Monday, March 20, 2006


Steve, the Pub Philospher, made a good spot a while back that I've been meaning to post for some time now:
Having read this article about the liberal establishment's spineless response to the cartoon wars, I don't understand why Workers' Liberty are trying to sabotage the March for Free Expression.

If they are as concerned about the threat to free speech as they claim, why have they written this letter to Maryam Namazie asking her not to speak at the rally?

OK, they don't like the Freedom Association because of its history of strike-breaking and anti-union activity. I have my doubts about TFA too. I suspect that many of its members have a selective understanding of 'freedom', which extends to the freedom to evade taxes and dump toxic waste into rivers but not to have gay sex or join a trade union.

That said, people on the left have always demonstrated alongside people they don't like. Anarchists and libertarian socialists know very well that Stalinists would have them all shot if they ever got into power. The Communist Party compiled lists on 'enemy' left-wing activists as well as those on the right. Many on the left have experienced intimidation from hard-line Marxists in the struggle for control of unions and campaign groups. None of this prevented left-wing groups from joining forces in greater causes like the miners' strike.
A very good point, and one likely lost on those who would rather use the March as an opportunity to smear their political opponents than join forces to stand up for one of our fundamental rights.

A few points on the AWL's letter to Maryam Namazie, each straight out the Little Red Book of Far Left Cliches:

Obligatory reference to the bourgeoisie? Check.
"We should not let the cause of "free expression" be appropriated and defined by the class-warriors of the bourgeoisie, and activists of the left be annexed by them."
No, of course not. Far better to sit around harping on about worker-communism, allowing the likes of the BNP to hijack this issue, gaining support in the process... Thankfully many on the Left do not share this view and the BNP have been told in no uncertain terms where to go with regards to this rally.

Complete ignorance of how politics works in the real world? Check.
"To ally with the likes of the Freedom Association, on the purely negative basis of opposing political Islam, is as self-destructive as would be allying with George Bush on the purely negative basis of opposing Iranian president Ahmedinejad, or Ahmedinejad on the basis of opposing Bush. It matters not whether Ahmedinejad could write a text denouncing Bush in which, formally, we could agree with every word, or Bush could draft words denouncing Ahmedinejad every one of which, on paper, was true: we should not sign either text, because we know that behind the words both Bush and Ahmedinejad are enemies of the working class."
Presumably they'd rather sit on their hands and moan about both, rather than dealing with one and then the other - how useful.

Mild accusations of racism backed up by a smear? Check.
"At the same time, our fight against political Islam must not diminish our solidarity against racism with Muslim people, as people. Any alliance with the Freedom Association and their like is destructive here, too. The Freedom Association opposes Islam - but in the name of Christian "values" which it considers proper to "Britain". Other organisers of the 25 March event associate with a website called "The Gates of Vienna", which evokes the memory of the wars of centuries past between Christendom and Islam culminating in the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683."
This view is not shared by the likes of the Free Muslims Coalition or Rend Shakir, who have appreciated that Muslims' rights are better protected by their support for freedom of speech and expression, encouraging Muslims to get involved in the March than remain on the fringes of the debate by objecting to the presence of the Freedom Association and staying at home.

Reference to a class struggle? Check.
"No, political Islam cannot properly be fought by attaching ourselves to the likes of the Freedom Association. We must fight political Islam as the principled Marxists fought Stalinism - on a working-class basis, on the basis of a "Third Camp". We can unite with other working-class forces on particular issues when we disagree with them on others - but with working-class forces, or at least forces close or friendly to the working class, and only when the agreement on the particular issue has real substance, and is not just a coincidence of words hiding radically different drives."
Their attitude towards the non-working class borders on 'racism' I'd say, but Trotsky knows best I'm sure.

Completely missing the point of the rally? Check.

I suppose it was wishful thinking expecting much support for democracy and free speech from that particular quarter.


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