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Submitted by Jason on Tue, 17/04/2007 - 16:25

Hi Sacha
It's Jason here. As far as I am aware you approached PR through an e-mail to me and I have given you a reply. We don't have full-timers so that may account for the lack of a written reply from an official of the organisation but I did send you an e-mail and talk to you on the phone.

As I explained we are more than happy to debate, defend and extend our positions in a variety of forums but it is felt that our organisations on the issue of imperialism (and for example its relation to the current occupation of Iraq and Palestine) are sufficiently large to prirotise joint work to debate out our differences formally is not something we feel able to do at the moment. You have said joint work and debate are not counter-posed and that is of course true in general but in practice an organisation with activists already over-committed does have to make priorities. I hope that makes it clear.

I have tried not to use insults or invective as tools of argument and I have been at pains to acknowledge that subjectively I am not accusing any one in the AWL of being chauvinist. However, it is fair, I'd suggest, to argue that the end result of having politics which lead you to to all practical extents leave the antiwar movement in terms of building opposition to the occupation of Iraq is objectively pro-imperialist.

Your paper also recently had this formulation about Sudan:
"A UN force — if it happens — may help stem the bloodshed. If it succeeded only partially that would be a good thing. Even so we can have no confidence in UN interventions (remember Srebrenica!)"

This seems to imply that foreign intervention, possible of imperialist troops, may be 'a good thing' but we should have 'no confidence' in them. This is quite far from a marxist position and may reasonably without insult be described as 'pro-imperialist'.

Also comrade Mark who is a member of the steering committee did answer you on which I see you have seen
"While a member of Workers Power I publicly debated the AWL on the Labour Party, Eastern Europe, Ireland and Afghanistan (this last in ULU at the onset of the most recent imperialist invasion). That hardly counts as shying away from debate. But following these debates with your organisation I concluded that it is utterly futile to debate with your thoroughly pro-imperialist organisation. My view is that PR should not give you the time of day let alone take part in your events.That's not shying away - an accusation that sounds like the political equivalent of "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". It's just recognising the simple fact that our views are so far apart a debate at your summer school or anywhere else for that matter is a total waste of our time.
Mark H"

As for time and energy- I probably will leave the debate for now and get on with other tasks in the class struggle. It seems slightly bizarre to be berated about spending time and energy on debating though. I don't think there's anything wrong with chatting- which I suppose I include this as- but we should prioritise building united fronts in the working class to actually get things done. If debate organically flows out of that then all well and good. Ideas can change through discussion but they're far more likely and more usefully to change through being applied in practice as well as discussed.

Finally, just to point out this has more or less been said before:
"Of course we can chat and discuss matters hopefully in an open manner (not disfigured by accusations of lying or they're never change etc.) whether in person or online but for the tendencies to prioritise debate when - on this - we're not even in the same movement seems rather impractical.

Of course where we are in united fronts around common action for example in the unions or other working class campaigns we will work and debate with the AWL.

In the meanwhile keep an open mind and remember that though opinions can and do change through debate real changes normally come through action and undertaking a common set of tasks within the working class. Whilst trying to enact those common tasks, differences will arise and need to be debated as they have practical consequences. We need to win workers to socialism..."

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