SWP man of letters Keith Flett really surpassed himself in today’s Morning Star (19 May 2006), with an article, Anyone but England: Socialists and the World Cup.
Flett says he won’t be supporting England in the World Cup because:
1) There are often racist attacks after England games, “orchestrated by BNP members”. He says, “if England go out, it can’t happen at all”.
2) It promotes soft nationalism and the national interests.
Instead Flett tells his aging tankie readers:
“I have skirted around here what side socialists should support if not England. Before 1989, even people like myself, who were critical of Eastern Europe, might raise a cheer or two for a side from that region on the grounds that they were more progressive.
“That has gone, of course, and, without Venezuela and Cuba to cheer on, the best that an anti-imperialist might wish for is progress by Iran.”
Flett manages to say:
* Eastern Europe was better than capitalism – shame about no labour movement
* He supported Poland, before and after the suppression of Solidarnosc
* Racist attacks won’t happen if there’s no football
And then he smuggles in - support for Iran. The same Iran with its own, regional sub-imperialist ambitions. The same Iran whose government locks up trade unionists and bans free trade unions.
Flett displays what Trotsky called in the FWW the inverted methodology of social patriotism. He only cares about what’s happening in Britain. He does not think about the consequences of “Iran’s progress”- that it might buttress the clerical regime – and keep women out of Iran’s football grounds.
The same arguments about nationalism in Britain also apply to Iran. Choosing either side on this logic makes no sense.
Personally, I don’t think it matters much politically who you support in the World Cup. I hope the football’s good, whoever wins. And I hope socialists rationally work out the real issues in world politics, rather than simply putting a minus where the big powers put a plus.