Robert Wyatt: just another prick off the wall

January 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, jerk, Jim D, music, Racism, reactionay "anti-imperialism", stalinism, zionism)

File:RobertWyatt 2006 (mirrored).jpg

Musicians, actors and artists have just the same right as the rest of us to express political opinions. Their fame as artists neither enhances nor diminishes the validity of their views; it can, of course, mean that their views receive a somewhat wider airing than yours or mine would. So it is with Robert Wyatt, former drummer with Soft Machine, who’s been paralysed since an accident in 1973, and since then has continued his career as a much-respected singer-songwriter and political pundit. It’s the punditry that’s worrying.

Like so many politically ill-educated people who adopt radical stances in middle-age, Mr Wyatt goes in for conspiracy theories – and conspiracy theories about Jews – sorry “Zionists” – in particular. He may or may not be personally anti-Semitic, but he certainly associates with people who are. He’s a friend of the holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon, and a defender of the geriatric  Jew-hater Roger Waters (who displays an inflatable pig adorned with a Star of David at his concerts).

In a bizarre article in Saturday’s Morning Star, Wyatt reveals himself as proponent of the “my enemy’s enemy” school of political analysis, with implied support for the present leadership of Iran and praise for the “refreshingly different takes on the news” of Putin’s Russia Today (and, less outrageously, Al Jazeera). But when it comes to Jew-hatred, Wyatt really goes off the rails, praising Pink Floyd’s anti-Semitic Roger Waters for “his brave stand against the zionazis ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” I won’t even dignify the filthy word “zionazi” with a response. But I note that Wyatt goes on to suggest that “anti-Semitism” doesn’t exist (at least not as anti-Jewish racism) because “Semitic language speakers include 300 million Arabs” – a banal exercise in word-play habitually used by people who think it’s clever to deny the existence of anti-Jewish racism.

Regular readers will know that this blog is clear-cut in its opposition to settlements on Palestinian land, and outspoken in our support for a mutually just two states solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. But we are also opposed to anti-Semitism masquerading as “anti-Zionism”. Wyatt may be an idiot, rather than simply a racist piece of shit. I don’t know which for sure, but I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt given his friendship with the deranged anti-Semite Atzmon, who is (presumably) the person Wyatt’s referring to when he writes  about a “Hebrew-speaking Palestinian” . Wyatt is either a very ignorant man (a “prick off the wall”) or a very sick one: either way, why the hell is the trade union-funded Morning Star promoting his filth?


  1. Jason Schulman said,

    Of course antisemitism exists, but given that Jews don’t constitute a race, there’s no such thing as “anti-Jewish racism.”

  2. Babs said,

    “….defender of the geriatric Jew-hater Roger Waters (who displays an inflatable pig adorned with a Star of David at his concerts)”

    Now correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that was meant to be anti-Judaism the religion not anti-Semitic. He’s done the same to the Islamic Moon Crescent and the Christian Cross.

  3. Karl Dallas said,

    Think you’re muxing ip your progrock groups. Wyatt was in Soft Machine, not Floyd.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Thanks Karl, but I’ve already stated that Wyatt was in Soft machine and Waters was/is in Pink Floyd. Pay attention, please!

  4. Mick O said,

    I agree with the analysis here of the absurd views of Waters and Wyatt. Now I’m knocking on a bit I am more aware of digs about age. Was it really necessary to refer to Waters as geriatric? It isnt acceptable to mock somebody’s race, religion, sexual orientation etc so why should this be considered to be ok?

    • Jim Denham said,

      Fair point, Mick: I’ll avoid such comments in future. Btw: I’m no spring chicken myself, which may be why I felt it OK to use the word “geriatric.”

  5. Lamia said,

    “why the hell, is the trade union-funded Morning Star promoting his filth?”

    Because it is a communist newspaper with a long and inglorious heritage of apologism for ‘anti-zionist’ communist states and even, as the Daily Worker, for advocating quietism against Nazi Germany while it was allied with their heroes in the Soviet Union. The Luftwaffe ungratefully repaid this stance of friendly neutrality by destroying the Daily Worker’s offices in a raid in April 1941.

    The question ought to be: why on earth do some members of the democratic left still have anything to do with the long-since shamed and discredited media outlet of a revolting totalitarian party? There is no excuse.

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      The CPGB line between Sept 3 1939 and June 22 1941 was actually a return to classic revolutionary defeatism (as was the official Trotskyist line even after June 22 1941) and thus no more (or less) pro-Hitler than Lenin’s was pro-Kaiser.

      And when the Soviet line was pro-zionist (as it broadly was between 1944 and 1950) the Daily Worker presumably published admiring articles about the Haganah and Kibbutzes and it would be interesting to dig some of these out from the archives and track the Orwellian transition.

      • Jim Denham said,

        My understanding, Roger, is that the British CP’s neutrality during the Stalin-Hitler pact years, was decidedly pro-Axis.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Thus my more or less comment – being in favour of one’s own imperialist nation’s defeat as a necessary precondition of revolution being as ‘objectively’ pro-Nazi in 1940 as the position of Lenin was pro- German Imperialism in 1917 (and lets not get into the degree to which the new Soviet regime was a willing satellite of the Kaiserreich between March and November 1918).

        Having read CPGB memoirs of the era what is striking in several of them (I have in mind particularly Douglas Hyde’s I Believed) is how popular the return to pure unalloyed revolutionary Leninism and to being once again an underground organisation was with CPGB loyalists.

        One also has to recognise that to regard the Nazism of 1940 as not qualitatively different from any other rival imperialism was not unreasonable based on what was commonly known at the time and is of course characteristic of Trotskyist publications as well.

        And indeed most historians do see June 22 1941 as a key turning point in the cumulative radicalisation of the Nazi regime and its transition from brutal authoritarianism to genocidal totalitarianism.

        So I am certainly not defending the CPGB’s position in this period – only pointing out that it was intrinsically no more or less pro-Nazi than that of the tiny Trotskyist factions which used identical rhetoric.

        I’d also argue that the CPGB’s single-minded devotion to the war effort after June 22 1941 (on which Hyde’s memoir is also highly instructive) more than makes up for their not very effective defeatism before it.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I don’t think we’re in fundamental disagreement here, Roger, but in fairness to Trotsky, I’d describe the Proletarian Military Policy as a somewhat incoherent attempt to marry revolutionary defeatism with a recognition of Nazism’s uniquely evil nature, and the need to fight it. Similarly, Cannon, in ‘Socialism On Trial’ seems to be making an honest attempt to come to terms with the need to fight Nazism,albeit (again) from within the framework of revolutionary defeatism.

        I do think there’s a qualitative difference between the PMP and Socialism on Trial on the one hand, and the Stalinists’ objectively pro-Nazi position on the other.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Of course Trotsky’s (and the 4th International after Trotsky’s murder and also that of the Shachtmanites) line was more nuanced than that of the Comintern – how could they not be?

        However other than that the Trots were not taking direct orders from a state effectively allied to the Third Reich I really can see little difference in terms of the day-to-day anti-war activities of Stalinist and Trotskyist militants between Autumn 1939 and Summer 1941 other than that the Stalinists being orders of magnitude more numerous were far more effective (not that this was saying very much).

        And neither did the British state which in June 1940 only declined to ban the Trotskyist publication Youth for Socialism on the same grounds as it had banned Fascist and CPGB papers because its circulation was too tiny to justify the legal and police effort.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        And here’s a historical footnote – an interesting Socialist Appeal article on the 1945 Neath by-election quotes an internal RCP document placing its defeat (or rather triumph even though its candidate lost his deposit) in the context of ‘Buchenwald horror campaigns’.

        Depressing to be part of a tradition that in 1945 was capable of responding to the revelations about Nazi death camps as if they were a mere bourgeois propaganda ploy.

  6. Lamia said,

    And in fact you’ve covered this well here:

    Wyatt’s article is scummy but hardly a shock to find in the Morning Star.

  7. Sarah AB said,

    Good post Jim – and Mira has also written about this over on Engage.

  8. Andrew Coates said,

    It was the “zionazis” that got me.

    I have the print edition, and it is indeed prominent.

    • Andrew Coates said,

      One thing that strikes me about the Morning Star is that when it comes to articles like this it is about as puerile as a 14 year old’s blog.

      And if anybody ever cooks the ‘Commie Chef’ recipes, (every one is vegetarian, if not vegan) ……typical one: boil a pound of red lentils and organic brown rice for six hours, add Siberian salt: enjoy! they must be even more constipated than the No2EU election campaign.

      • Howard Fuller said,

        Quite the opposite with all that fibre……

        Describes their politics really.

  9. richardarmbach said,

    Just who or what is the breaking into homes at the dead of night, abducting the family’s children, transporting them to a foreign country, torturing them in solitary confinement, reminiscent of ? Mary Poppins ?

  10. Joanne said,

    The argument that Arabs are Semites, too, is so silly. The coiner of the term “antisemitism” was Wilhelm Marr, a German antisemite of the late 19th century, when antisemitism was gaining a lot of political traction. I suppose the term gave the hatred of Jews a semi-scientific or intellectual gloss. It is obvious that he didn’t have Arabs in mind, nor did any other European antisemite of the time. The Arabs were not a social or political reality in European societies back then.

    If you run across people on the left using the fatuous argument about antisemitism, tell them that you regard them as pro-American. After all, Venezuelans, Mexicans, and other Latin Americans are Americans, too. In fact, Latin Americans don’t like the fact that the US is also called “America” and its citizens “Americans,” as it’s appropriating a term that should belong to citizens of any country in the Americas. That’s why you see references in Spanish-language publications to Americans as “norteamericanos” and “estadounidenses.”

    So, just tell these left-wing people that you regard them as pro-American. Then watch them squirm. Well, they like Venezuela and Cuba, don’t they?

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