[Top: the SWP supports freedom, liberty and everyone's right to have lots of cheese. And that's why they support the lovely theocrats, racists, killers, misogynists, Islamofascists, etc., Hamas and Hezbollah. Martin 'Quasimodo' eplained the sosphisticated Marxist/Trotskyist theory behind it - 'They're not white or Western. So that makes it all OK. They are children... sorry, Oppressed Victims.' (Victims of Trot patronisation and, yes, racism.) Left: Martin 'tries to have sex with SWP students' Smiff - on the look out for violence (or 'struggle', 'mobilisation', 'street protest', etc.) Right: Wayhayman Bennett. Once he had something stolen from him and he said: 'Is it because I is black?' Seriously.]
i) Introduction: the Far Left Ain't Dead Yet
ii) Forget the Working Class; Let's Take Over the Universities, the BBC...
iii) Far Leftists Like to Kill - But In a Hip Kinda Way
iv) The Lexicon of Dehumanisation
v) Utopia Never Went Away, Only the Word is Never Used
Introduction: the Far Left Ain’t Dead Yet
Why rant and moan about the far left? The 'far left is dead'.
Yes, the far left as the far left, or as Trotskyists, or as revolutionary socialists, or as all of these things, is indeed dead. But as Stop the War, or as UAF, or as the fight against ‘Islamophobia’, or as the Guardian, etc., the far left is far from dead.
In a sense, it is outside politics that the far left is really alive. The far left is still alive and well in various places and institutions. Here again it is not as revolutionary socialism, or as the SWP, etc. Take these examples:
i) academia (e.g. take the anti-Israel hysteria and calls for boycotts)
ii) in left-wing newspapers (e.g., the Guardian, the New Statesman)
iii) in certain charities
iv) in the legal professions
v) in various trades unions (specifically ‘middle-class unions’, such as the NUT, lecturers’ unions, actors’ unions, etc.)
vi) in the anti-globalisation movement
vii) in the environmentalist movement
viii) in human rights organisations (as shown by the monomania with Israel and Palestine - JUST West Yorkshire, Liberty, and many other revolution-through-rights-activism groups)
ix) in the BBC (there 'are no Islamic terrorists, only ‘terrorists’)
Forget the Working Class; Let’s Take Over the Universities, the BBC...
Revolutionary socialists don’t believe in much nowadays. Or, more correctly, they are not for anything. What defines them is what they are against. And they are against many things. In fact, they are against very many things. Alternatively, they are not for much. For example, they are not for ‘workers power’ any more - at least not out loud or to non-revolutionaries (though sometimes such things can be found in the back pages of the revolutionary left’s newspapers).
What are they against? Well, at the top of the list is ‘liberal-democratic capitalism’. That is one tune they have not changed over the years. (Though during the 1997 election, the SWP persuaded its members to vote for New Labour because its leadership was convinced that New Labour wouldn’t last that long because of yet another forecast 'capitalist crisis' - some of which go more or less unnoticed.)
The far left now despises the working class – the very same working class it once saw as the ‘vanguard of history’. (The far left was the 'vanguard' of this 'vanguard of history' - the working class.) Now the working class is ‘sexist’, ‘racist’, ‘reactionary’, ‘nationalist’, and, of course, ‘Islamophobic’. (Actually it was so in the past; but ‘false consciousness’ was to blame for that.)
Since the Trots gave up on the working class, especially the white working class, they had to focus on other things and groups to help bring about the revolution. More specifically, it was economics that they gave up on. Now the radical or hip issues are race, ethnicity, post-colonial studies, etc. - all underpinned by a kind of puritanical anti-nationalism.
Remember this was Gramsci writing in the 1920/30s. His views were then widely adopted in the 1960s. So anything and everything was deemed possible at that time. It may seem absurd to think of far leftists capturing, say, the police and the church, but let’s think of political correctness here instead of blatant revolutionary Trotskyism.
We can say that politically correctness is what far leftists do when they don’t indulge in explicit revolutionary activity and explicit political action. Thus the schools, universities, churches, etc. are part of this Cultural Politically-Correct Revolution, which itself an offspring of far leftism or Trotskyism. Think here on Rowan Williams and the PC Anglican church. Think of West Midlands police writing sermons in the Birmingham Mail/Post about the ‘fascist’ English Defence League. Or about Unite against Fascism ‘fighting for multiculturalism’ and ‘embracing diversity’. Think of charities, human rights groups, churches, the legal professions and universities aiming all their fire at the state of Israel - the epitome of a successful, vibrant capitalist and therefore ‘oppressive’ state. Think also of the BBC. It is far from being an apolitical organisation. Despite the relative political diversity of its programmes (though the parameters of what it is forbidden to go beyond, are sharply defined), it has a long list of various isms that it simply does not tolerate. For example, it is against discrimination or bigotry about ‘age, gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation and number of dependents’. (This is from the BBC’s Diversity Unity.) And as we all know, we must, and that’s an order, ‘embrace diversity’. (How you embraced some diversity today?)
There is a saying that’s been around a bit. That is that ‘the Right has won the economic war, but the Left has won the culture war’. In other words, the left attempts to change the way we think, but sort of admits to itself that capitalism is here to stay (or at least for the time being). Thus leftist politics and economics is now little more than a joke. The (relatively) free market is somehow fused with a culture or system of thought which is leftist in origin, if not in current reality.
Far Leftists Like to Kill – But In a Hip Kinda Way
What would far leftists, the SWP, or Respect, etc., do if they gained real political power?
Well what did leftist radicals do in the Soviet Union? They killed millions. They killed ‘reactionaries’. They killed ‘fascists’. They killed ‘capitalists’. They killed ‘Zionists’. They killed Jews. They killed peasants. Oh yes, they also killed socialists and anarchists. And they killed Trotskyists. (Just as Trotskyists would have killed Stalinists - or any alternative leftists - had they been given the power and therefore the chance.)
They killed ‘neo-liberals’ and ‘neo-cons’ … sorry, the wrong period. The far-left Khmer Rouge in Cambodia also killed millions. What about today? The worst regime on the planet, North Korea’s government, is far leftist in nature. It has turned that country into a huge prison full of political zombies (like SWP members - especially the new ones).
And what about those hip far leftists like Che Guevara, he of t-shirt fame, and Fidel Castro? The Cuban regime shot thousands of people and imprisoned tens of thousands. That’s hip. On top of that, millions fled this ‘socialist Utopia’. Too hip! Not only do far leftists love this bunch of arseholes. Harriet Harman and many in New Labour do so too. When she was deputy leader of the Labour Party she called Castro a ‘hero of the Left’. (Is General Pinochet a ‘hero’ of the Conservative Party? Perhaps he is.) It seems that it is right to kill and imprison on a massive scale, as long as you aren’t doing so for right-wing reasons. And in any case, Castro’s 'heart was in the right place'. According to Seamus Milne (who is closely connected to Unite against Fascism, Respect and the SWP and once a subeditor of the Guardian), people (‘neo-liberals’ or ‘neo-cons’?) exaggerate how many were killed by the Soviet regime. Now, there is a general (sort of) consensus that the communist state murdered between 25 million and 50 million or even more people. Milne puts the figure at under a million! -
‘The real records of repression now available from the Soviet archives are horrific enough (799,455 people were recorded as executed between 1921 and 1953 and the labour camp population reached 2.5 million at its peak) without engaging in an ideologically-fuelled inflation game. '
Of course it is just a coincidence that a well-known far leftist - or even Stalinist, according to many - would be one of the few people in the world to put the Soviet death count so low in his own ‘ideologically-fuelled deflation game’. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Milne is a far-leftist psychopath. I bet he supports, or would have supported, the Khmer Rouge and the Maoists in China.
‘… the evacuation of Phnom Penh, widely denounced at the time and since for its undoubted brutality, may actually have saved many lives. It is striking that the crucial facts rarely appear in the chorus of condemnations.’ (1)
As I hinted at with Milne’s quote above, what Chomsky says about Phnom Penh may conceivably be true. It’s just that it seems too damned convenient and coincidental that it is a well-known far leftist who is saying these things. Because of his extreme political stance on these and other issues, as well as his known penchant for distorting the facts and dehumanising all those who dare to disagree with him, you can’t help but be suspicious of these ‘historical facts’ about the Khmer Rouge.
Now this is what Chomsky said about Maoist China:
‘But take China, modern China; one also finds many things that are really quite admirable... a good deal of the collectivization and communization was really based on mass participation and took place after a level of understanding had been reached in the peasantry...’ (2)
And since we are on the subject of Chomsky, this is what he said about 9/11:
‘… for the first time in history the victims are returning the blow to the motherland.’ (3)
So it seems to me that according to Chomsky, Seamus Milne, Respect, the SWP, etc. that it is OK to kill – sometimes on a mass scale – and even oppress – sometimes on a mass scale – if it is communists, Trots, Maoists, Hamas, the SWP, etc. who are doing the killing and oppressing. Perhaps all these mass killers have the right intentions. That is, ‘radical’ or liberatory’ intentions. Well that’s OK then. The Revolution is worth killing for. It’s worth killing many people for. It’s also worth lots of lies, deceits, manipulations, cynical alliances (e.g., with Muslims) and all the rest. It’s worth calling the Israelis ‘Nazis’ and their regime one of ‘apartheid’. If these things work, then use them. Use them for the Revolution or to fight Islamophobia or racism or bigotry or neo-liberalism or the neo-Cons or the Zionist threat or…
The Lexicon of Dehumanisation
As soon as you bother yourself with far leftists, you will soon realise that there is a far-leftist lexicon or vocabulary. All far leftists use this lexicon. In fact, they use it all the time. They aim these critical words at just about everyone who is not in their far-leftist gang (except for Muslims and brown and black people, of course).
These are the far leftist’s favourite words:
i) ‘Islamophobia’/’Islamophobic’ (a word tailor-made for the far left)
ii) ‘bigot’ (‘fascist bigot’, ‘racist bigot’, etc.)
vi) ‘Neo-liberal’ (a fairly new far-leftist favourite)
x) ‘Zionist’ (or ‘Zionist racist’ or ‘Zionist Nazi’, etc.)
These words are essentially used to stop debate. That’s why the SWP, for example, is so keen on violence and banning things. Everyone who does not agree with it is by definition (their definition) an extremist. That is, a ‘racist’, an ‘Islamophobe’, a ‘fascist bigot’, etc. Thus the only language the extremist understands is that of violence, banning and in some cases death and the gulag.
If you notice, all the words in the far-leftist lexicon are critical adjectives. They are used in order to dehumanise the ‘enemy’ (e.g., a word which Salma Yaqoob, of Respect, seems to use in almost every sentence). And the totalitarian mind, or the Stalinist mind, or the Trotskyist mind, or the Islamist mind, must dehumanise all its enemies. And I mean all. By dehumanising the opponent, whether he is an 'Islamophobe', a 'bigot', a 'fascist', a 'Nazi', a 'neo-Con', a 'Zionist', a 'neo-liberal', etc., you can at the same time de-legitimatise him or her. So perhaps some of these totalitarian minds do not really think that their opponents or enemies are fascists, or Islamophobes, etc. However, this de-legitimising totalitarian tactic still works wonders for the totalitarian mind or the totalitarian group.
If you haven’t first dehumanised the enemy, then you can’t get rid of it. And if you are a revolutionary, then you must get rid of the enemy because only democrats can cope with those who disagree with them. It is too much of a risk to the Revolution to debate with the opponent. Thus all opponents are automatically ‘the enemy’. It will get in the way of the revolution or revolutionary acts to listen to them. This also applied to people within the far leftist groups like the SWP. People with independent minds are quickly dispensed with, either at local branch meetings or even before that stage. They too may become 'enemies of the party'. All you then have left is an army of obedient automatons who spend their mornings literally memorising the content of Socialist Worker before they preach what they have only just read to the non-converted. (Perhaps there is a little bit of room for manoeuvre at the top or within the Central Committee.)
Final Thought: Utopia Never Went Away, Only the Word is Never Used
By this absolute and total criticism of ‘capitalism’, the far left tacitly hints at what it is they have to offer us. And the hint is that this something (I know not what) is better – far better than the status quo. But what they offer is never explicitly stated. (Marx said that it is not the revolutionary’s job to specify the nature of ‘the coming communist or socialist society’.) What is hinted at by the SWP, etc. must be some kind of Utopia; otherwise why is that complete outrage against all things ‘capitalist’ justified or defensible? Why the complete and utter rejection of the current system?
1) Noam Chomsky, After the Cataclysm, South End Press, 1979, p160
2) Noam Chomsky, Alexander Klein, ed., Dissent, Power and Confrontation, McGraw-Hill, 1971, pp117-8)
3) Noam Chomsky, La Jornada, Mexico, September 15, 2001