By Ruben Lomas
“Only they who can keep their heart strong and their will as sharp as a sword when the general disillusionment is at its worst can be regarded as a fighter for the working class or called a revolutionary.”
Israel’s current war of sub-imperialist aggression against Lebanon (and, within it, the war of clerical-fascist forces such as Hizbollah against the Israeli state) have given the left another chance to do some soul-searching and rediscover what it is we stand for. How have Britain’s revolutionary socialist organisations measured up to this test?
The biggest — and by far the worst — is the Socialist Workers’ Party. Through its position of leadership in the Stop the War Coalition, the SWP has organised demos — most notably the 5 August demo in London — on which “We are all Hezbollah” placards were carried and their political allies like Yvonne Ridley openly praised the “heroic resistance of Hamas and Hizbollah.” The SWP’s political idol, George Galloway, also wrote in Socialist Worker 2011 of 29 July, “I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.”
Their position is clear; straightforward solidarity with Hizbollah against Israel. Their international tendency's statement clarifies things further:
“We oppose Israel’s war against Lebanon, out of solidarity with the Lebanese people but also because we are against Bush’s planned attack on Iran. Some on the left combine a similar position with condemnation of Hizbollah for having attacked and captured Israeli soldiers. We strongly disagree with this stance.
“As revolutionary socialists we have many ideological [!] differences with Hizbollah, which is an Islamist party. But Hizbollah developed into a national liberation movement with deep roots in the poorest and most oppressed sections of Lebanese society thanks to the successful guerrilla campaign it mounted against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon during the 1980s and 1990s.
“Moreover, Hizbollah initiated its latest action partly to help relieve the Palestinians of Gaza, who have been suffering a particularly brutal Israeli siege. Therefore we are happy to join the Arab masses in expressing our solidarity with the fighters of Hizbollah and our hope is that they succeed in defeating the Israeli assault on Lebanon.”
The SWP (a supposedly revolutionary socialist, Trotskyist organisation) makes no claims to oppose Hizbollah (a brazenly clerical-fascist organisation funded by Iranian and Syrian capitalism), choosing instead to mumble about (presumably trivial) "ideological differences".
This is nothing new for the SWP; they have, in the past, uncritically published articles by members of Hamas and the Shia-sectarian Mahdi Army, responsible for such progressive “acts of resistance” as attacking unveiled women and the racist massacre of a gypsy settlement in Iraq. Their claiming that the “Arab masses” are, homogeneously and unambiguously, in “solidarity with the fighters of Hizbollah”, and statements by Lindsey German that “in the Middle East, Hamas and Hizbollah are democracy”, once again expose the SWP’s latent condescension towards Arab people. The implication is that they cannot be expected to develop anything beyond a politico-religious consciousness.