The Left

The Decent Left

There is an abundance of good stuff around the web today. Here is another excellent piece from Alan Johnson who, after looking at the shameful position some ‘left-wingers’ took in relation to the elections in Iraq looks at the emerging new left:

The post Communist world cannot be reduced to a manichean struggle between “Imperialism” and “Anti-Imperialism.” There is no “anti-imperialist camp” in which the working class and the democrats merge their forces with General Galtieri, the Mullahs of Iran, the Serb chauvinism of Slobodan Milosevic, Ba’athists, or Islamic fundamentalist forces. The latter, especially, can indeed become a magnet for the poor and oppressed, as a reaction to Great Power imperialism, but so, in its day, could Stalinism. Socialists cancel themselves out if they support such forces. Politics involves more than just putting a plus sign where the U.S. State Department puts a negative, to paraphrase Trotsky.

If “anti-imperialism” is defined as whatever, at any given moment, is in conflict with the U.S., then one’s politics are defined negatively, but decisively, by the actions of the U.S. An independent democratic socialist judgement on events is impossible.

When John Pilger says the left ‘should not be choosy’ but should back the fascistic Iraqi ‘resistance’, we refuse. When the left says 9/11 was simply ‘blowback’ for the crimes of US imperialism, we refuse. When Michael Moore asks us to believe that pre-war Iraq was a country of happy kite-flying children, we refuse. When Michael Moore writes ‘there is not terrorist threat, repeat after me, THERE IS NO TERRORIST THREAT’, we refuse. When a warm welcome is extended by the ‘left-wing’ Major of London, Ken Livingstone, to the Fundamentalist cleric, Dr Al-Qaradawi, an anti-semite, and a proponent of the killing of homosexuals and wife-beating, we refuse. When the left fails to rouse itself to oppose Crimes against Humanity in the Balkans, or in Zimbabwe, or in the Sudan, or in North Korea, because to oppose ‘the resistance’ of Slobodan Milosevic or Robert Mugabe or Kim Il Sung is to support ‘imperialism’, we refuse. When the left apologises for the suicide bombers who blow up Jews in coffee bars in Tel Aviv on the grounds that the ‘resistance’ must be supported, and the ‘Zionists’ opposed, we refuse (even as we seek a secure Palestinian state). And when a leader of the Stop the War Movement (and the SWP) John Rees, argues that ‘Socialists should unconditionally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor, even if the people who run the oppressed country are undemocratic and persecute minorities, like Saddam Hussein’, we say enough is enough.

The decent left will emerge as a political force by turning each negative refusal into a positive policy and campaign. For each refusal of ours does carry a positive charge: pro-human rights above all, pro-international solidarity with the victims of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, pro-worker, pro-feminism, pro-gay rights, pro-democracy, pro-liberty, pro-social justice. A decent left politics in the post-cold war world will define itself positively as the pursuit of these values and not as a negative coalition of ‘antis’. On such values we can build a culture not just a political movement.