I do not think that the SWP are crude racists. I think that when SWPers explain away Atzmon’s views, their weak excuses may well truly represent what they think. Possibly they’re right: perhaps Atzmon only poses as a Third Positioner, without actually believing what he says.
But even on their account, the purpose of Atzmon’s rhetoric is to combat Zionism, which must therefore be for him a greater evil than the propagation of racist views about jews. At least, Atzmon deploys racist rhetoric as a weapon against Zionism, with the intent of depriving it of any legitimacy. Whether Atzmon means what he says is rather beside the point. Atzmon’s main attraction to the SWP is that he shares their position that Zionism, irrespective of its form, has no legitimacy at all.
Now, its not clear to me that the SWP does necessarily think that it is acceptable or necessary to deploy racism to combat Zionism. Jim Denham’s story about Tony Cliff encouraging SWSSers to laugh at his a racist jibe, while jews in the audience cried, suggests that at times it has. In any event, the SWP allies itself with Islamists, who they know often express a broad range of racist views about Jews, which the SWP routinely explains away or “contextualises”.
It is odd, considering that that the SWP professes to abhor racism, that it would behave in such a way: so I accept that it is possible that the SWP’s front-building with people and organisations which express racist views in relation to jews, is so deadly to them that they deny its existence in specific instances, or downplay its danger to both jews and society generally.
But I don’t know.
The alliance with Islamists is equally poisonous to the SWP. That is why the SWP cannot admit that it has an alliance with Islamists, which it manifestly does; unless ex MAB Chairman, Al Tikriti’s candidature under the Respect Coalition banner, in the 2004 European elections somehow did not constitute an alliance.
To have made such a hateful alliance the SWP simply preferred Islamism over Zionism.
Both Islamism and Zionism have certain similarities. At the core of both ideologies, is the view that their group of self defining people either must, should, or can chose, to bind together constitutionally, and govern themselves. Zionists and Islamists in practice have used violence and the threat of violence to govern others who do not define themselves as members of that nationalist whole, and who do not wish to be governed by them. Sharon scares jews into emigrating to Israel; Islamists in power execute their members who wish to leave the faith and escape the laws. There are extreme Islamists who think that muslims *must* be governed by islamic law, whether they want to or not; just as there are jews who want to create a theocratic Zionism, which is similarly imposed on all jews, like it or not.
But there are good things about wanting to self identify and self govern. Its *the* basic political right. Neither Islamism nor Zionism need be forms of fascism, as Chris Harman perceptively noted in 1994: at least in relation to Islamism.
There’s no reason why a moderate Islamist Democratic state, which operated under a form of separation of powers, and which was pluralist, should be opposed, any more than a moderate Zionist Democratic or Christian Democratic state should be. Both could be accepted as legitimate forms of government, just as we accept monocultural and pluralist states as supportable.
Why it is that the SWP has sided with Islamism rather than Zionism?
There must be a third corner to the triangle.
It is tempting to say that that third corner is anti-imperialism, and to some degree it is. But what underpins it, of course, is the SWP old raison d’etre, the one thing that keeps it going when all other trotskyite groups have given up and faded away.
That one motivation is missionary work: or to put it more clearly, the recruitment of more paper sellers.
I’ve come to the shocking – to me – conclusion that the SWP have no genuine interest at all in anti-Zionism. Do they really believe their own absurd theories on the essential nature of Zionism, or the peaceful transformation of what the nutters call Israel, Judea, and Samaria, to a single binational state called Isrestine? No: the SWP is not motivated by a hatred of Zionism at all, any more than it genuinely loathes jews. They’re just trying to recruit cadre, that’s all.
Read Chris Harman’s 1994 piece, “The Prophet and the Proletariat“. What’s it’s conclusion? That Islamists are not always fascists (what a relief it must be for them to realise that!). That they cannot support them against the state (which means that they can join the STWC with them, and therefore get to know them a bit better). That the inherrent contradictions within Islamism will result in a worker’s movement arising (oh goodie!) and that it will gradually fade away (are these people neocons?).
Then, here are the final conclusions:
“Socialists can take advantage of these contradictions to begin to make some of the more radical Islamists question their allegiance to its ideas and organisations–but only if we can establish independent organisations of our own, which are not identified with either the Islamists or the state.”
Trans: Lets invite some of the more radical Islamists – like the MAB! – over into our new party, Respect. We can’t get them all, because we support gays, but we’re soft peddling on that . Still, al Tikriti will stand as a candidate for us and that’s a start. He’s almost a member. But he can’t join the SWP.
When we do find ourselves on the same side as the Islamists, part of our job is to argue strongly with them, to challenge them–and not just on their organisations’ attitude to women and minorities, but also on the fundamental question of whether what is needed is charity from the rich or an overthrow of existing class relations
Trans: We’ll sit them in a corner with a cup of tea, and talk to them until they agree with us. We’ll even argue against on of their pillars of faith: charity! That will show we mean business.
And now for the Grande Finale, the very last sentence of the piece:
The need is for a different approach that sees Islamism as the product of a deep social crisis which it can do nothing to resolve, and which fights to win some of the young people who support it to a very different, independent, revolutionary socialist perspective.
Yes folks! That’s the message! We just want a few more people paying their dues! We’re helping people to target jews? Well, who cares, as long as our circulation goes up.
They’re basically the Daily Mail, aren’t they?
The trouble is, their guests are muttering nasty things under their breaths and wait for them to shut up.
How much longer are they going to stay?
There has been some attempt below to deny that the Muslim Association of Britain is the British section of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Clive points me to the old Muslim Association of Britain website, dating from the days before it was in alliance with the Socialist Workers Party.
In the good old days, before – for the SWP’s sake – it had to pretend that it was not the British section of the Muslim Brotherhood, it linked to a number of other fraternal parties which it described as the “Islamic Movement”. All of these parties – with the exception of the islamist Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan – are called “al-ikhwan-al-muslimoon”: the Muslim Brotherhood.
These were the only parties which, back in early 2001, counted as the “Islamic Movement”, as far as the MAB were concerned.
Get it? As far as the MAB is concerned, there is an Islamic Movement. And it is constituted by the Muslim Brotherhood: narrowly defined, and composed of a handful of sister parties. And, apart from the MAB, that’s it. They’re the ones that count.
Since entering into alliance with the SWP, they link to no such parties at all.
Gone also is their link to the comprehensive library of Muslim Brotherhood theoretical material.
Why do you think that might be?