H/T Ross Wolfe, the Charnel House
The material below has some seriously disturbing aspects, mixed with some level of insight on more peripheral matters. It consists of a series of observations by Chris Cutrone, the leader of the US leftist organisation known as Platypus Affiliated Society, a kind of left-wing think-tank that states in its statement of purpose:
“the first task for the reconstitution of a Marxian Left as an emancipatory force is to recognize the reasons for the historical failure of Marxism and to clarify the necessity of a Marxian Left for the present and future” (http://platypus1917.org/)
I reprint below first an email/letter received today from the Disputes Committee of Left Unity, followed by my response. The contents speak for themselves. It appears that there had been a complaint along the lines of the smear about ‘anti-semitism’ that nearly a year ago was the occasion for a witch-hunt in the Communist Platform, a ‘communist’ grouping within Left Unity, to the National Council of Left Unity itself.
I cannot definitively say who the complaint came from, as I was not officially informed of the existence of the complaint until the investigation of the Disputes Committee had exonerated me. But from some gossip and rumours that had appeared on one or two scurrilous Zionist-inclined blogs, it does seem likely that the complainant was Salman Shaheen, one of the elected principal spokespeople of the party. It is also possible that the complainants were the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB. Though I think that is unlikely, since repeatedly when challenged to substantiate his allegation that I had a ‘retrograde attitude to Jews’, including in the pages of the Weekly Worker, their leader Jack Conrad responded with … deafening silence.
The following text is the rewritten statement of political purpose of Socialist Fight, a magazine initiated by a grouping led by comrade Gerry Downing, a long time Trotskyist whose political origins were in the Workers Revolutionary Party. The magazine has now broadened out its political basis and I have agreed to join the editorial board. This re-written statement contains some important departures from some characteristic political weaknesses of the Trotskyist movement.
In particular, attention should be drawn to items 20 and 21 in the statement, which in effect argue for a different type of party model from that of the Trotskyist movement, and indeed different also from that movement’s progenitors in the early Communist International. In explicitly recognising the right of members of a revolutionary party – which we seek to build – to engage in public debate, criticism and disagreement about matters of theoretical analysis, and about strategy and tactics, the statement goes beyond the flawed model of the Third (and by political inheritance, the Fourth) International.
Reply to the RCIT – 1
Correcting Errors Trotskyism inherited from the Third International
The following is the first of two replies to comrades from the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, a international grouping of Trotskyists from various traditions, which is a split from the international tendency around the British Workers Power Group, the League for the Fifth International. This tendency has also the adherence of an Israeli grouping, the International Socialist League, whose main leader, Yossi, has a long and complex history of associations, including with the Spartacists, the Grant/Woods tendency, and the US League for the Revolutionary Party.
This first item tries to address, among other things, the flaws in contemporary communism that have led to such a dazzling array of splits, which itself is deeply damaging to the left. The second item takes up some of their positions on Israel and its relationship with US imperialism and its other imperialist allies, and has particular relevance to the views of their Israeli group.
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.
In his presentation and summary to the day-school of Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) last Saturday afternoon (30 May), broadly devoted to the negotiations between Iran and the United States and the continuing possibility of an attack on Iran by Israel and the United States, Moshe Machover, the would-be Marxist Israeli professor and supporter of the Communist Platform of Left Unity, was compelled to make significant concessions to the analysis of the Jewish Question put forward by Communist Explorations.
Machover was engaged in a polemic against those who ostensibly believe in the so-called “tail wagging the dog” thesis regarding the power and influence of Israel over United States policy in the Middle East. He criticised Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, authors of the famous book on the Israel Lobby, as well as the left-wing author James Petras, for their arguments for the idea that the level of Israeli influence on American foreign policy and its actions contradicted some way actual US interests in a bourgeois sense. It has long been the contention of some on the left like Machover, who wish to avoid a concrete debate on this question, that these contentions amount to some kind of bizarre ‘conspiracy theory’ and thereby transcend rationality, if they do not actually amount to ‘anti-semitism’.
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 following letter was sent to the Weekly Worker on 29th March, in reply to a rather stunted and pathetic letter from CPGB member Phil Kent, published on 19 March. Weekly Worker editor Peter Manson initially promised to publish it, despite his attempt to ridicule its contents, but supposedly having ‘slept on it’ changed his mind and announced that it contained ‘nonsense’ that could not be published. See the whole exchange that follows the letter, which casts light on their motivation in refusing to print the letter, which is published below the letter itself in the interests of the ‘openness’ that the CPGB/WW falsely lay claim to. Continue reading
Reproduced below are two letters from myself that were recently published in the Weekly Worker. These are published, in this particular case, without any intention of either praising or blaming the editors of that publication, but simply because there is material in those two letters that readers here might have missed. This material is worthwhile in addressing contentious questions relating to the Middle East and the Jewish Question, and making some observations about the progress of discussions on these questions.
The first item was published in the 5th March issue. It is worth noting, since the letter is a reply to a previous invective-filled letter from Tony Greenstein, that it is published alongside a further letter from the same author, mainly addressing in a moderately interesting and thoughtful manner some aspects of analysis concerning ISIS. However, at the conclusion of his letter, Greenstein makes the following remarks about previous exchanges between us:
“On another topic – the recent exchanges with Ian Donovan – I have informed the editor of the Weekly Worker that I have no intention of responding to any further letters which indulge in ad hominem attacks, as I don’t wish to feed what is clearly a personal obsession.”
The following exchange illustrates the pointless and self-defeating effect of political dishonesty in communist politics. In bourgeois, i.e. capitalist politics, the point of political activity is to bolster and defend the position of a small, exploiting minority, the owners of capitalist property, against the great mass of the population who have no such wealth. It is obvious that this kind of politics would necessarily be replete with corruption and mendacity, since the maintenance of injustice and social and economic inequality requires fooling the mass of the population to acquiesce in their own victimisation and exploitation. The only way to do this is by systematic lying, in order to create and promote myths, and also to create and maintain divisions among the working-class majority.
Communist politics, on the other hand, has truth as its only weapon. In order to understand the real situation, the mass of the population need to have a accurate picture of political, social and economic relations, which can only be developed over a long period by a political leadership that uses truth as its main weapon. Such a politics is fundamentally different from bourgeois politics. Whereas bourgeois politics promotes mystification and lies in the interest of a minority, communist politics must ruthlessly tear away mystification and expose all social lies. If a would-be communist organisation begins to engage in lying itself, it digs its own political grave, since the only basis on which it can garner and keep support on a healthy basis is through this process of exposing difficult truths.