It takes a nation to protect the nation
Chris Harman himself was the prime intellectual of the Socialist Workers Party (now SWP-UAF) after the death of its founder, Tony Cliff. He was also a member of the SWP's Central Committee. He died in 2009 in Cairo.
Harman's own essay can be seen as both a defence – and the beginnings – of the contemporary situation of a very strong and unequivocal Marxist/ Leftist collaboration with Islamists and Muslims, both intellectually speaking and in terms of political activism.
Harman's basic point is that Islam, or at least Islamism, is more revolutionary or radical than Christianity and the other monotheistic religions. He was not completely sympathetic to Islam or Islamism, but that didn't matter because of the Marxist analysis of religion, which Harman fully endorsed, in which Islam, and all religions, are seen as merely the epiphenomena (or 'superstructure') of the much more important socio-economic material and thence political conditions. Thus it is those basic socio-economic conditions which must be changed; through revolution. So it makes little sense to (contemporary) Marxists to criticise Islam when it is seen as merely the causal outcome of given socio-economic conditions – more specifically in the case of Islam or Islamism, such conditions as class, class conflict and, more importantly (to Trotskyists), the effects of Western 'imperialism' on the Muslim and Arab world.
Harman makes two fundamental points about the Islamists:
i) Marxists must not "write them off as fascists, with whom we have nothing in common".
ii) Marxists must not "see them as 'progressives' who must not be criticised".
It can be said that the Old Left, on the whole, did write Islamists off as fascists. Some Leftists still do. Today, however, many Marxists, especially Harman's very own Socialist Workers Party, do indeed see them as 'progressives'. Harman wisely sees the obvious problem with these two diametrically opposed positions.
On the one hand, if Marxists do write Islamists off as fascists, then clearly they cannot also "be tapped for progressive purposes". That is, they cannot be used by Marxists or by the SWP. In addition, if utterly dismissed then there will be no opportunity for Marxists "to argue strongly with them, to challenge them" and thus to "seize opportunities to draw individual Islamists into genuinely radical forms of struggle". Thus they cannot be made into revolutionary Marxists or members of the SWP.
On the other hand, if Marxists or the SWP see them as 'progressives', then they put themselves out of a job. If Islamists are indeed genuine progressives, then Marxists have nothing really to teach them. In other words, the Islamists (may) have no further to go in their progressiveness (as it were). Again, Marxists would deny themselves the opportunity of making the Islamists into members of the SWP – or into revolutionary Marxists – if they think that the Islamists are already true progressives.
It seems, then, that Marxists are in some kind of a bind. If they see Islamists as simple Islamofascists, then there will be no collaborations with them or any kind of support for them - instead they must be fought against. If they see them as progressives, then there is no justification to convert Islamists to Marxism. Either way the SWP denies itself potential revolution-fodder which they could otherwise “tap into”.
What is the solution? Harman says:
"With the Islamists sometimes. With the state never."
This may also lead to another, older SWP catechism, used about the IRA. Thus:
You can immediately say that if the support for Islamists (or the IRA) is "unconditional", then what's the point of it also being "critical"? What is the point of criticism if at the end of the day one's support of Islamism is unconditional? In other words, no matter what the Islamists do, no matter how much the SWP criticises them (which nowadays, in point of fact, they no longer do), the SWP will still support them because that support must be unconditional. In concrete terms, this means that an SWP member may well (but he doesn't anyway) criticise an Islamist for his sexism, his adventurism, his anti-Semitism, etc., but at the end of the day he will still support the Islamist because, after all, he is still “fighting the state”. And anyone – anyone – who fights the state is a friend of the Marxist or the SWP! In Harman's own words, even if the Islamist's own oppression of "minorities, women and gays" are fully criticised, the SWP will still support him "against the state". Again, the criticism will prove to be pretty pointless if in the end the support is unconditional or total.
Harman himself actually says "with the Islamists sometimes"; not every time. Despite that, I think that the SWP today, five years after Harman's death, is with the Islamists and Muslims at all times. There is precious little, or no, criticism of Islamists from the SWP. This goes against what Harman says in this essay at least. Harman only died in 2009, so either he changed his mind on this or he didn't have his way on this issue with the SWP as a whole. Alternatively, perhaps he stuck to his position, but wasn't followed by the rest of the SWP (or, I should say, by the Central Committee). For example, what would he think of non-Muslim SWP female members wearing the hijab when jointly involved with Muslim men in political activity (as is on record as having happened and can be seen in various photos on the Internet)? What would he have thought about the separate seating arrangements for men and women at some SWP or anti-war events? My guess would be that he would fully support these things. Or, at the least, he wouldn't have kicked up a fuss about them. After all it's a Trotskyist we are talking about here. And, as we all know, Trotskyists do anything, or say anything, which furthers the revolution or helps to radicalise minorities ("by any means necessary"). Thus if wearing hijab or allowing separate seating arrangements helps radicalise, or helps contribute to the Revolution, or helps introduce Muslims to revolutionary Marxism, then so be it. These things must be supported, even if they leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Thus we must conclude that the SWP today is fairly happy that Islamists "scapegoat ethnic and religious minorities, women and gays", as long as they are otherwise against the state.
On the other hand, if the Islamists are seen as progressives, as Harman warns, contemporary SWP members, whether they know it or not, are supporting groups or individuals "at the expense of the left" (both at home and "in much of the Middle East"). More than that, it seems that the contemporary unequivocal support of Muslims and Islamists from the SWP looks very much like Harman's case of the abandonment of "the goal of independent socialist politics, based on workers in struggle". In addition, SWP leaders and members today are indeed forgoing the opportunity of making Islamists "question their allegiance to its ideas and organisations".
Harman's position on supporting Islamists, as well as the SWP's similar stance today, is very simple. It is this:
If one does not support Islamists, or Muslims generally, one must be supporting the capitalist state instead.
That is because the capitalist state is, according to Harman and the SWP-UAF, against Muslims and Islamists. Full stop. This is something that Harman simply takes for granted in this essay. But why not this? –
A position against both Islamists and the capitalist state.
Harman is specific about his support for Muslims and Islamists and the reasons why Leftists (and others) may be against them. He gives the example of "secular values". Leftists may be in favour of secular values. Muslims and Islamists, by definition, aren't. Thus it may follow, or it does follow, that such Leftists must therefore be against Muslims and Islamists because they are against secular values. Harman says that Leftists must not take this position against Muslims and Islamists because if they do, they are siding with the state (that thoroughly platonic or Marxist entity with a determinate essence). And one must always be against the state if one is a Marxist revolutionary: "With the Islamists sometimes, with the state never."
Harman's defence of Islamism and the Islamists is even deeper than that. Harman does not want the Islamists to be against the Leftists, just as he doesn't want Leftists to be against the Islamists. Thus if Leftists attack Islamists, or even simply champion secular values, then that will "merely make it easier for the Islamists to portray the left as part of an 'infidel', 'secularist' conspiracy of the 'oppressors' against the most impoverished sections of society”.
Thus the very defence of secular values is taken by Harman to be some kind of attack on Muslims – "the most impoverished section of society". Or does he mean that Leftists must not speak about secular values in front of potential Islamist comrades or collaborators? You either support secular values or you don't, regardless of how others (in this case Islamists) interpret or see your position. Surely one cannot deny one's belief in secular values (or Marxist materialist vales) simply because it will alienate your potential Muslim comrades or collaborators. Again, is this just a case of Trotskyists keeping quiet when Muslims are around?
Harman himself gives examples of Leftists supporting the state against Muslims or Islamists.
The Left in Algeria and Egypt "praised regimes that were ... [seen by them as] 'progressive'". Presumably, although it is not made clear by Harman, this praise was in response to the Algerian and Egyptian regimes' attempts to secularise the state. However, the Left should never have done such a thing! They should be against the state at all times, even when it is secularising itself! According to Harman, this secularising behaviour of Egypt and Algeria did "nothing for the mass of people". It also "enabled the Islamists to grow". So be careful about who or what you support. This is a position of complete rejection of the state. Even if the state is offering the working people higher wages and shorter hours, Marxists/ Trotskyists like Harman must still be against the state. (The worse it is for everyone, the better it is for revolutionaries.) If the state does anything against Islamism or Muslim militancy it should never be supported. Such is the absolutist position of the SWP and Harman. This helps explain some of the nasty causes, groups and individuals they have supported over the years – the introduction of halal meat, the support of Muslim bigots, the support of (Muslim) single-sex schools, etc. You must never support the state even if it is against ritual slaughter. Contrawise, you must always support minorities or 'oppressed' groups, no matter what they believe or what they do.
You wonder, then, about the nature of this leftist support of Islamists and Muslims generally. This is particularly true when you note that Harman says that socialists must seek "complete political independence from all forms of Islamism". What form would this independence actually take (especially bearing in mind the care and attention Leftists must show when dealing with Islamists and Muslims)? For example, surely if Marxists stressed and even argued for atheism, and other positions at odds with Islam, this would be bound to alienate Muslims from Leftists. This is something that Harman himself seems to argue. Again, what kind of independence is Harman talking about? Is it a silent independence? An independence which dare not speak its name – at least not in front of Muslims?
Perhaps Marxists should catch the Islamists when they are off guard rather than pontificate about revolutionary Marxism in front of them. Harman seems to hint at this ambivalent and difficult independence. For example, despite Marxists keeping quiet about their beliefs in front of Islamists, it is still the case that they should show a "willingness to seize opportunities to draw individual Islamists into genuinely radical forms of struggle alongside them". This must be a case of the SWP keeping an eye out for Islamists having doubts about Islam and then jumping in for the kill. But Marxists should only do so when a genuine opportunity to draw individual Islamists into the fold shows itself.
All this is very ambivalent and extremely cynical and opportunistic on Harman's part. Indeed it sounds like classic Trotskyism – the doing and saying of anything to further the cause of Trotskyism or radicalisation and revolution. In this case it means collaborating with Islamists but at the same time being observant of the "opportunities to draw individual Islamists" towards the true path of Trotskyism or Marxism.
Despite all that, Harman also says that he is not in favour of making Islamists allies of the Left. This is not because they are reactionary, or just plain mistaken, but because they are the Left's competition. Pure and simple. They are competing with the revolutionary socialists to "influence the working class". As a revolutionary socialist, this competition cannot be accepted. Thus Harman concludes that the "Islamists are not our allies". If the revolutionary socialists were to make the Islamists their allies, then they would effectively give up some or all of their political power – or potential political power. It seems, then, that this has little or nothing to do with the fact that Islamists are reactionary, misogynist, fundamentalist or even radical. They are the revolutionary socialists' competitors. And that's that.
This lack of full support for the Islamists, of course, has to be given an ideological veneer which will cover the simple fact of rejecting the competition as competition. Thus Islamists are "utopians" who sometimes indulge in "adventurist" political actions (terms Trotskyists and Marxists also used, historically, about all their competitors and enemies on the Left). Marxists, or revolutionary socialists, aren't, of course, utopians or adventurists; though it is hard to tell why from Harman's The Prophet and the Proletariat.
Chris Harman, 'The Prophet and the Proletariat', 1994, updated 2002, from the website Reds, http://www.marxists.de/religion/harman/pt03.htm
"all religions, are seen as merely the epiphenomena (or 'superstructure') of the much more important socio-economic material and thence political conditions."
In my view, Marxism is an epiphenomenon of islam.
After all it's a Trotskyist we are talking about here. And, as we all know, Trotskyists do anything, or say anything, which furthers the revolution or helps to radicalise minorities ("by any means necessary").
Just like muslims. Let's not forget, the source of "by any means necessary" (Malcolm X) was a muslim.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is reported to be an Arabic proverb (which they may have taken from their invasion of India). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_enemy_of_my_enemy_is_my_friend What such a concept isn't, is a concept that originated in Europe (or else historians would trace its earliest articulation back to Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Macchiavelli, Hobbes, etc.
"You either support secular values or you don't, regardless of how others (in this case Islamists) interpret or see your position."
Not for the Left. They are unprincipled. Words mean what they want them to mean. The only principle that matters is obtaining power. The Left is nothing put the will to power (disguised as concern for The Other).
"However, the Left should never have done such a thing! They should be against the state at all times, even when it is secularising itself! "
The Left are not against the state. They are for a state controlled by them. Anarchists can be described as being against the state (some of them propose breaking up countries and returning to city-states - and they don't mean megacities of > 1 million.) To the Leftists, the state just represents the power/wealth of people other than them.
"This must be a case of the SWP keeping an eye out for Islamists having doubts about Islam and then jumping in for the kill. But Marxists should only do so when a genuine opportunity to draw individual Islamists into the fold shows itself."
Just like muslims believe the world is coming to an end (soon...soon) and then, when it does, good muslims will go to heaven (where are all those millions of muslims between death in the last 1300 years and the much-vaunted end of the world?). So communists believe the revolution will come soon. Such people are resistant to any counter-factuals (1300 years and counting since Mo predicted the end of the world) - communists are oblivious to muslims in the west (and elsewhere) becoming more islamic. After decades of failing to oppose islam, and failing to recruit muslims to anarchism, the Whitechapel Anarchist Group closed down and moved to Surrey.
"If the revolutionary socialists were to make the Islamists their allies, then they would effectively give up some or all of their political power – or potential political power. It seems, then, that this has little or nothing to do with the fact that Islamists are reactionary, misogynist, fundamentalist or even radical. They are the revolutionary socialists' competitors. And that's that."
It's all about power. Ironically, "the marxist explanation" of fascism/national socialism is that they were nothing but pragmatic - they'd do anything for power. Just like the communists. The only difference between the fascist Left and the communist Left is a question of what pragmatic choices will get them into power. The communist Left rely on the hypostatization of an internal economic enemy (the capitalists, the bourgeoisie, the rich); fascists create an external enemy (those outside the nation); national socialists hypostatize extra-national enemies and internal economic enemies (the jews)
Let's not forget: Tony Cliff, the founder of the SWP, supported the idea of the Nazis taking control of Palestine in World War 2.
“Tony Cliff” was the suitably proletarian nom de guerre of Ygael Gluckstein, who was born in Palestine. In our day, the SWP accuses virtually everyone of being a fascist, most notably Israelis and their friends abroad. Yet when he confronted actual fascists in the form of Nazi armies, Gluckstein would not fight them. If Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, the Nazis would have killed every Jew in Palestine, including Gluckstein. Instead of defending them and himself, he issued appeals to Jewish students not to fight Hitler that were so insistent the British authorities interned him alongside members of the Stern gang in Acre prison. The Trotskyist thought he could secure a revolution and throw out the British imperialists by letting the Nazis win.
Why did Chris Harman die in Cairo? Historically it has been German Nazis who have moved to the middle-east (where their rabid jew-hatred is commonplace).
Tony Cliff also described The Muslim Brotherhood as "fascists". Chris Harman moderated that view (how pragmatic). And you've demonstrated that the SWP have become even more pragmatic.
And the Left think that pragmatism in the pursuit of power is a characteristic of fascism.
I actually first thought about this general topic over 30 years ago, so and I haven't changed my mind since then.
It was a time of flower power, John Lennon, and make love not war. I thought, "How will these people become the responsible, mature generation that look after things like our parents have?". I was particularly puzzled by the cowardice manifesting as pacifism, and couldn't understand how that worked out to produce leaders in the police and armed forces. In the end I told myself that there must be some transition that takes place, like the coming of age rituals of other societies, by which these undergraduates magically transform into responsible and courageous adults like our parents.
Well, I was right about the state of these people, but wrong about their projected transformation. The transformation happened before, because our parents were hurled out into the world to dig coal, smelt steel and fight wars. For our generation, the transformation never happened. Thus they were able to continue with their cowardice without ever having to confront it - in fact, after leaving university, it got worse, because, not wanting to admit it, they dug an even deeper alibi for themselves.
So what you have is an entire generation of cowards, that do not even know it, and refuse to accept it. But the cowardice works deep in their bones to guide their actions, just as it does with the victims of the school bully. The latter don't think it through consciously, they just instinctively know how they should behave so that the bully doesn't pick on them.
And so it is with the modern leftist and liberal. Deep down, he is fundamentally scared of Islam. He knows it is dangerous, just like he knows that one day he will die, but he suppresses that knowledge. I remember as a child many decades ago seeing 5 airliners hijacked to a desert then blown up, and I was left stunned, thinking "how can this happen?" I remember the Akile Lauro liner where a disabled Jewish man in a wheelchair was tipped into the sea to drown (by Jihadists, of course) and thinking "what is going on?". But even for those people who've forgotten all those incidents, right up to 9/11, Daniel Pearl, and the burning alive by ISIS of a Syrian pilot, the feeling remains.
The quislings and apologists for Islam are just protecting their own skins. They are fundamentally weak and cowardly, and they will turn on you and me because they know that we don't have any bombs or guns, and that we aren't going to slit their throats from behind when they leave their neo-fascist headquarters one night. In the words of the song "Who wants to be a millionaire?", we should now sing "Who wants to be a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist?".
Of course there are other factors. Virtue Signalling is obviously a key motivation now. And there is also a good measure of intellectual laziness where they can't be bothered to read the Quran properly, or listen to us properly, so just take a short cut and adopt what their preferred sources are telling them.
But watch these leftists and liberals closely and see how their minds work. See how they respond in debate, and I think you will discover their lack of courage. Its a fundamental defect in their character and psychology, and I believe that is why they will always ally with the biggest threat to their person, which is, of course, Islam.
There is an elegant way of testing this theory. Advocate that FGM be made legal, or that Polygamy be made legal, and see how they respond.
They will respond with horror, because it is in contradiction of their humanist liberal and feminist agenda. Yet FGM is already de facto legal, because not a single punishment has been applied for the tens of thousands of KNOWN cases. And Polygamy is already legal, because we have thousands of polygamous muslims in the country, even able to claim benefits, and multiple houses, for their several wives.
By suggesting that we legalise these acts, we force them to confront the fact that they are fundamentally afraid of Islam and Muslims, and just give in to them to avoid trouble, even when it is in direct contradiction with their so-called principles.
These hippy socialists are the ones running governments now and determining our destiny.
Their “alibi” is the right description Alan. They are indeed cowards that think that they can placate Islam. They have managed to pacify their own populations through decades of re-education.
The Muslims and other brutal immigrant criminals are the bully in the room, the one that should have been confronted and dealt with. But being cowards they choose the softer target of those of their own that dare to speak out against this destructive immigration. They cannot be accused of racism when they attack the native British, and well, isn’t it universally accepted that white people are evil and responsible for every wrong. Shame on you you vile white racist male!
“I’ve got Muslim friends that are integrated, I love all people (except obviously my own) so you cannot accuse me of being bigotted and of discriminatiion and racism”.
They choose a path to make themselves immune to any accusation of wrongdoing.
Just as it is absolutely pointless to try to convince a devout believer that God does not exist(very likely does not exist) it is impossible for these leftists to react sensibly towards islamic terror and immigrant crime. They know it is happening, but their principles will not allow them to even think about a solution that would put an end to our suffering. They introduce half-measures against an increasingly worsening situation. The devastating immigration continues, and all they do is talk about trying to limit it; to no effect.
It’s not by chance that this is called the Stockholm Syndrome, it has become the Swedish Syndrome, as Sweden is most likely to become the first European Islamic State. Swedish politicians are the most weak-kneed excuses for human beings possible to imagine. As you say Alan their principles are only on paper, in practice Islam and disgusting third world practices and behavior have already been introduced permanently into our societies.
There is no hope or way to reverse or rectify the rot. Unless people as ruthless as I am achieve power.
Socialists see themselves as on the side of good in the battle against the forces of evil(you and me).
Reply by Philip Smeeton
What is the motivation of Antifa and its aims?
The present motivation of Antifa and its allies including the Democrats seems to be the destruction of white supremacist movements.
But this is only partly true, the white supremacists are few in number and insignificant. The agenda of Antifa is purely racist and about the abolition of race, (even though their ethnic allies are blatantly racist), the Antifa is anti-white. And as most of them are white anti-themselves, which of course fits in with the twisted logic of the anarchist and socialist; the annihilation of differences. Some of their allies are minorities demanding the right to be different.
Antifa are attacking Whites/Europeans specifically. Certainly not Africans or Chinese or Muslims.
What they indentify to be white-racism is nothing more than that; the population of the USA used to be 90% white, now it is less than 70%, They apparently are insulted by the fact that whites are still in the majority and their objective is to change that. The only motivation an anarchist has is the desire to destroy any sort of order.
“As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifa activists generally combat white supremacism not by trying to change government policy but through direct action. They try to publicly identify white supremacists and get them fired from their jobs and evicted from their apartments. And they disrupt white-supremacist rallies, including by force.”
1980 1990 2000
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Total Population226,545,805 100.00% 248,709,873 100.00% 281,421,906 100.00%
Total Hispanics14,608,673 6.45% 22,354,059 8.99% 35,305,818 12.55%
White* 180,256,103 79.57% 188,128,296 75.64% 194,552,774 69.13%
Black* 26,104,285 11.52% 29,216,293 11.75% 33,947,837 12.06%
American Indian and Eskimo* 1,417,110 0.63% 1,793,773 0.72% 2,068,883 0.74%
Asian* 3,489,835 1.54% 6,968,359 2.80% 10,123,169 3.60%
Hawaiian and Pacific Islander* - - - - 353,509 0.13%
Other* 669,799 0.30% 249,093 0.10% 467,770 0.17%
Two or More Races* - - - - 4,602,146 1.64%
* Non-Hispanic only; in 1980 and 1990 "Asians" includes Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.