Matgamna on the SWP and Islam

November 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm (AWL, islamism, Jim D, Marxism, populism, religion, socialism, stalinism, strange situations, SWP, terror, thuggery, trotskyism, truth)

More classic Marxist analysis from Sean; btw the last two sentences are meant as criticism, not approval:

The “Never On A Sunday” left

The SWP’s attitude to Islam is possible only because they themselves have a quasi-religious outlook which they mistakenly think is Marxist and “dialectical”.

They live in a hazy mental world where everything is essentially in flux; where “Revolution” is imminent; where things are therefore never just what they are; where everything solid dissolves into air. Political Islam is only a transient form of something else, the unfolding “Revolution”. Islamic reaction does not matter because the socialist world revolution will soon clear everything up. It is not “really” reactionary because “objectively” it is part of something progressive, namely “revolutionary” opposition to “US and British imperialism”. It is not a threat to anyone because it cannot last long.

“After Hitler, our turn”, was how the complaisant Communist Party of Germany expressed a similar outlook over 70 years ago. “After the Islamists, our turn”?

History is a revolutionary roller-coaster. Realities dissolve into a pseudo-dialectical flurry.

All sorts of accommodations are licensed, because the thing accommodated to is not fully real. Thus their “revolutionary” socialist politics dissolve into a pseudo-historical mysticism which is very much like a religious belief in a godlike spirit of History which will “take care” of everything for us.

But in fact Islam is real – an immensely oppressive reality for many people in Muslim societies and communities, and especially for those of them who disagree to one degree or another. It is worth recalling that most of the left supported, for its “anti-imperialism”, the comprehensively reactionary Islamic regime installed in Iran by the priest-led revolution – it was a revolution, and a profound one – of 1979. The priests are still in power 23 years later.

In Never on a Sunday, a once-famous movie made by an American refugee from McCarthyism, Jules Dassin, the heroine is Ilia, an earthy, primitive, whimsical, ignorant, wonderful creature, who makes a living fucking sailors in the Athens port of Piraeus. She loves the ancient Greek tragedies. The hero of the film sits with her in the amphitheatre as Medea, the wronged wife, slaughters her own children for revenge against their father, Jason. Ilia laughs her head off at the tragic events unfolding before her.

Why is she laughing, he asks? She knows it isn’t real. It isn’t really happening, she tells him. The children aren’t really dead. When the play is over they will “all go to the seaside”.

Such a way of looking at contemporary history, with an uncomprehending numb indifference rooted in the belief that horrors are not real horrors, is to rational socialism what the religious belief that nothing matters because everything will be made right in the afterlife is to a this-world, humanity-centred philosophy of life. It was at the heart of much 20th century socialist experience, for example of the attitude which people who should have known better took to Stalinism, and not only to Stalinism.

For Marxist socialists in Britain who have to combine defence of Muslim people from racists and scapegoaters with implacable hostility to Islam, the old Catholic tag offers guidance: love the sinner, hate the sin!

Defend Muslim people, fight Islam! Understand that political Islam is the enemy of everything that socialists stand for! Don’t try to relate to the “Muslim community”, but to the Muslim working class and to the “Muslim” secularists. Work to split the “Muslim community”; help organise the ex-Muslims, the insurgent women and the socialists within the “Muslim community”!

For Marxists there is no such thing as agitation that does not enlighten and educate the working class about the system as a whole. But if “building the party” is the goal, then almost any agitation that attracts interest can make sense. “Action” becomes all-important, irrespective of the conditions, and almost irrespective of what action.

Read the rest here

18 Comments

  1. Blessed are the Cheese makers said,

    `Work to split the “Muslim community”; help organise the ex-Muslims, the insurgent women and the socialists within the “Muslim community”!’

    The only people likely to get split are a bunch of self-righteous zionist zealots stirring up mischief in Muslim communities.

  2. Breaking News said,

    What a tedious chappie Matagamna is with his sordid little pro-imperialist, zionist games posing as radicalism. Such a formal and stupid thinker. Such a political gotesque complete with obsequious sidekick too. All muslims are Islamists, all jews are zionists, all anti-zionists are anti-semites. This is the kind of formal thinking you’d get at a seance and its all based on an appeal to rotten emotion.

  3. Steve said,

    “the comprehensively reactionary Islamic regime installed in Iran by the priest-led revolution”

    I think you will find that was a ‘popular’ revolt against the tryanny of imperialist backed barbarism. Though imperialist backed barbarity seems to be very much in vogue among AWL’ers.

    Really just throwing in the odd Marxist jargon -solid melts into air, does not make for Marxist analysis. Anymore than me saying Hey Nonny Nonny makes me Shakespearean.

    Garbage imperialist apologetic ‘analysis’.

  4. Clive said,

    So it wasn’t comprehensively reactionary?

    Of course it was a ‘popular revolt’, and it was against a barbarous regime. But, dear me, this is your ‘Marxist’ alternative analysis, is it?

  5. Lobby Ludd said,

    I thought that ‘read the rest here’ at the end of the post meant that there might be something that fleshed out the initial caricature. There wasn’t , that was it. Thanks for nothing.

    Perhaps the AWL could learn something from the WRP – best to retire your ‘leading comrade’ before your ‘leading comrade’ retires you. Be kind, do the right thing, you’ll probably survive the embarrassment.

  6. David D. said,

    Ha, ha. Hit a few “anti-imperialist” nerves, eh?

  7. Doug said,

    How many people lost the will to live after a few paragraphs?

    • skidmarx said,

      Well I could live with “All sorts of accommodations are licensed,” but when I clicked on the link and got as far as the post-Stalinist “fetish party” my mnd couldn’t take any more of a beating.

  8. Steve said,

    Clive,

    I don’t know why you couldn’t work out the point of my comment.
    I copied a quote from the article that claimed the revolution was “Islamic regime installed in Iran by the priest-led revolution”, which is putting a spin on events in my opinion.
    I was pointing out that it was a popular revolt against imperialist barbarism. If imperialist barbarism creates popular reactionary Islamic movements as a negation, maybe you lot should join us on the ‘anti imperialist’ side of the fence. Instead of cheerleading imperialist barbarism.

  9. Erica Blair said,

    ‘Read the rest here’

    I don’t think I’ll bother.

  10. Scratch said,

    The shouting to analysis ratio in the comments is rather telling.

    Anyone actually want to y’know, critique Mr Matgamna’s position?

  11. jim denham said,

    “Perhaps the AWL could learn something from the WRP – best to retire your ‘leading comrade’ before your ‘leading comrade’ retires you. Be kind, do the right thing, you’ll probably survive the embarrassment”: Lobby, you are of course free to disagree with Sean on anything. But to suggest that he is remotely comparable to the WRP leader Gerry Healy – a thug, bully and rapist – is out of order. Lobby, You owe Sean an apology. And a grovelling one at that.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      Since I have not called Matgamna ‘a thug, bully and rapist’ I don’t think an apology is necessary. That I do not like the reverence shown to vapidity from ‘leading comrades’ is all. I believe it is destructive and should not be tolerated. The allusion is to the misplaced belief that somehow the latest pronouncement from a ‘leading comrade’ is of value, not to his personality.

      That’s as ‘grovelling’ as it’s going to get.

      • Martin Ohr said,

        Lobby Ludd, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand the way a revolutionary group works. Matgamna is a ‘leading comrade’ because his articles have value- not the other way round

  12. Erica Blair said,

    Martin Ohr, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand the way a revolutionary group works. Matgamna is a ‘leading comrade’ to his dwindling herd of members because he is the leader -not because his articles have value, they don’t.

    See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BChrerprinzip

  13. Lobby Ludd said,

    “Lobby Ludd, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand the way a revolutionary group works. Matgamna is a ‘leading comrade’ because his articles have value- not the other way round.”

    Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

    Just a little Friday teaser – name a revolutionary group whose leadership has significantly changed by means other than split or expulsion. (No, I don’t have an answer.)

  14. charliethechulo said,

    Lobby: the (US – nothing to do with the UK organisation of the same name) SWP leader James P. Cannon retired and handed over to Jack Barnes without a faction fight or split. But I do admit that this is the exception rather than the rule.

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