Blindness to Oppression, Taking a Dive on Democracy

The following leaflet was distributed at a London dayschool of HOPI this afternoon. A fuller report of some of the discussions at this meeting will be posted when time allows. But this content of the leaflet speaks for itself in terms of the politics of HOPI’s initators, the Communist Party of Great Britain/Weekly Worker.


This day-school of Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) epitomises the politics of its initiators, the CPGB/Weekly Worker.  A body dedicated to solidarity with the working class in Iran is in principle a good, if narrow, project.

The working class of the entire Middle East needs solidarity in many ways, against imperialist aggression and despotic and dictatorial regimes, pro-Western and ‘radical’. That Iran, not even its working class, but its ‘people’ is singled out as more deserving than elsewhere, reflects the CPGB’s ‘third camp’ ideology that treats ‘radical’ bourgeois regimes targeted by imperialism as co-equal with the imperialists themselves.

The working class of Iran needs to self-liberate as part of an international permanent revolution, taking power as a class to solve all democratic tasks. This means a complete break with clericalism and dominance of the state by organised religion. A precondition for any liberation is genuine independence from imperialist domination; this being more acutely denied in other parts of the Middle East than Iran. One important reason for popular support for the clerical regime is because it is not simply subservient to imperialism, unlike most other regimes in the region.

Part of its popular support therefore stems from a democratic sentiment, which is alien to the moving spirits of HOPI. No effective solidarity movement can be built with the working class of Iran or anyone else in the Middle East that does not give firm support to all real resistance to imperialist domination. The CPGB’s anti-anti-imperialism, and equation of Middle-Eastern anti-Western radicalism, secular and Islamic, with imperialism itself, involves capitulation to chauvinism against the mainly Muslim peoples of the Middle East.

This is also true at home, with the CPGB refusing to defend Muslims targeted for anti-democratic attacks in the UK. To its credit, Left Unity has condemned the ousting of the Tower Hamlets ex-Labour rebel Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who has been twice elected by a massive majority, and supported Rabina Khan who is standing in Rahman’s place in the re-run election on June 11.

This attack was initiated by Eric Pickles, a stalwart Zionist and partisan of the Conservative Friends of Israel, which dominates the Tory Party.  It was carried through by a judge who dismissed the idea that the Bengali population of TH are an oppressed population, and incredibly found Rahman guilty of making ‘false statements’ in accusing the Labour right-winger John Biggs of racism. Yet stereotyped allegations of corruption have been the racist weapon of choice of the Labour right-wing for decades in excluding highly political South Asian activists from real political influence in such inner city, heavily South Asian areas.

In the past, this generally involved anti-democratic shenanigans in the Labour Party, ‘suspensions’ of South Asian members and of whole CLPs, as repeatedly happened in Birmingham. But now it is happening at the state-electoral level. This is something of a leap.

Making that leap involves going beyond the usual pretentions of British democracy, which is not normally so brazen as to blatantly overrule a domestic electorate in this way. It needs something more. On the basis of mutual interest, the British ruling class is now tied to the policies of supporters of the Jewish-Israeli ‘national’ project within its own ranks.

To them, the democratic will of an ‘enemy’ electorate means nothing; their model is the Naqba, where the unwanted masses were disposed of through mass expulsions.

This means importing Israeli memes and methods targeting highly political Muslim populations in the West, whose sentiments are naturally with Israel’s victims, for suppression and repression. Vocal bourgeois layers, linked to this Jewish ‘national’ project, with mainstream bourgeois adulation, have been attacking the political freedom of those subject to racist oppression throughout the imperialist world, in France, the US and now the UK.

Anti-Muslim hatred is evident in the nonsense about ‘spiritual influence’  – actually a denial of free speech for Muslims. It is also rich indeed from supporters of a state church in the UK, not to mention the Jewish state.

CPGB/WW, which claims to be the left wing of LU, has sneered at opposition to the attack on the democratic rights of the Tower Hamlets electorate from the left. But uncharacteristically, it has been somewhat reticent in doing so.

Since Rabina Khan’s candidacy was announced, and especially since LU correctly gave her its support, there has been no comment from the CPGB in WW, aside from a sympathetic and worthwhile letter from CPGB supporter Simon Wells. As he appropriately commented; “The mayoral election will be the ‘real’ judgement of Pickles’ interference, not that of an unelected and unaccountable judge.” (7 May). This recognises that this re-run election has become a referendum on the anti-democratic, neocon/Zionist coup: logically WW should either support Rabina Khan’s campaign, or come up with some convincing public polemics to explain why Left Unity’s creditable position is wrong.

From CPGB/WW officially, there has been silence. But in its email bulletin for its own periphery, Notes for Action (7 May), with a much more limited circulation, the CPGB attacks the LU position and puts ‘the line’: that Rahman was simply a “grubby local politician” who “got caught with his hand in too many cookie jars”, who engaged in “scurrilous accusations of racism” against political opponents, and to boot had “links with radical Islamists”.

This political line is indistinguishable from that of the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers Liberty. But there is one difference.

Whereas the AWL is proud of its anti-Muslim bigotry, and has publicly blasted Left Unity for its correct position, the CPGB is shamefaced and hides its position. It obviously feels politically exposed, and that if it were to publicly polemicise about this with LU it would substantiate the view, put forward by Communist Explorations, that on key questions concerning Zionism, Islamophobia and the ‘war on terror’, it is on the right-wing of LU.

That it defends someone like Biggs, whose racism was denounced in the early 1990s by elements of the then-Labour Left like Michael Keith, against charges of racism today, shows the CPGB’s complete blindness to racist oppression.

A clear indicator of the racism of the judge who ousted Rahman was his citation of the current comments of the now-thoroughly-Blairite ex-leader of TH Council, Michael Keith, repudiating his own remarks about Biggs’ ‘racism’ decades earlier as “out of context” and irrelevant today. The racist judge treated this as ‘evidence’ of Rahman’s ‘mendacity’ for citing them. In fact this simply mapped Keith’s decay from being an opponent of racism in the early 1990s to a cynical reactionary now. And the CPGB agrees with the racist judge on this!

For the CPGB, the ruling class is not racist, but anti-racist and merely national-chauvinist. In the past they have put this over in a pedantic manner as some kind of more ‘profound’ analysis of anti-migrant bigotry, supposedly superior to the crude ‘anti-racist’ analysis of the mainstream left. But their defence of Biggs tears the veil off this: they now defend right-wing Labourite/Blairite witch-hunters against “scurrilous” charges of racism from the left.

The CPGB falsely accuse those who criticise and analyse supporters of the Jewish ‘national’ project in the Western ruling classes, which gave birth to the anti-democratic coup in TH,  of anti-Jewish racism. Meanwhile they defend pro-imperialist, reactionary witch-hunters like Biggs against anti-racist criticism, including from the Labour left. This shows that its claims to represent Communism, and a left-wing opposition in Left Unity, are fundamentally fake.

30 May 2015.



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