Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, October 28, 2005

Denis Macshane cries wolf...

Denis MacShane MP for Rotheram and a former Foreign Office minister has compared George Galloway to infamous British Nazi sympathiser Lord Haw Law. Galloway apparently "employs very expensive libel lawyers to stop any press investigation into his role as Lord Haw-Haw for one of the worst tyrants in the world's history" - Saddam Hussain. Macshane called for a joint committee of the Commons and the US Congress to investigate the claims against him.

Leave aside the fact that the recent smears against Galloway coincide rather too conveniently with the fact that the number of US troops dead in Iraq has now reached 2,000. Leave aside Galloway's record of opposition to Saddam Hussain. Even leave aside previous New Labour comparisons of Galloway to British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley during the General Election campaign - because, er, he had a moustache and was a former Labour MP...

No, what interests me is the way that Denis Macshane seems unable to comment on anything without bringing up Nazis and Fascists. After the appalling Al Qaida bombings in Madrid, Macshane
that 'the time has come to unite against terrorism - the new fascism of the 21st century'. Of course, 'uniting against terrorism' meant supporting Bush and Blair's disasterous wars on Afghanistan and Iraq - something Macshane has been to the fore in doing. The notion that the reason Spain might have got bombed was less to do with fascism and more to do with then President Aznar's warmongering escaped Macshane.

To recap then - in Macshane's world - Saddam Hussain is now Adolf Hitler and Al Qaida are fascists - and we all need to unite behind Bush and Blair because they are fighting fascism. Anyone who doesn't agree - like George Galloway - is therefore 'objectively pro-fascist' and can be smeared accordingly.

Macshane's hatred of Galloway stems back at least as far as the General Election in May this year - which saw Respect make its breakthrough onto the political landscape. Respect's success in Britain was part of the birth of a new Left in Europe. Yet for Macshane, this New Left, as he put it in an article for the New Statesman in June, was not a healthy development. Indeed, the rejection of the neo-liberalism seen in recent Euro referendums in France and Holland means - you guessed it - 'we may be witnessing the slow "Weimar-isation" of Europe, a slide back towards the fatal interwar years when fascism was given its opportunity.'

'In France today, an alliance of populists and protectionists has just shattered the Socialist Party of Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Delors. In Germany, the former Social Democratic leader Oskar Lafontaine has formed a breakaway group in a clear echo of the disastrous splits in the 1920s. In Italy, too, the left is hopelessly at odds with itself, with Francesco Rutelli's Margherita (Daisy Party) refusing to submit to the renamed Partito dei Comunisti Italiani in the Ulivo coalition, and the Rifondazione Comunista denouncing its erstwhile comrades as reformists...The European left today is as incoherent as it was during the Weimar years...unless the democratic left starts to think and act together, it risks ushering in a long period of right-wing domination, ugly nationalism and the disintegration of the EU - a new Weimar Europe.'

Yet where did this New Left come from? A decade ago, weren't most people happy to see the election of Labour and Social Democratic parties across the heartland of Europe after years of Conservative Governments? The New Left did not come out of the blue - it was born out of the failures of those traditional social democratic parties in power to represent the interests of the labour movement against the steady rise of corporate power ('Globalisation') - coupled with most of those Governments craven support for Bush's 'war on terror'. In short they were born out of the massive anti-war and anti-capitalist movements of the last few years.

However, social democratic betrayals do not automatically lead people to look to the Left and socialist ideas. Indeed those Governments relentless attack on the rights of asylum ('Fortress Europe')and demonisation of Muslims has boosted racism. In Britain, for example, New Labour's betrayal of millions of working class people that has created a political vacuum that has allowed the real British Nazi Party to start to have the confidence to think about taking to the streets again for the first time in a decade. Given the menace of real fascists in our midst - for Macshane to start comparing others on the Left to Nazis is surely the thing that threatens to split 'left unity' against fascism? It is as irresponsible as his attacks on the British Muslim community after the July 7th bombings - where he criticised Muslim leaders for failing to condemn terrorism enough, as if they had done little else since September 11th.

Lets all unite against [real] fascism in Britain in November, but then work to give people a real decent alternative to New Labour's war-mongering and profit-mongering to vote for in the local council elections next May. Macshane will doubtless carry on crying wolf - comparing George Galloway and Muslims - and anyone else he doesn't like - to fascists - but I doubt if many people will continue to listen.

Edited to add SW article on 'Coleman-balls' v. Galloway.

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At 12:56 pm, Blogger bat020 said...

[psst, those last two links are broken]

At 4:16 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers - I was in a rush.

I have edited it a bit as well as it now appears the BNP demo on the 5th has been banned - a victory for the anti-racist movement.

At 12:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record, can I take it that you fully endorse George Galloway as man of complete probity? Only it will be of help in assessing your acumen and thus deciding how much weight to give to your opinions.

At 2:02 pm, Blogger minifig said...

i greatly dislike bush and blair and the vast majority of the things that they appear to stand for - does this mean that i have to support george galloway? because if that's what it comes down to, i'm almost tending towards the devils i know...

At 3:30 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

DD - I trust him more than any other MP in the House of Commons, with the possible exception of Jeremy Corbyn, lets just put it like that.

Minifig - you don't have, to support George Galloway - I just think that Respect offers the Left in Britain an historic opportunity to break through the current impasse of bollocks that is British politics. And I think the level of hypocritic vitriol that is poured on his head by the mass media and politicians is comparable to the witchunting of Arthur Scargill and Tony Benn in the 1980s - and should be seen in that context.

At 7:27 pm, Blogger minifig said...

i know that galloway is in the midst of an anglo-american witch-hunt, and i also feel the same for tony benn, who is one of the greatest politicians of the last century. i disagree on the scargill front - personally i think that his stubborness sold out the mining community - but i realise that that's an opinion unlikely to find much support here.

all that said, i do have a great deal of dislike for galloway - i find him immensely arrogant, and, more than anything else, he really gets on my nerves.

i also realise, that when it comes down to it, my personal opinions of galloway matter little and i'm certainly glad that there is at least one left wing party left in britain. still wouldn't vote for him though.

At 12:14 am, Blogger steffaction said...

Georgey Galloway has said some amazingly shit things though. It's deeply important to remember that. Particularly disgusting is him telling the Syrian people that they were lucky to have Assad, and saying, in response to the SWPs claim that representatives should earn an average workers' wage "I couldn't live off three workers wages". Marx said that constant internal debate was the essence of communism/marxism, and it's key to remember that. I'm proud to be a member of RESPECT, not so proud to have him as my leader

At 1:04 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Thanks for commenting.

Minifig - Well done for not letting your personal issues with GG totally cloud out the politics -some people cannot do this. Who would you consider voting for, by the way?

Steff - No revolutionary Marxist can agree with some of the things Galloway has said. That is why the SWP, for example, cannot simply liquidate itself into Respect - as Respect is a coalition made up of all sorts of people (reformists and revolutionaries). Galloway is not the 'British Lenin' (- who is?), but if Syria got attacked - wouldn't it be right to say that the main enemy for us in Britain is at home? If we are going to have 'regime change' anywhere - lets get rid of Bush and Blair before little tin pot dictators in weak countries...

Also, in my opinion, no revolutionary Marxist worth their salt in Britain at the moment should simply stand aside and say 'Oh Galloway is not a revolutionary and has a dodgy sun tan - lets not work with him'. So far Respect and GG have unconditionally supported all workers struggles that have taken place - which is the key test for any socialist party. The election of an explicitly socialist MP outside the Labour Party has not happened for sixty years. It is therefore I believe absolutely right for Marxists to build Respect, and hope that the emergence of a radical left wing alternative to New Labour can give confidence to more workers to stand up to bullying bosses (and the Blair Government which backs them) in the workplaces.

At 11:26 am, Blogger minifig said...

snowball, hmm - that's the big question. last time around i went for the lib dems in the hope that we could push forward to a three-, rather than two-party system in the uk - i guess that if there was an election tomorrow, i'd probably do the same.

my political views probably fall most neatly under the "liberal" banner rather than anything else, but on the other hand i don't think that the current lib dem party really represents that worldview.


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