Enough is enough #2: Jeremy Corbyn MP

April 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm (africa, anti-semitism, class, fascism, Jim D, left, Middle East, stalinism)

I’ve become increasingly worried about Jeremy Corbyn of late, but have been reluctant to attack him because of his record during the Blair years. During that dark time for the Labour Party, when craven subservience to the Tory entrist and his unelected apparatchiks  like Mr Campbell  was the order of the day, Corbyn was one of the few Labour MP’s to stand his ground. He spoke up for principles that seemed to have at least something to do with socialism. That is something that will always be to his credit. 


But since those evil days, Corbyn has been coming out with some seriously bad stuff, especially in his periodic pieces for the Morning Star, full of third-worldist nonsense, relativist crap, conspiracy-theories and one-sided hostility to Israel that seems to question its very right to exist. In more than one article, he seemed to offer critical support to the Taliban…something that must surely place even the most naive “anti-imperialist” completely beyond the pale.

In other word, he seems to have been turning into John (“We cannot afford to be choosy“) Pilger.

I wrote to Corbyn at the time of that apparently pro-Taliban piece in the Morning Star asking for an explanation/clarification. I didn’t get a reply, no doubt because I’m neither one of his middle class Guardianista constituents from Islington North, nor a breathless “anti-imperialist” fan from the Morning Star or Socialist Worker.

In fairness to Corbyn, it has to be said that he posts his unvarnished opinions on his constituency website for all to peruse.

But still I held off from a public criticism of Corbyn. Until now. He was one of the few MP’s in the roll of shame of those who voted against intevention in support of the Libyan rebels. And last week he had an absolutely vile article in the Morning Star, denouncing the rebels and effectively calling for Gaddafi to be given a free hand. It’s filthy stuff, and confirms Corbyn as a rancid, scabrous Stalinist for whom a semi-rational loyalty to the USSR  has been succeeded by an irrational and classless “anti-imperialism.” Corbyn has now broken the taboo of “anti-imperialists” (even the Morning Star) and openly attacked the rebels. We all know that the likes of Andrew Murray and the scab ‘Stop The War Coalition’ have been itching to come out and smear the rebels, but have so far held themselves back. Now Corbyn (since joined by co-thinker and fellow-Chomskyite/Stalinist Pilger) has done it:

“The war in Libya is being prosecuted by disparate but well-equipped forces against Gadaffi and the Libyan army, which has lost a quarter of its capacity, according to Western claims.

“The Gadaffi opposition is made up of a range of groupings, from liberal to ultra-Islamist forces.

“Those leading it have no track record of even recent opposition to Gadaffi but are nevertheless are being feted by the British and French governments.”

And if that wasn’t enough, Corbyn’s contemptible column for the Morning Star concludes with a standard-issue denunciation of “Zionist lobbyists” in the context of Richard Goldstone’s relatively minor modification of his assessment of the 2008-9 Israeli invasion of Gaza:

“Goldstone was asked in 2009 to head a team investigating whether Israel had vilated international human rights laws during the attack. In his report he accused Isreal of war crimes and of deliberately targetting civilians – but now it appears he’s changed his mind.

“There is no doubt that Goldstone was put under huge pressure from zionist lobbyists and has suffered a great deal of personal abuse.”

Corbyn’s wrong on every point about Goldstone:  the idea that Goldstone “changed his mind“, and certainly about the alleged “zionist pressure.” In fact this nasty little coda to a nasty little article merely confirms my view that Corbyn is now beyond the pale and  part of a de facto anti-democratic, pro-fascist and anti-semitic current that claims to be “left-wing” but is in fact, profoundly reactionary and anti-working class.

P.S: Corbyn’s closest predecessor:  D.N. Pritt.

P.S 2: for a rational assessment of Goldstone, read Jonathan Freedland here


  1. Duncan said,

    Fantastic post Jim, you managed to get all the usual insults in there plus a few unexpected gems. One question though, are you sure Corbyn is not de facto pro-Nazi rather than merely pro-fascist? I think the former would have more force.

    Also, out of interest, when the AWL does entryist work inside the Labour Party does it mention that one of the few left-wing MP’s is objectively pro-fascist?

  2. Owen Jones said,


    What a bunch of semi-deranged nonsense.

  3. Mike said,

    Made the mistake of reading this before I read either Corbyn’s or Pilger’s articles… this blog post is pure and utter nonsense, you missed the point completely which is to question Western motives in Libya, not to condemn the rebels.

    Does this, for example, sounds pro-Gaddaffi?

    ‘Tony Blair’s 2004 “deal in the desert” with Gadaffi was swiftly followed by a new BP contract in Libya.

    Our erstwhile prime minister conveniently did not bring up the unexplained or uninvestigated Libyan prison deaths, random imprisonments or media suppression.’

    You need to grow up. Nothing in that article condemns the rebellion, it just questions Western motives for supporting the rebels. You jump from conjecture to smear to hysterics all too quickly, you need to grow up.

  4. Mike said,

    And in Pilger’s article…

    ‘ In undermining efforts by Libya’s genuine democrats and nationalists to free their country from both a dictator and those corrupted by foreign demands, the sound and fury from Washington, London and Paris has succeeded in dimming the memory of January’s days of hope in Tunis and Cairo, and distracted many, who had taken heart, from the task of ensuring that their gains are not stolen quietly.’

    Does that sound like opposition to democratic revolution?

    No. It is fear that ham-fisted and self-serving involvement from powers that have proved willing to oppose democracy if it suits them will strangle democracy at its birth in these countries.

  5. Mark said,

    Yes, it’s a classic

    seriously bad
    third-worldist nonsense
    relativist crap
    one-sided hostility to Israel
    naive “anti-imperialist”
    completely beyond the pale.
    middle class Guardianista
    breathless “anti-imperialist”
    absolutely vile
    filthy stuff
    semi-rational loyalty to the USSR
    irrational and classless ”anti-imperialism.”
    nasty little coda
    nasty little article
    profoundly reactionary
    anti-working class

    The kindest explanation is that this is simply a manifestation of what is probably the most cravenly pro-imperialist political organisation ever to grace the British left.

    An unkind person might think Denham was suffering from some form of personality disorder.

  6. Lobby Ludd said,

    It’s not unknown for less unbalanced members of the AWL, Clive, or even Martin Ohr for Christ’s sake, to jump in at this point with emollient phrases.

    Get it together, chaps.

  7. jim denham said,

    Stalinists indicate which “side” to take by sending out coded messages, like this:

    “The war in Libya is being prosecuted by disparate but well-equipped forces against Gadaffi and the Libyan army, which has lost a quarter of its capacity according to Western claims.
    “The Gadaffi opposition is made up of a range of groupings, from liberal to ultra-Islamist forces. Those leading it have no track record of even recent opposition to Gadaffi but are nevertheless being feted by the British and French governments.”
    (Corbyn in the ‘Morning Star’ piece I linked to above).

    …or the scare-quotes round the words “rebel” and “rebels”, here: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/102896

    As for the Pilger piece I linked to: frankly if Mike cannot see that’s it’s intended as an attack on the rebel forces (complete with scare-quotes, again, round the very word “rebel”), then he is beyond rational debate. Read the stuff in the paragraph headed “Bedouin hyperbole” for chrissakes.

  8. Mike said,

    He explicitly supports the democratic rebellion you silly man, that is not the same as supporting every CIA stooge who pretends to be sympathetic to it on opportunistic grounds.

    ‘Stalinists indicate which “side” to take by sending out coded messages’

    Instead of seeking out “coded messages”, why not just read what the person says? ‘Stalinists send out coded messages’! You are insane.

    And as for that article supposedly ‘offering critical support to the Taliban’ – here’s the only paragraph that even mentions them-

    ‘This is a war of colonial occupation that can only suck in more and more troops as the Taliban increasingly represents nationalist feelings, even if there are disagreements about the social attitudes of its leadership.’

    ‘Increasingly represents nationalist feelings’ is not offering any kind of support. It is a warning.

    This blog is insane. Look for coded messages in your alphabetti-spaghetti and leave the grown ups to talk.

  9. Oscar is on holiday please send replies to his secretary said,

    Jimbo is correct in everything he has said here. The other tossers leaving scribbles here are requiring some re-education (preferably of the sort that requires spikes through there face)

  10. Duncan said,

    Jim, I genuinely think you should get the opportunity to air these views in ‘Solidairty’ more often.

    It would liven the paper up no end.

  11. Duncan said,

    ‘Solidairty’ should say ‘Solidarity’, obviously.

  12. Egg on your face said,

    The imperialists, and their cheerleaders from among pro-war liberals (and incoherent drink-sodden dregs such as Denham) are just about the only friends Gadaafi has got now.

    Seems counter-intuitive at first glance, but not really. Gadaafi’s triumphant open-topped escapade the other day would not have been possible before the UN and NATO attack. Gadaafit was then rightly seen by the Arab masses as no different in essence to Mubarak, Ben Ali, the Saudi King, and all the rest of the scum.

    But once the imperialists attack, all that changes. Gadaafi can say “I am fighting against the neo-colonialists who want my country for its oil”, I am fighting on behalf of the Arabs. And guess what – he is getting a bit of a hearing for that. Because one thing is true, the imperialists are the chief enslavers of the Arab peoples. Western imperialism has been the main reactionary, predatory force on the face of the planet since the 1880s scramble for colonies and that has not changed one iota.

    The fact that feces-brained Western chauvinists think that has changed does not matter a damn. Their views count for nothing. The Arab masses know it is true. And because of that, Gadaafi will get a hearing. These people who might of thought they could dislodge Gadaafi militarily have actually strengthened him politically. How inept is that?

    • Charles Martel said,

      @Egg on your face,you painting the Arabs under the vitcim narrative is laughable.Perhaps you would do better to critcize the Arab Muslim world for over a thousand years of rape,theft,enslavement,and genocide.European colonialism was mainly brought about by the depredations on the European continent by successive Islamic empires.If the Islamic world had not cut off the overland trade routes along the Silk Road,as well as the Mediterranean to European powers,then history may have been alot differently.The slave wholesalers were Muslims anyway.

  13. jim denham said,

    Mr Egg-brains: what would have happened to the rebels and the populuos in Benghazi if the UN -approved forces hadn’t intervened?

  14. Egg on your face said,

    You tell me, since you appear to know what would have happened.

    What will happen to the revolution in Bahrain/Oman/Syria/Saudi Arabia etc. etc. if the imperialists don’t intervene to ‘support’ the revolution?

    And what will happen to the revolution if they DO intervene to ‘support’ the revolution?

    Answer – in the latter case you can kiss goodbye to the revolution!

    Which is the whole point of the imperialist intervention. Its a bridgehead against the revolution, a tagential manoevre using Gadaafi as an excuse. And why Denham and his counterrevolutionary dregs deserve to be branded as the enemies of the Arab revolution that they are.

    If Qadaafi had been the author of some sort of counterrevolutionary massacre, then he would be a hate figure across the entire Arab world. His regime would likely have been overthrown as soon as the revolution flared up again elsewhere in the Arab world. There could even have been a pan-Arab revolutionary initiative to overthrow him in that case. The opposite to the current imperialist attack.

    Now that he is able to say that his regime is defending the Arabs against another imperialist depredation, his regime is politically stronger and actually, is likely to be able to kill a lot more people for longer.

    But that doesn’t matter a damn to Denham, because his real aim is, as Alastair Campbell said in another context, to “get up the arse of the White House and stay there”.

  15. jim denham said,

    Egg-brains: “You tell me, since you appear to know what would have happened”

    Yeah, Mr egg-for-brains: most resonably intelligent people (including even Prof Callinicos of the SWP) *do* know what would have happened: a massacre. Callinicos thinks that would be a price worth paying in order to oppose “imperialism”. He’s scum.
    And you oppose *any* form of “Western” intervention, as a matter of ‘principle’? You fucking moron! You anti-working class imbecile! You have no place in serious socialist discourse. You are beyond the pale.

  16. Egg on your face said,

    “And you oppose *any* form of “Western” intervention, as a matter of ‘principle’?”

    You’re getting it now. Yes, I think the Western imperialist bourgeoisie are the centre of the world system, and therefore I never call on them to make things better. Its a basic Marxist position. Scream foul-mouthed abuse as much as you like. All it exposes is the virulence of your hatred for basic communist positions. You are an amateur in that field however compared to the more seasoned and sober hirelings of the ruling class, who can at least string a sentence together without dribbling or vomiting all over the keyboard.

  17. jim denham said,

    Q: And you oppose *any* form of “Western” intervention, as a matter of ‘principle’?”

    A: “You’re getting it now. Yes”

    JD: You’re mad. And there is nothing in Marx to suppoort such an ahistorical, lunatic position (let alone to suggest it’s a “basic Marxist position”). You need a basic Marxist education, Egg-brains.

    Meanwhile, answer me this (seeing as you can’t/ won’t answer my simple question about Benghazi): were the Spanish republicans *wrong* to have asked for an intervention against Franco by the British and the French governments?

    Btw, eggy: for the sake of your mental health: seek help.

  18. Egg on your face said,

    Of course, I am utterly mad. And so were hardly flawless but principled Marxists such as Trotsky, for instance. You can scour his writings on Spain as much as you like, but you will not find him campaigning for Britain and France to ‘intervene’ on the side of the Spanish republicans. That was the line of the Stalinists and the popular front, and also why they wiped out the left – in an attempt to make the revolution ‘safe’ for ‘democratic’ imperialism. This is so well known that only an utterly dishonest person could attempt to deny it.

    You won’t find genuine Marxists campaigning for support for imperialist intervention anywhere. Threre were ample opportunities to do so prior to WWII, but did they? Did they hell! Only Stalinists and reformists did that.

  19. jim denham said,

    “You won’t find genuine Marxists campaigning for support for imperialist intervention anywhere”:

    Wrong again egg-for-brains. The POUM in Spain *did* call for the “Western democracies” to intervene. Trotsky criticised the POUM over many issues, but not that.

    Now answer my question about Benghhazi.

  20. Egg on your face said,

    Trotsky for one, did not consider the POUM to be revolutionary. Nor did the forces he did support call for imperialist intervention.

    If you were remotely right about this, you would be able to point to articles with a similar tone to your rantings, denouncing those who refused to call for imperialist intervention as fascists, scum, scabs, traitors, and other choice epithets.

    Such writings do exist for that period, but they tend to come from the GPU.

    I answered your point about Benghazi. You did not ask a ‘question’ that can be answered in any way that is not hypothetical.

    Nor did you answer my point about how this imperialist intervention has enabled Gadaafi to get a hearing from Arabs who loathe Western imperialism. Since you are all in favour of Western imperialism, and have nothing but contempt for Arabs and their grievances against it, that point no doubt goes right over your head.

  21. jim denham said,

    Egg-for-brains: Trotsky was wrong about the POUM, as he was about a number of things (the class nature of the USSR, and the Proletarian Military Policy in WW2, for instance). But I defy you to find a quote from him criticisng the POUM over calling for intervention in Spain, which was what the best of the left was calling for at the time. What Trotsky *did* write (about people like you) was this:

    “An individual, a group, a party, or a class that “objectively” picks its nose while it watches men drunk with blood massacring defenceless people is condemned by history to rot and become worm-eaten while it is still alive.”

  22. Socialist said,

    “The POUM in Spain *did* call for the “Western democracies” to intervene.”

    Really? Link?

  23. Trotsky against intervention said,

    In his 1937 article ‘The Lessons of Spain: the Last Warning’, Trotsky opposed calls for outside intervention in Spain:

    ‘Revolutions have been victorious up to this time not at all thanks to high and mighty foreign patrons who supplied them with arms. As a rule, counterrevolution enjoyed foreign patronage. Must we recall the experiences of the intervention of French, English, American, Japanese, and other armies against the Soviets? The proletariat of Russia conquered domestic reaction and foreign interventionists without military support form the outside. Revolutions succeed, in the first place, with the help of a bold social program, which gives the masses the possibility of seizing weapons that are on the territory and disorganizing the army of the enemy. The Red Army seized French, English, and American military supplies and drove the foreign expeditionary corps into the sea. Has this really been forgotten?

    If at the head of the armed workers and peasants, that is, at the head of so-called republican Spain, were revolutionists and not cowardly agents of the bourgeoisie, the problem of arming would never have been paramount. The army of Franco, including the colonial Riffians and the soldiers of Mussolini, was not at all immune to revolutionary contagion. Surrounded by the conflagration of the socialist uprising, the soldiers of fascism would have proved to be an insignificant quantity. Arms and military “geniuses” were not lacking in Madrid and Barcelona; what was lacking was a revolutionary party!’

  24. jim denham said,

    As I said: Trotsky was sometimes wrong. This, like the PMP, is an example.

    But thanks for the quote. At least we’re now having an intelligent debate.

    You will see elsewhere on this blog, that I recommend this http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/05/think.htm by Trotsky (1938):

  25. jim denham said,

    Socialist: I must admit that I can’t find a link, but I’m very confident about the POUM’s position. I’ll check Orwell’s stuff (not just “Homage…”), where I’m pretty sure he mentions their call for intervention. In the meanwhile, the following tells you a great deal about Tory/right-wing non-interventionism:


  26. Trotsky against intervention said,

    ‘Trotsky was sometimes wrong’

    Fair enough. There is a double standard at work here though.

    Trotsky said quite openly and repeatedly that he preferred the victory of a reactionary dictatorship in a semi-colonial state in a war with a bourgeois democratic imperialist state. A famous example of this is his hypothetical example of the war between ‘semi-fascist’ (his term) Brazil and bourgeois democratic Britain. He backed Stalin’s invasion of Finland and ridiculed those who said bourgeois democratic Finland had the right to resist Stalin. And he supported the Soviet invasion of Poland after the deal with Hitler.

    There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with these positions of Trotsky’s. But you should not try to avoid the fairly obvious fact that Trotsky’s views are in line with those contemporary Marxists who argue for the military victory of reactionary/dictatorial forces in semi-colonial nations over invaders from the bourgeois democratic imperialist states. People like – say – Richard Seymour, who thinks that the insurgency in Iraq has the right to attack US forces, regardless of its frequently reactionary ideas.

    For you, Trotsky’s views on Poland and Finland and so on can be hurried over with phrases like ‘of course the old man made some mistakes’, while those who today say they support the military resistance of Sunni forces in Iraq against the US are ‘pro-fascist scum’ and so on and so forth. All these people are doing is repeating the positions Trotsky took. If you want to call them the pseudo-left then you have to call Trotsky a pseudo-leftist.

    What makes people find your views so strange is the attempt to tie Trotsky to positions which are the exact opposite of his own. The logical thing for you to do would be to drop Trotsky and uphold the view of Hitchens, which is that imperialism is, compared to Third World dictatorships and Islamist movements, relatively progressive, and can be pressured into acting in the interests of humanity in places like Iraq. As things stand you’re a hopeless and somewhat comical set of contradictions.

  27. jim denham said,

    1/ I would have thought that the view (not unique to Hitchens) that “imperialism is, compared to third world dictatorships and Islamist movements, relatively progressive” is simply a restatement of basic Marxism
    2/ That doesn’t make Hitchens right about everything (eg the Iraq war)
    3/ Trotsky wasn’;t right abnout everything. I’m in favour of developing Trotskyism for the twenty first century along the broad lines outlined here:

  28. Trotsky against intervention said,

    ‘I would have thought that the view (not unique to Hitchens) that “imperialism is, compared to third world dictatorships and Islamist movements, relatively progressive” is simply a restatement of basic Marxism’

    There’s a basic failure here in terms of consistency. You’ve just tried, upthread, to agree with the statement that ‘imperialism is always reactionary’ and now you’re trying to paint imperialism as progressive. That’s the contradiction in your thinking at work. The position of Hitchens, who sees an enlightened imperialism as the best chance for the world in the short term, and Trotsky, who opposed imperialism in every context, cannot be reconciled. Trotsky backed ‘semi-fascist’ Brazil against bourgeois democratic Britain, the Stalinised Soviet Union in a war of aggression against bourgeois democratic Finland, and the Soviet Union in its invasion of Poland in 1939.
    So why don’t you call Trotsky a supporter of fascism, reaction etc in the same way you condemn Corbyn, Seymour et al? Sooner or later you’ll have to choose Hitchens’ pro-imperialism or Trotsky’s inveterate anti-imperialism.

  29. jim denham said,

    Trotsky was writing a few years ago and had not witnessed the rise of radical Islam, He also believed that the proletariat was about to overthrow capitalism. People like Corbyn and today’s pro-Islamist “left” have no such excuse.

    Western democratic “imperialism” is *always* reactionary viz a viz the possibility of working class socialism. It is similtaneously progressive viz a viz backward and reactionary anti-capitalist forces like Islamism. No contradiction there for Marxists.

  30. Trotsky against intervention said,

    ‘Imperialism is similtaneously progressive viz a viz backward and reactionary anti-capitalist forces like Islamism’

    So you’d have supported the British Empire against the forces of the Mahdi in Sudan? How about the democratic imperialist Brits against the Islamist-influenced resistance in Oman and Yemen later on? And of course the Mau Mau movement had some pretty odd ideas, and was fighting against democratic imperialists. And how about democratic America against the totalitarian North Vietnamese?

    Is there one national liberation movement in the last hundred years which hasn’t had a leadership and a set of ideas which weren’t at least in some respects reactionary?

    Your position is pretty clear, when you’re honest with yourself. You support democratic imperialism as a lesser evil. The task of the left is to demand the intervention of imperialism to ameliorate the woes of the world. That’s the vision of Hitchens, not of Trotsky or any other important Marxist thinker. It’s not a surprise that you are so alienated from the Marxist left. What is curious is your reluctance to consistently own up to your real politics.

  31. jim denham said,

    I tend to agree with this “important Marxist writer”:


  32. Trotsky against intervention said,

    Do you also agree with the young Marx that the Opium Wars were progressive? You seem to have missed the evolution in Marx’s views as the true nature of the British Empire became clear. Far from boosting the productive forces of India and other colonies, Britain looted them. The railways did not turn out to be motors of growth but rather mechanisms for theft.

    Marx’s later writings are unequivocally anti-imperialist. By the time of Trotsky it was blatantly obvious that imperialism had no progressive qualities. To try to pretend otherwise is to engage in apologetics as grotesque as those of Holocaust deniers or Stalinists seeking to justify purges and famines in the Soviet Union. Britain presided over repeated and deadly famines in India, the last of which occurred during World War Two, and killed two to three million people. The great famine of the ’40s was a direct result of the parasitic way Britain treated India – food was taken out of India and consumed by the Empire’s troops, especially those in the Middle East, and the result was sky-high prices in Bengal and mass death amongst the poorer classes. I don’t think that’s quite what Marx had in mind when he predicted in the 1840s and early 1850s that imperialism would be a progressive force in India.

  33. Trotsky against intervention said,

    There’s a review at Counterfire of Kevin Anderson’s book on Marx’s late and fiercely anti-imperialist writings:

  34. jim denham said,

    Trotagin: you wrote, “That’s the vision of Hitchens, not of Trotsky or any other important Marxist thinker”. I just thought I’d draw your attention to at least one fairly “important Marxist thinker.”

    Your response would seem to suggest that just as I don’t agree with everything Trotsky wrote, and feel that his thought was developing throughout his life, so you don’t agree with everything Marx wrote.

    Fair enough! But don’t suggest that such an approach debars me from calling myself a “Trotskyist” wherea you are free to call yourself a “Marxist”, eh?

    But I must return to a previous question that you never answered: were the Libyan rebels in Benghazi wrong to call for Western/Nato/UN support? And should their pleas have been ignored? Is that what you are now demanding of the UK government – “Ignore the calls of the rebels!”???

  35. Trotsky against intervention said,

    No one can blame the people of Benghazi for calling for help from whoever would provide it at a desperate time. But the sad fact of history is that the imperialist countries do not intervene in the semi-colonial world without imposing their interests.
    They will try to strangle the Libyan revolution. I believe that they’ll try to destroy the working class and progessive forces inside the rebel movement, just as they tried to destroy the trade union movement in Iraq by maintaining Saddam’s labour laws, machine gunning trade unionists in the street, and arming the militia of petty bourgeois religious groups that kill secularists. An intervention by some non-imperialist force – some Arab force, for instance – would have been much better, because the non-imperialist coutnries don’t have the economic interests in Lbya that Britian and France have.

    Let us dwell for a moment on your extraordinary and appalling claim that imperialism was a progressive force in India. How do you justify it? I’m genuinely curious.

    Do you think that Britain developed india’s economy? According to Amartya Sen, the economy of his country grew by a mighty 1% in real terms between the 1780s and the 1940s. Britain retarded rather than boosted economic growth. India propped up the imperial economy. What about the spread of modern and secular ideas? Did Britain bring the enlightenment to the backward Indians? Britain actually contributed to sectarianism, by playing divide and rule with different Indian groups – by using the Sikhs as an armed force, for instance, and playing Muslims off against Hindus – and by propping up venal local rulers and using them as instruments of British policy. How about democracy? Did the pith-helmeted colonists bring that concept to India? Hardly: the ruled without the consent of the vast majority of the subcontinent’s people. Indians who demanded democracy were shot.

    How, then, was imperialism progressive in India? To make such a claim in 1853 was forgivable: to make it today is bizarre and, frankly, racist. You insult the millions of victims of British rule in India, and the tens of millions elsewhere, with such a claim.
    If you cannot justiy it you should withdraw it.

    There’s no evidence that Trotsky was ‘evolving’ into a believer in the partly progressive qualities of imperialism. Quite the opposite: his very last works were on the proletarian military policy and his opposition to taking sides with the British and French bourgeoisie against the Nazis. And Trotsky is so relentlessly and unequivocally against the notion that imperialism is a progressive force – it is the whole basis of his opposition to the Popular Front, for instance – that his thought can’t really be reconciled with the notion. That’s why you find yourself so out of sympathy with 99.9% of actually exisitng Trotskyist groups. You act as though they’ve taken a wrong turn and fulminate about betrayal and scabbing, but it’s you who’ve departed from a central tenet of the Trotskyist tradition. The logical thing to do would be to recognise that.

  36. jim denham said,

    Trotagin: my alleged “claim” about British rule in India was, in fact a quote from Karl Marx with which I merely stated that “!I tend to agree.” Since when has even the early Marx become “extraodinary and appalling” in the eyes of self-proclaimed “Marxists?” As I understand it Marx was merely pointing out the contadictory nature of capilalist development in the colonial world. You’ll find very similar formulations in The Communist Manifesto. Do you find that “extraordinary and appalling” as well?

    You haven’t really answered my question about Benghazi: I didn’t ask you whether you “blamed” the rebels for asking for intervention: I asked, were they “wrong” to have made that request? And should the left have denounced western governments for responding positively and instead (like the “Stop The War” scabs) demanded that the govenments of the West ignore the rebels’ call for help?

  37. trotsky and marx against intervention said,

    Yes, I do think that Marx’s view in the late 1840s and early 1850s that the invasions of India and the Opium wars were progressive was appalling. However, it was at least partly understandable in the context of the time – and it was a mistake Marx corrected within a few year. One hundred and sixty years later, I find less excuse for believing that British colonialism had progressive results in India. Are you going to attempt to provide a single piece of evidence for the progressive role of imperialism in India, Jim? And since you seem to stand behind the whole of the 1848 edition of the Communist Manifesto, I assume you’re going to provide an argument in defence of that infamous positive reference to the Opium Wars? It’s amazing how you can blithely state that colinialism was progressive in India, where it claimed millions of dead, and yet not feel the need to defend your claim with a skerrick of evidence. Show me the progressive economic, ideological, or civic/democratic outcomes of colonial rule. Your lofty references to the historical progress achieved by a form of society which created millions of dead corpses me of the Stalinists who claim that the purges and famines of the ’30s were justified by rises in tractor production or the defeat of the Nazis. You’re dealing in rhetoric, not facts.

    Yes, the Libyan rebels were wrong to call for Western intervention. The West will try to strangle their revolution, and it has resources far greater than Gaddafi’s. In the same way, the Iraqi Communist Party was wrong to enter into the government formed by the US after the invasion of their country. The US turned on the Communists when their usefulness was at an end. But I can certainly understand how the Libyan rebels came to make their decision. It is possible to disagree with foreign comrades working in extremely difficult conditions without denying their courage and the nobility of their aims.

  38. jim denham said,

    At last we get it straight from our commenter “Trotagin”: Marx was wrong and the Libyan rebels were (and are) wrong. I presume you’re now campaigning for the UK governmernt to abandon the rebels to the tender mercies of your “anti-imperialist” Comrade Gaddafi, Trotagin?

    Now we know exactly where you stand., Mr AginTrotandMarx. And how shameful your position is!

  39. Barry F said,

    Does the refusal to endorse a call for an immediate end to the Western imposed no fly zone over Libya constitute a critical endorsement of imperialism? This is a charge that has been hurled with great solemnity at those of us who refuse to sing in the chorus demanding an immediate halt to the aerial assault, while also claiming to champion Libyan democracy.

    This question appears to the opponents of Western intervention to simply and smugly answer itself. The accusation itself is a veiled form of political damnation wrapped in a heavy dose of tongue clicking condescension.

    It is usually triumphantly twinned with the proud discovery that “humanitarian” intervention is belied by the refusal of the West to intervene in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen against Arab absolutism. This would, indeed, be a biting critique if any socialist who failed to join the choir actually alibied for imperialism by retailing this load of nonsense. The problem is that that creature is difficult to locate.

    On the other hand, the dual track of Western imperialism does open our critics to a charge they must be equally willing to face. Since the policy of withholding active military support to the rebels in these counties is also the policy that our socialist critics would have imperialism extend to Libya, does that not, by the same line of reasoning, make our detractors “critical supporters” of imperialism in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen? Are they not simply counter posing an imperialist approach that they “critically” endorse with respect to one region of the Arab world and demanding that it be also implemented in Libya?

    Of course, I intend my response to be demagogic and that’s precisely my point. It is simply the argument of our critics applied uniformly across the board. If “we” are being dishonest in not also calling for imperialist intervention in the Gulf states, aren’t “they” being equally dishonest by endorsing a Gulf state imperialist response in Libya? It is a line of reasoning for fools that illuminates exactly nothing.

    Let us examine this with a bit more seriousness. Socialists, in whose camp I count myself, did not call for a no fly zone. We simply recognized an indisputable fact. Without the NFZ the Libyan rebels would have been annihilated. And if the NFZ is withdrawn prematurely, they will be annihilated. The refusal of imperialism to intervene in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen is raised with great fanfare by our critics as revealing the true face of imperialism, one that can smile contentedly at the destruction of a democratic opposition. This, of course, our comrade critics ardently oppose. The intervention in Libya is resisted with equal gusto as revealing the true face of imperialism, one that wishes to hijack the revolution. This, of course, they no less vigorously oppose.

    What then? Raise demands that favor the certain crushing of the Libyan revolution to the danger of its being hijacked and proclaim that approach the distilled essence of anti-imperialism? Then comb through quotes from Trotsky and Marx that miraculously reveal that they too were no less hostile to imperialism than our critics. Since our critics highly endorse the works of Trotsky and Marx, it follows that Trotsky and Marx would have joyfully reciprocated by endorsing the betrayal of the Libyan democracy done in their names.

    Is there anything more to be said?

    Well, yes.

    Let us consider the American Revolution. This admittedly imperfect example gets us somewhat closer to the hub of the issue. The American Revolution mirrors the Libyan conflict insofar as it too combined aspects of a civil war with that of an imperial intervention.

    Without the assistance of France, Spain and later Holland the struggle for independence would have gone down to defeat. The revolutionists were disgusted with the thought of even having to ask France for aid. They had just yesterday fought the French in Canada and looked on French ambitions with justifiable suspicion. That France might possibly offer assistance for the purpose of weakening England, they could believe. But even if France was willing to take that gamble and enter in a conflict to drive Great Britain from the continent, would she then just sit idly by? Would France voluntarily permit the North American colonies to go free thereby courting the danger of stimulating similar appetites for liberation on the part of her West Indian colonies?

    Did the American revolutionists not run the risk in courting aid from the Bourbons of trading one set of continental oppressors for another? Was there any viable option given the near certitude of defeat in the absence of French intervention?

    Were those (hypothetical) republican well wishers abroad who may have demanded an immediate halt to French interference any better friends to the American Revolution than those who advised the revolutionists to take advantage of any opportunity French reaction could provide, while cautioning them to be ever distrustful of French imperial motives?

    Isn’t this where we also find ourselves?


  40. Trotsky against intervention said,

    Jim seems to have gotten up to the year 1853 in his reading of Marx’s works. I look forward to him pressing on to 1857, and discovering, with what will no doubt be a certain disbelief, that the Marx he thought was a champion of imperialism revised his early views on India once he actually had to do some empirical research and produce some works on the great armed uprising against colonialism of that year.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Jim has failed to produce a skerrick of evidence for the progressive qualities of imperialism in India. He can’t find any…because there isn’t any. The British didn’t turn India into an economic powerhouse – they retarded the economy for 170 years – didn’t introduce democracy, and didn’t modernise thinking but rather reinforced sectarian divisions. And of course repeated mass famines, which produced millions of corpses, hardly fit with most peoples’ notions of historical progress. Jim, though, seems determined to cling to what he knows, which is an article Marx wrote in 1853 after reading a now-forgotten novel about India and rejected as soon as he had to do some serious empirical research on the place in 1857. What strange and sad binds dogmatists with narrow reading lists get themselves into.

  41. jim denham said,

    AginTrot: ” Jim has failed to produce a skerrick of evidence for the progressive qualities of imperialism in India…” I haven’t even tried, actually. Just quoted Marx on the subject.”

    “He can’t find any…because there isn’t any”….re-read the Marx quote on India and the Communist Manifesto.

    The possibility of socialism is predicated upon the development of advanced capitalism. Imperialism is an advanced stage of capitalism. It is (or at least, was) objectively progressive in that it helped create the objective conditions for socialism. Marx was able to recognise the progessive nature of colonialism (the “Age of Imperialism” didn’t begin until after Marx’s death) whilst simultaneously acknowledging its cruelty and sympathisimng with anti-colonial struggles. Its called a dialectical understanding of reality.

  42. socialistfight said,

    Reblogged this on Socialist Fight and commented:
    The vilely reactionary AWL leader Jim Denham roundly abuses Jeremy Corbyn for questioning the revolutionary essence of the Libyan Rebels in 2011. How does any group claiming the name of Trotskyism (falsely, let me hastily add) tolerate this reactionary man in their ranks?

    • Political tourist said,

      Eat your cereal.

  43. Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy | Engage said,

    […] not a perfect figure by any means, but you take your breaks as you find […]

  44. Daniel Sugarman (@Daniel_Sugarman) said,

    Do you have a copy of the Morning Star article referred to in the post? Clicking on the link reveals that the Morning Star has mysteriously deleted it…

  45. Political Tourist said,

    How’s the civil war going in the Labour Party down South.
    Must be great to be a AWL member in Scotland, there’s not a rightwing Labour MP to be seen.

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