The following letter was published in the Weekly Worker of 12 June. The context is the CPGB’s belated adoption of a self-contradictory position on the Rabina Khan election issue in Tower Hamlets. The content in that regard is fairly self-explanatory.
However, the headline that they put on it, reproduced above, is too clever by half. It seeks to mock the criticisms of Jewish chauvinism made in the letter against the CPGB and some of its political friends, by a sly implication that it is anti-Semitic to make these criticisms.
It is ‘too clever’ because one implication of this tabloid-like headline is that there is something reprehensible about condemning the violent assault on George Galloway in August 2014. The CPGB failed to condemn this, despite being repeatedly asked to do so by some within the Communist Platform at the time. They frequently, however, consider Galloway significant enough to denounce in all kinds of inventive ways.
They get very angry when this dereliction is pointed out, and their editor Peter Manson has ‘informally’ indicated that it is ‘scurrilous’ to imply that they do not condemn this action. But this headline, “Those Jews”, on this letter, certainly implies that there is something racist about condemning Masterson’s actions. So which is it, comrades?
Daniel Harvey’s report of the discussions at the recent HOPI day school is to be commended, as, unlike in other WW reports on these hotly disputed issues (for instance after the heresy hunt over the Jewish Question last year), comrade Harvey at least tried to be objective. His report is complemented by the one at Communist Explorations (http://wp.me/p51yXy-8H), particularly in refuting the allegations of untruth by Moshe Machover.
However, on one key thing he is wrong. I am not an opponent of the CPGB per se. I am in favour of building a Marxist Party in where free, public exchanges of views on disputed questions are the norm. This is what the CPGB claims to stand for. I am only an opponent of the third-camp, Draper-influenced trend that is currently, through its actual practice, destroying what it claims to stand for with suppression of debates for reasons of opportunism toward chauvinist elements that do not support its objectives in any way.
Two piece of evidence for this are: the very strange article last week on Rabina Khan’s election campaign, and Toby Abse’s letter, both in last week’s paper.
Regarding the former, it is completely contradictory, endorsing the ousting of the twice-elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, by a judge who was obviously following a racist, anti-Muslim agenda laid down by the ruling class, while at the same time calling for a vote for Rabina Khan, who is standing in his place in the re-run in an attempt to defeat the anti-democratic removal of the original mayor politically.
I am not going to repeat arguments I have already made several times as to why Rahman’s ousting was anti-democratic and racist. People can read this on the Communist Explorations website, particularly in my leaflet ‘Blindness to Oppression, Taking a Dive on Democracy’, which was distributed at the HOPI dayschool. But the fact is that two different political lines have been argued by different elements of the CPGB over the Rabina Khan campaign.
One was the sympathetic position argued by Simon Wells in his letter of 7 May, saying that “The mayoral election will be the ‘real’ judgement of Pickles’ interference, not that of an unelected and unaccountable judge.”, implying support for Rabina Khan on democratic grounds. The other was argued in the CPGB email bulletin Notes for Action (also 7 May) which lamented: “Many leftists are queueing up to defend poor Rahman, regrettably now including Left Unity, whose leadership has now decided to support Rabina Khan, Rahman’s anointed successor, in June’s election.”
The article supporting Khan’s campaign last week, while not defending Rahman and indeed endorsing the judge’s actions, is a wretched composite. It is an example of a practice once associated with the Trotskyist group Workers Power, which, because the public expression of disagreements was forbidden according to their rules, where strong disagreement existed, repeatedly came up with self-contradictory theses and articles that tried to encompass political lines that were counterposed to each other in principle.
Since the CPGB began forbidding the expression of ‘inconvenient’ Marxist political views in and around its ‘party’ project last year, with the proscription of my views, no one in the CPGB can be sure that they will not be treated the same way by the leading clique. Despite the theoretical existence of the right to disagree within the framework of Marxism, this has been breached. This means dissenters are now under pressure to ‘compromise’ their views, and hence WP-style self-contradictory gibberish is likely to occur more and more.
The letter of Toby Abse , with his virulent hostility to LU’s support for Rabina Khan, and his long-standing, extreme antipathy to George Galloway and RESPECT, and now those who in LU who either do, or have in the past, supported RESPECT, is indicative. If anyone had used the kind of horror-film imagery comrade Abse uses, about ‘flesh-eating zombies’, about someone associated with Jewish causes, they would be accused of anti-semitism.
But a Jewish comrade like comrade Abse who holds such views of Galloway, and implicitly anyone else who saw something positive in RESPECT’s real achievements in striking political blows against imperialist wars such as Iraq, is the object of deference despite this highly specific form of ‘left’ chauvinism.
Despite the fact that he does not support the CPGB project and never even endorsed the Communist Platform, the CPGB and the latter body endorsed him even ahead of some of their own comrades in the Left Unity elections (see http://communistplatform.org.uk/lu-internal-elections-voting-recommendation/).
Thus we really see the opportunism and conciliation of a specifically Jewish form of anti-Muslim chauvinism that drove the purge last year, whose logic is the destruction of the party project. This was also illustrated by the failure of the CPGB to condemn the concurrent assault on comrade Galloway by a Jewish extremist.
I support the party project . Though just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, so a genuine Marxist Party with an ethos of open programmatic debate in the Bolshevik tradition, will most likely need to be built by other forces. Current CPGB comrades should also be involved.