Seamas Milne supports reactionary “anti-imperialism” – yet again

September 20, 2012 at 10:41 am (apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, class, conspiracy theories, Guardian, imperialism, islamism, Jim D, Marxism, Middle East, Orwell, populism, stalinism, USSR)

“In this way arose feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half lampoon; half echo of the past, half menace of the future; at times, by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the bourgeoisie to the very heart’s core: but always ludicrous in its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history.

“The artistocracy, in order to rally the people to them, waved the proletarian alms-bag in front for a banner. But the people, so often as it joined them, saw on their hindquarters the old feudal coat of arms, and deserted with loud and irreverant laughter” – Marx and Engels, ‘The Communist Manifesto.’

I’ve written about the Graun‘s tame public school Stalinist, Seumas “Posh Boy” Milne many times before and was inclined, at first, to ignore his latest pack of lies, half-truths, evasion and privileged westerner’s patronisation of, and generalisation about, people of other cultures, published in that paper yesterday. But it really is a loathsome, poisonous piece of writing, even by Milne’s distasteful ‘standards.’

Milne (ex- Winchester School and Balliol, Oxford) is far from the first scion of the upper class to become a radical and, in a sense, a class traitor. In principle, an admirable stance. George Orwell famously described himself as “lower-upper-middle class” and went to Eton. But Orwell’s socialism was libertarian and democratic to its core. Even in the 1930’s, when the full horrors of Stalinism had yet to be generally acnowledged and the Soviet Union was widely admired amongst British intellectuals, Orwell rejected it and dedicated his life to promoting what he saw as democratic socialism and fighting totalitarianism in both its fascist and Stalinist forms.

Milne could scarcely be further from that tradition. All his adult life has been devoted to glorifying Stalinism and dictatorship. He seems to have a psychological need for a strong leader-figure. He certainly holds democracy in any form, in complete disdain. On leaving Balliol he became business manager of Straight Left (the publication of an ultra-Stalinist faction within the British Communist Party), and since joining the Guardian (via a stint at the Economist) has frequently devoted columns to defending/excusing/downplaying the mass murder that took place under his hero.

But Mine has had a major problem since 1989: the masses of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union rejected totalitarianism, and the working class of the ‘West’ (and, indeed, most of the rest of the world) finally discarded whatever residual illusions they may have had in Stalinism as any kind of progressive force. History’s verdict on the Milnes’ of this world was decisive and damning. Since that blow (shared by his friend and co-thinker George Galloway), he’s had no postive vision of socialism to put forward. Like many other Stalinists, he doesn’t even use the word very often. He prefers to talk about “imperialism,” which for him means little more than “bad” and – especially – American and Israeli “bad.”

Apart from hoping that Chinese capitalism (the rise of which even he has described as “problematic”) will soon eclipse the US version, and that populist demagogues like Hugo Chavez will develop some form of home-grown “socialism” in Latin America, poor Seumas doesn’t really know what he’s actually in favour of. But he knows what he’s against. Hence his support for anyone – but anyone  – who’s against the US and/or ‘the West’ as a whole and/or Israel. Hence his support for the Iranian clerical fascists, for the antisemites of Hamas and Hezbullah, the so-called “resistance” that murdered trade unionists and democrats in Iraq and for the so-called “resistance” (aka the Taliban) in Afghanistan (if you don’t believe me on this, take a look at the video below). Naturally, he now rejoices at the reactionary anti-American protests recently stirred up by clerical fascists in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere, which he gloatingly celebrates as “blowback” from “US and western attempts to commandeer the Arab uprisings” (he thought the Libyans should have submitted to the tender mercies of Gaddafi, just as he now supports Assad). Clearly, for Milne (as for Galloway, Pilger, Tariq Ali and people like the degenerate ex-SWP’ers of ‘Counterfire’) Islamism now plays the “progressive” role in the world that Stalinism and various nationalist movements once did. He conveniently ignores the fact that all the evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of Libyans (and no doubt Egyptians and others) rejected the latest manufactured Islamist ‘outrage.’ Here’a telling passage from his latest Graun effort:

“The fact that the attack on the US consulate, along with often violent protests that have spread across 20 countries, was apparently triggered by an obscure online video trailer concocted by US-based Christian fundamentalists and émigré Copts – even one portraying the prophet Muhammad as a fraud and paedophile – seems bafflingly disproportionate to outsiders.

“But in the wake of the Rushdie affair and Danish cartoons controversy, it should be clear that insults to Muhammad are widely seen by Muslims as an attack on their collective identity and, as the Berkeley-based anthropologist Saba Mahmoud argues, a particular form of religiosity that elevates him as an ideal exemplar.

“Those feelings can obviously be exploited, as they have been in recent days in a battle for political influence between fundamentalist Salafists, mainstream Islamists and the Shia Hezbollah. But it would be absurd not to recognise that the scale of the response isn’t just about a repulsive video, or even reverence for the prophet. As is obvious from the slogans and targets, what set these protests alight is the fact that the injury to Muslims is seen once again to come from an arrogant hyperpower that has invaded, subjugated and humiliated the Arab and Muslim world for decades.”

Condensed version: “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

Seumas, like many such self-important political illiterates, is highly sensitive to criticism, and at Comment is Free (where readers are supposed to be able to comment on Graun articles) he is protected by vigilant “moderators” who regularly delete critical comments and put those who dare attack, mock or just disagree with Seumas into a limbo called “pre-moderation.” However, one or two critical voices occasionally get through:  someone calling themselves ‘sullenandhostile’ (on page 3, 19 Sept, 1.15 pm below the article) takes poor Seumas apart good and proper. I doubt that s/he’ll be allowed to return.

You might just ask, in view of his hatred of America and his support for all who attack the “West” by whatever means, why he doesn’t go the whole hog and express at least some sympathy with Al-Qaeda ; well, he has done. Here. Note the date.


  1. cpcmcreditmanagement said,

    Good piece

    I have commented on his frankly sinister pieces before and now find my comments are “pre moderated”. No reason given..

    it is also noticeable that such an vicious and near bigoted piece would have been taken apart by many posters before, the response has seemingly been benign. The moderators have clearly done their job

    Reading the piece again, he all but justifies the fatwa against Rushdie by using it as a reason why “we musn’t upset them”

    In this week of all weeks

    What a nasty individual he is

    • Matthew Blott said,

      I’ve also had a couple of unwelcome responses from the Milne hit squad. One was a very threatening email after I’d posted a link which did no more than explain what a nasty little Stalinist he is. The second time I made the sin of re-posting a post that had been deleted. I was pretty annoyed because the post stayed on-topic, did not contain any profanity or a personal attack on Milne. It did of course say what utter bollocks he was talking as usual and as a consequence I am now also in pre-moderation limbo. It’s supposed to be temporary according to their website but it’s been like this for over a year. I agree with cpcmcreditmanagement, he’s not only a fool but a total cunt to boot.

      • bler4eg omceonmretatry said,

        fuCK ofvb BloOOT.

  2. Fuck Liberalism said,


    “Since launching the war on terror, the US and its allies have attacked and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; bombed Libya; killed thousands in drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; imposed devastating sanctions; backed Israel’s occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians to the hilt; carried out large-scale torture, kidnapping and internment without trial; maintained multiple bases to protect client dictatorships throughout the region; and now threaten Iran with another act of illegal war.

    “The video is manifestly only the latest trigger for a deep popular anger in a region where opposition to imperial domination is now channelled mainly through the politics of Islam rather than nationalism.”

    Spot on!

    “Far from opposing the so-called excesses – instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buildings with which hateful memories are associated – the workers’ party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction.”

    Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League 1850

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Marx and Engels were writing about democratic proletarian “popular vengeance” not reactionary anti-democratic barbarism directed by dark-age clerics of the sort they denounced in The Communist Manifesto and elsewhere. If can’t see that you see nothing. Change your name to something more appropriate to your understanding, like “Fuck Marxism.”

  4. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Hate Milne to the degree that I wouldn’t attend the last CLPD AGM because he was a speaker.

    But its a bit of a disservice to Winchester, Balliol and Birkbeck (my own college of which I had no idea he was a fellow graduate) to describe him as a political illiterate like the SWPer trolls who infest the comments here and at other sane left blogs.

    He is just a genuine Stalinist who can only see the world as a Manichean struggle between forces of good and evil that were defined in Marxist-Leninist holy writ nearly a century ago.

    And when we still had the USSR this meant that when it was being historically progressive – as it was in Central Asia and Afghanistan – he too was occasionally progressive.

    (BTW has anyone seen anything by him from the 80s when he presumably must waxed positively Hitchensian against the Jihadists that were killing members of his beloved Red Army? – feel a trip to the Marx Memorial Library coming on).

    But while the world has changed beyond recognition Milne’s faith has remained untouched by it all – for him the world is as comfortingly dualistic now as it was when he first picked up a copy of the Morning Star in the sixties or seventies,

    The only difference now is that he has no-one in Moscow to make those ‘The enemy has always been Eastasia’ recalibrations for him and so must make them himself.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    • Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce said,

      very good piece by cliVE that. Attckking thick cunTTS. a shit jerb but someone has to do it.

  6. Fuck Liberalism said,

    “Apart from hoping that Chinese capitalism (the rise of which even he has described as “problematic”) will soon eclipse the US version, and that populist demagogues like Hugo Chavez will develop some form of home-grown “socialism” in Latin America”

    Whereas the AWL believe that the road to democracy will be paved by yank predator drones and b52 bombers.

    • Matt said,

      Any evidence for that claim?

  7. Jim Denham said,

    Learn to read, Fuck-nose. Then (if it’s not asking too much), to think.

  8. rosie said,

    I read the comments under Shameless, and a good many were anti Milne.

    “sullenandhostile”‘s excellent comment taking Shameless to task stated that Libyans hadn’t in fact seen the attack on the ambassador as outrage against USA interference in Libyan affairs.

    Latest news:-

    “The large peace march planned in Benghazi has materialized, with an estimated 10,000 demonstrators protesting the presence of militant groups blamed for the 11 September attack on the US diplomatic mission, the AP reports:

    The giant march, which filled a major boulevard in the city of 1 million, is part of a new public backlash against militias sparked by last week’s attack against the U.S. Consulate here that killed the ambassador and three other Americans. At least one militia is suspected of participating in the attack.

    Multiple armed factions operate in Benghazi and other Libyan cities, boasting greater power than the weak government and security forces.

    The crowd of men, women and children chanted, “No, no to militias” and carried signs and banners reading, “Where is the army? Where is the police?” and “Benghazi is in a trap.””

    So anger being directed at a proper target.

    And the “Muslim world” broken down into various states, factions and movements – not just the “religious fury as an expression of anti-imperialism” as explained by Shameless.

  9. Andrew Coates said,

    This is incredibly important: the Morning Star today has published a full page article by Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Israel Shamir attacking Pussy Riot,

  10. Laban Tall said,

    “He seems to have a psychological need for a strong leader-figure. He certainly holds democracy in any form, in complete disdain.”

    I guess Winchester must have left its mark …

  11. Loads Of Angry Muslims « Max Dunbar said,

    […] Orr in the Guardian complaining about Western ‘arrogance’ and quoting the Quran, Seamus Milne trying to marshall the Arab street into his discredited anti-imperialist matrix, and a letter in […]

  12. SteveH said,

    There can be no doubt that this site supported the various imperialist wars since 9/11. To deny this is total dishonesty. You even carried propaganda stories about little girls playing the piano in post Saddam Iraq, it was tastelessness of the highest order. Apology in its most sickening form.

    Now the march of history seems to be toward Islamism and certainly to nothing approaching socialism, either in the Middle East or here in the West. The march of history is an overly deterministic term, no wonder that Engels was moved to call the communist manifesto, “an historic document”.

    The contradictions within capitalism have really reached a nadir I think, it simply cannot solve the underdevelopment problems of much of humanity and is creating an environmental disaster, it can only call forth self interest and fighting over key resources. Imperialism helps create the tyrants and ideologies you say you are against, it also strengthens the power of the bourgeois at home. Your pro imperialism no doubt aides the current march of history. You are part of the band playing the march music! On this you are correct.

  13. Jim Denham said,

    SteveH: as I’ve said before you are either almost unbelievably stupid, or a barefaced liar. Maybe both.

    Where has this site supported *any* “imperialist wars since 9/11” (as opposed to supporting the right of, say, the Liyan rebels to call for Nato support)? Please cite chapter and verse. Or shut up after having apologised.

    And your refernce to “little girls playing the piano” can only be, as I recall, a reference to an article we posted about the tremedously brave young woman who’s set up the Iraqi National Youth Orchestra. What on earth can you possibly object to about that? Unless you think Iraqi youth should be denied artistic expression in the name of “anti-imperialism.” Is that *really* your position?

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