Socialist Worker looks two ways on Islamists

Submitted by AWL on 25 January, 2014 - 5:23

Socialist Worker of 21 January cites approvingly "a statement issued by the Revolutionary Left Current [in Syria which] spoke of 'the double repression' suffered by the popular movement - from the regime and armed Islamist groups".

It quotes an RLC activist: "people say we need a second revolution".

Until now, mostly, Socialist Worker, and related currents of thought, have been willing to criticise Islamists only when, and on the grounds that, they are neo-liberal, pro-IMF, etc.

The Islamist ultras of ISIL/ISIS in Syria are not particularly pro-IMF. They are more "anti-imperialist", if "anti-imperialist" means "anti-American", than the secular and soft-Islamist strands of the anti-Assad movement, who have asked for US and European military aid so that they can combat the ultras.

When the US looked like bombing Syria after revelations about Assad's chemical weapons, ISIL fighters said, and plausibly, that the US would use the anti-Assad raids also as an opportunity to zap ISIL.

Yet, as the RLC activist quoted by SW points out, whatever ISIL's hostility to the USA and the IMF, it is reactionary because of its relation to the plebeian population in Syria.

"The masses on the ground... are suffering the most from the growth of these groups... Islamists have whipped people in the street for not respecting Friday prayers. Popular committees and activists have been attacked..."

This new line of argument is welcome from SW. But how does it relate to SW's longstanding support for, for example, the Taliban in Afghanistan?

The same issue of SW cheers a "fresh blow to the Western occupation" made by the Taliban bombing a Kabul restaurant.

The IMF rep in Afghanistan and four UN officials were killed. So were eight Afghans. The restaurant was not a military target. The Taliban statement explained the attack as one on "a restaurant frequented by high ranking foreigners... where the invaders used to dine with booze and liquor in the plenty": that stance is a threat to Afghans who drink alcohol rather than a help to the liberation of the peoples of Afghanistan from foreign overlordship.

Why can't SW see that the whole political course of the Taliban in Afghanistan is as reactionary as ISIL's in Syria?

SW's continuing perplexity is signalled in another article, by Ronnie Margulies on Turkey, which (rightly) criticises the main opposition party there - the CHP, heir of the former Kemalist state-party, the RPP - but (oddly) does so by calling the CHP "Islamophobic".

The CHP's activists and leaders are Muslims, as are 98% of Turkey's people. Secular-minded Muslims, but Muslims.

The CHP's denunciations of Turkey's governing party, the AKP, artificially puff up the AKP's soft-Islamist tendencies so as to excuse the CHP's quasi-Stalinist and rancidly nationalist politics? Maybe. But what does "Islamophobic" mean if a sizeable constituency of Muslims, in a solidly Muslim country, look "Islamophobic" to SW?

Some Muslims have a prejudiced hostility to other sorts of Muslims? Indeed. The most "Islamophobic" Muslims in that respect are the Islamist ultras like ISIL, hostile to Shia, Sufi, secular-minded, and even soft-Islamist Muslims.

But SW never calls groups like ISIL "Islamophobic". For SW, the term "Islamophobic" functions to try to discredit bourgeois secularist and more radical criticism of political Islamists by denoting it as the same sort of thing, covered by the same adjective, as EDL-type or Daily Express-type racism towards Muslims.

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