Saturday, 6 October 2007

"All Change" for the comrades


I looked from the SWP to George Galloway, and from GG to the SWP, and from the SWP to GG again; but already it was impossible to tell who'd look better in a bacon sandwich.

The real Gorgeous George told the story of the Communist Party member who left a gathering of comrades to go to the loo and returned two minutes later to find that, unbeknownst to him, the party line had changed. We don't know what happened to him but his mates are thriving in the British "Left".

After several years of defending the indefensible, it's all change for the comrades. A recent SWP National Council saw the poor dears turning on a dime at whiplash speeds in response to an ugly bust-up with Galloway, who'd been presented as their Saviour Who Can Do No Wrong. How did it go from GG saying of the SWP's moustache-twirling Cardinal Richelieu and kingmaker, "He made me an MP," to him being unable to even mention the Respect National Secretary by name?

The ancient maxim, politics is showbiz for ugly people, has rarely seemed more apposite. The lure of having their mugs on the telly and their pearls of wisdom quoted in the press proved intoxicating to the Party leadership. Principles were ditched, successful groups wrecked, allies purged just so they could take the "Don't You Know Who I Am" road to oblivion. They even sold their prized printing press. If those whom the gods aim to destroy they first make mad, then the deities did a good job here. Four years into the millennium, one such leader is said to have chastised the organiser of an anti-war conference who hadn't invited them with, "I am the leader of the biggest, most significant social movement this century". The fact that it was a conference for academics and this person wasn't one cut no ice.

But how to deal with inconvenient contradictions? Taking Animal Farm as their model, the Popular Front became "The United Front of a special type". The Socialist Alliance, which formed the spine of the SWP's other project, the Stop The War Coalition, was airbrushed out of history in best Stalinist fashion. Bourgeois businessmen and those driven by their faith became the revolutionaries' best buddies whilst old left allies were written off as "the Left Ghetto."

And George Galloway was hailed as Supreme Being.

All credit to GG for standing up in the US Senate and denouncing the war in Iraq. But anyone who dared point out that this anti-abortion, Armani-suited, villa-owning, Mercedes-driving chum of Middle-East despots might not be everyone's idea of the heir to Marx, was flamed by hacks using as dishonest a set of tactics as the worst Stalinoids.

Give Galloway his due, though, he always said "I'm not as left as people think," and yet the hacks were happy to perpetuate that myth. Now he's Emmanuel Goldstein and the comrades are enjoying their three-minute hate - only someone lost the stopwatch.

At a time when capitalism is entering its most decrepit, most vicious phase and we are about to witness if Rosa Luxembourg was correct to warn that we will see "... either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; ...", the "comrades" have fiddled away while opportunities burned. And what music they make.

9 comments:

Coatesy said...

The funniest aspect of this whole affair (and I'm sure you took as much malicious glee as many of us at the unfolding farce) Anna is that Respect has come unstuck at the most basic level of politics: how parties deal with their elected representatives.

Panto Dame 'Froufrou' Galloway considers himself above the 'little people' and does what he wants. Respect's councillors do what councillors always do, think they're mightier than the party that got them elected, throw wobblies, defect when it suits them and pursue their own agenda.

That's why Labour etc, have strict rules to (at least attempt) control them.

Naturally the SWP, Rees, and Callinicos, Howeman and Germain, know most everything in Universe and a few more things besides. But they are mere tyros when it comes to how real politics operates.

Mick Hall said...

Malicious glee Coatesy, how could you think we lefties would have such low thoughts. What is it with the left and false gods, Not that long ago we had the SSP implode after its leader turned out to be a mere mortal ever on the look out for group sex. Now we have the Respect debacle.

There was a time when the security services infiltrated leftist organizations and perhaps they still do, after all the spooks have to put food on the table like the rest of us. The fact is the likes of the SWP CC fuck things up with such regularity one cannot but wonder what or who motivates them.

If they are not being manipulated by the spooks then surly it is time some friend of the Trots told them they are not very good at the politics game; and perhaps it was time they all had a career change.

malicious glee indeed!

Madam Miaow said...

That old classic question - who gains? A question the hacks avoid at all costs.

Charlie Pottins said...

Well, as a Trot who has never accepted the SWP's claims to be Trotskyist, no I can't take unmitigated joy from this bust up.
Not that I have any time for Respect, nor am I sad that the marriage is breaking up. But the damagethe SWP and its allies did in wrecking the Socialist Alliance is already done, and it won't be undone by the collapse of Respect, or the demoralisation of SWP members.
I doubt whether even Labour will benefit in real terms. Incidentally, holding up Labour and its councillors as an example is tempting a raspberry, when one considers how easily some of them crossed the council chamber and handed over control to the Tories in at least one London borough I know. Also we had a Labour MEP where I used to live who became a Tory overnight and it was as though no one even noticed.
But I digress.
Except that in recent campaigns in my area on NHS etc Labour was scarcely to be seen. The trades council called public meetings and a demo, the only parties in evidence were the Lib Dems and Respect. The Respect members in fact being all SWP, including young people won around STWC. The ridiculous thing is they could have achieved much more as Socialist Alliance or even just SWP, and I think they know it.
Sure, it was only a matter of time before Gorgeous George dumped his helpers -he had indicated as much when he wrote in the Scottish Daily Mail inviting Tommy Sheridan to join him, and sneering at humourless "Trots" (so mind whose language you are using Mick -and that also goes for Andy Newman!).
It also underscores his remark to Gordon McLennon I beleieve that "we are going to need everyone we can get" -every non-SWPer that is. What is slightly surprising was his line of attack - though maybe it indicates he had help with the document.
Sure the SWP leadership deserved to be punished -though not them alone., and not by Galloway and co. But if we want any good to come out of all this, it won't be enough to just sneer.

DAVE BONES said...

Ha ha ha ha democracy is a beautiful thing :-)

ModernityBlog said...

democracy, comrade?

is that permitted?

what is the "line" on democracy? are we for it or against it?

DAVE BONES said...

Sorry I should have said:

NUFF RESPECT!!!

AN said...

Did someone mention me??

Charlie: "sneering at humourless "Trots" (so mind whose language you are using Mick -and that also goes for Andy Newman!)."

Firstly, Charlie, I think the SWP are pretty fair square trotskysists, ecept for the idiosyncrasy of their view of the USSR. They pretty much accept the permanent revolution, the United front, crisis of leadership thesis, and the model of the Bolshevok-Leninist party.

In fact it seems their destiny to retrace the steps of the WRP, first time as farce second time as tragedy.

My exasperation with the Trotskyist left is its inability to see its similarity to the Stalinist left that it claims to be so different from.

With his essential difference. it is rare to meet many people who will defend the crimes of the Soviet Union, and the official communist movement is still tearing itself apart over them.

But despite the fact that politcially and organisationally the trotskist left is almost indistinguishable, there is not self examination or self critique from the Trotskyists.

Anglonoel said...

The whole situation reminds me of another famous piece of fiction- the dinosaurs fighting & ripping each other apart at the end of "Jurassic Park".

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