Leading CP’er protests Livingstone’s column in Morning Star

June 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm (anti-semitism, CPB, media, posted by JD, protest, stalinism, zionism)

The letter below appears in today’s Morning Star. The author, Mary Davis, is Professor of Labour History at London Metropolitan University, a former member of the University and College Union national executive and the TUC women’s committee. She is also a member of the Communist Party of Britain’s executive committee and the party’s national women’s organiser:

Dodgy Livingstone has no place in the Star

I AM writing to protest against the decision to give Ken Livingstone a regular column in the Morning Star (May 28).

I think that at the present time this is a very impolitic move on the part of the Star in view of Livingstone’s suspension from the Labour Party and Shami Chakrabarti’s inquiry into anti-semitism.

I do not know anyone who approves of Livingstone’s “Hitler supported Zionism” remarks (repeated at least twice and based on Lenni Brenner’s spurious and ahistorical evidence).

This doesn’t mean that I support John Mann’s outrageous tactics; but the issue is important in itself and one to which our paper should show great sensitivity in view of our alleged opposition to anti-semitism.

It would appear judging from his opening comments in last weekend’s paper, that Livingstone is grateful to our paper as being the only voice on the left open to him.

How will this go down among our friends on the Labour left? (I certainly do not regard the entire Labour Party as anti-semitic — the Tories win the accolade for this).

It is thus hugely embarrassing on our paper’s part to offer Livingstone this lifeline at the present moment and serves to muddy the waters among our allies while at the same time detracting from our own stated opposition to anti-semitism.

Livingstone has not been a friend of this paper in the past. He and the group supporting him did not support former Star editor John Haylett when he was wrongly sacked and furthermore he has a chequered history of making injudicious comments bordering on the anti-semitic.

I, as a communist and a Jew, am personally affronted by the privileged treatment he is receiving. I can only hope the decision to offer him a column will be reversed.

MARY DAVIS
London N4

20 Comments

  1. Steven Johnston said,

    Well, why would I tired all has-been like Livingstone be given space in the Morning Star?
    The CP has a womans’ organizer? I thought it was all about class in the socialist/communist movement.
    She is a Jew and a communist, well you can be one or the other, but never both. But fair play to them for allowing a dissenting points of view in the letters page.

    • Jim Denham said,

      “She is a Jew and a communist, well you can be one or the other, but never both”: Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, etc, etc, etc, etc ….

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Only one of them was a communist! Not sure who the etc were. But have you never read anything Marx wrote about religion?

  2. Steven Johnston said,

  3. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    Stephen,

    You are intellectually dishonest.

    The other day I gave you clear evidence that Marx himself (in his own words) took sides in national liberation struggles (India 1857) as well as sides in what your party would correctly see as just capitalists fighting each other (true) so no side worthy of support (not always true) when Marx supported north against south in the US Civil War. This is in direct contradiction to your claims.

    And on being a Jew and a communist: Eleanor Marx – “Dear comrade, I shall be very glad to speak at the meeting of 1 November [1890], the more glad that my father was a Jew.” “I am a Jewess” (said frequently – although rabbis may disagree with her comment, who cares).

    There are also references to Karl Marx calling himself a Jew that I can’t easily find with searches swamped by the Jewish/Zionist/Communist/Freemason conspiracy filth on the internet.

    You have been clearly shown Marx (not Lenin or Trotsky) would have disagreed with you but your response is nothing – just to ignore. No attempt at ‘Marx actually meant something else’ or ‘Marx was wrong on that issue’. This is highly disingenuous by you.

    You are a socialist but because of the above you can not claim to be a Marxist.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Trotsky did, in fact identify as a Jew, especially towards the end of his life (actually, more so than Marx). Trotsky concluded that the assimilationist approach of classical Marxism to the problem of antisemitism was wrong. A target of both Tsarist and Stalinist antisemitism himself, Trotsky understood antisemitism was no feudal hangover. He grasped the modernity of antisemitism. His account of the antisemitic pogroms of the 1905 Russian Revolution and his desperate and prescient warnings about Fascism. ‘The next development of world reaction signifies with certainty the physical extermination of the Jews.’ (emphasis in the original) he wrote, before his murder by the Stalinists in 1940.

      As Enzo Traverso, an intellectual historian of Marxism and antisemitism, has put it, ‘The rise of Nazism in Germany led the Russian revolutionary to a global revision of his approach to the Jewish Question’ i.e. to the question of antisemitism. Though Trotsky never thought of himself as a Zionist – having faith in a World Socialist Revolution which we cannot, in good faith, still claim – he became convinced of the necessity of a national solution to the problem of radicalising antisemitism.

      The Jews, Trotsky came to believe, have every right to live in a ‘compact mass’ as a nation. And nations, he wrote as far back as 1915, ‘constitute an active and permanent factor of human culture. The nation will not only survive the current war, but also capitalism itself.’ ‘The Jewish nation’ he said in 1937, ‘will maintain itself for an entire epoch to come.’

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Southpawpunch, I did read your quotes and was well aware of those, I was going to reply to them but someone beat me to it, with quotes from Marx that would show that, later in his life, Marx came to realise the futility of national liberation movements.

      I put it to you that you are the one that is intellectually dishonest, you are in favour of national liberation movements but are probably against the BDS movement and I doubt you were a fan of the Orange free state! Yet, to be consistent with your views you would have to have supported the Boers and support the BDS movement, which aims to end foreign exploitation in Palestine.

      You have also said that you supported Ho Chi Minh and would get back to me on Pol Pot.

      I can find plenty of references to Marx attacking organised religion and why he believed it contradicted his socialist beliefs.

      As for Rosa Luxembourg and Leon Trotsky, neither of them are socialists and you yourself have said you are in favour of shooting trotskyites. As for disagreeing with Lenin I am glad, as he was not a marxist but a brutal dictator. Say what you like about the SPGB but what is the worst they would ever do to you?

  4. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    I note the attempt by Denham to, in effect, say Trotsky would have supported the AWL i.e. supported Zionism. That’s a half-truth https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/jewish.htm

    And all that I have read about Trotsky is that he demurred (while not necessarily disagreed) from a description of being a Jew.

    “I have lived my whole life outside of Jewish circles. I have always worked in the Russian workers movement. My native tongue is Russian. Unfortunately, I have not even learned to read Jewish.”(i.e Yiddish)

    You can famously be a Jewish atheist’ but Trotsky goes further than this. In his statement towards the end (Life is beautiful): “I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist, and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist.”

    • Jim Denham said,

      None of that (very moving) statement disproves the fact that he identified as a Jew throughout his life (irrefutable, I’d say), though I accept the fact that the proposition that he became more well-disposed towards Zionism at the end of his life, is more a matter of conjecture (though, on balance, I believe that to be true). OK Southpaw?

  5. Andrew Coates said,

    Mary Davis is a good person who is greatly respected in the labour movement.

    It is worth noting that she was the first person who told me of the nature of Galloway – back in the *late 1990s*.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      I think we’ll be the judge of her goodness.

  6. Steven Johnston said,

    One for the Trots! They never normally answer this one but, your hero loved to dress in military uniforms but never actually trained as a soldier.
    But which of these 15 points do you not only not agree with, but if anyone holds them they deserve to die.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronstadt_rebellion#Petropavlovsk_resolution

    • Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

      Johnstone,

      You are one of the most boring fuckers I have ever encountered.

      At least I suppose the poor SDF members could have listened to the clarinet music of your comrade Moses (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Baritz) but he is a good example of the way you people just drone on and on and on, despite the audience rushing for the doors.

      I’d certainly ‘shoot you like a partridge’.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        You’ve obviously never been to an Alliance for Worker’s liberty. Now they just drone on an on about the same old reforms that failed the first time round. No wonder the audience at these events never turns up.

        I know you’d shoot me, the legacy of your politics is gravestones and unending misery for the working class. I suppose death is preferable to Stalinism.

  7. Steven Johnston said,

    John Haylett wrote a reply to this, published in the Star on the 9th of June. He does not agree with the blacklisting of Ken…ok, but does agree with the blacklisting of others! LOL. Talk about double-standards.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Much to my surprise, this debate has continued on the Letters page of the Morning Star. As letters do not appear on the MS website, and this discussion could prove to be important, I think it’s worth preserving it here; I reproduce the letters, together with the headlines given by the MS (which, of course, were not chosen by the authors); naturally, it should not be assumed that I agree with all the points being made:

      ******

      * 9 June: *Ken can provoke, but he’s a net positive*

      AS A Morning Star staff member, I would not normally submit my views to our paper’s letters page, but Mary Davis’s direct reference to me (M Star June 8) compels me to respond.

      Mary is correct to say that Ken Livingstone and the group around him supported my sacking as Morning Star editor in 1998, opposing comrades such as Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn who lined up in solidarity with Star journalists striking to secure my reinstatement.
      However, she must recall that, following the successful conclusion of the strike, Ken and I agreed that he should once again write a regular column in the Star.

      It would have been easy to bear a grudge and to cold-shoulder Ken, but this would have gone against our paper’s ethos of encouraging labour movement unity and promoting the Star as the daily voice of the left, not simply one section of it.

      Mary, as a communist, knows that, where blacklisting and denial of platforms to people in the labour movement are concerned, communists are usually the first victims.

      Such sanctions should be applied only to racists and fascists and, in my view, Ken cannot be considered either.

      His shoot-from-the-hip style and refusal to apologise for ill-judged comments — such as his “concentration camp guard” dig at a Jewish journalist — will often provoke or irritate, but his political record is globally positive.

      We have to be aware that the current furore about anti-semitism in the Labour Party has been largely confected as a device to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and demean his record of supporting Palestinian national rights.

      Having, as political editor, discussed the issue with our editor Ben Chacko, I support his decision to give Ken a regular column.

      JOHN HAYLETT, Cardiff

      *****

      * June 13: *Star shames itself by giving Ken platform*

      I MISSED the notice that our paper has appointed Ken Livingstone to write a column.

      I have since read Mary Davis’s and John Haylett’s letters (M Star June 8 and 9) – two comrades and columnists who have educated me through the years.

      Until now, the Star, and its predecessor, was the only newspaper that never let the anti-racist movement down. Sadly now there is a column I won’t read.

      A man or woman has to be responsible for what they say and do. No excuses. No exemptions. And they certainly cannot be excused because of “reputation.”

      While we are on reputation, Livingstone supported the illegal Nato intervention in the Balkans and the mass bombing of Serbia. He appeared in adverts with Edwina Currie for British Coal, after the miners’ strike.

      In 1991, he started writing a column in the Sun — after the Wapping dispute. Now we have a columnist that had to apologise to Parliament for failing to register £150,000 worth of outside interests. I recall Bob Crow resigned from the Transport board in protest at Livingstone’s call for RMT picket lines to be crossed. Livingstone isn’t our best appointment.

      We all have to expect to be held to account. I’m not a member of the Labour Party and frankly don’t care if it had to have an inquiry into what he said and then defended. I already know he was wrong. I read what he said and saw what he did.

      It was not the first time.

      It was wrong previously, to castigate even the most reactionary and crappy reporter, as a “concentration camp guard,” just because one thinks he is Jewish. That comment only had one aim.

      And then he went and did it all again.

      And now we have promoted him to writing regularly for the best paper in Britain. That’s a very sad day for me.

      PHIL KATZ, Great Cambourne

  8. ZINR said,

    “We have to be aware that the current furore about anti-semitism in the Labour Party has been largely confected as a device to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and demean his record of supporting Palestinian national rights.”

    Yeah, just keep repeating that mantra. There’s no such thing as anti-Semitism, it’s just a wicked Jewish conspiracy to keep we brave and noble men who “shoot from the hip” out of power. Once Jeremy gets in the Kikes will have to shut their mouths and obey, but until that glorious day just remember that they control the media, run the governments and spend their spare time concocting smear stories about our Glorious Leader.

    Fuck Haylett and his absurd paper, relics both from an unmissed era.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      You like me then, you won’t be voting Corbyn in 2020. Even though he apparently will end austerity.

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