Polemics

I enjoyed this post by Alan A at Harry’s Place on the the Stalinist control of  “progressive” political space in Britain. Here’s an extract:

The Guardian’s Wykhamist associate editor, Seumas Milne,  cut his political teeth in the Straight Left faction of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Straight Left were “Tankies”: that is, hardline Stalinist opponents of the liberalising “Eurocommunist” faction within the CPGB. They were called “Tankies” becstdause they (notionally) supported the “liberation” (by tanks) of Hungary and Czechoslovakia from “counterrevolutionaries” in 1956 and 1968. Here’s Milne, demonstrating his lack of repentance:

For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment… Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination.

Milne has helped to fill the comment pages of the Guardian with the supporters and representatives of genocidal antisemitic terrorist movements.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is run by Kate Hudson, who is a leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. The CPB is the Stalinist rump of the CPGB, which reconstituted itself after the Eurocommunist wing dissolved the party. CND itself previously contained a Stasi spy, Vic Allen, at its highest level.

Hudson was previously married to the late Redmond O’Neil, Ken Livingstone’s chief of staff, who was an activist in Socialist Action: which is what the Trotskyite International Marxist Group became after it infiltrated the Labour Party. Socialist Action controls the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty International UK… Under her leadership, Amnesty has hosted a series of meetings promoting the delegitimisation and indeed the destruction of Israel, at which prominent anti-Jewish racists have spoken. Moreover, her team at Amnesty includes Elena Dallas the daughter of Tony Cliff: the founder of the Socialist Workers Party,

The Stop the War Coalition is run by Andrew Murray, also of the Communist Party of Britain. He is also the communications officer of the union, Unite. Famously, he is a supporter of North Korea:

“Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear”

I could say more, but you get the general idea.

Stalinism watch:

From The Soviet Files: An American ‘Negro Republic’ – the Communist Secession plot; Paul Robeson, Stalinist;

More polemics:

The AWL versus the anarchists; Carl Packman vs Hugo Chavez.

Book notes:

A review (scroll down) of Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain by Dwight Macdonald (New York Review of Books, October 2011)

Unfortunately, like the political causes Macdonald championed—he was long-involved with the anti-Stalinist left and fancied himself an anarchist—history has not been kind to his cherished concept of Midcult. The cultural lines that Macdonald defended have mostly gone the way of the Berlin Wall, replaced by a heterogeneous culture of blended boundaries.

And from Socialist Review: A Rebel’s Guide to Rosa Luxemburg by Sally Campbell, Classic read – Studs Lonigan by James T Farrell.

History notes:

The AWL on the Clyde Workers’ Committee of 1915; Rosa Luxemburg on trade union bureaucracy; Paul Buhle on syndicalism;

From Entdinglichung:

Erklärung des Barrikade-Herausgebers zu den Ermittlungsverfahren wegen Rudolf Rocker, gefunden auf syndikalismus.tk, die Staatsanwaltschaft Münster hat das vom Rechthaber und bürgerlichen Kommunalpolitiker Heiner M. Becker angestrengte Verfahren gegen einen Genossen wegen angeblicher Verletzung Beckerscher Urheberrechte an Rudolf Rocker eingestellt, hier ein Auszug:

„Die Staatsanwaltschaft Münster hat umfängliche Untersuchungen angestellt und das gesamte Umfeld der FAU und der Internet-Plattform „Syndikalismus.tk“ ausgeleuchtet.

Was bleibt? Bösartige Verleumdung, nachweislich falsche Anschuldigungen, unbewiesene Behauptungen – und eine Staatsanwaltschaft, die nun eine dicke Akte über die aktuelle anarchosyndikalistische Szene („Bewegung“) vor sich liegen hat.

Dies hat nun zwar für mich keine weiteren strafrechtlichen Konsequenzen, aber der Schaden für unsere kleine Bewegung ist immens. Aus diesem Grunde verlange ich eine öffentliche Erklärung der FAU Berlin zu diesem Vorgang und die Übernahme sämtlicher Kosten, die durch diese Beschuldigung [strafrechtlich übrigens ebenso relevant lt. §§ 164 und 187 StGB wie eine Verletzung eines angeblichen Urheberrechts] entstanden sind, durch die Verursacher.

Ansonsten bleibt es dabei: weder Heiner M. Becker noch sonstwer hat die Rechte und private Verfügungsgewalt über das literarische und agitatorische Werk von Rudolf Rocker und seiner Frau Milly Wittkop-Rocker!“

bleibt anzumerken, dass die Schriften aller Revolutionäre der revolutionären Bewegung gehören, woran auch das Rumgepupe von angeblichen Eigentümern – ob sie nun Herr Becker oder Pathfinder Press heissen – nichts ändert!

From the US Marxist Humanists:

An assessment of the Arab Spring half a year later, in light of (1) the “clash of barbarisms” between the U.S. and Al Qaeda, (2) Marx’s concept of revolution, and (3) the possibilities for a revolutionary future Read More…

Marx’s writings on slavery, race, and class in relation to capital are examined in light of critics who paint him as a class reductionist with little awareness of or sensitivity to race

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Some things I’ve read lately

La Brigada on George Orwell:

I observed the fiftieth anniversary of Orwell’s death by re-reading Crick’s biography of the man. It is a remarkably fine achievement. This incongruous story appeals:
‘When Queen Elizabeth [the late Queen Mother], whose literary adviser was Osbert Sitwell, sent the Royal Messenger to Secker & Warburg for a copy [of Animal Farm] in November, he found them utterly sold out and had to go with horse, carriage, top hat and all, to the anarchist Freedom Bookshop, in Red Lion Square, where George Woodcock gave him a copy.’

Oliver Kamm on British Stalinists Andrew Murray and Kate Hudson:

Murray and Hudson are members of a group called the Communist Party of Britain. You’ll find that Ms Hudson’s idea of nuclear disarmament, as urged to a party gathering in 2006, is unusual, for here was the message from the platform:

‘Keith Bennett of the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign said that the current crisis on the Korean peninsula had not been caused by the North Korean nuclear test.

‘”The context is one of unfinished business of a national liberation struggle against US imperialism,” he asserted.’

The national liberation struggle he has in mind is the triumph of what – since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – has no rival as the worst, most nightmarish tyranny in the world.

Murray once wrote a short book called The Communist Party of Great Britain: A Historical Analysis to 1941. It’s not dated but it was published in the mid-1990s by a short-lived group called Communist Liaison. Here’s Murray’s analysis of the Communist Party’s attitude to Stalinist terror (page 74, emphasis added):

“Over the whole period of the CPGB’s existence, its relation to the USSR has been probably the most controversial issue, both within and without the Party. The Party has clearly paid a price for its defence of the first Socialist state in the world, particularly when it has subsequently been proved that that defence was based on misinformation and misjudgments. Yet the party could only judge on the information it had, and even that had to be handled in the context of the international class struggle in which the USSR was seen as playing (and actually did play) the most important role on the side of anti-fascism, anti-imperialism and social progress. That things happened in the USSR which were inexcusable and which ultimately prejudiced Socialism’s whole prospect is today undeniable. Whether Communists in the capitalist world could or should have done more than they did is much more contentious.”

In short, Murray believes that it’s an open question whether the Communist Party would have been right to protest against the Moscow Trials and the Great Terror.

Terry Glavin on the uses and abuses of history:

My good friend Peter Ryley has composed an important protest against that similarly popular abuse of history which sets out to simplistically conflate socialism with fascism and thus elide crucial distinctions between authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Equally detestable though these tyrannies may be, there’s no excuse for falling for propaganda so silly that it will have you playing games of connect-a-dot between Naziism and liberalism.

To properly interrogate this contemporary fad, you will unavoidably encounter its evil twin, which is to say you will find yourself staring at the ugliest face of European pro-Islamofascist leftism, as noted a while back by the always interesting Anti-German Translation. Their headline sums it up well enough: The Racism of Radical Islam’s Useful Idiots.

For further and necessary proofs of Peter’s case, historical evidence is in abundance in Enzo Traverso’s The Aporias of Marxism. He notes that too many German Jews kept faith for too long in the resilience of the identity they had incorporated within German society, and they were not alone in their mistake: “The workers’ movement was no more ready to deal with the catastrophe.” There were warnings, of course, most presciently from Leon Trotsky. But they want largely unheeded, owing to eejits making a similar kind of silly “liberalism equals fascism” mistake that’s popular today. “However, in 1933, Nazism unleashed its attack on the workers’ organizations, not on the Jews. Nazi anti‑Semitism developed gradually and inexorably, passing through several stages: first discrimination and the questioning of emancipation again (1933-35); then economic depredations and the adoption of a policy of persecution (1938-41); finally extermination (1941-45). The destruction of the workers’ movement was not a gradual process: it was, in fact, one of the conditions for the consolidation of the Nazi regime.” And some people obstinately refuse to learn from the great errors of history: “Marxist literature of the interwar period tended to explain Nazi anti-Semitism as a ‘tool’ of the ruling classes, without seeing in it a new phenomenon.”

Also: Bob’s father remembers Bertrand Russell. Max Dunbar and Paul Sagar on the left and China. Eamonn McDonagh on the smearing of Jacobo Timerman. Engels Defrocked and other book reviews in the Socialist Standard. RIP Nina Fishman.