Cliffism

The bickering, backstabbing and pseudo-intellectual debate of student socialism.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Labour students support invasion of Somalia

I hope Miller is eating his words with shame now US planes have helped in the bombing of Somalia.

The level of what is in essence Labours youth wing is becoming a cruel sham. Coalitions with the Young Conservatives and support for US Republican backed invasions of developing countries. Out of interest Labour now rank lower then the Tories on "who will best defend the NHS." Now that is something even Miller could be ashamed of...

31 Comments:

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

Good to see you back Old Bean. Any chance of a link? ;)

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Jack Ray said...

did you catch this story in the Mirror yesterday, by any chance. Was flicking through it during my lunch, and found the massive headline "PAYBACK" complete with war porn pictures of B52s.

"THE US has launched a series of devastating air strikes aimed at al-Qaeda targets in Somalia, it was revealed yesterday."

Still, it was common knowledge that the Americans were politically and materially supporting the invasion from the outset, and had personnel on the ground in an advisory/espionage capacity. The wilful ignorance in Tom's comment section was pretty feeble.

And why does he need Somalia, when he can just dig your Hezbollah t-shirts out of your closet ;)

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger el tom said...

Erm. OK.
:
"The views displayed on this blog in no way reflect or represent those of Labour students, or the Labour Party. But they should do."

Ta da!

So what's the problem here?

By the way, I think Floyd's comment works:

"I'd agree that Ethiopia's victory is hardly a cause for street parties but that's no excuse for the SWP's uncritical approach to the religious fascists."

my views summated.

As I have explained before, I don't see Islamism of any variety, let alone this hard core Sharia-mongering one as progressive, and I believe that the forced choice neoconservatives and islamists is a false dichotomy, set up by supporters of both neoconservatism and islamists: a big bunch of bastards betwen whom there is little ideological distinction, save for neocons always liking the vote domestically.

You choose between your reactionisms if you must, I take neither. I am against war, illogical criminal punishment, racism, homophobia, dictatorship and exploitation; yes, if America does it, and yes; even if it happens to be done by a person who is considerably browner than I.

Now let's get one thing straight. Labour Students don't listen to me really, I'm on the soft left, which puts me on the teetering border of their ambit.

Surely you can do better than this, you Ahmedinejad hugging falangist?

And with regard to the tories, yeah, we have a shared belief that our main union is for issues which affect students as students. Stuff which doesn't can be handled by societies. Makes sense to me.

And why does everyone only use my surname?

 
At 12:01 AM, Blogger el tom said...

"Labour Students don't listen to me really"

Well, except for the ammendment I co-wrote a while back which now has us campaigning for an equal living wage for all. Inside the tent, pissing out, as it were.

 
At 2:07 AM, Blogger Jack Ray said...

but Tom, if you're opposing the neocons, and the Islamists, surely what you should be advocating is a peaceful settlement, rather than a massive escalation of hostilities by a US proxy. Which I think your criticism of the SW article implied.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Cliffite said...

"big bunch of bastards betwen whom there is little ideological distinction, save for neocons always liking the vote domestically."

So in other words better the American B52's then those backwards Islamists? Surely the politics don't matter so much as the fact that one side is bombing a country it hasn't even declared war on and one side is defending its own country? The politics are of course important and I wish it were an IST group leading the Somalian resistance but it isn't - men make history but not in circumstances of their own choosing

"the tories, yeah, we have a shared belief"

The Tory-Labour coalition is beyond defense I'm afraid. These aren't even liberal tories Aston and Robert L are virtually incipiant fascists. Driving the left out more important then any principle (even in a SU election defending the principle of SU's?)

 
At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I am against war'

Whenever El Tom utters such platitudes of this kind, it's worth checking out his shameful apologia for Israel during last year's attack on Lebanon. However his article on Somalia lives up to this standard by condemning neither the Ethiopian invasion, the US attacks or the Somalia warlords they have put back into power; as always his obsessive concern is (misrepresenting) the SWP - an unusual position for someone who is allegedly opposed to war. Neither at any point does he attempt to engage with the SWP's position, which is that the UIC have a degree of popular support which the warlords lack, and given the choice between themselves and the Ethiopia/US/Warlords are the lesser evil for Somalia.

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger el tom said...

"but Tom, if you're opposing the neocons, and the Islamists, surely what you should be advocating is a peaceful settlement, rather than a massive escalation of hostilities by a US proxy. Which I think your criticism of the SW article implied." No, I just can't understand why you'd take sides, and if you were going to, why that one.

The politics of the people taking part in conflicts are cupremely important, as it is those politics which will shape the future once the conflict is resolved or somebody wins. I'm not saying that I draw the limit at supporting socialist international member parties rob, I'm saying that there is a limit to the reactionism I can tolerate in a future government, and that that feeds in pretty strongly to who I support.

"the tories, yeah" I noticed that you missed out the second half of my paragraph. convenient.

Rob, this alliance is not based on what our political views are. We still oppose conservative future strongly on many issues. But we do agree on the limits that the remit of our union carries, and that those limits should be continued. This is essential for the democratic functioning of any representative body. There is a vires.

I don't pretend for a second to have political views anything like those of say, Rob Largan; but this issue is the most crucial facing the union in the light of this year's running.

With regard to the war, I don't apologise for the actions of Israel in Lebanon in the slightest. I argued right from the start for an unconditional ceasefire. However, I don't believe that a ceasefire means that only one side should stop fighting (which is why I argued for it!).

If you are anti-war, I think that it is imperetive to attack the SWP; a sect that, along with Galloway, has done more damage to the anti-war cause than any other, by conflating it with other SWP lines when the general public disagree with them; thus cutting out a massive swathe of anti-war opinion and narrowing the opposition, along with it's appeal. I was a proud StWC member in 2003. Since then, I've found their frequent pro war against Israel and America positions nauseating.

With regard to the UIC, I don't think that socialism is about picking whichever reactionism happens to be the most popular, or the most supported by the working class. That logic extended would lead to lefties supporting the SA in 1930s Germany; an absurd proposition.

I don't believe in lesser evils as I think that such an outlook (especially for revolutionaries!) is ridiculously pessimistic, and born more out of opposition to multilateralism from capitalist states, even though such multilateralism often rests on a balance of national interests which results in benevolence.

"better the American B52's then those backwards Islamists?"

Tough call. I can't decide what's worse for people on the ground. An unlikely bomb through your house, or a comewhat more likely mutilation of your daughter's genitals? Hmm. Need some time to think on that one.

Rob, since when has being anti-war mean sticking up for the smaller side (even though the smaller side can often represent a tyrannical system than the biggun...)?

The net result of the SWPs variant on anti-imperialism is lots of little imperialisms thrashing it out, and the SWP always supporting the smaller one.

If you believe America is imperialist, due to an analysis of class interests, what the fuck is Iran? Those ayatollahs are hardly calling for the palaces to be stormed!

If America is capitalist and imperialist, they are merely capitalist and counter-imperialist (as opposed to anti)... with a far worse record, despite the guantanomo, on human rights and civil liberties to boot.

The only way conflicts like this are going to be solved is through a reforming process whereby political climates become more progressive. This should be done by building (real) democratic and human rights movements and trade unions.

This should be achieved by raiding the coffers of liberal democracies and provig that 'the war on terror' is a failed and mistaken construct.

The only way theocracy will be crushed is by supporting those that domestically stand against it. That would have beneficial effects for people in Palestine, Iran and southern Lebanon, as well as in the US and Europe too, so it is a battle that can be won.

The US and Europe need to defeat terrorism, and thus need to cut out the causes, which lie all the ay back in colonialism. 'The war on terror' must become a cold one, and it must target leaders, not innocent civillians (indeed, the key to victory is in popular support for democratic revolution).

First the left in the US and UK must dig itself out of the tarpit that is lesser evilism and supporting one's enemy's enemy (who actually happens to be a bastard).

With the greatest of respect, without puns intended, it is groups like the SWP whose shortsighted analysis holds the left back in this respect. Your unwillingness to adapt to conditions and argue for progressive methods of erasiing theocracy are a massive failure, based on 'tried and tested' philosophical input. a small c, basically.

Man, indeed, cannot live in circumstances of his own choosing; so start coping with what the right throws at you. Throw it back.

When the people of Somalia hang their theocratic overlords, I will celebrate, while America, for different reasons entirely, swigs champagne.

Hence, all in all, my distaste for the SWP, who seem as anxious to prop up tyrants as the neoconservatives they oppose. You hold us back.

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger Jack Ray said...

"No, I just can't understand why you'd take sides, and if you were going to, why that one."

You're missing my point here Tom and your post is stuffed full of exactly the kind of lesser evilism that you condemn Rob for.

If you're not taking sides, then the statement you're making is that you think that neither the UIC, nor the Interim Government are worth fighting for. You are opposed to the fighting per se.

So then you've surely got to oppose the massive escalation that Ethiopian and US involvement in Somalia represents?

And if you think the only consequence of the return of the very brutal Somalian warlords to government is a little collatoral damage, I would suggest you've completely misunderstood the nature of this particular faction.

 
At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The net result of the SWPs variant on anti-imperialism is lots of little imperialisms thrashing it out, and the SWP always supporting the smaller one'

As with your use of 'fascism', you merely throw the term around as a term of abuse, not a category of analysis. Imperialism is not merely a reactionary group,and the UIC's concerns - in contrast to the US - are limited to Somalia.

'I've found their frequent pro war against Israel and America positions nauseating'

More straw men. The SWP support the right of those in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Somalia to resist when attacked and colonised, as should any socialist. Pretending the two sides are equal amounts to remaining neutral between the weak and the strong, between the oppressor and oppressed, although in truth El Tom avoids this by siding with the powerful.

'I don't apologise for the actions of Israel in Lebanon in the slightest.

Under these circumstances, you lack any moral compass to judge the actions of the UIC, given that their reactionary practices are not remotely comparable to Israel attack on the civilian population and infrastructure. Pretending otherwise is political and moral bankruptcy.

'I argued right from the start for an unconditional ceasefire'

As did StW. This was because of course, the 2006 war was caused and begun by Israel, not Hizbollah.

'An unlikely bomb through your house, or a comewhat more likely mutilation of your daughter's genitals?'

The notion that it is 'unlikely' that the US would kill civilian is more apologia for the empire. However, the Somali people support the UIC over the Ethiopian/US/Warlords and as this decision has been made, and subsequently ignored El Tom.

'That logic extended would lead to lefties supporting the SA in 1930s Germany; an absurd proposition'

Historical illiteracy. The German working class remained anti-Nazi throughout the rise to power of the NSDAP. Pick a better example rather than throwing around political scare-words.

'Your unwillingness to adapt to conditions and argue for progressive methods of erasiing theocracy are a massive failure'

This cuts to the nub of your position - the enemy is political Islam, not oppression, not imperialism per se, which is why El Tom find himself so comfortable manufacturing excuses for Israel and the US. Of course, as is apparent from any of the SWP's articles on Iran, the overthrow of reactionary Islam is like any struggle, it must be begun and led by the oppressed themselves.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger el tom said...

OK, I can't really be bothered fisking all of this, I've an essay to do. Anyway...

Firstly, I'm talking about imperialism in the sense of the superexploitation for superior surplus value by capitalist states of workers previously outside of their territorial reach. What were you talking about?

'The SWP support the right of those in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq...

Aye, you support their right to resist, but you excuse their right to enslave. You mistake popular support for their resistance for objective political desirability. Not only do you fail to criticise, by failing to promote an alternative to militarism from both sides you are highly negligent, while at the same time attempting miguidedly to create circumstances which would actually make the despicable and currently innacurate 'clash of civilisations' thesis a reality.

The SWP seem to love nothing more than whacking on the Hezbollah t-shirt and getting out there for a good clash.

You're playing a bosses game, mate.

'Pretending the two sides are equal amounts...'

who is pretending they are equal? I am not saying that they are equally balanced. I am actually going further and saying that they are part of the same thing!

'I don't apologise for the actions of Israel in Lebanon in the slightest.'

Why does that give me less of a moral compass by which to judge the UIC?

'This was because of course, the 2006 war was caused and begun by Israel'

Is that really why StWC argued for a ceasefire? Surely it was because of the manifestly disproportionate relationship between Lebanese militants, and the Israeli reaction (which just happened to kill hundreds of innocent civillians).

So you see, two of the points you have made are factually incorrect.

'That logic extended would lead to lefties supporting the SA in 1930s Germany; an absurd proposition'

Rob, the German working class were completely divided before Hitler took power. Not only did an unhealthy chunk of them plump for fascism, but the communists/sparts/social democrats completely failed to work with each other.

Throughout history reactionary movements have embedded themselves on working class support, due to general crises in class consciousness. Splits and division.

Because a majority (which is not even necesarilly class lineated, which especially applies in clan based or semi-anarchic societies like in somalia) of people support something, it does not in any way validate or excuse that particular movement.

There are plenty of incorrect positions that majorities support, hardline Sharia courts are one of them.

'This cuts to the nub of your position - the enemy is political Islam, not oppression, not imperialism per se'

Political Islam, even in its weaker forms, is but a manifestation of such conditions.

'manufacturing excuses for Israel and the US

Once again, how? where have I said that I approve

I am criticising you, not talking about my own suggestions (suggestions which, as I explained above, fall some way from the accusations that I make).

You give me a false dichotomy of supporting two different oppressive forms of government in Somalia. I deny it.

You then impose said dichotomy upon yourself, and choose the one that is marginally worse (when I still refuse to back either on the grounds that the question 'one or the other' is falacious).

When I refuse to back one, what bizarre twist of logic suggests that that means I am backing one?

I don't want to play 'which regressive system do we prefer'. It's not serious politics, and I refuse to. I may be a reformist, but that's far too right-wing for me.

For more on my perspective, see G. Achar, 'the Clash of Barbarisms'. I don't agree with all of it, not least it's conclusions for action, but it's a good guide.

'the overthrow of reactionary Islam is like any struggle, it must be begun and led by the oppressed themselves.

Is this not exactly what I said above?

The difference between your position and mine is that I believe that the state can be forced to aid those people in their requirements, because I am a reformist. It's not a case of "reformists, rightists and neocons VS socialist revolutionaries and state Islam", which is the position the SWP and Blair both seem to hold.

I actually see it as 'reformists and revolutionary socialists VS neoconservatism and state Islam".

Revolutionaries don't believe that the british state can be made electorally to aid the global downtrodden. I think it can.

That doesn't mean that I think Iraq etc is actually achieving such aims (as I said, the oppressed must lead their own struggles, especialy when the alternative is 655,000 dead). But I am willing to work for them, while revolutionaries are not, your particular sect being the main opposition to the whole of the premises to my argumant.

So basically, you misunderstand my arguments, as well as insinuating quite falsely that my position is some sort of Labour Students line or common belief. I don't know what Labour students think about it. Probably a lot of different things depending who you ask.

You have also wilfully misrepresented some of my views rather torturously.

 
At 8:40 PM, Blogger Roobin said...

"You have also wilfully misrepresented some of my views rather torturously".

Oh, boo hoo, you big crybaby. It only sucks when it happens to you. On a slightly different note Hosni Mubarak is a member of the socialist international...

Guilt by association... eh...

 
At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I'm talking about imperialism in the sense of the superexploitation for superior surplus value by capitalist states of workers previously outside of their territorial reach'

Then by this standard, your contention that the SWP supports 'lesser imperialisms' is, frankly, a lie, since the SWP support resistance movements - Hizbollah, Hamas, The Nepalese Maoists - or the right of attacked states and movements to defend themeselves. Not one of these qualifies as 'imperialism', by your definition or any other.

'you support their right to resist, but you excuse their right to enslave. You mistake popular support for their resistance for objective political desirability'

This is unsubstantiated drivel. The SWP article you cite in your flagwaving for the Ethopian invasion makes clear the UIC have accrued popularity because of their overthrow of the corrupt, brutal warlords. This is a point you have consistantly refused to engage with. Much for the same reason the SWP's support for Hizbollah was predicated on the fact that they were the only force capable of liberating and defending Lebanon from Israel. Movements are only 'desirable' insofar as the receive popular support, which the Islamist movements in question have all received.

'by failing to promote an alternative to militarism from both sides you are highly negligent'

If you were a pacifist you'd at least be consistant, yet you continually generate apologia for the empire if their opponents are Islamists. I'm still waiting for any criticism of the Ethiopian / US invasion and occupation of Somalia from you. There are innumerable historical examples that the only choice to oppression is resistance - and if this resistance is led by reactionary groups, be they Stalinists, Maoists, Islamists or Christians, it is the duty of the Left to support their struggle, not manufacture excuses for Imperialism under the specious justification of opposing both sides.

'You're playing a bosses game, mate'

For someone in coalition with the Conservative party, you're in no position to throw this kind of smear around.

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I am actually going further and saying that they are part of the same thing!'

Movements in conflict - when one represents the interests of the most powerful Imperial state in history and the other domestic local support - can never be the 'same thing', although you pretend otherwise to give your position a left gloss.

'Is that really why StWC argued for a ceasefire?'

StW argued for a ceasefire for the same reason they supported Hizbollah's right to resist, that Irsael was the aggressor and either way would have halted their attack on Lebanon. Hizbollah was not attempting to occupy and colonise northern Israel. Once more you are unable to discern the difference between aggressor and defender, between coloniser and colonised, which is consistant with your silence over Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia.

'the German working class were completely divided before Hitler took power. Not only did an unhealthy chunk of them plump for fascism, but the communists/sparts/social democrats completely failed to work with each other.'

You're backtracking from your earlier position, which was that the German working class supported the NSDAP. They didn't - the CP and SP vote held solid throughout the rise of the Nazis, whereas that of the Bourgeois parties collapsed. The NSDAP picked up some working-class support from those workers which already voted for the right. The failure of the Left to co-operate is another issue and not pertinent to your original point.

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Throughout history reactionary movements have embedded themselves on working class support'

There's the obvious distinction between a movement like the NSDAP, which employs violence to preserve the existing ruling class - so long as they can join them - and movements such as Hamas or Hizbollah which hold reactionary views but nonetheless act as a conduit for popular anger and resistance. You evade this problem merely by calling every political group you don't like 'fascist', as per your name-calling above.

'Because a majority . . . of people support something, it does not in any way validate or excuse that particular movement'

No, but it provides the best compass by which the Left may judge their attitude to the movement in question. In Somalia, the UIC were the only movement with any degree of popular support, which neither the warlords nor the Ethiopian occupiers possess.

'Political Islam, even in its weaker forms, is but a manifestation of such conditions'

This is vague and ahistorical. Political Islam can function as a conduit for resistance to oppression - which are the circumstances under which the Left should support Islamist groups - or act as the agent of oppression, when the Left should oppose them. Islamism is not a generic movement and given blanket condemnation as reactionary.

'You give me a false dichotomy of supporting two different oppressive forms of government in Somalia'

Yes, that's known as 'reality'. In reality, you support the Ethiopian/US invasion of Somalia, or you oppose it, and allow the Somalians themselves to establish a representative government, which - as Iraq continually reminds us - is impossible under foreign occupation. It's obvious where Socialists should stand, yet as always, for El Tom, the central issue is the position of the SWP.

'You then impose said dichotomy upon yourself, and choose the one that is marginally worse

Youve failed to prove - or even attempt to prove - that the UIC are 'marginally worse' than the Ethiopians/US/Warlords. All the evidence points to them being better for the Somalis.

'I don't want to play 'which regressive system do we prefer'. It's not serious politics'

The only choice in Somalia - as in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Afghanistan - is whether foreign invasion or occupation will be to the benefit or the people of those countries, or not. Since your own stance is to refuse to take a judgement on this question, you're not in any position to lecture others about 'serious politics.'

 
At 3:42 AM, Blogger el tom said...

This really is a waste of my time. This is my final reply. I'm going to select my points to be quick:

"There's the obvious distinction between a movement like the NSDAP, which employs violence to preserve the existing ruling class - so long as they can join them - and movements such as Hamas or Hizbollah which hold reactionary views but nonetheless act as a conduit for popular anger and resistance. You evade this problem merely by calling every political group you don't like 'fascist', as per your name-calling above."

We have tussled over whether or not Islamist movements of various different stripes can be called 'fascist' elsewhere, and it is clear that we will disagree. I certainly think that the 'protocols' loving Hamas a a good example of such degeneration.

It is clear that a large part of nazi support was based on hatred and popular anger (which was a justified anger, by the way) towards versailles. A similar situation applies today to the actions of Israel, which while contemptible, are being being hijacked to lure working people to theocratic politics.

besides, I bet you wouldn't say the same thing about popular support if Palestinians elect fatah at the next elections. If you would, say so now. If not, you put anti-Israel politics above popularity just as I put anti-theocratic politics above popularity.

Often the popular is reactionary, and the reactionary is wrong.

All the evidence points to them being better for the Somalis.

What evidence? To me, popular support demands evidence rob. That means that a ballot box would be of some use to Somalis.

I don't get your approach to the dichotomies you draw.

You won't choose between, for example, Labour and Tory governments, because you deem neither adequate solutions to the problem, and opt instead for worldwide and permanently recycling socialist revolution. Yet my yearning for a constiutuionalist, social-democratic somalia is somehow unrealistic?

With regard to the UIC and ethiopia, etc blah blah, it's quite simple. I think that there should be an elected Somali government, and that neither of these two factions have any real legitimacy. One choice are the music-banning mutilators, not my choice, and the other is the illegitimate warlord clique.

Personally I think that the African Union should have troops there and that there needs to be a constitutional agreement thrashed out.

If Ethiopia are really worried about self defence, let them lobby for that.

With regard to the US being there, of course I do not back that. but I back it no less than their Islamist opposition. Neither have any democratic legitimacy, which is my first requirement for any holder of power to get my support.

Ithink the problem with Somalia is that it is not a state; as Weber famously said, a state is defined as the body holding a monopoly on coercive force within a given territory.

Either the UIC or TFG could provide that, and now the TFG have. But if we're going to have a state, it would be nice to have a democratic one, which I think the international and regional community must ensure.

Improving prospects for workers in Somalia requires more advanced economic structures. The Menshevik in me tells me that they need to get a proper capitalism established, before they can realise how inadequate it is.

That, of course, demands a state, as does democratic legitimacy.

So, do you think the prospect of seeing the African Union in Somalia is unrealistic? I realise already that you will probably think it wrong anyway.

Could this be because you yearn to see rule by crude interpretation of millenia old tomes (without a hint of secularity)? A lot of time in the company of the wrong people, perhaps?

Which reminds me, say hi to Gilad for me ;o)

PS: I was genuinely joking when I said you hug vile bigots. obviously ou support the right to strike, and to shag men... you wouldn't last a second (unless you had enough oil, or you've completely given up on the old socialism malarky).

You should join the facebook group with the Orwell pic. It rocks.

 
At 3:50 AM, Blogger el tom said...

"People make their own history, but not just as they please. They do not choose the circumstances for
themselves, but have to work upon circumstances as they find them, have to fashion the material handed down by the past"


A great piece of writing, is it not?

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'This really is a waste of my time. This is my final reply'

You usually fuck off back to your own site after one post, so i suppose that's an improvement.

'are being being hijacked to lure working people to theocratic politics'

The Palestinians and Lebanese are not fools who can be suckered in by the theocrats of your imagination. Islamist groups have risen in popularity because secular forces (cf Fatah) have become discredited in the struggle against neo-liberalism and imperialism. Disregarding the democratic will of these people if they choose representatives not of your liking is analogous to Henry Kissinger's comment that he wouldn't let Chile go Marxist because of the Chilean people. In both cases it requires a commitment to using force from above to change political realities, which is why you're so sanguine at the Ethiopian occupation and the return of the warlords.

'besides, I bet you wouldn't say the same thing about popular support if Palestinians elect fatah at the next elections'

If the Palestinians elected Fatah i'd respect their choice; they elected Hamas however precisely because Fatah are so discredited by their corruption and collaboration with the US/Israel.

'You won't choose between, for example, Labour and Tory governments'

untrue; where there is no Left alternative such as Respect or Greens, SWP members vote for Labour due to the trade union link. Get your facts straight.

'What evidence? To me, popular support demands evidence rob. That means that a ballot box would be of some use to Somalis'

Unfortunately, such an option does not exist in Somalia and under these conditions there is much evidence that the UIC received popular support - the only force for 2 decades in Somalis to do so:

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2&ItemID=11811

You spend the rest of the post refusing to answer the question of whether you support or oppose the Ethiopian/US invasion: the argument is clear: does Ethiopian occupation increase or retard the chances of Somalia moving towards democracy and self-determination? if your answer is no then you must correspondingly oppose the Ethiopian invasion. For the people of Somalia, these are life-and-death distinctions, much as the choice between the occupation of Iraq and the continuation of the Hussein regime was 600'000+ lives. Merely refusing to take a position is cowardice dressed up as ideology. By the same standard, it would be easy to stay neutral over the German invasion of Russia, or Israel's attack on the Arab states, given that the attacked sides were reactionary to a greater or lesser degree.

'A great piece of writing, is it not?'

Certainly, since it echoes the arguments i've already made. When the oppressed struggle against their oppressors, they do so in a pre-existing intellectual and cultural world which shapes the nature of their struggle, be this Islamic, in the Mideast, or Christian, in Latin America and the civil rights movement, and they carry many reactionary attitudes with them into the struggle. Under these circumstances, the Left supports them becuase of their capacity to act as representatives of the oppressed, not adopts a phony and cringing 'neutrality' between the weak and the strong until they adopt political beliefs which suit them.

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Cliffite said...

Although people seem to be doing fine with out me I do want to make a few points. Mainly to laugh at the boses game comment from a mate of Aston Cull and a member of "there is nothing wrong with being rightwing" Manchester Labour club.

On Nazi Germany it would be a really good idea to actually read something serious on the issue before spouting off (http://www.bookmarks.uk.com/cgi/store/bookmark.cgi?search=0850365791&category=isbn&cart_id=5955375.21081&search_request_button=Go) is a good start.

And there is a distinction between activists in the UK's positon on a Tory election contest and that of Somalia which is the abillity of us (as a subjective factor) to intervene and shape the process which we don't posses in Somalia. Other then cheerleading/appologising for US imperialism (or denying it existed) or clearly oppossing Bush and Blair trying to reshape the world in their image by force. Reactionary religious nuts anyone (cough Ruth Kelly...)

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger el tom said...

I am anonymous btw, for some reason it did't sing me in.

Of course you can't influence what's going on in somalia (except for what Britain does in response). The question is in how Britain should respond.

Rob, not a penny of my money is going to the SWP except via my token copies of SW whenever I see a SWPer ;o)

Surely you'll admit that the SWP do a lot of cheerleading of their own rob? Usually of reacitonary bigots, these days.

Of hte things you can choose to support, why are the two things you seem intent on resitricting my choice to thse directly above? Surely I can support the British government taking any course of action regarding Somalia that I choose to support?

Anyway, lets go through.:

The Palestinians and Lebanese are not fools who can be suckered in by the theocrats of your imagination

Very patriotic Rob. people all over the world are suckered into reactionary ideology because of the hegmonic effect of capitalist economic superstructures + cultural hegemony generally. That used by Hamas and their ilk is no different.

'Disregarding the democratic will of these people' surely that's my argument? As much as I would like to see, once again for example, Hamas voted out of office, because I deem them reactionary, I don't support sanctions against them. They are entitled to statehood and entitled to the proceeds of democracy, against a human-rights based constitutional structure. I don't think it is, for example, democractid even for elected bodies to persecute minorities or execerbate sovereignty over the bodies of others. Alienating behavour and democracy do not go hand in hand.

Neither is democracy an absence of checks and balances.

As far as I'm concerned, Allende was elected (so was Ho CHi Minh, actually), and on that basis, as long as there aren't persecutions of minority groups going on, I don't see the problem here.

SWP members vote for Labour due to the trade union link. Get your facts straight.

Rob, I was not ignorant of this fact for a second. But the SWP do not support Labour. They are buidling their own electoral project to woo voters away from us (or at least attempt to steer our policy by proxy, which is a lot more effective)!

Unfortunately, such an option does not exist in Somalia and under these conditions there is much evidence that the UIC received popular support - the only force for 2 decades in Somalis to do so:

Once again, such an option can and must be made, and once again, popularity is zero indicator of desirability (though if you have a desirable political path popularity is, in my view, a requirement, or you are wasting effeort and time).

does Ethiopian occupation increase or retard the chances of Somalia moving towards democracy and self-determination?

This is difficult as yet to tell, as we have to pick between two reactionisms. I think the highest probability of the quickest likelihood of a viable, self determined and democratic state comes in changing the political climate, which is based on a mistaken and bourgeois interpretation of economic interests at the moment; the recognition that the best thing for the bulk of Somalis must be peace, a constitution, and a federal government and elections must become priority number one for Somalians.

This means that a process of reconciliation, disarmament and ceasefire must be begun. It may be worth it to the NATO states to offer a financial incentive for this process to take place. These states can be made by electoral incentive to produce the goods; especially the UK.

Opposing both the Islamists and the warlords is not neautrality. They may be fighting each other with arms, but the political struggle lies between them and Somali civillians. I am taking sides. I plump with the latter.

I am fiercely partisan, Rob, towards the peacefully inclined.

Going back though, your question :does Ethiopian occupation increase or retard... is correctly attributed and framed, as is your analogy with Iraq.

Of course, one must side with the oppressed. But one must then ask oneself the utalitarian question: waht represents the best acheivable outcome for the oppressed (Somali and Iraqi civillians)?

To me, that is represented by consitutional democracy, rights secured, with a strong labour movement; in both cases. So I choose that option, and build towards it.

[the oppressed struggle] do so in a pre-existing intellectual and cultural world which shapes the nature of their struggle...

Yes, but the key is to change it.

carry many reactionary attitudes with them into the struggle

Of course, you may have heard my savaging of my former hero, Daniel Ortega, for his denial of a woman's right to choose. I still support him, but less than before. For every rectionary measure a movement builds up, it becomes less progressive. Simple. The UIC have so many reactionary types (think Ortega's sins, multiplies heavily) that they have no credit as vaguely progressive. The same goes for Hamas and to a lesser extent, but still, certainly, Hezbollah. They have long crossed the border into backwards ideology.

Just because they are fighting against people who are also backwards, my sympathy for their goals and thus support for their victory will not grow.

Bear in mind how much more literally modern middle eastern Islamist movements interpret their religion than Mr Luther King, or even liberation theologists in sudamerika. Besides, once again my views fall into your analogy. You wouldn't catch me with a Nation of Islam tee-shirt (although that's more about segregationism than religion).

I have already denied their neutrality (just neutral in within your miconceived paradigms) but how are my views phony? Are you calling me a liar?

And do you include ahcievability within your criteria for goals to support, or not?

Now,

"there is nothing wrong with being rightwing"

You know, I have actually, just for the sake of winding trots up, said this over and over again.

We got an anarchist left-libertarian type on our freshers stall once, matt even pretended he liked Alan Milburn. I have some interesting faux fetishes myself!

there is nothing, apart from being right wing, wrong with being right wing.

That said, if I'm going to disagree with the tories (and I will. Watch this space), I'd rather it was about student-relevant issues, than the alternative, which is what I have with you guys.

They feel the same way about me. Sorted.

It's not really the left elements of the SWP I dislike. there are quite a few left groups with who I have perfectly amicable relations. It's the SWP's alliance (actually, scratch that, servitude to the religious right, particularly in a foreign context, but also with fools like Yvonne Ridley, for which I have particular contempt.

There we go.

Our relationship with the tories is no alliance. There's plenty of stuff which we're only too happy to admit we disagree on. But our UMSU is something on which we're closer to them than you, on liberal grounds; appropriate power at appropriate level, contract of consent, checks and balances. Makes sense.

And yes. Ruth Kelly is a religious nut (not exactly comparable to ahmedinejad though, is she? iIf she's over the boundary, where the fuck ishe?).

Anyway, she should be sacked.

Anything else?

 
At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an unusual definition of 'final reply', but nonetheless

'That used by Hamas and their ilk is no different'

You've made a fundamental mistake by confusing the influence of hegemonic ideology which encourages obediance to the ruling class, and ideologies of resistance to existing power, which is where islam as espoused by groups like Hamas and Hizbollah functions. The ability of Hamas to mobilise unarmed Palestinian woman to face down the IDF with their own bodies should never be compared with the ability fo Zionism to mobilise IDF soldiers to kill those same woman, and your refusal to distinguish between resisting and supporting oppression is shameful. This basic ignorance - intentional or otherwise - of a central tenet of socialism renders your argument here meaningless.

'surely that's my argument?'

You have a habit of changing your argument when challenged. However, you state that you see no difference between an elected Israeli government which has instituted and perpetuates oppression, colonisation and expulsion of Palestinians and an elected Hamas government which fights against that same oppression. At the most 'you don't support sanctions', which is a pathetic and cringing equivocation between oppressor and oppressed which has been a feature of all your posts so far. Despite stating that you believe the oppressed should liberate themselves, you show no regard for the democratic opinions of the oppressed themselves.

'To me, that is represented by consitutional democracy, rights secured, with a strong labour movement; in both cases'

You spend several paragraphs refusing to answer the question I put to you: does the Ethiopian invasion help or hinder such an outcome? and you have been unable to answer this basic question; instead you talk in meaningless vague terms of the 'peacefully inclined' and 'somali civilians'. Who are these forces? will the Ethiopian occupation benefit them? Given that I have already cited evidence that the UIC brought a peace of sorts to Somalia, and received popular support as a consequence, its obvious that this is the basis of the SWP opposition to the Ethiopian invasion. It's the easiest thing in the world to speak in terms of only supporting unambigously progressive forces throughout the world, but this is not the world we live in - which is why Marx's dictum is such an excellent point - and reality requires that the Left take a position on whether to oppose the Ethiopian invasion, or not. Your sitting on the fence merely means that you support the stronger party but lack the courage or honesty to say so.

'For every rectionary measure a movement builds up, it becomes less progressive'

Movements do not emerge fully-formed. Ideas change and evolve in the context of struggle, although an udnerstanding of this requires a commitment to changing the world from below which is entirely alien to the LP political culture. Reactionary ideas can be challenged and changed; James Conolly did not shrink from supporting the fight for Irish independance despite the fact that the leaders of the 1916 uprising held many regressive and religious views. In the present day, Hizbollah's struggle against Israeli occupation has meant it develop links with secular forces, principally the Lebanese CP, and as such do not engage on sectarian and communal attacks on non-Shia groups. Reactionary beliefs held by the oppressed when struggling against their oppressors cannot be used as an excuse for withholding support: if that was the case then the British Left would never have supported the Indian Mutiny, the Irish war of independance, the Arab revolt of 1936-9, the Communist resistance during WW2, the Viet Cong, the Mau Mau - the examples are innumerable.

'But the SWP do not support Labour'

At elections until 1997, the SWP has advocated a Labour vote, and still do for principled Left wingers. They refuse to support Labour now, and are buildign their own electoral project because the Labout party has moved so far to the right that they must be challenged. The position you describe is a consequence of Labours own move to espouse - or even in the case of tuition fees - exceed the Tory party's own right-wing position. You can't spit in the face of the Left and working-class movement for 10 years and suddenly whine when they decide to oppose you. However, your original point was that the SWP refused to choose between Labour and Tory which - as you admit in your post - was a lie.

'Bear in mind how much more literally modern middle eastern Islamist movements interpret their religion than Mr Luther King'

Again we get to the point, which is that your problem is Islam. There are variants of political Islam which disagree over the interpretation of the sacred texts; in Sudan and Iraq different Islamist movements are in conflict with another. As already stated, Hizbollah do not engage in attacks on non-Shia as has the Islamist regime in Sudan. Acknowledging this displays a need for politivcal and historical awareness youre incapable of showing, because to justify your pretence of neutrality, you have lump together any movements you disapprove of as 'reactionary' without any account of who supports them, whom they fight and the likely consequences - in terms of the struggle for socialism - of their victory or defeat. These are questions you consistantly refuse to answer.

 
At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The SWP support the right of those in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq...

Aye, you support their right to resist, but you excuse their right to enslave. You mistake popular support for their resistance for objective political desirability.

-- Who is saying they are up for slavery, you stupid racist prick, you always assume the worst of the oppressed and not the oppresser.

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Readings this I can only assume the Miller is slowly loosing touch with reality - something that he has to do if he and his 'labour' buddies have to stand with Tory fuckwits just to win a grovelling officership at the Union. Tom: some of your comments are so factually inaccurate only the spelling is correct.

 
At 7:35 PM, Blogger el tom said...

"Who is saying they are up for slavery, you stupid racist prick"

-Me, dickhead. Capitalist theocracy without even a proper popular vote, with brutalist coercion and suppression of expression. Tyranny, unmoderated. Murder of people because they happen to be gay, or have unpaletable political beliefs.

Now get to fuck.

How the living piss am I racist? Are you aware of the depths of your own stereotypical glibness?

Ooh, someone disagrees with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's future for the middle east... They must be a ... RACIST!

Fool.

Just cruising by!! ;o)

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger el tom said...

"and the likely consequences - in terms of the struggle for socialism"

That's exactly what I'm talking about!

I don't have a problem with 'islam'. I have a problem with regressive and illiberal elements of any religion, and am against them being put into government. I am even more against them being kept there undemocratically.

I will not support the Jerry Falwells of the middle east.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger j said...

great blog! nice to see some Respect/SWP supporters around. i'm a member of the same tendency - part of the International Socialists in Canada :) i'm pretty new to the whole blog thing, but i've just created one of my own entitled "Fear Of A Red Planet"

http://fearofredplanet.blogspot.com

i'm going to add a link to your blog there! take care and i look forward to reading your thoughts in the future.

in solidarity

j

 
At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Meaders said...

Is El Tom typical of Labour's student cadre now? No wonder they're so f*cked. Oh for the glory days of, erm, Stephen Twigg.

 
At 4:14 AM, Blogger el Tom said...

Um. I'm far from typical.

And I have better things to do than fuck about with half-serious political parties.

The reason NOLS are fucked is pretty simple. The labour party is in financial ruin, and our organisers spend most of their time doing admin on the cheap. We get less out of our two than respect get out of one.

This might have something to do with a massive exodus of members.

 
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