Monday, November 28, 2016

Where next in Weimar Little England?

When, two days ago, I wrote for the first time from “Weimar Little England” I did not realise that I was being anachronistic because we had already opened hostilities with the Poles. The random deportations of European migrants for allegedly sleeping rough joins the recent mass deportation to Jamaica to reveal to us the society in which we have been living for some time.

The official racism which legitimates, but never satisfies, right-wing populism is as happy scapegoating white “foreigners” as black (perhaps nearly as happy?) Bigotry is simple and straightforward (and all too common). For socialists trying to work out how to respond to these darkening days these are, however, confusing times.

I know that there would be great value in a united response to the resurgent forces of reaction and the far right (and I am inclined to be present outside the Supreme Court on Monday even if it is true that Farage has called off his attempt to be Mussolini).

However. I am confronted by some questions, of which these are three;
How can we unite with those who campaigned (whether they are comfortable to acknowledge it or not) alongside the populist and far right in favour of a vote to leave the European Union which, by the time it was cast, was a vote against immigration?
How do we engage, as anti-racists and anti-imperialists, with those whose first response to the death this weekend of Fidel Castro was to echo ill-informed criticisms rather than acknowledge achievements?
How do we work with those cowards and careerists are misleading the “Momentum” organisation having engaged in a blatantly racist witch-hunt of their own Vice-Chair as part of a craven capitulation to Zionism (never mind the Labour right-wing to whom they gave ground)?

I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do know that we will not succeed on the basis of simply ignoring these divisions. As urgent as is the task of uniting against our adversaries an even more urgent task is to understand what we face and to respond on the basis of principles.

We must start from a position of socialist internationalism, of unyielding support for equality and opposition to racism and imperialism. These principles we cannot compromise if we are to be useful in dealing with the rising tide of racism and reaction nationally and globally.

I shall keep thinking about what this means in practice.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...


Might a starting point be to drop the sectarian whining?

Then maybe you can get involved with this lot: http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/ along with many other trade unionists, socialists and anti-racists.

Just a suggestion.

Jon Rogers said...

Another SWP front organisation? Is that really the best the left can come up with?

(And do we have to accept Brexit to become involved?)

Anonymous said...

Good grief, what is the matter with you? You ask how you can unite against the rising tide of racism with those you have disagreements with. The answer is to stop wallowing in a sectarian cesspit and organise. In other areas of the country Unison members and branches are involved in setting up SUTR groups. I'm sure they wouldn't object to working with someone who stood four-square for Remain with Cameron and May as they plotted mass deportations of Jamaicans and rough sleepers. [it's easy being sectarian, but much better to do the right thing ;) ]

While we're at it, see this on the relationship between SWP and SUTR: http://labourlist.org/2016/10/yes-the-swp-were-at-the-stand-up-to-racism-rally-we-organised-but-i-have-spent-my-life-arguing-against-the-hard-left/

Jon Rogers said...

The use of the word "sectarian" to describe anyone who disagrees with you is not particularly good use of language and seems completely to miss (or perhaps dismiss) the point I am trying to make (and think about).

Anonymous said...

Although I don't know you personally, I have followed your blog over the past couple of years and admire the way you've stood up to and exposed the bureaucracy in a certain union. Up until this particular post I hadn't found anything particularly objectionable.

Now perhaps I was misreading you, but to me this post came across as an extended riff on how difficult it would be to fight racism alongside groups you disagreed with about Brexit or Castro or the treatment of Ms Walker or whatever.

I answered your point at the end of the blog by suggesting you get involved with SUTR. You responded with the classic sectarian line: "Another ---* front organisation." [* insert initials of whichever group you disagree with] When I pointed out your error you claimed I was misusing the word sectarian! Classic avoidance technique. So let me be clear:

I use the word sectarian to describe those who look for what divides us rather than working together on what unites us. [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarianism#Political_sectarianism]

So now maybe you understand how difficult it is for the rest of us to bite our tongues and work alongside people whose party leaders think it's a wizard wheeze to bomb other countries back to the stone age, or to support I D Smith illegally backdating legislation on Workfare so as to destroy a few more poor people's lives.

We manage it because to do otherwise would be damaging to the movement we are trying to build together - be it about fighting fascism, austerity, war or even racism. If you can't do the same, if your principles are more important than the fight against racism what does that make you, besides irrelevant?

Anonymous said...

Start by stop coming accross as a patronising know-it-all who needs to lead the workers to the promised land because we're too thick and racist to know what's good for us. You're a pompous arse and a barrier to our class advancing.

Anonymous said...

Describing the criticisms of Jackie Walker as 'racist' and 'a capitulation to Zionism' seems to ignore the blatantly anti-semitic content of what she said and wrote. I mean, come on - she wasn't criticising the settlements. She was saying (on Facebook) that Jews were responsible for the slave trade and (in the training session) that it would be 'wonderful' (weird choice of word) if Holocaust Memorial Day commemorated 'other Holocausts' (it does commemorate genocides since 1945). It's a far cry from the legitimate criticism of Israel which is usually attacked as 'anti-semitism' - these are far-right talking points. I'm sure her comments came from ignorance rather than hatred, but I'm disappointed to see you failing to question what she actually said.