Dead Men Left

Friday, July 02, 2004

Back to the gutter

Hmm. I was loathe to devote more of my time - and, indeed, yours - to Nick Cohen's favourite "marxists", the misnamed "Alliance for Workers Liberty": they are vile, deceitful, and much given to liberal-racist Muslim-bashing, but fortunately tiny and largely irrelevant were it not for pro-war Cohen dragging them out to shore up his red-baiting in the national press. The AWL's response to the outstanding Respect result - the largest vote the non-Labour left has ever received in Britain - has been dealt with at (frankly rather excessive) length elsewhere on this site. But a reader sent me this snippet from their publication, the equally-misnamed "Solidarity"; it is as foul an article as the British "left" has ever produced:

Striking it rich?

The SWP claim to have broken though to “mass politics” with Respect, but observers report a notable lack of enthusiasm for Respect and George Galloway among SWP members. Now the SWP has announced it is selling the printshop which has subsidised its political work since 1968.

Not having their own press will massively increase the cost of all their publications. Crisis? If so, of growth or decline?
It’s all very déjà vu. In the mid-70s Gerry Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party went into crisis and closed their press. In fact they were moving it to Cheshire to get away from the London print unions. At the same time they sold the organisation to Libya, Iraq and other Arab regimes as a propaganda and spying agency (on Arab dissidents and prominent Jews).

In Britain Gerry Healy, George Galloway and others have found the public support for Arab causes which the SWP now provides very lucrative. Galloway admits taking money for his political activities from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and a Jordanian businessman linked to Iraq.

And the SWP? Will it resolve its financial problems in the, so to speak, now traditional way? I can’t really believe it.
But why not? Socialist principles? Those who ally with the clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood and its UK front the Muslim Association of Britain, have socialist principles?

The really fatal flaw here is this: the SWP press is nearly forty years old. It is expensive to run and maintain, and increasingly uncompetitive. Not using it reduces the cost of publishing our material. Socialist Review, for instance, has now moved to full colour throughout on the basis of outsourced printing. From this fundamental flaw, the rest of the piece unravels, throwing out - as it disintegrates - a series of smears: the racist ("Arab causes... a Jordanian businessman"); the predictable slanders against Galloway (now cleared by the Charities Commission of wrongdoing in the instance cited); and the suggestion that the treacherous SWP will take to spying and espionage at the behest of foreign powers - Arabs, even, and you know what they're like. The only comparison on the "left" that springs to mind, in the far more straitened and explosive circumstances conducive to such things, is Henry Hyndman's filthily xenophobic attack during World War One on a leading Bolshevik sympathiser in Britain, entitled "Who or what is Peter Petroff?" Hyndman's article led to Petroff, acting at the time as future Soviet Consul John Maclean's right-hand man, being detained as an "undesirable alien". Score one for Hyndman's rabidly pro-imperialist (and vehemently antisemitic) "socialist" claque; presumably the AWL are aiming for something similar.

Socialist principles? If only.