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Saturday, 6 October 2007
"All Change" for the comrades
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.