“Dear Comrade Harman”

November 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm (AWL, Jim D, left, Middle East, political groups, SWP, trotskyism, truth)

The sudden passing of Chris Harman (in Cairo – presumably continuing the SWP’s sucking up to the clerical fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood), means that there is now no one left who has personal recollection of the IS/Socialist Review tradition of third campism. Harman, of course, played a leading role in betraying that tradition. The most appropriate memorial to this supple-spined apparatchik must be this, from 2007:

Dear comrade Harman,
I know you of old and hope, or would like to believe, that you still hold to the basic socialist ideas which you and I shared in the past.

See also: Open Letter to an IS Leader, August 2004: From the “IS Tradition” to Respect; and more on Respect.

I wrote you a first open letter in June 2004 (Solidarity 3/54) urging you to register that the Respect turn was a betrayal of all that was good about the political tradition you used to hold to.

The rift between your organisation, the SWP, and George Galloway should say a great deal to you, as to me, about the nature of the alliance which the SWP and Galloway have had for the last five years. Stop and think for a moment about the astonishing degradation of your organisation.

What have you now fallen out about? Has your SWP Central Committee belatedly understood that your association with Galloway is demeaning and befouling? Do you now find yourselves suddenly realising what you have got into, with the shock of someone who wakes up to the realisation that he has been sleep-walked into a disease-ridden stream of sewage? Have you suddenly realised whom you’ve been holding hands with?

With a man who was for a decade the ally in Britain for the fascistic Ba’thist dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Who has publicly admitted to promiscuously taking money for his political activities from a wide range of Arab and Islamic governments, from successive Pakistani administrations through the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia. Of whom the parliamentary inquiry report in July this year said “it is reasonable to presume that what the documents [published in the Daily Telegraph in 2003] say is true” and “that some of his activities in support of the Iraqi regime may have been financed through an oil-related mechanism”?

No, none of that is news to you. You have known all that about Galloway at least as well as we did, possibly better. Why have the SWP and Galloway suddenly fallen out, then?

It seems that Galloway wants to go deeper into the ethnic-sectarian politics that have given its peculiar political flavour and odour to Respect, and that the SWP has not entirely abandoned concerns to influence the labour movement.

Galloway has objected to the concentration of Respect resources on the Organising for Fighting Unions initiative and on having a presence on the Pride march.

Your SWP colleague John Rees retorts that “the constant adaptation to what are referred to as ‘community leaders’ in Tower Hamlets is lowering the level of politics and making us vulnerable to the attacks and pressures brought on us by New Labour. It is alienating us not only from the white working class but also from the more radical sections of the Bengali community, both secular and Muslim, who feel that Respect is becoming the party of a narrow and conservative trend in the area”. Why has it taken him – or you – four years to realise that?

Galloway, it seems, also objects to Respect being heavily controlled by the SWP machine. He claims that the SWP in Respect has behaved as we saw you behave in the Socialist Alliance and in other fields where your organisation operates. I don’t have independent knowledge of the internal affairs of Respect; but I do know that SWP machine control – for example, steamrollering Respect conference to reject motions in favour of secularism which only a few years ago would have been uncontentious in any left-wing meeting – has on all the big issues served Galloway’s politics, not the socialist ideas which you came into politics with.

Think about it. The leaders of the SWP have made enormous ideological and political concessions to Galloway and the communalist and sectarian forces who make up Galloway’s “constituency”, in and around Respect.

You have, as John Rees now points out, four years late, allied with Muslim “community leaders”, businessmen who have little in common with socialism.

You have appealed for votes on the basis that Respect’s candidates are the best “fighters for Muslims”.

You have supported the forces of bigotry and social regression, in demanding the suppression of the Danish cartoons of September 2005, which became the target of Islamic clerical-fascist muscle-flexing as not so long ago certain images of Jesus Christ were targeted by Christian bigots (remember the court case in 1977, when Gay News was found guilty of blasphemy?).

Your SWP Central Committee colleague Alex Callinicos, whose ability to write “Marxist” rationalisations of almost anything you must know well by now and perhaps privately despise, has retrospectively repudiated the the SWP’s earlier, better self, for having supported Salman Rushdie against the Islamist bigots who wanted to shed his blood for writing with “disrespect” of Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses (Socialist Worker, 11 February 2006).

But then, under your own editorship, Socialist Worker tried to excuse the Taliban’s treatment of Afghan women (1 October 2001)!

Last Sunday, 7 October, you gave the official endorsement of Respect to the “Al Quds day” demonstration called by Islamists in London to continue a tradition inaugurated by Ayatollah Khomeiny in 1979 and sponsored by the Iranian government since then.

Your press has limited itself to the mildest criticisms of the Ahmedinejad regime in Iran, and enthusiastically welcomed the coup by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. You have marched with the slogan “We are all Hezbollah”.

You had your student members join the Federation of Student Islamic Societies in walking out in protest when an Iraqi socialist feminist addressed the National Union of Students conference.

In the unions, your members have lined up again and again with officials who are left-wing in words but not in action, in the cause of trying to entice them into Respect or at least onto the platforms of Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism, and similar.

The SWP has done all this in tandem with Galloway – only to get slapped and rebuked by him, now that Respect has lost momentum and gone into unmistakable decline.

Galloway may well be angling to get the rump Communist Party of Britain into Respect, to give him more solid backing for his Stalinistic politics; his next step after that could be to dump the SWP altogether, leaving him with the Respect name and the CPB’s assets such as the Morning Star. And yet the SWP is still in retreat.

The entire Respect episode was, is, and, if it continues, will be a sordid political manoeuvre in which the SWP leaders, with the casual indifference of a dog raising his hind leg against a lamp-post, has (to put it in basic English, so you will understand me) pissed on secularism, on international working-class solidarity, on liberalism in the good sense (opposition to religious bigotry and defence of civil, social, and intellectual freedom), and most of all, perhaps, on rational socialist politics.

This whole foul chapter of political adventurism grew, first in the heads of the SWP leaders, out of the anti-war movement – out of your desire on any terms to turn that movement into solid ongoing “assets” for your organisation. In pursuit of that goal, the SWP pumped up the Muslim Association of Britain (British offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood: prior to the SWP’s sponsorship, a small and frail group), and had an MAB leader running as a Respect candidate although he openly avowed that “his religion” taught him that there “would always be rich and poor”.

Now you are less concerned, perhaps, with conciliating Galloway and his allies. Why? Because you know that with Britain’s progressive withdrawal from Iraq, the rump “anti-war movement” is winding to its end? Because you want to try to cash in some of your “winnings”, and make a tactical retreat from the “excesses” of “Islamicising” over the last five years?

You must realise that the SWP has gained very little in terms of what matters to you most – recruits, “building the SWP”. You know that inside Respect, it hasn’t been the SWP winning over Muslim youth drawn in by Galloway, but Galloway winning over former SWP organisers, members, and sympathisers. Even inside the SWP, the SWP Central Committee’s efforts to put up a firm front against Galloway at first elicited opposition from members “soft” on Galloway, more internal opposition than the SWP has seen for many years.

From where AWL stands it looks as if the SWP has had only a derisorily small level of recruitment of young (or any) people of Muslim background, and that a large segment of the SWP and SWP periphery are bewildered and demoralised.

Even in narrow terms of SWP “gate receipts”, the whole exercise has been a grotesque series of ideological and political self-betrayals and self-disavowals which have produced none of the political blood-money you thought to gain.

But you can claim “revolutionary virtue” for opposing the Iraq war? None of the things the SWP has done in the last four years, which can all be summed up in the one word “Respect”, were a necessary part of opposing the war. AWL opposed the war – but we have also bitterly opposed most of what the SWP and its allies have done since the invasion of Iraq.

To oppose the war and to fight Blair and Bush, it was not necessary to turn yourselves into “reactionary anti-imperialists”, the “anti-imperialist” equivalent of the “reactionary socialists” whom Marx and Engels denounced in the Communist Manifesto.

It was not necessary – indeed, it was discrediting, counter-productive, self-destructive – to back the sectarian, clerical-fascist “resistance” in Iraq, who are the mortal enemies of the renascent labour movement there, of all civil liberties, and of all women in the Iraqi state.

It was not necessary to ally with Galloway, or with the MAB. It was not necessary, it was self-disabling, to develop the fantasy that large numbers of Muslims, as they are, without changing except in being roused as Muslims by opposition to the war in Iraq, could be won – to what? – by solidarising with them on their own political terrain and mimicking their politics and their “Islamism”.

And what have you got from it? Nothing. Whatever happens now, the legacy of this episode in your organisation’s history will remain one of immense political confusion and inevitably, leave an additional residue of cynicism.

For decades your organisation has followed the procedure of tailoring your “Marxism” to its organisational needs and desires. Your organisation’s “Marxism” was and is “apparatus Marxism” – not Marxism which guides your organisation, but “Marxism” which rationalises from what the SWP’s leaders think will bring recruits and organisational advantage. A scandalous public example of what is usually done inside closed rooms and in the heads of SWP leaders was the “change of line” – twenty years after – on the Salman Rushdie affair.

Galloway did not cause any of what you have done. He bears no responsibility for the SWP, only for his own foul record and his own shameless self. Even so, Galloway is one of the prime symbols and embodiments of what the SWP has become – what you have let it become.

If you force a division in the SWP Central Committee and a break with Galloway – or, even more so, if the SWP rank and file were to push you into doing that – then that would be a possible start (no more, but a possible start) to a self-cleaning and self-regeneration by the SWP.

At least, that is what it would be if the SWP membership call you all to account – those who initiated this chapter in the SWP’s history, and those in the leadership who weakly and short-sightedly went along with it. If they let none of you smoothly slide away from the resultant mess, throwing self-serving rationalisations and alibis over your shoulders.

If you won’t fight to defend the principles of socialism, secularism, and rational politics – if you won’t break with Galloway now, and honestly criticise and analyse the last four or five years – then what good are you as leaders, or as members, of a socialist organisation?

If you won’t do it, SWP members should fight to make you do it. True, they have few democratic mechanisms to challenge the Central Committee. But they are not helpless.

They can talk to other members who are unhappy with the foul political and moral morass into which the SWP has been led. They can organise with them, secretly if they need to (they probably would). They can read the criticisms of SWP policy produced over the years by other socialists. They can break through the barrier of misrepresentation, demonisation, and slander which the members of the SWP Central Committee, including you, have erected to stop them even talking to people like ourselves.

Even if the conflict with Galloway comes to a break, what confidence for the future can SWP members have in those responsible for the last four years, including you, comrade Harman? The central SWP leaders today are people bred and raised to “leadership” by the SWP machine which you and others helped Tony Cliff build. Your typical methods have been political demagogy, bureaucratic and manipulative organisational practices, eternal willingness to shed principles for perceived short-term advantage, and refusal to allow the SWP rank and file any real freedom of discussion or control over the leaders.

Even if, or when, a break comes with Galloway, the SWP will not simply revert to what it was five or ten years ago. Unless the break comes by the SWP openly renouncing Galloway and its own whole record for the last five years – rather than by Galloway, at his own chosen time, discarding the “Trotskyists” for whom he has never troubled to conceal his contempt – the downward political spiral will continue. At best it will only be reversed partially and temporarily.

Comrade Harman, the revolutionary politics which you spent most of your life working for are still worth fighting for! In the SWP they will have to be fought for against the leaders and their “theoreticians”, such as you. Comrades of the SWP, the socialist ideas which the SWP claims to represent are worth fighting for! Break with Galloway!

Sean Matgamna

88 Comments

  1. Darren said,

    ” . . . means that there is now no one left who has personal recollection of the IS/Socialist Review tradition of third campism.”

    what about Ian Birchall?

  2. Jim Denham said,

    OK, Daren, you’re partially right. But Birchall wasn’t a founder of the “third camp” position in Britain. And he has played the role of loyal oppositionist for so long, that he’s not really worthy of being taken seriously. Harman, on the other hand, helped formulate the Socialist Review;/ IS fundamental positions like “third campism”: therefore his passing is important: and his betrayal is the greater.

  3. Tim said,

    Harman’s greatness is proven by the hatred that servants of imperialism such as the AWL show for him.

  4. DE said,

    Exactly Tim, Comrade Chris was hugely influnencial and great, same can’t be said for AWL!

  5. johng said,

    What a despicable toad Denham is.

  6. Jim Denham said,

    Tim and DE: read Sean’s letter and answer his points… you can’t, can you? You’re not in the same intelectual league as Sean, who was able to expose the betrayals of Harman with consumate ease…and all you SWP’ers can do, in the face of a superior intellectual force, is bleat…rather pathetically..carry on, you misearable betrayers

  7. Jim Denham said,

    Jonny Game: “What a despicable toad Denham is.”

    Best you can do, Game?

    Pathetic, you anti-working class (and anti semitic) piece of shit.

  8. Not impressed said,

    Don’t reply to Denham.It’s what he wants.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    A wanker writes: “Don’t reply to Denham.It’s what he wants.”
    I say: if your’re any sort of Marxist, you will reply.

  10. Not impressed said,

    But you’re not any sort of Marxist are you?Just a sad,bitter non entity who throws insults around the place.I feel sorry for you,I really do.

  11. Jim Denham said,

    On Lenny “I ‘m not Allowed To Join a Trade Union” Seymour’s site:

    Lenin,

    I think Jim Denham should be treated as a troll from now on. His contributions on this thread have been sick.
    Chris | 7 Nov, 19:29 | #

    ——————————————————————————–

    I agree re the comments from Jim Denham. He has always been a vulgar and unpleasant personality here. And he is generally unwelcome, though I have not deigned to delete all comments from him. In this case, he has behaved so unconscionably that I have no choice but to ban him. He can assume that all future comments from him will be deleted on sight.
    lenin | Homepage | 7 Nov, 19:33 | #

  12. Jim Denham said,

    “Not impressed”: “But you’re not any sort of Marxist are you?Just a sad,bitter non entity who throws insults around the place.I feel sorry for you,I really do.”
    Tell me, “Not impressed”, where I’ve got iot wrong. I’d be really interested to hear or read your analysis.

  13. DE said,

    Shame on you, Jim.

    one could say Sean isn’t in the same ‘intellectual league’ as Harman, but who gives a fuck. Nothing wrong with critique of his work but he died this morning, have some respect, other people can get over sectarian bullshit politics out of respect for a loss to the whole socialist movement but you can’t cos you really are a disgrace.

  14. . said,

    and insulting the dead, really? that’s low even for an AWL’er, desructive crap being thrown about everywhere you go.

  15. martin ohr said,

    for fucks sake -since Diana died nearly everyone in the uk has turned into a sentimental half-wit.

    Thakfully we’re part of the great atheist tradition that doesn’t believe in saints/sinners and has no reverence for such stupidity.

    The finest complement we can pay to Harman and most positive way to mark his death is to look criticially at his life and work- explain where we agreed and where we disagreed, what was right and what was wrong. It’s exactly the tradition of marx, lenin and trotsky.

    Harman was a genuine marxist the least we can is to treat his politics seriously. This is what he would have wanted; not the fawning craven comments at Lenins Tomb, Socialist Unity et al.

  16. ted said,

    Low.

    Very low.

    At least wait until his corpse is cold before you start sniping at it.

  17. neprimerimye said,

    Harman died very suddenly and throughout his life attempted to contribute towards the overthrow of the boss class. There is no doubt that he would expect to find his work criticised in death as it was in life by the poison that is misnamed AWL. But given the sudden nature of his death one might hope that even a fool like Jimmy Denham might have enough taste to wait 24 hours.

    But no the little drummer boy has to get his bitching in first. And as ever gets basic facts wrong, albeit he had to leave the politics to the cult meister himself. No Jim Harman was not the last person left with a personal knowledge of he SRG. I could list several comrades at this point but I suspect that I only really need to name Chanie Rosenberg to expose Jims silliness.

    As for betraying the IS tradition, a tradition that Jim has always been hostile towards I note, this accusation is simply bitterness coming from a member of a group that was once the foremost advocate of ‘Cannonism’ in these here isles and is now the foremost advocate of ‘Shachtmanism’. Or at least of John O’Mahoneys versions of these two very different, but oddly similar, versions of post-Trotsky ‘Trotskyism’.

    From its start I publically opposed the adventure into populism that was Respect and have applauded the politial demise of John Rees and his allies. I need then no lessons from Sean Matgamna whose only principle is to ask what his ‘rivals’ do in order that he can adopt a position to their contrary in the hope that it will win him an audience.

    Enough! Fuck off and say Kaddish Denham.

  18. martin ohr said,

    neprimerimye: “Harman died very suddenly and throughout his life attempted to contribute towards the overthrow of the boss class. There is no doubt that he would expect to find his work criticised in death as it was in life by the poison that is misnamed AWL. But given the sudden nature of his death one might hope that even a fool like Jimmy Denham might have enough taste to wait 24 hour”

    What is your complaint here- that the AWL shouldn’t be allowed to criticise Harman’s politics- or that we should wait for 24 hours.

    Are you not the same person who wrote: ” He made mistakes, as do we a…his contributions will outlast any errors ” on the socialist unity website?

    What is so special that you are allowed to comment and others are not?

  19. martin ohr said,

    Also neprimerimye I notice that Andy Newman over at socialist unity has deliberately tried to undermine Harmans atheism by titling his obituary “RIP Chris Harman”. What shocking provocation.

    Newman has taken to religion like a duck to water recently but still for any materialist to use the phrase RIP is frankly bizarre.

  20. johng said,

    You are actually defending this revolting shit Martin? And insulting those paying tribute to a socialist? I thought it was just the deranged chauvinist Denham who I’d always imagined was an embarressment to even your organisation. Clearly I was wrong.

  21. martin ohr said,

    johng, calm down a bit -what have I said?

    What I say is that i think it is strange that of all the groups on the left only the AWL will be criticised for having anything to say about Harman.

    I think Sean’s open letter is a good one- if that leads to a debate about Harmans legacy then I think it would be much more in the spirit of Harman’s socialism than any amount of gushing tributes being written elsewhere as we speak. Especially those at Socialist Unity and socialist resistance which seem to actually be highly devious and underhand.

    Personally I wouldn’t have rushed to published the article Jim posted; but he’s a lot tougher than me and is prepared to take the flak. I would have waited until the flurry of tributes had eased off and people had got over the shock. But my susbtantive point is this- you can’t try to use someones untimely death to set parameters on what can be debated and by who.

    If you believe there should be a period of quite mourning/comtemplation/radio silence on the blogoshere then I’d back you up- but in that case the onus is on you (and mike pearn and the rest) to shut the fuck up yourselves and observe such a thing.

    We don’t have a tradition on the marxist/trotskyist left of only saying good things about people we have political differences with when they die -quite the opposite in fact. There’s a mixture of weird sentimentality and bullying going on here. I dont’ quite know how we got into this mess, I suspect dallying with demagogues/populists like Galloway has scrambled your brain temporarily.

    Maybe I just have this childish streak, but the sound of so many people who clearly disagreed with Harman on so many points of politics and method praising him after his death makes me what to say “…yes but, he was wrong on these points, he got this wrong, and he has to bear responsibility for this…” all the louder.

    In the scheme of things, the politics of Jim and me and Sean are much much closer to yours and Harmans than the likes of andy newman or his stalinoid mates. It’s only right that we should offer our criticisms in the comradely way Sean wrote them above- whether Harman is alive or dead.

  22. RevNo9 said,

    This is disgusting.

    And the strange cultic babbling about Father John is creepy – ‘None of you have a widget of intellectual brilliance as the Father!’ The letter is an utterly easy argument, including things said by many but dressed up in that inimitable AWL snarl and malice. Still, I suppose a group such as that must powerfeul shibboleths.

    Denham – and this Ohr too – shoud feel ashamed. I’m not sure by the evidence however that they’re capable.

  23. Kent said,

    Waiting a minimum of 24 hours would have been a good idea. Posting something like this on the same day that the man died is unseemly. It’s like closing your mouth when you chew your food, or using periods at the end of sentences.

  24. Talking Philosophy | When I’m dead said,

    […] just like it to be known that if anybody feels the urge to slag me off immediately after my death, or to attack my politics – which, of course, nobody will, since I’m hardly significant (though, of course, neither was […]

  25. shug said,

    The man has just toesed up, and you socialist or percieved socialist, are using his death for the purpose of venting your own [party politics),No wonder the capitalist class have profited from us for so long.

  26. ngb said,

    shirazsocialist and awl:

    a bunch of white supremacist scum.

  27. martin ohr said,

    “Denham – and this Ohr too – shoud feel ashamed. I’m not sure by the evidence however that they’re capable.”

    Please explain to me what I have done wrong.

    There is a bizarre consensus buildiing that the AWL alone should not comment on the death of a socialist. I struggle to find any basis in the history of our movement or any political reason why we whould do this.

    It strikes me that like so much of the SWP’s method over the years -it’s just any opportunity to silence your critics.

    What would be a disgrace would be for Harman’s legacy to be the sort of online bullying we say today -rather than the constructive criticism seen in the Sean’s letter.

  28. Andrew Coates said,

    Whether people should keep quiet about what they think about Harman or not, surely the main point now is to provide a political obituary as well as all the personal stuff.

    Which I for one have just done.

  29. Rosie said,

    I know nothing about Harman but in life he was a politico, so therefore a public figure. If Tony Blair died tomorrow would everyone restrain themselves from saying what they thought about his foreign policy on the grounds of taste?

  30. neprimerimye said,

    Actually if Blair did snuff it today I do think that a period of grace is fitting before putting the axe into his miserable legacy. Shit though Blair is he does have a family and they are entitled to some consideration.

    But to compare Harman to a shit like Blair is hardly fair. Blair is an open enemy of the working class but Harman had a lifetimes devotion to the cause of labour. Moreover his family and friends remain commited to that great cause.

    The AWL by contrast is devoted to two causes Zionism and Matgamanas ego. I wish you well.

  31. skidmarx said,

    I thought there was a difference between third campism, which saw certain countries like Algeria as progressive, athe Neither Washington Nor Moscow approach of the SWP.
    When Robert Maxwell died there were immediate celebrations in Oxford.

  32. Jim Denham said,

    Since when have “Marxists” objected to criticisng people just because they’ve recently died? My comments about Harman were not personally abusive and I cannot imagine how they could upset family or friends. He was a major and influential political figure: his passing could not have been simply “noted” without comment. The hysterical reaction of Lenny Seymour, Johnny G and various other student SWP’ers is merely evidence of their petty bourgeois, non-Marxist politics and inability to engage in serious political debate. Being banned from Lenny “Seymour” Richard’s “Tomb” blog is not (I must confess) a shattering blow. I think I’ll get over it, anyway.

  33. Jim Denham said,

    When I’m dead
    By Jeremy Stangroom ⋅ November 7, 2009 ⋅ Email This Post ⋅ Print This Post ⋅ Post a comment
    I’d just like it to be known that if anybody feels the urge to slag me off immediately after my death, or to attack my politics – which, of course, nobody will, since I’m hardly significant (but then neither was Chris Harman, albeit he was a ‘revolutionary’) – then I’d be delighted.

    I love the smell of hypocritical self-righteousness in the morning…

  34. Jim Denham said,

    From Daves Part blog:

    “I don’t agree that Jim Denham should be forced to show more respect for a dead SWP member than he does for the living. I think it is hypocrisy for people to be suddenly nice about those they’ve derided for years because it’s supposed to be wrong to speak ill of the dead.

    Modernityblog – it can be quite hard to locate a comment on blogspot blogs like LT. Are you denying that JD made any such comment? Why don’t you search for what he said if you are so concerned about him being represented accurately. A quick search of the Shiraz Zionist site reveals a blog posting titled “Voodoo For Gullible Catholics”, which would fit with the words being imputed to Mr.Denham.

    Andrew Coates – what do you think his legacy is?

    Posted by skidmarx | 13:51, 8 November 2009 “

  35. Jim Denham said,

    The following is, apparently, the evidence of my anti-Irish racism:

    I posted a photo of St Therese’s remains in its casket , and commented:

    … horrible and ghoulish though it is.

    No, what I had in mind was a poll presently being trumpeted by various anti-EU fanatics and fantasists (including the Morning Star), purporting to show “a massive surge in support for the no side“ in next week’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. According to the poll, 59 per cent of Irish voters now intend to vote “no” – a dramatic reversal of the results of all other polls to date.

    The likes of Bill Cash, Ukip, the Morning Star and Sinn Fein have all hailed the poll, conducted by an outfit named Gael Poll. Today’s Guardian quotes Roger Jupp, the reputable Dublin pollster and chairman of the Association of Irish Market Research Organisations, thus: “This is a voodoo poll…It is quite extraordinary. My colleagues and I have been looking into this. I’ve never heard of these people (ie: Gael Poll).” According to the Graun, Jupp says the methodology is flawed and another analyist said that at best the survay might be regarded as a “straw poll.”

    But more interesting is the nature of the organisation behind the “voodoo poll”, Gael Poll. The Graun says they call themselves “strong Catholic nationalists” and “Catholic researchers” who worked until last year at the Hibernian magazine, now closed.

    Their leader, Gerry McGeough was once a convicted Provo IRA gunrunner, but has since broken with the Provos, to concentrate upon vigorous anti-EU campaigning, as well as (in the words of the Graun) his “far- right Irish nationalist, ultra-Catholic, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant“ views… in other words, the man’s as near as dammit a fascist.

    And that’s the logic of the anti-EU campaign in a nutshell (or nutcase), folks. Let’s hope they’re well and truly clobbered next week.

  36. skidmarx said,

    Jim, do you want to cross-post my updated comment where I found the quote of yours referred to?
    I don’t like hypocrisy, though I don’t know if calling anyone you don’t like a fascist is great either

  37. Jim Denham said,

    Go ahead, Skidders. Btw: I don’t call “anyone” I “don’t like a fascist”: just those who actually are…

  38. M said,

    I wouldn’t expect anything less from Denham than to treat people in death as he does in life. I’d much rather he was a consistent cunt than a hypocritical one.

    If the AWL were worth discrediting I’d say he was made up to do just that. One thing for sure – when he finally ends up in his grave there’ll be no-one, but no-one, saying he was a great contributor to anything other than the brewing industry.

  39. johng said,

    Nobody minds political criticism Martin. What people do mind is revolting slander (Denham’s jibes about what was actually a conference of Egyptian socialists in the first line for example), and this from an organisation which has spent much of the last five years dressing up right wing slander about the anti-war movement, solidarity with Palestinians, and campaigns against Islamophobia in pseudo-marxist language. The hate-filled and irrational ranting of Denham would disgrace any political organisation let alone a socialist one.

  40. Jim Denham said,

    Johnny G-Boy: “Nobody minds political criticism Martin.”
    Ehh…clearly you do, for one, Johnny. But then, you’re not really a Marxist, are you? I apologise for not taking into account petty bourgeois sensibilities such as yours, Gameboy.

  41. Will said,

    Jimbo — ignore that stupid fuckkinG twat Gameboy and the rest of those fuckking clowns and worshippers of fuckking Corpseefied cunTs

    watch this forra laff — against stupid evil thick catholic cunTs

    Of course Gameboy wooD be arguing alongside the toRy witch that the catholics are all fuckkinG great and that. Worra mess his heed mush must be.

  42. Red Maria said,

    I went to see St Therese’s relics and very good they were too. I think her prayers are most efficacious in warding off sin – highly recommend them.

  43. Red Maria said,

    Ahem, the DSquared debate has been the subject of much tortured discussion over at The Tablet.

  44. Will said,

    “Red” *ahem* maria is a catholic fash and a Falangist moonman worshipping piece of shit.

    Child rapist as well probably.

  45. voltairespriest said,

    Well, well. You go away for the weekend and look what happens: must’ve been a full moon behind the clouds last night or summat.

  46. Red Maria said,

    Why so sweet to me, “Mentally” Will?

    What happened?

    Run out of booze or did Rangers lose a home game?

  47. Duncan said,

    The bloke has just died for crying out loud.

  48. Sacha Ismail said,

    Actually, the “Third Camp” idea was developed by the Workers Party and then Independent Socialist League tendency in the US – and it was precisely from them that the International Socialists in the UK took the slogan “Neither Washington from Moscow”!

    I think whoever said that the Third Campists regarded third world nationalist regimes as progressive must be getting confused with the Non-Aligned Movement, or something like that? Can’t think of any other explanation, but perhaps I’ve missed the point. Tell us what you’re thinking of?

    Comrades of the SWP, can you explain? Are you saying that it’s wrong to criticise the dead? We are not celebrating Harman’s death; we think it’s a tragedy; we mourn the loss of a genuine socialist and comrade. But why does that mean pulling our political criticism? Very bizarre.

  49. martin ohr said,

    Sacha,

    I don’t find it bizarre at all. Not one member/supporter of the SWP has engaged in debate about the open letter since it was written 2 years ago. They have no intention of doing so. Complaints about our timing are simply a further opportunity not to engage in discussion.

  50. Chicken Bait said,

    Get real Sasha, describing somebody as “supple-spined apparatchik” on the day they’ve died doesn’t exactly sound like “mourning the loss of a genuine socialist and comrade” now does it? Jim Denham has been shitting all over his reputation for years now, but its beyond me why you, and other seemingly reasonable members of the AWL, continue to rally to the defence of his drunken, belligerent idiocy.

  51. ben said,

    hahaha, I love the way the way the AWL bitch and moan from the sidelines in an effort to get attention, they really are the 3 year olds of the British left.

    So did you have to book one store room or two for your annual conference??

  52. Will said,

    i am very angry about this i couldn t care less but soft-touch britain is promoitng teenage pregnancy true patriots must make sure there aer consequences publish this one if you dare

    Captain Sensible Welwyn Garden City

    PS. who is ChriS Harman?

  53. Will said,

    Top Tip: If you are going to speak ill of the dead, best to do it when they are already dead. They don’t care about it that way – bad manners otherwise.

    another top TiP: Do noT waste money on expensive iPods and shit. Simply think of your favourite tune and hum it. If you want to “switch tracks”, simply think of another song you like and hum that instead.

  54. Will said,

    Madam, – I’m a little confused that the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, is discouraging people from gathering at Knock to witness apparitions which he believes “risk misleading God’s people and undermining faith”.

    This is the the same “faith” that believes that a cosmic Jew who was his own father by a virgin can enable you to live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from something invisible called your soul that is present because a woman made from a rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple from a magical tree. – Yours, etc,

    LIAM MEEHAN,

    La Vista Avenue,

    Killester, Dublin 5.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/ newspa…4257552159.html

  55. Will said,

    Wowee — maybe comrade Harman can come back from the dead — anything seems possible these days

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/09/us-deacon-claims-miracle-cure

  56. Jenny said,

    Jim, Harman didn’t want socialists to support or oppose islamists:

    http://amleft.blogspot.com/2009_11_01_amleft_archive.html#4739059900015749271

    He just wanted to make sure people understood why their movement was popular.

  57. voltairespriest said,

    Notwithstanding some of the screaming loony bloggocks in the comments, I can’t really see why people are hopping up and down quite so much at Jim’s initial post. Jim clearly didn’t like the guy’s political record, and he’s said so. It’s not as though Harman (or anyone else in the SWP) would exactly be writing love poems if the situation were reversed, is it?

  58. Duncan said,

    They might wait until his body was cold though.

  59. Lobby Ludd said,

    It is not clear that Jim Denham’s body will ever go cold.

  60. resistor said,

    Sacha, how do you feel about being associated with, and having to defend, racist bigots like Jim Denham?

  61. voltairespriest said,

    I doubt it, Duncan.

  62. Will said,

    (Comment deleted. Hope you managed to find a bacon sandwich and some paracetomol when you woke up. VP)

  63. shug said,

    Dear me, are we now getting to the gutter.

  64. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Shug: quite. It’s rather sad to behold.

  65. skidmarx said,

    (Comment deleted. Hope you managed to find a bacon sandwich and some paracetomol when you woke up. VP)

    You mean Will doesn’t keep kosher? I’m shocked.

    While I’m happy to defend the right of people to say what they think, what the consensus here thinks isn’t really likely to endear themselves to the living left, but that won’t be news to anyone. At least I’ve learned something about Third Campism, though I think there is a major difference between the IS tradition and it, not least in relation to whether the Western Communist paties are simply regarded as embryonic ruling classes.

  66. Jim Denham said,

    Skidders: re the alleged “major difference” between the IS tradition and Third Campism:

    You might be interested in the following excerpt from a 1950 article by one V Karalasingham, a leader of the pro-Cliff group in Ceylon, republished in ‘Socialist Review’ 1/2, January 1951 and again in ‘The Origins of the International Socialists’ (Pluto Press, 1971, eds Richard Kuper & Duncan Hallas):

    “If we are to support the decisions of the UN, then it is tantamount to an abandonment of the position we have hitherto taken on neutrality as between the two power blocks – a position that distinguishes us from all other currents in the left movement. Our Third Force position – ‘Neither Western Capitalism nor Stalinist Totalitarianism’ – demands that we lend no support to either camp in Korea. Instead our solidarity is with the Koreans in their struggle against both war camps and for national independence and democratic socialism.”

    PS: I still don’t quite understand your comment #36. Perhaps you could explain?

  67. Trot notes « Poumista said,

    […] for Chris Harman: Michael Rosen, Andrew Coates, Jim Denham, Histomatist. Gistomatist rounds up other obituaries from SWPers, but these are the most […]

  68. skidmarx said,

    66. That’s about Stalinists in power, whereas I understand that orthodox third campers thought the western communist parties to be indistinguishable from their bourgeois counterparts, which hasn’t been the IS position.

    On #36,it may be that your LT ban has something to do with your Lisbon Treaty comment ,so maybe you’d like to explain that (in your own time). I think it was Southpawpunch you called a fascist( though I’m willing to believe he isn’t the first, and certainly I’ve seen you wish death of lefties a number of times), he had just said that the road to revolution was through your bloated corpse, but to describe him as a fascist devalues the term, just as the constant description of the SWP and others as genocidal anti-semites, is wrong ,foolish and only serves to convince the left that you are strangers in their midst.

    VP – I think there was a full moon when you made the comment.

  69. johng said,

    I think Harman’s last article in Socialist Review draws out the problem with actually existing third campism and why, after initially being drawn towards those espousing this position (including the best of them like Hal Draper) it became clear that this was a deeply flawed position. The position taken on Korea reflected the fact that it was thought not to be a national liberation movement but merely a conflict between the two superpowers. The notion that this was the case in Vietnam was closer to the delusions of the Pentagon then to any Marxist analyses. Hal Draper was deeply involved in the first teach-in’s in the US and its a tragedy of American Trotskyism in the 1960s that it was caught between the errors of third campism on this question and the deadend of orthodox Trotskyism. It effectively meant that the radicalism of the period ended up being funneled into various kinds of Maoism and Third Worldism. During this period its just not true that the Trots were being isolated as they were in the 1950s. They isolated themselves. The same is true today of the AWL tradition which always recalls for me Marx’s little riff on Hegel about tragedy and farce.

    Doubly farcical however were the attempts to justify the quite insane vitriol (and lies incidently: Harman was addressing a conference of Egyptian socialists) by others on this thread. Not being able to understand why almost all socialists on the left find this kind of thing disgusting and attempting to dress it up as socialist principle presumably reflects the fantasy world of endless persecution by Stalinists and other ne’er do wells which the AWL membership is presumably innoculated in, as a substitute for any serious reflection on the errors of their own politics. Its an odd mirror image of the worst of the orthodox trot position, which ultimately is what happened to ‘third campism’.

    Here is Chris’s article:
    http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11016

  70. martin ohr said,

    “as a substitute for any serious reflection on the errors of their own politics.” Ouch.

    johng -can you confirm when the embargo on writing about Harman will be lifted for us?

  71. johng said,

    There is no embargo on writing about Harman for you (how could there be?). Its just that what you write is non-political and disgusting (you have not for instance registered that the article written by Denham starts off with a bold-faced lie), and almost all socialists, including those who seriously differed with his politics, find what you say revolting. That is your problem not anybody elses, and its not within anyone elses power to prevent people finding your politics revolting. This is not Stalinism or opposition to critical thinking: its just common sense. Solve your own problems.

  72. johng said,

    And I should add, aside from being pretty revolting in this case, the absolute refusal to engage with any political arguments at all (instead the rest of the left are liars, idiots or anti-semites to use a few choice epithets) is combined with this disengenuous whinging about not being allowed to discuss politics. It would be really nice to see actually. Can the AWL go beyond a kind of WRP politics of abuse? Its an interesting question.

  73. voltairespriest said,

    And a remarkably hypocritical one, coming from a member of the SWP.

  74. skidmarx said,

    Oh no it isn’t!

  75. johng said,

    Not really Voltaire.

  76. johng said,

    In any case here is the opportunity. The AWL are wierd. Constant demands for real political discussion. But as soon as you move away from a discussion which is apolitical they run a mile.

  77. Jim Denham said,

    Gameboy writes (#71, above):

    “You have not for instance registered that the article written by Denham starts off with a bold-faced lie”: John, I presume that is a reference to this:

    “in Cairo – presumably continuing the SWP’s sucking up to the clerical fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    Let’s accept, for the sake of argument, that you are factually correct that Harman was in Cairo for a meeting of socialists and *not* the Muslim Brotherhood…OK…

    1/ Note the word I used: “presumably”;

    2/ Do you deny that the vast majority of SWP jaunts to Cairo in recent years have been at the behest of the Muslim Brotherhood?

    3/ Assuming that you do not deny #2 (above): what’s so unreasonable about speculating that Harman’s visit was “presumably” to continue the SWP’s “sucking up” to the Brotherhood – a force that Tony Cliff himself once characterised as “clerical fascist”?

    I haven’t read the Harman article that Gameboy refers to, but I’d be interested to know whether it is regarded now by SWP’ers as representing a definitive break with the Socialist Review/IS “third camp” tradition now that the SWP has become a third worldist outfit. If so, I think the SWP owes it to the left as a whole to mark this departure from its own tradition rather more clearly.

    Gameboy: “In any case here is the opportunity. The AWL are wierd. Constant demands for real political discussion. But as soon as you move away from a discussion which is apolitical they run a mile.”

    John, I’m willing to debate you here, anywhere else you choose, in person or electronically, on the subject of third campism OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU CARE TO MENTION…OK? I’m sure I’ve made that offer to you before. “Run a mile” from debate”? Name the time, place and subject, pal!

  78. Lobby Ludd said,

    Can I be the first to say that I have no interest whatsoever in a putative ‘debate’ between Jim D and johng?

  79. Gameboy: debate me, please! « Shiraz Socialist said,

    […] 13, 2009 at 8:45 pm · […]

  80. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Yes, really, John.

    And Lobby, I don’t know what you mean. I’d buy tickets for it, just as long as there’s a bar at the event, and maybe some curry.

  81. Rosie said,

    My tenner is on Jim D, with his mighty left hook and haymakers, while johng will feint from the left, but really be flailing from the sectarian right. Any takers?

    If there’s a no-show from johng, I’ll collect.

  82. martin ohr said,

    johng -I’m happy to debate politics any time, in so far as it’s possible with you and the rest of the SWP.

    In general the SWP shies away from debate with other revolutionaries- your presense on this and other blogs is an exception. Letters from other revolutionairies -even those correcting basic factual mistakes- are never printed in socialist worker; the main swp-led blog lenins tomb is rigidly censored in a pretty disgusting way to prevent debate; swp public meetings will only allow you to speak if you can convince the chair that you are some naive reformist by your general meeting demeanor; the swp does not allow revolutionaries from other groups onto the platforms of the fronts it controls- ever.

    So lets have some perspective and honesty about debating and who is scared of it.

    As I said before, I wouldn’t have led on Harman’s death in the way that Jim did- but that’s not particularly because I thought he was wrong, more that I’d predict the reaction from the rest of the left creates a lot of heat which obscures debate.

    Like Jim, I’m happy to debate you on a mutually convenient subject- come up to yorkshire and we’ll make it happen. A joint SWP-AWL public meeting hasn’t happened for a very long time anywhere in the world.

    More urgent though -the rest of the marxist left in leeds would like a public debate about anti-fascism; we’d like a 4-wayer AWL, WP, SP and SWP -only the SWP in leeds will not do it- can you help us to arrange it?

  83. maxdunbar said,

    This is all faintly ridiculous. All Jim has done is repost a critique of Harman’s politics, you’d think from the reaction in this thread and others that he had danced on the poor man’s grave.

    Surely an intellectual would appreciate criticism as well as gush in his obituaries. What big difference will 24 hours make? Let’s leave the eulogies to family and friends.

    I’m sure that when Thatcher goes it will be a terrible loss for her children. But will anyone seriously forgo the champagne on those grounds? I know I won’t.

  84. martin ohr said,

    Sean Matgamna’s obituary of Harman is now online: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2009/11/17/long-march-chris-harman

    It’s entirely a political criticism -which I would imagine means it is far too hard for Johng and his mates to grapple with. We expect the usual deathly silence from the SWP.

  85. skidmarx said,

    It’s entirely an eclectic rag-bag of organisational self-promotion.

  86. chjh said,

    We expect the usual deathly silence from the SWP. Every time you think the AWL can go no lower, they prove you wrong.

  87. Oh, bollocks: it’s revolutionary defeatism as between Rees and Smith « Shiraz Socialist said,

    […] Johnny Game-boy and Dickie “intellekshull” Seymour might get upset (and they’re upset so easily, the poor […]

  88. charliethechulo said,

    The bleating petit bourgeois who complain that we dare criticise a dead communist, may like to note the fact that ‘Shiraz’ quoted Harman at length, approvingly:
    https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/the-crushing-of-the-prague-spring-what-harman-said-at-the-time/

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