What our enemies say

Submitted by AWL on 3 April, 2019 - 10:46 Author: Martin Thomas

More debate on the right of return here.

Several readers have objected to our item in Solidarity 500, “More denunciations of AWL”. They argue that we shouldn’t give scarce space to such stuff, and particularly to the item from Gerry Downing, someone whom even Jackie Walker’s “Labour Against the Witch-hunt” campaign has expelled as antisemitic. Better if we could give over pages to reasoned debate with our adversaries on the left. However, such reasoned debate is scarce today.

The comments we printed last week came from the website of Socialist Resistance, a small group, but one with international connections. It’s worth making it known that none of the other anti-AWL commenters there felt they should differentiate from Downing. Anyway, this week’s “denunciations” are not just of AWL, but of the giant anti-Brexit march we took part in on 23 March.

Max Shanly, a well-known Labour-left insider, called the march a “slaveowners’s war”! He tweeted that it represented the sort of thing Karl Marx had talked about when responding to a newspaper interviewer in 1871 who asked him whether the working class could overthrow capitalism in England peacefully. “The English middle class [i.e. bourgeoisie] has always shown itself willing enough to accept the verdict of the majority, so long as it enjoyed the monopoly of the voting power. But, mark me, as soon as it finds itself outvoted on what it considers vital questions, we shall see here a new slaveowners’ war”. Marx and Engels, in the years after the US Civil War, also used the term “slaveholder’s rebellion” to describe the suppression of the Paris Commune. So Shanly equates the Tories’ Brexit attempt with the Paris Commune!

Remember, no Labour MP has even tried to propose a Lexit formula. All Brexit options in play are Tory options.

Counterfire conveyed the same thought in milder terms. “Important sections of the establishment have been promoting calls for a second referendum and taking the extraordinary step of organising mass demonstrations to try and impose their view on society. For them it is a way out of the impasse that avoids the danger of a Corbyn government”. Socialist Worker wrote: “‘People’s Vote’ march backs ruling class agenda... One sign of the character of the march was that even such a right wing Labour figure as Watson was booed by sections of the crowd”.

Workers’ Liberty joined the distinct Left Bloc on 23 March. We had our own chants, placards, etc. to mark us off sharply from the Lib-Dems, Blairites, and occasional maverick Tory, involved. Because of the weakness of the labour movement in on-the-ground organisation, especially among young people, the younger and worse-off part of the anti-Brexit constituency was underrepresented on the march. But in general terms, the people marching for free movement, for lower borders, for levelled-up social standards, represent the left. The much smaller numbers who have rallied for Brexit with Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage represent the right.

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