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Saturday, 13 October 2007
The Morlock Tendency
The Popular Front Barnum & Bailey monstrosity of "a special type" that is Respect has lost credibility with all but a few, and still the Morlock tendency insists on herding us Eloi into the cattlepens. “Don’t panic. Nuthin’ to see. You’d be nice with mint sauce.”
My dear sweet old Stalinist Ma and Pa always told me that solidarity in the working class movement is paramount. That you never do over a fellow leftist. So to see a raft of these characters building their careers by doing just that came as a shock.
Raised on a revulsion for careerists, adventurists, opportunists and all the other one-off-the-wrists who clutter up La Causa, my instinct would have been to kick them out of the movement. But no. Perversely, the Morlocks insist that these boys and girls are now the saviours of “The Class”, and urge us to “coalesce” around one particular one now that Galloway has shot his bolt and got his media career underway.
It doesn’t matter that certain parties built their careers by smashing up fellow lefties and purging respected anti-war activists at the Socialist Workers Party's (SWP) behest. According to the Morlocks they have "moved on", to use one of Blair’s favourite phrases. Yet one protege's debut on the scene took the form of the destruction of the thriving Birmingham Stop The War Coalition (BSTWC) when maximum mobilisation was needed. The new regime was so inept that they hadn’t booked any coaches for one important London anti-war protest and the purged activists had to step in and organise transport for them. You may well ask the classic question: who gains?
One particularly spiteful letter written to Birmingham Trades Council in 2002 targets a striking firefighter and respected socialist and anti-racist, Steve Godward, freshly purged from the BSTWC. It’s a stunning Stalinesque act of betrayal of someone who is on your side but, unfortunately, in your way.
It's not just about one person - this behaviour is endemic on the Left. But I think it is fair comment to ask, if in practice you have persecuted workers in struggle, why you should ever be trusted again?
Being part of the machine, as some have pleaded, or being sponsored by the “comrades”, is no excuse as some of us have been more than able to say no to the control freaks. If anything, that’s as good a test of character and socialist credentials as I can imagine. It is said that a person’s character is revealed by the moral and ethical choices they make under pressure and that's what's happened here.
Some sort of truth and reconciliation would be welcome but the initiative has to come from those who genuinely understand what they did and why. Some massive apologies are needed before anything really does move on, especially in this instance to a striking firefighter and his three-year old son who was expelled from his nursery school when all this blew up, who had the misfortune to fall foul of the egos on the Left.
Turning and turning in the dissembling gyre, the raptor cannot hear the whistle;
Principles fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity and get to appear on Question Time.