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