Milne is the younger son of the former BBC Director General, Alasdair Milne. He went to the private/independent/fee-paying Winchester College and then read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford University.
After all that Milne became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. London's Evening Standard also once said he was “a member of the Socialist Workers Party”. Still, the journalist (of the Independent) Peter Popham said that although Milne wasn't, in his view, an actual member of the SWP, it was still the case that "there is no mistaking that Seumas is on the far left of the Labour Party, of which he has been a member for 20 years". In other words, having finally realised – after a couple of decades - the overall ineffectualness and un-productiveness of British Trotskyist and Communist parties, Milne chose to support a party which has often had state power and which may well do so again in 2015: the British Labour Party (which is now led by Ed Miliband, son of the Marxist academic, Ralph Miliband).
Milne is also Britain's best know apologist for Stalin and the Soviet regime. In fact he has given the lowest figures of deaths under that regime I've ever heard from anyone – even from Communists and Trotskyists. Consequently he often waxes lyrically about the achievements of the Soviet Union seemingly thinking that this somehow excuses the large-scale persecutions, the mass liquidations, the complete lack of liberty, the anti-Semitism, the Gulag, the secret services running wild (which he doesn't like when done under our Conservative government), the forced labour, etc. Indeed on this kind of reasoning we should all also be fans of the Hitler's National Socialist regime and what it did during the 1930s. That National Socialist regime brought in many socialist measures which you'd think an International Socialist like Seumas Mine would be proud of (e.g., bringing down unemployment to nearly zero, largely curing inflation, bringing in many welfare benefits, building motorways, boosting German industry, giving maternity leave to German mothers, even bringing in animal rights legislation, etc).
'This onslaught risks turning into a racist witch-hunt'
"Religious [Muslim/Islamic] suffering is... the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion [Islam] is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. ” - Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1)
In this particular piece (most of my comments are based on post after the article) Seumas Milne accuses all those who dare to disagree with him - those who commented on his article in the Guardian - of having “absolved themselves of racism”. Consequently Milne thinks that they must be “entirely oblivious to more than two decades of debates around race”. (Does Milne whip himself in order to absolve himself of his own racism or does he write pieces like this instead?)
Let's rewrite what Seumas Milne has just said:
The posters who have absolved themselves of racism - they're still racist but don't know it because they have false consciousness - seem entirely oblivious to the more than two decades of highly-theoretical Marxist debates around race.
In other other words, Milne is accusing his detractors of not having read what he has read and, therefore, of not thinking the way he thinks. He's accusing them of not having his own Marxist/Stalinist position on racism: on what it truly is and what causes it. Or, more bluntly, he's accusing them of not being Seumas Milne. (That's quite a serious and hurtful charge and I'm almost in tears.)
As a result of our not having read all these obscure and recondite Marxist/progressive books on race and racism, Milne thinks that it is “disingenuous - or just plain dumb - to fail to recognise” that we are indeed being racist when we criticise Islam or Muslims. (Thanks for that, Seumas.)
Despite that, Milne nonetheless sometimes hints at the possibility that his only targets are those critics of Islam and Muslims who are simply finding an outlet for their pre-existing racism. For example, he says:
“... racist organisations like the BNP have effortlessly switched their focus to Muslims and Islam [from 'Pakis']. Islam has become a proxy for race, and Islamophobia a form of racism.”
Firstly, does that also apply to Seumas Milne's very own 'anti-Zionism'? Is it a case in which Milne - and numerous other Leftists - have “effortlessly switched their focus [from Jews] to [Israelis or Zionists]”? After all, the Leftist tradition of Jew-hatred goes back at least 90 years before the creation of Israel and even a few decades before the rise of modern Zionism (in the late 19th century). In fact Marx - and Leftists/Marxists ever since – ideologically and racially fused the Jews with capitalism. And Israel is both Jewish and capitalist. That fatal mix of Jewishness and capitalism – which generations of Leftists have noted - is also in tune with what the BNP and other such groups believe. That is, just like Seumas Milne, they too only talk about 'Zionists', not 'Jews', nowadays. And these Nazis aren't that keen on Israeli capitalism either. Here again, International Socialists and the National Socialists fuse on the Jews as well as on 'capitalist democracy'. And there's no bigger 'anti-Zionist' and anti-capitalist than our very own Seumas Milne.
Despite all that, most of Seumas Milne's rants against 'Islamophobia' haven't been aimed at the 'far right' anyway. All sorts of non-BNP and non-fascists have been victims of his anti-racist piety and purity, including:
Andrew Gilligan, Hirsi Ali, Nick Cohen, Maryam Namazie, the gay group OutRage, Richard Dawkins, Harry's Place, Bill Maher, the feminist Elizabeth Farrelley, novelist Ian McEwan, Ben Elton, Martin Amis, Pink News, Christopher Hitchens, Philip Pullman, Salman Rushdie, Polly Toynbee, the gays rights group OutRage!, Peter Tatchell, Johann Hari, David Cameron, members of the Labour Party and many Muslim Uncle Toms of various types (e.g., Usama Hasan, Irshad Manji, Ed Husain, the Quilliam Foundation, Monica Ali, etc.).
None of these people are BNP or anything like that. Still, when have Marxists/Stalinists like Seumas Milne restricted their fire to the BNP and Nazis? Indeed, virtually everyone under the sun is a racist or fascist by Milne's own Marxist definition; as they were according to Stalin himself.
Milne also pretends to be fair and considerate when he says that “it doesn't of course mean that you can't criticise Muslims or Islam”... but, and it's a big but, “it does mean taking account the context in which those criticisms are made”. Milne even has the decency to say that it's “not about stifling legitimate debate... let alone defending misogyny or homophobia”. But - and here's another big but – it is all “about how you conduct that debate”.
As I just said, Milne has - in his time - aimed is anti-Islamophobia fire at just about everyone to the right of Stalin and even at many (non-Islamist) Muslims. I mean, as far as the non-Islamist Muslims are concerned, a highly-privileged, white ex-public school atheist will of course know far more about true Islam than a mere (non-Islamist) Muslim. Haven't these Muslim Uncle Toms heard about 'false consciousness'?
I would also like to ask Milne - considering the fact that he says “of course that [doesn't mean] that you can't criticise Muslims or Islam” - whether he can cite a single example of a person who has criticised Islam or Muslims whom he wouldn't aim his Marxist vitriol at. Could Mine cite an article or even a few remarks of a single critic of Islam that he wouldn't have a problem with? Of course he wouldn't and couldn't. That's why his blanket position against all – and I mean all - critics of Islam is so extreme and so, well, Stalinist that it could well result in Islamic fascism gaining an 'hegemony' here in the West... Still, Seumas, anything's better than 'capitalist democracy', eh?
Seumas Milne has been a Marxist/Stalinist for around thirty five years of his life. He has obsessively hated the 'capitalist West' for all those years. He's also keen to atone for the many benefits that evil capitalist system has given him: a public-school education, a very high salary and a firm place in the (Leftist) establishment. (As I said, having finally realised – after a couple of decades - the overall ineffectualness and un-productiveness of British Trotskyist and Communist parties, Milne now supports the Labour Party.)
Every word and even syllable of what Seumas Milne writes is underscored by that deep hatred of capitalism and the West. So it's no surprise that he sees every criticism of Islam or Muslims as something or other to do with the evils of capitalism. Despite that, he's not always explicit about the ideological and political hatred that drives him. Now and then, however, he is, such as when he writes:
“Part of the growth of Islamophobia is about... justifying the Anglo-American campaign of wars, occupations and support for client dictatorships that fuelled the rise of Islamism - and jihadist violence - in the first place.”
Here again is the pure Marxist theory that it's all – literally! - down to capitalist economics and the political arrangements which result from that. In other words, it's not about massive Muslim grooming in the UK, the London bombers, militant Muslims trying to impose sharia law in the streets of London, 60,000 cases of female genital mutilation in the UK (over the last ten years or so) and the 100 and more jihadist passages in the Koran. No, it's all about capitalist economics and the political results of such economics.
Until people realise the Marxist theories which determine and completely circumscribe every word that Seumas Milne utters, nothing he says will even make sense.
Basically, Seumas Milne's bottom line is that race is not all about, well, race. Similarly, Islam, or Muslims behaving as Muslims (as followers of Islam), is not all about religion. Islam, to a Stalinist or Marxist like Milne, is actually more often about race than it is about religion. In addition, on the traditional Marxist position on religion, Islam is a direct outcome of the “socioeconomic substructure and political superstructure which gave rise to its modern incarnations” – i.e., Western capitalism and colonialism.
Similarly, just as Islam is but an “epiphenomenon of the material substructure”, so all criticisms of Islam have nothing to do with religion either. Such criticisms, on an Marxist analysis, are often mainly about race. However, this neat little Marxist box is even more simple than that. That supposed racism towards Islam is itself the result of socioeconomic and political realities. Thus all things (or, in these cases, Islam, the behaviour of Muslims, racism and the criticisms of Islam) are nothing but “epiphenomena of the given socioeconomic conditions”. In other words, modern Islamism, the criticism of Islam, as well as even Islam itself, are all the results of capitalism and neo-colonialism. (Islam, as it existed before capitalism and Western colonialism, would have likewise simply expressed the given socioeconomic and political realities which existed at the time.)
Whatever the case is, Islam itself is factored out of the equation by Seumas Mine. Justifiable criticisms of Islam are similarly factored out. All we have left are socioeconomic and political realities: Western capitalism and 'neo-imperialism' in the Muslim world. Indeed all other analyses of what's going on - all non-Marxist ones (including those by Muslim Uncle Toms) - are simply the result of false consciousness.
It's as if Seumas Milne believes that Islam didn't even exist until the West colonised the Arab and Muslim world. It's also as if there were no Islamic empires, no Islamic slavery and no Islamic jihad until the evil capitalist West appeared on the scene.
Year Zero in the Muslim world, according to Milne, began when the West 'colonised' it; just as Year Zero for Iraq began when the American soldiers 'occupied' that country. (In other words, forget the Stalinist/Baathist Saddam Hussein gassing tens of thousands of Kurds, killing 30,000 political opponents a month, etc.)
Milne has a Manichean world-view of the purest kind. It's literally all about the capitalist West versus just about everyone else. Thus everything - from the criticism of the Koran to Palestinian men raping their wives - is to do with capitalism and the West (which includes Israel). As I said, until you realise Mine's Manichean Marxism, you simply won't understand a word of what he says (2).
Seumas Milne, therefore, is telling both Muslims and the critics of Islam how the world really is. We would quickly recognise this (Marxist) reality if we scraped away our false consciousness and all those false ideological interpretations we have of what's really going on. In the end, the way the world is is how Marxists like Seumas Milne tell us it is. All other opinions, views and interpretations are the result of false consciousness. People who suffer from such cognitive ailments can't help but believe in the various 'false narratives' which are offered up to explain the world.
True reality - unpolluted by the platonic (capitalist) Media and false consciousness - is given to us when we see things through the Marxist prism which Seumas Mine himself sees things.
1) The old Communist/Marxist solution to religion was to eradicate it as the unhelpful and indeed politically dangerous 'opium' that Communists/Marxists thought it was. Only then would religious people see the true nature of their oppression.
Nowadays, as Marxists/progressives see it, because Islam is a religion almost exclusively made up of victims and the oppressed (except for those 'pro-Western' Arab leaders, etc.), as well as an unavoidable consequence of such oppression, then it makes little sense to criticise it. On the other hand, if that religion is an 'oppressor religion' made up of white people, such as Christianity, then such criticisms must - and do - continue.
On the surface, this new Marxist/progressive pro-religion (i.e., pro-Islam) stance, or non-critical position on Islam, makes more sense than the old Marxist/Communist one. After all, if Islam really is truly unavoidable consequence of oppressive material (capitalist) conditions, then there is little point in criticising it – especially if most Muslims are brown-skinned and therefore, according to Leftist inverse of positive racism, automatically victims and necessarily oppressed.
2) Some say that critics of Islam and Muslims are similarly Manichean too. Not at all. I personally don't think that Islam permeates every aspect of my culture and my civilisation and I don't think that there are Muslims under every bed. On the whole, Islam is firmly on the outside of what I cherish and uphold. And I want things to keep that way. (Hence my criticisms of Islam, etc.) For Seumas Milne, on the other hand, capitalism is literally everywhere and determines everything: from the way we arrange our family lives to the way Muslims bomb London's civilians.