Friday, April 07, 2006

The Unholy Alliance

One of the peculiarities of the self-described “decent left” is a combined obsession with the the alliances of the SWP, and a total lack of sympathy with their aims. Over the years it's spawned a stream of articles detailing their machinations, as if these had any bearing on whether the Iraq War was right. Today's Comment is free contribution from David T of Harry's Place is a fine example of this smear-by-association genre.

The piece almost reads as if it's from a disaffected member of the SWP, rather than somebody who supported the Iraq War, and who has displayed no concern for left-wing causes except where they can be plausibly painted as in alignment with Bush's agenda. It warns of the dangers of the “unholy” SWP/MAB alliance as if courting such bedfellows might damage a valuable movement. “Why”, Dave asks, “do these rightwing falangists [anti-homosexual Muslims] so fascinate a revolutionary socialist organisation?”

Rather than accepting the obvious explanation – that they both opposed the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns – he meanders off to flaunt his intimate knowledge of Trots via a decade-old article in the International Socialism Journal. He contends that, because they both make up the Respect party, they must be in some sort of long-term alliance, and this in turn is explained by a plan to swallow up Islamist members once they realise Islamism is “contradictory”.

But none of this really matters, because Dave isn't interested in the future of the SWP, or the left. What he cares about is discrediting the anti-war movement. He affects concern that members of an organisation ritually denounced by decentists, “have been forced into an absurd and overblown defence of the Islamist politics”, even though he's deeply happy about this as far as it's true; he deploys sociologist-speak to worry vaguely that the alliance has emphasised “essentialist religious categories”, even though the alleged SWP strategy he quotes explicitly aims for the opposite outcome. Finally, he asks in pseudo-newspaper columnist style, “the romance between the left and Islamist politics is bound to come to an end, sooner or later”, so “will love turn to hate?”

Who cares? Certainly not Dave, except in as far as such a falling out might make his job as a Bush cheerleader easier. He isn't on the left, let alone a “revolutionary socialist”; he doesn't support unions unless they're being targeted by opponents of Bush: he is a thoroughgoing Blairite. Whether the SWP were allied with the MAB or not, he'd still be criticising them, because they oppose his beloved war – that's the only reason he's interested in them. All the rest – the pretence of a concern for the future of left-wing politics – is a transparent pretext for wheeling out what he views as discreditable aspects to a prominent anti-war organisation. It's a bait and switch, based on a temporary claim to be associated with a movement he despises.

One might equally pose another question, given Dave's love of George Bush. The romance between the pseudo-left and Christianist politics is bound to come to an end, sooner or later, so will love turn to hate? Unlike him, I'm not going to pretend I care.

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