Beyond belief: ‘Left Unity’ to debate pro-ISIS motion

November 12, 2014 at 8:49 pm (apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, fascism, genocide, insanity, islamism, mental health, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism")

Left Unity

 Sasha Ismail writes:

The Left Unity conference on Saturday is debating Kurdistan. There is a motion which describes ISIS as having “progressive potential” because it breaks down the imperialist-drawn boundaries of Middle Eastern states and literally – literally – calls for support for a caliphate in the region, describing this as representing “internationalism”, “protection of diversity and autonomy”, “accountability and representation” and “effective control of executive authority”. I honestly don’t think I’ve misrepresented it. Luckily there are a number of other decent motions supporting the Kurds and working-class and socialist forces, including one which highlights the nature of Western imperialism but argues for the Kurds’ right to get weapons and air support in their battle against ISIS (not proposed by Workers’ Liberty funnily enough).

NB: the motion, in pdf form, is p.41, amendement Ba2

27 Comments

  1. Howard Fuller said,

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Bloody hell, Howard: we’d no doubt disagree on a lot, but on this … well, human decency must surely prevail.

    The proposers of this motion are scum who have no place on the “left” … or anywhere else.

  3. ZINR said,

    Well it’s a sick joke of a motion, no doubt about it, but the rest is hardly groundbreaking stuff either, is it? How, for example, does their idiotic ranting about the evils of “the apartheid, reactionary Zionist entity” differentiate them from such foul organisations as Respect? Are there any Left organisations who have something other than regurgitated Islamist propaganda to offer on this issue (with the noble exception of the AWL, of course)?

    “Left Unity” (I think the last hundred years or so has proved that phrase to be an oxymoron) offer nothing that a thousand student debating societies haven’t wasted our time with already.

    • Aaron Aarons said,

      ZINR asks: “How, for example, does their idiotic [sic![ ranting [sic!] about the evils of “the apartheid, reactionary Zionist entity” differentiate them from such foul [sic!] organisations as Respect?”

      How does your opposition to this rather reasonable, if understated, characterization of the JS, a characterization shared by most organizations of oppressed peoples around the world, differentiate you from any of the really foul mainstream, imperialist, British capitalist parties, including the UKIP, or from the many outright Jewish-supremacist Zionist organizations themselves?

      ZINR also asks: “Are there any Left organisations who have something other than regurgitated Islamist propaganda to offer on this issue […]?” Left opposition to the JS, particularly among the oppressed-nation left, goes back to long before Islamists became a major factor in the Palestinian movement. Recall that the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was led for decades by a Palestinian of Christian background, and that the Palestinian movement was generally secular until the 1990’s, when the secular PLO threw away its credibility by signing the Oslo sellout and transforming itself into the Arabenrat, a.k.a. “Palestinian Authority”. (There were many factors that helped Islamists become a major force among Palestinians, including the general decline of the left following the break-up of the USSR and the selective repression of secular Palestinians by the Zionist occupiers.)

      • ZINR said,

        Ha! Brilliant!

        Which university are you at? I would hazard a guess at SOAS, having been there myself…

        I loved your description of the Destroy Israel stuff as “somewhat understated”; that really made me chuckle.

  4. ElQuico said,

    There’s also a depressingly one-sided motion on Ukraine, which is a shame as from what I’ve seen Left Unity hadn’t yet fallen into the trap of the authoritarian faux-left and the Stop the West Coalition to absolve their favourite dictator of all blame.

    It’s a shame, as I had misguidedly high hopes for LU. It seems they’ve been banjaxed by Stalinist no-marks with too much time on their hands like Brenner.

    • Aaron Aarons said,

      Where is this “Stop the West Coalition”? Can I join it, even though I don’t live in the U.K.?

      If your reference to “their favourite dictator” is to Vladimir Putin, he certainly should be blamed for allowing threats from the West to deter him from giving adequate support to those resisting the NATO-backed assault on the people of Eastern Ukraine by the Nazi-infested forces of the Kiev regime.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Oh dear, oh dear. Another sub-Stalinist shows his true colours (which are *not* red).

      • ElQuico said,

        I see! What about the fascist-infested forces of the DPR and LPR?

        Are there good fascists and bad fascists? Perhaps you could draw me up a list.

        Let’s start with the fascists who “observed” the recent “elections” in the DPR and LPR. Thumbs up, or thumbs down?

        Stalinist no-mark.

  5. john r said,

    the “Left Unity” article referred to by Howard is here –

    http://leftunity.org/arabia-the-demise-of-the-old-colonial-order/

    Surely, though, this falls into a tradition of some (many?) on the Far-Left supporting extreme-Islamist “anti-imperialist” groupings.

    Some have even gone as far as saying they would support attacks in the UK –

    “Now let us make something absolutely clear. I think that given Britain is at war, then those fighting for the national independence of Iraq and Afghanistan would be entirely justified in sabotage against these bases [Brize Norton and RAF Lyneham] or other military action against the British armed forces, both in the UK and overseas.” – Socialist Unity (Feb 2007)

    http://socialistunity.com/why-we-should-defy-the-2006-terrorism-act/

    Remember the Iraqi “resistance” then included al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI who morphed into Isis) and the Afgani resistance is, of course, the Taliban.

    So, as I say, I don’t think there is anything new here (the Left Unity debate) regarding “anti-imperialist ” support for Islamist groups. Perhaps the battle between Isis and Bashar al-Assad’s regime have led many to take what they see as the “moral high ground” to support the latter.

    By the way, the author of the “Socialist Unity” piece quoted above is now the respectable Labour Candidate for Chippenham in the forthcoming General Election. I’ve no doubt the views he expressed seven years ago can be put down to youthful exuberance and he has subsequently changed his mind.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to find evidence to indicate this yet.

    • Aaron Aarons said,

      Apparently, you folks, despite the presumed Trotskyist background of most of you, can’t get it through your skulls that there is a difference between (a) siding with an armed struggle in a country oppressed by imperialism against the armed forces of imperialism, and (2) supporting the general politics and practices of any or all of the groups involved in that struggle. While most of the left, at least in the U.S., supported whatever armed resistance there was against the U.S. and allied invaders and occupiers of Afghanistan and Iraq, hardly anybody had a good word to say about the Taliban or about the sectarian elements of the Iraqi resistance. For the most part, we didn’t and don’t consider an evaluation of those fighting our own imperialist rulers to be our main task, although we couldn’t help recognizing that there were and are murderous Sunni sectarians on the side fighting the murderous imperialists while there were and are murderous Shia sectarians on the side allied to the murderous imperialists. But most knew that it is the murderous imperialists, not any of the other forces, that are the main danger to humanity.

      BTW, I would go much farther than that 2007 statement from Socialist Unity and say that sabotage against imperialist military bases, arms manufacturing facilities, etc., is always justified, although violent attacks on such installations have to be justified by the particular situation.

      • Jim Denham said,

        “For the most part, we didn’t and don’t consider an evaluation of those fighting our own imperialist rulers to be our main task, although we couldn’t help recognizing that there were and are murderous Sunni sectarians on the side fighting the murderous imperialists while there were and are murderous Shia sectarians on the side allied to the murderous imperialists”:

        Try telling that to the Iraqi trade unionists whose comrades were murdered by the fascistic sectarians of the so-called “resistance”. Once again, Aaron, you’re demonstrating your Western-centric ignorance and contempt for the people in the Middle East who ought to be our comrades and who have a right to demand our solidarity.

        PS: on the basis of your “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” logic, why don’t you support ISIS?

      • Aaron Aarons said,

        Jim, how about proclaiming your support of U.S. imperialism to the Salvadorans, among many others, whose comrades – trade unionists, peasant organizers, and other social fighters – have been killed in the thousands by death squads organized by the same U.S. imperialism that you are supporting as, apparently, “the enemy of my enemy”?

      • Jim Denham said,

        “Jim, how about proclaiming your support of U.S. imperialism …”

        Well, I wouldn’t for the simple reason that I don’t and I defy you to find anything I’ve written that suggests that I do, or logically should do.

        Whereas the entire logic of your “reasoning” (if one can dignify it with that word) should lead you to support ISIS.

        So I repeat my question, Aaron: on the basis of your “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” logic, why don’t you support ISIS?

      • Lamia said,

        ” For the most part, we didn’t and don’t consider an evaluation of those fighting our own imperialist rulers to be our main task”

        Well maybe you should have. There is no sense or virtue in supporting the far worse over the imperfect or bad. That is leaving aside the harm done to those who are actually fighting for the values you arrogantly claim to stand for yourself.

        Once again you display your narcissistic western-centrism. You pride yourself on opposing your own country, the USA, but all that rteally tells us is about the limits of your imagination and your empathy. You haven’t the faintest understanding of or sympathy for the worse threats faced by people in many other countries. You just can’t get that there is a world outside there which doesn’t entirely revolve around your country. Temperamentally you hate the USA, but mentally you have a superstitious and misplaced reverence for its power and importance.

        Your indifference to the suffering of Kurds, Yazidis et al in the face of ISIS would be unpleasant but bearable if you ascribed it to simply not caring. It’s the way you try to spin it as a matter of selfless principle on your part that is truly revolting.

  6. Juan P. Lewis said,

    “Left Unity believes that the failure of progressive forces in the west to accept the right of Muslims to struggle for a better world in their own terms, combined with our ignorance and prejudice around such concepts as ‘Caliphate’, ‘Sharia’ and ‘Jihad’, is part of the islamaphobic cultural baggage we inherited and which is reproduced by our media, and we know that
    this cannot be squared with our support for the principle of the self-determination of peoples.”

    Go and tell that to Iranian communists and Maghrebi socialists. LU looks more like RESPECT redux than anything else… and we know how it ended.

  7. Juan P. Lewis said,

    “we support a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms in commercial agriculture.”

    At least the Lysenkoist didn’t win squarely and they support research. But the whole document shows that they don’t know what a GMO is. What matters is patents, not how you develop your agricultural products. A lot of GMO are not patented, and a lot of non-GMO are. But they want know, because the Greens have been muddying the waters with their woo all these years.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Agreed: I thought no rational person opposed GM crops in principle, any more. Certainly not since this former opponent had the courage (and I mean *courage* – he’s received death threats) to re-assess his views:

      http://www.marklynas.org/2013/04/time-to-call-out-the-anti-gmo-conspiracy-theory/

    • Aaron Aarons said,

      Sorry, but, while patents on crops should be opposed, they are not the only issue. Genetic modification produces far more novel changes in plants than do traditional methods of plant breeding, and the introduction of GMO crops into the environment requires strict supervision by persons and institutions not dominated by either the profit motive or the prioritization, for ideological reasons, of increased production over environmental protection. Such supervision is going to be difficult to obtain under capitalism, so it makes sense, especially given the absence of any demonstrated social benefit of any existing GMO crop, for people to decide, as the voters of Maui, Hawaii, have just done, to ban GMO crops altogether for the time being.

      Sure, socialists and other leftists should support research on genetic modification (with the hope, among others, of creating plants that would make the animal slaughter industry obsolete). But such research also requires strict supervision, at least to make sure that genetic material being tested doesn’t get accidentally or deliberately released into the biosphere.

      Incidentally, there is absolutely no reason to allow the planting of GM crops that are modified to allow the use of poisons like glycophosphate (Roundup) to kill natural plants (“weeds”) that compete with the commercially desired one. And there is no reason to allow companies like Monsanto to have any say whatever in anything.

      • Simon B said,

        We live in a capitalist society. Either you say innovation stops until socialist revolution (you’ll be waiting a long, long time) or it can happen now. GM crops can use less pesticide and insecticide and target only those pests which attack the crops and leave other insects etc. alone.
        We have changed plants through selection our whole time as farmers. Almost all the food we eat has been greatly changed from what occurred ‘naturally’. Corn, for example, had a handful of hard and bitter kernels whereas we have selected to the point that a corn cob now is sweet and has hundreds of kernels. GM crops do the same thing but much more quickly and much more efficiently.
        I agree with your point on animals, however, anti-GMO conservatives insist on needless testing which is done on animals. Also, a GM milk made from plants is currently in development which is purported to taste, and to be, exactly like cows’ milk. It will be sold by a company hoping to make a profit but I support it happening nonetheless.
        Have a read of this – http://www.vegangmo.com/?page_id=655
        The main point, though, is that GM crops can actually make a difference to increasing food production so that we no longer have the obscenity of a world where millions starve (while millions of others are obese).

      • Juan P. Lewis said,

        “Genetic modification produces far more novel changes in plants than do traditional methods of plant breeding”

        Not necessarily, and usually the opposite. “Traditional” methods of plant breeding either produce the mix of many genes or are reached by radiation, producing large mutations.

        Genetic modification is done by altering ONE gene.

        “especially given the absence of any demonstrated social benefit of any existing GMO crop”

        Go and tell that to Indian farmers, who’ve been planting Bt-cotton for a while, reducing the use of pesticides and increasing profits. (and before you quote that charlatan Shiva, suicides among farmers in India have gone slightly down since the intro of Bt-cotton).

        “the voters of Maui, Hawaii, have just done, to ban GMO crops altogether for the time being.”

        Nice victory of the Lysenkoists, I see. the Hawaiian papaya was saved thanks to non-patented genetic modification. The idiots who voted against using GMO crops don’t even know what Hawaii agriculture is famous for.

        http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/grocery_shopping/fruit_vegetables/14.genetically_modified_papayas_virus_resistance.html

        Let’s hope ringspot virus doesn’t destroy Maui papayas again, now that GM-papayas are forbidden.

        “there is absolutely no reason to allow the planting of GM crops that are modified to allow the use of poisons like glycophosphate (Roundup) to kill natural plants (“weeds”) that compete with the commercially desired one”

        The reason you use glyphosate-resistant crops is because a) you don’t have to use a larger pool of herbicides like 2-4-D or similar, which are more poisonous than glyphosate, b) it makes the adoption of no-till agriculture easier, reducing erosion of the soil.

        But that’s only ONE type of GMO. There’re many others, not all glyphosate-resistant.

        “And there is no reason to allow companies like Monsanto to have any say”

        Monsanto doesn’t own the patent of glyphosate anymore. It’s been 14 years now. We don’t live in a feudal society, so if you don’t like Monsanto products, you can buy them from any other company you want. Maybe farmers buy from Monsanto because other companies are not that good.

        Monsanto has a say, because they control a good share of the market, partly thanks to the reactionary stupidity of the Greens, who have stalled the development of GMOs in Europe, giving a Yankee company the lead in the market.

        The dogmatic opposition to genetic modification of crops is the closest the modern European left came to ape Lysenko. I we know what his lunacy meant to Soviet agriculture. In ten years time we’ll look back on the noughties opposition to the technology and we would wonder what the fuck we were thinking.

      • Aaron Aarons said,

        I’m not about to spend a few years becoming an expert on all aspects of genetic modification. But most of the arguments presented here assume that production of food must be done via industrial monoculture, rather than through more labor-intensive, permaculture-based methods that don’t require herbicides or, at least in most cases, pesticides. Of course, this violates the “progressive” mantra of increasing labor productivity, but, with the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are either unemployed or involved in socially useless or even harmful paid activity, one could double or triple the number of people working in food production where it is presently highly mechanized and chemicalized without taking labor away from useful activity. This would, of course, decrease the size of the reserve army of labor, so the capitalist class wouldn’t like it, but that’s more reason for the left to support it.

        Incidentally, given that the pro-GMO capitalists had a lot more money with which to present their case to the voters of Maui than their opponents had, and that people in Maui know a lot more about the local crops than I do, I will defer to their judgment.

        And regarding “innovation”, much of the innovation that takes place under actually existing capitalism is harmful, rather than beneficial, to the majority of human beings and the biosphere. How many useful innovations, for example, would be necessary to balance the harm done by innovation in weapons production, from nuclear bombs to depleted uranium shell casings? The issue is not that “innovation” is a bad thing, but that innovation under capitalist control is at least as likely to be harmful as beneficial.

        Finally, 166 years after the Communist Manifesto, what evidence is there to show that the development of the forces of production” under capitalism has brought the possibility of socialism any closer, rather than farther away?

  8. john r said,

    Curiously, one of the movers of the LU pro-Isis motion is standing as a Class War candidate (“for a laugh”) in the forthcoming General Election.

    http://www.classwarparty.org.uk/tag/mark-anthony-france/

    “Bob from Brockley” highlighted Anarchist support for the Kurds and opposition to Isis here –

    http://www.brockley.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-middle-east-and-some-stupidity-and.html

    Included was a link to Martin Lux’s very strong anti-Isis video on Youtube-

    According to Bob, Martin is ex-Class War but his videos do feature regularly on Ian Bone’s blog. I can’t imagine he’ll be too impressed with a pro-Isis election candidate under the Class War banner.

    • Jim Denham said,

      This chap Martin needs to be careful: a lot of what he says about the viciousness and backwardness of Islamism sounds very much like what Sean Matgamna wrote here:

      http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2013/10/04/political-islam-christian-fundamentalism-marxism-and-left-today-0

      … and which has since been used by ‘Socialist Action’ , the CPGB and other petty bourgeois relativists to demonise the AWL and (in the case of ‘Socialist Action’ and their fellow-travellers in the NUS) to try to get the AWL banned from campuses.

      NB: I notice that Terry Eagleton, in todays’s ‘Graun’ uses the term “Islamo-fascism” in a review of two books by Slavoj Zizeck:
      http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/12/terry-eagleton-trouble-in-paradise-absolute-recoil-zizek-review
      … when I tried to use that term in a CiF discussion a few years ago, a ‘Graun’ moderator told me it was not acceptable.

      • Juan P. Lewis said,

        “when I tried to use that term in a CiF discussion a few years ago, a ‘Graun’ moderator told me it was not acceptable.”

        Maybe because it would’ve exposed them for what they have become. During the Tunisian revolution you could hear more secularist and socialist voices in Al Jazeera (a petro-monarchy news outlet) than in the “liberal” Grauniad.

        They used to give a lot of platform to a lost of Islamists, while shunning more progressive Muslim voices.

        And since sales have been going down, they’ve commission a lot of Cosmo-style bullshit just for click-baiting.

  9. Ex-Muslims Forum (@CEMB_forum) said,

    the anarchist gentleman in this YouTube video is brilliant.

    • kb72 said,

      Quite disgracefully the Graun deletes comments from the CEMB forum who have posted above. There’s nothing wrong with the comments – they’re polite, to the point and well expressed. But they bring up tactless subjects like apostasy under articles about Islam, and the Guardian isn’t having that.

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