind the Green Line (which has long since been eradicated).”
The Left https://www.facebook.com/groups/869685873109930/?… 25th of March 2016.
Let me be clear, I do not support the ‘Zionist state’: I support the right of the Jewish people to exist in the Middle East.
The problem with anti-Zionism in its present form is that many of its supporters are aligned with people who deny that right.
Further discussion on the issue of Israel – its past and present wrongs – has to begin from this observation.
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!