Alan Johnson calls on his fellow socialists at Workers Liberty to finally break with the Stop The War Coalition and instead build a solidarity movement over Iraq:
The ‘anti-war’ movement by campaigning for an ‘immediate end of the occupation’ whatever the consequences and, in some cases, declaring itself for ‘victory to the resistance’ has made itself a Pro-Tyrant force. The size of the demonstration cannot determine our decision to support it. To build the solidarity movement we always wanted we now need a realignment of forces and a rupture with the ‘anti-war’ left.
There was not one single moment for me when I realised that enough was enough with the ‘anti-war’ left.
Maybe I knew something had snapped on 9/11 itself. After contacting my New York friends to check they were alive, I discovered the SWP (the main organisers of the Stop The War coalition) refused to condemn the attacks. Then the SWP allied with the slick fundamentalists of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), an organisation tied to the fundamentalist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and began politically apologising for, even promoting, that reactionary religious organisation.
Then came Tony Benn and his shameful meeting with Saddam, asking in deferential tones for advice from this Hitlerian figure about how to preserve peace against the ‘imperialists’. The furious reaction of David Aaronovitch to Benn’s behaviour mirrored my own.
When the war against Saddam’s regime began (it was never a ‘war on Iraq’) I recall those anti-war activists who supported Saddam’s Fedayeen thugs, his praetorian guard and the people’s tormentors. Some expressed unrestrained glee for a few hours when it looked possible they might inflict real setbacks on the coalition forces.
The near universal indifference of the left to George Galloway’s record of close personal and political support for the genocidal dictators, Saddam and Tariq Aziz, should have forced every socialist into a profound rethink about the nature of the ‘anti-war’ left as a whole. Anyway, it did me. It was to get much worse. Led by the SWP, the left decided to hoist this walking disgrace to the very leadership of it’s movement and then create an entire political organisation dedicated to his promotion and election as an MEP. Surely that would be the nadir?
It wasn’t. John Pilger and Tariq Ali, both major figures and leaders of the ‘anti-war’ party, then came out openly with positive declarations of support for the fascistic fundamentalist terrorists and Baathist totalitarians of ‘the Resistance’ who were massacring their way across Iraq. ‘You can’t be choosy’ said Pilger. ‘Anti-Imperialism’ said Ali. No criticism of Pilger or Ali was forthcoming from inside the ‘anti-war’ left when they likened the moloch of the Iraqi ‘resistance’ to the French resistance fighters who opposed the Nazis.
And then there was the staged pulling down of the statute of Bush in Trafalgar Square as if to say ‘Aha! Now we will show you whose statute should REALLY have been pulled down!’ Turns out the anti-war movement was not infected with the idea that there was a moral equivalence between Bush and Bin Laden. It was worse. A large chunk really does think Bush is worse. That he, not Osama Bin Laden is, as that nudnik poster has it, ‘The Worlds Number 1 Terrorist’. A legitimate and necessary opposition to US foreign policy is being mis-used to minimise or deny or even to indulge the terrorist threat posed by al-Queda and it is a bloody disgrace.
I hardly need to add agreement with this do I? It will be very interesting to see how the comrades in the AWL react to this and whether they do indeed break their links with Stop the War.
I suppose it could be argued that if the AWL decide not to support demonstrations such as next week’s latest Stopper Parade then the only voice of the progressive left on those marches will be lost.
But if you don’t actual support the aims of a demonstration but attend it and make public your opposition to the organisers, are you not effectively creating a counter-demonstration?
And would that be such a bad thing?
(Via Norman Geras)