The AWL, Israel and Iran

August 23, 2008 at 9:02 am (AWL, David Broder, Iran, islamism, israel, Marxism, trotskyism)

(This is a guest post by David Broder, formerly of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and a vocal “minority” advocate in recent political debates on Iraq, Israel and Iran – VP)

The furore over the recent article by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s Sean Matgamna excusing an Israeli attack on Iran has now died down. The four pages splashed across Thursday’s Solidarity belie the silence that has fallen. There have been hardly any comments on the AWL website about the issue for a week; except for a short piece by Matgamna proving that the CPGB have upset him in the recent Punch-and-Judy, the articles in Solidarity are all old reprints from the website discussion; the statement circulated between around a dozen AWL minority comrades did not make the paper; and the discussion bulletin promised for August 17th never materialised.

This was hardly surprising – the participants in the discussion all had totally different parameters for debate and therefore the argument ran into the ground without any new conclusions being drawn. This despite the one glaring similarity between the Matgamna position and the so-called “kitsch left” position, namely that neither side is aware of the difference between the interests of the working class and their ‘national’ ruling class and therefore have no option but to line up behind the “lesser evil” bourgeoisie, whether that be the “anti-imperialist” rulers of Iran or Israel, which Solidarity labelled “the most democratic society on Earth”.

The level of debate was appalling. Sean Matgamna – who admitted at our North London AWL branch meeting when challenged that he could not name a single Iranian trade unionist and was unaware of strikes taking place in Iran – simply assumed that the Iranian rulers were all al-Qaedist suicide bombers and that they were developing nukes. Anyone who knows me will know that I am no apologist for the Iranian regime, but you have to take the dynamics of the situation seriously. Khatami has repeatedly criticised “hard liners”, preaching moderation, civilian nuclear energy only, and Iran-US negotiations. A brief search on Google reveals that Iran’s “Supreme Leader” Khamenei issued a Fatwa against the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons in August 2005, unlike Mohsen Gharavian – a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, who is close to Ahmedinejad – who in February 2006 said that it was permissible to use them. I would certainly not advocate alliance with sections of the regime opposed to Ahmedinejad or support for “reform” Islamists, but they are a real factor in the situation.

Furthermore, the argument was characterised by ridiculous personal attacks. On the AWL website Mark Osborn wrote that “in an ideal world [Workers' Power's] Richard [Brenner] would be well balanced and a foot taller”, called Bill Jefferies “Bill Braincell” Ben Lewis “Benny Boy” and made a Welsh/sheep-shagger joke about the CPGB’s Mark Fischer. Tom Unterrainer wrote that “when it comes down to it HOPI will strain every sinew to excuse and defend the actions of Iranian clerical fascism against the Iranian working class”, without any explanation. If only the AWL leadership really did devote as much time building links with Iranian socialists as they did to squabbling with the rest of the left, their position would be a little more credible. Not that any of the Iraqi socialists they would talk to refuse to call for “troops out now”; similarly, I doubt the Iranians would be too delighted if the Israeli jets came and the AWL “refused to condemn” it.

You might be wondering why I’m moaning about all this: of course, none of this behaviour is new. After the close vote on Iraq at the AWL conference in May, Mark Osborn had loudly heckled that the group was full of “Maoist youth”. Last summer there was a pathetic fight between the CPGB and AWL, with lengthy, rambling personal attacks in both papers and the bizarre spectacle of the AWL’s Paul Hampton picketing the CPGB’s Communist University holding a cornflakes box and making chicken noises. I can’t quite remember what the dispute was about: I’m sure some trainspotters of the “blogosphere” will. Solidarity has just as much bumpf about left groups as any other paper.

While I had generally disliked the culture of AWL internal debates, which are usually characterised by a few people rallying around the EC and blandly asserting that their critics are “ill-educated” or “outside the tradition” without any explanation, what really changed my mind about the possibility of “reforming” the AWL was a specific incident that took place at the group’s office, where I have worked on-and-off, two weeks ago.

It started when I received a phone call from Tom Unterrainer that morning. As soon as I had said “hello” he said “I hear that you’re organising a faction”. Tom said that Sean and him were concerned about my recent “behaviour” in the Israel-Iran debate and wanted me to come to the office and discuss it with them.

Unsurprisingly, at the “meeting”, Sean repeated the age-old claim that I had pieced together a “rotten bloc” of minority comrades who I allegedly “actually” disagreed with.

But, much worse, in a series of paranoid slanders I was also repeatedly accused of supporting and goading on “kitsch left” attacks on the AWL; questioned on what links I have with the CPGB (a group I left over the question of Respect more than four years ago, aged 15, having been a member for barely two months) and Workers’ Power; and questioned over my motivations for having a personal friendship with Ben Lewis, who is in the CPGB.

In a breathtaking accusation of disloyalty, they asked what meetings I had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power. Even to ask the question is an open expression of mistrust. (Thinking back, I once did go to meet Luke Cooper and Richard Brenner from WP, and did go to the Communist Students conference… in both cases having sought the AWL Executive Committee’s permission in advance!)

In this vein, I was asked how come the CPGB and I “use the same formulations to polemicise against [Sean]“. By “same formulations” they meant: I recently criticised Sean for “excusing” an Israeli attack on Iran, then a few days later the Weekly Worker had a headline criticising Sean with the word “excuse” in: as if the mere word “excuse” were some new invention of mine.

So not only was I accused of having been provoked the whole debate (since it was I who wrote the first response to Sean’s article on the website: apparently the article itself was not the cause of the row), thereby giving some sort of passive encouragement to the “kitsch left” to attack Sean: but I was also accused of active collaboration with the CPGB and Workers’ Power.

The one thing not up for discussion at the “meeting” was the politics of Sean’s article: Sean said he did not want to discuss it since my response was “not political” but rather “a stream of personal attacks”. He couldn’t cite any specific personal attack though, which made me think that they can’t have been particularly hurtful, and he turned down my offer to show him the article so that he could point out where all the personal attacks were.

Indeed, at this “meeting”, after repeatedly expressing my objections, I was mandated by these two Executive Committee members to produce a statement repudiating the CPGB and Workers’ Power and affirming my loyalty to the AWL, which Sean would then “vet” and make “suitable” for publication. When I sarcastically commented that rather than “vetting” the statement, maybe Sean should write it himself and put my name on it, he paused and then said – apparently entirely sincerely – to Tom, “I’d prefer to do that, but then he’ll claim afterwards that he was forced to do it”.

Indeed I was forced to do it. But I didn’t – to write a “statement of loyalty” and stick it up on the AWL site would have been grotesque. The culture in the AWL is not “Healyite”, but this was along those kind of lines.

I instead wrote a message to the AWL’s email list explaining what had happened and why I wouldn’t do it, which was met with a cavalcade of responses from all the usual suspects, most of them claiming that it was in fact I who was acting undemocratically since I should have written my response to Sean on the National Committee email list rather than publicly. Quite why I am to blame for “starting” a discussion for writing the second piece in it (you see, without a second post it wouldn’t have been a discussion, just an article… although it was entitled “discussion article”, which implies that it should be both…) is beyond me.

In a bizarre rant, Sean said that the cause of the problem was that… “David has bought into some commonplace anti-Bolshevik mythologies: he clearly does not agree with the organisational norms of the AWL, or of the political tradition that we trace back to the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party. He sees or construes things – in this case the ‘meeting’ – to fit the anti-Bolshevik caricature of organisations like the AWL.” I was furthermore an “anti-Bolshevik” and a “centrist-anarchist”. People took sides on the “meeting” according to their views on Israel and Iran.

A discussion bulletin had been mooted, and the “meeting” was meant to be discussed at the next National Committee. Of course, there is no way in which Sean Matgamna and his ally Tom Unterrainer could have been censured by such a meeting.

There is, indeed, no prospect of replacing the EC of the AWL with another set of people, and that stymies all other discussions. If Dan Randall’s “troops out” motion had got a few more votes at the group’s conference and secured 51%, that would not have changed anything, since the same people would write the same articles about Iraq, perhaps calling their pieces “discussion articles”. The same people would be in charge of educationals and set the tone of all debate and discussion, and indeed even if the AWL had voted for “troops out of Iraq” Sean’s piece would still have appeared and had all the same outcomes, including the heretic-hunting “meeting”.

All debates are in any case largely between people on the leading committees of the group and have little input from the rest of the membership: I was amused by the suggestion that I am just angry at not being on the AWL EC, given that any vote on that committee on any issue would have been 6 against 1. In this case, Sean Matgamna decided that he disagreed with the conference policy on Iran and thus wrote an article saying we should not oppose an Israeli attack against that country: now it is universally believed that this is the AWL position, there is a moratorium on discussion, and so he has got his way.

With all that in mind, Chris Ford and I agreed that it was pointless to continue fighting in the AWL. There are lots of dedicated and intelligent comrades in the AWL who I was reluctant to break with: but they also will hit a brick wall (and the same kind of behaviour) if they attempt to fight the leadership. The only real alternatives are to leave or to bury yourself in your “own” campaigns and activism while semi-ignoring the “big politics” spouted by the AWL leadership. The latter is of course pointless – you can be a perfectly good activist or union militant without advocating any of the ideas expressed by the AWL.

Presumably all AWL “dissidents” want to advocate independent working-class politics, re-examine the state of our movement and the tasks of the working class and articulate a vision for a communist society. They will have much more chance of doing that with Chris Ford, myself and others who were not in the AWL than they will by remaining in that organisation.

440 Comments

  1. Dave said,

    David, I hear you’ve just celebrated your 20th birthday. Well, if it’s any consolation, some of us were getting treated like this by Trot sect gurus before you were born. That’s precisely the tragedy; the British far left never learns.

    I am saddened to read of your experiences, as I had imagined the AWL were somehow ‘better’ than this.

  2. Are you the SWP in disguise? said,

    This is the kind of behaviour I´d expect from the SWP. I thought the AWL were supposed to be pluralist, and allowed its members to make public criticisms. This is very worrying… the Left never learns indeed.

  3. modernityblog said,

    the British Left is very, very English, even if not all of its leaders are.

  4. johng said,

    This sounds just like a blog discussion with Jim Denham and Modernity. Perhaps they should form their own organisation and compete with the AWL.

  5. johng said,

    Particularly amusing (and charecteristic) were the revelations about the complete ignorence of any actual political developments in Iran, the absence of any real solidarity work (hardly surprising: which socialist organisation in the ME would work with people who would refuse to condemn an Israeli attack on Iran, or on the other hand can’t work out whether they support a US occupation of Iraq or not) and the method of argument (Jim, your wasted you should be on the CC), which appears to involve accusing people of not being Marxist if they refuse to support all these things. The Bolshevik method? Why even pretend.

  6. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    “I am saddened to read of your experiences, as I had imagined the AWL were somehow ‘better’ than this.”

    This is a good one. I’m slightly astounded that people ever fell for the redundant formalism of the AWL’s commitments to “pluralism” and “internal democracy”: it’s been clear that the evil, eeeeeevil SWP are significantly more democratic than this freakish microsect.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    The treatment that Comrade Broder has recieved is extraordinary and in stark contrast to the democratic traditions of most of the British Leninist left, eg the exemplary tradition of internal democracy within the organisation (the SWP) that ‘Jouvenile Dwarf’ is a member of; some questions that I demand answers to:

    1/ Was Comrade Broder allowed to produce a position paper and/or a resolution and/or amendments at the AWL’s national conference?

    2/ Was Comrade Broder allowed to stand for the National Committee of the oganisation?

    3/ Was Comrade Broder allowed to address branches and/or aggregates of the AWL, in support of his position?

    4/ Were Comrade Broder’s documents circulated to all members of the AWL prior to voting at the conference?

    5/ Was Comrade Broder even allowed to address the National Conference of the AWL?

    6/ Was Comrade Broder allowed *any* access to the public prints (or website)of the AWL to put forward his positions?

    7/ Was Comrade Broder allowed to even express his disagreement with the AWL majority in public?

    8/ Was Comrade Broder even offered the opportunity to form a faction?

    9/ *Why* was the Comrade expelled?

    Until the AWL can offer *any* answers to *any* of the above, democratic socialists will have to follow ‘Juvenile Dwarf”s lead, and look to those exemplary pluralists of the SWP for lessons in the rights of minorities within a democratic centralist organisation.

  8. Jim Denham said,

    Oh, and Father John: the AWL could clearly take some lessons from the SWP, in building links with Iranian trade unionists as well, eh? Like “Why do you pro- imperialist scum object to being killed, tortured and imprisoned by the heroic, anti-imperialist government?
    And as for those Iraqi, pro-imperialists calling themselves trade unionists: they won’t even lay their lives down willingly on behalf of the heroic resistance!

    P.S: Off hand, I’d have difficulty remembering the names of Iranian trade unionists: but I *do* remember taking action in their support when the IFTU called for it.

  9. modernityblog said,

    you’d think that after the recent events that SWPers might have learnt something? doesn’t seem as if they have?

    JohnG, have any more Left Listers defected to the LibDems? or do they feel more at home with the Tories?

  10. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    Learned to have a good chortle at this sort of thing, certainly. It still beggars belief that anyone could take all the AWL’s “pluralist” mumbo-jumbo seriously: perhaps they all also believe that the Soviet Union, circa 1936, was a shining beacon of democracy and freedom for the world. Just look at its lovely constitution.

  11. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Well done David for escaping the AWL cult seemingly still sane and having done what was possible to oppose Matgamna Madness.

    These self-serving cults were a product of the glacial politics of the Cold War. Now that the world has changed and is changing rapidly they are lost and are throwing their hats in with various ruling classes. The AWL has gone Zionist and the SWP has joined Putin’s Party.

    With these gouplets gone Trotskyism has a chance of being retrieved from the Gramscian-Stalinist pit they buried it in.

  12. Jim Denham said,

    I realise, Juvenile, that you’re not really in a position to answer my nine questions at #7, above: but until we have answers, you might be well-advised to keep schtum… Sean MtG, myself and literally hundreds of others have been expelled from the SWP (and IS) over the years, without *any* minority rights…let alone the right to form a faction.

  13. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    You’re addressing me, Denham? I’m afraid I simply couldn’t give two hoots about your self-serving list of demands (a rhetorical device that is, in your trembling hands, becoming somewhat stale). Broder has decisively revealed the AWL’s formal “pluralist” commitments for what they are: an opportunity to proclaim Matgammna “the genius of the new society, great leader of world communism, the shining light of the masses” (etc etc from memory). Mind you Stalin had his own army, he didn’t have to try and badger someone else’s to bomb things.

    Personally, I find it somewhat questionable that an tightly-knit, ideologically-motivated organisation of less than 10,000 members should think itself big enough to sustain *permanent* factions. There’s a case to be made, but it’s a little feeble. By the time you get to an organisation of 50, like the AWL, you’re beyond satire. I mean form your own organisation, go and build and organise if you think you’re right. Just get out a bit more, really.

  14. johng said,

    The funniest thing about this (aside from uncle jim reproducing all the methods COMRADE Broder, exemplery fellow that he is, complained of, managing to imply I’m an anti-semitic clerical fascist of both shi’a and catholic kinds in one sentance, despite the fact that the SWP probably has had considerably more contact with Iranian oppositionists then the AWL have ever dreamt of) is the line about Sean stating ‘in that case he’ll pretend we forced him’. Now there is a man who knows ALL the TRICKS. For naifs like Modernity whose never been on the left let me explain what this wierd little sect’s MO is. Behave in the most screechily offensive manner imaginable (preferably accusing all and sundry of anti-semitism, supporting the bombing of a number of distant countries of which they know nothing, etc, etc and then plaintively bewailing the absence of ‘democracy’ and ‘pluralism’ if someone tells them to fuck off. One can see the attraction for Modernity come to think of it, an attraction sadly not shared by most of the left). Sean, a man whose held just about every and any position its possible for a Trot to hold, and then some, is clearly rather suspicious about the possibility of such methods being used on him. I won’t respond to modernity as he’s someone who thinks its possible to be ‘provoked’ into bombarding civilian population centres, and, after all, I have friends round where I live. Obviously the business of taking loyalty oaths is like something out of catch 22. I think once things reach that stage a parting of the ways is rather better. Its hardly human rights abuse. Its just, unlike with serious politics, very, very funny in this case.

  15. Jason S. said,

    I wish I could say I was surprised about Cde. Broder’s treatment, but it’s par for the “Bolshevik” course, apparently. I used to think that the AWL represented the healthiest tendency on the UK Left. Shows what I know.

    David should write a pamphlet: “Right-Wing Leninism, A Senile Disorder.”

  16. Jim Denham said,

    So, Juvenile: you’re actually *not* in favour of faction rights for minorities? So don’t you think your professed symapthy for Comrade Broder is just a trifle…well..bollocks?

    As for Father John G. Coughlin, that man of God and religion and post-modernism…what fucking point is he trying to make, apart from suggesting that the Stalinist ex-Marxist sect of anti-semites he’s a member of have anything whatsoever to with proletarian democracy? Now *that*’s good for a laugh…

  17. Jim Denham said,

    B.t.w: I’ve just re-read Dave’s statement, and note that he claims that Sean MatG “avocates” an Israeli attack on Iran. Given that Dave is a well-educated, bright lad, I’m not going to allow him the excuse of ignorance, stupidity, or not being able to read and/or understand, properly: *WHERE*, Dave, does Matgamna *advocate* such an attack? Quote chapter and verse, please.

  18. runia said,

    Jim,

    The answers to questions 1-8 are yes, David wasn’t expelled but resigned, and this may all mean that being criticised by the SWP for undemocratic behaviour is hypocritical and ridiculous(hardly setting yourselves high standards) but how does any of that excuse the alleged treatment of David by Sean and Tom?
    I came across the fact that David had resigned and his accusation first in a comment on the AWL site and now I get here and see it fleshed out.

    As an ex-AWLer myself I find this quite shocking and very disturbing.
    One thing which, to me, marked the AWL out on the trot left was its (genuine) relative pluralism, rationality and democracy.
    If David’s account of his treatment is accurate this is Healyism Jim, unashamed, paranoid, bullying Healyism.
    You should get Sean to stop reading Cannon and get back to Schachtman,, or better still pension him off.
    Or maybe its always been like this under the surface. During my membership there was never as close a faction fight on any issue as there was this year on Iraq and no almost 50/50 votes at conference on any issues. All major dissenters numbered no more than 5 or 10 people. Is a pretence of plurality and democracy maintained when the leadership isn’t threatened, but once it is Sean’s Healyite paranoid bullying comes to the fore?

    What I would like to hear is someone who defends David’s alleged treatment by Sean and Tom(Jim?) to confirm whether David’s accusation is true, if they consider it a half-truth and distorted or if it is a lie.

    I have drawn the conclusion in the last year or so that the ‘acceptable face’ of Bolshevism, Trotskyism, is not as nice and cuddly as it seems, the excesses of the Bolshevik Party, the terror of the Cheka, the shooting of deserting soldiers ordered by ‘the old man’ himself could not be explained away by the pressures of the civil war but are inherent in the vanguardist, Bolshevik method of organisation.
    Trotsky was right in 1905 that the party substitutes itself for the class, the central committee substitutes itself for the party, and a dictator substitutes himself for the central committee.

  19. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    *What* sympathy for Comrade Broder? He should never have joined in the first place.

    [Although it does seem, form the little I bother to find out about these groupuscule tiffs - and, believe me, Denham, life is much, much too short - to have been a much better sort of socialist than, say, the slobbering lout you appear to be. I say "much better sort of socialist": I mean "actually a socialist", of some sort, rather than a foamy-mouthed cheerleader for pre-emptive strikes and spittle-flecked fantasist of mass murder. Like Max Shachtman, without the charm, talent, or wit. Or political credibility. Or sobriety.]

  20. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    “Is a pretence of plurality and democracy maintained when the leadership isn’t threatened, but once it is Sean’s Healyite paranoid bullying comes to the fore?”

    Lawks! Do you think? Gosh!

    (Sorry, shouldn’t, but well… it’s one of those questions that answers itself, really, isn’t it?)

  21. runia said,

    Johng has not got a leg to stand on, as he well knows.
    He is a member of an organisation which for most of its existence jumped from one political opinion to another based on the whim of its eccentric and infallible leader.
    This was carried through by enforcers/thugs who made sure that the members followed the line back in the branches.

    I hope Jim will address David’s accusations and largely ignore the SWP hypocrites.

  22. davidbroder said,

    Jim,

    I didn’t say that Sean advocated an attack on Iran. He explicitly said he didn’t.

    All I said was that the expressions he uses to avoid doing so were weasel words and implicitly justified/excused an attack, although not actually calling for it.

    David

  23. runia said,

    Juvenile Dwarf is well-named.
    His/Her haughty tone is ill/advised given his/her apparent membership of an organisation worse than the AWL in all the respects David alleges.

  24. davidbroder said,

    by the way, I’m now involved in a new project called ‘the commune’

    website: http://www.thecommune.wordpress.com

  25. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Matgamna doesn’t advocate an attack because it would destroy what little reputation Israel has in the world not because Iranians will die but he will justify it when it happens. He is more Zionist than the Zionists.

  26. the commune - new website/nouveau site-web/novo sitio web/nuevo sitio web « La Bataille socialiste said,

    [...] (to find out why I left the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, visit http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/the-awl-israel-and-iran/) [...]

  27. Jim Denham said,

    David: having re-read your piece, I agree that you don’t accuse Sean M of “advocating” an Israali attack on Iran. You say “Sean would not oppose” such an attack. The article you’re referring to *starts out* by opposing such an attack. So, I repeat: a young comrade of your education and brightness cannot claim to be unable to read and/or understand. You may disagree with Sean’s article (you clearly do)…but why *lie* about what he actually says?

    Finally: what do you have to say about my nine questions at #7,above?

  28. runia said,

    Jim,

    What do *you* have to say about David’s account of his Healyite treatment at the hands of Sean and Tom?

  29. Jim Denham said,

    Runia: I don’t claim that Sean is always friendly and good mannered. What I ask you, Dave and other serious comrades (ie not the hysterical assholes like Dwarf and anti-semitic nutters like Father Coughlin): how have anyone’s (lincluding Dave’s) democratic rights been abused here? I just don’t geddit. Being nasty to someone, calling into question their loyalty, and pointing out that they’re not really in the Marxist tradition, is not the same as denying them democratic rights. And the accusation of “Healyism” (a sect that regularly used physical violence, remember) is simply…ludicrous. As well as slanderous/libellous.

  30. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    …As well as slanderous/libellous.

    Brilliant, just brilliant! So screeching and baseless denunciations of random SWP members, in the most vile terms possible, are fair comment… but Runia’s (not unreasonable) suggestion that Matgamna has behaved like a political cult leader is “slanderous/libellous”.

    You’re just the gift that keeps on giving, aren’t you, Denham? (It’s the narcissistic absence of any sense of irony that really tickles me in all this.)

  31. Jim Denham said,

    Dwarf (who opposes the rights of minorities to form factions-so much for your sense of democracy!): Runia said ‘Healyite’. The Healyites were notorious for physically assaulting minorities and dissidents. Do you wonder that I object to the comparison? Never mind your bollocks about a “lack of irony” … you’re a member of the SWP. aren’t you? Now *there’s* an irony for you…”comrade”…

  32. paul m said,

    I can’t see what Broder has to complain about, other than not agreeing with Sean Matgamna. He posted an article on the AWL site attacking SM, when the usual approach would be to resolve these things in a structured democratic manner.

    As Jim says, from my experience many years ago, things can get heated, people loose their tempers sometimes. Broder is, as far as I can tell, a young man and maybe isn’t used to this kind of thing. I don’t know. The cornflake incident does seem a bit odd…however…

    to compare the AWL to the brutal regimes of the Militant, SWP and the WRP is rotten shocking nonsense.

  33. runia said,

    Jim,

    “Being nasty to someone, calling into question their loyalty, and pointing out that they’re not really in the Marxist tradition, is not the same as denying them democratic rights.”

    This is as near to answering my question about whether you accept David’s version of events as true you have got. Are you saying it is a fuss about nothing and David is being unnecessarily precious?

    “And the accusation of “Healyism” (a sect that regularly used physical violence, remember) is simply…ludicrous. As well as slanderous/libellous.”

    1. As I knew nothing about this until today, I’m concerned to establish the facts, which is why I asked you if you factually accept David’s version of events. Note I have been careful to use the word ‘alleged’ throughout.
    I have no particular reason to doubt what David says, but would like a comment from someone on the other side on his account of events.

    2. I’m not for a moment suggesting that Sean is equivalent to Healy.
    Healy was a rapist and a violent thug who spied on Iraqi communists and other dissidents for payment from Saddam Hussein.
    However, just as one can be a theocratic bully without torturing people like the Spanish Inquisition did, one can act like a Healyite without committing all or even most of the crimes of the repulsive man himself.

    These are the relevant points in David’s account in the original post:
    David strongly and publicly opposed Sean in replying to what was, after all, a ‘discussion document’ and he gets lumped together with the infantile antics of the CPGB(PCC). His response was argued in good faith (I actually broadly agree with you and Sean against David politically on the issue).
    He is then ‘invited’ to a meeting with the sect guru and the main national organiser to be questioned about whether or not he is a spy from CPGB(PCC) or Workers’ Power and asked to sign a loyalty statement.
    Now come on Jim, calling in to question someone’s loyalty is not the same as demanding of them to sign a loyalty statement to be published. You know enough about Stalinism and Stalinoid organisations to know the difference.
    That is what I mean by Healyism.

  34. runia said,

    “Among the last survivors were three men named Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. It must have been in 1965 that these three had been arrested. As often happened, they had vanished for a year or more, so that one did not know whether they were alive or dead, and then had suddenly been brought forth to incriminate themselves in the usual way. They had confessed to intelligence with the enemy (at that date, too, the enemy was Eurasia), embezzlement of public funds, the murder of various trusted Party members, intrigues against the leadership of Big Brother which had started long before the Revolution happened, and acts of sabotage causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people. After confessing to these things they had been pardoned, reinstated in the Party, and given posts which were in fact sinecures but which sounded important. All three had written long, abject articles in The Times, analysing the reasons for their defection and promising to make amends.”

    http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/6.html

  35. modernityblog said,

    power eh? talking about it going to people’s heads?

  36. runia said,

    Paul,

    It is shocking, as I said in my first comment at #18.
    I was and am shocked.

    Do you think that being accused of being a spy and asked to sign a loyalty statement is an attempt ‘to resolve these things in a structured democratic manner’?

  37. Jack Haslam said,

    Jim,

    Sean’s piece was a classic of what the Americans call ‘dog whistle ‘ politics i.e. giving out a message while studiously denying you’re giving out that message. It is entirely predictable that it would provoke the kind of reaction that it did from AWL members who thought that the AWL was really opposed to an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    This type of exercise in verbal gymnastics has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. It isn’t healthy and it doesn’t provoke politically enlightening discussion.

    As for moral guardians of labour movement internationalism the GPGB , do they still get most of their funding from that lad who’s family made a fortune out of dry cleaning?

  38. Juvenile Dwarf said,

    Denham – your drunken late-night offers of “debates” I always assume are close to threats of physical violence, so “Healeyite” certainly seems apposite. You’re frequently drunk and verbally violent, apparently aiming to incite physical violence (eg calling socialists “pro-Nazi”, fascists, etc.) “Healeyite” it is.

  39. JohnG is vile said,

    Congratulations to JohnG. This is the first time I’ve seen him express himself on a blog when he wasn’t defending some manifestation of anti-Jewish racism.

  40. Jim Denham said,

    Runia and Jack: I wasn’t centrally involved in what went on, and I have no intention of painting myself into the corner of appearing to defend every last detail of what happened with regard to Dave Broder…BUT…
    I’d refer you to my comments at #7, above;

    …And I repeat that the allegation of “Healyism” *is* slanderous/libellous. I simply don’t understand what runia means when s/he says “one can act like a Healyite without commiting all or even most of the crimes of the repulsive man himself”… how? By being nasty? But Healyism *means* physical violence and rape: that’s what it is! It doesn’t just mean “nasty” or “rude”, any more than the term “Stalinism” means just being bureaucratic and intolerant of oppositions, or “Nazi” means being right-wing and not liking Jews.

  41. runia said,

    “how? By being nasty?”

    No, by paranoid accusations of spying and demanding public humiliation in the form of a ‘loyalty statement’.

  42. Jim Denham said,

    runia: you’re changing the terms of the debate here. I have long felt that Dave B wasn’t behaving like a loyal oppositionist. Whether it was right to demand a “loyalty” statement from him, I’m not so sure about, but even at its worst, that demand wasn’t a denial of his democratic rights: just the AWL taking steps to protect itself as an organisation. Not unreasonable, surely? As far as I’m aware, even Dave B himself has not claimed he was “public(ly) humiliat(ed). ” Indeed, he was allowed to publicly disagree with the AWL majority.

    As I say: maybe I’m missing something here, but what’s his beef, exactly?

  43. runia said,

    Jim,

    I’ve not changed ground at all. I offended you with my choice of words, and maybe Healyite is too strong. Either way, I now regret using it as it has taken us on a tangent.

    The public humiliation would have been if he had agreed to this:

    “I was mandated by these two Executive Committee members to produce a statement repudiating the CPGB and Workers’ Power and affirming my loyalty to the AWL, which Sean would then “vet” and make “suitable” for publication.”

    If this is true, and you have now said you don’t know if it is which is fair enough, that’s a fairly substantial piece of beef.

  44. Jim Denham said,

    Dwarf: you really are a loon if you think that offering to publicly debate someone is “close to threats of physical violence”… (#38, above)…on the other hand you *are* a member of the SWP, where genuine debate is probably thought of in that light…

  45. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Two bald men fighting over a comb. Yound David was forced out, there is no doubt about that. I wonder if Mark Steel was given a similar ultimatum by the SWP when his contribution to internal debate was taken up by others.

  46. Jim Denham said,

    Runia; I’m glad that you’ve accepted that “maybe Healyite is too strong”. That allows us to continue to have a rational debate, which I welcome.

    I suppose what I’m saying (in a nutshell) is this: if David Broder had said something like:

    “The politics of the AWL majority, as expressed by Sean Matgamna in his disgraceful article on Israel and Iran, are so awful that I can no longer remain a member of this organisation”, then I wouldn’t agree with him, but I could understand him and respect his personal integrity.

    What I do *not* understand, or respect, is his attempt to make out that he’s been denied his democratic rights. I refer you and other readers (including David himself) to my (rhetorical) questions at #7, above.

    I also note that (so far, anyway) none of David’s supporters within the AWL have seen fit to follow him.

  47. runia said,

    Jim,

    I have addressed your comment #7 and I have said what I think the problem is as well as I can; repeatedly.
    There’s not really much else to say.

  48. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Well, certainly if David had remained in the AWL after an Israeli strike on Iran being justified by Matgamna he would have been finished as a Marxist. I think what David discovered was that you cannot argue for Marxist politics in the AWL or, rather, you can but its pointless.

  49. Jim Denham said,

    Fair enough, runia: you have, at #18, above given your answers to my questions. So I take it that you agree with me that David simply doesn’t have a case on grounds of democracy?

    What else, indeed, is there to say? Unless you think being subjected to …*rudeness*… is grounds for leaving a Marxist organisation?

  50. David Broder said,

    Jim,

    I didn’t say that I was expelled, I said that I had decided to leave. I agree that AWL comrades have the democratic rights that you mention – but these count for an awful lot less if they are married with a certain culture, behaviour patterns, leadership cliques etc.

    I don’t think being mandated to write a “statement of loyalty” after being accused of being a mole for some other group is just a question of “rudeness”. It’s plain weird.

    Clearly the manner in which the discussion is had (loyal presentation of arguments, regard for truth, mutual trust) is a precondition for meaningful, honest, democratic discussion.

    My reason for leaving is not just a lack of democracy – that is far from the case. It is a combination of significant disagreements with the politics of the AWL leadership; significant disagreement with the way they argue for those politics and the way they invoke “tradition” – as they call it – against their critics; personal attacks; the culture of the group’s leadership; and the sort of behaviour I describe in my post.

    Obviously, the ‘real’ reason I left the AWL is the political questions posed. (If it wasn’t, we’d never have had the row in the first place)

  51. Darren said,

    JohnG,

    your glass house seems to be very draughty this time of year. It must be all those broken windows.

  52. David Broder said,

    I hardly think the SWP can weigh in “on my side” in this one, given that they outstrip the AWL by miles on every one of the problems the latter has.

    Jim suggests that I could instead have written “The politics of the AWL majority, as expressed by Sean Matgamna in his disgraceful article on Israel and Iran, are so awful that I can no longer remain a member of this organisation”. This is somewhat true, but not the only question.

    Not only do I mean that Israel/Iran is not the only question – to be honest, given my criticisms of Trotskyism, in a sense I was rather out of place on the NC of the AWL, which is unflinchingly Trotskyist and claims to represent the logical continuation of Trotsky’s supposed “real” views (had only he lived to voice them…)

    But also in the sense that if I believed that Sean Matgamna was just another member of the AWL, and had happened to write a rubbish article with no working-class politics, it would have been much less important and could have been dismissed.

    But in reality, of course, he is not just another member. He is the most prominent member. When he writes terrible articles like this, almost all the AWL-majority people stand up for him uncritically, and then he engages in personal attacks and behaviour like our “meeting”, he is pushing through a change in “the line”, not just starting a discussion. That is totally out of order. It is not a meaningful “debate”, since you can’t agree any common ground or share any parameters of discussion.

  53. Gingersnapsh said,

    If I were ever to leave the SWP and join another hard left organization – it would probably be a split Left Faction of the AWL. But I most likely would never do that. Also I don’t think splits are the way to solve these things…..

    The split in Respect for example was believed by some as a possible step to success.

    For some of those on the right it was a chance to get rid of the blockers and ultra-leftists, for some of those on the left it was a chance to get rid of the businessmen and oppurtunists. Both sides got their wish and in the end there was no party left!

    My thoughts on the AWL: Don’t split – Impeach Magmatmanaaamananamanama. Surely he’d be happier on his own anyway?

  54. Alan Laurence said,

    On first reading of DB’s original post I assumed he had already left the AWL, was working for another group and this was his parting shot. Why else would he want to write as he did? Even a youngster would surely know that declaring a leading comrade ‘dishonest’ amongst innumerable other personal attacks is out of bounds: why would a responsible member want to do this?

    DB knows that the AWL is permanently under attack for its ‘third camp’ politics and the attitude of any responsible member is never, ever to give comfort to the bollock-brain left who would paint the organisation as late-Shachtmanite. But that’s exactly what he did – and now he whines for being expected to make amends for his transgressions, for his invitation to any and every shit-head leftist to come a-wooing. He is a very naive boy to write for an external audience in the tones he adopted and not expect to be called to account and viewed with suspicion.
    (And expecting a comrade to behave responsibly towards his organisation is nothing to do with what will happen to him if he doesn’t. That DB thought he would get away with it is evidence that the AWL is extremely tolerant.)

    I tried to give DB the benefit of the doubt, read him again, attribute his tone to nothing more than a young chap trying to look like an experienced comrade and take him at face value. Not possible: it’s impossible to uphold such a charitable view when DB asks in apparent seriousness of SM position on an Israeli first strike, ‘How can you say there is “good reason” to do something but not “endorse” it?’ Being confused by such a position and yet hanging onto it for his political life just isn’t possible from one so bright as DB. That studied dumbness from an apparently bright lad together with his apparent disregard for the role of the AWL and its tradition is enough to trigger doubts about his loyalty even amongst the most benign leadership.

    It’s a similar story with his faux naïve leaving-whine.
    ‘In a breathtaking accusation of disloyalty, they asked what meetings I had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power. Even to ask the question is an open expression of mistrust. ‘ …Again what did DB expect? Did he really think he could externally factionalise and not be asked his intentions? And then DB sells the pass and admits to having planned to leave the AWL. He has set up a new organization with ‘Chris Ford, myself and others who were not in the AWL’. New organizations don’t grow on trees. They need planning. And planning the new organization with non-awl members is an admission of external factionalising: of disloyalty. It’s not convincing to declare yourself insulted at accusations of disloyalty and yet 5 minutes later reveal a new organization.

    There is another explanation for DB’s behaviour . Maybe he wasn’t always planning to leave. Perhaps he just doesn’t know the day of the week – and he’s just as dumb as his inability to understand the discussion article which started all this suggests.

  55. resistor said,

    As I watch another exciting marathon, can I add my intrusion into your collective grief.

    Perhaps Matgamna isn’t a Healyite but Healy-lite

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Oh my aching sides

  56. miles davis said,

    Well this, from Alan Lawrence, is pretty good evidence for the unhealthy internal culture that Dave B alleges:

    ‘DB knows that the AWL is permanently under attack for its ‘third camp’ politics and the attitude of any responsible member is never, ever to give comfort to the bollock-brain left who would paint the organisation as late-Shachtmanite. But that’s exactly what he did – and now he whines for being expected to make amends for his transgressions’

    Strewth…

  57. Jack Haslam said,

    I think Alan Laurence is clearly a mole from the CPGB trying to discredit the AWL.

    It has always been the case that within the AWL people don’t get upset about a few personal attacks and a bit of verbal abuse during the course of a vigorous debate.

    Is this dispute a first on the left? Does anyone else know of another example of a proper internel dispute that has generated this level of heat about something that hasn’t happened yet?

    I wouldn’t trust the weekly worker, but the little bit in their account about how the AWL leadership decided to act after the student ‘broad’ group voted for troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan makes perfect sense.

  58. paul m said,

    I think Broder has to think honestly about this. He sys he’s nor a Trot, slags off the leadership on the AWL website, plays footsie with nutters in WP and WW, and no doubt plays a role in whipping up a bit of ultra-leftism amongst the youth.

    When one has been around the block a few times you see the pattern. So the leadership asks you to sign a so-called loyalty oath. They want a meeting to ask you is you still want to be a member.

    No.

    Goodbye.

  59. Alan Laurence said,

    Miles, Jack,
    Im not in the AWL nor even a sympathiser. I dont think my posts suggests there is anything sinister in the AWL. Its equally possible my reading of the situation is all wrong – I’ve no information other than what’s on this site,
    It seems reasonable to me that a member of an organisation which is under permanent hostile fire – and sometimes existential fire – is expected to be extremely cautious in his criticisms. DB was far from cautious -indeed he was reckless and dishonest.
    Why would any organisation put up with that?

  60. johng said,

    Broder is now ‘dishonest’. Meanwhile Jim viciously slanders and bullies anyone who disagrees with him in manner absolutely identical to the one Broder talks about. Its actually the sheer irrationality of the way the AWL conducts its arguments (tell a lie about an individual and organisation, usually of the most grotesque kind, then when they defend themselves, accuse them of defending the lie told about them-essentially the AWL method in a nutshell).

  61. Steve Peterson said,

    David B is a youth who is out of his depth.
    His comments on this site are not a critique of the AWL’s politics, but mostly a little (inaccurate, strange) whine about “culture”. Part of the problem here is David’s own culture – his wild response and running off out of the group are explainable by the fact that he doesn’t really know what he thinks, how to express it.
    One of the factors in his disgruntlement with the AWL is that recently he has begun to realise that other AWLers think that far from being a ‘leading theoretician’, David still has a lot to learn.
    His description of both the Matgamna article (excusing an Israeli attack) and internal pressure on him are radically inaccurate.
    Now he’s run off.
    He has left a group he has been a member of for some time without raising his disagreements on the NC, or in the paper, or after speaking at AWL branches on the matter. He left after just a couple of weeks “debate” while the discussion is continuing in the AWL. He left after having only produced short little snippets of wild criticism. He has not produced any substantial critique of anything the AWL has done or said on Iran.
    No one demanded a loyalty oath from him. He was asked two things: to come out sharply against the deranged comments attacking the AWL on our website; he was asked how he saw the debate – what his views were. This really is chickenshit.
    His resignation letter, signed by one other member (Chris F) makes only one political point. He states they have “philosophical differences” with the AWL. But David has not raised this before we have no idea what he’s talking about.
    Chris F is an oddball and David – up until leaving with him – had little time for him.
    No mention of Iran, Iraq, Bolshevism.
    A little exchange on this gossip site is no way of conducting a proper political struggle where the lines can be drawn clearly. So David’s little snipes here – where he can find people who are only too willing to agree with him without him having to argue anything (because they hate us for political reasons) – do not help. All they do is make him feel a little bit better, getting a little bit of body-warmth from members of kitch left groups.
    Wretched.

  62. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Whereas the SWP would simply expel its own equivalent of a Broder. But hey John, why let the truth get in the way of a good narrative?

    Watching the SWP members on this thread prattling about internal democracy is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. Lessons on democracy from the organisation that has none. Har Har Har.

  63. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Yes, you can say what you like in the AWL as long as you are prepared to ship massive amounts of abuse. David, now that you are out welcome to the world of being branded an anti-semite, fascist, holocaust denier just because you disagree with Jim Denham and S Matgamna.

  64. miles davis said,

    ‘He left after having only produced short little snippets of wild criticism.’

    Oh c’mon. I read Dave B’s reply to Sean M and I defy anyone to show how it was in any way ‘wild’. Dave played the ball and not the man, and he grounded his argument in appeals to the Third Campist politics his group was supposed to uphold. For the grave sin or making a seinsible, cogent reply to an article which was supposed to invite discussion, he was called in to a meeting with the leader of his group and asked to sign a loyatly oath! You might disagree with his argument, but the attepts to make out that it was abusive or irrational won’t wash. Maybe Dave should have styed on and fought inside your group – equally, though, maybe he concluded that he’d wasted enough time. Really, some of you AWL people need a sense of proportion. You seem to write the whole of the rest of the British far left (and probably groups like the Greens too) as the ‘kitsch left’, and present yourselves as some sort of besieged True Church, guardians of the flame of Trotsky (or Schachtman). Really, though, as this incident surely shows, you’re no different to any of the others.

  65. miles davis said,

    And when I say ‘no different to the others’ I mean that in a positive as well as negative sense. You have the same failings and the same strengths of other small groups trying to articulate scialist politics in a society where there is a level of low class struggle and only a little interest in socialism.

  66. Voltaire's Priest said,

    “Nuke”, change the record. You’re not a fascist but you are really quite thick, repetitive and deeply boring.

  67. Alan Laurence said,

    Miles,
    DB joined in the criticisms of the AWL that the kitch-left make. He did so in public – he played to the gallery. Why would any organisation, Trotskyist or not accept that?

    DB seems to have been in the AWL for a few years and yet he says of SM’s position, ‘How can you say there is “good reason” to do something (an Israel first strike) but not “endorse” it?’ . DB must be able to think that through. He’s come across nuanced positions in the past.
    Ive never met DB. People say he’s bright. When someone bright adopts a dumb position one is entitled to ask why.
    Its the same business with the ‘loyalty oath’. Strip away the Hollywood gloss and the ‘poor litle me’ whining and it seems all DB was asked to do is publically distance himself from the consequences of his reckless post.
    I’m not a Leninist and have never been in the AWL but I can see DB is pressing all the buttons that non-Leninists like to have pressed. Personally, I’m not buying it – DB would not have been treated much differently had this been a row in a non-political organisation.
    DB doesnt seem to have understood the importance of defending the boundaries in an organisation has always to fight for position and space and always under the most severe pressure from heresy hunters.

  68. Andrew Coates said,

    I hardly think Broder is out of his depth: he produced a well-written explanation of his position. All small socialist groups (are there any other kind?) have this kind of dispute, inside and outside our ranks. At his age I recall we (IMG) had sharp differences with a certain Workers’ Fight who accused us of being insufficiently anti-imperialist in our position on Ireland. Now I wonder how that policy developed in the AWL?

    I would prefer it if at least somebody would find the time to make clear why they, the AWL, disagree with the HOPI line on Iran. This is based a class analysis of the Theocratic State, support for the workers’ and student movement, democracy, secularism, feminism, and backing for the oppressed layers of Iranian society, and the external threats to launch attacks on the country. The latter come from the US and Israel. (I hope I haven’t left anything out!).

    What’s kitsch about that? It’s not as if it repeats some dusty line from The History of American Trotskyism.

  69. David Broder said,

    The AWL NC isn’t so big that there’s anyone on it whose name I don’t know, so I’m puzzled as to the identity of “Steve Peterson”… but at a guess maybe I should turn round and look through the window to see if Paul Hampton is picketing my house with his cornflakes box and his chicken noises.

    His totally wrong characterisation of the meeting with Sean and Tom is in that sense unsurprising – there were three people in the room, and definitely no “Steve Peterson”.

    “Steve’s” characterisation of my reasons for leaving – some sort of wounded pride – simply has no basis in reality, which is why he makes no attempt to give evidence, background detail, etc to explain it.

    But I’m surprised that “Steve” is unaware of my political disagreements – as any AWL-watcher/WW reader will know I have of course repeatedly written articles, spoken at branch meetings and conferences, put motions to AWL NC etc. on the Middle East. These are hardly “short little snippets of wild criticism”. There is a difference between disagreeing with someone and construing everything they say as “wild”, “apolitical” or “personal attacks”, or indeed as non-existent, in order to ignore it.

    On a separate note, last summer in response to a set of 23 questions by Paul I wrote 12,000 word piece on the Russian revolution: Paul claimed to have written a response, but I certainly haven’t seen it. When I wrote asking why he was telling people that he wrote a response when he hadn’t, he just wrote an email saying he didn’t want to talk to me any more. What he meant was that Trotsky wasn’t up for discussion, since you’re either in “the tradition” or not.

    His characterisation of the resignation letter is bizarre – it wasn’t exactly subtle.

    I don’t understand why “Steve” writes the phrase “leading theoretician” in quote marks – when did I ever say I was that? Nevertheless, I don’t accept the accusation that I am “out of my depth” debating Sean Matgamna et al.

    It is neither true that Chris F is an “oddball” (what does this mean? I thought that this kind of thing is what a personal attack is) nor that I ever had “little time for him”. Since I became N London organiser two years ago Chris and I have had a close and ongoing political collaboration. We have a lot of common ideas on workers’ management, the Bolsheviks, imperialism, etc.

    The fact that the AWL leadership merely continue with a series of lame personal attacks to cover up for/excuse/”refuse to condemn” each other’s behaviour doesn’t exactly help their case.

  70. Alan Laurence said,

    Andrew,
    We disagree about the quality of the poltiics in DB’s posts. It doesnt matter because so far as I read it that isnt the key issue.

    I agree entirely with you that reading factional struggles through the pages of Canon is foolish and limiting and a bad habit of the AWL. But they dont seem to be doing that right now.

    DB over-stepped the mark – his attack on the AWL leadership showed no responsibility for the well being of the organisation. He played to the gallery. Why should the AWL let him do that?

  71. johng said,

    It might be repetetive but its absolutely true. any disagreement will produce accusations of anti-semitism, fascism, and the rest. this is simply the normal method of the awl’s relationship to all other organisations on the left. If an organisation is not hostile to them, they’ll produce a new loyalty oath: will you refuse to denounce Israel if it bombs Iran for instance? Those who dissent are then denounced in peculiarly vile terms and everything returns to normal. The true church must be isolated. its what gives the illusion of a uniquely moral vision. similarly everyone else must be a third world nationalist, a stalinist, or, more recently, an anti-semite or a nazi, otherwise what is the justification for the existence of the sect? All this shows is that the organisation is as internally irrational as it has always seemed from the outside. mad as a box of frogs. which is why most are incredulous at the self image that the AWL and some of their supporters seem to have. The only exceptions are those on the right who treat them as useful idiots, and around whom the politics of the AWL revolve as a kind of loyal opposition: Harry’s Place, Engage etc and the gamut of people whose response to the wars of the recent past was to lurch sharply into the camp of imperialism. When Jim isn’t denouncing socialists as nazies he’s dividing the world up into democratic and non-democratic camps, Islam having replaced Stalinism in his peculiar version of Shactman light. The recent intra-imperialist conflict between the US and Russia has highlighted the deep nostalgia for the cold war that lies behind almost all of the AWL’s positions. Without Stalinism where are they? Hence the desperate attempt to paint the whole left as Stalinists and reproduce cold war imagry about contemporary imperialism and the lefts response to it. Who else does this? Well its just the standard rhetoric of the American right. The long march of the AWL legal marxists into the camp of reaction continues. Sadly, however, the low rent nature of the enterprise makes it unlikely that any great careers will be built, and the ideology of the war on terror around which the AWL base their entire analyses of contemporary politics is by now so discredited, that their attempts at iconaclystic subversion of the lefts common sense increasingly looks like witless buffoonary (Especially as their Kenny Everret moment on Iran looks set to be immediately followed by the real thing: “Lets bomb Russia”). It comes as a bit of a shock to discover that Dave Broder is only 20. I thought he represented some sensible old guard. Obviously there is no such thing in the AWL.

  72. johng said,

    Perhaps the best description of the AWL’s politics is ‘Kitsh Shactmanites’ (box of frogs).

  73. miles davis said,

    I don’t understand how Dave Broder’s criticism of Sean M’s article could possibly be mistaken for the position of a group which gives political support to the Iranian regime and would support an Iranin weapon programme. Nor did Dave make any of the provocative criticisms of Sean M that some other Trotskyists did – he didn’t call him a CIA socialist, say he advocated nuking Iran etc Dave actually disassociated himself from these people.

    How, then, can Dave be accused of ‘playing o the gallery?’ Here’s a link to Dave’s reply in case anybody wants to refresh their memory:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/07/28/discussion-article-what-if-israel-bombs-iran

    I’d like to hear which os Dave’s substantive points is actually wrong. His statement seems to me very cogent – and very much in the tradition of Third Camp politics.

  74. Nuke Matgamna said,

    good analysis johng but then you went and spoilled it all by saying something stupid. As the AWL characterises all who would condemn Israel for attacking Iran as upseakable things you characterise all who oppose the Russian imperialist invasion of Georgia as liberal bombers and ethnic cleansers even when they explicitly oppose such a thing. Woe betide anybody in the SWP who goes against that line.

    I see Putin is opening an office of his party in Israel.

    vp: `You’re not a fascist’

    Wow, progress.

  75. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Nuke. What are you talking about, you moron? I’ve never called you a fascist. Called you a moron though. Moron.

    John – given that the SWP’s standard line is to denounce any and all with whom it disagrees as “racist Islamophobes”, I think Darren’s line about glass houses and stones remains poignant here.

  76. Nuke Matgamna said,

    VP: Oh, sorry twat.

  77. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Anyway, getting back to the discussion proper. I think there is something in the SWPs charge of `racist islamaphobes’. The AWL have crossed class lines on Israel and their chauvinist support for western imperialist democracies. On the Georgia question the SWP are simply wrong as usual but the techniques for dealing with dissenters is similar in both cases.

  78. Voltaire's Priest said,

    western imperialist democracies

    Ha. Ha. Haa. Talk about formulaic.

    Please do tell me though how the SWP and AWL have similar internal regimes? They simply don’t.

    Furthermore do also tell me how having a 2-state position on Israel (as the AWL and CPGB both do) makes on a “racist islamophobe”? One rather suspects both that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and that you would actually agree with any allegation made by anyone against the AWL, purely because you don’t like ‘em.

  79. Nuke Matgamna said,

    I can’t stand them. But to answer your question, Matgamna’s justification of an Israeli attack on Iran shows an at least chauvinist attitude as he is more worried about Israel’s reputation than the lives of Iranian workers.

  80. Voltaire's Priest said,

    So now we’re going from denouncing the AWL, per se, as “racist islamophobes”, to specifically saying Sean has “at least” a chauvinist attitude on Israel. Not the same thing at all. Unless of course you’re just a random AWL-hater as I said above, in which case you’d believe any insult or accusation without substantiation.

    Anyways, what’s with the hating the AWL? Did Mark Osborn take your lunch money when you were at school or summat?

  81. Nuke Matgamna said,

    No he didn’t. I just don’t like people who call themselves socialist when clearly for them the main enemy is abroad or at least outside `the West’. And what further substatiation do I need other than what is publicly out there.

  82. Dr Paul said,

    Re Andrew Coates’ comments #68. It is because most AWLers would agree with the Hopi platform that Sean Matgamna is leading such an intemperate attack upon it. He is no different to other left-wing ganzer machers when dealing with awkward or difficult questions — he resorts to distortion and slander.

    As for the Matgamnaites’ attacks of yore on the IMG for being insufficiently anti-imperialist (or to put it in contemporary Matgamnaese, insufficiently kitsch); one can accuse the AWL of political forgetfulness — Matgamnesia, perhaps.

  83. voltairespriest said,

    Nuke; I think there’s more to your emotional attitude than that; you don’t hate a group because of a political disagreement.

    Dr Paul; I actually agree. I think Sean’s position was losing ground, and he knew it. Hence the intemperate article and also the bizarre treatment of Dave Broder. Mark of desperation and all that.

  84. modernityblog said,

    a few points:

    Sean M original article was crude, poorly worded and ripe for criticism.
    Dave Border’s response was sharp, reasoned and very pointed.

    Sean M’s response was aimed primarily at the CPGB and their stupid mischaracterizations. It was a wasted opportunity rather than take up Border’s intelligent points Sean M retreats into the world of sectariana, who cares what the CPGB thinks? if they’ve taken the trouble to deliberately lie and mislead over the article they are not worth debating.

    Sean M should have conceded that his article was poor and a first stab at getting to grips with the issues. Had he or his supporters had any wits then they would have jointly written a better with Border, incorporating his perceptive analysis.

    The handling of this issue shows why the British Left is so poor, the various leaderships are incapable of handling criticism, even when it is plainly clear that their ideas are crude, ill thought through and limited. Rather than admit that, they would attack their critics, even recently we’ve seen such political manoeuvres from Blair/Brown, the SWP/Respect and now bits of the AWL leadership.

    encouraging debate is great but only if the organisation and people involved are capable of using that any criticism generated to improve their thinking, not just taking up static positions and shouting at each other, which we’ve all seen before, it leads no where.

    So you use debate and discussion to improve your thinking and politics, don’t assume because someone is a “leader” that they know all, which clearly isn’t true. Admitting when you’re wrong is the only way you sharpen up your ideas.

    I’d suggest that the AWL leadership:

    1) learn to use the web more, there are many active Iranian trade unions (see Labourstart) they are the hope for the Iranian people.

    2) read the Economist, it provides fairly intelligent coverage of the Iranian leadership.

    3) get a few comrades to specialise in Iran, its complexities, its history and maybe even learn some Farsi!

    4) don’t assume they know it all just because they been around since the time of Gerry Healy!

    5) Grow thicker skins and admit when they’re wrong, with some style, not bitterness.

    6) Try to get out of the sectarian gutter, it is not a nice place and has nothing to do with the working classes.

  85. voltairespriest said,

    I think that last point is the most important one. I can in many ways understand the AWL’s instinct for a dogfight – in order to remain independent of the swamp that is the UK left they’ve had to dig their heels in on a number of occasions and have been under constant attack from the likes of the SWP because they won’t simply submit to the “trend of the day” (currently communalism), and insist on working-class politics.

    However, that having been said, you can see a worrying sense of entitlement on the part of Sean and various of their older cadre to carrying the day in debates. Sean is just plain wrong about Israel-Iran (actually much of his politics on the ME region is bloody dreadful), and growing numbers of AWL members knew it. There have been lapses into Healy-style denunciations before (I recall an “indusrial relations” pamphlet that was in actuality no more than an attack on two ex-members of the AWL), and it seems to me that the Broder episode risks going the same way.

  86. modernityblog said,

    indeed Volty,

    I get the impression that Sean & Co can’t see any problems with the original article?

    which is strange, you might think they’d ignore the Worker’s Weekly, but think about genuine criticism as a way to improve their views?

    the alternative is, I suppose, to assume that once having written something, that’s it, in stone, infallible and forever correct….which is a weird way of looking at a complex and ever changing world, for someone interested in politics.

  87. David Hirsh said,

    To campaign against anti-Jewish racism is “…to lurch sharply into the camp of imperialism…”.
    – John Game

    “…anti-Semitism can be distinguished from other essentializing forms, such as most forms of racism, by its populist and apparently antihegemonic, antiglobal character.”
    – Moishe Postone http://www.engageonline.org.uk/journal/index.php?journal_id=16&article_id=69

  88. Jack Haslam said,

    The politics here are entirely to do with the internal life of the AWL and nothing to do with the outside world. The ‘line’ contained in Sean’s article is so contradictory that it couldn’t possibly form the basis of talking to anyone in the working class about the issues.

    Could you imagine it:

    Joe Bloggs: ‘so, your opposed to a military attack on Iran?

    SM: ‘yes’

    JB: ‘but it says here that you wouldn’t condemn it?’

    SM: ‘yes’

    JB: ‘So you’re in favour of it really but can’t say so?’

    SM: ‘No, we have a nuanced positon’

    JB: ‘Yes I know, you’re in favour of it, but won’t say so’

    SM: ‘No, that is an outrageous slander!!!!!. We’re against it’

    JB: ‘So why won’t you condemn it?’

    SM: ‘Because Israel has good reason to attack, and has the right to defend itself’

    JB: ‘Hold on, you just said you would oppose an attack, but now you say Israel has the right to defend itself and you wouldn’t condemn it for exercising that right.’

    SM: ‘Yes, that’s clear isn’t it? Are you some kind of kitsch left fuckwit’

    The entire episode was a very successful exercise in asserting political control. The ‘troops out’ tendency within the AWL are neutralised.

    The meeeting that Dave has reported on was clearly designed to have one of two outcomes. David Broder would knuckle under, or walk. Either way the leadership would win.

  89. resistor said,

    David Broder, “I love The Party”

    Sean Matgamna, “Yes, but does The Party love you?”

  90. johng said,

    er no to campaign against anti-jewish racism is not to lurch into the camp of imperialism, i never said any such thing. the attempt to attribute this as a quote to me demonstrates just how seriously anyone should take Engage or how much credence anyone should give to them as an organisation that campaigns against anti-Jewish racism. The campaign of Engage is directed soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism, and attempting to connect growing disquiet about Israels treatment of the Palestinians with the same. This is not the same thing as campaigning against Anti-Jewish racism, and the extent to which they do so is entirely accidental.

    Back on-topic I don’t actually think the key question here is the internal regime of the AWL. Its their appallingly rotten politics, an entirely seperate question. And of course the SWP does not condemn those who oppose the imperialist machinations of Russia (we oppose them ourselves). We simply oppose those who equate US imperialism and its clients with democracy and all the rest of the rubbish. And no we don’t denounce anyone who opposes the SWP as ‘racist Islamophobes’. We denounce those people who are and who make concessions to it.

  91. johng said,

    Voltaire rejects sectarianism by claiming the UK left is a swamp. Modernity’s mournful attitude to the ‘left’ apparently includes Brown/Blair. Incidently I’ve admired Postone’s theoretical work and found that piece pretty sad.

  92. modernityblog said,

    JonhG wrote:

    “The only exceptions are those on the right who treat them as useful idiots, and around whom the politics of the AWL revolve as a kind of loyal opposition: Harry’s Place, Engage etc and the gamut of people whose response to the wars of the recent past was to lurch sharply into the camp of imperialism.”

    not that he can remember what he wrote recently

  93. johng said,

    Modernity you can’t appear to read accurately. I nowhere equate campaigning against anti-Jewish racism with lining up with imperialism. I equate attempting to equate palestinian solidarity with anti-Jewish racism with lining up with imperialism, an entirely different thing. This relates to what I argued elsewhere is a revisionist attempt to redefine anti-semitism not as hostility to Jewish people but hostility to the actions of the Israeli State. As I argued this is a seperate question from whether hostility towards the Israeli State can sometimes take an anti-semitic form (it can), and in such cases Engage might accidently find themselves campaigning against anti-Jewish racism. However their main purpose is to equate hostility towards the Israeli State with anti-Jewish racism and this is an entirely seperate question.

  94. modernityblog said,

    JohnG,

    you attacked Engage, who’s purpose is to challenge contemporary antisemitism.

    Not that you’d know that…

    btw, how many times did the SWP invite Gilad Atzmon to Marxism xxxx?

  95. David Hirsh said,

    Of course you equate campaigning against antisemitism with lining up with imperialism.

    Engage is a campaign against antisemitism. That is all we do. We have never had positions on, for example, responding to the wars of the recent past. The only thing Engage has ever done is campaign against antisemitism. And you denounce us in cod marxist terms as “lurching sharply into the camp of imperialism”.

    John Game pretends that we can’t tell the difference between Palestine solidarity, which we have always supported, and antisemitism, which we oppose. But of course, using the Livingstone Forumlation, John Game is the one who is incapable of making the distinction. http://z-word.com/on-zionism/antisemitism-and-anti-zionism/anti-zionism-and-antisemitism%253A-decoding-the-relationship.html?page=2

    John, everyone knows now that to pretend that antisemitism is the same of criticism of Israel is an evasion. You can’t get away with it anymore. Bad luck.

    Yes, Postone opposes antisemitism too. As did Marx. As you don’t.

  96. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    “Modernity’s mournful attitude to the ‘left’ apparently includes Brown/Blair.”

    I should have realised that SWPers are present and the need to explain things, slower

    my point concerning Blair and Brown is that they are professional politicians, and they use bureaucratic measures or political armtwisting to get their way, but ultimately it fails.

    No matter how many votes Blair or Brown won in the House of Commons, by using three line whips, they couldn’t persuade people of the validity of their politics.

    And this is a common feature of today’s world, any fan of Tony Benn’s diaries will remember how we characterised the Blairites <i<as indulging in student politics.

    This attitude is often seen from the SWP packing meetings (see socialist unity threads for grim details and examples) and pushing through things, to union conferences where the votes are stitched up and the wider membership doesn’t have a chance to vote on contentious issues (UCU pro boycott shenanigans is an example), and in the end what people do is what Dave Border, they walk.

    They walked away from StWC, Respect and other lash ups, where the political leadership manipulate things and feel so content but are increasingly presiding over smaller and smaller organisations, all because of their own mismanagement.

    And let us not forget that 30 plus years of the SWP and they are still ineffective, still detached from the working classes and still incredibly small, which should be a lesson to us all.

    so Blair and Brown, in the final analysis, don’t look too difference from Rees and German: they are all shifty politicos with their own agendas

    Shorter version for thick SWPers:

    political manipulation leads to pyrrhic victories and in the end is self-defeating.

  97. Chris S said,

    It seems like the AWL members and their hangers on have proved that they do just rally round whatever mad position Matgamna et al decide on and descend into personal insults, lies etc against anyone in or out of their scabby organisation. This whole affair proves the WW right. We have said from the beginning Matgamna’s article was more about attacking the creeping “Kitsch” left than starting a discussion.

    It is a shame what has happened to David for simply exercising democratic rights that the AWL go to lengths to claim they uphold.

    Yet the most funny part of this discussion is members of the SWP talking about democracy etc. They have one faction in their organisation the CC and that faction knows as much about internal democracy as Stalin.

  98. Alan Laurence said,

    Miles,
    DB didn’t write a cogent rebuttal of SM. He snaked his way around buzz-words as though he were looking for friends or votes.
    Here are three examples of where DB was politically reckless/disloyal/rude/offensive/deserving of a right slap. Each of them suggests DB had no concern for his own or the Awl’s integrity.
    But first a word about DB.
    DB is scornful because SM doesn’t know the name of Iranian TU leaders or the details of recent class action. He makes too much of this – its offered as proof-positive that unlike himself, SM doesn’t know what he is talking about. I’ve seen this before when well educated middle class chaps have been given the hairdryer treatment by SM. They struggle to hide their outrage at loosing to the formally undereducated Irish prole.
    That case isn’t proven against Db – but its one to watch out for.

    These cases are far more solid
    Case one:
    DB calls SM a liar:
    ‘No doubt, Sean intended his “discussion article” to provoke debate. Certainly, it does facilitate discussion when comrades are honest and make their views clear. But the article… instead dishonestly zigzags between empathizing with Israeli hawks and using figleaf, weasel words to avoid openly ‘advocating’ an Israeli strike against Iran in advance’
    It’s not really on to complain when those you’ve called a liar demand you account for yourself.

    Case two:
    DB twists SM to make his point.
    DB takes Sean’s statement… ‘An attack on Iran will most likely lead to great carnage in the Middle East and beyond as supporters of Iran resort to suicide bombings in retaliation. There might well be large scale Iranian civilian “collateral” casualties. An attack would strengthen the Iranian regime and license a smash down on its critics, including working class critics, inside Iran. It would throw Iran back into the worst chaos”.
    …and twists it to say,
    ‘The only part of the article citing reasons why Sean would be critical of an Israeli bombing raid on Iran…this paragraph is interesting in that its main argument is simply that an attack could well be counterproductive for Israel because of how Islamists would react. Note that the opening sentence tells us that the cause of the carnage would in fact be that “supporters of Iran” would retaliate!’

    No honest reading of SM allows for DB’s interpretation of the paragraph.

    Case three:
    Playing to the gallery.
    Here DB pretends to struggle with a mildly complicated position – that appreciating there ‘good reason’ for an action does not necessitate ‘endorsing’ the action.
    DB’s trouble is that he didn’t adequately sub-edit his text before posting. In his haste DB shows us that he does understand what being said before denouncing what is being said as an impossible thought…
    ‘…Sean confuses what is “rational” in the interests of Israeli imperialism and great-power realpolitik with what is “rational” in the interests of humanity. ‘
    But later DB writes, ‘Sean does not want to “advocate” or “endorse” an attack: but this is just playing with words, and clearly given the tone of the piece and the fact that he is so keen to defend the rationale for an attack…the article can only be read as offering justification for Olmert et al. How can you say there is “good reason” to do something but not “endorse” it?’

    DB knew what was being said – on the level of humanity Sm is against a bomb, but on the level of realpolitik SM understands why it might happen. But either for factional or emotional reasons DB couldn’t work out a response – so he lies and appeals to a hostile reader to back him up through reframing a mild paradox as a definitional impossibility.
    DB knows the AWL has always had trouble presenting a nuanced position. He knows the caricatures that the shithead left peddle. And he’s just offered himself as the originator of another. So why on earth does he moan when people object?

  99. Nuke Matgamna said,

    There you are David, it didn’t take long did it? One moment you were a comrade now you are a lier and a shithead according to Alan. Alan, Modernity, Runia et al none of these are members of the AWL but are Zionists yet they appear to be putting up the staunchest defence of Matgamna.

  100. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Voltaire rejects sectarianism by claiming the UK left is a swamp.

    Contrary to whatever they may have taught you at SWP boot camp, telling the truth is not “sectarian”.

  101. Bennett said,

    JohnG “The campaign of Engage is directed soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism, and attempting to connect growing disquiet about Israels treatment of the Palestinians with the same”

    John. Apolgoies if i’m wrong , but i gathered from our last discussion at Soc Unity that you are a 6th former ,or perhaps involved in a 6th form debating society. So will you show one of your teachers the Engage forum and perhaps he / she can explain to you the difference between antisemitism and Palestinian solidarity work ?

    Also maybe ask a teacher to explain the phrase “sweeping generalisations”

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/

  102. modernityblog said,

    reading lessons? Nuke M?

    I think Broder is largely right.

    SWPer’s version:

    him right, Matgamna wrong, wrong.

  103. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Reading lessons Modernity?

    `DB knows the AWL has always had trouble presenting a nuanced position. He knows the caricatures that the shithead left peddle. And he’s just offered himself as the originator of another.’

    `No honest reading of SM allows for DB’s interpretation of the paragraph.’

  104. johng said,

    I’m well aware of the difference between anti-semitism and palestinian solidarity work. the debate (sixth form or otherwise) is whether Engage are.

  105. modernityblog said,

    “Reading lessons Modernity?”

    shorter SWPer version:

    me Modernity, him Alan Laurence

    not same person, try again

    PS: Volty could you create an Open thread just for those thick arse SWPers, that way they don’t ruin threads here and go over the same crap time after time.

  106. Voltaire's Priest said,

    John – the answer is that most of them are, whilst there are others I’d be less sure about.

  107. Bennett said,

    JohnG. Sorry , if i came across as patronising , i too was once a sixth former.

  108. Bennett said,

    So John G. Can you show me where on the Engage forum , let’s say the front page where there are several articles , how these articles are aimed ” soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism” ?

  109. modernityblog said,

    Volty,

    why not give JohnG a guest slot ( less than 400 words) on:

    “why the SWP are the greater fighters against anti-Jewish racism”

    and we could clear up this topic once and for all?

  110. johng said,

    I’m sorry David but I beg to differ. Both in the revolting attempt to argue that I don’t oppose anti-semitism (as well as the entire gamut of organisations which actually exist attempting to promote solidarity), the claim that you support Palestinian solidarity (which Palestinian solidarity organisations do you support?), or that your site simply represents a campaign against anti-Jewish racism. It represents a reaction to the crisis akin to that of the journal you link to democraziya (http://www.democratiya.com/default.asp) which represents precisely the lurch towards imperialism that charecterised a section of the lefts response to the wars of the last five or six years (in that particular case I watched the evolution of the founder at first hand: he used to be someone I regarded as a comrade).

  111. TomU said,

    David is clearly upset by the meeting with Sean M and myself. But his characterisation of the meeting is inaccurate in a number of ways and suggestive of a political mode of operation alien to myself and the AWL.

    1.David was not summoned to the AWL office. I’d heard he was forming a faction (more on that below) and asked him to come and talk about it (unreasonable?). There was no threat of ‘discipline’, no compulsion involved. David could have refused to come – he didn’t.

    2. David was not accused of political betrayal, working with the CPGB and Workers Power or anything of the sort. In fact, more than once during the discussion, we all noted that David is politically a million miles away from both organisations. It’s true that I had a few ripe words to say about his friend and leading CPGBer Ben Lewis. It’s true that he was asked if he’d discussed the article with CPGB members. If this amounts to being accused of political betrayal (when David’s friendship with CPGBers has been an established fact since he joined the AWL) then I guess we’ve been persecuting him all along!

    3. David was not “mandated” to write a loyalty oath. The word “mandate” suggests that some ‘disciplinary’ procedure was threatened. He was not even “politely asked” to sign a “loyalty oath”. “Loyalty” and “oath” never came into it. He was asked to write an article attacking the ridiculous ‘Weekly Worker’ front page accusing Sean of advocating a nuclear attack on Iran. We thought that such an article from David would have some impact in discrediting the fictitious/libelous rantings from that quarter given (a) his past membership of the CPGB and (b) his vocal opposition to Sean’s article. David initially agreed, then changed his mind. Fair enough.

    4. When asked if he was forming a faction, David said “no”. He did confirm that Chris Ford and himself were circulating a statement to be printed in the next edition of our paper – something they were well within their rights to do, something that they were free to do. Had we received such a statement, we would have printed it.

    5. I actually suggested to David that – given the strength of his opposition to Sean’s article – he should form a faction. This little fact may not be convenient for the overall picture David is trying to paint, but it is a fact. Members of the AWL are free to form factions. Even if he couldn’t find anyone apart from Chris to join a faction, both of them could have continued with a free debate on the political issues. They chose not to do so.

    The real reasons for David leaving the AWL are his political disagreements with us. I’m sure the substance of these disagreements will be played out in full on the pages of his new website and magazine.

    Anyway, good luck to him.

    Tom Unterrainer

  112. voltairespriest said,

    You mean Alan Johnson, John? There, you see – you and the AWL do have stuff in common after all! :D

  113. modernityblog said,

    JohnG has an awful habit of going on and on, even when the thread doesn’t relate to the SWP

    Iran and the subject matter are decidedly more interesting than hearing SWPers apologise for Tamimi or Nasrallah’s racism. btw, was Jenna Delich a member of the SWP (or one of their front organisations)? one can only wonder? that would explain a lot?

  114. Bennett said,

    John G. Perhaps you can explain with specific examples (there must be lots of them if what you say is true) how you arrive at the view that Engage’s campaign is one that
    soley equates ” Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism” ?

    John , it’s a long time since id took my A levels but i’m sure it’s still the case that you have to back up each point that you make with examples.

    BTW. What are school dinners like nowadays ?

  115. paul m said,

    I think Tom’s closed this one off, but I would remind John G of my experience of his beloved SWP over the years.

    I have been harassed, threatened physically, thrown out of meetings; seen female comrades pushed about by six foot aggressive shouting men. Get your own fucking house in order before you type a word about any other group.

  116. johng said,

    paul m and i should listen to you because exactly?

    well yeah voltaire, that one thing. I actually can’t fault Alan Johnson for his consistancy. It seemed the logical position for someone with his politics to take. He realised that this was incompatible with being a Marxist, and I don’t really understand why the AWL don’t (he wrote very interestingly on the way in which it is simply impossible to honestly argue that there was not a long tradition of anti-imperialism in the Marxist tradition, and that it was neccessary to explicitly break from this. Can’t remember which piece it was in). I have learnt, by hanging about here though, how someone who was in many ways a very nice person, could launch into these moralistic tirades which had little to do with anyone’s actual position. I conclude he learnt this, if not other things, from the AWL.

    Oh and Bennet I never suggested that Engage associate Palestinian solidarity wholly with anti-semitism. I simply suggested that they regard all actually existing Palestinian solidarity organisations as such. This is not because they are bad people or anything, its because the central premiss of the argument is the revisionism about anti-semitism I referred to. If you redefine anti-semitism as being about hostility to Israel as opposed to the Jewish people (suggesting perhaps that this is a distinction without a difference) this is neccessarily where you end up.

    I believe that the struggle for justice for Palestinians is a struggle between Palestinians and the Israeli state that oppresses them. In other words that this is a struggle where sides have to be taken (I believe that incidently about just about any struggle for justice or emancipation I have ever heard of). This would probably be enough to have me branded as an anti-semite. I obviously do not accept this definition of anti-semitism.

  117. David Hirsh said,

    John G. This week we have been concerned particularly with two cases of antisemitism.

    One was Holocaust denial by your own party. One of your official documents described the Holocaust without mentioning Jews. Evidently this was a mistake. But where is the apology from the SWP? Where is the explanation? Only you, flitting around the blogs claiming that it was an innocent error. Such a mistake is only possible in a party which doesn’t take antisemitism seriously. Any other party would have included Jews in its description of the Holocaust.

    The other was the UCU’s circulation of David Duke’s website. I’m guessing that you will claim that this “mistake” has nothing to do with the antisemitism to be found in the UCU.

    Both of these have nothing, zero, to do with Palestine. But you find yourself unable to recognize the significance of these “errors”.

    You also find yourself unable to recognize and to oppose antisemitism when you see it. Like these two examples. So yes, it is entirely accurate to write that you don’t oppose anti-semitism.

    I agree with you that this fact is revolting.

  118. johng said,

    Oh and to indulge in mischievous misquotation: “Its not ‘sectarian’ to tell the truth. it just is the case that the whole left are a bunch of crypto-stalinist/nazi opportunists aside from us’.

    hmm.

  119. johng said,

    David,

    The idea that this was anything aside from a botched computer error is ridiculous. It is of course true that anyone who consiously omitted Jews from an account of the Holocaust would be anti-semitic. Since this has never ever been a tradition within the SWP (although the minimisation of anti-semitism in accounts of the Nazies did have a purchase within a section of Stalinism), since you actually know this, and since you actually know that its not the case that this was in any sense an attempt to move in that direction, to accuse the SWP of Holocaust Denial demonstrates as perfectly as anything could, that you are not mainly concerned with fighting anti-Jewish racism but of labelling that section of the left most associated with Palestininian solidarity as anti-semitic. I would apologise to anyone who was genuinely offended but I will not apologise to those who don’t really want an apology anyway, are not really offended, and simply, as a commentator stated on HP, regard it as a laugh, because they hate the SWP.

    The incident on the UCU list (I should say that I’ve never taken part in that list) concerns an individual who linked to a David Duke site for an article. It may be that this person is an anti-semite. It may be that she didn’t know who David Duke was. I don’t know enough about the person to know which, but certainly I would regard this as a bad thing and on left wing sites I do go to, anyone linking to a David Duke site would be told in no uncertain terms the nature of their mistake. The reaction would probably tell us which was which. However the reason why you are interested in the UCU activist list is because its the place were discussions about the boycott have been most lively. Which is clearly NOT unconnected to the issue of Palestinian solidarity, or solidarity organisations more generally.

  120. David Hirsh said,

    Good. There we have the evidence. John Game is unable to recognize and oppose antisemitism.

    Only to apologize for it, to fail to think about it with any seriousness and to apologize for it.

    And to launch a counter-attack alleging the bad faith of the Jews who oppose it.

  121. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Hirsh, what twisted logic. It discredits you.

  122. Bennett said,

    test

  123. Bennett said,

    John G

    You now say “Oh and Bennet I never suggested that Engage associate Palestinian solidarity wholly with anti-semitism. I simply suggested that they regard all actually existing Palestinian solidarity organisations as such”

    So you are saying that ENgage regarding all actually existing Palestinian solidarity organisations as antisemitic.

    Which i find strange. Here is a list of some of the Palestinian organisations that Engage has posted positive articles about , or Engage has asked people to support.

    See what i’ve done John. I’ve responded to you ludicrous accusation and smear with specific examples – try it sometime John.

    I’ve also posted titles and links to specific articles.

    Keep wriggling John (it’s quite sexy)

    (i’ve broken iot down into parts as i don’t think it will allow so many links in one comment)

    Gush SHalom

    Gisha

    Durham Palestine Educational Trust

    Let Khaled Study

    One Voice

    Parents Circle

    Bereaved Families for Peace

    The Abraham Fund

    End the siege

    Combatants For Peace

    West-Eastern Divan orchestra

    Sponsored Walk For Durham Palestine Educational Trust : Please Donate

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=2000

  124. johng said,

    David,

    You do not represent Jews. You represent an organisation set up to oppose debates about how the UCU ought to respond to the discrimination against Palestinians in those territories under illegal occupation by Israel. Why you chose to go about this not with debate but with allegations of anti-semitism, is your business and you have a perfect right to pursue your own campaign. But you know as well as I do that the SWP has no record of minimising the Holocaust or the centrality of the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust, nor any intention of moving in such a direction. So yes I accuse you of bad faith. Because the accusation is made in bad faith.

    As to the allegation that the UCU is promoting David Duke (when actually on an internal mailing list someone, maliciously or not, linked to an article on a David Duke site, certainly, as I stated, grounds for concern) I would simply say that one of the things I’ve found a bit shocking about Engage, is the fact that it frequently publishes posts made by individuals which are, to say the least, pretty horrifying examples of Anti-Arab racism. This despite a fairly rigerous monitering of posts. This is not something I would normally choose to highlight, as I think it has a lot to do with the bitterness of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, and that it does not serve the interests of the left or of anti-racists generally, to focus on enmity between communities, both of whom, in this society, suffer discrimination.

    But the completely bizarre attempts you are making to label not just me, but the SWP, and not just the SWP, but the UCU, and not just the UCU but all those who show real political solidarity with the Palestinians as anti-semites means that it is impossible to not, at least, to draw your attention to the fact that you might have a bit of a problem with some of the posts you publish on your site. I hope you are capable of reflecting on the matter.

  125. Bennett said,

    Gisha on Palestinian students trapped in Gaza

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/index.php?actu=30

  126. Bennett said,

  127. Bennett said,

    Israeli academics speak out for Palestinian academic freedom

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/index.php?actu=20

  128. Bennett said,

    Palestinians and Israelis must be able to meet to talk peace – Benjamin Pogrund

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=495

  129. johng said,

    You have provided a list of NGO’s Bennet. Perfectly worthy and I have no problem with them. My argument was about political solidarity organisations. That is organisations which were set up to show solidarity with the political struggle of the Palestinian people against the oppression and discrimination against the Palestinian people practiced by the Israeli State since its inception. Understand that I by no means regard it as compulsory for anyone to take sides in that struggle, whether Palestinian, Israeli or none of the above. What I do find objectionable is to assert that anyone who does is an anti-semite.

  130. David Hirsh said,

    “I would simply say that one of the things I’ve found a bit shocking about Engage, is the fact that it frequently publishes posts made by individuals which are, to say the least, pretty horrifying examples of Anti-Arab racism”

    There are no racist posts on Engage. Please give evidence or withdraw the allegation.

  131. Bennett said,

    Why is the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel Supporting
    Settlements in the West Bank ?

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/index.php?actu=30

  132. Bennett said,

    ADL is wrong to endorse a new boycott campaign – David Hirsh

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=456

  133. Bennett said,

    Allow Khaled al-Mudallal to study at Bradford!

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1452

  134. Bennett said,

  135. Bennett said,

    Gush Shalom appeals against facilitating settler radio

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1477

  136. Bennett said,

    One Million Voices Palestine performer refutes statement made by boycotters

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1484

    Calls across the wall – Parents Circle – Family Forum

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1489

  137. Bennett said,

    Conflict and Reconciliation: Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1495

    After Rabin – Uri Avnery

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1511

  138. Bennett said,

    Keep wriggling John.

  139. Bennett said,

    Sari Nusseibeh responds to those who characterized him as an antisemite

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1578

    Students and the blockade of Gaza

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1589

  140. Bennett said,

    Rebuilding alliances, rejecting boycott

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1591

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1593

    Barenboim becomes a Palestinian citizen

  141. Bennett said,

    John G – “shocking” , “bizarre” , “unbelievable”

    Let’s have a look at Bully’s prizes tonight on Bullseye.

    I think from now on JohnG should be known as the SWP’s very own Jim Bowen.

  142. Bennett said,

    JohnG “What I do find objectionable is to assert that anyone who does is an anti-semite.”

    Proof please Jim.

  143. Bennett said,

    Johng: “…the claim that you support Palestinian solidarity (which Palestinian solidarity organisations do you support?)…”

    Johng – please admit that this allegation was false. We support more concrete Palestine solidarity than you do.

    Instead of posing and talking big about excluding israelis from campuses, we propose solidarity.

  144. Bennett said,

    JohnG “super , smashing , remember you don’t win anything for 2 in a bed”

    But Jim Bowen was working class.

  145. Bennett said,

    Apologies to David Broder for the smash and grab but i couldn’t let Jim Bowen come out with such crap.

  146. David Hirsh said,

    “You do not represent Jews. You represent an organisation set up to oppose debates about how the UCU ought to respond to the discrimination against Palestinians in those territories under illegal occupation by Israel.”

    I have never claimed to represent Jews.

    But your allegation that Engage, an organization that campaigns against antisemitism in the labour movement, is in fact a dishonest conspiracy to “oppose debates about how the UCU ought to respond to the discrimination against Palestinians” is an antisemitic canard.

    You offer no evidence for this claim of bad faith and there is no evidence for this claim of bad faith.

    It is an allegation of Jewish conspiracy.

  147. tim said,

    JohnG.
    You seem to have noticed that anti semitism within the Palestinianmovement and its supporters undermines that cause.
    Yet when presented with the opportunity distance yourself from anti semites you seem to consider it inconvenient to do so.
    You have a long history of that.

    Are you part of the anti semitism which undermines Palestinian Solidarity?

  148. David Hirsh said,

    We’re waiting for John Game to:

    1) apologize for the unfounded allegation that Engage does not support Palestine solidairty

    2) apologize for, or provide evidence for, the allegation that Engage publishes racist posts.

    3) withdraw the allegation that Engage is in fact a conspiracy to close down free speech which routinely employs a bad faith allegation of antisemitism.

    Withdraw all three allegations, John Game, or provide evidence.

  149. Neither Rees nor Matgamna said,

    1. The leadership of the AWL (and the likes of Denham, hic) are irredemable sectarians and anti-Arab racists. The likes of Dan Randall should follow David Broder’s example and leave before they become damaged.

    2. SWP members have accused me of being ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’ for questioning the popular frontism of the Respect project and their pandering to reactionary Islamists. Useful for shutting down debate (it didn’t work in stopping me though), like the accusation of ‘sectarianism’ for daring to debate with them.

    JohnG – could you please explain which ‘computer error’ led to only ‘thousands’ being killed in the Holocaust, and why nobody picked up on the fact that Jews (6 million no less) were not included as victims?

  150. Bennett said,

    From Harry’s Place about the SWP Holocaust Denial:

    Rob Palk writes in the comments:

    I went to the LoveMusicHateRacism festival and one of the speakers made a large speech about the ill effects of racism which likewise mentioned the the gay and socialist victims of the holocaust without mentioning any Jews. Struck me as odd at the time.

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/08/19/swp-make-six-million-jews-disappear/

    More “lurching sharply into the camp of imperialism” I guess.

  151. Jester said,

    No-one is accusing the SWP of holocaust denial. The leaflet agrees it happended. I just doesn’t mention Jews. Accident?

    It is to be remembered also that the SWP published a letter by a nazi thinking it was a legitimate comment from an “anti-Zionist”. Accident?

    It is to be remembered that the SWP were amongst the first to make the equivalence between the death camps and Israel with a cartoon of an Israeli in a camp uniform replete with star. Accident?

    It is to be remembered that, more recently, the fact that the SWP published an interview with an academic who claimed the 2005 boycott of Israel was down to a secret cabal of Zionists acting behind the scenes and funded by the Israeli emabassy. Accident?

    It is to be noted that the SWP now accuse Hirsh of using (objective incidents of) antisemitism to close down debate on the UCU list (from which he has been banned for years) about Palestinian solidarity. Accident?

    My, what a lot of “accidents”

  152. Bennett said,

    Not to mention this, in support of the antisemitic Hamas from John Molyneux, an SWP “theorist”:

    “To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically).”

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=2007

  153. Bennett said,

    And don’t forget the pro-war, antisemitic “Cairo Conference” which the SWP plays with.

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1804

  154. Steve Peterson said,

    Hey David how do you think the discussion is going on this little gossip site? Pleased? Bit of a mess, eh?
    But beats having to explain yourself, precisely, exactly, to comrades doesn’t it.
    Beats having to write coherent documents.
    The people who agree with you do so because they hate the AWL. None of these people are going to question you too closely, are they.
    Those that comment against you, can be ignored, if you feel like it.
    You’re acting out of personal pique.
    But do you feel a little better now?
    You see grown-ups would feel it necessary to justify (politically David, not just “getting back at the AWL”) allowing this sort of “discussion” to take place – and the “debate” you helped initiate on our site.
    So, David, how do you think this is going? Try to be political, big boy.

  155. Jester said,

    Johng states,

    The campaign of Engage is directed soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism, and attempting to connect growing disquiet about Israels treatment of the Palestinians with the same.”

    He has been asked to substantiate the claim.

    This may help him answer that request.

    I look forward to his reply.

    This is the original Engage’s founding document,

    “Engage was set up in response to the Association of University Teacher’s decision to take steps towards an academic and cultural boycott of Israel

    Engage opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. We are in favour of the foundation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. We believe that Israel is not an illegitimate state. We are for reconciliation between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

    Engage wants to debate, inform and organise around three themes:

    1 . Engage opposes the idea of an academic or cultural boycott of Israel.·

    Israel is not ‘illegitimate’ in the sense that the white apartheid state in South Africa was. It is the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that is illegitimate, and the discrimination against Palestinians that is illegitimate, not the existence of Israel.

    · Engage opposes an academic and cultural boycott that treats Israeli Jewish thinkers, artists, teachers and musicians as though they were responsible for the sometimes brutal actions of the Israeli government.

    · Engage opposes any kind of selective boycott that would impose some sort of political test on academics.

    2 . Engage aims to encourage, facilitate and publicise positive links between Israeli, Palestinian, British and global academia. Engage is for closer engagement, not boycotts.

    · Engage wants to bring together academics and cultural producers in solidarity against the occupation.
    · Engage wants to encourage links between Israeli, Palestinian and UK academics and students.

    3 . Engage stands up against antisemitism in our universities, in our unions and in our students unions.

    Opposing the sometimes brutal actions of the Israeli government and army is not antisemitic. But sometimes anti-Zionism is antisemitic.

    · Zionism is not racism. Zionism is Jewish nationalism and it is not fundamentally different from other forms of nationalism. Nationalism often leads to racism, but nationalism is not the same thing as racism.

    The ‘Zionism=Racism’ (or Zionism=Apartheid) claim is problematic because it understands Jewish nationalism to be necessarily and incurably much worse than any other nationalism on the face of the earth.

    · Why does AUT pick on Israel? Why does AUT not boycott Russian, Chinese, Sudanese, Saudi Arabian, North Korean, US, British academia? The only legitimate way of explaining the focus on Israel would be to claim that Israeli academia is the least free in the world, that the Israeli state is killing more people than any other state, that it is denying more human rights than any other state.

    Given that none of these claims is remotely true, Engage believes that the choice to boycott Israeli Jews rather than anyone else in the world is effectively antisemitic, as the only academics boycotted because of the bad actions of their state are Jewish ones. This is true even if those arguing for a boycott do not feel that they are antisemities, do not feel a hatred of Jews, or do not intend to be antisemitic. This is even true if some of those proposing the boycott are themselves Jewish.

    · Engage opposes the harassment of Jewish students and Jewish academics. Jews have as much right to be nationalist as anybody else. And Jewish nationalism has a plurality of traditions, some actively and consistently anti-racist, others shamefully racist and Islamophobic, most somewhere in between. Jews have the right to call themselves Zionist.

    · Engage opposes Holocaust denial in all its forms. One current form of Holocaust denial that seems to be considered acceptable on our campuses is the identification of Israel’s occupation with the Holocaust.”

    Of course, he may “know” differently, in which case, to clear up this mess once and for all and to avoid any further misunderstanding. maybe we could be furnished with such knowledge.

    Until then, johng’s statement quoted above has all the legitimacy of a nasty, little slur from a nasty, little, sect .

  156. David T said,

    I think you’ve hit on JohnG’s meaning here.

    Unless you support Hamas, you don’t support the Palestinian People.

    Right John?

  157. resistor said,

    ‘The ‘Zionism=Racism’ (or Zionism=Apartheid) claim is problematic because it understands Jewish nationalism to be necessarily and incurably much worse than any other nationalism on the face of the earth.’

    No, just as bad as White Afrikaaner nationalism.

    http://www.humanrightsdelegation.org/press_item.asp?id=10&page=2

    ‘This is like apartheid': ANC veterans visit West Bank
    INDEPENDENT, by Donald Macintyre, 7/11/2008

    http://www.humanrightsdelegation.org/press_item.asp?id=9&page=2

    ‘Worse than apartheid’
    Ha’aretz, by Gideon Levy, 7/11/2008

  158. David Broder said,

    the credibility of #154 can be judged well enough from the fact that “steve peterson” not only ignored my post which was a direct response to him, and wrote another in a weird tone (“gossip site” “big boy” etc.) but continues to post under a pseudonym for fear of being taken up on what he has said!

  159. Toby Esterhase said,

    I’m not convinced that Johng actually knows anything or understands anything about antisemitism.

    He seems to be a clever young postgrad but he doesn’t read. He doesn’t read the literature on antisemitism and he doesn’t read Engage.

    He just responds viscerally. He is annoyed that he is thought of as antisemitic because he does not feel that he hates Jews.

    He is like a Police Federation rep from the 1980s. Full of righteous indignation but unable or unwilling to actually understand what is being said about him.

    And he is even unable or unwilling to substantiate his allegations.

    Engage, by contrast, is absolutely jam packed full of substantiations to its allegations. You might not agree with them but they make their arguments, they present their evidence, the analyse – for hundreds of thousands of words.

    In the circles johng moves in it is enough to declare that an allegation is “revolting” for it to be set aside.

  160. paul m said,

    He also seems happy to ignore the corrupt internal regime in the SWP.

  161. Alan Laurence said,

    158: too late, youve had your 15 minutes.

  162. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Well David, you certainly seem to have incurred the wrath of the cruise missile `left’.

    paul m: what is worse, ignoring the `corrupt internal regime in the SWP’ or the murderous villainy of Zionism? You know, the gay community carved out a piece of the states for themselves around the San Fransisco area but they did it by purchasing property from those who were willing to sell i.e. in a civilised manner and, you don’t have to be gay to live there. More and more jews are distancing themselves from Zionism as a betrayal of judaism and humanity and the more isolated it gets the more vicious it becomes. Engage’s `support’ for Palestinians is completely fake as long as it supports Zionism. It is only worried about the bad publicity that results from the excesses of Zionisms far right wing without understanding the logic of the ideology.

    Zionism is an ideology and a legitimate target for criticism without being branded an anti-semite by a bunch of murderous bastards. There are many kinds of Zionism including Christian. It is another word for colonialism.

    Tim from HP is an ethnic cleanser even though the Palestinians are of the same ethnicity. Now THAT is what I call self-hating. Listen to Roland Rance on the over-arching strategy of Zionism. No wonder Tim hates him. Jews and Palestinians will live together again when Zionism is defeated.

  163. Steve Peterson said,

    As I was saying David: you set up this discussion. How would you justify it politically. Come on now. Are the political lines between you and the AWL clarified now? Are they really?!
    … Less of a split from the AWL, more like a young man going to his bedroom.

  164. Nuke Matgamna said,

    This is how the AWL treats its youth cadre. Patronising twat.

  165. Voltaire's Priest said,

    David how do you think the discussion is going on this little gossip site?

    Hey Steve, chided though I have been for descending below Athenian standards of debate in the past, kiss my gossipy little arse.

    VP xxx

  166. modernityblog said,

    maybe someone will posts David Hirsh’s comments #120, #146 and #148 as a post to remind JohnG that he can’t run away from this.

  167. Steve Peterson said,

    NM: no this isn’t how the AWL “treats its youth cadre”. This is how someone in the AWL relates to a kid who has run off without proper explanation. Our youth cadre are still in the AWL (and not impressed with David). The idea it is adequate to explain your exit by a silly little posting on this site is absurd. Proper political people write long documents, organise for their views, speak, struggle etc rather than “getting their own back” by posting here, surrounded by political enemies who run to his defence for the wrong reasons. Makes him feel a little better, but is the political equivalent of throwing his toy on the floor.

    NM: socialists shouldn’t use the word “twat”.

    Voltaire’s P: no thanks to the offer of your arse.

  168. modernityblog said,

    I’d suggest that AWLers and mates of Sean stop digging, that hole is getting bigger and deeper, and it ain’t doing you any favours.

  169. johng said,

    David Hirsh, posts which assert that the Palestinian population in 1948 were simply migrants who came to Palestine as a result of economic development sponsered by the Zionist movement in mandate Palestine, posts which assert that Palestinians left Israel as a result of ‘radio broadcasts’, posts which assert that Jordon is Palestine etc, etc. All of these well worn themes are part of the narrative of Palestinians as propaganda, a narrative which is racist toward Palestinians Arabs. They are also, very unfortunately, part of the common sense of sections of Israeli nationalist opinion, and despite being disproved over and over again, are endlessly recycled. They are also endlessly recycled by posters on Engage, sometimes argued with, (as are rather more directly unpleasent Islamophobic commentry).

    I have stated that Engage is not an organisation set up to oppose anti-Jewish racism but an organisation set up to campaign against measures taken in solidarity with Palestinians, which argues that such measures are motivated by racism and anti-semitism, which is held to reflect wider deformities on the left. I have also argued that Engage does not advocate solidarity with Palestinian nationalism and its struggle, but rather suggests that those sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians should conduct ‘practical’ campaigns centring on the welfare of Palestinians. This is fine, and its perfectly legitimate to argue that it is not ‘helpful’ to support Political campaigns to expose the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state, but instead to ‘engage’ constructively to build links between Palestinians and Israeli’s on a one to one basis. This is perfectly legitimate. What is not perfectly legitimate is to argue that anyone who disagrees that this suffician, is either an anti-semite, or a tool of anti-semites (especially as this is simply not true).

    The exchanges above, far from refuting anything I said, actually confirm it. It is extremely dishonest not to be open about the reality that the battle Engage is waging centres around the Israel/Palestine conflict and the lefts response to it (it is in other words not simply an organisation campaigning against anti-Jewish racism). And that the central motivation is to argue against viewing the Israel/Palestine conflict as one where the norms of political solidarity with the oppressed ought to apply, as in other cases, and to label any such arguments as anti-semitic. Its not an argument I agree with, and indeed, it is an argument which can only lead to rancour and division and the complete eclipse of rational discussion about either the Israel/Palestine conflict, or Anti-Semitism. Both of which I regard as important issues.

    My own interest in the Middle East stem from my teens when a close friend who was born into a family on the Christian side of the conflict in Lebanon became gradually disillusioned with his politics and everything they stood for. I lived through those changes with him and will always remember one morning when we both heard the news about the massacres of Palestinians in their refugee camps subsequent to the departure of Palestinian fighters. It was a turning point for him. I then found myself going to university during the 1980’s and these events became more real to me, as a very large number of those Palestinian fighters ended up in London universities, having nowhere else to go. As was more generally the case, hearing their side of the story made me further question the kind of narrative I had been bought up to believe about Israel (I visited the country when I was much younger and generally speaking my politics were probably sympathetic to Zionism). This is not an unusual story by any means and it is nothing whatsoever to do with anti-semitism.

    I have been asked to ‘substantiate’ my arguments. Given that nobody here has substantiated the absurd allegation, that on the basis of anything I have actually said, I could be classed as an anti-semite, that seems to me sufficiant demonstration of the case I made.

  170. David Hirsh said,

    “Proper political people write long documents…”

    How could we forget?

  171. voltairespriest said,

    And yet “Steve”… a presumably more senior AWL comrade posting from behind a pseudonym (yes I’m aware I use one too but it’s more habit than subterfuge these days), picking on a young comrade like a school bully, hardly makes for edifying viewing, now does it? One imagines that if he had produced an internal document only to be the recipient of “little boy” (or “maoist youth” ) barbs, then he’d have probably walked out anyway.

    Incidentally, those of you who seem to think Jim’s such a loose cannon will notice that he has precisely not sought to do that in the course of this debate… just saying, like.

  172. paul m said,

    What’s bullying about SP’s posts? Or indeed TU’s account of the Broder’s exit from the AWL.

    Broder is playing up to the idiot left for sympathy and trying to put the boot into the AWL.

    One thing the AWL has always had is an argumentative approach to politics, which I’ve always liked. Compare them to the pompous toads of the IMG, the Milmoonies and fake prols of the SWP.

  173. voltairespriest said,

    An argumentative approach to politics, I completely agree with. I’m not for pulling punches in the course of a debate and as such I frequently rebuff requests for censorship of harsh language or off-colour statements on here. You’ll notice I haven’t deleted anything Steve said, so much as ticking him off a little.

    I do, though, have a thing about the “little boy” thing. It’s picking on a characteristic (his age) rather than on anything he actually said. What if he was a woman? Black? Gay? Would those things be fair game? I rather doubt that Steve would say so, and I don’t think so either. So what’s the difference when it comes to age, then?

  174. modernityblog said,

    we are still waiting for a comprehensive and logical reply to David Hirsh’s point:

    “148 David Hirsh said, August 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    We’re waiting for John Game to:

    1) apologize for the unfounded allegation that Engage does not support Palestine solidairty

    2) apologize for, or provide evidence for, the allegation that Engage publishes racist posts.

    3) withdraw the allegation that Engage is in fact a conspiracy to close down free speech which routinely employs a bad faith allegation of antisemitism.

    Withdraw all three allegations, John Game, or provide evidence.”

  175. johng said,

    1) The assertion is not unfounded as I have demonstrated.

    2) I have provided the evidence. The arguments are outline are to be found on the Engage server on a regular basis.

    3) The bad faith allegations I stand by, particularly as they have just been made against myself.

  176. johng said,

    Of course I never used the word ‘conspiracy’ or even implied it. More evidence perhaps of at least Modernities consistant bad faith. I outlined what I see as the politics behind the revisionism about anti-semitism and suggested the reasons I disagree with those politics. This is the norm in any debate about anything whatsoever, and I would suggest, is rather more restrained then the recourse to insult and rancour that seem to be what passes for engagement in the case of this particular argument.

  177. modernity said,

    JohnG wrrote:

    “Of course I never used the word ‘conspiracy’ or even implied it. More evidence perhaps of at least Modernities consistant bad faith.”

    I shall let David Hirsh take up his own points, but JohnG should notice (but he won’t) that I do not (got that: do not) use the word “conspiracy”, I am merely re-posting the original post #148

    that’s why it is in quotes and italic, to distinguish it from my own words, sigh…so basic

  178. johng said,

    I notice that David Hirsh seems to want to regard disagreement with his politics as evidence for charges about allegations of a ‘Jewish conspiracy etc’. Utterly ridiculous. It is perhaps evidence only of the fact that David Hirsh seems unwilling to engage in sensible argument about the divisions that exist as a result of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

  179. johng said,

    Well then David Hirsh is being ridiculous rather then you. Seeing as you see fit to re-post his absurd allegations against me thats your affair.

  180. paul m said,

    Broder’s age is an issue, insofar as he’s shown a level of inexperience and ultra-left ism often associated with youth in left-wing organisations. I’ve never met the guy, but he does come across as being a bit too big for his boots.

    I remember being a ‘leftist’ on the Troops Out of Ireland debate in the 80s, under left public opinion.

  181. modernity said,

    a word for would-be academics such as JohnG

    as far as I understand it, evidence, in terms of David Hirsh’s request, is providing links, citations, web sites, extracts which back up the arguments

    it is NOT just a re-assertion of the previous arguments, that’s called repetition

    shorter SWP version:

    evidence means links to the words of others

  182. Darren said,

    By posting his comments behind a false name, ‘Steve Paterson’ has zero credibility on this thread.

    Love how ‘Steve’ and some others on this thread are using Dave Broder’s youth against him. Would this be the same AWL who – if they actually recruited someone over the age of 21 – would plaster it all over the front cover of Solidarity?

    Hypocrites.

  183. David Hirsh said,

    John Game: “Of course I never used the word ‘conspiracy’ or even implied it. ”

    Your claim, John Game, is that those Jews who raise the issue of contemporary antisemitism are doing so in bad faith. We are lying, you say. We are pretending to be concerned about antisemitism but are really concerned only with Jewish communal self-interest and with defending Israeli human rights abuses.

    You are unable to relate to the truth of what we say, but you relate to us only “as Jews”. And “the Jews” who you relate to us as is an antisemitic construction.

    You do not claim that we are mistaken, but that we know we are wrong and are pretending that we don’t know it. And it is not just one of us, but all of us, who act in bad faith in the same way.

    This is a charge of conspiracy. It is a very serious charge and John Game should understand that it is a charge with a history and with a particular menace.

    Engage is not just any old organization. It is an organization which campaigns against antisemitism.

    To charge antiracists and Jews who oppose antisemitism with being part of a conspiracy is serious.

    John Game cannot produce any evidence for this or for his other charges.

    He says that Engage publishes racist posts. He has not given any evidence. He cannot produce a racist post.

    He says that Engage does not support Palestine solidarity. He has been proved wrong. In fact Engage has supported more solidarity and joint work with Palestinians and with the peace movements in the Middle East than he has. But he clings onto his claim.

    And he claims that Engage – all of the people who support Engage seperately – hurls the insult “antisemite” instrumentally in order to protect Israel from legitimate criticism. Again, with no evidence.

  184. David Hirsh said,

    Jews and antiracists who John Game believes are following a common plan to pretend to be concerned about antisemitism but are actually only concerned to protect Israel from legitimate criticism:

    David Hirsh
    Jon Pike
    Stephen Soskin
    Josh Robinson
    David Seymour
    Robert Fine
    Adrian Cohen
    Jane Ashworth
    Linda Grant
    David Aaronovitch
    Howard Jacobson
    Maureen Lipman
    Sean Matgamna
    David T
    John Strawson
    The Chief Rabbi
    Jim Denham
    Eve Garrard
    Norman Geras
    Alan Johnson
    Paul McGarry
    Moishe Postone
    Ben Cohen
    Josh Cohen
    Kirsten Campbell
    Philip Spencer
    Brian Brivati

    etc
    etc
    etc

  185. johng said,

    Again, David I never made any such allegation(s). Either you have not read anything I have said or on the other hand, you don’t understand what I have said. Engage was set up to campaign against initiatives for Palestinian solidarity in the AUT. Its arguments were that such initiatives were anti-semitic. I disagree, and disagree further with attempts to argue that any disagreements with Engage about this are evidence that the person who disagree’s is advancing some kind of claim about a Jewish conspiracy. It is absurd. If you cannot engage in a rational debate with someone who is critical of your politics, has advanced perfectly reasonable concerns from the standpoint of those who advocate solidarity with Palestinians about your stance, this is really not to do with me it is to do with you. I too could produce a long list of names of people who disagree with the kind of stance that Engage is advocating with respect to Palestinian solidarity. I don’t however see what purpose this would serve. Generally speaking I prefer to engage in rational discussion with those with whom I have political disagreements.

  186. Geoff Collier said,

    I was amazed to read that David Broder is only about 20. Back in May I passed a lone Solidarity/Workers Liberty seller outside my university trying to build for a public meeting on May 68 with DB as the main speaker. He gave the impression that Broder was old enough to have been there.

    But my main question is about the other participant in this split, Chris Ford. Is he the same bloke who was on the editorial board of Revolutionary History in the early 90s? If so, he can’t be the normal run of the mill youngster that you find in the AWL. I thought he was a member of the Revolutionary Democratic Group – when di he join the AWL?

    And is this the first use of the Commune as the name for a political group since the crisis in the French Section in 1936?

  187. Jester said,

    “And that the central motivation is to argue against viewing the Israel/Palestine conflict as one where the norms of political solidarity with the oppressed ought to apply, as in other cases, and to label any such arguments as anti-semitic.”

    Johng insists that Engage sole purpose is to label legitimate criticism and legitimate political action as “antisemitic”.

    So, let’s see,

    The idea that Zionists control the world press for their own interests is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.
    The idea that Jews and Nazis are two sides of the same coin is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    The idea that Hamas-sponsored tv shows argue that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a legitimate work is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    The idea that there is a secret cabal at work to defend “Zionist” interests is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    The idea that no “criticism” of Israel can ever, ever, be antisemitic is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    The idea that US foreign policy is the product of a tightly organised Lobby is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    The idea that Jews exploit their own history of antisemitism to protect “ZIonist” interests, is not objectively antisemitic, but is merely “labelled” so by Engage to silence political solidarity with Palestinians.

    All these arguments have been presented at some time in debates on Israel and Palestine on the left at some time or another (some in the SWP’s own paper and organs).

    Johng’s knows not of what he speaks.

  188. David Hirsh said,

    You don’t understand the point. This is not a list of people who disagree with you. This is a list of people who you allege are involved in a conspiracy

    1) to pretend that they think there is a problem of antisemitism on the left
    2) to do so in bad faith in order to provide ideological cover for Israel to continue to murder and oppress Palestinians.

    You think that we are all

    1) wrong and
    2) we know we’re wrong and
    3) we persist because we are trying to do a political job – dishonestly and in concert

  189. johng said,

    Its also worth stressing that a number of the names on the list (David Aronovich, Norman Geras leap out here) are individuals whose politics the bulk of the anti-war left have disagreements with all down the line (and vice versa), and whose political take on the world is one which fits rather well with my initial description of that section of the left which reacted to the wars of the last years by lurching sharply into the camp of imperialism (with a fair bit of moderate regret expressed later as the whole thing turned into a disaster). One of the things they seemed to have believed was that the left was getting into bed with Islamists and, in addition, anti-semites on that basis. Disagreements with their perspective had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they happened to be Jewish, nor were disagreements ever explained on this basis. These were so to speak Eustonite matters. To disagree with Eustonite claims, and indeed, to regard them as disengenuous, has nothing whatsoever to do with making allegations of a Jewish conspiracy, and nor does the claim that Engages political position appears to be related to this strand of opinion. It is as I have emphasised absurd.

  190. johng said,

    Again David Hirsh I have at no point suggested that anyone is involved in a conspiracy, Jewish or otherwise, and I would suggest you withdraw the allegation or substantiate it.

  191. David Hirsh said,

    You still don’t understand the point John Game.

    The charge of Jewish conspiracy is that people pretend to have all sorts of politics – capitalist, socialist, etc. but in reality, they are fighting for a Jewish communal self-interest.

    Your charge is that people who oppose antisemitism do so in bad faith – they pretend to do so – they are lying.

    They all profess different politics but they all lie about the fact that they oppose antisemitism.

    Your charge is of conspiracy. It is that people with all sorts of different politics are pretending – altogether – that they are opposing antisemitism. When what they are really doing is protecting israel from criticism.

    It doesn’t matter what the chief Rabbi or Norman Geras think – or what they say they think – because you know better.

    You know that when they talk about antisemitism – it is a cover for Jewish self-interest.

  192. Jester said,

    “Engage was set up to campaign against initiatives for Palestinian solidarity in the AUT. Its arguments were that such initiatives were anti-semitic.”

    Really?

    All initiatives?

    Please could you list”all” these numerous inititiatives (AUT, NATFHE, UCU) that Engage has “lablled” antisemitic?

    After all, how can we have a “rational” debate without its ground in empirical reality?

  193. johng said,

    David HIrsh has himself explained that this is why Engage was set up. And David you continue to make allegations which are not supported by anything I have said. At no point have I suggested or even implied that my disagreements with Engage’s approach have anything whatsoever to do with Jewish communal self-interest, indeed I have explicitly stated the exact opposite. I have also suggested that Engage’s main concern is with the Israel-Palestine conflict and the lefts response to it. This is fairly explicit in terms of the emphasis on the Labour movement, and the recent rise of campaigns for solidarity action with Palestinians. I regard this as a mistaken set of politics, and it is not at all unusual to find that mistaken politics leads to disengenuity. In this case the claim that the left is motivated in this endeaver by anti-semitism and that this is part of a wider phenomenan dubbed ‘the new anti-semitism’. I disagree with this theory and this attempt to revise the definition of anti-semitism. I have also suggested elsewhere that there are genuine difficulties when people whose identity has come to be bound up with Zionism are upset and offended by the growing concern with Israel’s actjons against the Palestinians. This is understandable both because identity crisis of these kinds are always painful, and also because of the existence of anti-semitism. However it is neccessary to be clear that the kind of offence caused by changing perceptions of Israel is not the same thing as anti-semitism and you need to deal with the difference (as do those of us on the other side of the argument).

  194. johng said,

    And to re-iterate, it has never even occured to me that my disagreements with Norman Geras or David Aronovich have the slightest thing to do with the fact that they are Jewish. It is a completely mystified and ridiculous allegation. I disagree with their very explicitly articulated politics both on the wider crisis we face and on the question of Israel/Palestine. In terms of these arguments its always been clear to me that the latter flow out of disagreements about the wider crisis and have little to do with the Israel/Palestine crisis per se. Your allegations therefore couldn’t be more wrong.

  195. Alan Laurence said,

    John,
    What do you think a-s looks like today?

  196. johng said,

    oh and a final point of clarification. There are a range of reasons why many would oppose the idea of a boycott, and also many reasons why many would support it. It is surely not controversial to suggest that it is a polarising position for a range of people with different views and interests in politics. To suggest that someone who supports the boycott and regards the arguments mounted against it as either mistaken or disengenuous, and the arguments coming from one of its prominant representives as particularly disengenuous, is making an allegation of a ‘conspiracy’ simply because many who have signed up to engage have different politics is as silly as suggesting that the only reason people would oppose a boycott is because they wish to see the Palestinian people destroyed. It is an argument without any logic or sense. I have suggested that I think your arguments are wrong bordering on disengenuous. The usual response is to make points suggesting why you think this is not so. Not to make these increasingly wild allegations about the assumptions or politics of anyone who disagrees with the politics of the campaign you helped set up.

  197. Jester said,

    Like most of his ilk, Johng’s pontifications are premised on half-truths and lies.
    At every turn in his evasions he has been asked to produce evidence for his claims, (The most recent the question of “initiatives” in the UCU).
    He is unable or refuses to do so.
    Why am I not surprised.

  198. Alan Laurence said,

    Maybe we are all too generous to JG. Its possible he simply does not know what he is talking about.
    David Hirsh went down this line when he said JG reminded him of a Police Fed rep in the 70’s who protested his non-racism without knowing what racism beyond the calling of names.
    John – can I again ask you…what do you think a-s is? And as a starter can you do better than willywobblywelie who thought it was dislike of Jews.

  199. johng said,

    for goodness sake Jester. I simply made the claim, a claim made by David himself, that the origins of Engage lie in opposition to a Palestinian solidarity initiative in the AUT. Why this is considered a ‘half truth’ I have no idea. There are many ways certainly of showing solidarity to the Palestinians. For myself boycott has never been a principle, but opposition to arguments trying to suggest that such an idea is rooted in anti-semitism is. And it is this central claim that I object to. Why this should be considered a dreadful sin, a half truth, or anything else I have no idea. I just disagree with you. Thats not unusual.

  200. johng said,

    The best account of anti-semitism I have seen is in volume 1 of Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism. If you have’nt read it I’d suggest its a key text with many lessons for today.

  201. Alan Laurence said,

    Good start – how would you define a-s today?

  202. modernity said,

    I doubt that JohnG has read any specialist scholarly works on antisemitism, or would have the introspection necessary to see the connections made in many of the above points.

    shorter SWP version:

    it is possible for someone to articulate (unconscious) racist sentiments without realizing it.

  203. johng said,

    Oh for those who haven’t read the book the claim is that anti-semitism in its modern form is a variety of racism co-incident with the rise of both modern capitalism and the modern nation state, trapping Jews between aristocratic and newer forms of reaction. Most modern anti-semitic stereotypes either in the shape of attacks on ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ or on the other hand vast financial conspiracies undermining the nation have their origins in this period, being largely unknown before this period (when anti-semitism took the shape of religious bigotry, ideologies occassionally taken up by peasents who found it safer to attack Jews then the nobles with whom they were closely associated in medieval Europe). Today though anti-semitism is straightfowardly a form of racism, distinguished mainly by its long history and intimate connections with the ideological battles of recent European history. I liked Arendt’s account because she got the balence right in stressing the longetivity of the tradition as well as its changeability. The anti-semitism of the late 19th century involved quite novel prejudices, inseperable from the social transformations of the period. The Nazies in her view took this legacy and transformed it into something so demented and unconnected to social reality as to be inexplicable (this was her ultimate view of what she dubbed totalitarianism as well). I’m unsure of this latter analyses which occurs in later volumes.

  204. johng said,

    It is of course possible to have unconsious racist sentiments. This is however true of us all. I don’t believe that the rise in criticism of Israel is connected to a rise in unconcious or consious anti-semitism although its hardly surprising that those who are anti-semites would want to utilize this. It seems to be a minority of such scumbags that have moved in this direction (although they’re probably harder Nazies ideologically) and when they do they try desperately to conceal their real agenda. Most in Europe however prefer for the moment to attack Muslims as this is more popular, but the fascist organisations in particular are more then simply anti-immigrant organisations, and their success in scapegoating one community would very likely lead them to scape goat others. They require irrational critiques of the system in order to survive. Whilst attempts can be made to reproduce important aspects of anti-semitic ideology and apply them to the new scapegoat (the enemy within, culturally unassiminable, dual loyalties, attachment to a religion which is not a religion but a conspiracy etc, etc) they always need, at some level, a deeper, more internal kind of enemy, and the social prejudices associated with anti-semitism over the late 19th and 20th centuries remain a central template. It is therefore the case that despite the fact that anti-semitism is not today a main tool of establishment reaction (in the way that for instance anti-immigrant and, in particular, anti-muslim sentiment is) it would be very foolish to imagine that this means that it cannot still play a large role within populist and fascist formations which may become a serious threat again in the near future. Its also true that the more they reproduce and make acceptable these kinds of ways of thinking about other groups, the more persuasive they can be in articulating such prejudices in relationship to Jews (which has a larger pay-off for them ideologically). The rise of Islamophobia, intrinsically frightening anyway, was made more frightening by this fact. The speed with which these ideas could spread, and the kind of diseased thinking involved, demonstrates how easily and deeply rooted these memes are in European culture.

  205. Alan Laurence said,

    so,
    ‘Today though anti-semitism is straightfowardly a form of racism, distinguished mainly by its long history and intimate connections with the ideological battles of recent European history. ‘
    Please tell me what this striaghtforward form of racism looks like.

  206. Bennett said,

    JohnG “Engage was set up to campaign against initiatives for Palestinian solidarity in the AUT. Its arguments were that such initiatives were anti-semitic.”

    Engage was set tp to campaign against an academic boycottof Israel. There are many alternatives to a boycott for those who want to do solidarity work. JohnG has been shown to be either stuoid or a liar. He has been given examples of Engage promoting solidarity initiiatives but he dismisses them. JohnG fails to back up his accusations and should stick to debating with his sixth form colleagues.

  207. Bennett said,

    JohnG completely fails to understand what antisemitism is. He has no idea , which is why he has to waffle and make unsubstantiated allegations.

  208. Bennett said,

    Remember JohnG posted criticisms of Hirsh’s paper on antisemitism and then admitted that he hadn’t read it. Unbelievable !

  209. johng said,

    Oh dear. Look I think people who claim to instruct others in scholarly literature on anti-semitism really ought to do a bit more reading themselves. Ah Bennet yes I remember now. Silly me. And I actually thought this was a serious discussion.

  210. Bennett said,

    Just a reminder of what JohnG said earlier in this thread

    “JohnG “The campaign of Engage is directed soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism, and attempting to connect growing disquiet about Israels treatment of the Palestinians with the same”

    Emperor Gane has no clothes.

  211. Alan Laurence said,

    John,
    Never mind about that – what do you think contemporay a-s looks like. What are its characteristics?

  212. Bennett said,

    JohnG – How can one have a serious discussion with somebody who criticised a paper that he hadn’t read ?

  213. modernityblog said,

    as a public service, and for those slow witted pro-boycotters who are unable to tell if material posted at David Duke’s web site is or is not antisemitic filth, I have produced a small and simple guide:

    “For UCU Activists – How To Avoid Re-posting from Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan or White Power Web Sites.”

    http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/for-ucu-activists-how-to-avoid-re-posting-from-neo-nazi-ku-klux-klan-or-white-power-web-sites/

  214. Alan Laurence said,

    ok John,
    I think these are antisemitic arguments: do you agree?

    Jews are powerful and the Jewish Lobby has great influence often to the detriment of the host nation.
    The Jews do not have the right to a nation state while every other nation/people does have that right
    Jews are responsible for the troubles of the world or region
    Jews are responsbile for what their enemies think
    Jews shout ‘antisemitism’ to deflect criticism
    Jews are all responsible for Israel and Israel Jews should be punished for the actions of their Government.
    There is no need to entertain the possibility of antisemitism
    Jews whinge

  215. johng said,

    Anti-Semitism today takes the same form it has since the late 19th century. On the one hand an emphasis on the rootless cosmopolitan (dual loyalties etc) on the other hand the belief that Jews are involved in behind the scenes financial operations directed at controlling the fate of nations. A third, and somewhat older element, is the idea of a backward parochial religious consiousness incompatible with modernity and liberal values, but, at the same time, capable of utilising liberal values for their own particular ends (this form is very rare today and to imagine what it looked like its perhaps best to go to the comments thread of HP whenever muslims or multiculturalism are discussed. It allows you a peek into the mental world of the mid-19th century anti-semite with just a change of target). At a lower level of course this is reflected in all kinds of revolting derivitives, deeply unpleasent, but not actually the motivating force of anti-semitic ideology.

    In the context of the US the peculiar ethnic structure of its domestic politics mean that there is a Jewish lobby, in the same way that there is an Italian lobby, a Cuban lobby, and an Irish lobby, all of which have played large and acknowledged roles in recent American history. I would regard, for example AIPAC, as directly comparable to the Cuban lobby. Discussions of the lobby system in US politics are not in and of themselves anti-semitic, but the key thing here is exactly what is alleged about particular lobbies. I don’t believe that Mearsheimer’s thesis is directly anti-semetic I just think its wrong. The belief that US foreign policy is set by the various ethnic lobbies which play a central role in American politics misunderstand the nature of American foreign policy in my view. However such a misunderstanding is based on taking on faith the role of democracy in setting US foreign policy something I do not accept. Mearsheimer wants to argue that the policies advocated by AIPAC are not in the national interests of the US. This ignores entirely global US strategy. If anti-semites utilize the book (as they will and do) this does not neccessarily make the book anti-semitic. Their central claim is about the relationship of US foreign policy to Israeli foreign policy and whether these interests co-incide. This is not a traditional anti-semitic theme. The traditional theme is that Jews are inherently anti-national and wish to control the fate of nations. However claims that Jews are all powerful certainly is an anti-semitic theme. The notion that AIPAC, like the Cuban lobby, is a powerful force in US politics is not. Its a fact. Just not a determining one.

    And no I don’t believe that claims that the Jews are not entitled to a nation like other nations have much to do with anti-semitism (its never been a central plank of anti-semitism) especially as its not a claim made by anyone at all I have ever heard of. The difficulty with Zionism is not that it makes claims that Jews are a nation but that it located a nation-state where there was already a people and displaced them. There is a long tradition of Jewish socialists who argued against the conception of Jews as a nation (and socialists more widely don’t like the idea that all ethnicities, religions or even nationalities are best off having their own state: I was rather amazed by a recent post on Belgium on HP which seemed to me to draw out perfectly clearly why most socialists would be hostile to this logic) but again its certainly not the tradition of anti-semitism to argue this. They regarded Jews as inherently anti-national.

    Yes the notion that Jews are responsible for the troubles of the world are anti-semitic. The notion that the Israeli State bears a heavy responsibility for the fate of the Palestinians is not however. The notion that Jews are all responsible for the actions of the Israeli government is certainly anti-semitic although its not traditional anti-semitism. Yes not entertaining the possibility that there is anti-semitism or that Jews whinge are certainly anti-semitic.

  216. Bennett said,

    JohnG “Yes the notion that Jews are responsible for the troubles of the world are anti-semitic.”

    Therefore i take it that you would regard Clare Short’s remarks as antisemitic ?

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=38

  217. culinaryarts said,

    JohnG, you mention ‘dual loyalties etc': what, if not accusations of dual loyalties, are your claims that concerns raised about antisemitism are raised in bad faith to prevent solidarity with the Palestinians?

    antisemitic scum

  218. johng said,

    No not really, although as is usual with Clare Short its a meaningless bit of wind. US geo-political strategy in the middle east has been a major disaster for the world. The Israeli-Arab conflict is also a major cause of destabilisation and suffering in that area of the world over the last decades. It is not anti-semitism to recognise this. Nor is the claim that US policies have worsened the situation, up to and including, bolstering the most hawkish elements in the Israeli polity. In fact such a statement is incompatible with anti-semitism if you think about it.

  219. johng said,

    I have not made any allegations about dual loyalties at all. However I should make it clear that I have absolutely no problem with people having dual loyalties whether they are Jews, Muslims or any other group. No cricket tests for me.

  220. culinaryarts said,

    you have claimed that Jews and antiracists arguing against moves which they interpret, rightly or wrongly (rightly, in my belief, but my point here does not depend on it) as attempts to exclude Jews (or ‘the bad Jews’) from the political sphere, as people who are arguing in bad faith, in attempt to prevent solidarity with the Palestinians and protect Israel from criticism. that is an accusation of dual-loyalties.

    antisemitic scum.

  221. culinaryarts said,

    for the record, i have no idea why the combination of inverted comma and close-bracket has been transformed into a yellow face.

  222. Jester said,

    You stated
    “Engage was set up to campaign against initiatives for Palestinian solidarity in the AUT. Its arguments were that such initiatives were anti-semitic.”

    You then stated later

    “I simply made the claim, a claim made by David himself, that the origins of Engage lie in opposition to a Palestinian solidarity initiative in the AUT.”

    Note the shift from a blanket accusation (when challenged) to a specific “initiative”.

    That is why it is a half-truth; one of many that pepper your comments.

    As to your recommendation of Arendt. Of course you are right, but for all the wroing reasons.

    Arendt dismissed any notion of “scapegoat” clearly in the Introduction (you use it in your own account of antisemitism and Islam,ophobia)
    You claim that Arendt saw modern antisemitism as the product of Jews being caught between the aritocracy and the “aristocratic and newer forms of reaction.”
    Whilst I appreciate your need to force everything into the confines a vulgar Marxism, Arendt never referred to the ascending bourgeois class as a “new form of reaction”. As with Marx herself, she was far more than aware of the equivocations of modern bourgiois society than youur crude reading acknowledges.

    It is also worth noting that you do not mention the sections of the book on “left antisemitism”; the place of intellectuals, academics and students in preparing the ground for both antisemitism and totalitarianism. I note also you do not mention her powerful critique of the left’s refusal to engage with antisemitism at the time of Dreyfus Affair until it was almost too late.

    “Anti-Semitism today takes the same form it has since the late 19th century.”
    So, unlike any other social and political concept, “antisemitism” remains frozen in time at the moment of its birth! It doesn’t develop in either form and content in relations to the social world to which it is attached? Now, that’s what you call a sharp Marxist analysis. Strange, I always throught that was called “positivism”, but not the first time Marxists have fallen for that trick (see the Second International).
    However, that this is the case is hardly surprising because the SW’s line has not altered since the 1940’s comments of “L. Rock”. So, whilst the rest of the world moves on, Jews and antisemitism (and antisemites) stay frozen in stone.

    Wrong, yet again!

  223. Jester said,

    Oh, and most of those Jewish socialists who you mention were murdered by the nazis at the same time your predecessors were getting your analysis of it all so very, very, wrong. Just like your getting your analysis of antisemitism so very, very wrong now.

    Come to think of it, this is the tradtion in which your “mistakes” of not mentioning the Jews at your recent anti-BNP acticities attaches to.

  224. paul m said,

    Back on topic, I spotted this by Bill J from PR.

    Now Bill tends to repeat over and over again three or four lines about the AWL, on the AWL’s site. It’s tedious beyond believe, but this is a great read.

    According to BJ Broder was ‘kicked out’ of the AWL. Not true, from Broder himself. Sean M is largely responsible for the SWP internal regime and PR and only PR have thought about why Marxism is marginalised. Bill Braincell indeed.
    Bill’s stuff starts here:

    It is a bit disappointing that having been kicked out of the AWL, you’ve simply rejected the “left”, on the grounds that you (and your mate) have the answers. Somehow, these answers (it turns out mainly recycled versions of stuff that’s been around for ages) have not been noticed by the left, so its your job (and your mates) to enlighten us all.
    Forget it. The reason this stuff hasn’t found an audience is simple. It’s not the answer.
    Why not take a few weeks to think about where you go next rather than embarking on a project which cannot succeed?
    The AWL’s faults go back deep. They are inextricably linked to Matgamna’s Healyism. Matgamna has had an entirely pernicious effect on the British left. He was responsible to a large degree for the scale of the SWP’s bureaucratic intolerance, through his intervention into the IS in the late 1960s. Since then, he’s chewed his way through many more innocent (and better) people, who have come into contact with him.
    Today he’s a wretched cynic, who doesn’t believe a word of what he started out with, but is left holding the remnants of a really sorry bunch of Zionists and war mongerers.
    You were unfortunately just the latest of his victims.
    PR were victims of a similarly intolerant bureaucratic regime, one indeed inherited from Matgamna, Dave Stocking and co, did to us what Matgamna had done to them 30 years previously.
    It wasn’t tragedy but it was farce.
    There are lessons there, to reject bureaucratism certainly. To re-look at what has passed for Trotskyism on the left. But not to give it all up in the search for immediate and easy answers, on the grounds that these bureaucrats really reflected the revolutionary tradition. They didn’t. And they don’t.

  225. johng said,

    I’m afraid your wrong on all counts. Arendt’s critique of the scape goat theory was designed (quite correctly) to point to the need to explain why it was that Jews (and not say, redheads or bicycle riders) were singled out for persecution. It was not enough, in other words, to point to economic crisis as a sufficiant explanation for anti-semitism. I absolutely agree with this, and for various reasons, its key to wider explorations of communalism and parochialism I’m interested in. It was neccessary to point to the specific social history of both the Jews as a people and the social transitions of the 18th and 19th centuries to explain the genesis of anti-semitism. A major part of this alternative explanation to the standard liberal one was an account of the complex relationship between aristocratic and bourgoise reactions to the developing institutions of the national state, global markets and resulting social changes, and how the previous history of the Jews led to them becoming a target for various forms of bigotry. Of course Arendt had an extremely ambivulent relationship to the bourgoise world of modernity. It is after all from this world that Stalinism and Nazism emerged (one way or another) the subject of her book, even though she regarded both as the absolute negation of that world. Whilst she points to the values of 19th century civilization as an alternative, its also clear that she regarded this as a world with feet of clay). She was also very concerned in her book to reject arguments which attempted to suggest that either Marx or the socialist movement in general were complicit in anti-semitism (although she did speak of the failures of the French movement in this respect). This led Jaspers to accuse her of having written a defence of Marxism, and is one explanation for the books poor reception in cold war America despite the apposite title (for more discussion on this see the edited collection ‘Arendt in Jerusalem’ a symposium on Arendt held in Jerusalem, I think, in the 1990s). In any case a complex thinker not easily reduced to soundbites for demolishing imaginary adversaries on Shiraz Socialist. Its best to encourage others to read her and make their own minds up. You are quite correct of course that I did not mention every single thing she said.

    Are you denying that the key staples of even contemporary anti-semitism revolve around the idea of the rootless cosmopolitan on the one hand, and the financial speculater controlling the destiny of nations on the other? And do you deny that these are the essential ingrediants first put togeather in the late 19th century? I’m unclear why you accuse me of imagining that these things are frozen in aspic simply because I refer to themes which are still essential to anti-semitic propaganda. On the issue of whether or not Engage advocates solidarity with Palestinian organisations or whether it was mainly set up to combat what was percieved as the anti-semitism of the lefts reaction to the Israel-Palestine conflict I think I’ve been fairly clear about my beliefs here. You disagree with them. Fine.

    In fact Culinary I did not argue that all people who argue against the boycott because they think it is anti-semitic are arguing in bad faith. I said I think they are wrong, its something I would argue against, and something which Engage argues for. I argued that Engage was set up in relationship to this argument and that it was bad faith to suggest otherwise (something which it seemed to me David was initially doing but he seemed at one point to concede this). I also suggested that David’s argument that I or the SWP were Holocaust deniers on the strength of a badly put togeather petition seemed to be in bad faith (on the basis that he seemed to prefer to ignore all contrary evidence, of which there is rather a lot. Certainly if I thought this was the case I would leave the organisation. Strangely though, the possibility that this might be the case never so much as crossed my mind. Probably something to do with a long record of combating Holocaust Deniers and anyone who minimises the Jewish component of the Nazi extermination program).

  226. paul m said,

    Forgot this from Bill.

    “There are good objective reasons why Marxism as a theory is marginalised – I’ve read around it somewhat – and its scarcely an exaggeration to say that only PR have attempted to develop an assessment of those reasons.

  227. johng said,

    Jester its also true that most of the Zionists they argued with perished in the Nazi Holocaust. I’m unclear what that is supposed to tell us. Neither side of this argument either predicted the rise of the Nazis’ or, as it happened, were able to avert the catastrophe, six million Jews being exterminated despite the existence of both Socialists and the Zionist movement. The only response to the Nazies was to smash them. Tragically neither the socialist movement or the Zionist movement were capable of doing this, and even had a Jewish State been established earlier, without the Nazies being smashed, it would have changed nothing (the Nazies would of course have arrived in any such state). Therefore its never been clear to me that these events proved the Zionists as against the socialists wrong. It proved everybody wrong. About many things. Today the first priority is to ensure that such a thing never happens again. I’m very unclear that the establishment of an Israeli state has much to do, positively or negatively, with the question. However that is not intended as an argument for or against Zionism. Its just suggesting that your argument there is not particularly convincing.

  228. johng said,

    “He was responsible to a large degree for the scale of the SWP’s bureaucratic intolerance, through his intervention into the IS in the late 1960s”

    Well can you imagine?!!!

  229. modernity said,

    so how does that 19th century analysis describe Soviet antisemitism, or the purges of Jews in the East bloc from the late 1940s onwards?

    No aristocratic and bourgeois reactions around then? in 1960s Poland?

  230. Steve Peterson said,

    Paul M: thanks.
    In fact, apart from the various and obvious untruths in Bill J’s remarks it is worth pointing out that Dave Stocking wasn’t expelled from an AWL forerunner (the I-CL) but, just like David Broder, he ran off too.
    Anyone seen David? Probably past his bedtime…

  231. culinaryarts said,

    anyone else wondering whether Steve Peterson is Mark Osborn or Paul Hampton?

  232. Bennett said,

    JohnG

    So you think it’s not antisemitic to see Israel as the major cause of unrest in the world ?

    Unbelieveable , shocking.

  233. Jester said,

    Johng

    “Today the first priority is to ensure that such a thing never happens again.”

    Well, learning from your own mistakes rather than repeating them all over again would be a start.

    I know, how about disaccosiating your party from antisemitic ones?

    How about confronting the antisemitism in which some “criticisms” of Israel are wrapped rather than demanding one supports superstition over rationality?

    How about stopping publishing conspiracy theories in your own newspaper.

    How about stop making unsubstantiated claims against those who ever raise the question of antisemitism?

    How about mentioning the Jews when talking about the Holocaust?

    Just a few ideas to get you started.

    “Tragically neither the socialist movement or the Zionist movement were capable of doing this, ”

    It was not inevitable nor fate, The left got antisemitism and nazism wrong. It is doing the same again as we speak.

    Now, who was it who said something about tragedy the first time and farce the second?

  234. Bennett said,

    John G’s either excuses or denies antisemitism. When you cut through his waffle and obfuscations It’s as simple as that.

  235. David Hirsh said,

    We’re still waiting for John Game to:

    1) apologize for the unfounded allegation that Engage does not support Palestine solidairty – we provided lots of evidence – he was wrong on that.

    2) apologize for, or provide evidence for, the allegation that Engage publishes racist posts – he has not offered a single example.

    3) withdraw the allegation that Engage is in fact a conspiracy to close down free speech which routinely employs a bad faith allegation of antisemitism – instead all we got was a postgrad essay about Hannah Arendt – which missed out the passage on the role played by antisemitic intellectuals in the origins of totalitarianism.

  236. Bennett said,

    John G either excuses or denies antisemitism. When you cut through his waffle and obfuscations It’s as simple as that.

  237. johng said,

    Modernity you are quite correct there was no bourgoise or aristocratic reaction in the Soviet Union in the late 1940s. But there was a very powerful ideology of anti-semitism deployed by the stalinist regime which had its roots in that period. And yes it revolved precisely around those twin themes first put togeather in the second part of the 19th century (the doctors plot etc). It is surely not a co-incidence that the themes are identical, and historical knowledge of the origins of this language is surely important, and one of the most fascinating things about Arendt’s account.

    To suggest Bennet that the conflict in the Middle East has been a major destabilising factor in global politics or that it is one of the most important geo-political regions in the world is hardly shocking. To suggest that US policy towards the region is in large measure responsible for both its geo-political prominance in the post-war period, and that this had a dreadful impact on Israeli-Arab relations and the possibility of resolution is also not particularly shocking. Its also true that if you want to denounce Clare Short for anything in this statement ‘anti-Americanism’ would probably be the more appropriate epiphet. “I am shocked by this knee jerk anti-americanism’ you could say in a shocked manner (although being shocked by knee jerk reactions is a bit pointless).

  238. johng said,

    Really Bennet? For “when you cut through the obfuscations etc, etc” replace with “when you ignore anything he actually says because in the end shouting the same slogans over and over again is easier when confronted with anyone who isn’t a stock stereotype”.

  239. johng said,

    You can wait all you like David. I have answered every single one of your points. Whatever else you do, your attempt to misrepresent everything I say, clearly is in bad faith. Thanks very much for suggesting I have written an undergraduate essay. Ones I’ve seen tend to be very good.

  240. Jester said,

    “You are quite correct of course that I did not mention every single thing she said.”

    And, of course, we all know why.

    “On the issue of whether or not Engage advocates solidarity with Palestinian organisations or whether it was mainly set up to combat what was percieved as the anti-semitism of the lefts reaction to the Israel-Palestine conflict I think I’ve been fairly clear about my beliefs here. You disagree with them. Fine.”

    Ah, so now what you held out as a “truth” earlier is, really, nothing more than a matter of opinion now.
    To remind you of what your actually said,
    “The campaign of Engage is directed soley at equating Palestinian solidarity with anti-semitism, and attempting to connect growing disquiet about Israels treatment of the Palestinians with the same”

    “I’m unclear why you accuse me of imagining that these things are frozen in aspic simply because I refer to themes which are still essential to anti-semitic propaganda”

    And yet you remain silent about contemporary (non-essential?) themes.

    Again, what a surprise.

  241. modernity said,

    so how does that 19th century analysis explain why the SWP invited a known anti-Jewish racists, Gilad Atzmon, to their premier yearly event, Marxism xxxx time after time?

  242. Darren said,

    #231

    “anyone else wondering whether Steve Peterson is Mark Osborn or Paul Hampton?”

    It’s definitely not Sean M. The comments come in under the 1500 words mark. :-)

  243. culinaryarts said,

    but I must admit that the thought of him in the AWL office, dictating his comments to someone who then has the responsibility to type them into his blog, elicits a wry smile.

  244. johng said,

    oh alright david if you want to continue,

    1) I made clear that by Palestinian solidarity I meant existing political solidarity organisations not NGOs. Its up there in the comments in one of my previous answers to you.

    2) I made reference to arguments which regularly occur in the comments of Engage, around the question of migration to Palestine, radio broadcasts, and the invention of Palestinian identity, all of which are part of the ‘Palestinians are propaganda’ motifs which fit into a discourse of anti-arab racism.

    3) I never stated anywhere that Engage was a conspiracy of any kind, and have answered you at length on that point.

    If you can’t be bothered to engage with what I actually say that is your problem and not mine.

  245. Bennett said,

    JohnG “To suggest that US policy towards the region is in large measure responsible for both its geo-political prominance in the post-war period, and that this had a dreadful impact on Israeli-Arab relations and the possibility of resolution is also not particularly shocking. I”

    which is different to “the major cause of bitter division and violence in the world.”
    I’ll give you a little clue John “the major cause” “in the world”

  246. Bennett said,

    JohnG ” I made clear that by Palestinian solidarity I meant existing political solidarity organisations not NGOs.”

    No, you meant a campaign to boycott Israel and no other state.

    Boycott.

  247. Bennett said,

    JohnG “Really Bennet? For “when you cut through the obfuscations etc, etc” replace with “when you ignore anything he actually says because in the end shouting the same slogans over and over again is easier when confronted with anyone who isn’t a stock stereotype”.”

    I’ve never met an SWPer so full of shit. I’ve met a lot of SWPers over the years but never a caricature.

  248. johng said,

    Gosh what a constructive discussion this has been.

  249. David Hirsh said,

    John Game, you have said that edit a racist website. This is some allegation to aim at a professional sociologist. You have not been able to produce a single example to back up your claim. Your claim was false.

    You have said that Engage does not support Palestine solidarity. You have been confronted with the evidence that this is not true – in the form of tens of examples. You have not yet withdrawn the allegation.

    You have said that I pretend to be concerned with antisemitism but really I am concerned to help Israel to commit human rights abuses. You offer no evidence that I my concern with antisemitism is a lie. Please offer some evidence or withdraw the allegation.

    You have said that I do this in concert with a whole number of other people. That is a conspiracy allegation. You have offered no evidence of conspiracy and you seem not to understand the power and significance of an allegation of conspiracy when aimed against an organization which opposes antisemitism.

  250. Bennett said,

    JohnG “Gosh what a constructive discussion this has been”

    Gosh !

  251. modernityblog said,

    but does Martin Smith, SWP honcho and Gilad Atzmon’s best Jazz mate subscribe to that 19th century analysis of antisemitism?

    I would assume not? or why would he invite Atzmon time after time to SWP events?

    “An evening of live music and spoken word to celebrate the life & music of Charlie Parker with:

    Gilad Atzmon & the Orient House Ensemble
    Martin Smith, author of John Coltrane: Jazz, Racism & Resistance”

    http://www.swappeal.org.uk/events/gilad.html

  252. johng said,

    I have not said that you edit a racist website. I have said that a number of comments on Engage do in fact contain ideas I’m sure you wouldn’t be happy with. I pointed out the themes involved and asked you to think about them.

    I clarified the remark about what I meant by the issue of solidarity and went into great detail about what I found objectionable about Engages position on this. In effect the position which contrasts constructive engagement with political posturing implicitly rules out forms of political solidarity, which are presented as mere grandstanding. I disagree with this.

    I have made no allegation about conspiracies or anything of that sort. I have said that I disagree with your allegations about the palestinian solidarity movement and regard your accusations against them as spurious. As someone who has for a long time known people involved in solidarity work with Palestinians it is surely my right to do this. I also regard the allegations you have made against me on this site as spurious. This also is also surely my right.

    Its disapointing to me that you seem incapable of constructive discussion about what are surely quite serious issues.

  253. Jester said,

    Johng
    If you want a constructive discussion then stop evading those aspects of an argument that you don’t like.

    Unless, of course, you want to remain at the level of a party hack all your life, in which case, you are doing a very good job.

  254. culinaryarts said,

    1) I made clear that by Palestinian solidarity I meant existing political solidarity organisations not NGOs. Its up there in the comments in one of my previous answers to you.

    so your allegation changes to the claim that David is opposed to a lot of political (so-called) solidarity organisations. not that he is opposed to solidarity with the Palestinians. right?

  255. modernityblog said,

    there seems to be a very large gap between the SWP’s 19th century analysis of antisemitism and their practice

    in the 30+ years of their premier event, Marxism 1976 to 2008 there does not appear to have been one single session, specifically on anti-Jewish racism?

    yet apparently for 4 years, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 the anti-Jewish racist, Gilad Atzmon, was given a platform by the SWP at these events?

    so that’s no sessions on anti-Jewish racism (19th C or otherwise) and then inviting a known racist to their key events?

    what a gulf between the SWP’s theory and practice?

    each Marxism yearly event has on average 40 sessions per day over five days, so that’s about 200+ sessions per year, over 30 years, around 6000 sessions, but not one specifically on anti-Jewish racism

    what a disparity?

  256. paul m said,

    That’s quite a claim MB. I hope you have the evidence to back it up.

  257. modernityblog said,

    what claim is?

    6000 sessions or Atzmon’s racism?

    Martin Bright’s protection of him?

    the fact that Jewish socialists expressly told the SWP about Atzmon’s racism? and they chose to ignore that advice?

    which one?

  258. paul m said,

    6000 sessions and no discussion of anti-semitism.

    Some of my posts above, might give you a small clue about how I feel about the SWP. I’m not a subtle person.

  259. modernity said,

    I don’t mind unsubtle, I didn’t say “no discussion of anti-semitism.”

    my comment was “but not one specifically on anti-Jewish racism”

    they are different.

    I am sure that the SWP has discussed the Holocaust, I’d even bet they’ve had a session or two on the Nazis, but that is NOT the totality of anti-Jewish racism.

    I’ll bet Ms. Delich is probably against the Nazis, even though she pastes links from David Duke’s web site

    being anti-Nazi, is not the same as making an effort to appreciate the variety and nature of anti-Jewish racism

    for example, how do we explain Soviet anti-Jewish racism pre and post 1917? bearing in mind, that anti-Jewish racism in various forms existed before the 1920s (the advent of the Nazis) and long after 1945,

    there’s a lot more to it than people think.

    my point is that the frequency and nature of sessions at Marxism for the last 30 years indicates the SWP’s priorities, and anti-Jewish racism as a specific doesn’t come up much, despite what SWPers might suggest.

    I’m sure if you asked them the theory you might get halfway decent answers, but it is the practice that is telling in politics, not the waffle.

  260. Jester said,

    I just love the way when forced into a corner, the great “Marxists” of the SWP fall back on the very bourgeois rhetoric they claim to abhor, object and criticise when utilised by others,

    “It is my right”,
    “it is a matter of opinion” –

    whatever next, Johng – “we live in a free country”?

  261. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Reading this rather sad, bizarre discussion, the depth of mindfucking, cult techniques that the AWL use is pretty clear. This passage by ‘Alan Laurence’ sums it up:

    “DB knows that the AWL is permanently under attack for its ‘third camp’ politics and the attitude of any responsible member is never, ever to give comfort to the bollock-brain left who would paint the organisation as late-Shachtmanite. But that’s exactly what he did – and now he whines for being expected to make amends for his transgressions”

    To which someone else understandably responded: “strewth”!

    ‘Laurence’ is obviously a senior AWL hack posting under a false flag, while pretending not to be even a member or a sympathiser of Matgamna’s outfit. But no non-aligned person could have written the above piece of hack denuncation. No non-aligned person would have the slightest inclincation to think like that. This is indicative of a very deep-seated ‘laager’ mentality, is an abuse, and utterly counterposed to democratic modes of functioning. No democrat could condone the use of psychogical pressure to coerce someone to ‘make amends’ for their ‘transgressions’. That is, for opinions contrary to those of some self-appointed guru.

    This is the sort of thing that goes on in religious sects and cults, from the Catholic Church to the Moonies or Scientologists. It is also a technique beloved of Stalinism.
    It unfortunately has seeped into the far left, and doesn’t have a monopoly of one organisation, as shown by the considerable body of evidence of people being treated like this in various far left organisations, WRP, SWP, AWL, Sparts and no doubt others.

    This ‘Laurence’ guy obviously likes mind-fucking techniques, the techniques of bullying and extracting confessions from ‘deviant’ members of left organisations.
    His interminable, mind-fucking attempts to draw people into prolonged exploration of their own (invented by him) ‘anti-semitism’ is also a mind-fucking technique. Of the type pioneered by Maoist groups, that used to try to bamboole confessions of ‘white chauvinism’ out of their supporters, a technique designed to exploit liberal guilt feelings in order to suppress the ability to think politically about questions, including about racism. Political Zionists like Laurence (and the likes of ‘Engage’) are now using similar techniques to try to derail discussion of the crimes of their own movement.

    It’s not worth engaging with the cult techniqes of ‘Laurence’ with his interminable attempts to discuss other people’s ‘anti-semitism’ because he doesn’t actually believe what he is arguing. It is just an attempt to derail genuine political debate. As in a previous thread when Laurence used this technique for such a prolonged period that it became quite comical, his sophistry about ‘anti-semitism’ being quite transparently designed to stop discussion of Mordecai Vanunu’s revelations of Israel’s posession of hundreds of nuclear weapons and the implications of that for hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East.

  262. Alan Laurence said,

    Erm – very grand. Trouble is your post rests on two untruths:
    1 ‘No democrat could condone the use of psychogical pressure to coerce someone to ‘make amends’ for their ‘transgressions’. You make the row sound like a torture chamber. Even DB’s own account does not paint the picture of the type of pyschological pressure one should protest. It sounds more like the type that insists the moody teenager should clean his bedroom.
    And: 2. WWW says DB was in trouble for,
    ‘opinions contrary to those of some self-appointed guru.’
    Thats ball too – he set up the org he is supposed to be a member of. Why on earth would any organsation put up with that?

    And for the record – I’m not in the AWL and never have been.

  263. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    What an amazing apologia:

    “‘opinions contrary to those of some self-appointed guru.’
    Thats ball too – he set up the org he is supposed to be a member of. Why on earth would any organsation put up with that?”

    So in virtually the same, exact words:

    “Q. What kind of an organisation would tolerate opinions contrary to those of its founder?”

    To which the elementary answer is: “A democratic one.”

    Nuff said. It’s not clear if ‘Laurence’ is pretending to be an idiot to disguise his real political loyalties, or whether he really is an idiot. My money, however, is on the former.

  264. Jim Denham said,

    It has already been clearly established (see my questions -all of which I knew the answers to in advance-at #7, above), that Comrade Broder was given a degree of democracy and freedom to advocate his positions that few, if any, other left groups in the UK or anywhere else, would allow an oppositionist. David himself (see his comments at #50 and #52, above) seems to have pulled back from the argument that he was denied democratic rights, although it’s not now clear to me what his grievances are, apart from a straightforward political disagreement, which he was given every opportunity to fight for internally and even express to political opponats of the AWL, externally. Given this degree of freedom to pursue an oppositional position (unheard of on the British left in my experience), and given the hostile and alienated tone of David’s contributions while the deabte was going on, identified even by a non-member (see Alan Lawrence at #54 above) I don’t think the *quid pro quo” of requiring a statement of essential loyalty to the organisation was in any way unreasonable. An organisation that affords dissidents internal and external rights that would be unthinkable for (say) the SWP, also has a right to protect itself. So what, exasctly, has the AWL done wrong here?

  265. red said,

    yawn

  266. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Problem being that, on Iran and the possiblity of an Israeli strike, it appears that Matgamna in a minority, i.e. the ‘dissident’. No matter, he is the founder, he ‘set up the org’, and according to ‘Alan Laurence’, that entitles him to treat the youthful comrade like a naughty teenager and send him to tidy his room. Ye gods, apart from the anti-democratic aspect of this, the ageism sucks as well. Not a good advert!

  267. Sacha Ismail said,

    I’m afraid I haven’t got time to read through all the debate now, but a quick comment.

    Comrade Denham asks a number of questions. I’m going to spell out the answers in case they are not clear to anybody (sorry, Jim, but I want to make your point even more explicit!)

    1. Was Comrade Broder allowed to produce a position paper and/or a resolution and/or amendments at the AWL’s national conference?

    Yes, he did indeed produce numerous articles/position papers, many of which were printed in Solidarity and on our website and all of which were freely circulated internally, in the run up to the conference. To the conference itself, he submitted both a joint motion with others *and* his own amendment to that motion, which were freely voted on.

    2. Was Comrade Broder allowed to stand for the National Committee of the oganisation?

    Yes, just as any member is. Moreover, he was elected. Moreover, his nomination and elected were not publicly opposed by anyone. (At the first meeting of the new NC, David’s nomination to our Executive Committee was proposed, but he was not elected – in a free vote.)

    3. Was Comrade Broder allowed to address branches and/or aggregates of the AWL, in support of his position?

    Yes, indeed, David spoke to a number of such meetings, as did other supporters of minority positions on Iraq (and other issues). Eg I spoke for the “majority” at a Scottish aggregate in Glasgow, and David Kirk from Leeds came up to speek for the “minority” motion.

    4. Were Comrade Broder’s documents circulated to all members of the AWL prior to voting at the conference?

    Yes, many times. They were also available to members online, and printed in the motions/amendments booklet provided to all members at the conference.

    5. Was Comrade Broder even allowed to address the National Conference of the AWL?

    Yes, he addressed it at length, as is his right. The debate was “balanced” to allow supporters of minority views time disproportionate to their numbers at the conference.

    6. Was Comrade Broder allowed *any* access to the public prints (or website)of the AWL to put forward his positions?

    Yes, as explained above, extensive access. Indeed he published on the website pretty much as he wished, without reference to anyone else. (And no one objected to this.)

    7. Was Comrade Broder allowed to even express his disagreement with the AWL majority in public?

    Yes. In fact, with the approval of the AWL office, he met representatives of other tendencies who had asked him for discussion.

    8. Was Comrade Broder even offered the opportunity to form a faction?

    Yes, though he did not have to be offered it, since the constitution – available for all to read on the AWL website, btw! – accords this right to members.

    9. *Why* was the Comrade expelled?

    The comrade was not expelled. He left of his own accord
    – after ignoring communications from various comrades, including myself, asking for a discussion;
    – just after a North London branch meeting at which he did not even raise the issue;
    – even though there was an NC meeting in just over two weeks which he would have had the opportunity to put his position to;
    – even though he had not submitted any article to be printed in Solidarity;
    – even though he had not tried to raise the issue in the AWL’s student and youth fraction, which had already begun to discuss the issues and included a variety of views;
    – even though he had not formed a faction;
    – even though he had made no attempt whatsoever to organise those sympathetic to his positions for a political struggle in the organisation.

    Evidently, David views those in the AWL who sympathise or might sympathise with his positions on these questions with contempt, since he left without making any attempt to relate to them, whether by organising them for a struggle or trying to take them with him.

    PS The SWP, with 10,000 members, is too small for “permanent factions”? Firstly, it has more like 2,000 – otherwise why is its Marxism event not bigger? 2,000 is still a lot bigger than 100, but suddenly we see the ratio has dropped from 200:1 to 20:1. Secondly, no one is suggesting the necessity of permanent factions – the AWL, in fact, has not had an actual faction for years. What we do have is a culture of free discussion and institutionalised democratic rights, of which the right to form factions is a part. The SWP comrades’ attempt to defend their anti-democratic culture is pathetic.

  268. red said,

    10,000? i havent heard that figure thrown around for a few years. last i heard it was more like 5000 with 1000 more not paying fees

  269. Sacha Ismail said,

    Runia writes that, yes, there are formal democratic procedures, but when the leadership is threatened Healy-style bullying comes out.

    But this is simply nonsense. Firstly, because even on David’s account, there is no comparison with Healy. Secondly, because David’s account seems highly suspect; Sean and Tom simply deny that they asked him for a loyalty oath. Thirdly, this denial is plausible, since in fact the group has, as can clearly be seen, a highly libertarian and pluralist culture. Eg on the Iraq debate at conference, Daniel Randall’s position came relatively close to defeating that of the NC majority, yet there was at no point the sort of acrimony that this debate has shown. Why? Because both sides handled themselves in a reasonable way.

    David should grow up. A bit of rowing is not bullying or intimidation. He has not been suppressed in any way, and his failure to organise a fight aroudn his ideas suggests complete contempt for those in the AWL who share or are closer to his views.

  270. Sacha Ismail said,

    Chris S:
    “It is a shame what has happened to David for simply exercising democratic rights that the AWL go to lengths to claim they uphold.”

    This makes me so angry! What has “happened to” David? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! He was free to pursue the argument in the AWL, but rather than doing so chose to leave. Once he did so, we asked him to come back and make the arguments; there were no conditions attached (beyond a strong recommendation he educate himself more seriously). He has refused.

    What is it you think has happened to David, Chris? Can you be specific, please?

    The sight of members of groups who could not even hope to aspire to 1/10 of the AWL’s democratic culture attacking us because one of our members has resigned in a fit of pique is deeply depressing and shit.

  271. Alan Laurence said,

    www.
    You misread me or maybe I wasnt clear
    I posted,
    ‘And: 2. WWW says DB was in trouble for,
    ‘;opinions contrary to those of some self-appointed guru.’
    ‘Thats ball too – he set up the org he is supposed to be a member of. Why on earth would any organsation put up with that?’

    In this context ‘set up’ did not refer to SM but to DB and ‘set up’ did not mean establish but ‘set up’ in the sense of ‘framed’ or ‘set up for a fall’.

    Is that clearer?

  272. d.z. bodenberg said,

    God, are people still commenting on this?

    While I have little time for the downright rudeness and lack of respect for other comrades’ opinions for which not only the leadership of the AWL, but of many left groups, are renowned (and that is something very different from a ‘robust culture of internal debate’ (etc.), which can only be positive), any respect, empathy or support for the author of the above article or his positions that might have existed can only go right out of any thinking person’s window when he whines

    In a breathtaking accusation of disloyalty, they asked what meetings I had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power. Even to ask the question is an open expression of mistrust.,

    only to announce in this thread that he has formed a new organisation, oh, I’m sorry, project, already complete with website, planned magazine, and a number of public meetings with confirmed speakers – a regular series of meetings, in fact, scheduled until shortly before Christmas. It seems that “open expression of mistrust” was all-too well founded. The boy doth protest too much.

    I’d also be a bit sceptical about being lectured at a communist discussion forum on the workers’ movement…, its methods of organising, why it failed and the lessons for today. organised by someone who, I presume, has never had a ‘proper job’ and not only that, but went to a posh school and….Oxbridge maybe? That’s a problem of many left groups, I admit, but fucking hell, I’ve had enough of scholars who are studying the period – come on, why not just write ‘students’ – dilletanting around on the edge of the workers’ movement based on their experiences in some seminar or tutorial. Of course, it’s not (just) where you’re from, but (also) where you’re at, but who needs this?

    On a positive note, I note that participants in the battles of the time, car workers, leading trade union activists, revolutionaries and marxist intellectuals will also be doing some speaking, and not just students who can read French, so I hope that enough money will be collected at the end in the beer glass in the top room of the Lucas Arms to finance Cde. James Denham’s intercity return ticket, as he surely fits the bill, no?

  273. johng said,

    sorry what gaps in the poor lads education where revealed by this affair?

  274. Alan Laurence said,

    The gap in his education is shown by the fact that he thought it reasonable to ‘set up’ the organisation and invite all comers to take pot shots and he thought it reasonable to lie about the content of the discussion article.

  275. Bruce said,

    On the formal procedures: If DB thought the constitution was not being kept to in his case, he had the option of taking them up through the formal procedure given in the constitution, which would have involved non-leadership comrades considering the facts of the case (specifically his alleged ‘summoning’.). He chose not to, though it was proposed in the course of the debate by me. A few days later he left.

    DB: -” to be honest, given my criticisms of Trotskyism, in a sense I was rather out of place on the NC of the AWL, which is unflinchingly Trotskyist and claims to represent the logical continuation of Trotsky’s supposed “real” views (had only he lived to voice them…)”

    Well, at least this *is* honest. DB failed to convince the rest of the AWL to give up Trotskyism and, not wanting to be in a permanent minority of 1 or 2, sought pastures new.

    So can we be spared all the whinging about how badly he’s been treated, please?

  276. Bruce said,

    I gather David is now writing an article for the Weekly Worker. On the 7th August he wrote this response to their dishonest use of his name on publicity for the ‘Communist University::

    Dear comrades,

    About a week and a half ago Mark Fischer from the Weekly Worker group wrote to me asking if I would like to debate them on Iran. Obviously they were hoping to enlist me for a bit of Sean-bashing – taking part in such a circus would be stupid. However, Sean has since written in response to the WW article last week which alleged that he supports a nuclear strike against Iran: he challenged them to debate him on Israel-Palestine.

    As far as I am aware they have made no reply on that score: but despite my telling Ben Lewis that I would not debate them on Iran, their timetable for “Communist University” says that I am going to.

    I never said I would, and am not going to.

    Regards
    David

    Cue the great Dinah W:

    What a difference a day made, twenty four little hours
    Brought the sun and the flowers where there use to be rain
    My yesterday was blue dear
    Today I’m a part of you dear

    Is this on YouTube, Jim?

  277. Jim K said,

    This has all been very instructive. David Broder lets rip with a political melodrama with hints of dastardly deeds by that devious old Leninist Matgamna. In jump some generally sensible people but who seem to lose it all when leninism crops up. On the face of it here is a good story confirming their worst fears- ‘ the AWL is Leninist therefore this will happen and for all their talk they are no better than the rest, undemocratic, cultish …’
    Cue some of the usual bullshitters from the SWP, oozing word,ideas and concepts with little knowledge and even less concern for the truth.Then it turns out that David Broder has been talking a lot duplicitous guff, has already formed some new half arsed anarch-syndicalist outfit and expects what? Who do you think you are kidding son?

  278. paul m said,

    It’s stacking up nicely for an apology from Comrade Broder for wasting everyone’s time.

  279. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Predictable vilification, from loyalist hacks and some with a bit of loyalty to ‘prove’ no doubt.

    From reading DB’s letter, it was not the mere fact of Matgamna’s ‘loyalty oath’ demand that drove him out, but rather the hostile response that he got when raising that this had happened on the AWL’s email list. It seems reasonable to conclude that when someone is denounced for raising something like this through ‘party’ channels, they might entirely understandably conclude that the ‘culture’ of the organisation is not all that it is cracked up to be. Given the vile behaviour of many AWL spokespersons in public debates (which some liken to politcal Tourettes), it’s not difficult to imagine what that experience would be like.

    There is no principle that says you have to stay in an small organisation with an abusive political culture, and thus damage yourself in the process. Beyond a certain point, this becomes a tactical question, a matter of practicalities. Macho posturing about how someone should ‘stay in and fight’ especially from people who have no intention of doing any fighting on such lines, is just a tad hypocritical.

  280. Darren said,

    “. . . has already formed some new half arsed anarch-syndicalist outfit and expects what? Who do you think you are kidding son?”

    Mmm, is his new project really anarcho-syndicalist or is more the case that it is in fact Jim K’s comment that is half-arsed?

    Love the patronising ‘son’ bit tagged on at the end as well.

    Very instructive that a number of AWL loyalists on the thread resort to the patronising bullshit about someone’s age when they happen to fall out of line.

    Is this the same AWL – who if it wasn’t able to recruit from the student politics milieu – wouldn’t be recruiting at all?

    Never fear. Freshers Week is coming up soon. A new layer of candidate members to recruit to the fold. We can’t let the membership dip below the 100 mark.

  281. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    “In this context ’set up’ did not refer to SM but to DB and ’set up’ did not mean establish but ’set up’ in the sense of ‘framed’ or ’set up for a fall’.”

    Sorry for misundertanding your not very coherent response.

    But if publicly propagandising against the positions of Matgamna, in an outfit whose rules explicitly allow such public political dissent, amounts to ‘setting up’ the organisation ‘for a fall’, isn’t this an equally bizarre accusation? It seem the rules allow this behaviour, but to actually exercise these rights in a serious way amounts to disloyalty. Hence the need for a loyalty oath.

    Curiouser and curiouser. This has nothing to do with ‘Leninism’ or anything like it. Loyalty oaths are weapons that have been used by the right-wing of the Labour Party, among others, to silence and humiliate dissenters – just crude, reactionary bureaucratic bullying. That’s exactly what Matgamna was up to here. What a big man he is.

  282. paul m said,

    Wally,

    Have you read any of the previous posts, or are you just a fuckwit? Each and every point has been answered by the AWl comrades. They must be very frustrated and board with Broder and the faux outrage his walking out has provoked.

    Broder was given every opportunity to fight for his position, in a way that all the other left groups would not allow. He didn’t. He’s set up some kind of website and is taking shots at the AWL. Predictable.

    He’s says he’s not a Trot, so how he stuck around for so long is a good question to ask.

  283. David Broder said,

    I have been given a copy of the latest AWL “discussion bulletin” on Israel-Palestine.

    This says that I am “similar to, or even worse than Healyism”.

    What an outrageous insinuation. Healy was a rapist who took money off Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. The AWL leadership pretend they are subject to personal attacks, and yet freely come out with this!

  284. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    “Each and every point has been answered by the AWl comrades.”

    To your satisfaction, no doubt. But not to the satisfaction of thinking people outside the rather strange world you seem to inhabit.

  285. Sacha Ismail said,

    Yes, Bruce is right – I forgot to mention David’s, and every AWL member’s, constitutional right to appeal a dispute over *conduct* to a Disputes Committee of non-NC/EC members elected by our conference. He didn’t do that either.

    The bulletin in question does not accuse David of being Healyite – much less a Healyite of the money from Libya and Iraq/beatings and rape period. It specifically refers to a *particular argument* made by the Healy group in the *late 1960s* (ie when they were already pretty deranged politically but before they degenerated into straightforward gangsters). The whole point is that David, despite not being such a person, is using argument reminiscent of that group in that period.

    David, calm down, reread the article and desist from this nonsense.

    Wally W – you’ve yet to explain in what way David has been mistreated?

  286. Sacha Ismail said,

    One other point. Though I think the left, including the AWL, certainly needs to worry about its class composition, I have no objection to public schoolboys joining socialist organisations as such. (I could hardly object since I am, in fact, one myself.) What I do object to is people bringing the haughty and arrogant behaviour learnt at such schools into the left and behaving like spoilt aristocrats rather than militants in a disciplined and comradely working-class organisation.

  287. Alan Laurence said,

    www.
    Writes:
    ‘But if publicly propagandising against the positions of Matgamna, in an outfit whose rules explicitly allow such public political dissent, amounts to ’setting up’ the organisation ‘for a fall’, isn’t this an equally bizarre accusation? It seem the rules allow this behaviour, but to actually exercise these rights in a serious way amounts to disloyalty. Hence the need for a loyalty oath.’

    I imagine DB found himself in the mire after he wrote an account of SM’s article that lied – a lot. After all, with rights come responsbilities etc etc etc.

  288. Jim Denham said,

    Wally Wanker (#279, above), says:

    “From reading DB’s letter, it was not the mere fact of Matgamna’s ‘loyalty oath’ demand that drove him out, but rather the hostile response that he got when raising that this had happened on the AWL’s email list. It seems reasonable to conclude that when someone is denounced for raising something like this through ‘party’ channels, they might entirely understandably conclude that the ‘culture’ of the organisation is not all that it is cracked up to be. Given the vile behaviour of many AWL spokespersons in public debates (which some liken to politcal Tourettes), it’s not difficult to imagine what that experience would be like.

    “There is no principle that says you have to stay in an small organisation with an abusive political culture, and thus damage yourself in the process…”

    Yes, indeed, Wally: a “hostile response” is not very nice: unfortunately, it’s what happens in the course of serious political debate amongst people who feel strongly about the issues. Sometimes people even get a “vile response”. as well. That’s *not( the same as denying people their democratic rights. The AWL can be faulted for rudeness, but *not* on grounds of democracy.

    …and , Wally, of course, membership of a Left group (or any other club) is voluntary: as you say: “there is no principle that says you have to stay in a small organisation…”: Of course! So let’s stop the bollocks that Comrade Broder was “expelled” (by his own admission, he wasn’t), or was driven out: he chose to leave, without availing himself of the democratic rights (like forming a faction) open to him. That was his prerogative. But let’s have no more bollocks about ‘denial of democratic rights’, OK?

  289. Alan Laurence said,

    Jim,
    Of course he left: he had already set up another organisation.

  290. photographic memory of shit said,

    Sacha: What I do object to is people bringing the haughty and arrogant behaviour learnt at such schools into the left and behaving like spoilt aristocrats rather than militants in a disciplined and comradely working-class organisation.

    Or as one of DB’s ex-comrades from the one-time CPGB/WW-AWL splinter ‘Red Party’, on the letters pages of the Weekly Worker put it, somewhat less democratically:

    In the debate over the legacy of the Red Party/Red Star on your letters pages over the last few weeks, Jeremy Butler has shown himself ‘the bigger man’ in his ability to see and address the politics rather than the personalities involved (always an issue in small group politics). For the record, the rest of the Red Star group are less generous in our memory of David Broder.

    He was (and is) a self-important, privileged tosser whose idea of communist debate was to declaim to us all on the importance of the Leninist vanguard (himself) with his public school blazer in one hand and a bottle of poncey, overpriced foreign lager in the other. In other words, a typical Leninist.

    We are well rid of the little wanker.

    Darren Williams
    email

    cpgb.org.uk/worker/675/letters.htm

    My experience of anarcho-syndicalists would change the last sentence and the description would fit them just as well: replace ‘the Leninist vanguard’ with ‘workers’ self-organisation’ (led by himself without any democratic structures to control him), replace ‘typical Leninist’ with ‘typical anarcho’.

    DB’s “I am deep throat” response at cpgb.org.uk/worker/676/letters.htm does have more than a ring of truth to it though.

  291. Darren said,

    I wonder if poster #290 is another AWLer sneering anonymously?

    Couldn’t Sean lend you one of his many pseudonyms? He’s always had enough to go round. :-)

  292. Mark Osborn said,

    “Similar to or worse from Healyism?”
    The only point in sticking this text in is that it make pretty plain David’s ‘method’ and state of mind. His is utterly self-obsessed and eager to twist anything to try to whip up a little bit of scandal. An object lesson in how not to debate.

    The AWL discussion bulletin makes several refs to Healyism but this section make plain the context, the meaning.

    It reads: “David’s article tells us a lot more about
    David’s state of mind than about Iran and
    Israel, or about what Sean actually wrote. As
    the current paper says: “Of course, we do not
    advocate, nor will we endorse or take political
    responsibility for, an Israeli attack on Iran: we
    are against such an action”…
    David had taken part in the conversations in
    the office on the discussion piece, and had
    made suggestions which Sean tried to
    accommodate.
    Then, in a different state of mind – for
    whatever reason, but not because anyone in
    the AWL had done anything nasty to him – he
    wrote a completely off-beam diatribe for the
    website.
    Of course, we can understand there’s a
    difference between such idiotic stuff written by
    an upset 19 year old, and the similar stuff
    which used to be written against us by
    calculating, cynical old Healyite ideologues.
    Trouble is, calculating, cynical ideologues – not
    the Healyites this time, but Weekly Worker –
    immediately seized on David’s huff, and
    comrades were suddenly thrown into a
    demagogy-storm.”

    And the fact is I strongly suspect the thing that most annoys David is that we don’t think he’s anything like a Trotskyist leader – even a crap one like Healy. We think he’s an “upset 19 year-old” writing “idiotic stuff”.

  293. Jason said,

    Interesting. Whilst I of course agree with Sacha that the left should not be haughty and arrogant the treatment of David Broder and indeed other critics on this issue has been exactly that.

    I think there are people in the AWL worth speaking to – of course- and many are open to reason, unfortunately the ruling clique sees fit to play loyalty games and badny insults to anyone who disgrees with them- for exmple calling them ‘idiotic’ or questioning thier state of mind.

    Sad in a way but not entirely surprising. This is why we in Permanent Revolution are calling for a new way to look at things, a new way fo working etc. http://permanentrevolution.net/entry/1757

    Of course many will disagree with us even on issues like Iran (where we are for working class revolution, against imperialist or proxy attacks and against the dictatorship and for working class organisation internationally against these attacks and oppression). Fair enough, you can even disagree within PR in public without loyalty oaths. But of course many might not want to join us. Fair enough as well. It would be good to get together with activists including those in left groups and those not to look at how we can begin to rebuild the left, socialism and the working class movement.

  294. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Sacha Ismail

    “Wally W – you’ve yet to explain in what way David has been mistreated?”

    Actually Sacha, I have. But I don’t expect Matgamna’s acolytes … especially ones with something to prove about their own ‘loyalty’ .. to admit that even if it was breathing claustrophobically right down the neck of their t-shirt. So carry on pretending, if you like.

    Jim Denham:

    “Yes, indeed, Wally: a “hostile response” is not very nice: unfortunately, it’s what happens in the course of serious political debate amongst people who feel strongly about the issues.”

    No, a ‘hostile response’ when someone complains that an attempt has been made to pressure them to sign a ‘loyalty statement’, is ‘not very nice’. In fact, it is an abuse that such a statement is demanded, and doubly an abuse if someone is then condemned for raising that this has happened. If people line up to condemn someone for objecting to this kind of behaviour, then all the protestations of ‘democracy’ are worthless. Despite the different formal rules, this is a similar culture to the SWP.

  295. Is Jason the Dalai Llama of the left? said,

    Peace, love, permanent revolution, buddhism?

  296. Jason said,

    Each to their own of course. But what I presume poster 295 is arguing is that my post is far too anodyne. Not at all. I think that we should welcome differences within the context of common action. The fact that someone- completely unidentified of course- sees fit to take the piss refelcts badly on them not on the idea that it is possible to work in politics in a comradely and fraternal manner.

  297. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Hes not the Dalai LLAMA, hes a pushmipullu;-)

  298. Is Jason the Dalai Pushmipullu of the Park? said,

    No, it’s a comment that your comments suggest you are completely up yourself. I know comments aren’t the same as in real life, but most of your comments are all so reasonable, yet at the same time proselytise for your group. I’ve seen responses to them that are a lot worse than that in 295. Did you ever get banned from Socialist Disunity, or was it just a threat, or did mass ignoring just lead you to give up? Just asking, like.

  299. Sacha said,

    Jason,

    The “treatment” of David has not been haughty and arrogant at all. His account is simply fabrication, or rather re-interpretation to the point of distortion.

    The idea that if you disagree with the AWL in public you get asked for a loyalty oath falls down

    1. Because David was not asked for a loyalty oath;
    2. Because many AWL comrades regularly disagree with the majority line in public. Look at our website! It displays quite a bit more open debate than the PR site (the second best on the left for this, undoubtedly). Sometimes these debates become heated, but they are genuinely conducted without any kind of real fall out, eg look at our debate on Iraq.

    I think you are probably imagining that what happened to David is a bit like what happened to you in Workers Power. But it isn’t, because the AWL is completely different from Workers Power. We are a democratic centralist organisation with a highly libertarian and pluralist culture, not a rigid bureaucratic sect.

  300. Sacha said,

    I’d like to add, again: can any other group on the left list the kind of democratic institutions, safeguards and rights the AWL can:

    – Conference open to all members;
    – Any members can propose a motion;
    – NC elected by all members, with a completely free vote; anyone can be nominated;
    – EC elected by NC;
    – Constitutional right to form factions;
    – Constitutional right to express disagreements publicly;
    – Website with free posting of comments and paper whose norms is to print disagreements;
    – Elected Disputes Committee made up of non-NC members to deal with disputes.

    Would any other group like to show us their constitution – the AWL’s is on its website!!

  301. Darren said,

    #300

    “can any other group on the left list the kind of democratic institutions, safeguards and rights the AWL can:”

    Erm,

    the SPGB?

    I would post a link to their rule book but I’m doing laundry. Maybe when the spin cycle finishes.

  302. johng said,

    I think the difficulty here for many socialists looking in, is that if it is indeed the case that a perfect democratic and pluralistic organisation can come up with a majority line as batty and appalling as the one the AWL appears to hold, so much the worse for democracy and pluralism. And if it is indeed the case that someone criticising such positions coming from a general perspective that most on the left would be more sympathetic with, decides that the debate is hardly worth having, many would not think this a particularly childish or ill-educated position. More like common sense. In the end the way fifty or so people organise their internal discussions might not be the most striking thing about this contratemps for most people.

  303. Jason said,

    299 Sacha if you say David made up the loyalty oath then may be- how would I know? But I do know that on your website there is a lot of insulting of people who disagree with you. On the points about your constitution – good. Actually we have the same and did so in Workers Power except the penultimate and the one before it that we now have in PR- i.e. the right to differences in public and a website encouraging comments- though commercial spam temporarily interferes.

    298- I was trying to promot an idea that the left should do things differently not one group but hey ho and I still post on SU- occasionally but I think the deabte has moved on from there.

  304. martin ohr said,

    Johng: “I think the difficulty here for many socialists looking in, is that if it is indeed the case that a perfect democratic and pluralistic organisation can come up with a majority line as batty and appalling as the one the AWL appears to hold, so much the worse for democracy and pluralism” I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here johng- I’m going to join the swp so that I can be told the correct line every week instead of thinking for myself and arguing it though.

  305. Alan Laurence said,

    What’s with all this whining about insulting people? Its faux precious. Sometimes people overstep the mark and have to account for themselves. Tough.
    How come no-oone thinks the awl were right to wonder about DB’s intentions – after all, he was in the process of setting up another group.
    Seems to me that even DB doesnt think he was that badly treated.

    The bloke wrote an article that was full of lies: it caused a stir. He was asked to explain why he wrote it and write another to stop the idiot wind. He wouldnt do it because he wanted a good story to tell – he needed the hard done to narrative to launch his new group.
    Shame – it would have been far more respectworthy for Db to have said,
    I am to the left of the awl. I cant win inside the awl because there are too many who disagree with me. I’m off to form by own group now.

  306. Alan Laurence said,

    And while I think on it – the awl are being drips too. Why cant they say, ‘we caught this bloke with his trousers down, he was organising a new group while still in ours. We asked him to tell the world it isnt true – he didnt. He ran off instead, saving us the bother of expelling him.’

  307. Sacha said,

    Notice how John Game does not deal with the fact that the SWP, like a number of groups on the left but worse, has a Stalinist-style regime and internal culture, where no serious debate is tolerated and the members have precious few democratic rights.

    Meanwhile, he authoritatively refers to “fifty or so” people in the same casual way that I’m sure he grossly exaggerates SWP membership. For the record, the AWL has a hundred members and some organised sympathisers beyond that. You can tell this is plausible because our summerschool is bigger than our membership; unlike Marxism, which is noticeably smaller than the SWP’s supposed membership. John, if you have some evidence as to why we only have fifty people in our organisation, perhaps you’d like to share it?

    In any case, this is straightforward philistinism. How many members did the Communist League of America have when it was launched? A hundred as against the many, many thousands in the US Communist Party? CP hacks poured similar scorn on Cannon etc as “generals without an army”. Whose side would you have been on?

  308. Jason said,

    100 members sounds plausible- I’ll take your word for it. Talking of numbers the revolutionaries who founded the TPLF and launched a popular insurrection that overhthrew a fascist dictatorship in Ethiopia was less than 20 (I know fascist is an overused term and perhaps the TPLF were not right to use it of the Derg but they did fit many of the descriptions- smashing workers’ democracy, mobilising lumpen proletariat into physical force gangs) but sadly they – Stalinists themselves- became pro-IMF dictatorship in a US client state.

    However, on another matter can either Sacha or Martin explain why my posts are being deleted at the AWL website- two today- both of which effectively said
    “My and Bill’s post have been deleted. Strange, eh? Perhaps it was an error- I somewhat doubt it. Tine will tell whether this post remains!

    Anyway here’s mine again (in response to Bill’s which argued that we should not be surprised given the AWL’s support of reactionary politics):

    But I think there may well be people in the AWL not entirely happy with this state of affairs. And also others who follow these exchanges who cannot be dismissed either.
    I think there are people in the AWL worth speaking to – of course- and many are open to reason, unfortunately the ruling clique sees fit to play loyalty games and bandy insults to anyone who disagrees with them- for example calling them ‘idiotic’ or questioning their state of mind.

    See this on David Broder who has apparently resigned. David’s article

    Of course the antics in the AWL like in some other Trotskyist and left groups are sad in a way but not entirely surprising. This is why we in Permanent Revolution are calling for a new way to look at things, a new way of working etc. Permanent Revolution Our Way Forward

    Of course many will disagree with us even on issues like Iran (where we are for working class revolution, against imperialist or proxy attacks and against the dictatorship and for working class organisation internationally against these attacks and oppression). Fair enough, you can even disagree within PR in public without loyalty oaths. But of course many might not want to join us. Fair enough as well. It would be good to get together with activists including those in left groups and those not to look at how we can begin to rebuild the left, socialism and the working class movement.”

  309. david broder said,

    #292: No, Mark, you’ve got the wrong “Healyism” accusation! There were a few to pick from, I guess. I in fact meant this section:

    “David was plainly not in a state of mind to read
    or listen to what Sean said or wrote in any
    loyal or rational way. And David’s stuff on Iran-
    Israel showed it as clearly as the ranting about
    Sean “denouncing mass working-class action
    to seize power”[* see below].
    He claimed that Sean “dishonestly zigzags
    between empathising with Israeli hawks and
    using figleaf, weasel words to avoid openly
    ‘advocating’ an Israeli strike against Iran in
    advance…
    “Sean… is far from condemning the Israeli
    government’s effort to cling onto its status as
    the leading regional power by force: if he
    realises that such a bombing run would
    hamper the possibility of workers in the region
    ‘uniting to fight for a socialist Middle East’, he
    certainly doesn’t show it…
    “Sean confuses what is ‘rational’ in the
    interests of Israeli imperialism and greatpower
    realpolitik with what is ‘rational’ in the
    interests of humanity…
    “Sean asks us to see the situation from Israel’s
    point of view – ‘In Israeli eyes the facts and
    alternatives here are stark’ – but is clearly
    talking about the alternatives as seen in the
    IDF leadership, ignoring the question of how
    an attack would be viewed through the eyes of
    any class-conscious Israeli…
    “Sean does not want to ‘advocate’ or ‘endorse’
    an attack: but this is just playing with words,
    and clearly given the tone of the piece and the
    fact that he is so keen to defend the rationale
    for an attack which is not yet on the cards the
    article can only be read as offering justification
    for Olmert et al…
    “It is impossible to just mix and match
    between fighting for revolution and playing at
    imperialist geopolitics like Sean does…”
    And more of the same: in short, David’s
    assertion is that Sean wants us to empathise
    with the Israeli army chiefs! It is just raving,
    similar to or worse than the stuff the Healyites
    use to fling around in their heyday.”

    * what I actually wrote was:
    “[Sean]calls himself a “state socialist” and roundly denounces Draper’s idea of “socialism from below”, ie mass working-class action to seize power, as “anarchist” and “as far from the Workers’ Party tradition as Shachtman ever went”.”

  310. Jason said,

    Never mind- just move on, take a deep breath and relax

    Jason-
    the Dalai Llama of the left

  311. modernityblog said,

    HP’s back, on to better things, er:

    I must say that scanning this increasingly strange thread, that the AWL doesn’t come out of it with much credit (and NO, I don’t intend to argue why, cos if you can’t see it, me explaining it 500 times won’t help either)

    I am a fairly impartial observer of these exchanges, but the level of bitterness and irrationality shows, in part, why the British Left are so small

  312. Mark Osborn said,

    Storm in teacup. No one reading this text will think you’re being accused of being in the pay of Arab states or a rapist.
    “It is just raving, similar to or worse than the stuff the Healyites
    use to fling around in their heyday.”

    We don’t think that; this doesn’t say that. Your ‘method’ again: take something and spin it, blow it up, mislead… don’t deal with it honestly…

    What we think is: you’ve been cultivated by Chris Ford; he doesn’t agree with you. He’s ‘helped’ you out of our group having decided to leave himself (to do with the split in the US group). He’s got a different agenda. You don’t really know what you think about anything. You’re young and don’t have much baggage. You think you do, but you don’t.
    You are thin-skinned. You legged it after a very short and mild confrontation with some of our senior people. In fact, part of the joke here is that you’ve been treated – deliberately – with kid gloves (which answers Alan Laurence’s ‘pants down’ point, above).
    You are vain and arrogant; you think you can learn nothing from anyone. Get a grip; see yourself clearly.
    You have made a series of wild accusations. Really too stupid. You exagerate everything pull it out of shape and create scandals from nothings; effective for a short while maybe; but serious political people sit down and go through the documents and arguments. And when you’re found out, you’re discredited.
    You are far too concerned with gossip; you have operated like a low-grade Abernite griping in the background about the group and some leaders without ever raising things properly.
    You left the group with no-one else (Chris F doesn’t count). That, in itself, doesn’t look good, does it.
    You have chosen to ‘fight’ your corner on this website – rather than inside the group – where you can find some people who back you up. But that’s an illusion. They’re backing you against the AWL, not for what you positively think (whatever exactly that is). It might make you feel a little better right now, but it is bad politics. It is a rotten bloc (similar to the one you created around the Iraq debate at our conference).
    You still haven’t learned that making yourself feel better is not an adequate political justification for an action. How do you justify this shit above – this is the sort of trail you intend to leave throughout your political life?
    How do you justify helping the Weekly Worker – well know liars – against us? ‘Justify’ is a political word, David. From your standpoint how do you justify this (I mean speaking to them, handing them our internal materials etc)? Because you’re angry with the AWL? But not everything goes, David.
    Do you think this discussion has sharpened the political lines? Clarified the positions? Look back at the debate you set up on our site, or this sorry little mess. Is this your idea of debate? Are you proud of being Wally Wibblywellie? Jesus.

    Let me tell you what your response wll be to me: non of this is your fault. It is the AWL’s fault. We’re to blame. Everyone else is always to blame.

  313. Lobby Ludd said,

    As someone who has been intemperate in my criticisms of Modernity I am not a little shocked to find that I have found myself agreeing with him here (and re HP).

    And bang right after his comment #311 we get Mark Osborn’s patronising bollocks. AWL ‘peckin’ party’ or what?

  314. Lobby Ludd said,

    “Storm in teacup.” Mark?

    How many words do you need to explain that?

    How come the infidel DB got to be a member (and speaker?) of the AWL?There is no point in trashing this (young – does this matter?) man if you cannot take some responsibility for the situation.

    The snide comments from some of the AWL’s defenders are inexcusable.

  315. Jason said,

    So being called into the office and asked “to write an article attacking the ridiculous ‘Weekly Worker’ front page” is being treated with ‘kid gloves’ according to Mark Osborne
    “a very short and mild confrontation with some of our senior people. In fact, part of the joke here is that you’ve been treated – deliberately – with kid gloves (which answers Alan Laurence’s ‘pants down’ point, above).
    You are vain and arrogant; you think you can learn nothing from anyone. Get a grip; see yourself clearly.”

    The point is that much of the left is in denial about our failures, about the very real problems facing us. With some it becomes lying, doing anything to convicne the faithful to ‘keep the line.’ With others it’s always just around the corner is the big catastrophe when all of a sudden what we’re saying which seems so mad to most people makes sense.

    Other groups- the AWL- indulge sectarians (who happen to be one of their ‘leading people’) who refuse to condemn an Israeli attack on Iran, who define themselves as Zionist, who refuse to call for troops out now and yet put themselves forward as pluralist and democratic. Yet anyone outside their organisation who sharply disagrees with them is called variously, ‘idiotic’, supporters of ‘fascists’, ‘disgusting’, ‘noxious'; ‘hysterical'; ‘grotesque’- all quotes from http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/08/21/reason-politics

    And then it turns out that members who too outspokenly criticise ‘leading people’ are called in and then later characterised as ‘arrogant'; ‘vain'; ‘stupid’.

    It’s all very well having a good constitution with democratic rights to disagree- it’s good to have such a constitution but when it is coupled with a culture of cliquishness and intolerance it is obviously not enough.

    The left can and must do better.

  316. paul m said,

    Fuck me Jason, what do they do to you in WP/PR?

    You think the AWL can be a bit sharp sometimes, try reading some Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.

    Broder obviously fancies himself a bit, and has fucked off from the AWL to set up some website and at the same time court the anti-AWL gallery in an apolitical way. It happens all the time on the left and the sectarians, who like to sit on the front row, like yourselves, get so excited about it it sounds like your head is about to blow off.

    As for getting stuff deleted from the AWl site; maybe you did, I don’t know. But you and your mate Bj deserve to get stuff deleted, because it’s the same crap over and over again. One last thing: the MB and some other soft headed fools, the AWL seems to come out of this well to me. They gave this young comrade a lot of time and space for him to indulge himself, but enough was enough.

  317. Lobby Ludd said,

    paul m said:

    (if you care, comment #316).

    Well done, paul m. You are well on the way to protecting yourself from potentially dangerous outside influences.

    Keep warm.

  318. tony greenstein said,

    The tragedy of this, and I experienced something similar in the International Socialists (SWP) over 30 years ago, is that the far left never learns.

    Jim Denham believes he can excuse the undemocratic, cult-like behaviour of Sean Matgamna and his sidekick in believing that they had the right to demand that David produces some kind of loyalty statement, which is pure McCarthyism (are you, or have you ever been…. ) by noting the undemocratic practices of the SWP.

    Not being a particularly astute or intelligent leftist, Denham has to resort to a ridiculous of the SWP’s opportunist position of not criticising the Iranian regime and seeing a counterposition between the reactionary nature of that regime and opposition to an attack on Iran. Hence the apparent question that the SWP ask Iranian dissidents goes something like this:

    “Why do you pro- imperialist scum object to being killed, tortured and imprisoned by the heroic, anti-imperialist government?’

    It is such a pathetic caricature, purporting to pretend that the SWP supports torture in Iran, rather than opportunistically choosing to say nothing or next to nothing about the regime, that one realises that having a debae with Denham would be like debating the finer points of book burning with Goebbels.

    It is quite clear what is outrageous in the behaviour that David speaks about.

    1. Receiving a phone all from an EC member Tom Unterrainer stating “I hear that you’re organising a faction” and that he and Matgamna were concerned about David’s recent “behaviour” in the Israel-Iran debate. Maybe Sean can say whether he agrees with this rather than trying to kick sand in peoples’ eyes.

    2. The verbal browbeating during such a meeting where David was accused of organising ‘a rotten bloc’ with others who he apparently disagrees with. So what?

    3. Accused of ‘supporting and goading’ “kitsch left” attacks [whatever they are] on the AWL, questioned on his links with the CPGB and Workers’ Power and about his reasons for a personal friendship with Ben Lewis of the CPGB.

    4. Resorting to amateur FBI agents David is asked what meetings he had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power.

    5. The absurd suggestion, straight from the pages of Stalinism, that David had used the same formulations’ in polemics against the guru Matgamna.

    So either Jim Denham supports the above or opposes it and maybe, instead of trying to kick sand in peoples’ eyes as to what the SWP has or has not done, he could deal with what the article itself says and whether he agrees with it or not.

    Whether or not David Broder appreciates it or even agrees with it, the AWL long degenerated before he set eyes on it. An organisation that cannot call for the clear and explict withdrawal of imperialist troops from Iraq, with no buts, on the absurd grounds that the labour movement needs an imperialist presence in order to develop, has long since abandoned socialism. Loyalty to one’s own ruling class is the key dividing line between reformists and revolutionary socialists. That was true of the first world war and it is true now. It’s called national chauvinism and the AWL’s position on Iraq and Israel is a consequence of that.

    That is why although Denham will bleat about ‘clerical fascism’ in Iran, knowing nothing about either fascism or Iran, he passes over the fact that when the USA armed and equipped the Mojaheddine in Afghanistan via Pakistan’s ISI, the AWL position was to support political Islam and the fight against the Soviets!

    The AWL’s position on Israel and Zionism, Magamna is an open Zionist, is barely worth commenting on. Whereas revolutionaries have always understood Zionism as being a counter revolutionary and anti-socialist force among Jews, as its proponents always claimed, a movement whose politics was formed as a mirror image of anti-Semitism, the AWL sees something good in Zionism, hence its vehement opposition to any effective solidarity with the Palestinians, i.e. a Boycott of Israeli goods, universities etc.

    Democracy and support for imperialism have rarely gone hand in hand.

    Tony Greenstein

  319. davidbroder said,

    ““It is just raving, similar to or worse than the stuff the Healyites
    use to fling around in their heyday.”

    We don’t think that; this doesn’t say that. Your ‘method’ again: take something and spin it, blow it up, mislead… don’t deal with it honestly…”

    No, Martin does say this! What are you talking about?

    If it’s such a storm in a teacup I’m surprised you keep bothering with producing these wild, angry posts.

  320. davidbroder said,

    the following comment has now been deleted three times from the awl website. I’d have thought it was fairly innocuous…

    “Anyone interested in the ideas of socialism from below might like a look at this pamphlet on the 1871 workers’ revolution in Paris: The Commune: Paris 1871 – Solidarity pamphlet no. 35

  321. paul m said,

    David,

    You’ve hit the gallery jackpot with Greenstein coming in on your side.

    Well done.

  322. Mark in Hong Kong said,

    davidbroder, I don’t know you, or the Workers Liberty people, but I can think and read.

    If you were really interested in publicising that pamphlet, you might try linking to one of the many other places on the web where it is hosted, as opposed to using it as an excuse to plug your new website. You really don’t get it, do you? Are you going to complain that the AWL won’t publish the text in their paper as well? What do you expect? Are you in this just to stir shit?

    And ‘storm in a teacup’ – true, but such benjisms aren’t welcome in such a serious discussion as this clearly is.

  323. Mark in Hong Kong said,

    And davidbroder, this tiresome business would be so much more interesting if I had the feeling you were interested in the politics of it all, and not just in gossip and your supposed/possible ‘bad treatment’, the ‘Martin (who he?) said this’, ‘Mark Osborne wrote this’, ‘Shaun said that’, ‘No he didn’t”, ‘yes they did’ blahblahblah. The political differences between whatever brand of Trotskyism and other ideas of socialism from below, anarchism, syncidalism, etc. are (I find) interesting and worth discussing. The left, including myself, should learn more about them.This stuff isn’t interesting, despite 323 comments so far and counting.

  324. Sacha said,

    Hi David,

    Mark’s point – supported by both the bit he quotes and the bit you quote – is that Martin didn’t accuse you of being Healyite, much less in the sense of a supporter of the practices of the Healyite organisation in its final, grotesque days after it had ceased to be part of the left. He accused you of using *the kind of arguments* against us that the Healy group used in its “heyday” (he specificies 1969, before any of the stuff you focus on had started).

    Jason, David regularly used to come into the office and go for discussions with Sean in the local Starburger. I hardly see that being asked to come and meet for such a discussion, asked to post a comment critical of a group virulently attacking the AWL, agreeing (under no compulsion or administrative directive of any sort) and then changing his mind, is very sinister or anti-democratic.

  325. Darren said,

    #321

    “You’ve hit the gallery jackpot with Greenstein coming in on your side.

    Well done.”

    As the case against Cde Broder has now descended to such great political heights as the comment listed above can I join the braying mob in condemning Cde Broder for wearing a red England football shirt at the recent Communist University?

    Made me think of those trio of arseholes, Terry, Lampard and Ashley Cole. Cde Broder, how could you?

    That’s your fault, that is.

  326. Jason said,

    Well even if being asked to “write an article attacking the ridiculous ‘Weekly Worker’ front page” isn’t part of a loyalty test- and of course there are many ways in which it might not be as much as there are many ways in which it could be so interpreted (and ceretainly does seem to have been interpreted by someone in this case)- the completely over the top emotive terms used for people you disagree with does give off an unpleasant air.

    You say you want debate, discussion, and reasoned disagreement. Fine. So let’s leave off the insults because like it or not it is a type of discussion that has disfigured the left and makes it seem to an outsider look like a viper’s nest of vicious pettiness and hatred.

  327. Sacha said,

    Hi Jason,

    Yes, some of my comrades have been quite rude in this debate. In a couple of cases, I think they’ve been out of order and have told them so in no uncertain terms. However, this is in a context where big parts of the left have been willing to quite shamelessly lie about Sean M, AWL and our politics – most notably in the case of the CPGB.

    One or two individuals losing it should not be allowed to distract from the basic point about how the AWL has been repeatedly slandered – nor from the fact that we are an organisation with a highly democratic, libertarian and pluralist internal life.

    Sacha

    PS I’ve posted a link on the AWL website (to libcom.org) to the text of the Solidarity pamphlet on the Paris Commune

  328. davidbroder said,

    Mark in Hong Kong – I didn’t know that this pamphlet was on the web. We’ve been scanning stuff in and correcting it… there’s plenty on the site which has long been out of print. The “storm in a tea cup” comment was by Mark Osborn at #292.

    Jason – I don’t really want to keep this argument rolling, since it’s obviously pointless, but I was explicitly told to write a “loyalty statement” – those words were repeated several times.

    Sacha – There is no such context to the “Healyite” comment. The thing you cite about Ireland in 1969 is several questions – and one side of A4 – later, and refers to a different point (not Healyite ravings but rather their adventurist/ultra-“revolutionist” slogans on Ireland).

    The problem is that, even aside from all the personal guff, the left groups – AWL included – appear to live inside “traditions” and old factional struggles, which can be cited to justify anything via half-truths, selective quoting etc. Those who have a different point of view can always just be lambasted as part of some other such “tradition” and thus are “outsiders”.

    Only “the group” is keeping the revolutionary flame alive, and fights the other sects in order to justify its existence and give in an identity.

    This is not just a question of culture but a political point – it means venerating revolutionaries of decades past in a way which they themselves would probably have hated, and quoting their holy texts chapter and verse, while ignoring anything in it you don’t like. The AWL is far, far from the worst on this score, but that’s not a very high standard to set yourself. Their embarrassment about criticising Trotsky is actually most apparent in the sole significant case when they do take Trotsky head on – i.e. on degenerated workers’ states – and not only treat him with kid gloves, but assert that he would have changed his position to their own “… had only he lived!”

    The point is not that this is wrong per se, but that the need to come up with this rationalisation is bizarre and fawning. What is the point of saying it? To save Trotsky from his own method, to save him from his own analysis of en masse nationalisation. To justify “the group’s” line via order-of-succession and historical legitimation.

  329. johnycomelately said,

    “(to do with the split in the US group)”

    split in the US group? what split in the US group? what US group?

  330. martin ohr said,

    David, It’s actually quite telling that you bring up the point about trotsky and his position on degenerated workers state. Even a skim through ‘Revolution Betrayed’ leads to the conclusion the trotsky cannot himself square the facts with his theory on this. We don’t make the assertion that trotsky was about to change his position based on wishful thinking or clairvoyance, but on the basis of what trosky wrote and said and did.

    But AWL is more than just a set of ideological positions, of philosophical methods, at core it is an activist organisation, we seek to immerse ourselves in all components of class struggle. For lot’s of comrades that’s what first attracts them to awl, getting stuck-in to this or that student action, industrial dispute, campaign against privatisation etc. One of the strengths of AWL is that we can disagree on lots of things but still unite in action. I find it sad that you seem to be prepared to ditch the essential thing that being a marxist really amounts to for the sake of a philosophical difference. It strikes me that whatever else your new project does activism will not be a central part.

  331. Sacha said,

    Hi David,

    The idea that the AWL regards itself as keeper of a set of religious texts just does not stand up to even the slightest rational thought… our willingness to rethink and innovate, on national questions, on imperialism, on Stalinism, on women’s liberation – and on many other issues – has been second to none on the British far left. The difference between us and you is not that you are willing to engage in fresh-thinking while we are not, but that you have very little interest in the Trotskyist tradition and are happy to dismiss even its best aspects in favour of an eclectic and pretentious political hodge podge.

    What’s weird, however, is that you had already come to these ‘conclusions’ when you stood for the AWL NC two months ago. It didn’t stop you being in the AWL then, nor did it stop us from accepting you as a valued member.

    As for activism, from our discussion in that Nepalese restaurant, it strikes me that you have deluded yourself into thinking that the best AWL activists “just get on with it” – in trade union work, climate change activism, feminist activism, student unions, anti-fascism etc etc – while the AWL EC is something totally apart, obsessed only with discussions about Palestine, imperialism etc. Such a view, if I did not think you clutching desperately at straws, suggests ignorance of how our work in these various areas actually developed and functions.

  332. Sacha said,

    I’ve just reread the first para of David’s article, and it genuinely shocked me:
    “…the statement circulated between around a dozen AWL minority comrades did not make the paper; and the discussion bulletin promised for August 17th never materialised.”

    The discussion bulletin took a bit longer than we thought to get together; it was out on 24 August, has been circulated by email to all AWL members and sympathisers; and is being printed as we speak.

    The statement was never submitted to the paper. The editor states that if it had been submitted, she would have printed it; if it is submitted now, we will print it.

    Honestly…

  333. Chris Ford said,

    I have thought and thought again about responding to these rantings – however having read lie after lie after defamation about me by the gang of Jesuit Marxists. I really must say something.
    I have no intention ata ll of responding to lunatic accounts of my lack of activity over the last two years – then again perhaps activity in the labour movement does not count in the eyes of some people. However this latest statement by Mark Osborn, above is the latest in a line of cracy comments on me and my motives.
    I submitted an explanation for resigning from the AWL, the AWL may not like them, but they are MY reasons. Instead some people have went out of their way to create alternative reasons. The more I read, like the long biography of me in the AWL internal bulletin – the more the AWL is is giving itself the apperance of a cult.
    Lets something straight::

    Contray to what has been alleged in writing and insinutaed above, my giving books to someone or recommending books to someone to read is not cultivating someone but – well – normal behaviour in a Marxist organisation. Or are yu only allowed to read the approved books?

    I did not leave the AWL because of the split in News and Letters USA – I have nothing do with that organisation other than comradely contacts as I have with numerous other countries. If it was the reason I would have re-joined the Marxist-Humanists in the UK not set up a new initiative.

    As for the “Chris F doesn’t count” well that fine – but why do you spend so much time in your internal bulletins writing a biography of me. Why did you argue at a AWL National Commitee that my activuty in the LRC needed to be “minitored”? If I dont count I would be obliged if you would all cease writing nonsense about me and get on with some more productive activities go of an organise a strike or someting usefull.

  334. Sacha said,

    “I have no intention ata ll of responding to lunatic accounts of my lack of activity over the last two years – then again perhaps activity in the labour movement does not count in the eyes of some people.”

    Chris, for sure your activity in the McDonnell campaign, LRC etc was very valuable, and many comrades from what you regard as the “leadership fraction” have not only commented favourably on that repeatedly, but were happy and keen for you to take a central role in defining our policy on workers’ representation, write importants bits of our conference documents on this subject etc etc etc.

    Apart from that, however, you simply haven’t been very active in the AWL. That’s not the central issue here, but pointing it out is hardly cultish or vindictive.

  335. Sacha said,

    “…the statement circulated between around a dozen AWL minority comrades did not make the paper; and the discussion bulletin promised for August 17th never materialised.”

    Rereading this, I’m wondering if David has deliberately chosen the ambiguous phrase “did not make the paper” to imply that we refused to print it, when in fact he knows full well that it was not submitted – but wants to cover his back in case someone takes him up on it.

  336. davidbroder said,

    i have no idea if the statement was submitted or not, whether people were “spoken to” about it…. it was out of my hands

    Certainly the Discussion bulletin produced is not exactly very political. (It also has quite little “discussion”; it’s mostly people talking past each other, talking about other left groups, answering straw man questions no-one asked, etc)

    have you now dropped your attempt to “contextualise” the “Healyite” comments?

  337. Chris Ford said,

    I disagree. Here is some of what has been written about me in my biography in AWL Discussion Bulletin 281: Israel-Iran 26/08/08

    “Chris plied comrades with “Dunayevskayaite” books to read, and proposed “Dunayevskayaite” texts for educationals in his AWL branch (North East London).”

    “There was always a chance that, at some point, Chris would revert to full “Dunayevskayaism”. As to what has prompted the reversion, I can offer only surmise, but it seems to me probable surmise. I think it is the recent split in the main “Dunayevskayaite” group, in the USA.

    I am sorry but for most people in the outside world this is pretty weird. I understand that the leadership want to reassert their authority within their organisation, stabilise things etc. Surely they are not so insecure that they need to resort to outright lies and falsification to do so. Shortly before I resigned, my membership and participation in activities was repeatedly questioned. I was even ridiculously accused of not attending Ideas for Freedom by someone who was sitting next to me in one of the sessions! When I resigned It was thrown up that I had “scarcely acted as an AWL member for years” along with apparently “factionalising” secretly with others. This is a complete pack of lies and basically comes down to a particular definition of activity – in this case approved activity, disapproved activity and completely ignored activity.

    There is a half truth here, because the reality of the clique who run the AWL is that there was distrust towards me by certain figures of the leadership from day one. Simply put my politics were not those approved within the framework of ‘our tradition’ – the in-house term. On re-joining the organisation a leading figure accused me in all seriousness of being an “entryist”. This has emerged again today.

    But what about this “praise, support, and appreciation”. As regards my activity in the Labour Representation Committee most of the leadership had little interest in taking the policy forward. I had to write myself to the National Secretary asking that someone be appointed from the EC to work with me in taking forward the AWL’s own policies as regards the LRC. When I organised an AWL meeting on LRC work, nobody turned up except for that nominated comrade, and from my own North London branch and the existing AWL members of the LRC National Committee. Those who shout loudest about non activity were noticeable by their absence.

    Later when there was major debates taking place in the LRC when my numerous activities were reported to the NC there was no “praise, support, and appreciation” – what was raised was that I needed to be “monitored”. This I found most ridiculous when I was going to go to interview Bob Crow, my supervisor insisted on being able to attend with me. Even though I wrote the AWL policy on the LRC I was not allowed to speak at the session on workers representation at Ideas for Freedom – even in a situation when all bar one of the speakers had cancelled. As one PCS comrade explained “they think you are a loose cannon”.

    In my new biography it is also said that: “In one branch meeting where Chris gave a presentation on Dunayevskaya’s version of Hegel, ….and I explained with some vigour why we disagreed; but no-one tried to stop Chris giving the presentation. In response to that argument, Chris withdrew from AWL branch meetings (and most activities) for some months.” This untrue. The meeting in question was in fact not organised by me or the topic, I was asked to do a presentation. The meeting itself was frankly wrecked by the hostile behaviour of certain comrades. So much so that certain contacts never came back and other comrades complained to the leadership. Whilst Hegel would be no doubt happy to know his ideas can still cause a storm it really revealed that other soul in the AWL – philistinism and fear of other ideas infected the hallowed ground. The Jesuit Marxists performed well.

    This kind of performance was not isolated, indeed it got even worse over a discussion of No Sweat which any onlooker may have considered the scene of an imminent punch up such was the macho intolerance of my views by a leading comrade. All symptomatic of the two souls of the AWL – on the one had the fantastic work a number of comrades do as activists in certain areas and the other the official political structures.

    A number of AWL comrades advised me not to leave and do as they do and stay out of the way of the leadership and just get on with activity. Politically I think that is a contradiction and whilst I respect them its not one I am prepared to put myself in. The reasons I left are in my statement. There are no other reasons but those ones.

  338. davidbroder said,

    the bulletin does indeed say that Chris “plied” AWL comrades with books!

  339. Sacha said,

    No, David, *both* references to the Healyites are clearly referring to the type of arguments/polemic you have used against the AWL, and not a comparison between you and the Healy group in general, much less in its final period.

    More when I can; not for a while.

  340. Mark in Hong Kong said,

    Mark in Hong Kong – I didn’t know that this pamphlet was on the web

    Yeah, right. You are young-ish, right? Grown up with the internet? A left activist and media-savvy? Know how to use google? Know the Marxists Internet Archive? Know Housman’s bookshop/Porcupine (assuming it’s still there) (which in my day was the only way to get hold of this kind of stuff, old, duplicated, pamphlets). But you’ve never heard of libsoc.org? Never thought of googling the title of the pamphlet you seriously seem to believe no-body else but you owns and is capable of distributing?

    Oh no, you only want to plug your website. Fair enough, but admit it and stop all this pussyfooting faux naivite.

  341. modernityblog said,

    instead of taking lumps out of each other (and it is not a pretty sight, or a great recruiting technique), perhaps AWLer and ex-AWLers might want to tackle the ignorance of anti-Jewish racism over at SU

    Andy Newman has posted some good stuff on this topic, Solidarity with Harry’s Place http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=2763

    and his latest, if futile, attempt to explain the nature of racism on David Duke’s web site, to an unappreciative audience of SWPers and their mates, THE HAZARD OF DUKE, http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=2766

    Andy needs help, get there! It is better than bashing each other :)

  342. Darren said,

    #340

    “But you’ve never heard of libsoc.org?”

    Just googled ‘libsoc.org’. Nothing comes up. Try it.

  343. culinaryarts said,

    I’ m guessing it was a typo for libcom.org

  344. Darren said,

    “I’ m guessing it was a typo for libcom.org”

    Yeah, I guessed that too.

    But Mark from HK just seems so vehement in his hostility to Dave Broder that I wanted to make sure. ;-)

    And, tbh, I don’t think that it’s that surprising if it was the case that Dave Broder didn’t already know of the existence of the text on the web. The bloke’s coming from a totally different political tradition, and it shouldn’t always be assumed that he should be up to speed on the internet publishing history of other traditions.

  345. Mark in HK said,

    Yes, sorry, I made a typo, confusing the address of Tribunite (?) Paul Anderson’s blog, libsoc.blogspot.com and libcom,org. Many apologies and I’m glad others know the address of the site with the information on the one true road to socialist enlightenment! I presume though, that before you start typing in documents, assuming this was the case, you might do a google search of the title of the document concerned just in case someone else has uploaded the stuff. Not the most stupidest thing to do.

    When I was actively involved in far-left ‘rrrevolutionary’ politics, a very long time ago, at a similar age to Mr Broder, I was aware of other traditions’ publications. Housmans and all that. I considered it essential, especially as I had a healthy (maybe even unhealthy) scepticism on anyone claiming to have “all the answers”. And even if I disagreed with what I read, at least I’d know what my opponents were going on about. I could hardly string together a political argument or write documents if I didn’t know what’s what on the left, could I? I (wrongly?) assumed this Davidbroader was similar. Otherwise how could he go from one distinctive brand of Trotskyism (after being in the CPGB, and then the “Red Party”, which collapsed after most of its members ‘went anarchist’, scoffed at by the comrade concerned, if we believe the comments above) to the stuff on his new website so quickly? I won’t even mention all that very detailed stuff about May 68 in France (hardly a hotbed of Trotskyism) on his own website.

  346. artist said,

    Hey Komrads, I love that word especially when it flows so humbly from the lips of middle-class kids armed with truckloads of angst and schadefreud.
    Trots, Maoists, Leninists, Stalinist, Pol Potists and Chevezites Unite!
    SWP, AWL, heck what ever happened to just seperating people and their ideas by eye colour?
    Sounds like the age-old problem of the silly Left. Never changes, for the flock the world never turns on its axis.
    The statement that I found most amusing was one by a certain Jim Denham, he wrote, somehow strutting,

    “And as for those Iraqi, pro-imperialists calling themselves trade unionists: they won’t even lay their lives down willingly on behalf of the heroic resistance!”
    Wow, here is a bloke sitting in his quaint quiet English home, pointing fingers at gentlemen, who may actually being working for the essential rights of Iraqi workers. But Jim, the suburban hero calls them disengenuous for not blowing themselves up!

    This naieve and hysterial quote, along with the term “militant workers” is knee deep in the muck of war-mongering and some pre-pubescent television culture need to see others die or shed a bucket-ful of blood, for what, so Jim can feel solidarity with them?

    Come on gang, “Nuke Montgamna”? really is this how a Marxist led Britain will look. Will the discussion always melt-down into a curious mix of pre-school scrums, internal rifts, weak egos lashing out at those who disagree with them.
    I suspect your mothers told you all that you were very bright as young darlings. Many of you write quite well, and are obviously educated, now you have to grow up and realize that this forum is one of bafoonary, tantrums and slurping mind numbing ignorance.
    Have a nice day, give a homeless man/woman your home.

  347. runia said,

    artist – switch on your irony and sarcasm detectors and then reread Jim’s comment.

  348. runia said,

    A video of the CPGB’s(PCC) patriarch Jack Conrad/John Bridge is now on the interweb.
    It’s good for a laugh.

    The bit where he talks about how he has had a discussion with Mark Fischer and they have decided that when they run the EU(!?!?!) they will not keep nukes for defence against the USA is particularly amusing.

    The fact that Lenin appears to be sitting next to him throughout the speech only adds to the surreal nature of the thing.

    Anyway, it’s here:

  349. runia said,

    The speech is about this issue of AWL, Israel and Iran, by the way.

  350. voltairespriest said,

    Ironic that the talk of “bafoonary” (sic) and “tantrums” should come at the end of a highly buffoonish tantrum.

  351. runia said,

    Indeed VP.

    Back to the video, I forgot to also point out that Bridge, when doing his relativist bit about US liberal democracy being the same as the theocratic confessional Iranian state because Bush is personally an evangelical Christian, he said that Reagan was told what to do by ‘the Mrs’ and after someone shouted that it was someone else who advised him, he said ‘ok his Mrs or some woman’.

    Mod, are the CPGB(PCC) now your favourite Trots?
    The rest of their summer school(sorry, Communist University) speeches are here:

    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/cu/2008/2008%20videos.htm

  352. artist said,

    Dear runia, thanks for showing me the light re: Jim’s irony.
    On third reading with your guidance it did begin to appear as sarcasm. The problem is that most of what people here write in earnest sounds sarcastic, anachronistic and splendidly warped.
    I have always been fond of the bored middle class. It has shown a tendency to produce wise children who grow up seeking the messianic.
    You wrote that the Bolsheviks took the role of the substitute for class.
    Since these words were spoken by Trotsky, and I am certain he atleast believed them to be somewhat true, he erred in not replacing the term class with religion. Communism, in it’s Russian manifestation did not play the role of class but of the Church. From the deification of Lenin to the choir-boys played by the Red Army Youth.
    Ideology just happens to be the unbermensches means of displaying an irrational urge for utopian perfection, or shall we call it messianism.
    Thank you again for the heads up on Jim.

  353. runia said,

    Artist, I tend to agree with you above at #352.
    I am a recovering ex-cultist of the Leninist/Trotskyist stripe but do find myself drawn in to the sort of thing on this thread, mainly because I find it more entertaining than X Factor and ‘Can Fat Teens Hunt?’ etc.

    I think Hitchens is spot on here in a passage from ‘God is not Great':

    “For a good part of my life, I had a share in this idea that I have not yet quite abandoned. But there came a time when I could not protect myself, and indeed did not wish to protect myself, from the onslaught of reality. Marxism, I conceded, had its intellectual and philosophical and ethical glories, but they were in the past. Something of the heroic period might be perhaps retained, but the fact had to be faced: there was no longer any guide to the future. In addition, the very concept of a total solution had led to the most appalling human sacrifices, and to the invention of excuses for them. Those of us who had sought a rational alternative to religion had reached a terminus that was comparably dogmatic. What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees? Infallibility? Thus, dear reader, if you have come this far and found your own faith undermined—as I hope—I am willing to say that to some extent I know what you are going through.”

  354. artist said,

    Dear Runia, I find Hitchens enjoyable, but I certainly cannot quote him. I got a little lost after the tenth line. I would prefer that you spoke with me, using your own words, building your own thoughts for me to share, rather than sloshing through a long-winded quote.
    I too, once upon a time, considered myself a middle class Marxist. Seems that they are the only ones out there with the education and time to plod through the “Workers of the World Unite” hook and chorus.
    Problem is that social engineering is filled with millions of sheets of paper filled with stirring words and seemingly rational content, on how to build a perfect society.
    Wonderfully what makes humankind so interesting is that it is interesting. Meaning that it is often incomprehensible and is so human. Human being that spark which exists which battles perfection, which for the sake of shit-disturbing distrubs the feces. We are oft to do that which is bad for us, as I light another cigarette, and often time do not appreciate when those who figure they know better, shove another politically correct law or attitude down our throats.
    Human also consists of a need to fill that hole in soul. Some choose messianism, whether religious or ideological to fill that emptiness, what is essential is that it be up to them.
    I stress freedom of thought, the freedom to imagine, the freedom to question and come to ones own conclusions. The mob is a stupid being, those who walk in lock step screaming slogans and platitudes are boring and doomed to fail.
    Be well Runia, lets talk.

  355. runia said,

    I would gently suggest that quote is less long-winded than your latest comment.
    I didn’t quote from memory, by the way, I used Google.
    I also won’t take instruction on how I should write blog comments so that the style is to your satisfaction.

    “We are oft to do that which is bad for us, as I light another cigarette, and often time do not appreciate when those who figure they know better, shove another politically correct law or attitude down our throats.”

    Well, up to a point that is obviously right as the reduction ad absurdum of that is totalitarianism, but the phrase ‘politically correct’ certainly starts alarm bells ringing.
    I am in favour of societies having laws, including on public health issues (I am also a smoker) and don’t object to the public places smoking ban and the high levels of tax on cigarettes, I agree with both those things.
    Politically correctness, to me, is a largely invented phenomenon of the political right to lampoon laws and cultures shifts to oppose discrimination and prejudice against traditionally marginalised minorities.
    When people respond to the cries of ‘political corectness gone mad’ in particular cases they are accused of wanting to silence dissent whereas they are actually taking part in a discussion not closing it down.

    The very few, usually well meaning, middle class liberals who actually do ban bah bah black sheep and mentions of Christmas should be given very short shrift.

  356. Darren said,

    Fair play to the CPGB/PCC for putting their Summer School talks online. More groups should do the same.

    Yet to look at the John Bridge/Jack Conrad/John Chamberlain talk, but I thought Mike McNair’s talk was interesting.

  357. artist said,

    Dear Runia, oh my! I was essentially pleading that you do not write to me making use of quotes. I am sorry if this offends you, of course you witte your blogs as you see fit.
    I am simply wishing that our tete a tete runs smoothly. It is still my request, if you feel the wish to please me than please away. If not then so be it.
    good to read that we agree, regarding the culta phonics of most of these cult debates.
    I still enjoy reading the banter.
    Interestingly I was having a discussion with a buddy of mine, who made the claim that when the poor get angry enough they revolt. We then tried to summon one instant in history where the poor actually carried out a revoltuion, to the end, taking power without it being coopted by religious elements, royalty, the boergoise or the army.
    Would you happen to have an instance of a pure workers revolt, that actually took power and led?

  358. Martin Thomas said,

    Since David has chosen to centre his self-presentation to the world around his account of a meeting with Tom U and Sean M in the AWL office, readers should also have Tom’s and Sean’s account of that meeting.

    Anyone with any knowledge of the AWL’s habits and traditions over 40 years will have been able to see straight off that David’s account is improbable. In any case, it is false. His central allegation is that “I was mandated by these two Executive Committee members to produce a statement repudiating the CPGB and Workers’ Power and affirming my loyalty to the AWL, which Sean would then ‘vet’ and make ‘suitable’ for publication…”

    Actually, what happened was that Tom and Sean asked David what he thought about the stuff from Weekly Worker which “improved on” David’s original polemic by ridiculously and libellously alleging that Sean’s article “excused” Israeli nuclear-bombing of Iran.

    David said he disagreed with that stuff. He was then asked if he would go on public record to that effect by writing a rebuttal.

    Anyway, here are the details.

    **

    In summary:
    1. David was not “summoned” to a meeting.
    2. The character of the meeting was not as David describes it.
    3. What SM and TU asked him to do – differentiate himself from the WWG – was a reasonable request.
    4. It was perfectly reasonable to ask him about his views on the dispute and other left groups.
    5. The meeting was far from being any kind of ‘witch-hunt’ or ‘disciplinary’ action.

    David Broder’s reporting is radically unreliable. His account of the meeting between SM, TM and himself – the meeting to which he was apparently “summoned” – is not an accurate account. There is a political reason for David’s unreliability as a reporter.

    David has bought into some commonplace anti-Bolshevik mythologies: he clearly does not agree with the organisational norms of the AWL, or of the political tradition that we trace back to the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party. He sees or construes things – in this case the ‘meeting’ – to fit the anti-Bolshevik caricature of organisations like the AWL. He seems to see all we do in that light.
    David is 19. That entitles him to be treated with restraint, and some political indulgence, as indeed he has been. What that means in practice has to be calculated according to the situation we are in and David’s role in it. In the current dispute with the kitsch-left howling around us, he has played and continues to play a negative role. His claim that SM and TU “summoned” him to a meeting is a piece of serious misinterpretation. In any case, what are the substantive issues?
    Whether the decision to publish SM’s discussion article was right or wrong, it went through the procedures laid down by the group on such matters. Specifically, the Editor (Cathy N) to whom the AWL has delegated political responsibility for Solidarity read the article – as is usual, especially with anything that might be controversial. In addition the article was read by both David and TU – who each made comments that SM tried to take account of.
    David did not like it, but neither did he voice anything remotely like the rant, or its political content, that he would soon publish on our public website. He published it without, as far as we know, consulting anybody else.
    What we asked David to write was a denunciation of the Weekly Worker’s lie that SM and the AWL “excuse” an Israeli nuclear strike at Iran. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that a proposal like that from the Centre can lead to outraged accusations at being asked to do such a thing.
    The relevant question here is: why did he, who was at the centre of the dispute, who’d been the first to give it the abusive character that was then developed further by others; who had been the focus of a WWG public lauding, grooming and courtship – why did he need to be asked to defend us from blatant libel? Why does he now refuse? In his account of the “summoned” meeting, he half-answers that question.
    He had earlier been asked by the Centre to publicly repudiate calls that he and others should leave the AWL. He did so without complaint.
    The Centre would in principle have had the right to instruct David to write a denunciation of the WW libel, and to initiate disciplinary action against him if he refused. We did not do that. It was suggested that he should, and he agreed to draft a statement and bring it back for discussion.
    He was not “summoned” to a meeting. TU – after discussion with other EC members – asked him come in for a chat. David is frequently in the Centre, in fact. He might properly have been “summoned” by the EC to a meeting, and would have had a duty to comply with such a “summons”, but in fact, no such “summons” was made.
    His own account of what TU actually said to him, contradicts the “summoned” slant he puts on it: “Tom said that Sean and him were concerned about my recent ‘behaviour’ in the Israel-Iran debate and wanted me to come to the office and discuss it with them”.
    David claims that during the discussion: “Sean argued that I have pieced together a ‘rotten bloc’ of minority comrades who I allegedly don’t actually agree with. This silly claim has been raised several times before.”
    SM said that about what, exactly? The current dispute? So he implies. In fact SM said: at the AWL Conference there had been much confusion because in the vote there was a bloc between those who voted for ‘Troops Out’ and David and a few others who wanted ‘Troops Out Now’. ‘TON’ is a radically different position with altogether different implications. That has, as he says, been said often since the Conference and was said at the Conference. It has nothing directly to do with the current dispute.
    SM did not ‘blame’ David for it: in fact he blamed those on the same side of the dispute as himself, who had failed in the run-up to Conference to make the AWL fully aware of the meaning of the two radically different positions.
    David: “In a series of paranoid slanders I was also repeatedly accused…” Note the language “paranoid slanders”. This is nonsense. What he says about SM and TU is derived from commonplace centrist-anarchist characterisations of Trotskyist groups – without any reference to the realities of a group in which David can with impunity write what he has on the internet, and internally. David doesn’t draw from life, from the AWL as it is. He is busily imposing what he knows – or thinks he knows – about the internal practices of other groups onto the AWL.
    David claims: “I was accused of supporting and goading on ‘kitsch-left’ attacks on the AWL”. No, David, you were not! The following facts, and they are facts, were noted:
    a. That your comment on SM’s discussion piece was not the cool political response expected in comradely debate. No one would question your right to make such a response. We both said that the article fell outside of permissible public exchanges between members of the group (let alone members of the NC). SM said he thought you had a right to write a reasonable political response to what he had written, but not to write the diatribe you had; he also said he didn’t propose to “make anything of” the character of what you had published i.e. there was no threat of ‘sanction’. None whatsoever.
    [Take this example David: Janine’s piece on her own blog, which is critical of SM’s article, illustrates a proportionate, political reaction. Entirely legitimate in character and style. You should read it – perhaps learn something from it.]
    b. That your response had been the start of a deluge of abuse and denunciation from people – most of whom support the Iranian nuclear bomb, and who deny Israel’s right to exist. Nobody said you were responsible for that.
    [you put ‘kitsch left’ in quotes. You disagree? That’s not what they are?]
    c. That you had felt no responsibility to publicly distance yourself from the baying kitsch-left mob.
    d. That a sizable portion of the contributions from the Weekly Worker Group had been blatant ‘grooming’ and sucking up to yourself, and that you had felt no impulse or obligation to publicly distance yourself from that.
    e. That you had to be asked by the Centre to publicly dissociate yourself from the calls made on the AWL site for you and others to leave the AWL.
    f. That you had done that.
    g. That in response to the avalanche of abuse and the general assault on the AWL inaugurated by your article, you had been too laid back.
    h. That you had not responded to blatant public wooing, ‘grooming’, directed at you by the WWG, as in the circumstances you should have.
    None of this was presented as a bill of indictment against you, or couched as sharp accusation. The points were made in discussion, and not as sharply as they are presented here.
    David was, he says “questioned on what links I have with the CPGB and Workers’ Power”.
    Again, the striking thing here is that David thinks it out of order – the attempt by the people running the Centre to find out where he stood in a discussion with a young comrade who had remained silent through the small storm of general abuse against the AWL (except for when he was asked to respond on one point). There is nothing out of order in David’s behaviour but there is in a late attempt by the Centre to find out what was going on!
    David was “questioned over my motivations for having a personal friendship with Ben Lewis, who is in the CPGB”. No David, your motives were not “questioned”; or in any case it is misleading and a-political for you to put it like that. We “questioned” the politics of your behaviour here.
    Your friend Ben Lewis has been prominent in the shit-storm on the website. SM said he could in general understand that one sometimes has friendly personal relations with respect-worthy political opponents (as both SM, TU and we’re sure most members of the AWL do). Sean asked you how it was possible for you to maintain friendly personal relations with members of the wretchedly dishonest and politically contemptible WWG (he may have added “in this situation”). TU pointed out that Ben Lewis, in a report of a recent meeting which David also attended, had deliberately lied about comments to implicate him in the overall accusation that the AWL supports a nuclear strike against Iran.
    Here too, David is trying to assimilate the AWL to the hostile caricature of ‘Bolsheviks’ to which he subscribes.
    David: “In this vein, I was asked how come the CPGB and I ‘use the same formulations to polemicise against [Sean]’. By ‘same formulations’ that meant: I recently criticised Sean for ‘excusing’ an Israeli attack on Iran”, then: “as if the mere word ‘excuse’ were some new invention of mine.”
    The point about the formulation of the WW front page lie, that Sean – and by extension the AWL – ‘excuses’ an Israeli nuclear strike, was that these habitual and very experienced liars phrased it so that they could later ‘explain’ it away (Sean ‘excuses’ an attack; there is likelihood of a nuclear attack: ergo…)
    In fact, when David in the meeting reminded us that he had used the ‘excuse’ formula, SM said something like: “Ah, so that formulation starts with you.” It was said gabbily, in passing, on the wind: David presents it as an item in his picture of a court-like procedure! He was not asked: “how come?” That is his invention – to heighten the picture of an innocent young man confronting paranoid Bolsheviks. He was not asked to “explain” it, he was not accused of being “responsible” for the WW. No sinister implications were read into the similarity of the words used. (In fact, David doesn’t notice that his and the WW’s use of the same word, “excuses”, greatly strengthens the case for why he should denounce the WW for its blatant libel; but nobody said that in the meeting.)
    David: “A few days later the Weekly Worker had a headline criticising Sean with the same word ‘excuse’ in it”. A front page accusing SM of “excusing” a nuclear strike against Iran (you were meant to read “supporting”, “advocating”, “justifying”) was merely a matter of “criticising” him? David, do you really classify this crazy libel as “criticism”?
    David: “In a breathtaking accusation of disloyalty, they asked what meetings I had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power. Even to ask the question is an open expression of mistrust … I was also accused of active collaboration with the CPGB and Workers’ Power”. No, you were not “accused”. You were asked reasonable questions that arose unavoidably from your reluctance to differentiate from the libellous WW campaign, and your personal connections with some waging it. You were questioned in a closed discussion: there could be no element in it of the questions starting or spreading false stories about you. It is the proper business of the Centre to know what is going on in the AWL. Without that the organisation would simply fall apart. We have every right as well as the responsibility to ask the questions we asked. Is there anyone in the organisation who would argue that we did not have that right?
    David: “At this ‘meeting’, I was ordered to produce – in time for Friday evening – a statement repudiating the CPGB and Workers’ Power and ‘affirming my loyalty to the AWL’ which Sean would then ‘vet’ and make ‘suitable’ for publication”… “the atmosphere of the ‘meeting’ stank”.
    David mixes two incidents here. You were asked at the meeting, and, under moral pressure, you agreed to denounce the WW libel (SM may – we can’t recall exactly – have also said that you should point out that those who made this ludicrous libel were de facto or explicit supporters of Iranian clerical fascists having nuclear weapons). Earlier, you had been asked – over the phone, and not by SM or TU – to write a repudiation of the invitations on the web to you and those who agreed with you to leave the AWL, ie. to “reaffirm” your “loyalty” to the AWL. You complied. “Ordered”? No, you were not.
    The “atmosphere” in the meeting “stank”? That’s a subjective judgement of course – if David found that it “stank” then for him it surely did.
    We read David as saying he was “mandated”, instructed, to write a statement. “I eventually said that I would write such a statement if they mandated it.” No, you didn’t say anything of the sort! The EC could mandate you, but an ad hoc duo – even with those ‘in charge’ of the Centre – had no mandatory power. This is what might be called anti-Bolshevik ‘story-lining’!
    David: He “recognise[s] that [the kitsch-left’s] praise for the things I write is often fawning and is an attempt to attract me to their corner, and also because a formal repudiation of CPGB, WP etc. [by David] would undermine the EC’s attempt to portray their critics within the AWL as being soft on/in league with other left groups, or indeed de facto ‘Iranian defencists’”. David, why would you need to have any other motive than the elementary instinct of solidarity with the AWL against the others, and solidarity with a comrade who had been grossly libelled – sorry “criticised”? Where and concerning whom did the “EC portray their critics within the AWL as being soft on/in league with other left groups, or indeed of being ‘Iranian defencists’?
    David (as we read him) on one reason why he did not want to write the statement: “if I was going to write it I could hardly also openly vent my anger at the character of the office ‘meeting’, which is why I did not write this email earlier”. For David, his “anger” over the “character” of the office meeting, and his quarrel with other members of the AWL, takes precedence over everything else. In this case, over the repudiation of a lunatic libel. What “character” would an “office meeting” need to have for David to approve of it, and think its convocation reasonable?
    David: “I am happy to polemicise against other left groups and to denounce Iranian defencism [but] for Sean and Tom to mandate me to do this as part of a declaration of loyalty is ludicrous” … “Sharp disagreement with Sean Matgamna does not in any shape or form imply disloyalty or nursing allegiances to other groups”. Who says that “disagreement with Sean Matgamna” is “disloyalty” to the AWL, etc…, or that it is anything other than your right? You have disagreed with SM over Iraq – and a good many other things – for some time now. Have you ever been accused of disloyalty before now?
    Read that and remember what actually happened, what subjects were discussed and what was said to David and by David. Comrades are asked to do such things, to defend the AWL, all the time.
    SM & TU

  359. Martin Thomas said,

    On skimming back over recent contributions, perhaps I should summarise the previous post in 9 words: *David was not asked to sign a loyalty oath*. His claim that he was is pure invention. The rest of his account of the meeting is on the same level of inaccuracy.

  360. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Martin,

    Pity the Stalinists aren’t recruiting hatchet men anymore. You’d make a fortune. Still, I suppose the Zionists pay union rates.

    This is what happens when the bureacracy of an organisation however small becomes the dominant faction. It becomes the transmission belt for hostile class forces into the movement. In this case Zionist chauvinism.

    `What we asked David to write was a denunciation of the Weekly Worker’s lie that SM and the AWL “excuse” an Israeli nuclear strike at Iran. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that a proposal like that from the Centre can lead to outraged accusations at being asked to do such a thing.’

    I think it is reasonable to take from SM’s article that he would justify an attack on Iran by Israel even if they used bunker busting nukes to do it. He’s so butch, so non-kitsch or are you suggesting a hint of kitschness of his part.

  361. charliethechulo said,

    “Nuke”: learn to read. Words mean what they say. Read them. If you can. Ignorant twat.

  362. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Yes, I agree, words mean what they say and Matgamna means he will justify an attack on Iran by Israel when and if it happens. Quite simple really. And, if that doesn’t include an attack using bunker busting nukes why did he not say so as everybody else seems aware that they are the only effective weapons in these circumstances. Not that a conventional attack would be justifiable in any case. Was he worried about being branded kitsch?

  363. Jim Denham said,

    Sean Matgamna:

    “We do not advocate an Israeli attack on Iran, nor will we endorse it or take political responsibility for it. But if the Israeli airforce attempts to stop Iran developing the capacity to wipe it out with a nuclear bomb, in the name of what alternative would we condemn Israel? ”

    Can you read? Or think, “Nuke”?

    How is that a “justification” of any sort of attack? And If it wasn’t claer enough for the hard-of-thinking, Sean MtG has since made it crystal clear that he would oppose a nuclear attack. What more do you you want, you moron?

  364. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Bollock Brain: he’ll justify a conventional attack but not a nuclear one. What is he, kitsch or something? In reality, SM is fully aware that an attack is likely to use bunker busting nukes. Even if it doesn’t the position is one of Zionist chauvinism.

  365. Jim Denham said,

    Learn to read: where is the “justification” for *any* kind of attack – let alone a nuclear one?

    Learn to read. Then Learn to think! Thick twat!

  366. modernityblog said,

    Wally wrote:

    “Still, I suppose the Zionists pay union rates.”

    you’d think,in light of recent events, that Wally and his pals might be a bit, not a lot, just a bit more careful when they throw around the word “Zionist” **


    ** for readers unfamiliar with the Extreme Right’s terminology, “Zionist” is code word for Jew.

  367. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Well modernity, when I say Zionists I mean zionist not jew so stop being such a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I’m not Wally by the way.

  368. modernityblog said,

    so which “Zionists” did you mean?

    do they pay a lot?

  369. artist said,

    Nuke! Your posts seemed to be littered with cliches. For example everytime you make use of the word “zionist” you add the word “chauvanist”. “Zionist Chauvanist” heck, you sound like a parrot spitting up a cracker. Please explain without using too many cliches what you mean by “zionist chauvanist”?
    Would you also see fit to label the Farsi-centric Persian gov’t “Farsi-chauvanist” as well?
    As for you knowledge of military tactics, you spoke of “nuclear bunker busters”, what exactly is your military background?, feel free to be creative, make up whatever you like.
    I plead with you to keep it calm and measured.
    BTW, what is with the word “kitsch”. Being an artist I am very interested in your appropriation of this term to discribe other Leftist elements, who you seek to demean.
    Thanks Nuke.

  370. Nuke Matgamna said,

    `BTW, what is with the word “kitsch”. Being an artist I am very interested in your appropriation of this term to discribe other Leftist elements, who you seek to demean.
    Thanks Nuke.’

    No comment. (LoL).

  371. artist said,

    Hey Nuke, I guess you have no answer to my simple question.
    I am familiar with the word “kitsch” in regard to works of art, usually referring to paintings of Elvis on black velvet, but sorry I have never heard it applied to Leftist groupings.
    Are Trots and Stlainists considered “kitsch”, was Mao’s cultural revolution considered oh so “kitsch”. Is a Cze t-shirt considered “kitsch”?
    Help me out Nuke, educate me buddy, don’t reply with just a non-commital “No comment”, what are you are a politician caught fathering an illigitimate brood.?
    What do you mean by “kitsch”?
    Note: If Nuke cannot provide an intelligent answer to this question then I would appreciate a reply from one of the other gifted Komrads on this site. Who knows maybe even David Broder could supply the information.
    Thanks gang.
    Nuke, you dissapoint me brother.

  372. Darren said,

    Sorry, I’m confused (again). I thought kitsch was the AWL’s buzzword?

    Why is ‘Nuke’ being asked to define it? Why is David Broder being asked to define it?

    Maybe ‘artist’ can also ask such AWL luminaries as Martin Thomas, Tom U, Mark Osborn and Sascha Ismail – who have taking time out from ‘The Centre’ to mix with the proles in the Shiraz Socialist comment box – to also supply a definition?

    It’s the most pressing question in the workers movement as I write.

  373. modernityblog said,

    Nuke Matgamna wrote:

    “Still, I suppose the Zionists pay union rates.”

    so which “Zionists” did you mean?

    do they pay a lot?

    please tell us what you really meant

  374. artist said,

    Hey Darren, good day.
    “Kitsch” a much misunderstood word, whenerver art historians have attempted to define the German/Yiddish term they get lost in the mud of their definitions.
    I understand that kitsch in Marxist terms is often associated with capitalism and thus the marketing of art attempting to appeal to the shallowest of human emotions and needs.
    Is this what you meant NUKE?
    Others have chimed in, yet nobody seems to have a clue of what “kitsch” actually connotes.
    Nuke your a bright bloke, so please ease yourself down to my level and patronize me for a moment and free me from ignorance.
    Nuke?

  375. artist said,

    Oh Nuke, just a reminder, I am still awaiting a definition of “zionist chauvanism” as well.
    You got one for me?

  376. Nuke Matgamna said,

    artist: are you being deliberately obtuse or what? ask Matgamna what he means by kitsh, its his term and I agree with everything you say about it.

  377. modernityblog said,

    Nuke Matgamna,

    stop ducking the point:

    you wrote “Still, I suppose the Zionists pay union rates.”

    so which “Zionists” did you mean?

    do they pay a lot?

    please tell us what you really meant

  378. Nuke Matgamna said,

    What are you getting at modernity? I’ve no idea what they pay.

  379. modernityblog said,

    Nuke Matgamna,

    yeah? I am asking YOU, what you are going on about, not the other way around.

    try re-reading your own comments like #360

    so who are these “Zionists” that you talk about?? you must know otherwise you wouldn’t use that term.

    who are they? and why do you feel compelled to rant about “Zionists” every few hours?

  380. Nuke Matgamna said,

    `who are they? and why do you feel compelled to rant about “Zionists” every few hours?’

    Err, its a discussion about Israel, Iran and the AWL isn’t it? What would you rather we talked about, flower arranging?

    The zionists of which I speak are the supporters of colonialism in what used to be called Palestine. Why, did you think I was talking about you?

  381. artist said,

    Nuke! Thank you for insinuating that I am dull.
    Sorry buddy! But your use of the language is interesting to me, thus to understand you better I humbly ask you “What do you mean?” by kitsch and “zionist chauvanist”. You and your ilk may understand what you mean, but since I am not part of your little club and am not hip to your codes, then be a good comrade and help me out.
    What do you mean by “kitsch” and by “zionist chauvanism”?
    Why are you so scared to answer such simple questions?

  382. Nuke Matgamna said,

    I will help you out as you do seem to need it. Zionist chauvinism speaks for itself I thiink and I don’t think there is a way of explaining it that wouldn’t be more complicated than what it was explaining.

    Kitsch is the term used by Sean Matgamna in the document where he revealed that he would justify an attack on Iran. Ask him what he means by it. What I was saying in response to his supporters disingenuous insistence that he wouldn’t also justify a nuclear attack was that this was just a little less `kitsch’ than what he accuses the rest of us of being. Of course, he is not kitsch at all and would rationalise a nuclear attack also as he knows full well that it is the only type likely to have any effect. He has written off the Iranian working class and is happy to justify their deaths in order to defend the reputation of Zionism. He is now a fully paid up supporter of Western imperialism. If opposing war in the middle east means being called kitsch then I am happy to be called kitsch whatever SM means by it..

  383. modernityblog said,

    artist

    you’re wasting your time with the ever evasive, Nuke Matgamna

    clearly Nuke Matgamna has been reading Duke’s web site and “Zionist” chauvinism is his own rendition of the KKK wizard’s terminology.

  384. artist said,

    Nuke! thank you for your rather luke warm attempt at explaining the terminology you use.
    I would suggest you terminate the use of the word “kitsch” in your responses, since you obviously have no idea what the word itself suggests, or how to use it.
    Regarding “zionist chauvanism” you once again either do not know the meaning of “chauvanism” nor “zionism” and have been caught parrotting ideas you do not comprehend, beyond the shallow verbiage you have offered up.
    You wrote that Sean, ” has written off the Iranian working class and is happy to justify their deaths in order to defend the reputation of Zionism. ”
    I suggest that you are a bit of a moron my dear. If Israel were to attack the bomb making facilites and not the urban centers then what “Iranian working class” would be wiped out.
    As for the “Justifying their deaths to defend the REPUTATION of Zionism”, you nuts? Nobody is speaking of defending a reputation, we are speaking about a nation protecting itself from anhialation!
    Seems the only reputation at risk here is yours.
    You are obviously a bright lad, yet a fool. You have no interest in the Irainian working class, and no interest in the Israeli working class either.
    I will not ask you to explain you use of the word “chauvanism” since it is painful to read you squirm. Thanks Nuke.

  385. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Just to help you out a little bit more artist. I think what Matgamna means by `kitsch’ is a little bit gay. He’s such a hard man.

    I take it you’ve heard of French chauvinism and British chauvinism etc, etc? Take it from there and try and work it out. It’s not hard and it’s not in code. So stop stressing.

    Modernity: ever the conspiracy theorist eh? You are so paranoid.

  386. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Artist: Protecting themselves from annihalation. Don’t make me laugh. Even one of your own right, right, right wingers says it would be wise to let Iran have nuclear weapons as they’d feel safer and wouldn’t be able to play the `security’ card for internal reasons like you Zios do. But there are no nukes in Iran anymore than there were in Iraq. If there were the best way for the people of Israel to protect themselves would be to allow the refugees home and lift the sieges. Who’d bomb them then? But you’ve got 200 nukes of your own what are you worried about. If there is any annihalting to be done you are the ones who will be doing it.

    By the way Mr Deliberate Misreader, I said their deaths not their death. Go and paint something and make the world a better place instead of arguing for Zionist brutality.

  387. artist said,

    Hey Nuke! And here I was thinking that maybe you are a bright lad, but nooo…you are just a parrot. Parrotting words that you do not even know the meaning of.
    For example, a mini-Trot such as yourself, answered my question regarding the definition of chauvanism with, “I take it you’ve heard of French chauvinism and British chauvinism etc, etc.”
    Sorry oh knowledgable one I have not, and from the sound of it you are not sure yourself.
    As for your take on Zionism you are the little messed up devil aren’t you?
    I always find it interesting when those who consider themselves Marxists, find themselves licking the orafices of theocrats and Facist dictators. How has this come about? What is it about the Iranian system and their leadership that you find so appealing?
    Do you actually believe that Ahmanidinijad and his cabal of frosted bosses are interested in the Palestinians? Are you that out of the loop, seems you need a sexual release of sorts.
    But then you go on to call me “right, right, right wingers”! This is precious, I would suspect that the closest you have come to labor is the party. But anyone who would support Israel must be right, right, right, certainly shows both your indoctrination and your adroit ignorance of Israel.
    Israel actually has, unlike Iran, a communist party, quite active, free to preach what they choose. No they are not thrown in prison like they are in the country you seem to support. I suspect that even Lenin is seen by you to be a right, right winger. Droll.
    All in all Nuke, I will go and paint, will you spend your time Nuking? I sense that you are a bully pulpit fraud, using language you do not understand, pretending to be a worker like our 19 yr. old comrade David, absolutely void of soul, life experience and a functioning intellect.
    You are the reason that the Left has and will continue to fail. You are not very bright, your ideas are not reasoned but learned, and in the middle east you support the forces that are the pure antithesis to everyone of your stated Marxist goals.
    Heck, you are so inanimate that you are not even dangerous, except to your nebulous and loser self.
    I am still awaiting to read where you got your vast military knowledge from, I, unlike your mother do not have high expectations from you.

  388. Darren said,

    #374
    “I understand that kitsch in Marxist terms is often associated with capitalism and thus the marketing of art attempting to appeal to the shallowest of human emotions and needs.
    Is this what you meant NUKE?
    Others have chimed in, yet nobody seems to have a clue of what “kitsch” actually connotes.”

    artist,

    cheers for supplying the definition. Sorry for a further question, but are you saying that Sean M. and the *cough* ‘Centre’ are using “kitsch” in the correct way?

    Just wanting to clear this matter up for my own limited understanding because, as Nuke has said previously said on the thread, it is the AWL’s buzzword.

    PS – Why so hard on Cde Broder for supposedly ” . . .pretending to be a worker like our 19 yr. old comrade David . . . “? I saw part of his speech from the CPGB Summer School online and I didn’t detect any attempt at a fake accent. The bloke seems to be getting it in the ear for coming from the same class background as a lot of other people on the left.

  389. artist said,

    Dear Darren, “kitsch” is an odd term first coined in the gallery community of Germany during the beginning of the century.
    Marxist, fear thee not, are incapable of not affecting their agenda on any community, including the arts.
    The term “kitsch” which grew up in the early days of “German Social Realist” Painting, represented by the likes of Kathie Kolowitz, Geoge Groz and Max Beckman. Their paintings, which are beautiful btw, fit into the Marxist ethos in that it depicted suffering and debauchery of early century Berlin. (Babylon).
    Hitler’s art was deemed to be “kitsch” by the art gallery owners, in that his art was rather plain depicting mundane countryside landscapes. He hated these folks, many of the Jews and Gays.
    What I found interesting was what “Nuke” stated in describing the meaning of the word “kitsch” in these terms
    “,I think what Matgamna means by `kitsch’ is a little bit gay. He’s such a hard man.” Inuendo? Seems that certain issues are always used as a battering ram, certainly disengenuous.
    All that I can see “kitsch” having to do with gays, is that yes they may have been the first folks on the planet to coin the word, and many happen to be fans of “kitsch” today. What “Nuke” meant is what I previously stated.
    As for,
    “I saw part of his speech from the CPGB Summer School online and I didn’t detect any attempt at a fake accent. The bloke seems to be getting it in the ear for coming from the same class background as a lot of other people on the left.”
    Exactly, but you have to turn what you said inside out. I am originally from Canada, and we did not grow up with the class structures of Great Britain. I remember watching Monty Python making fun of the many accents and class divisions. In Britain you can instantly size a person up by their way of speaking, you know where they lived, where they went to school and who they probably married. This was not the case in Canada. So I do not care a waggle what accent he has. For me it is much simpler.
    Darren, this gets to the crux of the matter, do you not find it ironic that a 19 yr old belongs and functions as a proud and outspoken member of a worker’s party? Huh? It is something like the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Democratic Republic of North Korea! Get it. Both are neither democratic nor republics.
    So why is David such a militant worker? What the hell does he have to do with workers. Unless he is “slumming” hanging out at coal miner taverns on the weekends, this bloke has nothing to do with the working class.
    As you said they come “from the same class background”, that’s right, a bunch of middle class buffoons playing militant worker. Militant workers rarely help workers. Only those who are measured and intelligent and realize that both sides the boss and the worker have to work together to make sure the company stays in business and can meet the payroll, under the best safety and working conditions possible, succeed.
    Marxism is anachronistic, even Karl would admit that today.
    but Lev Davidovitch Bronstein himself would have puked at the likes of Iran, and seeing Marxists throwing their support behind a Theocratic Moslem Extremist Messianic gov’t, which treats its workers and women like chattle.
    We are living in odd times Darren. I would highly recommend that you look into the Surrealist poltical movement prior to the second world war. They were an interesting French group that supported the appeasement of Hitler, claiming that the French elite was much worse than the Nazis! I ain’t shittin ya. Cool, Be well buddy.

  390. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Ok, thanks artist. So what SM meant by `kitsch left’ was fascist left. i.e. those who will not justify an Israeli attack on Iran or who insist on defending the Palestinians are fascists. And to think i gave him the benefit of the doubt. I hope you pay him well.

  391. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Matgamna should really learn not to speak in code. It is such a right wing habit.

  392. artist said,

    Nukeie, Nukie, Nukie, alone in his own private wilderness he is but a weak link when he is nudered of his cliches and rhetoric.
    Oh genius! I realize you did not understand much that I wrote to you. I will make it easy.
    Iran is a theocratic state, a state that does not allow individuals the right to a proper democratic system, one that daily calls for the destruction of Israel, and supports groups that carry out terror against innocent civillians across the globe. That you choose to idolize this character is limp and certainly anti-Marxist.
    Iran isn’t in this game for the sake of the Palestinians, that you buy into this folly shows how shallow you actually are.
    But any attempt to carry on the semblance of an intelligent discussion with a dim bulb like you isn’t even fun. You are much like a dog, sensing danger who turns and places its buttocks in the air.
    You are so grossly ill-informed about Israel, this is certain.
    I fear that your posts are just examples of projecting, you are the Far Right Facist, poorly immitating a Marxist. Sad to see how the British education system has failed in instilling morality in its coddled middle class youth.
    Oh, and just to point it out to you, you may claim to be only anti-zionist and not anti-Jewish, but when you fixate on zionists and the money issue, ex: “I hope they pay him well”, well that is just poorly disguised anti-semitism.
    As Matgamana has pointed out in the past, many on the Left are actually anti-semitic, and you are a poignant example!
    Nukie! You are in fact not a socialist but a National Socialist.

  393. Nuke Matgamna said,

    artist: no, when I say I hope you pay him well I mean I hope you pay him well as in give him money. So any reference to money is now anti-semitic? I see. Hmmm. Zionism really is getting paranoid isn’t it?

    I think you’d like me to be alone in my private universe but I’m one of millions who support the struggle of the Palestinians for return and full citizenship. No amount of bluster or attempts at relabelling by idiots like you will change that. In fact all Matgamna has managed to achieve is to inadvertantly throw a huge spotlight on the disgusting politics of Zionism.

    Zionism = Colonialism = theft of land = exclusion.

    I fear that when you actually encounter a far right fascist you won’t be able to recognise him. You might even shake his hand.

  394. Will said,

    Hey Nukey — look at this below… they are going after your boy Broder some more! The stakes being so high and that I reckon you can get another 2-3 hundred comments out of this.

    keep it coming — I reckon you will make some kind of hinterwebnets record or sumfink like.

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/09/03/uncaptive-minds

    Home
    Uncaptive minds?
    Submitted on 3 September, 2008 – 10:38

    “On the evening of Monday 1 September, the new group the Commune/Group of International Communists (two of whose three known supporters are recently ex-AWL members David Broder and Chris Ford) attempted to ban the AWL from their first public meeting.

    When we arrived at the venue for their – publicly advertised – meeting on workers’ struggles in 1968-74, we were told by Chris Ford, before we had opened our mouths, that it was not a public meeting, that we had come to disrupt and that we should “fuck off”. After ten or so minutes of arguing, David Broder, to his credit, let us in; that was followed, however, by repeated attempts to get us to leave; we were told by the third Commune supporter that if we didn’t she would “make a scene”. After very calmly and reasonably refusing to be banned, we were allowed to speak; but whenever one of us raised an issue that the comrades didn’t like, the chair attempted to shut us up (aided by the person who had promised to make a scene leaping up and, well, making a scene). The same happened when one of our comrades began her contribution by objecting to this sort of behaviour.

    The building of a healthy left requires a culture of free and open debate; not the replication on a micro-level of the SWP’s practice of bans and exclusions. It is particularly weird coming from a group whose members claim, falsely, that they were subject to bureaucratic suppression in the AWL. The idea that our very calm and reasonable interventions constituted disruption in any sense but that of clear ideas disrupting abject political confusion suggests hostility to free debate – as, in spades, does the attempt to exclude us from the meeting. Do better, comrades!”

  395. Nuke Matgamna said,

    I wouldn’t let the AWL near me. Well done David. A bunch of worked up petty bourgs is how I’d describe the AWL cultists. They are delirious in a way the petty bourgs get some times. Perhaps they’ll sober up in a decade or two. You sound a bit `worked up’ Will. Somebody yankin’ your chain?

  396. Will said,

    “You sound a bit `worked up’ Will.”

    Do I? Sorry ’bout that.

    I have a dentist appointment to go to later today — I think it has put me on edge a little.

    PS. Where’s resistooooorrrrr today like?

  397. artist said,

    Nukey! I loved your take on Zionism, it sounded like a grade one Math lesson.
    Actually Zionism has utterly no connection to colonialism. The first Jews who arrived in what was called Palestine, not by the inahbitants but by the Europeans and jews, came to a land ruled by the Turks for over a thousand years. You may not realize, actually I am certain you are ignorant of the fact that the Palestinians of today did not call themselves Palestinians previous to the arrival of the Brits.
    In fact the Pals cannot even pronounce the word Palestine, today they call themselves Balestinians. In fact the Pals never had a name for the area they inhabited. They were but part of the Turkish empire, and were designated by the Turks to be a province of Damascus.
    Nor was there an entity called and ruled as Syria. But again I do not expect you to know this, it would take an open and curious mind. You have a tendency to use terms you do not understand and know little of history.
    In 1948 rather than accept and demand a state of their own, the Pals happily accepted the occupation of their so-called land by both the Jordanians and Egyptians. Why did both these Arab nations not create a Pal state in Gaza and the West Bank, two reasons; firstly they had never heard of a Palestinian people, and secondly thought that in the future they could use the Pals as fodder for the eventual removal of the jews from the coastal line.
    As for calling others who you disagree with “petty bourgoisie”, I fear once again you are using a term you do not understand. I was wondering what in your petty existence makes you not part of the “petty-bourgeoisie”? Do you work, are you a coal miner, or just another middle class bourgeoise wanna-be?
    Awaiting your usual dribble with a smile, the same smile one shares with a slow child.
    Be brave Nukie, you coward.

  398. Nuke Matgamna said,

    `In fact the Pals cannot even pronounce the word Palestine, today they call themselves Balestinians.’

    How can I be brave in the face of such a superior being as yourself? I humbly bow before your ability to pronounce words properly. And obviously those who cannot vill be shot.

    My job? I’m a petty criminal who specialises in real estate.

  399. Will said,

    Artist — the thing you have to remember is that the likes of Nukey and the vile antisemitic cunt and tosspot who comically uses the handle ‘resistor’ — do in fact — just make shit up as they go along.

    Going to be attending this Nukey?

  400. Sacha said,

    Report on the attempts to ban us from the first “Commune” meeting

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/09/03/uncaptive-minds

  401. Nuke Matgamna said,

    How was the dentis Will? I hope they took that tooth out. Unfortunately they appear to have missed that other rotten little thing that infects your head. Just sayin like.

    Hi Sacha. Mob handed then were you?

  402. charliethechulo said,

    Nook: how are you goin’, defending links to the KKK and denouncing the very existence of Israel? Ever thought that normal people might think that you’re just a little bit.well…anti…well… y’now?..anti… semitic?
    Aren’t you?

  403. davidbroder said,

    If you want to read a report of the first The Commune discussion group meeting, visit

    http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/last-nights-meeting-on-the-upsurge-1968-74/

  404. charliethechulo said,

    Sounds like a very interesting meeting.
    Is it true, Dave, that you and Chris Ford attempted to prevent AWL members from (first) attending, and (then) speaking?

  405. Will said,

    “If you want to read a report of the first The Commune discussion group meeting, visit ”

    No thanks.

    “How was the dentis (sic) Will? I hope they took that tooth out.”

    Yet another example of Nukey just making shit up as he goes along. I never said I was having a tooth pulled oot. Was just a check up and that. Teeth all in order and like and that.

    Left knee is playing up a bit tho — seeing as you asked.

  406. Will said,

    PS.

    You never said whether you are planning on going to be attending this event Nukey.

    Looks like it is the sort of thing that will be right up your street.

  407. artist said,

    Nukeoid, or shall we go with your mind numbing stupidities, I shall call you Nukeite.
    I find it very interesting that you so obviously shy away from answering many of my questions.
    I am not a virgin when it comes to Leftie politics, but I have not walked the streets for a while and my red light has ceased to light my door, so I requested that you explain some of the terminology you use.
    I wanted to understand your use of the words;
    chauvanist?
    petty beorgoise?
    Kitsch?
    Sadly you never gave me answer. Either you do not know the answer or you are feeling unsure of yourself. Probably both.
    Seems that you are in this just too stir things up. You are obviously good at playing the idiot in the mob, lashing out at those you do not understand, example being the monniker you have chosen “Nuke Matgamna”! You probably thought you were being cute, or humorous in a childlike manner, but what you have shown us is that you are not very bright, violent in a passive-aggressive manner, in need of a good lay, and terribly jealous that others actually have thoughts, rather than the shameless and extraordinary moronic things that you have to say.
    Nukite, I have tested you and your have come out of this wanting.
    Not even your mommy would be proud of your works on this forum.
    Seems in the creation that is you, the Far Right and Far Right have swung so out of bounds that they have come together.
    Zeig Heil Baby!

  408. artist said,

    Nukite, I wouldn’t want to confuse you, so I will point out that in the third from last line of my post, I meant to write “Far Right and Far Left” rather than the “Far Right and Far Right”.
    Wouldn’t want to complicated your thought process.

  409. Will said,

    Hoo Nukemiester! Janine talks some sense here in comments like and that.

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/mandel/3714903885180534107/?src=hsr#92218

  410. artist said,

    Hey Will, this is almost getting sad.
    Our ferocious, so called “worker” who goes by the peace-loving monniker “Nuke Matgamma”, how charming, has shown himself unable to define many of the cliche terms he parrots, has no understanding of the middle east, easily hates alot of folks, and is not very bright.
    He strikes me as emulating one of those new condoundled spiral lightbulbs, cost alot but sheds little light.
    It is a waste of time to argue with this chap, he’s a lightwieght.
    Be well, Will

  411. Carlo said,

    I feel dirty just from reading all of this. But two aspects really need to be noted.
    – A comment like “I suppose the Zionists pay union rates.” has no place on a socialist blog. It’s revolting, and it should not have been written, and it should de deleted.
    – The dialogue about Broder’s age is apolitical and suppresses real debate. If the AWL really think that age is a debilitating factor, then the EC should politically expropriate the membership, and make policy though Bonapartist edicts. Ooops, they already did that, and always did.

  412. Janine said,

    Cheers for that, Will.

    The link to the original articles (which was Stroppybird’s not mine) is: http://stroppyblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/harrys-place-racists-websites-and-lefty.html

  413. Will said,

    Nukey — once again I ask…

    You never said whether you are planning on going to be attending this event Nukey.

    Looks like it is the sort of thing that will be right up your street.

    Arte you going to attend or fucking not!!

  414. tcd said,

    when most of the world is living in poverty in a world which produces enough to give everyone about 3000 calories a day, artist “doesn’t have the answers” and rejects such vulgar materialistic concepts as a “blueprint” to “perfect” such a natural situation, and instead will happilly sit there wanking himself off to the tragicomic opera that is oh so beautifull flawed humanity. it might inspire some self-indulgent crap that may end up on tape or ina gallery one day so it must be worth it.

    but suggest that there might be “no answers” to Israeli’s prolbems, and oh god, think of the children, think of the humanity, you horrible heartles nazi bwah bwah bwah

    as they say, post-modernists don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

    wankerrr.

  415. artist said,

    tcd, I see you have mastered the art of not thinking before you type.

    You opened with some brain-dead nonsense of most fo the world starving. Most of the world is actually eating quite well and often far too much. But since this may not fit your agenda, then we will not mention such a thing.
    You continue with the nonsense of a blueprint. “Oh so beautiful humanity” is simply not capable enough to follow to the T you rendition of “social egineering”. Human-kind is far too complex and interesting to follow your march to messianic perfection.
    That has always been the problem with Marxist fools, they hold to the words of a guy long dead. Who like most Marxist never worked in a factory or down in the mines, yet from his desk in the British Library scrawled out the impossible.
    You then go off babbling, lost in the haze of what ever you were drinking. You wrote, “but suggest that there might be “no answers” to Israel’s problems, oh god, think of the children, think of humanity, you horrible heartless nazi bwah”.
    Well done tcb, whereas I find many children of the Left to be rather bright, you are not. I understand that your knee-jerk hatred of Israel causes you to lose control, but when it leads to an epileptic frothing response, then I suggest you let a physician take a look at your problem.
    What you said made no sense, but your emotions were evident, and emotions do not determine proper policy. Crying for a hungry man, does far less than teaching him how to fish.
    How you got to post-modernism makes little sense, but yes artistically I am post modernist, which makes me a gloabalist, and gives me respect for varied styles and thoughts. Whereas modernism attempted to fit humankind into a box both physically and intellectually, post modernism is accepting of differences and actaull appreciates both the beautiful and the ugly.
    Marxism has no place in art, all it ever gave us was posters and murals that idolized large fisted, rock faced Chinese and Russian farm-workers.
    tcd, I highly recommend that both you and Nuke, get yourselves layed, but be cool we would not want you to scare the ladies with your wild eyes and palpatations. Beware that Nukie is homophobic, so you may have to go to seperate bars.
    Now ask your mom to seek help for you.

  416. Nuke Matgamna said,

    Homophobic, anti-semitic, fascist. Keep making it up arse hole.

    See, transmission belt for not just hostile ideas into the movement but hostile forces too. This anti-Marxist clown is now the AWL’s chief theorist.

  417. artist said,

    Nukie Baby!
    Sounds like you are now spinning limp in the wind.
    “Transmission belt”? wow another term which I am certain that you do not know what it means.
    As for being the AWL’s chief theorist, interesting but questionable.
    I am making no apologies for the AWL, as for being anti-Marxist, yes I definitely am.
    I find Marxism anachronistic and silly. What is even more rediculous is when bigotted racists who support theorcratic totalitarians claim to be Marxists.
    I have known Marxists who I respect. Most of these were actually working men and women, and not just plump celebate middle class misfits such as yourself.
    There is nothing in what you write which would give anyone any illusion that you are a Marxist. First of all you are far too stupid to hold to any ideology, and as your fits of anger, you have a tendency to lash out at humanity itself.
    Hate is not enough to form a philosophy, one has to be able to build and live up to what they believe, and your certainly are incapable of anything so noble.
    As for me being an anti-Marxist clown, have you noticed none of your comrades have come to your aid, they seem to share my take on what a pathetic figure you are.
    Conitnue to fester and stew buddy.
    Still awaiting your definition of petty-beorgeoise. You care to come up some moronic reply.

  418. Nuke Matgamna said,

    You are cetain about many things artist.

    One thing I’m certain of is that you are obsessed with my sex life. Put your cock away for a moment and tell me where you got the idea that I’m homophobic.

  419. tcd said,

    world is actually eating quite well and often far too much.

    actually I said “in poverty”, not starving.

    though your quote is clearly untrue, most of the world isn´t obese,a nd therefore isn´t eating far too much.

    as for th rest: brevity is the soul of wit, so noting the lack of brevity, I discounted the possibility of the latter, and went off to do something more interesting.

    when you can express a simple concept in less then a page (complex ones take more, but yours aren´t), get back to me,
    adios,
    tcd ;)

  420. artist said,

    tcd, true you used the word poverty, but then went on to speak of “3000 calories a day”, sounds like hunger to me eh?
    As for the rest of your toddle and squat. Most if not the vast majority of the planet is eating enough to exist and grow. Sure they may not have the time to spend sipping lattes and slurping noodles in Chinatown, but they are doing just fine.
    Unlike you, I do not view the world as groupings of angry and impoverished souls, seeking the messianic light of Marxism to rise them from their hells.
    But this is the role of the Marxist, who seems more into the fashionable side of “revolution” then making revolution. As we have seen in the last century marxism apes facism, and from the posts, such as yours and Nukite, the future does not look bright for the “Workers Movement” which is inhabited by
    middle class angst ridden idiots.
    At least tcd you do not fondle and mishandle words like petty-borgeorsie and Kitsch, instead you have chosen brevity, define if you wish, and then treat us to an example of your brevity.
    “Workers of the World” gotta make you laugh!

  421. tcd said,

    tcd, true you used the word poverty, but then went on to speak of “3000 calories a day”, sounds like hunger to me eh?

    perhaps you can’t see the connection between overpriced food and poverty even for those who aren’t starving.

    or perhaps you can;t see the connection between low supply and high prices

    or perhaps you think high production=high supply

    I await with baited breath your destruction of my not-so-complex, initially unspoken as I thought a “thinking an” could make the conection, seeing as you have reected the author of Das Kapital in favour of supporting bourgeois property relations.

    Unlike you, I do not view the world as groupings of angry and impoverished souls, seeking the messianic light of Marxism to rise them from their hells.

    I don;t think genuine marxism is messianic, but I live in one of the richest third world coutnries, and am middle class, and myself have gone days without eating, and for the vast majority here it’s worse than it is for me, and for the vast maority elsewhere it’s worse than it is for the majority here. So ultimately, I do not consider the “nothing to lsoe” claim to be the preserve of externally viewing whtie leftists, but rather, the harsh truth. The world as it exists today is not worth defending/

    the future does not look bright for the “Workers Movement” which is inhabited by
    middle class angst ridden idiots.

    you have decided I am angst ridden based on two posts. hmmm. it sounds actually is if you’re talkking to a younger version of yourself, without realising that today you’re equally as pathetic as you wsere int he days when you hitched your whiny narcisism to “marxism”.

    nah, I’ve been beaten, shot at, fought back, fucked older women with husbands,and am a member of a far left group with 1500 members, 60% of whom are workers, and 40% of whomw ork in factories, and that is y social circle. So personally I don’t have nay “angst” about my role int he world, just a drive for us, the good guys, to win, and for wankers like you to be left behind. oh and I speak 3 languages fluently and have lived in 2 different ocutnries, life experience hey!

    still please send me your latest peice of “art”,one day I may need osmething to wipe my ass with. :p

  422. Nuke Matgamna said,

    tdc: the only art we’ll get out of him are some rather, dare i say it, kitcsh landscape water colours hence the monica `artist’. It is a coded tribute to his hero.

    Anwyay, I’ve finished with this blog now it is full of right wing shits. Will: of course I’m going to the demo. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. p.s. get some therapy.

  423. Janine said,

    “Anwyay, I’ve finished with this blog now ”

    Best news I’ve heard all day.

  424. artist said,

    “just a drive for us, the good guys, to win, and for wankers like you to be left behind. oh and I speak 3 languages fluently and have lived in 2 different ocutnries, life experience hey!
    Thank you for so wonderfully sounding like Stalin. A third world Stalin, but a prick nonetheless.
    So the good guys win, and the wankedrs are left behind. Doesn’t sound like Marxism to me. Seems to be the problem with angst riddled muscle boys like you, this in the end is based on jealousy and the need to be above someone else. Good for you, sounds like it will be like most third world revolution, throw out the garbage, replace it with the same trash.
    Hopefully in the future Marxism will learn its lessons. Number 1 it is meassianic, 2) it will never work with human beings, we are far too interesting for the implied social engineering 3) The movement is filled with rancid puss such as yourself who base much of their thought process on Hating someone, whether they be Trots, Stalinists, Maoists, AWL, PL, CPL, Marxist Lenninists, SDS, etc. etc. You guys just don’t get along, and simply put hate each other. Over what? Usually semantics and a difference in opinion.
    I doubt you will ever be able to afford my art, thus using it as toilet wad would not be a good investment move on your part. But then again like the Nazis you have little regard for art which does not fit your agenda.
    “Workers of the World Snack!”

  425. tcd said,

    hmmm, “frothing at the mouth” and “emotionally driven responces” sounds mor elike yourself than me, my “friend. ;) you assume a lot from 3 psots on the internet, I think you have a lot of past traumas which you then project onto anonymous people on blogs.

    now, can you answer the simple questions about food prices, or not? or is concrete reality to mundane for the mind of a great (unknown) artist?

    and also, define messianic, please.

    gracias,
    tcd :)

  426. artist said,

    Hey tcd, I cannot answer your questions about food prices, I firstly have no idea of what you pay for food where you live. I also do not know if you purchase food from a supermarket or outdoor food stalls.
    I personally purchase my food from the local organic farmers, and have not seen a rise in their prices.
    As for the price of soya bean on the commodities markets I have not looked into that, maybe you have, thus share.
    As for concrete reality, havn’t heard any from you, so why muddy the waters.
    Regarding messianism, it is a concept which traces it mythical roots to both the bible and Far Eastern story telling, as well as many a lost nation in South and Central America. It is a belief that the world will be made perfect either by a messenger of God, or in its more modern forms by ideology. Marxism is a perfect blend of creating a society free of imperfections, the ubermench replacing God (Babel) working from a innate sense of what is truth.
    Both have failed to bring about the required goal. Humanity is just too interesting and complex for simple sedatives.
    “Dictatorship of the Prolitariat!”
    Briggado!

  427. tcd said,

    But all you show is that you do not know what marxism is, and that you most likely did not know what it it is even when you claimed to be a marxist. Marxism is materialist, and the concept of “perfection” is an idealistic concept, it does not exist. By “turning Hegel on his head”, Marx broke with this concept.

    As a marxist I believe that humanity can rationally organise with the aim of solving the problems we face today, not that allt he problems we face today will disappear with some kind of extra-human salvation. Is this difference hard to understand? I want all my friends and family, and everyone else’s, to be able to eat well, live in dignity, etc. Given that humanity generates enough wealth for this to be possible, there is no reason this can’t be so. This is based on a material fact and not a utopian wish: humanity did not always generate enough wealth for this be so. No country on its own produces enoough wealth for this be so, and therefore, socialism cannot exist only in one coutnry. If I was an idealsit, then I would surely argue that socialism can exist in one coutnry, as the mere act off adhering to marxism would give huamnity the strength to overcome material limtiation s. But I don’t believe that, because I’m a materialist, not an idealist, and my beliefs are rooted in reality.

    This is not the same as “perfection”, clearly: you probably (certainly in fact if you can afford to buy organic food) live a life free of material pvoerty, yet no-one would claim your life represents “perfection”. Likely, you also try to improve your life, and your ationally organise your life with this aim, but yet you don’t consider yourself to be trying acheive “perfection”. Yet, the idea that humans could co-operate to do this together, in synchronisation, and without one explotiing another, now that is “perfection”? I don’t think so, no, I think it’s the most basic form of rationality which we haven’t yet reached. Far, far from any form of “perfection”.

    Your misunderstanding of Marxism is also displayed, in one of the many times, in your criticism of “marxist attitudes to art”. You should read Marx and Engels destruction of Lasalle for the mortal sin of a playright, putting his own thoughts directly into his characters mouths. As Marx and Engels both recognised, to relegate culture to mere propaganda is pure philistinism. Marx was a huge admirer of Shakespeare for example, but Shakespeare was obviously an utlra-reactionary, whose plays primarily exist to vehemently oppose any opposition to ones king or the “chain of being”. But yet, a brillaint writer, who captured the moment he lived in in a truly dialectical fashion, hitting the reader on a personal and transcendental level and taking us to where he was. That is beauty, regardless of the political message.

    So, your argument that marxism is intolerant of art which “does not fit its agenda”, shows your own ignorance and nothing else. Nearly none of the marxists I know think this way. Perhaps you used to hang with stalinists or something. They aren’t marxists, and if you mthink they are, I challenge you to use Marx and Engels writings to show why. If you can’t,t hen you will yet again be revealing your base philistinism of equating appearances with essences.

    My reason for mocking your claim to be an artist, I explain therefore, is not that you are anti-marxist, rather it is that you are a philistine. If your role on a blog is purely self-indulgent, whiny and self-referential, i.e. a masturbatory exercise whereby you attempt to come to terms with own self-doubt via scorning other people, then I would hate to see what your art is like!

    Moving onto food prices: if you don’t know that on a global level food prices (and gas prices) are underlying an inflationary crisis impoverishing the working and middle classes in most of the world including the west, where employment, inflation and industrial action have all risen sharply in powers such as Spain, the US, Britain and Germany, due to the effect of inflaion ont he wages of the working class, then I am afraid, my friend, you are no more in a position to speak to me about the stupidity of wishing to transcend capitalism, than you are in a position to talk to me about culture or your vulgar charicature of “marxism”: because you simply don’t know the reality of capitalism for most people.

    In fact, you really don’t know shit about anything, do you?

  428. artist said,

    thank you Tcd, sounded rational, at least until you got to your hysterical ending. but let us forget for a moment your foray in tantrum land.
    Sorry buddy, your take on art is sophmoric and to base contemporary Marxism on Karl and his rich buddy Engel’s view of 19th century theatre is both inane and anachronistic.
    Back in my Marxist days, sure call it Stalinist if you wish, I had a crush on Xhosa, the Albianian Marxist leader, who took a country that had been self-sufficient up to that time, and turned it into a desert.
    Back to Kultur. Marx was certainly no maven of the arts, and wrote very little about it, so to quote one thing he wrote about a playwrite is silly.
    The only measure of Marxism that we have is its short history in power, and the groupings, and shit are there ever a hell of lot of Marxist groups, how they act, what they say and who they hate.
    Back when I was in University, in Toronto, a group of us radical types went to see Straw Dogs. Pekinpah was praised for his use of blood to depict the reality of violence. he was cool, hip and acceptable.
    As for the art world, I associate the word “kitsch” with the arts, because the term was first coined to describe a type of art which was considered, “lower” both in its aesthetics, thought process and non-agenda. Interestingly the most kitsch art was produced by the Russians and the Chinese. Who had a tendency to place huge sickles in the tight fisted muscular armed grasp of a strong jawed female, or male. While in Europe, anything that did not smack of suffering was deemed frivilous and thus “kitsch”. How this fits into the Marxist world of pointing fingers at those you disagree with and yes HATE is something that Nukie never answered. Nor have you.
    As for “perfection” and “messianism”? Just reading this forum leads me to believe that the thought of Marxists banding and working together is a messianic illusion and dream.
    Here you guys are on this forum, pummeling each other with some very disturbing language. Calling each other morons, when in essence that may only disagree about semantics.
    Mrxism is beautiful on paper, the problem with Marxism manifests itself when mixed with human beings. It is very difficult to social engineer a human being. Sure you can control many, but like yourselves, there is always going to be a bad egg.
    For example. You guys live in England at least most of you. You are sitting at your computers, enjoying all the material possesions that you crave, well fed, well cared for, yet you are angry. Why? Because someone else isn’t living as well as you are? Do you really expect that all people will be equal? Is this what you really want or believe? Tcd, you obviously do not see me as equal to you, and under a Marxist regime, unless I change my ways, I become a danger!

    to show the how disengenuous your beliefs are, you wrote,
    “My reason for mocking your claim to be an artist, I explain therefore, is not that you are anti-marxist, rather it is that you are a philistine. If your role on a blog is purely self-indulgent, whiny and self-referential, i.e. a masturbatory exercise whereby you attempt to come to terms with own self-doubt via scorning other people, then I would hate to see what your art is like!

    And this is what it comes down to. You claim I am a phillistine, does this make me a Palestinian? What the hell does phillistine mean, at least in your neck of the woods. As for my self-doubt? Sorry my friend, but I appreciate that I was born in a country, Canada, that was rich, civilized, did not kill off its leaders, nor seek to force human individuality down. Do I wish everyone on the planet ate well, sure I do. Do I think Marxism will teach people to work together, or wipe out basic human corruption, NOT A CHANCE.
    In fact I believe that the gov’t sucks at running things. Too much beauracy, too much nepotism, too much bitter in-office battles, back biting, over taxation and mismanagement of public funds.
    I am not a wealthy man, by monetary standards, but I do not like the idea of giving my money to a guy like you, armed with ideology and alot of piss and hatred, to spend my money wisely.
    I support freedom, no I am not a libertarian or anarchist, but I understand the concept of balance, and when the Marxist take control everything goes out of whack and leans too much to one side. Like all our bodies, when the body and soul are out of balance, you suffer from a bad back and sore neck.
    As for our dialogue of sorts, I find you to be a man of Hate, hiding behind a veneer of ideological self-righteousness. I come here to debate, it is more fun than debating those who agree with you, I suggest that is why you answer my “whiney…masturbatory exercise.
    In finishing, I suspect you have used the word “mastebatory” many times when debating in your past. think about it, why does this role off your typing fingers so easity…..are you projecting.
    Now piss off my friend.

  429. david broder said,

    rumour has it, John Rees and Lindsey G have resigned from the Left Alternative leadership and the SWP are going to junk it

    http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/rees-and-german-resign-from-left-alternative-leadership/

  430. modernity said,

    I’ll bet that SWP are silent until they’ve been told what to say?

    where’s JohnG?

  431. tcd said,

    artist:

    thank you Tcd, sounded rational, at least until you got to your hysterical ending. but let us forget for a moment your foray in tantrum land.
    Sorry buddy, your take on art is sophmoric and to base contemporary Marxism on Karl and his rich buddy Engel’s view of 19th century theatre is both inane and anachronistic.
    Back in my Marxist days, sure call it Stalinist if you wish, I had a crush on Xhosa, the Albianian Marxist leader, who took a country that had been self-sufficient up to that time, and turned it into a desert.

    yes, but no marxist would have a crush on bureaucrat who believes in “socialism in one ocuntry”, so I’m sorry, you’ve switched from being the parody of marxism, to now claiming that all of us who call ourselves marxists are that, without ever managing to understand the basic principles of marxism.

    trotsky wrote very niccely about this in “Their Morals And Ours”, if you like debate and genuine intellectuals, I recommend you read it.

    Back to Kultur. Marx was certainly no maven of the arts, and wrote very little about it, so to quote one thing he wrote about a playwrite is silly.

    Actually I quoted what he wrote about two playwrites. I don’t find it silly, I think it;s more silly to claim you know what marxism says about art, when you don’t know or care what Marx himself said.

    The only measure of Marxism that we have is its short history in power, and the groupings, and shit are there ever a hell of lot of Marxist groups, how they act, what they say and who they hate.

    it’s convenient for you to say that this is the “only measure of marxism”. I repeat. I’m a trotskyist, and active trotskyist in a country where stalinists – of the kind you used to actively support (“have a crush on” as you put it), have killed us in the name of stageist development alongside a section of the national bourgeoisie.

    When they are killing us in a revolutionary crisis, it sugests to me that we represent fundamentally different things. That our ideologies are opposed. So we can’t both be marxists. My claim that Stalinism is not real marxism is not idle, We fight them int he streets and we fight them to the death. Because there is a fundamental difference.

    Lie I said, fi you want to claim that Marxism can be judged by Stalinism, use Marx to show how Stalinism stands in this tradition.

    As for the art world, I associate the word “kitsch” with the arts, because the term was first coined to describe a type of art which was considered, “lower” both in its aesthetics, thought process and non-agenda. Interestingly the most kitsch art was produced by the Russians and the Chinese. Who had a tendency to place huge sickles in the tight fisted muscular armed grasp of a strong jawed female, or male. While in Europe, anything that did not smack of suffering was deemed frivilous and thus “kitsch”. How this fits into the Marxist world of pointing fingers at those you disagree with and yes HATE is something that Nukie never answered. Nor have you.
    As for “perfection” and “messianism”? Just reading this forum leads me to believe that the thought of Marxists banding and working together is a messianic illusion and dream.

    Firslty, “Nuke Matgamna” doesn’t care about the word kitsch, he thinks it is a stupid word, he only used it to parody Sean Matgamna, the Irish Marxist. As he already said in this thread.

    I think “perfection” is a pretty worthless concept. What is it? I don’t know, something lacking noting, something wiith no end, all-encompassing but holding no flaws, i.e., God, or Hegel’s “circle” to which the spiral of history was unravelling (which itself oculd not be perfect if it needed to reveal itself to itself through history in order ot realise its own perfection). In any case, by “turning Hegel on his head”, MArx defenestrated this concept.

    Messianism? In Marxist temrs, it;s something we call those who think that in their current form they represent the leadership of the working class,a nd that the owrking class will have to come over to them, eventually, and that their ismply by building themselves they are de facto building the class.

    Here you guys are on this forum, pummeling each other with some very disturbing language. Calling each other morons, when in essence that may only disagree about semantics.

    It’s not true that we only disagree over semantics. There is also no “you guys” unfortunately, however much you may rely on this same tiresome method of blaming me for the actions of any fool whoc laims to be a marxist (tip, anyone can do it. Hugo Chavez claims to be a marxist. yet he believes in marxism with private proeprty and bosses. go figure. next time he fucks up do I get the blame too?)

    Mrxism is beautiful on paper, the problem with Marxism manifests itself when mixed with human beings. It is very difficult to social engineer a human being.

    Again, this is your own stalinist heritage showing. What do you mean by “socially engineer”? MArx said that the emancipation of the working class can only be carried out by the working class itself”.

    Sure, I believe int he possibility of educating people who do not currently know the obective reality about the social system they live under, and I believe that this way, along with inevitable changes in the material conditions, and along with victories, you can convince enough supporters to join a mass party. ducating people is “social engineering”? I suppose you reject teaching of maths, literature, philosophy and science as “social engineering” too, because all aim for someone hwo knows something to raise those hwo currently do not know it, above their current intellectual level.

    This is avery post-modernist, ashamed to have the privelege to be intelelctual, attitude. There is no blame in where you were born. If you have the privelege to be middle class and educated, then you have a powerful tool and should use it to benefit those hwo wer enot so lucky, You shouldn’t guiltily hide away,wishing history woulld just leave you lone with your books, as Trotsky said. History won’t leave you alone, history will cause millions of people to die of hunger, in wars against fellow workers, of repression at home. But because you wwere too ashamed “what could I, a priveleged middle class kid, possibly tell a worker”, you jsut buried your head and let all this shit happen around you, even though you knew it was irrational and pointless and objectively could be ended if only people knew so?

    And yes, the worker can also teach you things. This is the concept of the fusion of the banguard with the labour movement which Lenin advanced.

    So no, I don;t see what you mean by social engineering, People can be taught. Evidence of this is around you every day. How do you manage not to go to war or murder based on nationality or steal? Because you were educated not to, and because the material conditions exist for you to not need to. Are other humans not cpabale of reaching your level of civilisaiton then? Or do you actually deep down think we are” inferior”, and that your current civilised characteristics are based not on education and material basis, but inherent qualities?

    Sure you can control many, but like yourselves, there is always going to be a bad egg.
    For example. You guys live in England at least most of you. You are sitting at your computers, enjoying all the material possesions that you crave, well fed, well cared for, yet you are angry. Why? Because someone else isn’t living as well as you are? Do you really expect that all people will be equal? Is this what you really want or believe? Tcd, you obviously do not see me as equal to you, and under a Marxist regime, unless I change my ways, I become a danger!

    I think you have as much capability as anyone, but you’ve chosen to act like an asshole in this thread, for your own reasons. (at least you were earlier, although confronted with a mirror of your own behaviour, you now seem to be more open. which is good).

    to show the how disengenuous your beliefs are, you wrote,
    “My reason for mocking your claim to be an artist, I explain therefore, is not that you are anti-marxist, rather it is that you are a philistine. If your role on a blog is purely self-indulgent, whiny and self-referential, i.e. a masturbatory exercise whereby you attempt to come to terms with own self-doubt via scorning other people, then I would hate to see what your art is like!

    And this is what it comes down to. You claim I am a phillistine, does this make me a Palestinian? What the hell does phillistine mean, at least in your neck of the woods.

    I used it in this case to describe a person with a shallow understanding of the particualr cutlural or philosophical works they are pretending to dismiss with authority. This seemed to be the case according to your mocking approach to “marxism”, based on your own failings as a “marxist” (I honestly cannot imagine myself worshhiping third world dictators, so fro you to equate me with your early self is wrong in every sense).

    However, I may have matched my own description of philsitine with my dismisasal of your art without knowing. if so I apologise.

    As for my self-doubt? Sorry my friend, but I appreciate that I was born in a country, Canada, that was rich, civilized, did not kill off its leaders, nor seek to force human individuality down. Do I wish everyone on the planet ate well, sure I do. Do I think Marxism will teach people to work together, or wipe out basic human corruption, NOT A CHANCE

    well you can see my arguments on this above.

    Only a few centuries ago, your lifestyle today would have been impossible to imagine for anyone. Literally impossible. but today it exists. And you have bourgeois revolutionaries.to thank for that. Event hey couldn’t imagine what would come after them, but they understood that the historical process meant resolving the contradictions placed in front of them.

    The tragedy of post-modernism is the completely reactionary refusal to see beyond such contradictions, i.e.,t he end of history, a self-fulfiflling prophecy, the denial of human ability to carry out the obvious, the necessarry and the rational. Somthing which, because revolutioanries centuries ago believed in, you today live in a way far superior to anything they could ever have imagined.

    In fact I believe that the gov’t sucks at running things. Too much beauracy, too much nepotism, too much bitter in-office battles, back biting, over taxation and mismanagement of public funds.

    Taxation under a workers state would be eliminated for workers and fall substantially for the petit-bourgeoisie, as currently it;s the masses who pay taxes so that the borugeosiie don;t have to. Expropriation of big capital and the rational use of the worlds resources to meet human demand would very much lower the tax burden I think ;)

    AS for bureaucracy, it’s an inevitable part of capitalism, do you want to transcend it or not? And when we the troskyists are ont he barricades against the bureaucracy, wose side will you be on? Because the capitalists will be on theirs, inf act, in every real life struggle they already are. But maybe you will just dismiss us equally because we;re all marxists :D

    I am not a wealthy man, by monetary standards, but I do not like the idea of giving my money to a guy like you, armed with ideology and alot of piss and hatred, to spend my money wisely.

    if you ar enot a wealthy man, then why would you have to give your money to me? I thinkt hat with democratic control of the currently existing productive capabilities of capitalism, humanity could do without taking your savings. You might even get richer.

    I support freedom, no I am not a libertarian or anarchist, but I understand the concept of balance, and when the Marxist take control everything goes out of whack and leans too much to one side. Like all our bodies, when the body and soul are out of balance, you suffer from a bad back and sore neck.

    I support freedom too, but I support it for everyone.

    As for our dialogue of sorts, I find you to be a man of Hate, hiding behind a veneer of ideological self-righteousness. I come here to debate, it is more fun than debating those who agree with you,

    you sound like a christian. you were the one doing the hating, I responded to you int he same way, what do you expect wheny out alk shit about marxists, in fact assuming that you have the right to lecture everyone about what a disaster we all are? you expect no-one to question you back about what gives you the superiority to say this? you expect no-one to ask you what you know about the very same “marxism” which you claim to be able to laugh at us for fighting for?

    As it stands I am nto really a man of hate at all, I just got pissed off with your attitude. Notice that I didn;t “hate” anyone lese int he thread. also, it;s very unlikely that I “hate” you, if I did I think I would be sending a lot more itme on this don;t you?

    I suggest that is why you answer my “whiney…masturbatory exercise.
    In finishing, I suspect you have used the word “mastebatory” many times when debating in your past. think about it, why does this role off your typing fingers so easity…..are you projecting.

    actually, I recently moved home and my girlfriend is a long way wawya. however I can say that intelelctually, I;m not a maturbator, I seek solutions and answers and clairty, and I also take action. None of this initially seemed like yourself. After I gave you some good old fashioned modernist treatment though, your attitude seems to have improved, so a happy story maybe. :p

    Also I very rarely use the phrase, actually I say things when I genuinely mean them, nto jsut for effect, and yes, your posts did hoenstly appear to be maturbatory.

  432. artist said,

    Hey Tcd, now that was a tad more civilized, your last post.
    I do not have the time, experiencing jet-lag, nor the inclination to reply to the many many points you made.
    Sorry but I do not see Trotskyism as a means of sustaining production. Someone has to be taxed I believe you called them the petit boergoisie. Unlike you I have great respect for those who come up with a good idea and build up a business. I have even more repect for them if they provide many good folks with fair paying jobs, safe working conditions and dignity.
    You have called me a former Stalinist, I find that cute. Thus the problem, as long as you guys are busy calling each other Stalinists, Maoists, Trots and dogs, Marxism will continue to be a bad joke.
    As long as you say that you are willing to take to the streets to kill Stalinists then you are no better than those that you dispise.
    But this is your predicament, in your attempt to build a glorious and perfect Marxist society, you are incapable of dealing with those who have different ideas.
    So give me the marketplace of ideas, rather than the mind numbing dictatorship of the proletariat, whether they be Stalinists or Trots.

  433. tcd said,

    As long as you say that you are willing to take to the streets to kill Stalinists then you are no better than those that you dispise.

    now this is infantile. do you equate someone fighting oppression with the oppressor who fights back, jsut because both are fighting? in this case, on the one hand you talk about loving freedom, and on the other, you condemn anyone who fights for it as “as bad as the stalinists”.

  434. artist said,

    tcd, your last post is confusing, but so is Marxism and its many appendages.
    If you feel the need to go out and kill Stalinists, please confine your violence to Stalinists and do not injure any hard working bystanders, who wish no part in your macho urge to save the world.
    Be well and have a Happy New Year!
    Peace.

  435. tcd said,

    I was not referring to fighting stalinists in the streets in some kind of antifa sense. I was referring to the context of a revolution where stalinists are trying to establish a bureaucratic dictatorship over the working class.

    as for marxism being confusing: yes ,c learly for someone who managed to take the simple concept of opposing all oppression and exploitation, andtwisted it to support a thirdworlddictatorship,marxism is obviously neyomd theirrasp. but for anyone who can understand the simple concept of organising society for the benefit of the majority, whereby everyone shares in the wealth society produces, it is not confusing.

    true, marxism also operates on a more advanced economic and philosopical level in order to clarify the deliebrately confusing justifications for injustice which are spread by the ruling lcass idealogues, but the work of the great marxists did not add to confusion, but rather confronted it, and explained the reality.

    of course you really have to have some experience of the reality that Marx was talking about,the reality of being oppressed and exploited, in order to get it, you need to base your poltiics ont he real struggles of real workers. otherwise you just end up in nefarious petty-bourgeois sects justifying hte unjustifiable, like you did…and then more often than not you end up embitteed in middle age, projecting your youthful idiocy onto genuine marxists who are in organisations based on and made up of vanguard workers.

  436. tcd said,

    I was not referring to fighting stalinists in the streets in some kind of antifa sense. I was referring to the context of a revolution where stalinists are trying to establish a bureaucratic dictatorship over the working class.

    as for marxism being confusing: yes ,clearly for someone who managed to take the simple concept of opposing all oppression and exploitation, and twisted it to support a third world dictatorship,marxism is obviously beyond their grasp. but for anyone who can understand the simple concept of organising society for the benefit of the majority, whereby everyone shares in the wealth society produces, it is not confusing.

    true, marxism also operates on a more advanced economic and philosopical level in order to clarify the deliebrately confusing justifications for injustice which are spread by the ruling lcass idealogues, but the work of the great marxists did not add to confusion, but rather confronted it, and explained the reality.

    of course you really have to have some experience of the reality that Marx was talking about,the reality of being oppressed and exploited, in order to get it, you need to base your poltiics ont he real struggles of real workers. otherwise you just end up in nefarious petty-bourgeois sects justifying hte unjustifiable, like you did…and then more often than not you end up embitteed in middle age, projecting your youthful idiocy onto genuine marxists who are in organisations based on and made up of vanguard workers.

  437. artist said,

    Hey tcd, your last post was at best lame.

    Marxism only becomes confusing when the human being becomes involved. On paper it seems fine, but when put into the hands of ideologues and grazing angst ridden sheep it becomes a mess.
    For example your abject hatred for Stalinists in the name of some aryan pure worker. Both do not actually exist, it is but a sub text to the greater comedy which is Marxism.
    Not even Marx experienced the life of a worker in a factory or in the field.
    We share a fundamental difference of what the human being is.
    You of course wish to play Yacub the Scientist and social engineer a NEW HUMAN! I do not.
    I find the human being to be wonderfully confusing, rarely doing what is expect of him/her, nor following the plan.
    whereas you wish equality for all beings, I wish opportunity. I do not believe that all humans are equal nor attempt to be, what I do wish for is the fairest playing field of opportunities possible.
    Marxism wants to follow a plan, which most Marxists argue passionately amoungst themselves about. YOu are willing to kill Stalinists because they do not follow the true Marxism, TCD you sound very religious, Marxism has always been hampered by the human need for a messiah or messianic principle.
    Now light some candles to your Cze poster and beg for enlightenment.

  438. visitor said,

    Is this what’s Left? Jaysus!!!!!

  439. Democratic Centralism in Action « Thinking Red and Black said,

    [...] in the hands of the Central committee and Full-timers, editors decide what goes into print and what stays out, effectively controlling what the party members read, and so think. The paper will always present [...]

  440. Sacha Ismail said,

    I came across this and was reminded of the ludicrous rumour that circulated and may still be circulating (whether David circulated it himself I don’t know) David was expelled from the AWL, when in fact he resigned, out of the blue, without trying to fight for his views or even provide a real explanation. What a joke…

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