Goyisher kop! Matgamna on Gaza

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Over at Liam’s place there’s been a bit of a barney going on about the Alliance for Zionist Liberty and their interventions in the big demos against the slaughter in Gaza. What I’m not going to do is to deal specifically with the AWL’s behaviour, except to not that they do what they do specifically to get a hostile reaction. It’s the same imperative that has them going to left meetings and shouting that everybody else there is an anti-Semite. Basically, it’s a modus operandi that will be familiar from the RCP of blessed memory and the Spartacist League. (Although the Sparts are more literate Marxists, and Uncle Frank was always more interesting.) To be brutally honest, they’re lucky they don’t get beaten up on a regular basis.

What I want to do is take a brief look at the ideological line behind this, as expostulated at tedious length by AWL swami Sean Matgamna. Also spricht Sean:

The Guardian and other media have done most of the work in conjuring up the demonstrations; and the “left”, especially the SWP, have done much of the organising for the demonstrations.

But the politics of the demonstrations have been provided by the Islamic chauvinists. In terms of its politics – support Hamas, support Arab and Islamic war on Israel, conquer and destroy Israel – the big demonstration on 10 January in London was an Arab or Islamic chauvinist, or even a clerical-fascist, demonstration. Their slogans, their politics, their programme, echoed and insisted upon by the kitsch left, have provided the politics of the demonstrations, drowning out everything else.

The clerical fascists have politically hegemonised the demonstrations to an astonishing degree. These have not been peace demonstration, but pro-war, and war-mongering, demonstrations – for Hamas’s war, and for a general Arab war on Israel.

To anyone who was on the big demonstrations, this will make little sense, and will lead to the reader wondering whether Sean is living in a parallel universe. This may in fact be the case, but you have to bring into consideration the AWL’s peculiar use of language. What, for example, is this “kitsch left” that Sean keeps banging on about? Is it a vaguely homophobic jibe about real Trots not eating kitsch? Actually, no, it’s one of the AWL’s standard boo words, referring in this instance to those on the left who actually think anti-imperialism has some relevance to today’s politics.

The same goes for “clerical fascist”, which AWLers use as a catch-all for Muslims of whose politics they disapprove. And in fact, their idiosyncratic understanding of Muslims is a constant source of wonderment, because they will vehemently deny being at all Islamophobic, despite all evidence to the contrary. They will voice their support for “secular Muslims”, by which they seem to mean atheists with Muslim names. They will point to their record on the Balkans, which involved supporting Albanian narco-gangsters who make Hamas look like the Salvation Army, as an example of their kindly attitude towards the right Muslims. Curiously, they are less keen to draw attention to their support for the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s.

Back to Sean:

Placards called for “Freedom for Palestine”, which, for Arab and Islamic chauvinists and kitsch-left alike, means Arab or Muslim rule over all pre-1948 Palestine. It implies the elimination of the Jewish state, and since that could be done only by first conquering Israel, the killing of a large part of the population of Israel.

This is typical of the Matgamnite method. What Sean does is to draw out what he reckons to be the logical consequences of what he personally interprets the slogan to mean. That many, or most, or possibly the vast majority of those holding the placards don’t believe what Sean says they believe (as Sean sort of concedes later) is neither here nor there. Whether this mixture of cod psychology and the reductio ad absurdum is a sensible way to proceed, make your own mind up.

The dominant theme, “stop the slaughter in Gaza”, understandable in the circumstances, could not – in the complete absence of any demands that Hamas stop its war – but be for Hamas and Hamas’s rocket-war on Israel. Even the talk of “the massacre” subsumed Hamas into the general population, and was one variant of solidarising with Hamas, its rocket war, and its repressive clerical-fascist rule over the people of Gaza.

There you go. Unless specific and prominent slogans were raised against Hamas, and these were at least as prominent as those raised against the Israeli state, the demonstrators – even those on the platform demanding a ceasefire on both sides – are ipso facto supporting the actions of Hamas. So does mentioning the civilian casualties. Get out of that if you can. You might object that you don’t support lobbing rockets indiscriminately at Sderot, or mention that Hamas isn’t running a theocracy in Gaza – ask the PFLP, who have no doubt where they stand – but that isn’t the point. Nothing can withstand the bulldozer force of Sean’s rhetoric.

Even the most visible Jews on the Saturday 10th demonstration – Neturei Karta, a Jewish equivalent of Hamas, who for religious reasons want to put an end to Israel – fitted into the general clerical-fascist politics.

NK aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, particularly in the Jewish community, but their theologically grounded objections to Zionism – which were widespread in the Jewish community pre-1939 – are difficult to argue against within the terms of Jewish religious debate. Calling these guys fascists and a Jewish analogue to Hamas is not just insulting but wildly dishonest. I would also lay money that the large majority of Jews on the march were not members or sympathisers of NK, but that’s also irrelevant to Sean’s stream of consciousness.

The demonstrations have also been undisguisedly anti-semitic, more so than ever. Placards equating Zionism and Nazism and about Israel’s “Holocaust” all have implications way beyond Israeli politics and Israel itself. Calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, understandable enough on the face of it, were pretty much central. The main argument against such a boycott is that it is an indiscriminate weapon against all Israelis, and that it would quickly become a targeting of Jews everywhere, in Britain too. A small event on 10 January illustrated the point: a Starbucks café was attacked by some of the demonstrators seemingly because some people thought that it is owned by Jews.

This stuff is straight out of Harry’s Place, where David “Mr” T has been predicting a British Kristallnacht for years. As a counterbalance, one might mention that, whenever Jewish speakers have appeared on antiwar platforms, they have invariably received a warm reception, not least from the Muslim youth. It’s true that there is sometimes a lack of sensitivity shown to the concerns felt even by anti-Zionist Jews, but this doesn’t equate to an anti-Semitic festival of hate by any means. In any case, that’s an issue that should really be raised by Jews within the movement, and not by the most thoroughly goyishe organisation on the British left.

Which itself begs a question. Comrades occasionally ask me whether the AWL’s increasingly frenetic vicarious Israeli chauvinism is some sort of psychological compensation for their lack of Jewish members. I don’t buy that, on the grounds that they have at least one Irish member and that hasn’t prevented them devolving into support for loyalism. It’s probably got more to do with their increasing accommodation, at least in the realms of foreign policy, to whatever imperialism wants to do.

And this brings us back to the good old RCP, who were great at this kind of niche marketing. When a big issue came up, The Next Step would put forward a line diametrically opposed to what everyone else on the left was saying, and often identical to what the right was saying. And it worked, in that it gave Uncle Frank a distinctive product to retail to the kids. Well, the Soggy Oggies have been going that way for a long time, probably beginning with Sean’s brainstorm in 1982 that the Falkland Islanders were a distinct nation with a right to self-determination, following on from which was a practice during the war that managed the tricky feat of being even more patriotic than Militant. The change on the Middle East goes back to 1985, prior to which Sean was denouncing the SWP in particular for not being supportive enough of the PLO. Overnight he started calling them anti-Semites instead, which further marked him out from the identikit left and happily opened the door to a long-running collaboration with the über-Zionist Union of Jewish Students. And so it goes.

And what, after all these contortions, has our swami got at the end of the day? Well, not so much a Marxist cadre as the activist wing of Harry’s Place. To be honest, I think the AWL would have fitted in much better on the “End Hamas Terror” rallies organised by the Jewish Board of Deputies. But then again, they couldn’t have provoked a reaction, which was kind of the point.

Shit. Usually, agents provocateurs are paid by the state for their trouble. The Matgamnites don’t even have that excuse.

58 Comments

  1. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I don’t know about the 10th, where it was too big a demo to notice him, but on the 17th in Trafalgar Square, Matgamna was walking around with a pained expression on his face, no doubt bathing in all that “clerical fascism” as a form of self-mortification.

  2. Lobby Ludd said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I commented on Liam’s blog, quoting a snippet from Matgamna’s article. Reading it again, prompted by your references, I am surprised by how truly off-the-wall it is.

    I am not a big fan of psychoanalysis, and especially not psychoanalysis via the writings of an individual rather than interaction with them. But, that article is simply ‘bonkers’ (a technical term).

    That an individual should take off into ‘strange’ interpretations of the world is not surprising, it happens all the time. If you have to deal with deluded people you find it very difficult to rationalise (?) with them, since they will provide you with plenty of evidence that, say, their neighbours really are spying on them and wish them harm.

    Of more interest is why do members of the AWL go along with this kind of nonsense? Can any of them genuinely support such nonsense? I’d love to see it – actually I’d rather not, since it would be a rather sad indication of their slide from a sect to a cult.

  3. David Ellis said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Oh my god. This is a seriously funny, seriously insightful analysis. Liam should re-blog it and I’d challenge Andy Newman to blog it too while it’s still fresh.

    Hasta: I spotted him too with my long lense. What a grotesque?

  4. David Ellis said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Well said Lobby.

    If andy and Liam don’t re-blog this I bet Louise at harpymarx would or at least flag it up.

  5. hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I didn’t realise who he was at first. He looked like a slightly disorientated vagrant, because they too have that “what the f@*~ is all this?” facial expression. Then the Schachtmanite truth shone out like a shaft of gold: it was He.

  6. Liam said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    David – I think there’s a bit of an overlap between my readership and Splintered’s. In fact it’s a pretty big one.

    What I didn’t mention in the advert I posted this evening advertising the fundraising badges that Rob has produced for the convoy to Gaza is that he has made another one. It carries the slogan “Sean says: Let’s Nuke Iran”.

    One of Sean’s supporters argued on my site that the slogan “get rid of the blockade – get rid of Castro” is the only proletarian demand to raise. They would be funny if it were not so contemptibly and consistently pro-imperialist.

  7. David Ellis said,

    January 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Fair comment Li. I’m gonna get me one of those badges.

  8. Lobby Ludd said,

    January 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Here’s a little bit of cod psychology.

    Sean Matgamna’s entire political history has been one of opposing the politics of those he ‘works with’, resulting in acrimonious splits.

    Now he has his own grouping. What does he do – write nonsense like this:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2009/01/15/politics-demonstrations-against-israels-offensive-gaza

    He knows that he alienates the rest of the left, is he doing the same with his own supporters?

    I have long felt that any discussion of the AWL should move from political analysis to individual and social psychology.

  9. Phil said,

    January 29, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Yanking ‘your’ group to the Right (or Left) and then purging members who don’t jump fast enough is a time-honoured technique for achieving, well, something – amusement, maybe, or just passing the time. The phrase “better fewer, but better” comes to mind from somewhere. Whether that’s what Mahoney is up to, who knows? You could probably see the trajectory of the AWL, from their Zionist turn to the present, as a slow-motion version of this strategy, with old Worker’s Power people and people who signed up because they liked what they read in WL* gradually falling by the wayside; maybe Matgamna’s decided that the current ferment is a good moment to speed it up, with a view to ditching some of the old guard and recruiting a new cadre from among the, um, not sure where exactly.

    *There always was a lot of good stuff in WL, I thought. (Mind you, I thought there was a lot of good stuff in Red Action.)

  10. Vicky said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Those concerned about Matgamna’s sanity, might want to check out his poetry:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/08/09/lament-unexpected-death

  11. Andy newman said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:23 am

    It is tempting david to run this on SU blog, sadly the AWL have perfected a method of outraged trolling to deter criticism, and so it is a bot ike kicking over a wasp’s nest.

    I agree with Spliny’ analysis completly. I think that the appal fo the AWL for some people comes down to Sean’s mad Monk personality, that for some reason a few middle class trendy lefites find so bewitching.

  12. charliemarks said,

    January 30, 2009 at 3:44 am

    If they were going to turn up at the “End Hamas terror” demos, it’d have to be with a Palestinian flag & the expectation of being accepted by the crowd, no?

    Can we expect the recent daring to be turned up a notch? Say, at the next antiwar demo there could be vocal support for occupation forces in Afghanistan and accusations that we are all objectively supportive of Taliban hegemony.

    This could be topped off in absurdist terms by accusing us of being spoilsports for wanting service personnel to be returned home safely – thus plunging the armed forces into terminal boredom and risking the jobs of workers in the prosthetic limb industry… This would tie in very nicely with Uncle Franks “culture of fear” thesis, no? The scaredly-cat left!

  13. RobM said,

    January 30, 2009 at 9:29 am

    10, Wow! that poem is reeeally shit. It actually reminded me of this- the BBCs Vogon Poetry Generator http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/vogonpoetry/lettergen.shtml

    I entered a couple of key words earlier and it spat out this, fitting response to Mr Sean.
    “See, see the Tepid sky
    Marvel at its big puce depths.
    Tell me, Martin Thomas do you
    Wonder why the Mark Osborn ignores you?
    Why its foobly stare
    makes you feel stiff.
    I can tell you, it is
    Worried by your clerical fascist facial growth
    That looks like
    A yoghurt.
    What’s more, it knows
    Your Gaza potting shed
    Smells of the AWL.
    Everything under the big Tepid sky
    Asks why, why do you even bother?
    You only charm cheeses.”

    PS The “Sean Says “Lets Nuke Iran!”” badge really does exist but it is only available to the bearer of a genuine AWL membership card.
    Unless you ask nicely.

  14. Doug said,

    January 30, 2009 at 10:11 am

    The AWL and their hangers-on hide behind some crude reductionist secularism that has nothing whatsoever in common with Marxism. The true implications of this are revealed by the fact that this ‘principled’ secularism manifests itself in hysterical denunciations of anyone deemed Islamic and absurd accusations of anti-Semitism towards anyone who has the nerve to criticse Israel. These people are not socialists but annoying windbags of no relevance.

  15. Doug said,

    January 30, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I meant to say that their criticisms of religion virtually begin and end was Islam. The end result is people like them e.g. Andrew Coates, sniffily refusing to participate in anti-war demos, while the actual purpose of these demos is to stop the slaughter of innocent human beings, clearly not a priority with these scumbags. It also reaches the point where they support actions like the French state bullying and harrasing schoolgirls wearing certain items of clothing.

  16. January 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

    When are the AWL members going to call this guy to account? Opposition to demands for peace and freedom is really taking it too far.

  17. hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I wonder if he writes poetry with the aid of fridge magnets. This is a tried and tested technique for turning out bad verse.

    I went to a couple of their meetings in 1989 and considered joining (I think they were still called Socialist Organiser then). In the end I pulled back, as they struck me as, well, rather right-wing. Things seem only to have got worse in the intervening years.

  18. johng said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    The thing that stunned me was his description of demonstraters as clerical fascists and their dupes. It stunned me only because they seem to be unhappy about getting a less then warm reception from those actually interested in solidarity with Palestinians. If I was an AWL member (well its an extreme thought experiment) I’d be hoping against hope no-one reads it. Or making the decision to avoid future activity relating to the topic. If you call people fascists they tend not to react very well or take your protestations of solidarity very seriously. On the RCP stuff I remember a bloke who woke up one morning suddenly to discover that his organisation no longer existed and that all the arguments that he pushed despite their deep unpopularity had existed soley to build some peoples media careers as opposed to an organisation. Trouble for AWLers is that the kind of useful idiot ‘DO YOU BELIEVE IN DEMACRACY?’ market is a bit oversubscribed. Fuck knows what it must be like to be a member who actually believes the rubbish about the AWL being in some formal sense supportive of Palestinian aspirations…..

  19. splinteredsunrise said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I think it’s the danger you run when the mad uncle in the attic is actually the guy running things. Some of their younger people are quite bright and worth talking to, but then you’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve been with Sean for decades and will back up anything he says.

    And yes, that habit of calling you an anti-Semite every ten minutes does begin to grate after a while.

  20. skidmarx said,

    January 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    The RCP game – think up an utterly ridiculous suggestion (like running through town naked at three in the morning) and explain why the revolutionary party should make it policy immediately without using the phrase “because the working class is more likely to rise up the more oppressed it is” or variations thereof. I’m so glad they’re gone. I tried reading Living Marxism once (my fairly non-political sister had been convinced to sign up for a subscription in the street) and got the same feeling I do reading Julie Burchill, that trying to engage with the twisted logic made me feel more stupid (the actor Steven Berkoff mentioned in the paper that his libel action against Birchall for calling him ugly “shut her up for a while”.Huzzah!). Ann Furedi still turns up on Channel 4 News every now and then, but the rest of them seem to be avoidable.

    I never had much contact with SO/AWL. Good fences make it easy to dispose of stolen goods.

    I always thought that Class War had a lot of good stuff in it.

  21. Mark P said,

    January 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Something the RCP and the AWL have in common is recruiting chiefly amongst bright but rather callow university students. The RCP were rather better than the AWL at this, at least in the short term, but they definitely shared a demographic. Offering a sense that your small group alone really understands what’s going on, that all of the rest of the left are fools or knaves and that whatever movements actually exist are backwards or counterproductive seems very much to be a marketing advantage in that sector.

    (I can slightly shamefacedly admit that I liked both LM (as it was then) and Workers Liberty when I was myself a slightly callow university student, so I speak with empathy rather than condemnation here.)

  22. Liam said,

    January 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Bertie Wooster says of a woman he doesn’t want to marry something along the lines of “I wouldn’t say she’s the sort of girl who writes poetry but it’s a dashed close thing.”

    Sean’s effort needs a Wodehouse to do it justice.

  23. RobM said,

    January 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    There was another ‘poet’ in the AWL- possibly somewhere in Scotland. I can’t remember his name but he used to (possibly still does) post his works on UK Left Network.

    Really execrable stuff- absolute William McGonagall- but he was (or appeared to be) dead serious.

  24. Mark P said,

    January 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I see that the latest contribution by Sean Matgamna to the discussion of this issue is a lengthy polemic against the Socialist Party and one of the SP’s leaflets in particular.

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2009/01/28/sp-and-gaza-socialism-evasion

    The article is actually well worth reading if you are interested in understanding the AWL’s method (I realise that this is of minority interest, at best). The core criticism he raises, once you get beneath the verbiage and the insults, is that the Socialist Party has failed to raise its politics in a way calculated to make itself as obnoxious as possible to the people they are trying to talk to. And this is, apparently, a betrayal of all that’s right and just in the world.

    A point of secondary interest is that it’s quite difficult to know who exactly this polemic is aimed at. It seems unlikely that even Matgamna thinks that he is going to win over Socialist Party members by arguing that they need to behave like pricks. We can only presume therefore that it’s aimed at punters in his own organisation who might be wondering why they can’t make their own arguments in a way designed to actually appeal to people who want to show their solidarity with the Palestinians.

  25. A said,

    January 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Splintered Sunrise — fraking brilliant post!

    This should be distributed far amongst the UK blogosphere to further expose the AWL for the nutters that they are.

  26. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Peter Burton is the name of the amateur poet and Scottish AWL-er.

    He is dead serious. The seriousness resulting from no discernable sense of humour whatsoever.

  27. A said,

    January 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    One more thing — you forgot to mention “Nuke” Matgamna’s open support for a preemptive attack on Iran. While not particularly germane to the topic at hand it does help put Matgamna in a bit more context for those who haven’t come across him before.

  28. splinteredsunrise said,

    January 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I was hoping Mark P or someone else from the SP would come across that one. Ted Grant has shuffled off this mortal coil, but Sean keeps his grudges warm.

  29. johng said,

    January 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    It has to be said that the AWL are important for the left. Like the Terrible Nasty Sectarians they unite us all. Perhaps it would be possible to develop a functionalist theory.

  30. johng said,

    January 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve just seen Sasha Ismail demanding of Mark P and indeed the rest of us (socialists in general) clarity and sharpness. Its hysterical. Matgamna’s sneering tone about a leaflet showing civilian suffering says it all about his and the AWL’s politics. I think they should be told to step off if they come anywhere near a palestinian solidarity event: of any kind.

  31. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Since the Sparts appear to have disappeared, in the UK at least, the AWL may now be playing that vital unifying role – uniting the rest of the left in their own peculiar way, by exciting loathing for themselves. Functionalism – perhaps.

  32. Neil said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I had an almost reasonable (and mercifully brief) conversation with a Spart on the 3rd January demo.
    I only mention it because I later got both barrels from a very excitable AWL’er who was incandesant that the SP wasn’t calling Hamas a clerical fascist organisation.

    He demanded to know why and the best answer I could think of was:
    “Because they aren’t” (It had been a long day)
    Cue a great deal of arm waving and spittle flying.

  33. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Father Josef Tiso, head of the Nazi collaborationist regime in Slovakia, was a clerical fascist. That might be a useful benchmark for understanding the concept.

    The shrillness of the Alliance With Livni probably has something to do with feeling the whole world is against them. With the exception of the IDF and related Zionist institutions, it is.

  34. Lobby Ludd said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Actually ‘A’ I think Matgamna was a little more nuanced than that (‘nuanced’ and ‘Matgamna’ in the same sentence, blimey).

    I think he was against a pre-emptive attack on Iran, but given that Israel was under existential threat from Iran, then, well…..

    And here’s a special Friday treat from our very own Patience Strong of the third camp:

    LEFT WING ANTI-SEMITE

    Why do you misconstrue my views?
    Believe me, I don’t hate no Jews;
    And seeing what pure love will do,
    What need have I for hatred too?

  35. Martin Wisse said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    sadly the AWL have perfected a method of outraged trolling to deter criticism

    A trollflood of as many as three Alliance for White Liberty supporters can be pretty fierce. It’s like being savaged by ducks.

  36. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, but Schachtmanite ducks, coordinated, schooled and disciplined, can be deadly opponents. But roast Schachtmanite duck is delicious…

  37. skidmarx said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    24. Odd that the comments have their own little headings, but the text is such a mass as to make it diffcult to read. When Kevin Ovenden first started writing for Socialist Worker, he told me that it really didn’t matter what sub-headings said, they were just there to break up the text, something Private Eye spoofs a lot.

    There is a contradiction between his attack on Hannah Sell for saying the rockets have failed, and the later acceptance that the SP doesn’t support the rockets. I am thorough, you are picky, he is weirdly obsessive.

    Chomsky has a couple of pieces on znet in the last few days, one saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, but not to defend itself by force until all other options have been exhausted.

    Was Mussolini’s secretary a clerical fascist ?

  38. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I think the term implies some connection with religion.

    Clerical fascists have an above-average prospect of being beatified, or even canonised, these days.

  39. skidmarx said,

    January 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I see that Adamski has had a bit of a go at the SP/CWI at Liam’s Place this afternoon. Whatever you think of his suggestion that they are soft Zionists, at least he gets it down in one paragraph of eight clear lines.

  40. Phil said,

    January 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Could I just say that I never thought Living Marxism had any good stuff in it? Ta.

  41. Dr Paul said,

    January 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Re # 40: not even my article on the left and the Second World War, and my one on Gorbachev and the Lenin Cult?

    A few years back, in a mischievous frame of mind, I wrote a letter to the Weekly Worker equating the AWL and the RCP, asking whether they both worked out their line by seeing what the left (or in the AWL’s case, the SWP) said, and then marketing something different in the hope of picking up some trade. (I really did sometimes wonder about this when I was an RCP supporter many years back, wondering how the leadership actually did devise its line on things, particularly when it was a silly one.) I was promptly attacked in a full-page article in the AWL’s paper; space that surely could have been used in a more useful way.

    The irony is that for all the AWL’s attacks on the ‘kitsch’ left’s support for ‘clerical fascism’, the fact that the AWL actually opposed the Israeli assault on Gaza puts the group well outwith the bounds of Decency. To get the Decent mark of approval, one has to support, unconditionally and loudly, what Israel has done in Gaza, or else you’re an apologist for ‘clerical fascism’.

  42. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    “Decency” needs a left wing. So does NATO headquarters in Brussels. So does Zionism. This is the role of the AWL, it seems…

  43. Lobby Ludd said,

    January 30, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Dr Paul said:

    “The irony is that for all the AWL’s attacks on the ‘kitsch’ left’s support for ‘clerical fascism’, the fact that the AWL actually opposed the Israeli assault on Gaza puts the group well outwith the bounds of Decency.”

    Yes, they just can’t get it right, can they? Marketing is a tricky matter. ‘House Trotskyite’ is not an easy product to sell right now.

  44. RobM said,

    January 30, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    37, thats absolutely true. There was once a column heading in an SW article which just said ‘Elephant’- had us scratching our heads for a while until we saw that a few paragraphs down there was a meeting being held in the Elephant & Castle…

  45. January 31, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    […] with the blighters when they come out with stuff that needs arguing with, but we shouldn’t be afraid to stand with them when they’re raising just demands. (Same as any other group, really.) Fraction B is not a […]

  46. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    February 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    The Matgamna trait of frenzied diatribes against organisations you’ve worked with for a time is not unique. The Weekly Worker (another bunch of real sweeties) also does this. The latter have a pleasant variation, which is to get close enough to a rival organisation, then denounce them, publish any internal documents they have obtained, etc. etc.

    There is a certain pathology in all this. Dostoyevsky (a bit of a sickie himself) would have had a field day.

  47. harpymarx said,

    February 1, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Very good post…Splinters. When I think of Alliance for War and Liberalism I just think ….pro-imperialism. That’s been their MO for a long time. Funny how the Left unites when it comes to the AWL…..

  48. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    February 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    They just take mainstream government policies, especially foreign policy, and give it a left gloss. You wouldn’t get the IDF showing its ass openly at a demo for Gaza, but the Alliance With Livni can. The aim is probably to stir up a bit of dissension at demos, though the dislike they attract is probably ultimately counterproductive.

  49. Mark P said,

    February 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I understand that AWL members have been calling for counter-protests against the oil refinery workers who are on wildcat strike at the moment.

    Perfectly in keeping with the AWL’s “antagonise, denounce and provoke first, worry about what you were allegedly trying to achieve later” method.

  50. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    February 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Hmm. I wondered how they would jump on this one. Possibly they have found evidence of “clerical fascism” 🙂

  51. A said,

    February 2, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    This quote from Moshe Machover nicely encapsulates the AWL:

    “In the cacophonous chorus of warmongers – among the shrieks of hawks, howls of jackals and foul laughter of hyenas – the attentive ear discerns a distinctive discordant sound coming from the far left: it is the screech of the AWL.”

  52. Lobby Ludd said,

    February 3, 2009 at 12:26 am

    #52

    James referred to – well check it out yourselves.

    What the fuck is ‘Workers’ Liberty’, some kind of vanity publisher for Sean Matgamna?

    Embarrassing in so many ways.

    Perhaps not as bad as Gerry Healy’s pretence that he was some kind of theoretician, but just as embarrassing for an organisation that hasn’t the bottle to refuse to publish, or perhaps the ability to spot, rubbish when it sees it.

    I have taken the piss out of Mr M’s poetry and felt a little bad about that, after all we can all aspire to artistry but only some achieve it .

    Thinking about it further, I don’t feel bad. Matgamna’s ‘poetry’ is shit and the AWL should tell him where to put it. That they don’t is only because of his position in the organisation. Unless I am mistaken, the key difference (a big one) between this and Healy’s bullshit ‘philosophy’ is that the AWL members aren’t obliged to study it.

    Whatever, it’s an abuse of the organisation.

  53. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    February 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    It is possible that the brief, coruscatingly brilliant (continued p.94) verse about Oedipus is some kind of joke.

    On the other hand, the character I saw wandering in Trafalgar Square on the 17th didn’t seem capable of comedy or even satire.

    I much prefer the poem someone once wrote entitled “On the antiquity of microbes”. The poem was simply “Adam/ had ’em.”

  54. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    February 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Alliance With Likud may, in its way, illustrate the truth of the statement that the ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ones in society, this side of a revolutionary crisis anyway. That sects claiming to be Marxist exist which are impregnated with ruling class Islamophobia and liberal imperialism should probably not be as surprising as all that.

  55. charliethechulo said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    …no more surprising, Hasta, than that people on the so-called “left” continue the Stalinist tradition of ‘de facto’ support for fascism (in your case, of the clerical variety).

  56. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    March 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Sorry, Avigdor. It hurts you more than it hurts me.

  57. Peter Burton said,

    April 3, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Get into the dustbin of History


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